Thursday, May 31, 2007

Animal House

After seeing the following short article on CBC, I have become most intrigued about the potential of using wild animals in various acts of protest against unpopular government policies..

FREDERICTON (CP) - There was a four-legged intruder Thursday in the New Brunswick legislative press gallery in Fredericton.
A young deer entered through an open door of the building next to the legislature shortly before 8 a.m.
Video captured by security cameras shows the deer cross the lobby and briefly enter an elevator, before bolting into offices used by reporters.
The deer jumped onto a desk, smashing a keyboard and leaving clumps of hair.
The animal then raced through the offices and jumped through a window, leaving shattered glass strewn outside.
The deer hasn't been seen since.

Don't like what John Baird has done with the environment portfolio? Well, time to round up some deer...Planning to spoil that city council meeting where that damn transport policy will be coming up again? Get some wild animals, let them loose at a critical juncture. Apparently, they like rampaging through offices and smashing keyboards.

I would most likely opt for something heavier, more clumsy and potentially threatening. In parts of the country, say Newfoundland or Northern Ontario, moose would be an ideal fit. In Alberta, wood buffalo or elk (especially rutting Banff elk) are the candidates. Big, mean, slightly disoriented and wonderfully difficult to control, short of shooting them..and, of course, you can't have that without an outcry from the environmentalists. So, in conclusion, time to start thinking Animal House.

Try not to despair

Okay, I admit it, I started to despair last night. I knew something was wrong when Don Cherry, of all people, made sense. He said this is the worst the Senators have ever played in this year’s playoffs and they only lost by one goal. And they’re on their way home.

If I was Emery or Volchenkov I’d be tearing my teammates a new one. Emery was fired up last night and put on a spectacular show. We were wondering where Eaves was and I think maybe Bryan Murray let Emery punch him up a bit to work out his frustration and it aggravated that concussion. Seriously, after last night’s performance if Emery needs to beat someone up as his pre-game ritual, I’ll get him a hobo. Heck I could probably run a contest for willing fans at this point.

And has everyone seen these three Young Liberals ads yet? They’re quite clever compared to the Conservative attempt at clever. Not that I really like one party more than the other, and they’re still just *this* close to actually being relevant to anyone but Young Liberals or Conservatives.

Mocking those Macintosh-PC ads is done. That shark was jumped, landed on enough times, knocked out, bred with hyper-intelligent dolphins, and turned into slurry. Also, I hate that smug Mac guy. He’s not cool, he’s an arrogant little wiener of a character who makes me never consider buying a Mac. You see too many people in my neighbourhood thinking their powerbooks make them as cool as that young whippersnapper on that commercial while they drink overpriced coffee and hog tables throughout The Glebe. Also, you couldn’t play Civ IV on Macs until quite recently.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

MMMMmmm, Crow

A day after I get my letter published it seems the mayor has put up a JumboTron on the grounds of City Hall for the games.

Why didn't I hear about this until last night? Did anyone else know?

It's family friendly, which means if you want to bring booze you'll have to wrap it up in tin foil and disguise it like a mini-Stanley Cup. Be creative.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Monday Meme - two separate ideas melding into one form

Call the doctor, because I got Ottawa Senators fever. The only known cure is the Stanley Cup.

I do have to say that I'm exceptionally happy that the fans have managed to rise their heads out from the sea of beige normally unassailable in this city. For the first time cheers are based around support for the Senators rather than fueled by anti-Leaf sentiment. I like that. I'm happy about that although it seems to have just been recalibrated towards the amorphous media for not being totally behind the Senators - the anouncers, Don "I will abuse plaid until you all gouge out your eyes Cherry, and well, the rest of Canada really are all being targeted for not supporting the Sens. My thoughts are why the heck should they? Because we'll support any Canadian team in the finals doesn't mean we should expect the same when it's our team.

Yes, I'm no big Leafs fan but if they were in the cup I'd be 100% behind them, but that's just me. Same for the Habs, Canucks, Flames, Oilers and that possible new team that the Blackberry guy might move across the border. I know this comes from my years in the UK where I, even to this day, couldn't stand Manchester United unless they were playing against European teams. Old alliances go by the wayside when a common enemy is presented - or you know and English team plays the Germans, kind of like when a Canadian team plays an American one. But the thing is, I don't expect the rest of Canada to be like me the rest of the world would get suspiscious, or maybe jealous.

I’ll be watching the game tonight with my in-laws. Also, that’s pretty much the reason I haven’t posted anything this past weekend, and haven’t been able to plan ahead for this week. Expect light content. Now that I’ve written that I’ll end up producing a treatise on metaphysics in an hour or so.

Meanwhile, enjoy Rock Scissors Paper version 2.0

Friday, May 25, 2007

First time author

First time seeing my name in print next to something I've written. Tomorrow, I start phase two.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Go Sens Go!

Just got back from the Senators Rally at City Hall. I couldn't stay too long though without risking my gainful employment - thankfully it's almost directly across the street from me. It was alright although I can't for the life of me figure out why they would hold it on a Thursday at lunch time.

There was a parade of former Senators and lots of t-shirts, jerseys and Roman Centurians, which is great to see.

What was weird was the people on stage, Stuntman Stu (who I highly doubt has any stuntman credits) and the penis shaped mayor kept repeating how Ottawa is the greatest place to live, not just a little shabby government town. They actually said that. All I could think was, sure, all the public servants sure couldn't take 2 hours in the middle of a Thursday to watch a slap-dash pep-rally. I'm a bit tired of hearing people try to unsuccessfully defend Ottawa as a city. It is what it is, let those of us trying to make it reach its potential get on with the job. I'm tired of the knee-jerk reaction to a few obviously pertinent observations about the nation's capital.

I don't mean to sound ungrateful, the city did a decent job for such short notice. I love the Senators fans because I'm one as well. I wear my heart on my sleeve when it comes to this team and yes, I'm quick to dispair but that's what being a fan is all about. Heck I used to be a Nordiques fan before I moved to Ottawa, and I with David Ljunggren as a member of the Toon Army supporting Newcastle United. I love the Sens fans, the fans are what make this city a hockey town because we know the civic leaders will cock it all up or generally take yet another opportunity for greatness, coat it in beige and just Ottawa-up the whole thing.

Back when Ottawa was an opium supplier

Of our dozen or so readers here you’re probably wondering why the heck I’ve listed The Plastic Man Archives: Volume 1 as my current book of choice? Well it’s a simple answer, golden age Plastic Man comics are simply amazing. These are adventures from the time before the comic book code so you’re given unbridled creativity with a stronger basis in reality. Yes, it’s still about a man who has all the properties of India Rubber but there’s also a seedy underworld he deals with where people get maimed and die on a regular basis.

