Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Global Rich List

How rich are you?
Every year we gaze enviously at the lists of the richest people in world. wondering what it would be like to have that sort of cash. but where
would you sit on one of those lists? Here's your chance to find out.

Whom Do You Idolspize?

" It recently became clear to me that modern life has spawned a brand new emotion, that psychological sidewalk-crack between envy and idolatry that we often succeed in jumping over, but once in a while fall right through. That's where we meet them, those of superior beauty, character, talent and intelligence and, if friends, who are never less than loyal, supportive, generous and kind.
For this we loathe them."

via Kottke

Monday, February 27, 2006

Happy Sunshine Story Time!!

Aren't they cute? Well, sometimes appearances can be deceiving.
Warning - this story contains scenes of violence, nudity and coarse language (or maybe not coarse language).

Happy Sunshine Story Time!!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Curious GWB

Curious GWB


We saw Deepa Mehta's Water last night. The film takes place in the 1930's in the holy city of Varanesi and is about women who were forced to enter "widow houses" after their husbands died and to live lives of deprivation and despair. The youngest widow, Chuyia, is just 8 years old and is as feisty as can be. Most of the residents of the compound are ground down by their life of poverty. Kalyani, a beautiful young woman, is not like the others. She has let her hair grow, in stark contrast to the shaved heads of the other widows, and she looks like a western film star. (Her glamour is the weak point of the movie, in my opinion). She's been a widow since the age of nine and yet shows no physical effects of her hard life. She's been forced into prostitution to support the other widows. Despite all odds she meets and falls in love with a handsome young Brahmin who loves her too. (I found this subplot to be distracting - two gorgeous star-crossed lovers blah, blah, blah.Others might think this romance is the best thing about the movie, I don't.)
This is a time of great upheaval in India and Gandhi, as well as advocating independence, is bringing about a new way of looking at things, including the tradition of shunning widows.
The ostracism of widows is still common in India, about 20,000 of them beg for alms along the Ganges in India's two holiest cities; this film rallies support for their plight. It is to Mehta's credit that she went on to complete the film despite receiving death threats.
Oh, and did I mention that I loved the movie? Great soundtrack, beautiful colours, fascinating story.

Let's Look At the Positive

Darren McGavin and Don Knotts have shuffled off this mortal coil. How do I cope with the resultant grief and despair? I just keep reminding myself that the Canadians won 24 Olympic medals and they did it by playing like girls!

Hotdogs For Homophobes

Homophobe Hotdogs

Sex Pistols rip Hall of Fame bash

"Having been voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Sex Pistols have refused to attend their induction ceremony next month, calling the institution 'urine in wine' in a handwritten note posted on their website.
'We're not coming. We're not your monkeys ... You're not paying attention,' continued the statement posted Friday at thefilthandthefury.co.uk."

Of course they have to say it's a load of bollocks. What did you expect:
"We want to thank the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for bestowing this incredible honour upon us. We also want to thank our manager, our parents and our fans for believing in us and we'd like to thank God for giving us the special talent that has brought us to this pinnacle tonight."? Hell no.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Linda Has Two Blogs

My friend, Linda, has a new blog. I worked with her in the now blurry days of the Ontario NDP government and have to marvel at the things she's moved on to since then (check out her resume). She's also co-authoring a blog with an artist friend who's travelling in India. Both blogs are worth checking out.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Olympics - Another Excuse to Drink

I don't know who would actually drink these things. I drink red wine almost exclusively, although I've been known to vary my pattern if there's nothing else available. However the Canadian curlers have just won a gold and maybe some of my readers are dying to get blasted on fancy liqueur mixtures. Just don't tell me about it.

White Knuckle Ride Shooter
1/2 shot Coffee Liqueur
1/2 shot Irish Cream Liqueur
1/2 shot frozen vodka
Layer each ingredient in a glass by careful pouring in the order above.

Ski Breeze
2 shots Absolut Kurant
3 shots Apple Juice
3 shots Ginger Ale
Pour ingredients into a Collins glass, filled with ice, and stir.

1 1/2 shots Cherry Brandy
1 1/2 shots orange curacao
2 shots orange juice
Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a martini glass. "

Illustrated Strunk

Karen bought this new illustrated hardcover edition of Strunk/White, The Elements of Style. I want to buy it, too, but will have to hem and haw a bit first as it wounds me to the quick to buy anything that hasn't been reduced by at least 50%. This is a picture of me, having paid full price for a book.

