Friday, November 30, 2007

The Baby Language of Gobbledegook

Via the excellent Butterflies and Wheels, another very good opinion piece by Nick Cohen .

His theme is broader

I have become so used to hearing leftists defending reactionaries I am no longer shocked. But my '68er surprised me with a form of bad faith I had never seen in the flesh before...At home and abroad he treated Muslims who rejected the religious right with casual condescension.

The last paragraph (it is worth the journey from the first to the last):

Ayaan Hirsi listened to Garton Ash and had two questions. If liberal secularists, like my heckler, didn't have pride and confidence in their principles, why should they expect anyone else to take them seriously? And if, like Garton Ash, they turned away from democrats and insisted on treating European Muslims as children who can only be spoken to in the baby language of gobbledegook, what right did they have to be surprised if European Muslims reacted with childish petulance rather than the broad-mindedness of full adult citizens?

And we have sure seen some childish petulance lately!

(One small point - I htink Cohen is slightly unfair to Tariq Ramadan, but much less unfair than the ever-smooth Ramadan is in arguing his side.)

Ashbridge's Bay, November 30, 2007

I went down to get pictures of those oldsquaws - but it was too cold. All I got was this dawn.


All Too Predictable

Staged infantile outbursts again.

It's hard to hold out a lot of hope for societies that support this sort of nonsense.

What's encouraging is that it seems to be causing many of the most ridiculous Westerners who have bent over backwards to 'understand' this behaviour to start seeing some light - first Matt Frei, now Rowan Williams, of all people.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said he could not "see any justification" for the sentence, calling it an "absurdly disproportionate response" to a "minor cultural faux pas".


Thursday, November 29, 2007

What, they have Tuners? CBC Radio discovery revealed!

My drive home today was accompanied by a flash news announcement from the folks on CBC radio, who seemed quite pleased with themselves for having found out a fact so subversive that it was going to shake up the world locally.

It turns out that if you attach an antenna to your High Definition Television, you can get a High Definition picture and sound even without being connected to a cable or satellite system! They were stunned, and expected us listeners to be, as well.

This news was so shocking to them that they did not quite get the story right. One reporter explained to us that we had to make sure our set was "HD-Ready". Well, that is not it at all. "HD-Ready" means the device you have can display an HD picture etc, but it may not have a tuner. What you really need is an HDTV - it will have a tuner that can receive over the airwaves signals.

There was also amazement that local television stations were already broadcasting High Definition signals! Of course this has been going on for ages.

They also pointed out that a network called CBC Television is broadcasting High Definition signals.

How can there be so much ignorance concentrated in one place? CBC hiring policies, I guess.


Did I Just Wake up in some Parallel World?

Matt Frei just led the BBC News with the story of Gillian Gibbons, a British schoolteacher in the Sudan about to be jailed for allowing her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Matt Frei? He actually suggested that the Sudanese were behaving in an incomprehensible manner. Are more Westerners finally getting it? He did allow some 'scholar' to prattle on about some root causes or other, but then let the story end with a somewhat skeptical look on his face.

Maybe this means Matt Frei is just a little old teddy bear himself.


Reuters' Notion of Evidence

Today's Yahoo News included yet another of those articles about Diana-Dodi conspiracy theories.

The article, reporting on the inquest ongoing in the UK currently, reported as usual on Mohamed al_fayed's self-important notion that the royal family could be bothered to conduct a plot against his family.

But then the text becomes interesting.

Backing for his conspiracy theory was given in court on Thursday by Franz Klein, president of the Ritz Hotel in Paris where the couple spent their last hours in 1997, as he gave evidence to the inquest at London's High Court.

Hmm, I wondered, what evidence could this be? What sort of backing?

Klein, who was on holiday in the south of France at the time, broke the news by phone of Dodi's death to Mohamed al-Fayed whose instant reaction was to tell Klein: "I know more than you know or, more than you think."

"Mr Fayed, very calm, said to me: 'This is not an accident. This is ... a plot or an assassination'," Klein told the court.

Klein also told the court Dodi had told him he and Diana were going to get engaged and live in Villa Windsor, where Edward VIII and divorcee Wallis Simpson lived after the monarch's abdication. Mohamed al-Fayed had bought the Paris property.

