Thursday, June 26, 2008

Feeling Poor in Forest Hill

I am younger that this Vice President. I am slimmer and better looking too. My hair is more lustrous. Oh, and I am taller ... and not so pale. He is as pale as Dracula's ass, if you ask me. And that accent made me think of Transylvania, until I was corrected. But, he is a nice guy with a beautiful house in Forest Hill, one of Toronto's wealthiest neighbourhoods, after The Bridal Path (TAFKAP's former 'hood) and Rosedale. I felt impoverished after the visit. The welcoming glass of Prosecco, the open bar, the pool, the caterers, the open bar, the kitchen, the open bar, the meticulously manicured lawn, the .... OK, I will stop listing the things I covet. Did I mention that I am younger and far more handsome?

Of course, I was under-dressed. Who could have anticipated all of those suits? I was in jeans. I did have a jacket, a vintage black suit jacket made in Fredericton, New Brunswick, of all places. Aren't all clothes now made off-shore? Are there any Canadian manufacturers of clothing left? Eventually, I slipped on the jacket, even though the temperature argued against such a move, but doing so made me feel less under-dressed, but not inconspicuous. After all, I had to decline all of the hors d'oeuvres as none seemed to be gluten-free. That must have aroused suspicion and I think the caterers began to wonder. The cold Prosecco was a good antidote to the heat, but then I had to cycle home, through Forest Hill Village, but at least it was all downhill from Forest Hill (and by that I mean the down slope of a hill, but it could equally suggest that I was on the way to an inferior or worse condition).

For the rest of this week, I will be at a conference. In fact, I am at the conference right now, doing all manner of conferency things. It looks to be a good conference, but I will be the judge of that.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Glossary of a Three-Year-Old

Sunscream - the cream applied to one's body in order to avoid sun burn and, possibly, skin cancer.

Porkchoppers - a cut of meat cut at a right angle to the spine of the swine, sometimes containing a rib bone or segment of a vertebra. Alternately, pigs with extraordinarily long front legs. These pigs look much like radically-customized motorcycles, with stretched front forks.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


1) I have a serious case of writer's block. I am supposed to be writing a brief article about a recent event sponsored by an organization to which I belong. I have been sitting on it for too long now, and I think I am stuck.

2) Ahoy, mateys, there still be bilge-sucking, sons-of-biscuit-eating, scurvy dog pirates on the high seas. Aha! Maybe I can write the article in pirate speak?

3) I am going to another conference later in the week (Wednesday to Friday). It conflicts with another conference that I wanted to go to, so that sucks. But, this conference should actually be a good one.

4) Next Monday, I have to see a retinal specialist because I have a "suspect retinal tear." The good news is that a laser can weld it closed, if this is what it proves to be, but it sounds painful. I am also on the hunt for new lunettes.

Another boring post, brought to you by the folks at Writer's Block.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Moving on Up

The good news just keeps rolling in. Today, I received my invitation from Matthew Johnson to be included in the "Honor Edition" of 2008-2009 edition of Who's Who! Ring the bells. I am famous indeed. Can the book deal/starring role/business opportunities be far behind? I think yes.

Johnson claims that "There is no cost to be included." The lying bastard if full of shit. Madison Who's Who is a vanity press, a vanity press that tries to rope you in with this glorious opportunity, and then they pressure you to bust out the AMEX. Oddly, the email contains a footer that states: "Madison Who's Who is not associated or affiliated with Marquis Who's Who or any other Who's Who." In other words, they stole the name too. Imagine trying to pull off this scam with a librarian! The jerks.

Of course, I confirmed all of this. It seems that lots of people have been offered a not-so-free listing in the upcoming edition. The scam has been reported to the FDIC. If you want shell out cash for a leather-bound book with your name in it, go right ahead. You might also be interested in the National Library of Poetry scam...I mean contest...too.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More on The War on Photography

And this is an even scarier example of what is going on in the USA:

The War on Photography (or, you can't photograph this and you can't photograph that)