Rephotographing Atget

Eugene Atget was an urban historian who documented the imprint of history on Paris from 1897 - 1927. He systematically photographed Old Paris building by building, marking the changes that occurred over time. I first heard of him a number of years ago when there was a show of his work at the Art Gallery of Ontario. I was smitten and also struck by the similarities between Paris then and now. I have two books of his photos and I get a whole lotta pleasure looking at them and comparing them to the Paris I know. In many cases the major difference between Atget's Paris and Paris circa 2006 is the presence of asphalt and automobiles as the photo here illustrates. Christopher Rauschenberg has been rephotographing Atget's Paris. Check out the site.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bill may allow dogs at Florida restaurants

Mr. Nag and I love it when we can feed scraps to dogs in Paris restaurants - we miss our own dogs so much when we travel.
"Florida restaurateurs may soon have their say in whether or not dogs can dine outside with their owners. Rep. Sheri McInvale, R-Orlando has introduced a bill that would create a three year variance from a current law that keeps dogs out of restaurants. Only restaurants that wanted to allow dogs would participate. The proposed law would not give dog owners the right to bring their dog any restaurant they choose. Along with letting dogs dine al fresco, the proposed law would also require participating restaurants to have $1 million worth of liability insurance to cover possible biting incidents."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

My Cousin, The Author

Maith thú! My cousin, Johnny, of the Cleveland O'briens has a website, blog, book, the whole nine yards.

The Genographic Project

Justin Blanton reports on the results his dad received from theNational Geographic Genographic Project. I bought the kit for my father for Christmas and am eager to see what he gets back.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Ah, the Peccadillos of the Idle Rich

"In order to raise the spirits of an Italian prince burdened by the cares of his position, a musician created for him a cat piano. The musician selected cats whose natural voices were at different pitches and arranged them in cages side by side, so that when a key on the piano was depressed, a mechanism drove a sharp spike into the appropriate cat's tail."
via Cynical C Blog

The Wal-Mart Biennale

"It isn't that, when Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton purchased Asher B. Durand's 1849 painting Kindred Spirits last year, she got the state of Arkansas to pass legislation specifically to save her taxes -- in this case, about $3 million on a purchase price of $35 million. It isn't that the world's second richest woman and ninth richest person (according to a Forbes magazine 2005 estimate) scooped the painting out from under the National Gallery and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which had banded together to try to keep it in a public collection when the New York Public Library decided to sell it off. It isn't that Walton will eventually stick this talisman of New England cultural life and a lot of other old American paintings in the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Walton family museum she's building in Bentonville, Arkansas, the site of Wal-Mart's corporate headquarters -- after all people in the middle of the country should get to see some good art too. It might not even be, as Wal-MartWatch.com points out, that the price of the painting equals what the state of Arkansas spends every two years providing for Wal-Mart's 3,971 employees on public assistance; or that the average Wal-Mart cashier makes $7.92 an hour and, since Wal Mart likes to keep people on less than full-time schedules, works only 29 hours a week for an annual income of $11,948--so a Wal-Mart cashier would have to work a little under 3,000 years to earn the price of the painting without taking any salary out for food, housing, or other expenses (and a few hundred more years to pay the taxes, if the state legislature didn't exempt our semi-immortal worker).
The trouble lies in what the painting means and what Alice Walton and her $18 billion mean. Art patronage has always been a kind of money-laundering"

Read More

A Girl's Guide to Geek Guys

So, your crush on the bass player from Vibrating Sandbox has finally died a whimpering death and you're wondering where to go from here. All the sinister dudes are either dating a series of interchangeable high-school riot girls in baby doll dresses and an overdose of manic panic, or permanently shacked up with some bitter old lady who pays all the bills. Which will it be, a wifely prison or a humiliating one night stand? Into this void of potential mates comes a man you may not have considered before, a man of substance, quietude and stability, a cerebral creature with a culture all his own. In short, a geek.

Curious George

Watch the Rants - George learns that curiosity killed the cat and it's not healthy for little monkeys either.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I'm So Old!

What was the #1 song in the U.S.A. the day you were born?
May 22, 1951 ... 'How High the Moon' by Les Paul & Mary Ford

Canada Wins Gold In Women's Hockey

Damn right they did! And they're not paid millions of dollars to play all year like their male counterparts. Eat their dust (or ice chips or whatever).