"He did not mention the princess by name over the phone but he did tell me that he was going to stay in Paris to live. He told me he was going to move into the Villa Windsor with his girlfriend and he also told me, all the time in English, that they were going to get married," Klein said.

This is backing? The backing is that al-Fayed told him there was a conspiracy! I give up.

All the rest is amusing if barely relevant.

Klein has an even more profound ocntribution to make.

Those investigations concluded Diana and Dodi died because their chauffeur, Henri Paul, was drunk and drove too fast through a Paris road tunnel, crashing the vehicle into a pillar.

Asked if he thought Henri Paul had a drinking problem, Klein told the court: "Not at all."

Hmm, let's see. Henri Paul was an employee of the Ritz. Sure helps the Ritz if we get rid of those ugly suggestions about drunkenness on the job.

What amazes me is that that Reuters article was actually edited!


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Australia and Jack Layton

Mark Collins has some interesting comments on Jack Layton's pretenses regarding the Australian election.


A Nice Catch of some Gross Hypocrisy

Brian Ledbetter found this howler.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hooray for Amazon

Via BoingBoing

Federal prosecutors have withdrawn a subpoena seeking the identities of thousands of people who bought used books through online retailer Inc., newly unsealed court records show.

The withdrawal came after a judge ruled the customers have a First Amendment right to keep their reading habits from the government.

"The (subpoena's) chilling effect on expressive e-commerce would frost keyboards across America," U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker wrote in a June ruling.

Amazon went to court to fight the subpoena. Excellent!

UPDATE: But see Orin Kerr's more skeptical view of this ruling.


Self-regard but no self-awareness

Enough! offer the donkey award, with full justification, to Sego.

Just when you think Ségo, the first-woman-within-six-points-of-the-Élysée™, has made her final stumble into oblivion (stumble, stumble, stumble, stumble, stumble, stumble)...

I think it is pretty safe to say that the neighbourhoods Sego is talking about in France do not ressemble any in the US today.


The Rogers Cup in Toronto last August

In response to a request for more tennis material, I'll report, rather late, on our pleasant day at the Rogers Cup WTA tournament in Toronto this summer. As usual, we attended the afternoon session Friday, which usually features three quarter-final matches, and almost did this time.

Overall, this was a fairly easy tournament for Henin, but featured some interesting elements. A Chinese player, Zi Yan, known up to this tournament only for doubles, made some great upsets, and finally reached the semi-finals, losing there to Henin.

The first match we saw featured Svetlana Kuznetsova

and Tatiana Golovina

which was the highlight of the day, with Kuznetsova dominating the first set, Golovina hanging on to win the second closely, and then dominating the third set.

In the second match Jelena Jankovic

against Virgina Razzano

with Jankovic winning easily.

Unfortunately, in the final match, Marion Bartoli was forced to retire early, before I had decided to take any pictures. Yan went on from this match to lose to Henin, while Jankovic beat Golovina.

It was a beautiful sunny warm day, unlike the last women's tournament we attended two years ago, which featured, after a couple of matches were played, the fiercest rainstorm to hit Toronto in years. You just never know when you commit to going to one of these tournaments.



OK the food carts are one thing. But there is a lot more!

Toronto is in the midst of another year with a comparatively high murder rate, and it's got the mayor (David Miller) babbling again. He appears too frequently on my TV screen demanding, as he usually does in dodging any responsibility for conditions in the city, that the United States stop exporting guns to Canada.

I cannot figure out what he means by this. When I leave Canada, no Canadian officials inspect what I am carrying - in fact I can drive through border crossings and not be inspected by any official of the country I am departing. I find when I drive back into Canada that no US official bothers with me. So who is letting the guns into Canada? Perhaps he should demand that Canada stop importing guns!

This rhetorical device is an old one for Miller - shift any possible responsibility elsewhere! Shifting it to the US is much more effective in Toronto than addressing the complications of stopping the traffic in guns. Once long ago Miller promised to solve the gun killing problem with community programs, but that topic has vanished, likely with his total mismanagement of the city budget.

Miller was even more shameless on the night of his re-election:

As Andrew Coyne wrote last year:

No sooner had David Miller been re-elected mayor of Toronto last month than he began to beg for money: publicly, openly, unashamedly. During the campaign, the mayor had been the fount of munificence, for all the world as if the promises he was making were to be funded out of his own personal wealth.

