Wednesday, November 30, 2005

An excerpt from Scrambled Eggs Super! by Dr. Seuss

And those trout ... well, they're sweet 'cause they only eat Blogs
And Blogs, after all, are the world's sweetest frogs

I am off to a very long meeting now...sigh.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Few Random Things

1) I'm not going to say anything about the looming election, other than that Jack Layton should really shave off his moustache. I've said that before. If he wants to keep it, he'd be advised to slip on a cop uniform or dress from head to toe in leather. It's really up to him which way he goes, but the status quo is definitely out. Oh, I once commented on the fact that Stephen Harper kind of looks like a Husky. I think that is worth repeating.

2) Reuters has recently reported that longer syringes are needed for injections into people's butts because asses are getting fatter. (Hey, I've used some form of the word 'ass' in my last two posts). It seems many of the injections are missing the muscle and end up being intrafatular, rather than intramuscular.

3) I just read a story about a 50-year-old man who pulled a truck a few yards with his penis. Evidently, he studies Qigong, an ancient Chinese art or movement. This makes me nauseous.

4) Tom Cruise bought a sonogram. I wonder if he can use it to see if he has a brain?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Is Sam Clemens an Ass?

A Mark Twain wannabe left an idiotic comment on my previous post. The deranged chap states:

I don't know what is worse,the montane subject matter,or the fact that so many peole have no lifes that they actually stop and read this kind of worthless trival.
I review Blogs,that's what they pay me for anyhow,and I am always in search for some new talent.
I send my reviews to over 400 Yahoo and Google groups all over the world,thereby promoting myself by promoting them,so if you know where I can find a good blog that as an original theme backed by good writing with at least an attempt at originality(see past reviews for sample)let me know!Must dash,the search continues,there's nothing here so....

How about reviewing the blog for what it is, not for what you'd like it to be. I am certain you would not recognize good writing if it bit you in the ass. After all, your comment has many grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. ("peole", "lifes", "trival" plus comma splices, and punctuation failures).

Thanks Jeff for your comment.

And, so you don't have to dig through the comments, here is what I told this jerk in the comments of the last post:

Sam, have you read my entire blog, over 300 posts? Didn't think so. Did I say anywhere that I was attempting to write something other than "worthless trival [sic]?" No. So, your opinion means shit.

How about this: I have been published at last two dozen times in popular, trade, and academic journals. Did it ever occur to you that a blog might have a different purpose? Obviously not.

I am not sure I can respect the opinion of a man who has a blog with only a handful of posts, the last written over three weeks ago.

Besides, if you were a good reviewer, you would offer constructive criticism and not insults. Yes, I have published several book reviews too in real publications, not self-published and congratulatory online junk like your so-called reviews.

You are the one that clearly has no life. You know nothing of mine or the people who comment here, so take your garbage comments elsewhere and don't read this blog. Your comment here makes you look like a big loser. So, screw off.

I'll answer my own question. Yes he is. Oh, and WTF do you mean by "montane subject matter?" I don't believe I have ever referred to mountains in any post.

Update: And I am not the only one who holds this opinion. Read this post, wherein Mr. Clemens is given the inaugural '“Total Fucking Prat of the Blogosphere'” award.

Another Update: Sam is a liar: he has left the same comments on other blogs, like this one and this one. If you visit his blog (there's no reason to as it is quite awful), you will see that his last post was devoted to reviewing two blogs that are clearly also written by him. These are And From the Ashes and The Road Down. He also has posted messages in Yahoo! Groups under the name of H.D. Forbes promoting The Road Down. He has another blog called The View from Outside and The Abuse Ends Now. It is painfully obvious that all of these blogs are written (and I use that term loosely) by the same person, as were the comments left here. I'm not the first person to point out that he is rude. It's clear that I am right, otherwise he would not have deleted the comment I left on his blog, where I pointed out his fraudulent act. Reviewing one's own blog under an alias is a fairly desperate act. He needs help.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Supermarket Etiquette

So, I plonked my purchases down on the conveyor belt, behind the cheese and milk and yogurt and ice cream the person ahead of me was buying. I made sure there was one of those dividers on the belt so that we could ensure a barrier (not at all sterile, however) between our products. Happy with that, I waited for my turn to pay while reflecting on the fact that huge numbers of shoppers at No Frills seem only to buy pop. I'm talking entire carts filled with pop. It's insanity. Who can drink that much pop?

A few seconds later, this guy comes up behind me and puts his stuff down right on top of mine. He didn't wait for space or for one of those dividers. In fact, some of his things rolled ahead of mine. His salami was touching my green pepper!