Sunday, February 19, 2006

37 million poor hidden in the land of plenty

The poverty rate in the US has risen steadily since the election of the Bush government. Coincidence? I think not. The increase in poverty continues despite strong economic growth and job creation.
Here are some sad statistics:

· There are 37 million Americans living below the poverty line. That figure has increased by five million since President George W. Bush came to power.
· The United States has 269 billionaires, the highest number in the world. · Almost a quarter of all black Americans live below the poverty line; 22 per cent of Hispanics fall below it. But for whites the figure is just 8.6 per cent.
· There are 46 million Americans without health insurance.
· There are 82,000 homeless people in Los Angeles alone.
· In 2004 the poorest community in America was Pine Ridge Indian reservation. Unemployment is over 80 per cent, 69 per cent of people live in poverty and male life expectancy is 57 years. In the Western hemisphere only Haiti has a lower number.
· The richest town in America is Rancho Santa Fe in California. Average incomes are more than $100,000 a year; the average house price is $1.7m.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Les Choristes

This is a formulaic film about a kind hearted teacher who, despite the interference of an evil director, engages a group of troubled boys and turns them into a topnotch choir in post-war France. I knew I was being manipulated but shed a few tears nonetheless. Could be described as a "heartwarming, feelgood film". Oh, go and see it anyhow.
"On 15 January 1949, the former music teacher Clement Mathieu arrives in 'Fond de l' Etang' ('Bottom of the Well'), a boarding school for orphans and problematic boys, to work as an inspector. The place is administrated with iron fist by the cruel director Rachin, and most of the boys have severe punishments for their faults. Clement decides to teach the boys to sing in a choir in their spare time, and identify the musical potential of the rebel Pierre Morhange , the son of a beautiful single mother for whom he feels a crush. He also has a special feeling for the young Pepinot , a boy that expects the visit of his father every Saturday near the gate, but indeed lost his parents in the war. With his methods, Clement changes the lives of the boys, of the other employees and his own."


Russell Smith is worried that his apron will not pass muster:
"Do you have an apron in your kitchen? Best Dressed researchers have determined that large numbers of women will form quick judgments about your attractiveness and suitability based on this simple item. Owning an apron bespeaks adult sophistication. "
Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't believe that guys who write about aprons really give a damn about what women think.
Once, long ago, I read one of Russell Smith's novels (How Insensitive) and kind of liked it. The protagonist was an insecure young Maritimer trying to make it in the sophisticated big city and one could almost, but not quite, feel his pain. I read his column on "Aprons" (WTF?) and decided to check out his website to see if this guy is for real, or what? Turns out he's pimping himself out for $65.00 an hour as some kind of fashion consultant! Seems kind of bargain basement (the consultants I know charge at least $100.00 per hour and some of them aren't even very good). I think this stinks of loser, but I'm a little "casual" about my appearance so what do I know? I don't hobnob with royalty and have not been the recipient of any major awards lately (due mainly to the poor judgement of others, I'm certain). Therefore I don't require his refined expertise but will share these details with my more dandified readers as a public service:

Russell Smith's deep knowledge of the sartorial requirements of every situation, as well as familiarity with recent fashion trends, enable him to offer personal on-site image consulting.
He will travel to wherever you are, evaluate your current wardrobe and help you find and shop for any items of clothing or personal style, whether formal, business-related or casual. He will see purchases of tailored items through to their final fitting.
He specializes in occasions: the wedding suit, the visit with royalty, the awards ceremony. Or he can suggest simple changes to subtly update your everyday look.
He also offers help with etiquette and protocol, particularly in formal situations.
The fee for this service is $65 (CDN) per hour, plus travel expenses.

Should I let the Globe know that this guy is a pretentious twat?

Exploring the Land of the Incas

I saw a show about the train trip from Cuzco to Machu Picchu and was completely sold on it. I'd definitely opt for the Hiram Bingham, an Orient Express train and the epitome of luxury travel. I'll add this to my "List of Things To Do Before I'm So Old I Can Only Take Cruise Vacations".