But now the election was over; time for the begging to start. “Tonight,” he told his electors, “you have given me a strong mandate to tell the Premier and the Prime Minister that Toronto deserves a one-cent share of sales tax revenue, and we will not take ‘No’ for an answer.” It’s not clear why the mayor needed a “mandate” to do this, but what comes through loud and clear is the sense of entitlement: Toronto deserves, not taking ‘no’ for an answer etc.

Somehow in his own mind the mayor had transformed what in most contexts is considered shameful, even craven behaviour -- begging -- into a point of pride, an assertion of the city’s self-worth. He was not asking for money, out of charity, you understand: he was demanding it, as of right. He wasn’t doing so on his account, but because Torontonians had given him a mandate. And it wasn’t for him, to bail him out of the cost of his own promises. It was for “Toronto.”

I don’t mean to single out the mayor. His own evident shamelessness on this score only reflects the larger culture in which he is immersed.

So Miller's budget problems are really someone else's fault. As ever - he is never accountable for anything.

I was surprised to realize how old a story this is - here is Royson James in 2004:

Ah, now we get it. Waterfront czar Robert Fung is to blame for the stalled waterfront revitalization. Replace the investment banker with Mayor David Miller and our waterfront problems are over.

That's the tale Miller spun at a news conference Wednesday, unveiling the city's take on what "governance structure" is needed to fix the lakefront blight. Asked what he would have accomplished in the past year, had he, and not Fung, been chair of the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation, he said:

"We would have seen significantly more progress on a number of initiatives. ... And we would have seen shovels in the ground."

In the end Miller is right - somebody else is to blame - us voters in Toronto. I will try to absolve myself slightly - I did not vote for him twice.


Toronto Council and Food Carts

The mayor and his cronies retreated yesterday on one of the more fatuous methods they had devised of wasting money, but not without promising to keep trying to piss the money away.

The original proposal called for the city to borrow $700,000 to purchase 35 food carts, which would then be rented out to vendors at about $450 a month. Vendors would also pay a licence fee and location fee. The location fee would vary: a high-traffic spot would cost $24,000 a year while a low-traffic spot would cost $6,000 a year.

Now one should understand that the city is nicely covered already by numerous hot dog stands, presumably licensed and regulated by the health department. They typically sell soft drinks, hot dogs, and usually a couple of sorts of tasty sausage dogs. So why this new scheme to continue deepening our budget problems - what problem does it solve?

Our mayor Miller's exceptionally articulate explanation (recall, he is a Hahvahd man):

We need to figure out how we do this, how you take advantage of the opportunities to do something great about Toronto. Think of our diversity. Think if we could find all that diversity on the streets of Toronto. How do we do it?

City-owned food carts is going to be something great about Toronto?

Ahh, there is more:

The plan calls for the city to own and control 35 carts - branded as "Toronto à la Cart" - with more complicated food preparation equipment than the current hot-dog carts.

Ahhh, so we want something other than just hot dogs? But why have the existing vendors not offered broader fare, if there is any demand?

Yet a third article reveals the answer:

The province has changed regulations that limited street vendors to selling hot dogs and sausages.

OK so we have one market distortion imposed by one gubmnt and a second gubmnt wants to jump into the market opened by the removal of that distortion. Why not just let the existing vendors move in, as they surely will if any potential customers actually want a tofuburger? The answer is of course the extreme statism of Miller and crew. And their arrogant notion that they know what is best for Toronto and the cart stand customers.

Fortunately there is SOME dissent onj Council.

"Everyone is in favour of healthy food choices, but nationalizing the sale of tofu burgers is ludicrous," contended Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who opposed the food cart purchase.

I htink it remains to be seen whether customers would prefer the city's mandated healthy choices. I'd rather the street vendors on their own handled this - they at least risk their own money. Miller is risking yours and mine, not his.


Ashbridge's Bay, Nov. 26, 2007, Part 3

This is the avian report!

First encounter was with a pair of swans taking a morning shower:

A little farther on I realized with delight that the winter birds were arriving. The buffleheads are back! (I also saw some oldsquaws but none came close enough to me to photograph this morning.)