The short history is that Plastic Man debuted in Police Comics in 1941. He was created by Jack Cole who among other works, ghosted for Will Eisner for a little while on The Spirit, worked for Playboy creating Females, by Cole as well as finally getting his own newspaper comic strip Betsy and Me. He committed suicide rather suddenly in 1958 and nobody knows why. Ultimately, he’s best known for his Plastic Man work for which he wrote, drew and inked the stories.

I had no idea what to expect, to be honest. My only prior exposure to any work that was relatively contemporary was to Will Eisner’s The Spirit, which I found to be ahead of its time in many ways and came up with eleven reasons for new comers to comics to read it. However, this is about Plastic Man where the art and stories are rough around the edges, especially compared to today’s exacting standards and hyper-realistic bent we see in a lot of photorealistic works. But these pages have life because they aren’t trying to imitate life rather than be an exploration and interpretation of it. They are alive with ideas and energy that you just don’t see that much these days.

Take for instance this story where this Rosie O’Donell looking woman is using her farm to create an all-female gang to take over Mammoth City. Yes, it’s called Mammoth City, which on it’s own is more genius than anything Hollywood produced this summer. Anyway, here’s two panels where we get to see hilariously dated slang and leggy women boxing.

I wonder if Russ Meyer read Plastic Man? Heffner did.

Inevitably Rosie O’Donell’s gang of beautiful yet unbeatable women take over the criminal underworld. And the gangsters respond in the only way conceivable. That’s right, they steal a bunch of tanks from the local army base and raid the farm. Only it doesn’t work out so well and they all die. But what I want to know is how lax was security at the tank base that a bunch of guys in brightly colored zoot-suits could take a bunch of tanks, drive them across the city and countryside during world war two? I guess the army was more occupied with foreign invaders or overseas.

When the women capture Plastic Man they do the only logical thing a self-respecting female crime syndicate can do – smoke him up on reefer until he goes on a murderous rampage.
But don’t worry, a couple of Snickers bars later he chills, listens to some zepplin and is ready to strike back. Okay, not really. He listened to some far out jazz. Okay, still not really. What actually happens is he gets shot in the head a few times but since he’s rubber it just sort of bounces off him and knocks some sense into him until he realizes what happens. It all ends our nicely with Plastic Man pushing Rosie O’Donnell over onto a spike. This all happens in ten pages.
There’s countless other stories about Plastic Man taking on corrupt gangsters, heck he even busts an opium smuggling ring that originates in Ottawa. What follows is most likely where the idea for Bruce McDonald’s Highway 61 germinated.
That’s right they’re smuggling opium across the border in corpses. And when the hell did we line the border with obelisks? Damn, I know NOTHING about Canadian history. Plastic Man manages to not only round up all the players but he gets a confession out of the ringleader by winding his arm around the guy and spinning him like a top until he confesses.

Riddled throughout this collection are various forms of dated orientalism with swamis and natives being these unknown and misunderstood cultural artifacts. One man gets a curse put on his hands that need to continuously steal. The guy cuts them off but they continue to steal on their own until Plastic Man throws them into an incinerator. There is also this wondrous bit of surreality with a giant 8-ball vehicle not only destroying cities but acting as a magnet that attracts all forms of valuables.
Seriously, back then supervillains had a sense of flare. It wasn’t so much to just reek havoc, you had to confuse the bloody hell out of your unsuspecting victims. You just want Rat Fink to be driving this thing. And in case you’re wondering, the best way to stop a rampaging sphere painted like an eight-ball is to mold yourself into a snake and bite someone in the neck.

But as the stories continued and the war heated up in Europe comics weren’t wont to be left on the sidelines. Oh no, pretty much every comic had the heroes guarding the home front and encouraging the loyal citizenry to be ever vigilant and to buy war bonds. Heck, when faced with ratzi criminals using robots, Plastic Man manages to use the patriotism of his fellow gangsters to keep the home fires burning.

Holy crap, that dude got shot through the head by a nazi robot! But seriously, who doesn’t get excited by the promise of a fight between gangsters and nazi robots?

Yep, these stories have it all and are wrapped up before most of today’s comic book stories even get warmed up. And while I know there are a lot of problems with these older stories – racial stereotypes are pretty horrific and I’m totally unsure how to interpret the roles of the women, when they even appear – I also feel we’re lacking something in today’s comic market. The utter density and pace without losing track of the plot or action in the stories is remarkable. Maybe it’s just all the anti-smoking information we have that robs us of costumed crime fighters using pipes to make a last minute escape.

There you go folks. Plastic Man. Totally fucking awesome. Put that in your pipe and smoke it – or follow Plastic Man’s lead and put that in the pipe of some random evil scientist who is trying to flood you in his hidden underground lab and smoke it.
Simulcast on hypnoray.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Night in the Life of my Wife

My wife puts up with a lot, and for that I love her. She's great, and not just because she likes the phrase "mustering the Rohirim." If people got medals for random stuff, she'd deserve a nice shiney one. Why? Well, here's a few of the things I said last night:

  1. Well if your eyes actually were burning out of your head I'd have to give you a quartz visor so you could fight crime.
  2. Oh nothing, just questioning my own logic.
  3. Enough with the fucking muffin-man!
  4. I shot a man in Reno, then I ate his fries.

Yep every night is whacky night in our home.

City states and hockey

I know I am risking being instantenously labelled as jumping on the Sens bandwagon (while I don't even profess to being a regular Sens fan) but this Stanley Cup fever has awakened something more fundamental than just sports fandom or old-style civic pride..and it's strong enough of a factor that it bears some analysis, from the 'geek chair'.

The 'home team' has many meanings. They are imprecise but highly intuitive and understood by every kid. In a small town or somewhere with an OHL or other minor league franchise, most of the players are truly the hometown boys. It's a shared gene pool of hockey talent, a shared culture, an ethos. The stuff of classic Canadiana. Small town Saskatchewan derby - Estevan versus Moose Jaw. Bobby Orr with the missing teeth, Phil Esposito playing in the minors with the Soo Greyhounds. Higher up, you have the other archetypal story, that of the out-of town wonder kid being accepted in the new town, Sidney Crosby putting the Rimouski Atlantique on the hockey map of the world.

And then you have the even larger, heroic-type figures - Mario Lemiux in the Pittsburgh setting is a good example (player, owner, probably a franchise saviour). Messier in Edmonton is another one.

And yet franchises these days, especially in the NHL, have very little to do with local identity. How many Ottawa-valley guys are there on the Senators' roster, right? Or - for that matter, what is the percentage of Canadian players on some of the NHL teams? The teams are so internationalized, so cosmopolitan, and so populated with transient players, especially since the mid-90s, that it is difficult for any kind of local identity politics (our boys are better than your boys) to enter into the whole practice and language of fandom. If anything, the teams have become micro-niches for certain kind of import players plying their trade in N. America - sometimes mirroring the coaches' preference for varying styles of hockey. Also, players know players they'd grown up with and will put in a good word for their former hometown buddy. Thus you get the Swedish-dominated line up of Detroit, a high number of Czechs on the NY Rangers current roster...and the 2004 Cup-winning Tampa Bay squad which was so full of Quebec players it might as well have been a Montreal team.

