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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Happy Canada Day!!!

35, that's the age when things start to stop working. What's with this dry skin? My skin is always dry. I have cracked callouses on my feet. It's disgusting, I hate it. I hurt my shoulder a few weeks ago. The pain receded but didn't go away completely. I want to go to the doctor about it but I was just at the doctor about another thing and if I go again so soon he's going to think I'm a hypchondriac. And I'm worried that I might actually be a hypchondriac. If I'm not a hypochondriac but think I am one, what does that make me?

My face. This is the year that my face is finally starting to come apart. I have a destroyed face. I always have a sort of stunned, sad look on my face now. It gets swollen and my eyes always look like they're about to cry. I can't smile properly anymore.

I wish the last of the hair would just fall out so that I could be properly bald. That fuzz on the top of my head looks so sloppy. I shaved my head and people complained; I grow my hair and it looks like crap. No winning. It's all grey so I coloured it. I was at the festival office one afternoon and a woman said to me, "There's something different about your hair."

And I said, "Yeah, it's grown in. Last time you saw it, it was just stubble. Now that it's longer, it's filed in."

She gave me a look and murmured in a way that suggested that she didn't believe me. She knows that I coloured it. And it doesn't even matter because I'm just going to get it shaved again next week.

I once read this article in eye and the guy who wrote it was complaining about turning 26 and how much his body had started to fail him at that point. What an idiot. Even I don't have his complaints yet, but let me warn you, 35 is the turning point. Remember when Rimmer borrowed Lister's body and then complained about all the pain Lister had never mentioned? That's reaction the 20-yr-old me would have if he was transported directly into this body.

35 is the mid-point between 20 and 50.

I had a lot of sex the summer I turned 20, now I don't have any sex. Won't it be funny if I'm having sex again when I'm 50? Although I can't imagine wanting to touch anyone when I'm 50. How could you even enjoy it through all the aches and pain at that age? Imagine how dry my skin will be then. Everything will be cracked and peeling more than it is now. It's disgusting.

I have plans, things I have to do to get ready for 50. Dress better is one thing. I've already started that. I think one of the few ways you can challenge the indignities of aging is with some decent clothes. People drop wads on cosmetic surgery and other fixes that only make them look freakish when all they really need is a good suit.

The summer I was 19, one evening I went with a girl I liked to a remote spot on a bluff overlooking Lake Erie and we ate pizza together. I can't imagine ever feeling that light and innocent and so free of discomfort ever again.


11:50 PM , # ,



10:03 AM , # ,


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Comic Jam

The monthly Toronto Comic Jam is tonight at the Cameron House. Usually starts at 9:30 but tonight is the launch of DTM#11 starting at 7:30pm. DTM is Toronto's comic anthology featuring this month art by Fiona Smyth, Marc Bell, Dave Lapp and many others, including me!

9:05 AM , # ,


Monday, June 28, 2004

Happy Day

Click on 'Happy Creature' on the menu bar on the banner and it'll take you to the brand-new Happy Creature website, home of the Happy Creature comic archive!

Bit-by-bit, I'm getting all of this web crap sorted out.

2:31 PM , # ,


Election Day

I took the train on friday night and spent the weekend in the country, cleared my head and made my voting decision. So, today's the day!


10:23 AM , # ,


Friday, June 25, 2004

And Here We Are

The above cartoon is from early February and it sums up the current mood as we head into the final days of the campaign. Here in Toronto there's a general feeling of being fed up with being neglected, abandoned and ignored for the better part of a decade. Because the local Liberal MPs never realized when enough was enough, they deserve what's coming to them.

Head on over to Andrew Spicer for lots of great election stuff. Warren Kinsella would have run a better campaign (scroll down to June 22, no permalinks). James Bow encourages civil debate. Vancouver Scrum has the left coast perspective.

And here's a bit of the weird, Dan Savage encourages everyone to vote Liberal:

... I’ll just order my Canadian readers to vote for Paul Martin and his Liberal Party allies. Scandal, schmandal, people! Sensible people in the United States are relying on Canada to continue being more politically and socially progressive than our own government.

Which is fine, I guess, except that the polling numbers seem to indicate that people recognize that Paul Martin isn't as socially and politically progressive as we'd like. Liberal support has fled left to the NDP, Greens and BQ ... not right.

Many years ago Rick Mercer predicted in an interview that Paul Martin would never be Prime Minister. When asked why not, Mercer explained that Martin 'wanted it too much' and that Canadians would keep it from him for that simple reason. And we just might, eh?

1:50 PM , # ,


I, Fitness Class Beer Night Organizer

We added an extra fitness class beer night to the schedule last night because one of the women in our class is moving and we had to give her a send-off. It's been a whole year since I initiated the beer nights as part of a program I started for myself a few years ago to try and make myself a 'kinder, friendlier person'.