Now mallards are common but they do not always pose so nicely as this one:

As I walked along later I noticed from the pathway that at least two different kinds of loons visit the park.


Ashbridge's Bay, Nov. 26, 2007, Part 2

Two kinds of bare ruined choirs.

In one of them the sweet birds sang (well, maybe not so sweet, largely red-winged blackbirds).

In the other, the sweet volleyball players volleyed.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Where I Was

In a previous post I asked where I was with some minimal clues. Let me add some more.

The vegetation was not what I was accustomed to.

The extensive hotel grounds contained a number of ponds. While there I saw mallards (ubiquitous), Muscovy Ducks (what a comic sight), what I originally thought was a snowy egret (though I did not check the color of its legs), and later a teenage little blue heron, whose odd blue-white plumage made me believe the egret was also a little blue heron. The hotel had an interesting classification of ducks:

Commerce took forms I was not ready for:


Ashbridge's Bay, Nov. 26, 2007, Part 1

I finally made my way back this morning to Ashbridge's Bay Park and did my usual walk after some absence - much has changed and I have a few posts to mark some of it.

The first landmark I noticed was the beaver lodge, not merely in place,


but extended by some construction materials ready to be integrated into the edifice:

Later in the walk I turn a corner, and a tree that had been upright only a few weeks ago appears, in this form!

And then I passed by the scene I have posted about earlier with the crime scene tape:

There are areas of the park where all the reasonably sized trees are now surrounded by wire mesh to prevent this destruction; far from those areas the little devils have found opportunity - the tree below is the largest I have yet seen attacked - the trunk is easily a foot and a half in diameter and the tree 20-30 feet tall - it is not long for this world:


Chick Flicks

This morning's Canada AM show included an amusing interview (available at the moment on CTV Broadband at that site) about how women can get their boyfriends to watch chick flicks. The interviewee, Jennifer Arno, a business prof at the University of Alberta, reported that convincing the male that the story is fictional opens him up to enjoying the story. Apparently women prefer to believe the chick flick is realistic.

A little Google work found an abstract for a paper roughly saying the same thing. I love the academic language:

Three studies investigate the influence of empathy and the level of fictionality of short stories on consumers' evaluations of emotional melodramatic entertainment. We find that high empathizers' evaluations are more favorable when the story is low in fictionality (i.e., real) versus high. In contrast, low empathizers' evaluations do not differ, regardless of the level of fictionality, except when these individuals (i.e., males) are provided with an excuse to become involved in the story; in this case a story that is high (i.e., make-believe) as opposed to low in fictionality is evaluated more favorably. Finally, transportation (i.e., absorption into a narrative) with the story is found to both moderate and mediate the effects.

Note above also the confusion between "i.e." and "e.g."; although maybe these are truly sexist authors.

The interviewer suggested there was something frivolous about the study but I can see far-reaching consequences. It was clear that Professor Argo was less sure about getting the girlfriends to enjoy Chuck Norris films.

As for me, I have generally always enjoyed chick flicks, though I have also always assumed they were fictional.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Text to Film - "Away from Her"

I managed to see the movie "Away from Her" yesterday, and it was interesting, if painfully slow in pace, and characterized by some awfully restrained acting, almost comatose on the part of Gordon Pinsent. I suppose this is sensitive and artsy, but it took a lot of my enjoyment away from the film. For me, Kristen Thomson and Wendy Crewson stole what there was to steal in the movie.

Now I knew I had read the original Alice Munro short story on which Sarah Polley's screenplay was based - "The Bear Came over the Mountain", fortunately available at the New Yorker site; it originally appeared in The New Yorker. But I had no memory of it at all and certainly not of its details, so I thought it would be interesting to read, just to compare with the film.

The first major difference is pace; Munro's short story can be read easily in under an hour, so I understood why the film seemed so appallingly slow at times.

The next problem is that the short story is a sketch. One could more or less try to present it directly but then it would not be an hour and a half movie. So things elided in the story must be invented and presented in the film; these clearly stand to change the meaning of what is going on. There are numerous characters in the film not even in the story, and parts of the film's version are overdetermined. A key element in establishing the film's narrative is the notion that Fiona insists on checking herself into the nursing home; another is the scene making love on the first day there. Neither of these seems to me to be implied by the short story, and both strip away Munro's bite.