So, with locality, nationality, language and all kinds of other easily politicized factors out of the picture, what is left - or rather what is left of the identity, the rootedness of a franchise, of the 'hometown club'? Is it the style of play? Is it a simple temporary belonging to the city where the player might be hanging his hat - for the moment? Or is it deeper?

My father used to compare Canadian big cities to the old city states of renaissance Italy. With the hinterlands devoid of opportunities and the big cities sucking in more and more population, capital and 'idea quotient', it's perhaps a fitting comparison. A city big and smart enough will eventually attract enough talent (should it focus on it) to excel in various fields. Thus hockeytowns and football towns - not unlike cities with IT clusters or car part makers or foundries or paper products, or with a damn good ballet company. It all becomes a function of the increasingly corporate-dominated, branded process of inter-city competition. A good hockey club is just one card in a suite featuring things like industry, conventions, tourism or arts. 'We're big enough, therefore we should have an NHL team'. Tell that to Winnipeg...

The Ottawa Senators is actually a fitting example of the city state behaviour. The Sens embody the city of Ottawa's personality on a hockey stage. We want them to matter. Take care of business but somehow not offend too many others in the process. Lacking in the religious fervor of the Habs-Leafs rivalry, not quite possessed of the mystique of the 80s-era Oilers, not rushing into hedonistic celebrations a la the Calgary Flames 'red mile' (think Girls gone Wild videos)...not accompanied by contentious history and bad-ass reputation like Philly, and definitely not equal in statue to the long-term classic teams such as Boston and Detroit...Ottawa is still the new kid on the NHL block, still in its formative years, still enduring a lot of growing pains and forced to reckon with many a naysayer in its hometown.

With so much stacked against the Sens actually developing a solid hockey personality as a club (never mind individual talent, that can be bought and sold) and with so much in Ottawa's city personna that does not encourage an all-out, rambunctious celebration of Ottawahood. it is actually a wonder the Sens are finally in the final. And it is nice to see.

Still no Jumbo-tron

This Thursday, May 26 from 11:30 a.m to 2:00 p.m. there will be a party for the Ottawa Senators at city hall. At first I thought, what the fucking fuck? You're hosting a rally nobody can attend, then I remembered the amount of non-private sector people working in the downtown core and figured less damage happens when they're not at their desks. Also, it's during lunch hours, so no biggie for the rest of us.

So while this still isn't a Jumbo-tron to watch the final series on Parliament Hill, it is something.

I'm posting this because at it's core this event feels very un-Ottawa-like, but they've managed to still make it somehow less celebratory. I mean Thursday? C'mon. Put it on Friday and people just won't go back to work. THAT would be a party. Although less likely that any players would show up.

And I can't let anything go without somehow criticizing it, so read the announcement on the City Hall website. It says the crowd can be the 'sixth man' or as I like to call the sixth man, "the goalie." I know the person writing the release wanted to use that old band cliche where they say the fifth member of the band is the audience but watch a game sometime.

Also, I heard a student from Ottawa U taking credit for my Jumbo-tron idea. I don't care because he actually contacted the NCC and other outlets - go Jumbo-tron Sens!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Two-Four Weekend Update

Not much time for writing posts online as it was a nice long weekend that saw the Senators going to the Stanley Cup Finals. I drank, I cheered, I saw about twenty Hell’s Angels get stopped by the police in front of the pub just as the first puck was being dropped, I went to Elgin to celebrate with the masses.

Now, Harper, get that big screen on Parliament Hill. It was packed just by making it to the finals, so you know it’ll be twice as busy when the Sens win. Get that screen up, and you won’t have to go out to Kanata to watch a game, you can watch it with all of us in front of the House of Commons.

That would be totally awesome (so it probably won’t happen).

Friday, May 18, 2007

Hinterland moments

Just got back from the "SOO", meaning Sault Ste-Marie. For those bereft of Canadian geography knowledge, it's where the Lake Superior connects via the Sault narrows to the Lake Huron waters. It's also where they make a lot of steel - and where they used to make even more steel, back in the heyday of the 70s and early 80s. It's also "Stompin' Tom country" as I'd started to refer to it after seeing a country band that played to an audience of about six people on a Monday night at a local watering hole...a truly small-town Canada moment.

The somewhat unfortunate fact about the 'SOO" is that it is a city of 75,000 souls that is acting, in the words of one local, as if it had only 20,000. Visiting there confirmed that notion of decay and glory days gone by...on a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon, the boardwalk on the waterfront was almost deserted, there were no organized tours of the famous locks, there were no coffeehouses or pubs with patios where a tourist like I could be lured into dropping some petty cash. In a place that has not had a facelift (to its downtown) since the 80s, and where the end of the season for the OHL (The Sault Greyhounds) team spells even less fun than usual quota, it really seemed that no one wanted my money and no one was there to promote the place. It is a shame given the rather interesting history of the region (voyageur routes criss-crossed there, War of 1812 was a factor, the first set of electricty-operated ship locks was built there in 1895, etc). I always hear about the economic stagnation of these 'Canadian hinterland' towns and cities - in the Soo, it was a palpable feeling.

The shabbiness and small-time thinking come with an upside - the people are nice and have the time of the day to talk and engage with you. I also really enjoyed an overnight backpack hike in the Gros Cap region just west of the city. That is where the shores of Lake superior form beaches and cliffs that plunge into the clear blueish waters of the lake; this is the start of that storied stretch of coast which had inspired the Group of Seven paintings. As a hiker, I enjoy and appreciate seeing this landscape, as well as felling the presence of the 'big wild'...saw many a moose, elk and black bear footprints. Nothing like fresh bear tracks to make one nervously glance over the shoulder, I tell ya'.

The Gros Cap is also home to one of Canada's largest wind farms. I walked for at least an hour through a service road ringed with these massive, 60-m high wind towers. Seen from an airplane, they form a long row alongside a ridge overlooking Lake Superior coast. The things are sci-fi-like, graceful and not too loud. Not a single human to be seen maintaining or guarding the installations. It looked extremely expensive, however, and I wonder who the resultant power is being sold to. Check out the rather poor website about the wind farm:

Not to belabour the point too much, this is an example of a cool industrial site where one could charge an admission fee and conduct tours - how many of us have actually seen and been to a large scale wind power facility? With the massive amount of coverage of Kyoto and other environmental topics, Canadian kids would do well to experience these solutions and new technologies up close, so this whole debate doesn't stay abstract and academic.

Maybe this wind farm is what Sault Ste-Marie should be promoting as the next unique attraction.

Hitler or Falwell?