See, the first two years I went to my gym I didn't talk to a single person that I didn't already know until a women came up and struck up a conversation with me one Saturday afternoon. After mulling it over and talking with some friends, it became clear that I could put a little effort into being a "warmer" person.

I'm both shy and introverted, so the changes needed to be incremental.

The first phase of the program was simply acknowledging people I recognize at fitness class with either a nod or saying 'hello'. That was a really long phase, I think it went on for 6 months or 8 months ... a long time. The second phase involved making friendly small-talk and it took another large chunk of time to accomplish that. Then longer conversations, then I actually invited some people from fitness class to parties and eventually the monthly beer nights were a logical extension of the program.

Am I a friendlier, kinder person? I am "warmer"? Well, no. But I did stretch myself and made a bunch of oddball friends in the process.

This is the sort of stuff doc director Alan Zweig struggles with in his personal documentary, I, Curmudgeon. It mixes interviews with a bunch of celebrity and non-celebrity curmudgeons with personal narration by Zweig as he ponders his status as a curmudgeon and wonders if there isn't some way to change and not be so negative.

Sometimes his strategies are as practical as my program such as when he considers how to respond to people when they say, "How are you doing?" Even though it's difficult for him, he decides that he'll always provide a positive response, no matter how he's feeling. Introverts prefer sincerity in their interactions and it's difficult for us to remember that the standard greeting is all form and no content. Like dogs when they sniff each other's butts.

Lucky for him, Zweig seems to have committed himself to our fitness class, so maybe he'll get on the program. I actually borrowed the tape and watched it just in case he ever shows up at beer night and I have to talk to him. See? Program at work. The thing about the program is this: it didn't change who I am but it did help me make the best use of what I've got to work with.

It's a really good doc and is set to air on TVO in the fall, so be sure to catch it. The sight of Rick McGinnis' beard may not be appropriate for small children and sensitive viewers.

btw, speaking of fitness class, HardCoreLogo was on City tonight and features Julian from our fitness class as Bucky Haight. I'm sure there's a fitness class out there, somewhere filled with the cultural elite ... we're the cultural dregs!

oh, and one more thing! Remember, dogs save lives! Although I'm sure big dogs save more lives than small dogs.

12:55 AM , # ,


Thursday, June 24, 2004

Shakin' Her Booty

Jett took the longest freakin' break in the history of people who take breaks to redesign their blogs, but the new look was worth the wait. I guess I'd better sing a song in honour of her return to the world of the blogging:

Guess mine is not the first blog broken,
My keyboard's not the first to stick,
I'm not the first to know,
There's just no gettin' over you.

Hello, I'm just a fool who's willing,
To sit around and type out spew,
But baby can't you see,
There's nothin' else for me to do,
I'm hopelessly devoted to boot.

But now there's nowhere to hide,
since you pushed my blog aside I'm on another comment thread,
Hopelessly devoted to boot
Hopelessly devoted to boot
hopelessly devoted to boot.

My head is saying "Fool, forget her,"
My heart is saying "Have a sandwich,"
Eat it to the end, eat the chewy crust, too,
I'm hopelessly devoted to boot.

But now there's nothing to type,
Since you pushed my blog aside I'm all out of bread,
Hopelessly devoted to boot
Hopelessly devoted to boot
hopelessly devoted to boot.*

* sung to the tune of We Built This City by Starship

12:04 AM , # ,


Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Oh, So Happy

Christie at AllThingsChristie is the first person to repost a Happy Creature strip, so I guess that makes her the very first, officially-sanctioned Happy Creature fan. Jealous? You should be, the first time only comes along once in a ... er, time.

11:30 AM , # ,


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

St. Clair Streetcar DROW

Spicer covered this issue a few times, esp after NOW magazine mentioned it. City staff just recommended building the right-of-way.

I'm sort of on the fence concerning the issue; I figure they should include the dedicated right-of-way for the streetcar further west where St. Clair is more suburban but keep the tracks integrated with the street in the central area. I'm not a fan of the way things turned out on Spadina: it's not a good street for cycling because the traffic moves so quickly, the intersections plod for every type of traffic and making connections between streetcars is a pain in the ass because the stops are spaced so far apart.

Where DROWs make sense is further out. Streetcars running on their own right-of-ways would be more appropriate on streets like Lawrence or Finch where transit is a less attractive option. It's a suburban solution and parts of St. Clair are just too urban to benefit from it.

If I lived on St. Clair, I'd oppose it. There's a public rally tomorrow evening at 6pm.

8:50 PM , # ,


Summertime, and the Livin' Is Easy

Took an extra long weekend at the lake and just relaxed for a few days:

Zack loves the canoe. More than poo.

Zack floats. But pool noodles are chewy.

Big Dogs, Small Dogs, Monogamy, continued

We've been lobbing this around a little and the thing is, I don't buy the premise that men are less monogamous than women or experience pair-bonding less intensely. There may be qualitative differences, but not quantitative ones.