I love the article Are photographers really a threat? Bruce Schneier of the Guardian sums up the ridiculous assaults on the rights of photographers by arguing:
The 9/11 terrorists didn't photograph anything. Nor did the London transport bombers, the Madrid bombers, or the liquid bombers arrested in 2006. Timothy McVeigh didn't photograph the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The Unabomber didn't photograph anything; neither did shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Photographs aren't being found amongst the papers of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IRA wasn't known for its photography. Even those manufactured terrorist plots that the US government likes to talk about -- the Ft. Dix terrorists, the JFK airport bombers, the Miami 7, the Lackawanna 6 -- no photography.
Indeed, and yet all over the west, photographers and normal citizens taking photos and videos in public spaces are being harassed by security and police. If you have 6 minutes to spare, have a look at this video of British police harassing a man for taking a video on public property:

And, it's not just in the UK. Photographers and tourists are routinely hassled in places like Washington DC, where there is a huge list of buildings that one is not permitted to photograph - even when standing on public property. Marc Fisher has written an interesting piece about that. The comments are interesting too. Americans have the right to bear arms, and maybe it's time to add the right to bear cameras to the constitution.

In Toronto, I have read about the stories of Toronto Flickr-types being confronted by security from the American Consulate for taking photos in the area, even when standing on public property. What is really perplexing is that there are photos of the US Consulate on the web (which can be found using a Google image search), not to mention satellite views using Google Earth.

And then there's this: Police appeal for bombing footage (!) First, they harass people for taking photos, and then they want the people to hand over the photos they didn't want you to take in the first place! This is ridonkulous.

So far, I have not been harassed, but I will be sure to mention the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms when it happens.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Planet Terror

In my opinion, Planet Terror only started to get going when Rose McGowan (Cherry Darling) got her machine gun leg, more than halfway through the film. I have no idea how she managed to pull the trigger; in fact, no triggering device was apparent, to me anyway. That didn't stop her from blasting the infected zombie-like dudes to smithereens with lots and lots of blood splatter.

I suppose if you are trying to emulate a grade b film, you have to go for the outrageous gore factor. Heads get blown off; one man's genitals melt away into a pool of bloody flesh; Cherry loses a leg; a helicopter is used to julienne some unfortunate diseased people (who look fairly disgusting). And, there is enough bad dialogue to please the most demanding b movie enthusiasts out there.

Rodriguez even tried to approximate the look and sound of a slightly beat up film. And so, we have blips and pops in the soundtrack, visible lines on the image to replicate a film that had been shown about 4000 times. And then there is the sound, the slightly muffled sound. I appreciate the effort, but I found this realistic homage to be very irritating. It was like sitting in an ancient review cinema that has only two speakers and one can barely discern what is being said. Beat up the film - yes. Destroy the sound - no, no, no.

Thanks to HMV's deals-of-the-day, I got my copy (double disc) for $6.99. It's essentially the price of a rental, so it was a good deal. I also picked up Death Proof for the same price, but have yet to screen it. I'll let you know what I think of it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


all I do is go to meetings, like today, where I have meetings from 11:00 until 5:00. I'll be able to squeeze in lunch, but, you know, meetings are a necessary evil, right?

“Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything.”
-John Kenneth Galbraith

“Meetings are an addictive, highly self-indulgent activity that corporations and other large organizations habitually engage in only because they cannot masturbate”
-Dave Barry

“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.”
- Thomas Sowell

"Whoever invented the meeting must have had Hollywood in mind. I think they should consider giving Oscars for meetings: Best Meeting of the Year, Best Supporting Meeting, Best Meeting Based on Material from Another Meeting."
- William Goldman

"I've searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees."
- Gilbert K. Chesterton

Monday, June 16, 2008


I happened to catch a bit of the US Open on TV on Sunday. My opinion of golf has improved over the years, such that I am not terribly bored when watching it. I am not sure that I will run out and buy clubs, but you never know. Curling, if you ask me, is much more engaging to watch.

My question of the day is, why would anyone watch golf in person? It's one of those sports that is massively improved by TV, like the marathon of even speed walking, though that sport makes me laugh.

Now, I must get back to work after this brief post-weekend post.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bill C-61 will Make most of us Criminals

I didn't think it was possible, but I hate the Conservative party even more now after the introduction of a regressive American-style copyright bill. I don't even know where to start with this damn bill. It simply sucks.