Here's a game, called Nom-de-Grrr, where you are given a bunch of quotations and need to figure out if the leader of the Third Reich or the leader of the Moral Majority said them. Fun for the whole family.

Godwin's law doesn't apply.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Back in the beige

Hello loyal customer!

So I'm finally back in the town of beige (at least in a corporeal sense). One of the benefits of being in Beigetown is access to the locally-accessible beers of two excellent producing areas, Ontario and Quebec. Now, it is still difficult to get ones hands on some of the best brews of Quebec at times, or even to learn of some of them. Well, after finding Les Enthousiastes de la Bière, I need to search no more. They're all here! It's a French site, but isn't that difficult to understand (worse comes to worse, try Free Translation for a hand).

Suggestions include Blanche de Chambly and Éphémère (my favourite Unibroue products). There are many more I look forward to trying in the near future, and learning about now that I have access to this excellent web site.

Support Local Strippers

Like I needed another reason to think poorly of our current government. I guess this is the same sort of idea as the 100-km diet only with less clothing and more artificial ingredients. How do you show there is a short supply of strippers? Seriously. Do you start spraying hoses at street lights and see which women start dancing witht he poles? I mean, sure, you can use the internet to see naked foreign women, but they're not all dancing a few meters from where you're sitting in real life, and that is probably a problem for someone.

The more I think about it, the more I think the Conservative government, sorry, Canada's New Government™, is really just creating a fraternity house. What has been the major topics in the last few weeks? Hockey and Strippers.

Maybe that's John Baird's party face we keep seeing. *shudder*

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Remembering our past

I just recently finished Douglas Adams’ book Last Chance to See and came across this little gem of a quotation:

“You can always tell an ex-colony from the inordinate numbers of people who are able to find employment stopping anybody who has anything to do from doing it.”

Sure, he was talking about Zaire, but doesn’t it remind you of the French schools with the public service? Lest we forget, we’re an ex-colony and it takes an average of six months to get a full-time public service job. If you’ve been in Ottawa too long, that is INSANE! Especially if you’re hiring someone to answer telephones and forward e-mail. Trust me, I’ve worked in other cities, heck I’ve worked as a temp in other cities and was rewarded handsomely – not here. Here you wait and discover totally unique black holes that suck in resumes and employment prospects. Scientists and astrophysicists scoff at you but they exist, and if they look for work in Ottawa they realize I’m right and I’ll get them to name them Beige Holes. Okay that sounds a bit dirty and will probably get us a few interesting Google hits.

But seriously, those French courses are getting to be a bit ridiculous. I've heard a story about a woman who had to stop attending one of the schools because she was actually trying to learn French and was threatened by the rest of her class in the parking lot. The class was made up of much higher ups who thought she was ruining their break from work because she was, you know, eager to learn.

As for the rest of the book, it’s quite good. It’s about endangered species and his attempts to go around the world and see them. At its core though the book is about humanity and humanity’s role to play in both the protection and extinction of specific life forms. This isn’t a book written by a naturalist so there isn’t a long and detailed explanation of migration patterns or what have you but a slightly off-kilter look at human behaviour and human systems that are causing the death of these animals through our own indifference and blind jackassery. It’s written in an exceptionally approachable manner but isn’t quite as funny as those other books he’s known for, but still a very easy and enjoyable read.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New Math

I love politicians. Especially when the make “promises.” Even more when they make statements with little wiggle room as promises. For instance, when Larry O’Brien said Zero Means Zero you’d think that the statement wasn’t really open for interpretation. Then after cutting everything in sight and spending the city’s college fund Mr. O’Brien is saying that zero may not actually mean precisely zero but a relatively low number somewhere in the region of zero, unless of course you come back in few weeks and the province hasn’t given us anything at all at which point zero means a number much higher than anything remotely close to zero.

Yes, I agree it’s unfair for the city to be paying for provincially mandated priorities without help from the province, but c’mon! I know Mr. O’Brien said he’d run the city more like a business but I didn’t realize he meant a Dilbert-like business parody. Stop trying to pass the buck and deal with what’s in front of you. Don’t blame the province, work with them to remedy the situation – govern, don’t blame. That’s the big difference we need to see – city council needs to govern, not try to blame someone else for not doing their job.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that running the city like a business means we can expect more higher ups to pass the buck onto someone else and claim that lower person not doing their job is the reason the higher up needed a 500% raise and to leave the country with a briefcase full of stock options just before the company was sold to foreign investors. Don’t run the city like a business, please just run it like a responsible group of elected officials. We’ve seen enough execs going to jail because of their use of “new math” where “zero means zero (when convenient).”

Monday, May 14, 2007

Monday Meme - Random Act of Hopscotch

Okay, not really a meme or online but I have to say I love this story about people using graffiti in beautiful ways. I'm a fan of graffiti in general - hence the links to Bansky and Invader - but this story just pleases me on many levels. Art, especially children's games that are biodegradable, is not a crime.

I've personally come across a few of the chalked sidewalks that were labelled "Random Act of Hopscotch" and figured the Glebe was full of pretentious, yet brilliant, children. I guess they are much more brilliant and organized than first thought. This is one of the few times I wish I carried around my camera in case I found an example to post here.

Seriously though, one of the best things about Ottawa is the extremely clever graffiti found around from the sticker-art to the pink ghosts to those paint spraying guys peaking around buildings. That being said I can't abide tagging - seriously it's as lame as the jackass that called the city to clean a game of hopscotch off the streets.

And whoever called the cops about what could have been a world record hopscotch course, you should be ashamed of yourself. You are a meanie-bo-feanie and embody the reason people think Ottawa is dull and beige.

Open Letter to Stephen Harper

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

I hope you are doing well for the last three weeks of parliament and that the duffle bag full of personal hygiene products the RCMP treated like a bomb doesn’t distract you from getting the business of the governing the country. But that’s not why I’m writing, I’m writing because I know how you can win the next election.

When the Senators make the Stanley Cup finals put a huge HDTV on the front lawn of the Houses of Parliament and broadcast all the games. Yes, I know Buffalo is already doing this in front of their arena but have you tried to get to the Sensplex? You’ll understand why so many Maple Leaf fans get to it since you’re splitting the distance between Ottawa and Toronto. Also, you know that when the Senators win all the bars in the market, on Elgin and Bank streets will empty as the inebriated crowds march to capital hill so they can sing O Canada (although I doubt the French verse would make the cut). This happened when Canada won gold in ice hockey at the Olympics all those years ago.

I know you’ll take this into consideration, and you don’t have to dress it up as a campaign stunt if you don’t want to. Heck, I know parliamentarians would all like to see these games on our national capital, they spent enough times in committee over our World Cup of Hockey captain and nobody really watches that when there is a Canadian team in the NHL playoffs.