Consider the vole thing Storm mentions. Ok, say you were able to genetically modify human males in the same way. What would the results be? Ex-spouses who are even more motivated to stalk the women who dumped them? Men willing to remain in relationships no matter how bad they became?

Storm also seems to think that my reaction to her dog proved her point, but I'm not a very good example because I'm an Aquarius and have never subscribed much to gender stereotypes to begin with (for example, I have never feigned an interest in pro sports or golf and I use words like 'feigned'). I still disagree with the premise that tiny dogs will turn manly men into mushy men. As for what I said about her dog, compare for yourself:

One more thing:

Do you sometimes get the sense that the spellcheckers on some programs let mistakes pass because they're embarrassed that they don't recognize the word?

10:35 AM , # ,


Thursday, June 17, 2004


Today, at the Dufferin Mall: Fark-favourite, the world-famous Mustard Man.


Holy crap, everyone's a celebrity these days. The Ice Queen on Canadian Idol (scroll down, perma-links seem to be mucky) ... no wait, Fashion Cares ... is she singing with the B-Girlz? I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the skiiieeeeeeiieeee ...

1:34 PM , # ,


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Nice Guys


11:52 PM , # ,



Of course, I know what you really want. You want pictures of almond butter and banana sandwiches in a variety of positions and settings. Well, it's sandwich time!

When I was younger man I hadn't a care
Foolin' around, hitting the town, growing my hair
You came along and stole my heart when you entered my life
Ooh bagel, you got what it takes so I made you my sandwich

Since then I never looked back
It's almost like living a dream
And ooh I love you

You came along from far away and found me here
I was playin' around, feeling down, hittin' the pears
You picked me up from off the floor and gave me a peel
You said you're much too young, your life ain't begun, let's eat for awhile

And as my head was spinnin' 'round
I gazed between your slices
And thought ooh I want you

Thank you babe for being a sandwich
And shinin' your light in my life
'cause ooh I need you

7:41 PM , # ,


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Because I Care

[cue music]

I care about today's blogging folk and so, above, you can see my contribution to raising awareness of some notable blogs in our community.

[end music]

Speaking of blogging and the community, a quick Google by Colby Cosh resulted in apologies galore from an Albertan NDP candidate and Jack Layton himself [via the Weisblogg].

Ok, now I'm feeling left out. The CBC posted a huge gallery of political cartoons and didn't include one of mine. Normally that wouldn't bother me because I just do the local papers, but this time it does because they included a cartoon by BRADFORD, the loony-tunes freak who scribbles for the wack-job Canada Free Press. Fuckers.

English-language leaders' debate is tonight. I'm starting to hope that Paul Martin pulls it together because I don't want Stephen Harper forcing me to go to church every Sunday. Bor-ing!

12:25 AM , # ,


Monday, June 14, 2004

Why are you reposting old cartoons?

I'm getting ready to launch the new Happy Creature website and have to post the old cartoons for the archives. Since that's being done anyways, I figured I'd stick them up here for readers who may have missed them the first time. Milk it, milk, milk, milk ...

1:17 PM , # ,


Sunday, June 13, 2004


Quick visit to the nation's capital this weekend, right in the middle of the federal election campaign (3wks down, 3 to go). I was hiking in the Gatineaus on Saturday and missed Paul Martin's walk-about in the Market.

One observation: no wonder the Bloc lands more seats than the NDP ... they make much better use of their campaign colours (esp on their signs). Hey, is it me or has the NDP site toned down the green since my last visit to their site?

One odd thing about Ottawa is that both of its daily newspapers -- the SUN and the Citizen -- are overtly right wing. The Citizen takes its cues from the National Post and so even its basic news coverage is terribly slanted. Reading the Saturday Citizen, you'd think the Former Reformers are cruising towards a certain majority and characterized their poll numbers as surging ahead. But as a pundit on CBC Radio pointed out, the Conservatives haven't gained support as much as the Liberals have drained support, mostly to the Bloc, NDP and Greens. It was also pointed out that the Conservatives still aren't polling as well as the combined numbers from the Tories and Alliance before they merged.

And would the numbers be as high if Harper was more honest about his party's leanings towards social conservatism? Not bloody likely.

If you're looking for a good weekend getaway, Ottawa is nice in the summer.

10:06 PM , # ,


Friday, June 11, 2004

Double Doggin'

Lexie came to visit Zack for the week, so we've been in duo-dog-mode. As you can see, they're both good-sized dogs and I don't care how gay or metrosexual you are, there's just no excuse for a jittering, yapping micro-dog.

In her head, Storm has somehow equated a love of small dogs with being sensitive:

I mean, how big a leap is it from little dog-loving to increased sensitivity? I may be wildly extrapolating from an unscientific sample, but look around you – this is happening. And the complex emotions these guys are learning as they heap lashings of love on their tiny canines, bodes well for the future.

