Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Horror Week: Day 2 – That’s not a moon, it’s a pumpkin!

Here is the only pumpkin you need ever carve for Halloween.

Provided from Wired’s Geek-o-Lantern image gallery.

Yep, got the pumpkin carved last night and it survived its first night on the porch. We decided to go with your traditional Jack-o-Lantern rather than the Death Star. I was all gung-ho for carving myself up a Death Star but then I realized I didn’t really want to spend that much time carving this year, not to mention I didn’t want to buy carving tools. Also, waiting until this point in October means you’ll only get the half-rotted, side-show freak pumpkins and not the perfectly round Aryan pumpkins that are displayed when the pumpkins first come out.

If were up to me though, we’d use carved pumpkins as our only source of porch lighting year round. It’s partially that I get to pretend I’m a mad doctor performing lobotomies. If you need help carving pumpkins just go here or here for some instructions. You can get some pretty cool stencil designs at the Homestar Runner website (I’m kind of partial to the Bear holding a Shark pumpkin stencil – seen here carved by Chris Sims), but honestly, just download any picture you like, greyscale it in photoshop then adjust the levels to only get black and white. Et voila, you have a stencil you can attach to your pumpkin. Use a pointy piece of plastic to poke an outline around the areas you want to cut, grab a flexible knife and cut to connect the dots and you have total pumpkin awesomeness.

So, Dr. Doom-kin as carved by Dave Campbell, what do you think about The Horror Week?

Oh, c’mon, just say it.
Seriously, man, you said you’d be a good sport.
You can destroy us all later. C’mon, I’ll give you some rockets.

Cool. I mean the candy, not actual rockets, by the way.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Another good Halloween idea - The Worst MP in Canada

I have just finished laughing with Jon's recent post...these are all worthwhile costumes, indeed.

There is one more idea, which Jon would probably add to the list.

Go as Canada's Worst MP.

I have just finished reading about the Worst MP and his name is Blair Wilson, the recently resigned Liberal member for the Vancouver-Sunshine Coast riding. There is an absolutely, and I mean absolutely devastating expose on him in The Province (see below). If you thought Sponsorship was bad, if you thought that Liberals were mired in muck, Wilson is the poster boy for all that we love to hate about slimy politicians. I am not usually this critical - or this offended - but, man, oh, man...

This guy's campaign expenses reporting may have been the trigger for his resignation, but it's his overall conduct in the wider world that is the true horror story. I read the Province article, with an extensive background of how Wilson had mismanaged his business dealings...and I have never seen a worse example. This man profile is horrifying - I mean, he doesn't go around stabbing people, but his financial misdemeanors make most 'corrupt' Third World officials look squeaky clean.

Who do you know recently that's borrowed $2 million from wealthy inlaws, bought six houses and isn't paying mortgage on any of them? Have you ever had an employer who you've had to take to the Labour Board, repeatedly, because he wasn't paying your wages? Ever had a business associate that the suppliers were after due to large unpaid bills? Ever worked on a political campaign staffed by weird, slimy characters?

Well, Blair Wilson embodies all these things...and more. Charlatan is too charming of a moniker to apply here. This man is simply a thief and probably would fall into the sociopath category if assessed by a psychologist. If he were in the Mafia, he would have been the most likely guy to get 'whacked'.


This is why, kids, you want to know about your MPs private "business" dealings. I would rather have my MP run a string of massage parlors with underage Thai girls than have this kind of a "businessman".

The Horror Week: Day One - Costumes

Halloween is coming up this week, so I guess this is more like The Horror 3 Days. If you're about as planny-aheady as I am you probably don't have a costume. I do have one advantage over most people when it comes to minimal planning but scary costume nonetheless. I live in The Glebe so I can just be a Stranger and everyone is freaking the hell out. Also, I'm bigger than most kids so I take a Fagan approach to gathering sweets where I consider most children to be Artful Dodger type gatherers of my own quest towards diabetic shock. If you don't give me a big enough cut, I can just wrench the candy sack from your puny little girl hands. Oh you think those tears are going to stop me princess?

Um, yeah that's going to stop there.

So anyway, here's a few costume ideas sure to strike fear into anyone this Halloween.