Also, I know you guys have big screens because I’ve been to Remembrance Day celebrations, Canada Day celebrations and Bluesfest. I say dust it off and let’s fly the flag of bone crunch body checks and slap-shots as we watch Canada’s team bring the cup back home. Seriously, don’t make me have to write Larry O’Brien to see if he’ll set up a big screen in front of the Provincial Building/City Hall next to Laurier (where they used to hold the Bluesfest).

I know the Senators don’t have the same fanbase as the Toronto Maple Leafs, but they will be winning so let’s make it the ultimate experience.

Thanks for your time and consideration,

Jon Cormier

Tell your friends, maybe someone will get this to actually happen.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Hitting the Links - Green Funerals

For the first time in my life I have "summer hours." This means I get Friday afternoons off from the long weekend in May to some time in August. I've decided to try and use this time to create posts that are a collection of links on some subject or theme. I figured a lot of people would use this free time to go golfing but since I suck at golf (except at the Tiger Woods video games on which I rock) this is my thing. I make no promises as to whether or not I consistently produce this feature - I'll try.


This post and collection of links all started a few days ago when I was reading something or other about comic books and wanted to see what Jeff Parker was up to, since I like what he’s doing these days. Well his post reminded me that CBC did a feature about Green Funerals and the Ottawa X-Press apparently ran a cover story on it as well. I was also intrigued by my friend Matthew’s Facebook status update – he wanted to start a Green Funeral Service for Ottawa.

And seriously, that’s not such a bad idea. I mean, nothing involves a huge price increase like claiming something is environmentally friendly – try to buy a bucket or shoes sometime and you’ll see what I mean.

So, anyway, like all other aspects of the environmental movement there’s an organization for Green Death. They call themselves the Green Burial Council. I only ask, why does everything involving greenies require a fucking council?

If you don’t want to deal with consensus based decision making structures (trust me it will require you to hasten your funeral plans or at least start wishing for a quick death) you can just read the Natural Death Handbook and plan a DIY Funeral.

I’ve always considered cremation to be the way to go but apparently the temperatures involved release green-house-gases. And things like tooth fillings release mercury into the atmosphere. Burial isn’t all that much better because modern day caskets have latex paint and metal hinges while graveyards actually take up a lot of space. So the theory is to dig a hole and chuck as many people in it as possible then plant a tree on top. You can look up a few Canadian options at Natural Burial or read the AARP Bulletin on green burials. Alternatively you could donate your body to science and let them use you to measure decomposition although there are unintended side effects for air travel when the buzzards show up.

I’ve also found a lot of links about green burials here. Just skip the highschool lame emo poetry about gaia and hit the links.

I know personally I’m not too keen on the idea of mass graves as being environmentally friendly, although the idea of planting an apple tree over me is appealing. I’m known for making some of the best apple pies around (seriously) and could pass down the recipe. Then you could eat my soul in delicious pie form. But my point here was that the idea of many people in a hole they paid for is actually quite old. Go to a church in Europe sometime. They all have mausoleums and crypts where the wealthy members were laid out in shelves or sarcophagi while the paupers were chucked on the floor to rot. Sure, no trees grew but the gold found in these graves was essential to the economy. It was a different kind of giving back.

In this day and age we’re not too keen on mausoleums and whatnot, but more for the fact that they take up a lot of space. They increase tourism thus emit more green-house-gases into the atmosphere from all the planes and cars used to reach the destination. They use entirely too many resources to create, robbing us of trees and ruining other locations to get at precious stones. While they may have been wonders of the world they certainly aren’t a green option whether or not they can accommodate many people. Or they could just lead to this.

I do think there are other green options available if, like me, you don’t want the last memory your family has of you to be a dirty hippy chucking you into a hole as tree fodder. There’s always burial at sea. This is a practice that’s been going on for a long time and was probably green ahead of it’s time. Especially when sail was the main form of transport. It’s still available today but you’d have to get to Newfoundland, get a sail boat, and probably not have any fillings because the mercury levels in tuna is already getting dangerous for pregnant women. Also, you run the risk of that scene from Papillon occurring, which is a bit unpleasant for the other people involved.

There’s Tibentan Sky Burial, but there’s travel involved in that as well unless you think crows and seagulls will do the job. Again, this would have to be far enough away from airports to ensure you don’t interfere with flightpaths.

You could always go for cryogenics like the much reported urban legend regarding Walt Disney, however, you’ll need a lot of cash to keep you plugged in. Also, you’d need to ensure the power generation was carbon neutral. But you could always go the natural route and start looking for a glacier to fall into. It’s happened in Canada before and if they find you, you could be on display at the British Museum. But again, you have to get there and unless you plan on walking that involves green-house-gases.

I guess the only alternative is the swamp or bog. Again, you could end up in the British Museum so continued maintenance cost isn’t a worry, although you should be warned of the dangers of swamp burial.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Andrew Cohen

It looks like everyone is talking about how utterly uninspiring Ottawa is these days, including Andrew Cohen in today's Ottawa Citizen. I just read parts one and two of the excerpt from his book The Unfinished Canadian: The People We Are. I love the title "A city that has given up" because, well, that's how it feels.

He captures all the criticisms we've heard many times before but manages to explore some areas I haven't personally been able to put words to, such as the generally crappy layout and architechture. Or the fact that Ottawa is talked up as being a great place to get away from. Here's a hint, if you don't actually have a car or want to go to the countryside - that's not actually a selling point.

I've heard Ottawa called a lot of things but exciting was rarely, if ever, one of them. Hence the point of this blog. Except by that one guy from Calgary but he loved politics and was amazed that there was, you know, actual historic buildings. Quebec City would have made his head explode.

Andrew Cohen manages to get to the point we're trying to make here on a certain level. When the goal of 95% of the denizens of Ottawa is to have a job with benefits, yeah, not a world leader except maybe in mediocrity. The beige extends its tentacles because the basis of this city is selfish - just look at city hall, or the NCC. It's not about reflecting Canada or Canadians, or heck even having national pride, it's about being beige so nobody says anything about anything. Selfish and meek all in one horribly bland ball.

Thankfully, all that bland let's the diamonds shine all that brighter.

When in doubt, use someone else's content.

I don't have much of a post today because I'm working up a doozy for tomorrow. I just hope it pays off as well as I hope. So, in the meantime, enjoy this comic from xkcd. It's linked on the sidebar so if you have time to kill and love jokes about chess and rollercoasters as well as other geek related items, click away.

Of Mickey Mouse and Hamas

For a communications idea that didn't go as well as planned, you should read:

When an extremist organization (or an organization with an extremist wing) censors itself and drops an item from its agenda, you know the original idea was just too warped and strange to be considered "legit" by anyone. Needless to say, I would really like to have been a fly on the wall at the propaganda planning meetings of various armed struggle folks around the world..the FARC, the IRA, the Hamas, the Tamil Tigers, and, of course, our own past example, the FLQ. The conversations that had gone on in those circles would be as entertaining as they would have been chilling. And, very probably, close to the Monthy Python's famous skit from "The Life of Brian" (the Liberation Front of Judea).