Imagine fining someone $20,000 for unlocking a cell phone! It's ludicrous. Adding a song from your CD to your kid's MP3 player will make you a criminal. Watching an out-of-region DVD will make you a criminal! If you watch a DVD on a Linux system, you will be a criminal. Do you have some old TV shows on VHS that you may or may never watch again? That collection will be illegal. Format shifting will be illegal.

The bill will criminalize the act of making a mixed tape (er...CD) and giving it away to, say, your girlfriend. I know this might sound like a Hi Fidelity moment, but this is an important life stage for many boys and men. It's part of the courtship ritual. The government has no right to interfere in that. Beside, we already pay a levy on blank media to cover such usage, so in the future, we will be paying a levy to cover an illegal activity!

CLA (the Canadian Library Association) and CAUT (the Canadian Association of University Teachers) have spoken out against this bill because it impedes access to electronic resources required for teaching and research and is a backlash against the victory won in the Supreme Court of Canada in the case between the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Ontario Bar Association, and CCH Canadian.

Michael Geist's blog is a good source of info, and there's a great discussion here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mamma Mia!

I will confess right now that I hate ABBA passionately, mostly because my dad was a huge fan and I had to endure hours and hours of Mamma Mia. It scarred me deeply. John McCain has announced his love of the not-so-Fab Four from Sweden.

Evidently he said: "You're a no-class guy if you like ABBA...I'm not embarrassed to say that I like ABBA." He also said that he would use ABBA music in every White House elevator, which is reason enough to decline any invitations I might get to the House of the President.

While digging into my ABBA memories, I discovered that there is a perfect song for McCain: I'm a Marionette. It's perfect for the McBush.
You're so free
That's what everybody's telling me
Yet I feel I'm like an outward-bound, pushed around, refugee
Something's wrong, got a feeling that I don't belong
As if I have come from outer space, out of place, like King Kong

I'm a marionette, just a marionette, pull the string
I'm a marionette, everybody's pet, just as long as I sing
I'm a marionette, see my pirouette, 'round and 'round
I'm a marionette, I'm a marionette, just a silly old clown

Like a doll, like a puppet with no will at all
And somebody taught me how to talk, how to walk, how to fall

Can't complain, I've got no-one but myself to blame
Something's happening I can't control, lost my hold, it's insane

I'm a marionette, just a marionette, pull the string
I'm a marionette, everybody's pet, just as long as I sing
I'm a marionette, see my pirouette, 'round and 'round
I'm a marionette, I'm a marionette, just a silly old clown

Look this way, just a little smile, is what they say
You look better on the photograph if you laugh, that's okay!!

I'm a marionette, just a marionette, pull the string
I'm a marionette, everybody's pet, just as long as I sing
I'm a marionette, see my pirouette, 'round and 'round
I'm a marionette, I'm a marionette, just a silly old clown

You're so free
That's what everybody's telling me
Yet I feel I'm like an outward-bound, pushed around, refugee
Ah, it's so perfect. And now, I am off for what I think is a half day meeting :-(

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Baby Name Ideas

Apparently, more than 4000 Chinese children have been named Aoyun in the last 15 years. I know, that probably doesn't sound very interesting but Aoyun means Olympic Games. How would you like to be named that? I guess it's better than being named after the Pan Am Games.

There's more. Other popular names are Defend China, Space Travel, and Civilization. The latter is the name of almost 300,000 people! You have to love a nation that will take names from just about anything.

Which reminds me: I strongly believe that everyone ought to be given a provisional name by their parents, with the option of changing it when they reach the age of 18. At that point, you could change it without question to something that you really like, something good, like Aloysius or Ezekiel.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bin City

I am still adjusting to the HUGE recycling bin the city dropped at the house about a month ago. It's so big, it takes an entire month to fill it, and it's not even the biggest bin available! I can barely squeeze it between the houses to get it out of view. I have to lean it almost flat against the ground in two places, give it a little lift a few inches further along to avoid the outdoor faucet, and finally execute a nice counterclockwise swirl. With some coaxing, I can just squeeze her in.

I really hate the look of all of these bins all over the place, in front yards, on porches, etc. If you ask me, the City had uglified Toronto. I am all for recycling, composting, and waste diversion, but I have to think that there are better means than these enormous bins.