At around noon, on July 23, 1911, an explorer named Hiram Bingham climbed up a steep hill and stumbled onto Machu Picchu, uncovering what had been up until that moment, the Incas' best kept secret. The World was stunned by his discovery. PeruRail's luxury train service between Cuzco and Machu Picchu, is named after the American explorer who discovered the stunning ruins of the ancient citadel.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Bachelardette Tells It Like It Is

'The expected contribution for college is far less than that for childcare programs. A family at the state median income would only be required to pay 10 percent of their income on college expenses. That same family would have to pay 36 percent of their gross income to secure private childcare.' 'If a woman making $50,000 per year whose husband makes $100,000 decides to have a baby, and the cost of a full-time nanny is $30,000, the couple reason that, after paying 40 percent in taxes, she makes $30,000, just enough to pay the nanny. So she might as well stay home. This totally ignores that both adults are in the enterprise together and the demonstrable future loss of income, power, and security for the woman who quits. Instead, calculate that all parents make a total of $150,000 and take home $90,000. After paying a full-time nanny, they have $60,000 left to live on.'
Nope, sorry. In a market where a starter house costs over 400k, a feminism that instructs a woman with a family to work harder for less money (on top of not getting to enjoy your very young kids) is just never going to get very far. The older I get, the less politics -- any politics -- speaks to my condition.
(When progressives march for a 35-hr work week for both men and women -- call me.)"

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Picasso and Dora Maar

I love the Picasso Museum in Paris and plan to see this exhibit when I'm there in May. I'll read "The Weeping Woman", the story of Picasso and Maar's stormy relationship, before I go.
Their story was singular from the start: Picasso fell for Dora Maar when he saw her in a Left Bank cafe, stabbing a knife into the table between her outstretched fingers. Sometimes, she missed and drew blood.

They were together for eight years. He painted her; she photographed him. A show at the Picasso museum in Paris, which opened yesterday, explores how the two inspired and provoked each other. The show includes nearly 250 works, with some of Maar's portraits of her lover on show for the first time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Mr. Sun!: The VP Attacks: Blanket Coverage.

Oh good, Mr. Sun is providing us with updates:
Haig in charge. Alexander Haig assures nation he is in charge; fires off six more rounds into Mr. Whittington.
Kerry explains position. John Kerry explains he voted against giving authority for Cheney to shoot innocent citizens before he voted in favor of it.
Lieberman sees gray. Lieberman praises Cheney's 'prudence,' but calls for prior Senate approval of hunter-on-hunter violence.
Novak weighs in. Columnist Bob Novak outs Whittington's wife as inactive member of Daughter of American Revolution.
Grace on the move. Nancy Grace seen arming herself and heading to Washington for vengeance. Secret Service moves to intercept.
A nation waits. Still no 'Heh' from Instapundit.
Factions. Splinter group breaks from Moveon.org -- Movethehelloutofthwayheisshootingrightatyou.org.

Identification chart for Vice-Presidential hunting trips

Something Else I Can't Eat

Click here to see the flash file

Assault On The Be Mine Fields

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Ten Ways Dick Cheney Can Kill You

Pencil Me In

A Welsh View: Man's DIY Viagra Backfires

The hazards of America's 10 most popular foods.

What's for dinner? How about a healthy serving of slaughterhouse waste,red dye, MSG, hormones,sulfites, sodium, acrymilide and phosphoric acid? Sure, I'd love a burger with fries, a Coke and a couple of Oreos.
You are bombarded by TV and advertising with millions of positive impressions about unhealthy foods every day. Your local grocery store is stocked full of more than 35 thousand items you should NEVER EAT!
If you shopped the perimeter of the market in the fresh produce, butcher, dairy and bakery departments and avoided the aisles containing processed and packaged foods, you would eat much healthier. But we are a fast food nation. Look at what a health hazard Americas Top TEN favorite foods present to their population.

Berlusconi's boundless modesty: first it's Napoleon, now he's Jesus

Silvio Berlusconi at the weekend provided his opponents with ammunition for Italy's forthcoming election battle when the prime minister reportedly compared himself to a long-suffering Jesus Christ.
At least he had the sense not to compare himself to Muhammed.

He Thought He Was Hugo Chavez

WASHINGTON U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a weekend quail-hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter in the face and chest with shotgun pellets.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

My Life is Too Glamourous

After writing the previous post I realized that perhaps I'm becoming a creature of habit and decided to put my routine under the microscope:

A day in the life:
Ate 2 slices of cinnamon raisin toast and washed it down with some leftover microwaved coffee (as I do every single morning).
Read the usual newspapers online, local,national,international (again a part of my daily routine).
Checked out favourite blogs (yes, I do this every day as well).
Cleaned the kitchen (something I do most days).
Blogged a bit.
Did some laundry, washed floors.
Blogged some more.
Ate a fried egg sandwich.
Blogged some more.
Downloaded some music.
Said "enough is enough"and turned off the computer.
Actually left the house and did some grocery shopping.
Blogged some more.
Made myself an espresso with a healthy shot of rum in it.
Made dinner.
Read a bit more of the tedious novel "I Am Charlotte Simmons".