Symbols of comfort and familiarity in service of aggression are not new. Enlisting Mickey Mouse or other symbols in a cause or warfare has a rich history. American WW II bombers would have either pin-up girls (the Rita Hayworth, Jane Mansfield types) or cartoon characters painted on the nose of their aircraft. Cowboys have fought nazis on the Moon, at least on pages of comic books. The Russians had their own weird spin on traditional fairytales where, I remember from my childhood readings, thinly veiled communist and Marxist symbols had been smuggled into the stories (in these stories,all the Russian cavalry fighting the Mongol hordes appeared to ride under the familiar red banners and all the villages seemed to be run as some kind of a socialist co-op...Tommy Douglas would have almost fit in). Canada brings the Stanley Cup to Kandahar, along with retired NHL guys to play ball hockey. Warm (hot, actually) and almost fuzzy...

Let's step away from the blatantly political use of symbols and look at what's happening culturally. There is the subtle and not-so subtle grafting of contemporary realities and imagery onto the very old stories. It actually bothers me more than the blatant satire. It starts with the many attempts to do Shakespearian plays in 'modern' settings like high schools, malls, and ganglands of Miami (yes, I know, di Caprio was pretty awesome in the 97' Baz Luhrman's adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet" but that's the only instance I can think of where the artist actually pulled it off...)

This deliberate nonsense continues in pop culture where other currents of thinking, say multiculturalism, are somehow smuggled into traditional stories. In the 80s British TV series about Robin Hood (which has had many re-runs worldwide), a black character fights alongside the merry band of Robin's men. I liked that character(he fought with two swords at once), actually, but the historical likelihood of a black man riding around in the England of the early 1200s would have been...well, about the same as that of cowboys fighting nazis on the moon. In fact, the character was supposed to have been Moorish - more feasible, but sorry, the "Moors" were relatively fair-skinned, Moroccan-type people, heavily mixed with the Spanish and Jewish population they'd conquered on the Iberian peninsula in early Middle Ages. But that's too historically accurate and thus somehow not good enough for showbiz.

What I find happening in Canada - and elsewhere - is that people actually aren't, by-and large, interested in "exploring" other cultures and appreciating them for what they exactly are. Thus you get the British pub food and music in Ibiza, Irish pubs in Russia, China and Germany (why import Guinness into a country with hundreds of its own fantastic beers?) or the heavily Caucasian crowd flooding the yoga studios to treat the ancient art (read 'art') as a trendy form of a work-out, or Tibetan spirituality being the belief of choice among America's actors, or, sloe to home, Indian restaurants in Ottawa that attempt "fusion cuisine" to create a margin of safety for the "white man". It has very little to do with exploration or with wanting a taste of different culture or cuisine - and a lot with trying to get us to buy and consume more of everything. In the end, everything stands in a line-up to be popular...for a year or two. In such an environment, the only cultural continuum is a Hollywood-ized, ever-changing mishmash that stays the same in its gluttony to absorb yet more stuff.

Cultural good taste points therefore go to Hamas for recognizing that their uniquely weird culture does not need Mickey Mouse.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

I took a left turn and ended up in a jazz bar in crazytown

I went to see Spiderman 3 last night. There were parts I liked and others I didn’t. I think it all comes down to not having a story and sticking to it. Too many plots spun into the web and some editing would have been nice. It’s not Daredevil bad mind you, but it’s just this side of Fantastic Four – some great stuff, but some cringe-worthy moments as well. Which is too bad, there was some good stuff to work with. I sort of feel the planning session was like “Here’s a great script with Sandman and Harry Osborne” and then someone went, “Where’s Venom? You can use the Sandman if you put Venom in there.” Or something.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Okay, I’ve got a question. Why the heck do so many people in this city have a limp?

Seriously. This was going to be one of my first posts because I’m really curious about it. At first I thought it was a result of the canal and people learning to skate on it but at this point in the year the canal has been closed for a while and the limping numbers seem to have remained constant. Is it the roller-bladers or the ultimate frisbee “athletes” who are trying to be X-TREME!!!!!?

I’m pretty sure the ratio of really attractive people to limping people is 1:1 in Ottawa.

Okay, that’s not much of a post or a rant so here’s a link to all the information you need to know about Jimmy Carter being attacked by a giant swimming rabbit.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Things we do well

Nice to see the spring...I was beginning to feel like we would never emerge out from beneath the gray blanket of post-winter bleakness. There are stalls set up in the Byward market hawking mostly globalized trinkets, local veggies and assorted weirdness (like the guy with the souped-up dreamcatchers and other Aboriginal-influenced kitsch) but I love it nonetheless. People are actually walking around the city, and as a buddy of mine had pointed out, "you can see elbows". Not to mention girls in skirts, short skirts.

The tribes of summer also pop out of the woodwork: the rollerbladers (mostly a danger to themselves), the people with the extremely large hounds needing a stroll (probable danger to others), and the very Ottawa-specific Ultimate people. As a soccer player and a big fan of tennis, I have consistently wondered about why it is in Ottawa that ultimate frisbee has made its beachhead, or perhaps its last stand. The world and N. America have not taken to this game en masse - but we sure have. It's almost weird and cult-like in its distinction. Perhaps another example of the famous Ottawa spirit of compromise...let's mix up the rules of every known team sport and take out the nasty parts like bodychecking. Stir for a while and come up with ultimate.

I was reminded of Jane Jacobs' and other urban planning texts (yes, harking back to school days on this one) - people love the dense cities with the mostly square grid. Add in floor-level distractions, a bit of shopping and an opportunity to people-watch or perhaps have a busker or some kind of a perfromance...and you've got the ideal recipe for a lively, vibrant and self-perpetuating cityscape. It's the formula that pretty much launched Paris to become the epitome of an exciting city in the 19th century (and onwards); it is what you'll witness in just about every city across N. America where the city got it right. The funny part is that it's not so much an act of deliberate planning and architecture but rather a series of accidental developments, bylaws and some (but not a lot of) planning that tends to produce these lively, attractive neighbourhoods. Ottawa actually has only a few spots like the Byward and is mostly a suburban sprawl when one analyzes it...but as a transplant from the West, I can assure you that Calgarians or Edmontonians think the world of our city as opposed to the bland and totally car-oriented cities they have to contend with.

The other thing we do well - and take for granted - is, as another visitor had remarked, the visible spending of taxpayers' money on nice public projects. Keeping Major's Hill park clean, planting the tulips, paving the cycling paths, installing plaques that tell the tourist what they're looking at...yes, it's the basics, but not every city does it. My friend had come back from a conference in Dayton, Ohio, and Ottawa appeared like a "paradise" compared to the broken - or non-existent - cityscape in that place. Another buddy of mine claimed that the granite-lined new sidewalks in Gatineau were the most expensive and most durable, high-quality piece of infrastructure he'd seen in Canada (and, as an engineer and all-round geek, he is to be believed).