I decided to wait to see if he would move his products back when the belt moved along: he didn't. I wondered if he was conducting some sort of sociological experiment in shopping. Soon, it was my turn to pay, and he made no move, so I have to push all of his stuff back along and place one of those dividers between our goods. He just stood there. What's up with that? He looked mentally competent, so I wondered how he could be so socially incompetent.

This is neat. The goal is to identify as many band names as possible. There are a lot.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What's on your Computer Clipboard? (because I am bored)

Leave a comment and Press "ctrl v" or edit/paste and let me know.

Here's mine: "It's Only Rhyming Quatrains, But I Like It."

OK, so you don't have to.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Restaurant Review (I know it might seem weird not to include the name of the restaurant, but my dining experience was very personal, and probably others would have a far different and much better meal).

The wooden soup spoons used at ____ are a triumph of form and function and may well be the perfect utensil. It should have been a pleasure to dine with such a lightweight and delicate wooden instrument, even though I strongly believe that soup, on its own, is not a meal, except in Chinatown where one often discovers half a duck—bones and all—swimming in enormous bowls. Eating such a soup with a pair of chopsticks and a ceramic spoon is no small victory, and well worth it, as it is very filling. My soup at ____ failed to quench my appetite on any level, although the challenge of eating the noodle parts with chopsticks was no less real.

Mr. J's and Mr S’s ____ occupies a large, open, and beautiful space on a trendy section of ____ Street East close to _____. The exposed brick walls of this 19th century building project an inviting warmth over a floor filled with square tables, perfectly complimented by low cubical lighting fixtures. Sitting in ____ should be a delightful experience, but the backless stools inflicted on the diners are cruel and inhumane and probably contravene even the Geneva Convention. I would have preferred to stand or sit on the floor, without shoes, in the traditional Japanese style.

On the other hand, the staff was very attentive, but that may have had something to do with the fact that the words “Toronto Star” were dropped early. Or, it could have been the knowledge that we were all students in a reviewing class. In any event, only once before has a chef made a trip to my table to inquire about my meal. In St. Lucia, the chef, a sous-chefs, and a waiter crowded around our table, each in turn prodding my fish fillet with various sharp objects in an attempt to determine if the fish was, as I claimed, breaded, and, therefore, not what I had ordered. At ____, when Chef S. made the trek to my table, all I could manage was that it was okay. It was okay, not spectacular, not delicious, far from perfect, but, mercifully, gluten-free.

Prior to the meal, I grew hungrier and hungrier watching others devour appetizers while taking copious notes—careful not to confuse the Tskune ($5.00) with the Negima Yakitori ($5.75) or the delicious-looking Duck Gyoza ($6.50) with the Pork Gyoza ($4.75) or the Shrimp Dumplings ($6.00). I looked forward to the special meal awaiting me. The waiter had already reviewed the menu with me, suggesting the ____ Beef, grilled top sirloin ($13.75), or the Cha Han ($9.25), both quite delicious-sounding. Instead of these meaty dishes, I learned that the chef had taken a keen interest in feeding me a special item, which turned out to be a small bowl of unnamed soup at an unknown price. I decided that it is probably a mistake to serve a dish with no name, for it affords the diner (or the reviewer) an opportunity to assign one. I might apply the name Pond Soba to the dish served to me.

The tepid soup, bland beyond all imagination, achieved only partial salvation by means of a few niblets of corn and three or four snow peas, all crunchy and quite delightful. In contrast to the soup, these bits of vegetables were an explosion of flavour. Soba noodles, gluten-free, but decidedly boring, lurked at the bottom of a concoction of shiitake mushrooms (the plural form of the word mushroom being an extreme exaggeration) and a cloudy stock, tasting what I imagine warmed up pond water would taste like. I wouldn’t have been too surprised to discover a fish hiding in the tangle of noodles. I was still hungry at the end of the meal, and ran out to get something else to eat, something delicious and extremely succulent.

I keep a list of restaurants that can provide a gluten-free meal. I may add ____ to the list, not because the food was great, but simply because they were able to produce a meal that matched my dietary restrictions. But, if I ever go back, it will only be to sneak away one of those awesome spoons.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Goin' Mobile

I have obtained my laptop (or notebook, if you prefer). Yeah, I would have liked a Power Book, but the price! Anyway, I am now mobile. I just connected to the campus wireless network and am blogging. Cool. I can now, if I want, write while sitting on the toilet. I've always thought that a bathroom ought to have a telephone and a computer, so I'll just camp out there with my cell phone and laptop. The only other thing I would really need is a fridge and a TV. Sounds like heaven.