Truth is I'm a creature of habit (obsessive-compulsive is more like it).
Yesterday, as we do most Saturdays, Mr. Nag and I went to the Book Depot. I was slightly irritated that our usual parking spot (under a tree, not that it matters in February, but it does provide a little shade in summer) was taken. This irritation, I sense, is a sign that I'm in a bit of a rut. I was likewise irritated by those who insisted on pushing their shopping carts through the damaged book aisles (where I make most of my purchases), effectively preventing me from circumnavigating the aisles in order and forcing me to skip the cart-infested aisles and return to them later (an insult to the natural order of things). I know I'm presenting myself as Jack Nicholson in "As Good As It Gets" but, honestly, I'm not that bad - they are, all of them.
We followed up our shopping excursion, as always, with lunch at Fortis, a local greasy spoon. "Your usual?" the waitress asked. That would be a cheese omelet for Mr. Nag, brown toast, and a toasted clubhouse with fries and coleslaw for me. Two teas. Is that pathetic or what?

Have I spent too much time at The Hotel Le Rut? I prefer to think that I've honed my routine to an art and I'm comfortable with it. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Going Cold Turkey

No Coronation Street during the Olympics! I keep reassuring myself that fatalities due to Corrie withdrawal are rare but I'm already suffering from agitation, disorientation, sympathetic hyperactivity, insomnia and anxiety. Stick a tongue depressor in my mouth, I think I feel a seizure coming on.

No Hassle!

Here's an image from what is apparently an ad campaign in Australia. It looks like the Hoff is about to get raped by a giant Pepsi bottle. And he's decided to sing about it. I don't know what in god's name he's doing with the microphone stand, but the bottle sure seems to enjoy it. If that doesn't make you thirsty, nothing will.

Ann Coulter at CPAC on "Ragheads" and Assassinating Bill Clinton

On Friday, February 10, the rock star of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was none other than Ann Coulter. Before an overflow crowd of at least 1000 young right-wing activists, Coulter took her brand of performance art to new heights.
Coulter on Muslims:
'I think our motto should be post-9-11, 'raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.'' (This declaration prompted a boisterous ovation.)
Coulter on killing Bill Clinton:
(Responding to a question from a Catholic University student about her biggest moral or ethical dilemma) 'There was one time I had a shot at Clinton. I thought 'Ann, that's not going to help your career.'"

Buzz Off

The NDP has expelled Buzz Hargrove, the country's most prominent labour leader, for actively promoting strategic voting and Liberal candidates in last month's federal election. The Ontario NDP provincial executive voted yesterday to pull the membership of Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers, for violating the party's constitution regarding provisions against endorsing other candidates. It also automatically revokes his membership in the federal party.

He claims to be surprised! I had to fight like a pitbull to gain his endorsement for one of his own union brothers in the last federal election - not that an endorsement from Buzz amounts to a hill of beans, it was a matter of principle. In the end Buzz grudgingly endorsed Wayne. I admit that I chuckled when I saw Wayne's name listed with a bunch of NDP heavy hitters - it was a " one of these things is not like the others, one of these things just does not belong" sort of moment.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Uncorrected Proofs

Looks like that barking, snarling political watchdog,Uncorrected Proofs, is stirring things up again in the Falls:
Craitor, who sits with the Dalton McGuinty Liberal government, said he's been asked by a few people what his intentions are for running for mayor. The MPP said the questions are arising because of a blog on the Internet by local politics watchdog Larry Savage. On his Website, Savage said he had heard rumours that Craitor would be running for mayor and approached the MPP at a federal election debate in early January to ask what his intentions were. (Niagara This Week)
It's too bad Kim has decided not to run for mayor of Niagara Falls; I think he'd be good at it and Larry, the loveable cynic, could have run for MPP. Is it possible Kim suddenly remembered all the perks that go along with being a provincial representative?