The most cloying addition is a young girl at the nursing home who gushes over Grant's devotion.

The short story also creates a large problem for anyone adapting it for a screenplay. It is written in the third person, with occasional excursions into the thoughts of the main character, Grant, but of no other character. The least intrusive solution to this problem would be voice-over, but it would require too much of that. As a result, the movie cannot portray some of the best parts in the short story. Grant's long reminiscence of his affairs and their consequences is very funny writing, and absent from the film, and this deadens the tone of the film. The affairs get mentioned in the film, but by Fiona, and in a context that makes it look oddly as if she has forgiven them, not an assertion supported in the story.

Grant's later thoughts about Marian, crucial to getting the feel of the story, are lost as well in the film.

There are numerous differences. The result is that the film tells a substantially different story from that in the original, and, to my mind, a somewhat cliched and uninteresting one, however uplifting (husband supports wife in her dementia by bringing her the man she has fallen for in her nursing home).

Munro's story has a deep bite, and the title is an aid in reading the story - the bear that went over the mountain saw the other side of the mountain in the ditty. Grant's philandering gets turned on him in an interesting way, whether by way of Fiona's intentions or mere fortune.

The extra bite is hinted at in odd places in the film, but those moments cannot replace Grant's self-justification (which we get to see in the text), nor particularly his attention to Marian near the end:

The walnut-stain tan—he believed now that it was a tan—of her face and neck would most likely continue into her cleavage, which would be deep, crêpey-skinned, odorous and hot. He had that to think of as he dialled the number that he had already written down. That and the practical sensuality of her cat’s tongue. Her gemstone eyes.

There are a couple of other web sites with much dscussion comparing the movie and short story. I enjoyed Ellen's post and the ensuing comments, though she seems to see things in the text I certainly do not see, and also in the film, often confuses what Munro presents as Grant's version of events with the narrator's assertion of the same events, and I think she reads the short story very harshly; Munro is not writing a screed.

Juliet Walters has a nice short essay that hits the point about what Polley has done:

The story that Polley reads as a testament to a husband and his love for his wife is more likely to be read by another generation as a story about an ageing, desperate philanderer who is the victim of such divine retribution, it almost makes you believe in God.

For a longer discussion of this short story, there is also a New York Times essay by Jonathan Franzen that is well worth reading.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Now This Really is Cool and Valuable

A friend I visit in London, England uses a web site dedicated to this sort of thing in London. I sure look forward to them getting Toronto into this application!

There is a great advantage in having this available on ONE site; over time they may actually be able to co-ordinate all the various interconnected transit systems, something the individual systems are unlikely ever to offer.

And I won't feel resentful that Vancouver is there first in Canada - the forthcoming Olympics seem a pretty good reason to get it right there as soon as possible.

UPDATE: This looks like a nice early step as well.


Ouimet on Diana

I agree with him. I should point out it is not me in the pictures.


Even worse than government hearings

I have larger problems with the CRTC than the fact that it holds boring hearings but this post from the Tea Makers captures how some of our broadcasting policy is made and goes a long way to explaining what a farce it can be.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Fantasy Worlds

There has been much commentary resulting from recent reports about apparently odd differences of availability of luxury goods and basics in Venezuela. John Chilton's post on this at The Emirates Economist emphasizes that there is nothing paradoxical about something with a perfectly simple explanation - the tendency of fantasy in the country's leadership (this fantasy oddly persistent in spite of obvious similar recent experience in Zimbabwe).

It's not a paradox. Paradoxes don't have explanations. This is Venezeula under Hugo Chavez. Price controls create shortages. Milk has become rare only because the price is artificially low.

Interestingly, his post prior to that one describes another distortion, this one in the UAE.

In short, the country is suffering the curse of resource abundance.

There are better ways to share the plenty of high oil prices with its citizens. Write them a check ... Make them owners of the oil that is currently owned by the government. Make it difficult to reverse course -- as happened in Saudi Arabia ...


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Silly Broadcasting Corporation

Some time ago the CBC withdrew its plan to air a documentary on the Falun Gong, that had already appeared on the French network of the same broadcaster, as well as in other countries. There were accusations that this was done to avoid displeasure from the Chinese government.