I failed as a blogger last week. I don't think I visited any blogs, other than my own. My excuse is that I was busy. I will make it up to you.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

I've Been a Very Very lazy Blogger, so I am Doing another one of those meme things, which I borrowed this from running42k

1. What time is it? 9:40 AM

2. What is your name? Zydeco Fish

3. Any nicknames? Zed, Fish, Fishy, Mr. Fish, Zydie (my dad called me Sam, Squirt, Buckethead, etc).

4. Mother's name? Verna

5. What is your Favourite drink?
Red Wine

6.(a) Tattoos? Yes

(b) Body piercing? Yes (ear)

7. How much do you love your job-scale of 1 to 10? 10

8. Birthplace: Small Town, Ontario, Canada

9. Favourite vacation spot: haven't found it yet

10. Ever been to Africa? No, but I would like to.

11. Stolen any traffic signs? Yes (with running42k, I believe)

12. Ever been in a car accident? Yes

13. Croutons or Bacon bits? Neither

14. 2 Door or 4 Door car? I don't own a car

15. Salad Dressing? Oil and vinegar

16. Favourite Pie? Gluten-free pie is hard to come by, so I don't eat it. I used to like apple pie

17. Favourite Number? 9

18. Favourite Movie? Citizen Kane or Clockwork Orange or 2001 or Apocalypse Now

19. Favourite Colour? Black

20. Favourite Holiday? Christmas

21. Favourite Food? Indian

22. Favourite day of the week? Saturday

23. Favourite brand of body soap? Favourite? Who has favourite soap?

24. Favourite TV show? It was Seinfeld. Now, I'm not sure...maybe Family Guy

25. Toothpaste? Nature's Bliss Natural Toothpaste

26. Most recently read book? Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

27. Favourite Smell? Chocolate

28. What do you do to relax? read, write, cycle

29. Favourite Fast Food? None. I do eat New York fries from time to time

30. When was your last hospital visit? Can't remember. I sprained my ankle playing basketball in high school

31. Message to your friends reading this: Hi and thanks for visiting

32. How do you see yourself in 10 years? Filthy rich

33. What do you do when you are bored? Blog, surf, read, watch something on TV

34. What presents do you enjoy receiving? CDs, DVDs, chocolate (not milk chocolate), money

35. What time is it now? 9:46 AM

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Monday, November 14, 2005

John Cale @ the Lula Lounge

Something about the audience at last night's John Cale concert at the Lula Lounge made me feel a bit old. Oh yeah, it's because the crowd was old. I was not a Velvet Underground fan when they were together. I am far too young for that. But, I have been a fan for a long time, if somewhat after the fact. I was disappointed when the reunion tour a few years back fell apart in Europe. They never made it back here to play. Sterling died ten years ago, so that rules out any further hope of that happening.

(By the way, I am talking about John Cale, not J.J. Cale. The fact that people confuse these two has always irritated me. )

There was a positively geriatric couple sitting quite close by us (CG & I). I wondered if some of the crowd suffered any hearing loss. There were so few young people there. I find it difficult to believe that young people do not know who this man is. That made me feel old.

Cale and bandmates - who looked half is age at least - played lots of new material, but dipped into the back catalogue for a few key Cale tunes, like: Helen of Troy, Cable Hogue, Dirty Ass Rock and Roll, Leaving it up to You, Guts, and a freaky version of Gun. They opened with a crowd-pleasing Venus in Furs. Some songs sounded much improved, especially Dancing Undercover. My favourite tune from last night has to be the pimped-out version of Jonathan Richman's Pablo Picasso, originally released on Helen of Troy. I'll borrow from my neighbour's bumper-sticker: it was fukengruven.

Cale is playing again tonight and tomorrow.

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

More Doll Photos

My instructor didn't like the picture, or the other one from a slightly different angle. The important thing is that I like it, right?

This was taken with a large format camera (5 x 7) in a studio with tungsten lighting. I won't bore you with the lighting set-up or the exposure or processing details, except to say that I printed it on fibre paper.

Image © 2004 Zydeco Fish

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Movie Review

The Squid and the Whale
written and directed by Noah Baumbach, with Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg, Owen Kline, William Baldwin, and Anna Paquin. 88 minutes.