Good Night, And Good Luck

Edward R. Murrow vs Senator Joe McCarthy. Written, acted and directed by George Clooney (this man is a genius). Nominated for six Academy Awards. Let's hope it picks up a few and that speeches are given about those being held without charge in prisons in the US and around the world. The parallels between the war on communism and the war on terror are obvious and the right tone struck; the right tone, of course, being whatever one I agree with.
No surprise that Murrow died of lung cancer - the swirling blue smoke in this movie was enough to make me feel as nauseous as if I were inhaling it. Since smokers have become pariahs, I'm always struck by the amount of smoking on fifties and sixties television; Patrick and Laurier smoked up a storm on This Hour Has Seven Days, for instance. The Dianne Reeves soundtrack fits the fifties smokiness perfectly.
Shot in black and white and well acted, this is a good left wing political movie with a documentary feel.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Political Cartoons

Germany's gay zoo penguins still fending off female advances

Six gay penguins at a German zoo are still refusing to mate with females of the species flown in from Sweden in 2005, the zoo said.
The females were flown in last year in a bid to bring the males to mate and help save the Humboldt species from extinction.

Lisa Krivacka Home Page

When I was growing up, my family never went on a real vacation, so, once I left home and traveled a little, I became fascinated by travel postcards and began to collect them. I am especially interested in the postcards that depict banal destinations, like the State Highway Building in Columbia South Carolina, or the Rotary Club in Chicago, Il. I am also drawn to the outwardly innocent motels and diners, that probably don't exist anymore.

via gmtplus9

World Press Award Photo

Canadian photographer Finbarr O'Reilly wins premier award
The international jury of the 49th annual World Press Photo contest selected a color image of the Canadian photographer Finbarr O'Reilly of Reuters as World Press Photo of the Year 2005. The picture shows the emaciated fingers of a one-year-old child pressed against the lips of his mother at an emergency feeding clinic in Niger. A devastating swarm of locusts and the worst drought in decades left millions of people short of food in the African state. The picture was taken in Tahoua, northwestern Niger, on 1 August 2005.

KookyChow Dot Com

A fine and distinguished gallery of rations for the curiously famished.
via metafilter

Hey Max, it's nutritious and delicious

Max, my great big flatcoat, is salivating:
"Thousands of tonnes of whale meat has been stockpiled as more animals are killed each year, says the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS).
The Japanese government has attempted to sell the whale meat to schools but the price has continued to fall.
A company is selling meat on the web as 'healthy and safe natural' dog food. "


For your listening pleasure:

via Growabrain

McSupersize Me

The world's largest restaurant chain said this week its fries contain a third more trans fats than it previously knew, citing results of a new testing method it began using in December.
That means the level of potentially artery-clogging trans fat in a portion of large fries is eight grams, up from six, with total fat increasing to 30 grams from 25.

Play the game! (warning: slow loading)

Le Bureau

The French are doing a foreign-language remake of The Office, my favourite BBC sitcom. The Americans have also created their version - I like it but not as much as the original. Apparently the French public did not respond well to the previews because they found it cruel. Don't they realize that cruelty is the key to its appeal?

The paper mill is called Cogirep, not Wernham-Hogg. It is based in Villepinte, a grim business park north of Paris, rather than Slough. And the manager, whose unflagging humour, firm grasp of political correctness and unfailingly eccentric management techniques make him pretty much le boss de l'enfer, is called Gilles Triquet, not David Brent.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

It's Bob Marley Week (yes it is)

Few artists have been able to revitalize and transform Reggae Music, redefining it with the influence of Hip-Hop, Rap, R&B, and Gospel elements as the sons and daughters of Bob Marley. Over the last decade these creative siblings have managed to capture the imagination of millions of music lovers, pick up 2 Grammy Awards, and a NAACP Image Award, and continue the legacy set by their father.

I guess they grew up in a protected heritage site.

Don't Sugarcoat It, Tell Us What You Really Think

Hugo Chavez gets down and dirty:
'Go right to hell, Mr Blair,' he told the prime minister during a speech in western Venezuela, using local slang to deliver the line. His exact words, 'vayase largo al cipote', have no direct translation into English.
Mr Chavez described Mr Blair as 'the main ally of Hitler' - an accusation that he is siding with the US president in its confrontation with Venezuela. Mr Chavez has taken to calling George Bush 'Mr Danger' and 'Danger Bush Hitler' among other epithets, and added that he would now need similar nicknames for Mr Blair.
'You messed with me, so put up with me,' he told the prime minister. Quoting the lyrics of a Venuezuelan folk song that he also recited when he called Mexico's president Vicente Fox a 'lapdog' of the United States, he added: 'I sting those who rattle me, Mr Blair'.
Relations between the Venezuela and US, whose lead Mr Chavez accused Mr Blair of following, are at their lowest point for several years after the two governments expelled each other's diplomats in a spying row last week.
The barney started when Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, compared Mr Chavez to Adolf Hitler. Speaking at a mass rally on Saturday commemorating the failed 1992 coup that he led as a lieutenant colonel, Mr Chavez then remarked that the Nazi leader 'would be like a suckling baby next to George W Bush'.