The Book of Don has an excellent and rather pithy post on this topic, ending with the very appropriate question:

..but most important of all has anyone asked Les Nessman what he would have done ??

Meanwhile the Corporation is also encouraging criminal behaviour, as described by The Tea Makers.

So let this be a lesson to you kids out there. Be careful what that funny man on TV tells you to do. He might not always have your best interests at heart.

I wish this were less typical.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

No Cat I Have Seen

Grrlscientist points to a video of a cat that is unlike any of the fivesix cats I have shared my life with!


Monday, November 19, 2007

I Dream of this Photo Assignment

Though the cat sure looks skeptical, as observed in the post.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Angela Pell is utterly brilliant - with the right help

Inadvertently I watched a movie - Snow Cake - that our local cable movie station coughed up last week. It is not really Canadian - the production all seems to come out of the UK, and the top stars are Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver.
I consider Alan Rickman largely a fool intellectually (witness his affection for Rachel Corrie) but he is stunning. Weaver's autistic mother amazes me.
But in the end it is the great script. Angela Peel wrote a stunning script and her IMDB presence is pretty much lacking. This needs to be fixed. You can find her here.
The script is funny, touching, and utterly educational.
I have rarely been so engaged in watching a film I had never heard of.
After Weaver and Rickman, the cast harvests some of the cream of Canadian acting and they are great. Carrie Ann Moss was truly affecting as Linda's neighbour.
There is at least one major geographical goof but it could only matter to an Ontarian. And it is so easily forgettable.
I imagine this film relies on DVD rentals to recoup its costs - please go do those rentals! It is wonderful. For me a 9-10 out of 10.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sidr is Striking

I have not been watching the news a lot lately but my scan of the morning paper is surprisingly empty of mention of Sidr, here mentioned in Chris Mooney's blog.

On the side I have added Chris' very interesting books on hurricanes. I wish, though, he had a better editor; the pedant in me recalls several instances of "honing in", and that sort of thing does cause me to worry about the overall quality of the background research. Still, I learned a lot from this book.

If Only Chavez were somehow Unique

This post is a nice description of the ill effects of the populist policies of the little twit running Venezuela.

I am long-lived enough to realize that his idiocy is not a one-off, but rather a pattern repeating behaviours from Pierre Trudeau and Jimmy Carter before him. Fortunately, they were not simultaneously undermining the constitution and were removed from power in a reasonable amount of time before doing permanent damage.

Silly as this country is it has held on to its democracy so we can finally get rid of such stupid policy.

My Inner European

Thanks to Doc I finally took the test with this unexpected result.

Your Inner European is Russian!

Mysterious and exotic.
You've got a great balance of danger and allure.
Who's Your Inner European?

Also inspired by Doc I re-took it with more or less my second choice answers (there was one I could not change) and I returned home!

Your Inner European is Irish!

Sprited and boisterous!
You drink everyone under the table.
Who's Your Inner European?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Juan Carlos

The little dustup in which Spain's King Juan Carlos asked Hugo Chavez why he would not shut up (which caused more frothing from the dangerous clown) is at one level simply funny.

But there is a larger story about two heads of state. Oliver Kamm paints a little of the history of Juan Carlos and how important he is to the Spain of today versus the Spain of my youth.

One of them thwarted a military coup; the other tried to launch one.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

More Kellie Pickler

I just bought a T-shirt and two CDs.

Please do the same.

I keep watching that CMA video - she is amazing and sweet.

Larger than our little Lives

This morning I woke to discover Norman Mailer has died.

I am not really sure whether I have read anything he wrote in a sustained way. But what I admired was his gung-ho attack on life.

As I waffled trying to decide what to write about this my estimable sister hit exactly my thoughts. Go read them.

Obsessive about Kellie

Since finding the YouTube video, I keep watching the clip.

And I love the mischievous transition at the end. She sings about her mother coming back to Carolina to judge her and at the end, slickly, she describes herself at home in Tennessee. I hope very much for her she is right. And I will look forward to further great singing from her in the country domain. I deeply hope this is not a one-off.

Have I any Friendly American Readers

My faithful readers know about my enthusiasm for Natalie Gulbis.

If I have any friends in the US reading this could you get me her 2008 calendar when it comes out? I would be happy to pay for the calendar and reasonable postal costs - just not the crazy thirty bucks in the post above.