Soon, phase two of bin madness will be thrust upon us. Look at the size of the largest bin! It's almost as big as the model. But, I see several good uses for a bin that large:

1) use it to dispose of your couch potato husband
2) toss in your irritating and/or nosy neighbour(s)
3) you could probably fit four or five screaming children in there (depending on their ages)

In other words, the largest bin is a great body-disposal system.

In summary, I am not entirely happy with these bins, even if I can agree with the intended outcome. Now, I just have to wait and see if someone steals them.

Monday, June 09, 2008

"Lou Reed got married and didn't invite me. I mean is it because he thought I'd bring too many people? I don't get it. He could have at least called. I mean he's doing so great. Why doesn't he call me?"

'Tis true, the King of New York City got married to Laurie Anderson on April 12. It's also true that he didn't invite me. I'll award bonus points if you can identify the source of that quote without consulting with Google or any other search engine. Just off the top of your head, please.

Disco Mystic has always confused me. I think I understand Metal Machine Music well enough, but Disco Mystic is perplexing. I mean, I think it's awesome, maybe one of Reed's best compositions. Maybe it's just 'cause I am a fan of repetitive music. but, I have always wondered if it is a joke. Is it?

As a whole, The Bells is way better than Growing up in Public - the mediocre follow-up that I ignore of my CD shelves - but far worse than the Blue Mask. Oh yeah, Under the Bottle, Waves of Fear, and the title track (perhaps my fav Lou Reed song of all time) are simply awesome. Well, if you like serious electric guitar with some feedback mixed in with a few softer tunes.

Why am I discussing Lou Reed, you might ask? Well, I realized that I haven't yet picked up Hudson River Wind Meditations, which is unusual but understandable considering it's an import ($$$). And then there is the photography. Yes, Lou is a photographer. Did you know that? We are simpatico.

BTW, this is an interesting post about the Bells, here.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Sue Me

I don't use Classmates, for many reasons, but mostly because I am on Facebook (which is free) and I have heard many of the horror stories about Classmates auto-renewing subscriptions without permission. Anyway, I had to laugh at the terms of service at Classmates:

7) "You cannot link to our Website without our prior written consent."

You know, I really hate that. The world wide web is based on the principle of the hyperlinking of hypertext documents. If you don't want anyone to link to your site, get off the web! Go home now and leave the web to mature adults.

A no-linking policy sounds to me like a good method of restricting reviews and negative press. For instance, a list of dumb-ass websites would lose its punch if there were no links to the sites being reviewed. For example "Classmates sucks" has less of an impact than "Classmates sucks," right? You know I am right.

It's like when news sites reported that a nude photo of Vanessa Hudgens had surfaced on the web, but they didn't provide a link.
That is only half the story. That, my friends, is irresponsible journalism. We all had to do the work finding the photo ourselves. News sites ought to be obligated to link to the thing they are talking about, be it Britney Spears without panties or Tom Cruise being all scientology-crazy, for example.

So, my point is that Classmates can sue me, or try to, but they'll never win.

P.S. I am loving this scheduled post feature. I wrote this on Tuesday and it will auto-magically get published at the designated time. That is awesome.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Hollywood Librarian

I was so looking forward to The Hollywood Librarian, a feature-length film that presents itself as "a look at librarians through film." This movie has nothing to do with Hollywood, and it is certainly not a look at librarians through film. It is a misnamed, poorly edited, meandering hodge podge of disjointed vignettes that fails to cohere. Sure, there are occasional snippets of semi-famous movie scenes featuring librarians, but these are incidental and generally pass without comment, as if they are simply filler.

Evidently, Anne Seidl spent five years making this film, the first feature-length film about librarians, if you exclude Midnight Librarians ("Ever wonder what librarians do after hours when they remove their glasses, lose the orthopedic shoes and let their hair hang down?" ...). While I think many librarians will look favorably upon this film, I would be astonished if the general public shows any interest in it.

I could watch a well-executed documentary on just about any topic (I loved March of the Penguins, Crumb, Super Size Me, Best in Show, but I think I will draw the line at Nick Nolte: No Exit). The only thing that kept me watching The Hollywood Librarian is the fact that I am a librarian, but that didn't stop me from checking my watch every few minutes and wondering how much time was left. I'll never get that time back.