Stephen Harper

This is pretty easy if you're a guy. All you need is a suit, a large billowy shirt and a pillow. Button the pillow inside the shirt and put on the suit, then walk around in mock outrage and stand up for Canadians and Canadian families. If you're really committed go to the barber and ask for the grade one, first day of school cut. Explain that you are not Al Gore.

Stephane Dion

A bit easier but requires slightly more dedication. All you need is a suit and everyone you know to punch you in the gut or hit you with some foreign object until you get a stunned look and put the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble.

Wear a birka and go to Quebec.

Walk around smoking and tell everyone you're cancer. Better yet, quit your job, flop on the couches of friends, constantly borrow money your never intend to pay back, eat friends out of house and home, make inappropriate offers to their spouses and abuse at least one substance thus becoming an actual cancer of society.

Put on a skirt and sequined top, remove underwear and go as Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan. Then hit the Karaoke.

Civil Servant
Place box over your head for comfy cubicle feeling (air holes and mind numbing lighting optional). Slouch shoulders for broken spirit look. Lash out at random people who "get in your way." Sigh whenever someone asks you who you are and explain with a tone of contempt what your costume is and how you make it. Run through all red lights you see and get mad at people who point out how that might actually kill you. Wear golden handcuffs labelled "pension." Only trick or treat at one third of the houses an enterprising child manages on their own then complain you couldn't do more because you had to go home and learn French, again.
If you are more enterprising you could always try to create costumes that embody more existential dread such as Global Warming, Fire, Large Meat Eating Mammals, Existential Dread, or Robotic Sharks that know Kung-Fu.

Hey, Prime Minister, what do you think of The Horror Week?


Friday, October 26, 2007

Citizens and "citizens"

I admit I've always found Quebec and the Quebecois just a bit cooler, bit more 'with it" than the rest of Canada. In Quebec, you can buy beer and wine at the cornerstores. They have the Formula 1 Grand Prix. The people dress quite stylishly; you can always spot the hot, fashion-conscious yet subtle francophone female in a crowd. The social safety net is pretty good - no one else has an affordable daycare system in this country. The landscape on the North Shore is beautiful, the ski hills kick ass, and there are more painters, musicians and other artists per capita in Montreal, Quebec City and elsewhere than there are in anglo Canada. Les Invasions Barbares was the type of profound, funny, moving film that no English Canadian director ever made. And, yes, the French CBC has some pretty innovative programming.

Having heaped praise on the home of the disctinct society clause and big hydro, let me now register my disappointment and, puzzlement, really, at how the 'immigrant' integration issue is being handled, perceived, written about in Quebec. It speaks to a certain malaise across the society, amplified through the political medium.

If a political party in the provincial assembly in Quebec city wants more stringent requirements on how newly arrived people behave within the province, then there should be certain rules of thumb, to assure the requirements don't end up sounding absurd, misplaced or downright bigoted:

1. The language requirement is a red herring. Of course, if anyone wants to work in Quebec and isn't a federal bureaucrat in Place du Portage in Hull, the French language is an automatic requirement. Just like anyone wanting work in Vancouver or Halifax would have to have a sufficient command of English. Ask my parents who, as immigrants into English Canada, spent years learning and perfecting their language skills...it was necessary and it wasn't a piece of cake.

2. The cultural sensitivity to all things connected with the langauge and French Canadian culture is certainly a fine, fine point. But there are established channels that help engrain values, teach about history and reinforce a sense of a polity. Schools and universities, for one. The cultural content of French as a second language classes. If, in this day and age, with so many possible channels of communication and so many ways to capture a person's attention, we are told we'd have to resort to a political charter of some sorts...hmmm, I'd say that the schools, media, writers and others are not doing their job.

3. Quebec may be distinct within Canada -I'll be the first person to say it is - but it is still within Canada, a part of the same economy and the same job market. When one immigrates to Quebec, they think of themselves as primarily immigrating to Canada. A person struggling in the francophone environment won't turn into a good, productive worker or a citizen if you whack him with another requirement...they will likely end up moving and throw in their lot with the red-hot Alberta economy or the good ol' TO. Especially if they are engineers, teachers, nurses, construction foremen or equipment operators. That's how French Canada loses people annually to English Canada. Simple as that.