I could even pay you in Canadian dollars, suddenly an enormous premium over your sorry currency.


Back from a business trip, I usually settle into updating my Quicken accounts (great tool, though I am examining its competitors). As I settled in this morning, I looked for some background entertainment and found American Movie Channel showing "My Darling Clementine".

So many great John Ford films are about the conflict between the old wild west and the encroaching civilization. This film embodies that battle brilliantly. Most of the characters are caught in the middle, including Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda). And there are characters on both sides - Walter Brennan a stunning old man Clanton as a wild man, and Cathy Downs as the perfect civilized schoolteacher Clementine. For me, this film is Victor Mature's - as Doc Holliday, educated as a doctor but best known as a gunfighter, trapped in the middle, also in the middle of his love for Clementine and Chihuahua. Is there a better recitation of Hamlet's to be or not to be soliloquy than Alan Mowbray starting it in the saloon and having it finished by Mature? I know none, and have seen many. It is one of the few I have seen that makes me understand what Shakespeare was saying. And Doc's squelching of the hecklers is the perfect reflection of his violent reputation, the contrast to his education.

John Ford was no fool and clearly thought a lot about the world.

I particularly loved one exchange in the film:

Mac, have you ever been in love?

No, I've been a bartender all my life.

Post-modern behaviour precedes so-called postmodernism by many years.

Another small point. One of my most magic business trips involved a flight whose route wound up having to go over Monument Valley. Sheer magic.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Arrested by Kellie Pickler

Where I was last week (more quiz questions on that to come) the TV offered about 75 channels so in my slightly ADHD state I was flicking constantly looking for Law and Order episodes (no matter how many times I had previously seen the episode).

At one point one evening I was stumbled into the middle of this performance and got almost as weepy as the performer. It was superb. In later passses through the Country Music Awards, nothing stopped me in my relentless hope for the lost Law and Order episodes. A measure of how much I liked it is that I tracked down what the performance was, though the part I saw gave almost no hint. About all I knew was that the performer was named "Kellie" (from a subtitle tossed up on the screen) and that she was saying something about Carolina.

A simple Google search told me a lot about her and explained why I had not really known about her; I don't watch the Idol shows, and have not put enough country music time on my car radio in the last couple of years.

Give the video a watch and a fair listen. Buy her CD.

UPDATE: Only after a little more research did I realize she was singing to her mother. Kills me even more.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Huh? - Where am I

I will confess that I am on a business trip!

I am out of my country!

I put the TV on and the first channel I tune to is showing a Hamilton Tiger Cats game. The next channel I pick has da Vinci's Inquest on - featuring Nicholas Campbell.

Quiz question for readers - where am I?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Soulpepper 10th Anniversary Season

A fund-raising flyer arrived, including the plans for next year; I am now hoping I live through June at least.

The plans are:

Salt-Water Moon by David French, starting in January. The NY Times review calls it an
intermissionless two-character work of flabbergasting uneventfulness
OK January I can devote to other companies. And it is Canadian, to boot.

February - Shakespeare! As You Like It! I have never seen it and it is time especially after reading that great book about 1599.

February - The Odd Couple by Neil Simon.
Hmmm - Albert Schultz and Diego Matamoros - who will be Oscar and who Felix? I am tempted.

May - 'Night Mother.
Mother-daughter casting of Megan Follows and Dawn Greenhalgh. Tempting. The movie version gets a high rating. A strong maybe.

June - Uncle Vanya.
Nobody hits Chekhov quite like Soulpepper for me, except maybe Queen's University many years ago . I do hope Diego Matamoros will reprise his Vanya of a few years ago. I would probably go see it three times!

July - Congreve's The Way of the World.
Yes! I must contrive my summer travels so I do not miss this.

July - Under Milk Wood, featuring Kenneth Welsh.
Another definite maybe.

August - Peter Shaffer's Black Comedy, and Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound.
The latter has one great line "This is rough justice indeed", as I recall it, so this looks like a lot of fun.

August - Anouilh Ring Round the Moon.
Not so sure.

October - A Raisin in the Sun

October - Caryl Churchill's Top Girls
Seeing it twice this year was enough

November - A Christmas Carol
The idea of Joseph Ziegler as Scrooge is almost attractive. We shall see.