Some day, I will make a documentary about Librarians and I guarantee you that there will be nudity.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Boy, Hilary Clinton really messed that up. It was her campaign to lose, and she did just that, not that I care, really. At the outset, I merely hoped that the Democratic party would nominate someone who could defeat the Republican nominee, who, in this case, is an old man who loves war. Why elect someone who wants to bomb Iran?

Electing John McCain is just as bad as electing George Bush. Please don't do that. This is a chance to undo the damage caused by eight years of idiocy. The war against terror started off well enough. Even I supported the action in Afghanistan, but then it went off the rails at the hands of lying president. But, this has all been said before.

I know, some people will read this and curse the ravings of a so-called left-wing blogger. I don't define myself as a left-wing blogger, although my sympathies are clearly with the left. This may have something to do with being Canadian and our pseudo-socialist state. What most Americans call the left is really the centre in Canada.

The other thing I find astonishing is that the right denies global warming. I have even heard it referred to as the "global warming fiasco" on right-wing blogs. Is this because Al Gore (a Democrat) is the leading spokesperson for the movement to curtail pollution? Can the right wing really be that dumb?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Slow Banking

I once saw Carl Honoré speak very slowly - for almost an hour - about his book, In Praise of Slowness. I think even he acknowledged that an hour was too long, and it showed. What I took away from his talk is that some things should be slow; others, not so much.

Have you stood in line behind someone who seems to be doing a year's worth of financial transactions at the banking machine? What's up with that? There I was, waiting patiently behind an extremely disorganized woman who tried to juggle cash, bills, at least two banking cards, a plastic bag full of socks, and her purse. What was worse is that she was using one of those machines that are on the streets, right at College and Spadina. I was third in line. A person behind me bailed, deciding to head on over to College and Bathurst and take his chances over there. As usual, I made the wrong decision and waited and waited and waited.

At any supermarket, it is guaranteed that I will select the slowest line. My mere presence is enough to slow down any line. The person in front of me will argue about the price of pig feet or tripe and we end in in price check hell.

When a gust of wind came up, her cash (four or five $20 bills) went drifting down the street. Some good citizens tracked down the flying cash after she said "oh, shit" and ran after them, leaving another stack of cash and some banking cards on a ledge near the machine. She was still "logged in." When she returned, with a growing line behind her, she continued with her slow and disorganized banking.

Cards came out, new cards went in. PIN numbers were entered and re-entered. She stuffed envelopes down its throat. She withdrew cash; she seemed to put cash back in. She dropped her keys. Coins fells to the ground. The wind came up again, but she saved herself. Fifteen minutes later, she finally saw a line that had formed behind her, but this didn't make her go any faster. Fortunately, the dude in front of me gave up, leaving me next in line.

I always feel somewhat exposed when I do any banking on the street, and with good reason. Just a few days ago, police warned people to take extra precautions in Scarborough because people were being robbed at knife point at banking machines. It makes me wonder why we have any machines on the streets.

And now, I am going to slowly write a business plan. In fact, I have been slowly doing that for quite a while now, so maybe I should speed up.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Yorkville Music Walk

Last weekend, I joined the Yorkville Music Scene in the 1960s walk sponsored by Heritage Toronto:
Discover the birthplace of Canadian song. Visit the sites of famous clubs and coffeehouses like the Riverboat and the Penny Farthing and learn how stars such as Joni Mitchell and Neil Young got their start.
I was aware of some of the points highlighted by Nicholas Jennings, tour guide and author of Before the Goldrush. Throughout the tour, he showed memorabilia and some albums, passed along interesting trivia, and played some music. If you are interested in the early Toronto music scene, you might want to check this out, but I think you will have to wait until next year.

Although this tour concentrated on coffee houses in Yorkville, coffee houses existed in other parts of the city. For example, there was the Pornographic Onion Coffee House on Victoria Street:

Bruce Cockburn is in the upper right corner of this image, from 1969. I have no idea who the rest of the people are, however, but I think Nicholas would know. The guy in the lower left looks very familiar, and I think we talked about him on the tour, but since my memory is crap, I forget. If you know who any of these people are, please tell me.