4. Rural and small-town Quebec where much of the conern over 'reasonable accomodation' is coming from is not a very dynamic economic region. Opportunities for newcomers don't exactly abound in Gaspesie, Beauce or Saguenay. These places will never be over-run by hordes of culturally different people with low capacities for assimilating into a francophone existence - to suggest that this might happen is fear-mongering and political manipulation. If I am coming from South America, Lebanon or China, my destination is very likely to be Montreal, not the backwoods....and nothing against the 'backwoods', either. They are nice to go hiking in but most people know where their daily bread comes from.

5. Concern over cultural integration and the concern over people who 'bring their conflicts with them' should be two different issues, handled through different channels. If someone is raising eyebrows with their apparently ultra-conservative Islamic ways or if they are coming from a recent war zone...former Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, many African countries, to name examples...there are going to be extra concerns over that person's ability to lead a normal life in Quebec, anywhere in Canada for that matter. But if we are talking 'cultural and linguistic integration', then we ought not drag in other, potentially deeper concerns such as those over people who might be prone to use violence easily or who have trouble with written legal codes.

Remember the highest risk demographics in our society, as far as crime and not getting along with the rest of us? Young aboriginal Canadian men and young men of Jamaican origin in Toronto. Both groups speak English, for one. Both have grown up in this country. Grown up alienated, perhaps...but no one is going to solve that problem by testing these populations against some civic-type scale.

Just my ususal fifty-four cents.

Punk Sports Cards

I just found these and they are wonderful. I guess I have a new hobby.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why Ottawa is so beige.

So, instead of doing my own research, the Ottawa Citizen did it for me. And horror of horrors... They did it pretty well!!! Ken Gray goes through the reasons why Ottawa is the way it is today. And he takes some pretty hard shots at the city. A rare moment when I am impressed by the Citizen. Thanks, Mr. Gray!

Filed under irony

On my way to Montebello I saw a truck delivering gasoline to a gas station. On the side of said truck was "powered by biodiesel." Biodiesel wasn't available at the gas station. I love it. I love it more than the windmills placed on the Hibernia gas platform.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The long, drawn-out death of Kyoto, the one that's not Stephane's dog

So, speech from the Throne happened last night. As it happens almost every year. I kind of like to observe the pomp and circumstance; they remind me that there is such a thing as the Parliament and that there is the ship of the state, which (strangely enough) does need someone to steer it from time to time. We have not yet invented an autopilot for these occassions.

I - and this is almost difficult to admit as a former Liberal staffer and someone who's gotten his professional start as a pro-Kyoto activist in (ehm, ehm) Alberta - found nothing too controversial or extremely right-wing in the speech last night. It was strategically conceived to annoy and bait the opposition but the basic policy course seems to be the same old, same old Canadian middle of the road, 'all things to everyone' appeal. Why not? We are a complex, easily fractured federation and there will always be sectors and interest groups that any government has to cater to. There are noteworthy items and concessions in every single Speech from the Throne that deal a few more, albeit symbolic, cards to the province of Quebec, to Aboriginal people, to law and order enforcement (hey, no one is against having safer streets...), and, lately to environmentalists.

Having said the last word, yes, I am an environmentalist, at least deep on the inside, below the increasingly cynical outer layers. This stuff matters, in the long run. We do need to have cleaner Great Lakes, no lead in children's toys, and this climate change business is worrisome. If we can grow crops for food as well as for fuel, perhaps that's progress, too...

Which brings me to the K-word. Nothing against Stephane Dion's dog, but I have become absolutely sick of the constant appeals to 'save Kyoto'. Everyone who wants to cloak themselves in a progressive garb and drop fashionable references to Al Gore has been lining up to live up to this treaty - which few people really understand. It has become a pop culture reference, instead of a scientific point of reference. And, no secret, it has been one of the most mishandled, poorly managed public policy files in Ottawa...for years, almost a decade in fact.

When the first committment period of the Kyoto treaty is a mere three months away and Canada's GHG emissions remain - predictably - at 30% or more above our target, it is indeed time to throw in the towel. Not to throw in the towel on the actual long-term dynamic of trying to evolve our economy and adjust to climate change impacts...but to concede that, as far as the piece of paper is concerned, we are not going to make it.