The Squid and the Whale ought to serve as a lesson to aspiring filmmakers in how to make the most of music and metaphor. The opening scene, featuring an unfriendly family tennis match, clearly describes the Berkman family dynamic with very few words. Bernard, played deftly by Jeff Daniels, encourages teenage son Walt (Jesse Eisenberg), to play to his mother’s backhand, which Bernard knows is weak. It is no coincidence that Bernard and Jesse are on one side of the net, while Joan (Laura Linney) and pubescent Frank (Owen Kline) are on the other. It mirrors the family where Walt idolizes his father, while younger Frank identifies with his mother.

Noah Baumbach, writer and director of Kicking and Screaming and Mr. Jealousy, has given us an intense, profound, and, at the same time, very funny film. In just 88 minutes, Baumbach presents a multilayered semi-autobiographical film about a Brooklyn family being torn apart by divorce. There is an exceptional economy and precision to this film. Ideal casting, excellent acting, a literate script, and evocative soundtrack make for an almost perfect film, even though it is, at times, unpleasant to watch.

Bernard, an aging writer, is having problems dealing with his wife’s emerging writing success at a time when his career has seen better days. Bernard’s difficulty in dealing with these life changes, coupled with his wife’s infidelity, pushes them into separation, with a complicated custody arrangement. The children, not surprisingly, find themselves struggling to deal with these changes.

Music, it seems, is often included in movies simply as filler or because it sounds good. That is not the case here. Hey You, a central song in Pink Floyd's The Wall, an operatic tale of descent into alienation, gives us a clear understanding of just what Noah Baumbach is trying to achieve in his tight and clever film. Shortly after Walt’s revelation near the end of the film, we hear Street Hassle, Lou Reed’s oddly optimistic and highly sexual post-punk three-movement musical poem about life on the streets of New York. There are other intelligent musical choices that add to the film’s coherence.

Divorce films are not new. It would be too easy to make another Kramer vs. Kramer with emotional screaming matches and tears. The Squid and the Whale avoids that by employing just enough humour to keep it from being too dark, but no so much as to put it in Woody Allen territory. The Squid and the Whale succeeds on many levels: it is a coming of age film, a divorce film, a comedy of sorts, and an example of exemplary film making. One wishes it that it were longer, but leaving the audience wanting more is probably also a sign of a good film.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I Told You So

Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote this about my refusal to get a flu shot. A new study agrees with me. Ah, I love it when I am right. The Cochrane Collaboration (an international network of individuals and institutions committed to preparing, maintaining, and disseminating systematic reviews on the effects of health care) found that 95% of people who get the flu shot shouldn't even bother because so few people actually get the flu. In fact, a meta-analysis of 12 randomized controlled trials found that a reduction in the spread of the disease was not achieved. There was no reduction in the number of work days lost, and no reduction in deaths or hospitalization.

I worked in a hospital for six years, and the only people for whom the flu shot was recommended were the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, especially kidney and lung diseases. In other words, let's put that $50 million to other uses.

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Where have I been? you might ask

Well, I had a kind of a busy week last week, although I am not sure if I accomplished anything. In fact, I might even have difficulty saying why it was busy. It sure seemed busy at the time. I have nothing to say, really. After all, it is the weekend, and I so rarely post on weekends, preferring to sleep and eat.

But, I do have a cold, my second in a row without any interruption. Colds suck. I hate you, cold virus.

So, the photo on the right (© 2004 Zydeco Fish, by the way) is from a series of colour photos I did a while back. I was never very happy with this one, but I like the alien quality it has.

And that's all I am going to say today.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Peace or Peas (No Gomery)

I thought the patron said "I need an encyclopedia of peace." She did have a strong accent, after all. I was transported back to my undergrad days, to that 4th year political science seminar mysteriously entitled "An Inquiry into the Nature and Meaning of Peace." No, it was not simply the absence of war. I wondered if there was such a thing as an encyclopedia of peace.

It didn't help that the professor wore a silk ascot daily and that his bald pate was normally covered by one of seemingly dozens of berets. The worst thing was his verbosity. I have never heard a man say so much and yet say so little. If anyone could have written an entire encyclopedia on peace, it was this man. It would have been inane and possiblly vacuous, but I believe he could have done it.

I recall that my major paper was a discussion of dystopian literature. How often does one get the opportunity to wax philosophical on English literature in a political science course? I'd say rarely.

On further questioning (in a series of open questions - good librarian that I am) I discovered that she said "I need an encyclopedia of peas." A whole encyclopedia of peas? That can't exist. But, I did find a ten page entry in an encyclopedia of food and nutrition. That did the trick. Another happy student walked away, searching for a photocopier.

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