I could whine and moan about the shortcomings and issues of our fair town, there are a plenty. But it is sunny and green outside, we are not freezing and people don't have to watch their backs like in Detroit or the Bronx.

The again, I hear they do this infrastructure and city beautification really well in Norway. They also seem to have good elevators in Norway. Check out this story:

Monday Meme

This is an oldie but a goodie. Although the 45% Wonder Woman thing is a bit weird, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't look so hot in a woman's bathing suit done like an American Flag. Also, it sort of loosely ties into the Spider-man 3 hype (which I have yet to see).

Your results:
You are Spider-Man

You are intelligent, witty, a bit geeky and have great power and responsibility.

Spider-Man - 85%

Green Lantern - 65%

Robin - 62%

Iron Man - 60%

Hulk - 55%

The Flash - 55%

Superman - 50%

Wonder Woman - 45%

Supergirl - 40%

Catwoman - 35%

Batman - 20%

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test


Mmmmm, waffles, although I'm not sure I want my breakfast to remind me of work. (Taken from Boing Boing).

Why, hello there.

Saturday night was an absolute blast. There’s nothing like four on the floor pure mainlined Rock and Roll to get you feeling really good about, well, anything at all. Joel Plaskett puts on a fantastic show people, you should really try to go if you ever get a chance. The opening act, meh. My only complaint is that I could have actually watched the entire hockey game before going to the show, and taking the stage and telling the audience you watched the game in your hotel room before coming to the venue? Yeah, not cool. At least the Sens won though and the show rocked so all is forgiven for that minor perceived slight.

On a personal note I think that show rocked the Green Party out of me. I’m on a personal mission to not actually bring them up in conversation for an entire week. The ultimate goal is four weeks but I’m going to take it one week at a time. So, unless there is an election in that time or something monumentally asinine happens, I’m off that wagon, or on it, I have no idea how that saying works.

And on a “things that totally rock” note – the Nintendo Wii is a-w-e-s-o-m-e.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

This is the last post on it, I promise

Because I can’t leave anything remotely serious for very long I’ve decided to start a little contest here for all four or five of our readers. Let’s start a communal list of things we don't like but are not actually worse than Chamberlain's appeasement policy.

I’ll start:

  • Those raccoons that tipped over the garbage cans last night.
  • Whoever made the decision to put the Sensplex way out there.
  • Anyone handing out fliers on the sidewalk.
  • Whoever keeps setting off the fire alarm in apartment 110.
  • Pandas.
  • Joel Shumacher movies.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Best Day of the Year

Okay tomorrow, Saturday May 5th, 2007 is the best day of the year so far. First of all it is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. That’s right, free comics. You go to a local purveyor of fine four coloured fiction and s/he will let you walk away with certain offerings completely free of charge. Not everything in the store is free, there’s only certain free books that should be clearly marked for your convenience. And, no you don’t have to purchase anything else, although you’re always welcome to. If you’re interested follow this link to find a shop close to you that is participating. I know last year I went to a few shops with a four year old and we both decided that The Comic Book Shoppe on Bank Street had the best set up. The staff was really friendly, helpful to all the new faces and into the whole spirit of the day. If you want a decent guide as to what to get and what to avoid I’d go here, although seriously, just take whatever interests you.

In other comic book like news Spiderman 3 opens tonight but I probably won’t go until sometime next week or next weekend. I also haven’t seen Hot Fuzz yet and that’s something that needs fixing asap.

Joel Plaskett is playing at the Capital City Music Hall and while I don’t really like the venue at all, the music will more than make up for it. Seriously.

However, while I’m frugging to the beat, the Senators could move on to the next round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. If the game started at 7 p.m. I could watch most of it before Joel Plasket takes the stage but for some godforesaken reason the puck drops at 8 p.m. in New Jersey. I may have to smuggle in a radio for updates or hope there’s a tv behind the bar.

All in all, that’s a heck of a lot of good stuff going on in one day. Plus, the forecast is sunny if you’re into the whole outdoors scene.

That horse doesn't look so well...

If you go to their website and read these blogs here, you’ll see that the Green Party members are discussing the whole appeasement thing as well and are trying to circle the wagons with the same indifference and sense of urgency they fight elections with. If you go read a bit of them you’ll start to understand why I left. It’s not that they are discussing this subject or making somewhat well reasoned arguments from time to time, it’s that nobody is actually concerned about what the real issue was. There’s claim that the uproar is that Elizabeth May used the word “Nazis.” Sorry, that’s not it.

The uproar is that she used the word “worse” or “more culpable” which amounts to the same thing. Although, I have to admit, I’m a little uncomfortable that so many of their members are arguing to reclaim the analogy. You might think you can have intellectual non-bias, but you’re arguing to be able to compare things to Hitler and that’s just not right.

Until the environment starts lining up the citizens of Canada to shoot them in the head, gas them in work camps and burn them in ovens, our government is not “worse” than Chamberlain for being inactive on the situation. That's the issue.

Also, from the Globe and Mail we have a quote from Ms. May, "If you can't make a comment about the Second World War without immediately being charged with having said something about the Nazis and the Holocaust, then we really do impoverish the dialogue and our own historical set of references." Here’s the thing Ms. May – you actually did say something about the Nazis, whether or not you were quoting someone else. And just because other politicians did it doesn’t make it any better. I would have to say that referring to organized genocide impoverishes the dialogue this country so desperately needs to enter on climate change.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

...and then, it Get's Better!

Okay time for a link-dump post on my favourite subject.

Let's see - Paul Wells. Paul, you had me at "emphasis added." Scott Feschuck, again, after the first bit, see his Inviolable Rule of Politics #178. Heck even her new best friend Dion is "uncomfortable" according to The Star.

And I guess if you believe this, then I was cast out of the garden, well more like Orthanc, I guess.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

More Free Advice I Assumed People Knew Already

Well it seems Scott Feschuck has beat me to it (after the rant about Bob Cole), but I’ll be giving out this handy-dandy list of okay and not-okay moments to bring up the Nazis.



  • Comparing them to anyone or any group who (and here’s the important part) didn’t try to annihilate an entire people.
  • You are seeking election to the House of Commons.
  • Referring to the person who keeps playing their music on the boom-box as a Radio-Nazi – see point one.
  • Referring to anyone you just don’t like, or agree with, as some form of Nazi – see point one.
  • Anything remotely complimentary.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it should help. The trick is to not come off as hysterical by making flippant claims because the thing is - Hitler and the Nazis were really really evil. Global warming isn’t great (or totally unavoidable if we’re to believe what you’re saying) but it’s melting some ice and while it could possibly flood the riding you’re trying to win, it’s not organized, intentional and immediate genocide by one group of people on another. Unless the group of people you’re criticizing actually did do something similar, it’s best to leave Nazis out of it. In fact, just don’t ever bring up Hitler and the Nazis as long as you’re seeking election (or running an advocacy group for the environment). Seriously, just don't. Ever. No matter what.