The Liberals knew it, as early as 2002 and 2003. Dion must have known it when the Green Plan was overhauled. The Conservatives had known it all along - but they don't get 'wiseman points" for knowing something as obvious as that - nor do they qualify for 'sympathy points', seeing they would have preferred the entire issue just went away.

Yes, folks, last night was the much overdue public funeral of the idea that Canada could, would, was in position to, ever meet its self-imposed Kyoto commitments. Somehow, it doesn't feel like an end of an era, more like a beginning of another, less idealistic and less misguided era.

What I Love About Politics

Last night I was at my drawing class during the Speech From the Throne, but I was home for the build-up. I love all the hoopla around these things because it's really only a few select people who really give a crap about them and their potential election results. The only reason it plays so big in Ottawa is that there are simply so many people working in some capacity attached to a political party and they don't want to lose their job. The rest of us don't really care because let's be honest, being legally entitled to 3 hours away from work to go vote isn't exactly something the Canadian public dreads.

Elections take about 10 minutes of our time depending on the line up at the polling station so not one single voter is anxious about any election speculation. Sure there's a few extra road signs and too much crap on the radio, well too much election talky talky rather than pop stars but still crap. But all in all, an election is no great shakes unless you could lose your job or be required to report on politicians for 30 days. I'd be fearing one too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mission Mistatement

The other day I was asked what the point is to this blog. It really bothers me that I need a reason to do anything. The honest answer is that there is no point to it. The snarky answer is that the whole point is to annoy people with no sense of humor who need to find a point to everything and debate every minor passing jokey comment you make until the earth is as emptied of humor and fun as it is potable water and clean air.

I know it's the wrong format, being on the internet and all, but I'm not really interested in debating anything anymore - ever. I find it really hard to pretend I care about things I don't care about and I find it a lot harder to spend time talking about anything I don't find interesting or debating everything in some pathetic attempt to give my sad little life more meaning by seeking truth in the least fun way possible. Sorry, I'm too busy trying to figure out what kind of secret doorway is better - fake library shelves or trap. I care too much about enjoying every fleeting moment to waste my life in endless debate that doesn't ever inform me about anything. Oh wait, it's not debate that bothers me it's probably just your opinion . I guess that's why I like big parties - there's always someone else to talk to.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

That's that then

Huh, didn't really expect those results for the referendum. I’m not surprised by the actual election results – too bad about Hilier though, although he will now provide us with enough headlines and content to keep things fun for a while. Still, yikes on the MMP vote. From my informal office poll people just didn’t know anything about it so didn’t go for it. The common sentiment was to stick with the devil you know. Some of them even went to find out more and they had the same problem I did in that even the supporters didn’t really have any information about it other than the pure basic you vote twice spiel. I was kind of hoping it would have been closer to fuel more debate on it and come up with a better proposal for proportional representation.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Secret Headquarters

Finally I can get that underground lair I've always wanted. Sure, it's no volcanoe island shaped like a human skull but an underground Titan missle silo is pretty cool nonetheless.

Soon I will be victorious.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Blindfold and Cigarettes

Today is the last day of the Ontario election. I guess I'm celebrating it with about as much indifference as the start of the election. Really, I'm more concerned by how I can't get the picture to format properly in my "Currently Reading" section of this blog than I am about who wins what in the election. I always vote, but this time, in my riding, it really just feels like choosing which lawyer I dislike the least and then deciding how generous I'm feeling towards MMP when I'm in the booth. Good mood gets a yes vote, bad mood gets a no because really I haven't been convinced about the system presented. I think it's well intentioned but severely lacking in many regards that you don't need to be bored with at the moment (and I really don't feel like answering comments).

I'm not going to try and convince anyone about it one way or the other because the more I think about it, the more I really just don't give a flying fuck what the political system is as long as I can take part in it.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Let's get our own announcers

I'm happy that hockey is back and that the Sens have started well by beating the Leafs twice. I missed Wednesday's season opener which looked to be a dandy - hell, Redden had 2 fights! I might actually come around to liking Redden if he develops this crusty old man attitude towards the game. Then again, he took a four minute penalty last night for telling the ref to do something sexually impossible.