More About Emerson's Defection

ColbyCosh has this to say about Emerson's kids being teased:
But let it not be said that the minister's sudden defection to the Conservative Party isn't paying immediate dividends: the man is giving a male WASP-dominated caucus a valuable lesson in 21st-century political discourse. In an earlier age it would have gone without saying that the best way to protect the reputation of one's family is to not do disgraceful things. All children are hostages to their parents' public conduct: if you get caught sexually molesting St. Bernards, it's sort of inevitable that they're going to call your kids 'Beethoven' in the schoolyard and make little barrels of brandy out of construction paper. But the new Saddamist doctrine, espoused here by Emerson, is that one's own offspring make terribly convenient human shields. Lay off the criticism or the shorties get it!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

City Of Light Here I Come

I'm gearing up for Paris even though we're not leaving til May. Our apartment is booked (near la Madeleine, 8th floor, wraparound balcony, great views). We've stayed there in the past and it's comfortable, inexpensive and allows us to stretch out a bit.
What will I do there? The Paris Ile de France site makes it easy to plan. You simply plug in your dates and your interests and, voila, the site helps you tailor an itinerary. Among other things I plan to take in are the Ingres exhibit at the Louvre, Picasso and Dora Maar at the Picasso Museum, Cezanne and Pissaro at the d'Orsay, Fêtes du Bassin de La Villette, Salon Saveurs des Plaisirs Gourmands, an Almodovar exhibition, Salon Antiquités Brocante de la Bastille and about twenty other events and attractions. Maybe even a lunch hour cooking class. Somehow I'll also manage to squeeze in a whole lot of eating (Le Petit Zinc, the terrace at the Jacquemart-Andree, Polidor) and, bien sur, wine drinking. It's a challenge, but I think I'm up to it.

Demotivators Greatest Hits

It takes a lot less time and most people won't notice the difference until it's too late.

For longer than most can remember, motivational speakers, authors and publishers have inspired and delighted us by championing the idea that within each person exists virtually unlimited potential.
At Despair, Inc., we agree wholeheartedly- and helping others to unleash their hidden potentials remains our singular obsession.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Canine colleagues gather to honour Nitro's courage

'This is a dog whose name we happen to know because he did something we all know our dogs would do for us, protecting us for no other reason than because of their loyalty,' he said. 'This dog suddenly became a dog to make us remember all other dogs.'

Rough justice in the Gaspe

Yet another compelling argument against capital punishment. This case resonated throughout Quebec in the fifties and sixties. I clearly remember impassioned discussions about the execution years after it occurred and Pierre Trudeau raised the Coffin case in the House of Commons when he successfully argued against the death penalty in 1976.
"Record crowds lined the riverbanks outside a Montreal prison. As midnight drew near, many fell to their knees and prayed for the man facing execution.
Fifty years later, prayers will be said across Quebec this week to mark the anniversary of the death of Wilbert Coffin."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Children's Books Gone Wrong

Pages torn from children's books. Some of these are a little bit offensive.

Cave Drawings Reportedly 25,000 Years Old

Cave drawings thought to be older than those in the famed caves of Lascaux have been discovered in a grotto in western France, officials from the Charente region said Sunday.
I've always wanted to go to Lascaux although they now allow access only to a replica of the cave and drawings as hot, humid tourist breath was causing the originals to degrade. They've also got some sort of road show happening, I believe.

Tory Ministers

Common Sense Revolutionaries, Flaherty, Baird and Clement, are poised to do to all of Canada what they did to Ontario. The province is still trying to recover from Flaherty's ill-advised tax cuts and the poor here may never recover from the cuts to benefits and services that were wrought by the Tory regime.
And what about David Emerson? It was only a short time ago that Stephen Harper was demanding laws that would force floor crossers to go back to the electorate to seek a mandate to represent them. I guess that was then and this is now.
My elected rep, Rob Nicholson, is House Leader and is in charge of democratic reform. I can hardly wait to hear what he has to say about that. Nothing much, I'll wager.

Year Of The Dog Mona Lisa

It's the Mona Lisa. With dogs. Over 95 breeds done so far. Here she is with Dash and Katie (actually they're facsimiles of my late, great Cavaliers).