Bodes well for the future? Geeeessshhhh ...

Myself, I equate a love of small dogs with being somewhat neurotic -- maybe psychotic. On a superficial level, they shake constantly and they're tiny. You can't play or wrestle or have much active fun with a micro-dog (there are exceptions; Jack Russells, for instance, are strong and energetic). On a more substantial level, mini-pooches are nervous, high-strung and yappy. The emotional connection expected from a mini-pooch is intense co-dependence, opposed to larger breeds who are mellower and have healthier emotional expectations. You seldom (almost never in my case) see these small dogs at the dog park because they're generally anti-social, preferring the close one-on-one interaction with their owner to any broader socializing.

But Storm sees this as a step towards a more-evolved male:

What if they started to love cuddling and consoling, being patient and caring about our little aches and pains, comforting our fears? What if they started listening when we called them to come? I’ll tell you what – the rewards would be better than a biscuit.

Ok, read that sentence and visualize Storm's ideal man. Now scroll up and look at the picture of my dogs. Now, read this: I was at Woofstock last weekend and there were lots of tiny dogs around. Women had them inside their coats and in handbags, etc. One dog we spotting was a tiny, little black dog with no fur -- it was completely BALD and looked like a little greasy insect with its spindly, stick-like legs and bulging black eyes. That thing is going to help mold the man Storm wants?

If you're a woman and you meet a guy and it turns out that he owns a need little dog, that's a sign to RUN and don't look back. His cuddling and consoling and patience and caring might seem refreshing at first, but without boundaries those emotions become a claustrophobia-inducing nightmare. Find a guy with a big dog; strong, reliable, stoic and ... most important ... calm.

10:51 AM , # ,


And that's the end of Cartoon Week -- a different cartoon every day. I'll be posting a bunch next week, too, so come on back and bring friends and booze.

This cartoon is from February and is being posted for the first time. Circumstances have changed quite a bit since then, eh?

12:56 AM , # ,


Thursday, June 10, 2004

Outer Beauty, Inner Beauty

Thinking of doing some self-renovations? Here are a couple of sites to help you out.

Kim from the G-Spot is using this Virtual Model site to help her visualize her weight loss goals. You can use it for that or any number of fun games. Here's my model:

Accordian Guy linked to this life coaching assessment that's supposed to help you "clean up your life". I scored 33/100 and no wonder, the assessment has a startling bias against introverts, process-oriented people and anyone who is remotely intuitive. It's amazing that I scored as high as I did. But, you might find it useful, so enjoy!

Speaking of Mr. Accordion, he's also canvassing to find accomodations for Chris Turner who wrote that idiotic feature that appeared in Shift magazine when it was alive. You may recall that that I mentioned the article on the old blog:

Shift magazine is offering free copies again, this time to celebrate their tenth year of existence. A good thing, the free copies remind me why I'd never pay for the rag with hard cash. It's the writing, stupid! And the writing in Shift is as bad as it gets. Take this month's feature about "The Simpsons Generation" by Chris Turner as an example. It's a rambling, incoherent, muddled mess. Not so much an article as a collection of unformed thoughts and impressions. The author would probably argue that it's 'postmodern' (Postmodernism? That's the early 80s, right? Portland Building and all that hullabaloo???) but it's really just plain lazy. One third of the way through the article, he even drops the whole Simpsons angle and blathers on about Radiohead, the Internet, and a bunch of other stuff and tries to wrap it up at the end with some nonsense about the MAI and WTO. Any potential nuggets of wisdom and insight are buried under such a stinking load of self-indulgent slop, it's not worth the read ... but the clay sculptures of Simpsons characters are nice.

Somehow, Turner managed to expand the article into an entire freaking book.

... holy crap, I'M BACK!

7:24 PM , # ,


Tonnes of Fun


12:24 AM , # ,


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

With the election only a few weeks away, I figure it's time to take Tony's Honest Blogger Survey (including KittyB's additional questions). It's intended for a US audience, which makes it twice as fun:

1. which political party do you typically agree with?
I have a difficult time agreeing with parties ... ugh, I don't really think my views are well represented at the moment ...

2. which political party do you typically vote for?

3. list the last five presidents that you voted for?
In a parliamentary democracy you don't vote directly for the head of state.

4. which party do you think is smarter about the economy?
You have to give them credit, the Liberals have done a pretty good job in this area, all things considered.

5. which party do you think is smarter about domestic affairs?

6. do you think we should keep our troops in Iraq or pull them out?
We should keep our troops out for now. Wait & see the results of the transition.

7. who, or what country, do you think is most responsible for 9/11?
Iraq & Saddam Hussein ... ha ha, kidding. Little boys playing children's games were responsible.

8. do you think we will find weapons of mass destruction in iraq?
I found this spoon, sir!