The only thing that really annoyed the piss out of me was having to listen to the utter drivel spouted by Bob Cole. I'm glad the game only lasted an hour because any longer and Toskola (the Leafs goalie) would probably have given birth to the second coming of Christ Listening to Cole yammer on and on and on about how amazing Toskola played was akin to watching a documentary about strippers or porn stars who yammer on and on and on about how this career was their choice and something their proud of/happy to be doing. After a while the refrain simply isn't convincing to the audience and you realize they are trying to convince themselves with it. Not that I think strippers or porn stars or Maple Leafs fans are bad or stupid, I just kind of think they're going out of their way to try and sound convincing. Kind of like how people tell you they like their commute.

So while Toskola was busy saving the world by stopping pucks, Redden took a four minute penalty and if Cole is to be believed he also either blocked a shot or shot at his own net while in the penalty box. Clearly when the Sens and Leafs clash it is a clash of Titans that rips the space time continuum asunder so a man can be in two, possibly three if he came from a separate universe and was signed by the Leafs, places at once.

Funny, how this amazing goalie still lost. I'm glad hockey is back, I just need to start muting the CBC broadcast so I don't have to listen to someone try and convince me the losing team is better than the one I support. Is it any wonder Senators fans feel like their team is the Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL. They went to the cup finals and all I heard about during the play by play was how the Leafs were going to the playoffs this year and would be trying for the cup. How about they win a game first before the play by play man starts telling me about how the Leafs are going to make the playoffs again (maybe). Who knows, maybe they will, I mean the space time continuum was ripped asunder last night by Wade Redden so anything is possible.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Please, for the love of God, vote for MMP, Ontario!

All right, so normally, I tend to vote how I feel. However, if I was in my parents' riding, I would, without hesitation or any consideration, be voting for Ian Wilson, the Liberal candidate for Lanark, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington.

He seems good. That said, there's really only one reason to vote for him. His Regressive Progressive Conservative opponent is the one, the only... Randy Hillier. You see, Randy Hillier is the nutjob former leader of the Lanark Landowners Association, which has morphed into the Ontario Landowners Association now.

Randy's frightening to small children and progressive bloggers alike. However, even John Tory is trying to avoid Randy Hillier.

In case that article won't be available much longer, I cut and paste the relevant text:

"John Tory, PC:

Worst moment: Avoiding his own right-wing candidate, Randy Hillier, in the VIP tent at the International Plowing Match, the province’s largest agricultural fair, this week in Crosby. Mr. Tory entered the tent and froze when he saw Mr. Hillier. (Liberal operatives hope to snap a picture of the two men together in a bid to undermine Tory’s moderate remake of the party.) Mr. Tory then left the tent to regroup and came back in several minutes later, surrounded by a small group of people. The two men never shook hands."

Yes he's that scary that his own potential boss doesn't want to be seen with him.

OK, I won't continue with the defamation. However, this is a good reason for MMP - I'm sure just about every straight-headed progressive in that riding will vote for Ian Wilson regardless of political affiliation, and it would be unfair to force them to vote for one or the other in this multi-party democracy. This is why we need to have a mixed system, so that the likes of Randy Hillier CAN be defeated and our preference among the other parties can also be acknowledged.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Scrooge McDuck Recognized

The Scotsman reports that Scrooge McDuck has been selected by the Glasgow City Council to be added to the list of Famous Glaswegians. He joins such luminaries as Sir Alex Ferguson, Mo Johnston, Robert Carlyle, Franz Ferdinand (the band, not the Archduke), and Groundskeeper Willie.

If you ever need something to read, I cannot recommend The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck by Don Rosa enough. It is a tour de force of cartooning, and the biographic nature of the storytelling is staggering and impressively enjoyable. What Don Rosa does, is fill in the gaps of the Charles Barks' Duck Tales stories (yes, they were the basis for the fantastic cartoon) which are also being collected for the modern audience. If you know anyone who would appreciate adventure stories, these are the comics for them, but honestly, whether you've ever read a comic or not, I can guarantee you will love The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. It is one of the better books in print these days.

Who do you think would be on the list of Famous Ottawans? That opium dealer from that one Plastic Man comic back in the thirties? Alanis?