So let’s say you’ve made the mistake of comparing people who aren’t organizing a genocide to the Nazis, what should you do?

  • Apologize as soon as possible for trying to be sensational thus being flippant to the victims of the Nazi regime. Don't equivocate or claim to be quoting someone else because it makes any criticism of you easier to stick.

Of course there are less effective approaches, such as:

  • Try to get Harper or Baird to refer to someone as a Japanazi thus making him look worse in terms of WWII-regime comparisons.
  • Making a joke about how there should be a Stalinist party to go with the other two communism-based parties in Canada.
  • Getting the former leader to blog on your party’s homepage where he compares a provincial leader grabbing a seat in the gallery of the provincial legislature to veterans giving their lives to defend democracy.
  • Standing by your comments and hoping voters will understand.

#1 Thing to Never do as a Politician

Okay, I wanted to write something about the City with Stagger trying to pass a by-law that makes businesses liable to clean graffiti from their own walls or face fines but Elizabeth May has decided to open her mouth and insert a jack-booted foot.

For the party that claims to have revolutionized politics with internet technology I’m amazed nobody ever mentioned Godwin’s Law to Ms. May. You never ever bring up the Nazis in comparison to anything without losing all credibility instantly - you've run out of anything relevant to say. I could say that she has just invalidated any claim the Green Party had to comment on the environment because of this, but who am I to make such claims? The moment someone feels required to, or simply chooses to, bring up the Nazis for comparison it ends the conversation/debate/validity of the speaker's opinion. It has lost all possible cache it once had. Rounding up specific groups of people and trying to eradicate them is not the same as melting the polar ice caps with car emissions – out of context or not, it was still foolishly used as a comparison. And this isn’t about being new to politics, it’s about not being a total jackass.

If you want people on your side on any issue - don't bring up unequivicle genocide. Don't compare your opposition to one of the most brutal regimes in history if you want people to deal with things in context. By bringing up something so horrific you've removed all context of any point you were trying to make.

I do have to say that my time spent working for the Greens was peppered with just a few too many people who constantly brought up the Nazis. I was at council meetings where people brought up the Nazis, I would be on the phone with potential candidates who would bring up the Nazis, I’d get anonymous e-mails comparing high-end donors to Nazis, it was a bit disturbing really.

But on a lighter note, I have to say that John Baird takes the best photos of a politician ever. Seriously, he’s always totally freaking out, and that, is awesome. If you follow the link he looks like he’s trying to impress his frat brothers by forcing out a fart or someone just ate his last can of ravioli.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The civic virtues of reefer madness and May Day

May Day, the most political of all the calendar days. While you and I crank out yet another memo in the belly of the bureaucratic beast, there are genuine (and pretender) protesters, revolutionaries and street-fightin' men out there, somewhere in the streets of major capitals, sounding their displeasure at global capitalism. Yes, what have the Romans done for you, I mean lately? Besides the highways, the rule of law, safe streets, the Internet, pre-packaged foods, cut-rate airlines and holidays in Ibiza or Costa Rica? Besides the choice of clothing and relatively affordable all-year round import foods, not to mention LCBO's wine shelves? Yes, there is much to lament about capitalism, but it probably will stay with us just a bit longer, no matter how many well-meaning lifestyle protesters march under the red flag and no matter how many Che T-shirts have been cleared off the discount sections.

It is appropriate to recognize on such a day the unsung work done by Canada's many registered political parties. That's why Ottawa Beige has included links to all of them. And we mean, all of them. Not just the guys marching under the red flag, or the "I don't give a f#%*" flag of libertarianism, or the "we want our oil totally to ourselves" Western Canada party crowd.
Let's face it - it's hard enough being someone else in this town, or any town for that matter, than the parties with a legitimate shot of winning government. Other than the Conservatives or Liberals. If you are not in with the popular heavyweights, what you and your friends are bound to be looking at is a lot of time spent planning the democratic revolution which will just not arrive. You'll be sitting in endless and aimless meetings in someone's basement or in dingy community halls, eat crappy take-out (or veggie or vegan) food, lending your friends money - let me re-phrase this one, giving your friends money to run in elections, and if you're a younger female, some oily hippie or an ageing socialist firebrand or frustrated professor will almost certainly fall in love with you. You will be writing letters, bitching about the first-past the post, about the Constitution, about how you don't have any volunteers to put up signs, and how it's hard to balance your political habit with the rest of your steadily declinining life…yes, it is not a glamorous prospect. In the end, you'll have to get a job. But someone' got to fight the Romans, correct? Other than the People's Liberation front of Judea, that is, those bastards.

The most perplexing and oddly heroic of all these Canadians must the Marijuana party. Read their webpages. Better yet, smoke up a lot and then read the webpages. Then order KFC, smoke some more and then read on. This entity should be renamed the 'Rant Party'. I thought I was kind of verbose and in love with my own ideas, but then came the cannabis-loving crowd. Oh boy, can these guys rant. It's like Don Cherry being dropped in the middle of Sweden and being forced to watch the cleanest Swedish league games with no hitting and no fights. It's like David Suzuki being forced to drive a Hummer to the oil refinery. The Marijuana party just hate the government, hate it. "Society is being run by HUGE lies" is their frequent exclamation. Everything the government does is somehow corrupt, immoral and unethical, or at least insensitive. Government is bad for you, much worse than three joints a day, worse than smokin' a bowl and then attempting to fly an aircraft. The folks who came up with the notion of society being somehow governed obviously evolved on some horrible, cannabis-free planet, and then were set down specifically to terrorize the rest of us. Somehow along the process of ranting, the Marijuana party forgot to generate a platform or set of policies.

The continuing wonder of the Marijuana Party is that they tend to attract very articulate, at times almost poetic candidates like Ottawa's own John Akpata in 06'. I suspect it in part because it gives clever, funny and slightly rebellious people a totally safe platform upon which to practice their brand of performance art, all the while remaining 90% anonymous and politically harmless.

Don't just spent your time laughing at the Marijuana party, though. Check out the animal rights people, too. And the Marxists. And the not-quite Marxist Trotskyites.

And then you have Elizabeth " I love Stephane Dion more than I love global cooling" May. A politician who has decided that it was time to turn her party into an advocacy group.

May Day indeed. Happy flag-waving!

American Foreign Policy Explained With Resident Evil 4

In my attempts to post something every day I'm going to eventually rely on other people to generate content for me. This post over on Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge was just too brilliant to pass up. It's shocking.

Personally, I'm trying to understand Mario's anti-turtle & mushroom bent.