9. yes or no, should the u.s. legalize marijuana?

10. do you think the republicans stole the last presidental election?
Yes, BUT ... the vote was pretty evenly split, so you have to recognize that there is a deep division in US society that needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, only having two major political partes doesn't accurately reflect the spectrum of political views in the US.

11. do you think bill clinton should have been impeached because of what he did with monica lewinski?
Maybe. It was a significant abuse of his power.

12. do you think hillary clinton would make a good president?
Probably not. Too divisive.

13. name a current democrat who would make a great president:
It's sort of strange how much time and energy the US spends on sticking a single person in office. The presidential election carries on for a year, right? Longer? We're electing a whole new parliament in the space of a month.

14. name a current republican who would make a great president:
And the desire to have a "great" person lead the country seems a bit unrealistic. Is 'greatness' such a great quality?

15. do you think that women should have the right to have an abortion?
Of course.

16. what religion are you?
I'm a confirmed but non-religious member of the United Church.

17. have you read the Bible all the way through?
I know people who have. Does that count?

18. what's your favorite book?
AKU-AKU: The Secret of Easter Island by Thor Heyerdahl

19. who is your favorite band?
Crap, favourite? I dunno.

20. who do you think you'll vote for president in the next election?
Like I wrote, in a parliamentary democracy we vote for our local candidates and the party with the most MPs elected forms the government. I will likely vote for the NDP to try and tilt the balance of power a little more towards the centre from the right.

21. what website did you see this on first? + busblog

Here's the Kitty Bukkake addendum:

1. Do you try to look hot when you go to the grocery store just in case someone recognizes you from your blog?

2. Are the photos you post Photoshopped or otherwise altered?
No, except for the photo on my CAEC page. I airbrushed out a second chin.

3. Do you like it when creeps or dorks email you?
No. Yes.

4. Do you lie in your blog?

5. Are you passive-aggressive in your blog?

6. Do you ever threaten to quit writing so people will tell you not to stop?
Nope, I just stop.

7. Are you in therapy? If not, should you be? If so, is it helping?
Nope. Maybe a few years ago. Might have helped.

8. Do you delete mean comments? Do you fake nice ones?
No. I am tempted to fake mean ones. When I was the editor of a student newspaper I used to write mean letters to the editor trashing myself.

9. Have you ever rubbed one out while reading a blog? How about after?
Close, but no.

10. If your readers knew you in person, would they like you more or like you less?
More? Less? Probably more, I'm much more easy-going in life.

11. Do you have a job?
Perpetual freelancer always living on the edge of complete ruin.

12. If someone offered you a decent salary to blog full-time without restrictions, would you do it?

13. Which blogger do you want to meet in real life?
Haven't I met them all yet? I'd like to meet some US bloggers.

14. How many bloggers have you made out with?

15. Do you usually act like you have more money or less money than you really have?

16. Does your family read your blog?

17. How old is your blog?
Two years, three months.

18. Do you get more than 1000 pageviews per day? Do you care?

Not even 1/10th of that. A little.

19. Do you have another secret blog in which you write about being depressed, slutty, or a liar?
Not yet.

20. Have you ever given another blogger money for his/her writing?

21. Do you report the money you earn from your blog on your taxes?

22. Is blogging narcissistic?
It better be.

23. Do you feel guilty when you don't post for a long time?
Not anymore.

24. Do you like John Mayer?
I don't hate him. But I'm not a fan.

25. Do you have enemies?
Only casual ones.

26. Are you lonely?
I'm alone. Sometimes it seems like it might be nice if there was more than that. But I don't think that counts as lonely.

27. Why bother?
'Cause in a billion years the Earth gets swallowed by the sun anyhow, so why not keep busy in the meantime?

11:51 AM , # ,


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The CAA & the Magical Floating Highway

The CAA released a proposal [pdf] to revive expressways in Toronto that is equal parts nutty and deceitful. There's even an editorial by Sam Cass, The "Mr. Expressway" of the former Metro government back in the day when multi-lane highways were all the rage.

Okay, first the nutty: the plan recommends building an expressway out in the lake:

Reviving the 1966 Scarborough Expressway plan to bridge this gap is no longer an option because more than 700 houses would face demolition.

Instead, CAA proposes something refreshingly different — an offshore expressway that would carry traffic east from the Gardiner to Highway 401 via Highway 2A in the area of
Meadowvale Road. This concept is called the Offshore Extension. An elevated highway across Lake Ontario, the extension would be positioned at least one kilometre from shore and visible only as a graceful, curved white line on the horizon. For commuters,the bridge would finally provide an alternative eastern route to Highway 401 and stop-and-go traffic on overburdened arterial.


One of the many benefits to this proposal is the virtually unlimited widening potential as the Greater Toronto Area continues to populate.