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The US government has a new website

The US government has a new website, http://www.ready.gov/. It's another attempt at scare mongering in the style of the old 'duck and cover' advice after WWII. Here are a few helpful hints:

If you spot terrorism, blow your anti-terrorism whistle. If you are Vin Diesel, yell really loud.

The proper way to eliminate smallpox is to wash with soap, water and at least one(1) armless hand.

After exposure to radiation it is important to consider that you may have mutated to gigantic dimensions: watch your head.

What You Gon' Do With All That Junk Inside That Trunk?

Another list from McSweeney's:
Recycle it.
Make a collage.
Donate it to Goodwill.
Sell it on eBay.
I don't know. Do you want it?
Consolidate it into a smaller trunk.
Preserve it so that my grandchildren may have a meaningful connection to their heritage.
Shoot it up.

Army Worm Wine

Judging from the severity of my hangover today, I may have been drinking some of this last night.


Saw this movie yesterday with Uncorrected Proofs .
Zac is one of five Quebecois brothers growing up in the sixties and seventies in Montreal. He's gay and spends most of the movie trying to change into something he's not in order to please his macho dad. It's all handled with a great deal of humour. It's not a subtle film but that doesn't really matter. Early on little Zac purposely breaks his father's favourite (and rare) Patsy Cline record and spends the rest of the movie trying to replace it. When at last he does, the moment is ruined by a family tragedy. All the characters are stereotypes but appealing ones nonetheless.
I loved the film, partly because I grew up in Montreal in the fifties and sixties among people very much like the Beaulieu family. It was a time when the Catholic church still had great sway and the priest involved himself in the lives of his parishioners. I remember my mother's indignance when Father Henri, on an unsolicited visit to our home, asked her when she planned to have more little "nuns and priests" for God. She had her hands full with three children born in 2 1/2 years and had just discovered either birth control or self control and was not about to let a priest dictate family size to her. I found the church scenes in this movie to be uncomfortably familiar.
Too bad this film didn't get a foreign-language Oscar nomination which would have brought it wider attention outside Canada.

Looks Like No One Wants The Job

OTTAWA (CP) - Nag On The Lake says she won't seek the leadership of the federal Liberal party because she doesn't want to return to the 'trap' of politics.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Pass Me A Barf Bag

The Spice Girls are reuniting. The very thought is enough to induce nausea.

Friday, February 03, 2006

This Makes Nag Angry

Colombian drug dealers smuggled heroin into the United States by surgically implanting the powerful drug into puppies.
Special Agent-in-Charge John Gilbride of the DEA's New York Field Division said in a statement that 21 Colombian nationals were arrested on Wednesday for smuggling over 20 kilograms (44 lb) of heroin, worth $20 million at street prices, into the United States.
Among the methods used to transport the drugs were human couriers, who swallowed heroin packets, as well as the Labrador Retriever puppies. In one planned shipment, six puppies were found impregnated with three 3 kg (6.6 lb) of liquid heroin packets.

Personally, I Like The Idea

via Folderol

Yet another Brokeback Mountain Movie Trailer Parody

Brokeback Mountain vs Back To The Future

Do They Have To Give Up Barbeque?

Turning Muslim in Texas . People reverting to Islam in Texas. - Google Video

German theatregoers gag at Shakespeare gorefest

It is Shakespeare's most gory work, full of bodies and amputations. But a production of Titus Andronicus at the Berlin theatre made famous by Bertolt Brecht proved so stomach-churning for one German audience, they tried to storm the stage.
'You're getting off on it [the violence],' members of the audience shouted at the actors in protest at the graphic rape scene in which Titus's daughter, Lavinia, also has her hands chopped off and tongue ripped out.

Del Monte quits Hawaii to `outsource' pineapples

In a world where everything from T-shirts to washing machines is now made in low-cost countries like China, Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. says it can no longer afford to grow its own pineapples in Hawaii.
'It would be cheaper for the company to buy pineapples on the open market than for the company to grow, market and distribute Hawaiian pineapples,' the company said in a statement.
Del Monte's Hawaiian operations will close when the latest crop matures in 2008, another sign that virtually anything can be outsourced to save money."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Too Late For This Year's Oscars

Broke Mac Mountain

New president gives half cabinet jobs to women

Chile's president-elect, Michelle Bachelet, unveiled a cabinet yesterday that fulfilled her campaign promise to give half the jobs to women and kept a balance among the four parties in her centre-left coalition.
Among the key posts given to women by Chile's first woman president, who takes office on March 11, were the defence and economy ministries.