A graceful, curved white line on the horizon? If you've ever had a clear view of the 401 on any given day, you'll know that one of the features of the highway is the brown strip of exhaust fumes that hover over the highway and discolour the air. The Beach residents aren't going to like that much.

But then, as the wack-job who first proposed the scheme [via Andrew Spicer] points out, the solution would be much easier if Toronto was a different shape. Gee, if there wasn't a bay at all, we wouldn't need bridges ... hey, wait a minute, that would make the city the shape it is now!

While the dreamy expressway ideas get the attention, what's more disturbing is document's attempts at myth-making. Repeated over and over is the idea that transit has been funded at the expense of roads and they have a map showing transit expansion compared to the proposed expressway routes that were never built. They neglect to mention that transit has been starved for fund over the past decade (the TTC is the least-subsidized transit system in North America) and that high fares and reduced service contribute to congestion on our roads.

But then, it's the CAA. What else would you expect?

11:36 PM , # ,


Mixin' Yer Politics With Yer Cartoons

Summer may be hot, but not as hot as these cartoonists:

From Vancouver ...
Check out Sarah Moser's most recent cartoons in her archive. She comments on the Iraq situation and this swipe at Mel Gibson is funny. Are they making a Passion videogame? It's actually a good idea ...

From Montreal ...
Dstrbo [via Sequential] draws some slick cartoons for Hour magazine.

From Toronto ...
He's not on the web, but if you have last weekend's Globe still hanging around, check out Dean Tweed's illustration in the Business section. Dean is a former Gleaner cartoonist and frequents the local jam.

Misc ...
Dave recommends Sally MacKay's blog. Armchair Garbageman is excited about new trash bins ... but two metres tall? Is that wise? Pierce trashes Reagan and then defends himself.

10:34 PM , # ,


Cartoons all week, here on the Blamblog.

11:24 AM , # ,


Monday, June 07, 2004

Fluggin hell ... where to begin?

Have you seen the Liberal tv ads? Watch #2 & #3. Martin promises to end wait times and strengthen health care. Correct me if I'm wrong, but as Finance Minister, wasn't he the guy who starved the health care system for a decade?

The ads do make a good point about tax cuts, one we had to learn the hard way here in Ontario. Go ahead and cut taxes. Do it. It's not going to change your life for the better, it's not going to keep you from paying -- 'cause that's what life is about, one way or another, you are going to pay. Anyone who is buying into the Conservative Utopian tax cut fairy tale is naive. Here in Ontario we paid with reduced services, grief, confusion and in the end, money. The House always wins, you idiots.

Does the square-headed church-boy make you nervous? Well, he's no John Lithgow in Footloose as the Conservative campaign song demonstrates (and it drones on in both official languages).

I tried watching the Conservative tv commercials but they crashed every browser (actually, MS Explorer crashed, Mozilla just ignored the problem and kept on chugging). Points for the Liberals & NDP for having a websites that work. Check out the Ed Broadbent commercial.

So, here's why we need the NDP: to debunk Harper and expose his weasel words. Get ready to scroll, there's a lot of debunking. However, the NDP will never form a government as long as they use colour the way they do on their website. Ow, my eyes! Lucky for Ed, he used a better graphic designer.

Okay, enough for now. I just downloaded a really weird cover of We Built This City On Rock & Roll. Worst song ever, my ass ...

9:03 PM , # ,


Your Paul Martin is My Kim Campbell
The cartoon is from November but that last panel seems to be what the polls are showing in the current federal election race.

12:59 AM , # ,


Saturday, June 05, 2004

Taddle Creek Launch

Attended the Taddle Creek Launch Party at Jet Fuel in Cabbagetown last night. There were free doughnuts and beer. A few of the authors gave readings and Stuart Ross was especially good.

There was a big crowd and it was standing room only (double, I found out a little later because there was a backyard patio that was also packed). Supermodel Enza was there -- as usual -- I'm beginning to think that she's the Tony Randall of Toronto. Bellini from Kids in the Hall was supposed to show, but if he did, I missed him.

One of the Canadian Idol judges was apparently on the back patio so I went and played a game called "Spot the Canadian Idol Judge". I could not spot the Canadian Idol judge.

Could you spot one of these people in a crowd?

If you want to see the two-page comic I contributed to the issue, run out and buy a copy (4 bucks). It's a little ditty about Rebecca Eckler.

Today was Woofstock at the Distillery and Merv joined Zack & I for a trip to the annual dog festival. Mark Breslin was hosting a dog beauty pageant and half the dogs were taller than him. It was crazy with the dogs, the weather was beautiful, I got a sunburn. Woofstock continues tomorrow.

11:48 PM , # ,


Friday, June 04, 2004

Terror of the Phone-tastic Wage Slaves II

Listen you fuckers, you screwheads, here's a man who would not take it anymore, who would not let... Listen you fuckers you screwheads, here's a man who would not take it anymore, a man who stood up against the scum, the cunts, the dogs, the filth, the shit. Here is someone who stood up.

Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver

I was eating dinner. The phone rang. It was the Toronto Sun. They wanted to sell me newspaper ... again. Taking Natalie's advice, I said, "Can you hold on a sec?" and set the phone down.

About ten minutes later, when I was finished eating, I hung up.

6:40 PM , # ,


On Breaks

When I was on my break, Sugarmama was the only blog I visited on a regular basis (she had good 'work break' conversation and an eclectic crowd of visitors to her comments) She's on hiatus now and has a good post detailing the long-term challenges and frustrations of regular blog writing. I think her solution is smart: take a break & simplify.

And more importantly, whether you get 100 hits a day like me, or a thousand hits a day like the man or a million hits a day like the moron you have to remember that blogging is just a little bit silly. Which is part of the fun, right?

I really empathize with SM because a few months ago I was feeling much of what she describes. So, here's a very special song, for SM:

Come back again
I want you to stay next time
Cause sometimes computers ain't kind
When people get lost like you and me

I just linked a friend
A link is something you need
They send hits to your site every day
Without them, there'd be be no way ...

Turn on your bloglight
Let it shine wherever you link
Let it show how much you think
Of all the triviality!

Turn on your bloglight
In the middle of a young geek's dream
Don't post your comments too soon
Don't want to be a trolling baboon
You and me

12:08 PM , # ,


Thursday, June 03, 2004

Hot Docs 2004

Work, Vodka, Name-dropping & More Work

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival (it's not a film festival because most docs are shot on video) is the largest documentary festival in North America and the second-largest in the world after the huge IDFA fest in The Netherlands. I did the festival graphics and that was the cause of my four-month blog break. But I love work and the festival was the most fun I've ever had on a project.

And the reviews? Here's what indieWIRE had to say:

Last year, Hot Docs' central command moved closer to the Toronto International Film Fest's turf descending around chic Bloor Street (from Toronto's bohemian Little Italy). The festival is also bigger, not just in size, but also in stature -- it is now the largest doc fest in North America. Yet somehow its growth has not strained the mechanics behind the operation -- this year things appeared even more organized and more polished, from the cute, orange Hot Docs T-shirts worn by the volunteers, to the thick film catalogue (priced at an economical CDN$2 per copy!), to the noticeably slicker, more streamlined graphic design of the festival's print materials. It feels this year like Hot Docs is blossoming into the younger sister of TIFF (as opposed to say, its "poor country cousin"). This growth has also not changed the festival's warmth for filmmakers, delegates, and the public alike. "I have nothing but positive things to say about Hot Docs," says filmmaker Sarah Goodman, who also attended last year. "It's becoming bigger, but at the same time it's still very nurturing."

I'm so vain, I probably think that paragraph is about me ... wait, it is!

And to bring it all back to blogging for a moment, take a look at this:

The image on the left comes to you straight from my computer. The image on the right was sent from my computer to a service bureau where it was printed on a slide and then sent to the Bloor Cinema where it was projected on the screen where the guy from the world-famous photo blog, Daily Dose of Imagery snapped an audience shot. He then posted the pics on his blog and I copied them without permission to my computer and reposted one here! That's technology in action, Dennis DeYoung!

It's a month late, but here's a quick rundown of my experience at this year's festival:

Opening Night, April 23
By the time Opening Night finally hit, I was already exhausted. I'd been working non-stop for much of the previous two months including a six-day stretch when I clocked 96 hours, the longest I've ever stayed focused on work in a single week. I was still working up until an hour before the cocktail party that kicked off opening night.

The Opening Night film was The Ritchie Boys at the Bloor and I geeked out in the theatre because all the the stuff I'd designed was everywhere. Everything from the screening schedule to the passes to the invites to the slides and signs had my sweaty fingerprints on them. My best celebrity sighting that evening happened when I was waiting to get into the theatre and spotted Natalie & Davezilla walking across the street.

The party afterwards was held in Walker Court at the AGO and it's a great space for a party but won't be after Frank Gehry sticks a squirrelly staircase in the middle of it. All the faces you'd expect to see at a Toronto arts event were there but Enza Anderson was the only person in attendance who'd had her picture taken with Alice. Later in the evening Olivia Chow sat with us for a bit and showed us her crazy schedule on her PDA. The woman never stops. She is running against Tony Ianno again in the upcoming federal election -- she almost caught him last time, it'll be interesting to see if she can unseat him this round.

Canadian Spectrum Opening, April 24
Work kept me from the screening (The Take by Avi Lewis & Naomi Klein) but it didn't keep me from the party.

Hollywood Blamb says, "Never miss the parties!"

The bar where the party was held touted itself as 'a little piece of New York in the middle of Toronto'. In that case, I'm never going back to New York because the bartenders were stingy with the booze & College Street-rude.

I spotted Jian Ghomeshi, an old acquaintance from university who I used to terrorize (can I still use that word in polite company?) with editorial cartoons when he was the president of the student council. So I said 'hi' and then, a few weeks later at a family gathering I had this conversation with a cousin:

COUSIN #1: Mir loves Jian Ghomeshi.
BLAMB: Really?
COUSIN #2: He's a beautiful man.
BLAMB: Really?
COUSIN #1: He was in Moxy Fruvous right?
COUSIN #2: I don't care, all I know is that he's perfect ...
BLAMB: Really?

I was the sponsor of the screening of The President vs. David Hicks on the Sunday night and Eva from the world of blogging joined us. Before the screening a slide was projected with my '' sponsor logo on it and a woman in the row behind me muttered to her husband, "Brett Lamb. He's the guy who sells the condos, right?" I felt the urge to turn around and growl, "No, that's BRAD LAMB! I'M BRETT LAMB!" Probably a good thing that I didn't.

On Monday night I saw No. 17 which was my favourite doc of the festival and the next night I saw Army of One, which was another good one about the experiences of three young people who decide to join the US Army following 9/11 (and a good choice, Richard Gere attended a screening at the Bloor that night so I avoided that hub-bub).

At the Army of One screening, I was mistaken for a celebrity. James was sitting in the row behind me and we talked for a bit and I told him a little about doing the graphics. Then, when the lights went down they rolled the festival trailer and at the end of it, the sponsor logos appear and my logo was in a pretty prominent spot. There was a couple sitting beside me and when my logo appeared the woman nodded towards me and said to her boyfriend, "That's Brett Lamb." Then her boyfriend punched me in the mouth and shouted, "My condo sucks!"

After that screening I went to the South African Delegation Party and ate mashed potatoes in sundae cups. Robert Lantos was my favourite celeb sighting from that one. I didn't go up to him and ask, "Diamonds? What was that about?" even though I wanted to.

Later in the evening I felt someone rubbing my arm and then the person started hanging off my arm and I looked down and there was a woman who was obviously drunk and she looked up at me and said, "Oh, you're not Marc." Because of my shaved head and her drunken haze, she'd mistaken me for Marc Glassman.

No film or fun on Wednesday (I missed the TDF party at the AGO) because I was busy assembling the motion graphics for the Awards Ceremony and I wasn't even sure that the bloody thing was going to work, so I had to prepare back-up PowerPoint slides as well. The next day I delivered and tested the motion stuff and it all seemed like it was going to work fine and that was the last major piece of work I had to do.

That night I went to see Lipstick & Dynamite, Piss & Vinegar: The First Ladies of Wrestling which had the best title graphics of any of the docs (most docs have crappy titles -- if you're a doc-maker ... give me a ring!).

Awards Ceremony, April 30
By this point I was tired of geeking out so watching the motion graphics do their thing didn't phase me as much as it would have earlier in the week. I allowed myself the opportunity to geek out as much as possible since, I figured, you only do your first international film festival once, so you should enjoy it! Anyhow, the graphics ran without a hitch and looked good except that the orange colour didn't look as orange as it should have because of the video projection. You can see the award winners here.

At the Awards party I got to meet Michael MacLear who was being honoured with the Outstanding achievement Award and this comparison crossed my mind: This guy was the only Western journalist to get into the North during the Vietnam War. I draw cartoons about aliens making poop jokes!

So, there I was at the party and I spotted a woman from my fitness class so I went over and said, "Hey, you're from my fitness class!" And she said, "Oh yeah?" in a tone of voice that clearly resonated with, "Sir, you are clearly insane!" And she abruptly started talking to someone else and I abruptly went and got another martini. In another strange turn, Alan Zweig, whose doc I, Curmudgeon was in the festival, started doing my fitness class right after the festival ended. I didn't see his doc but after surveying a bunch of opinions, I found that the crankier you are, the more likely you are to enjoy it. I'm expecting it to be my favourite film ever! Anyhow, I don't want to get into details or jinx it, but last night I did a little behind-the-scenes string-pulling to try and help that filmmaker get on the path to getting lucky ... yes, that's what I've been reduced to: helping Alan Zweig get laid. Don't tell anyone, I'm trying to keep it quiet.

Closing Night, May 2
The closing night film was Control Room, a behind-the-scenes look at Al Jazeera during the US invasion of Iraq.

The closing night party was at the ROM and there was a lot of the Iceberg Vodka leftover so they were pouring the drinks pretty strong. Apparently, the Iceberg Vodka is made with real icebergs which is funny because I always assumed that vodka was only only ingredient in vodka and even had its own place on the Periodic Table. The night got off to a good start when the woman (who just directed her first doc for the NFB) from my fitness came over and talked to us.

The combination of strong drinks and the relief of being finished made me feel a little giddy so when I bumped into Lorraine Segato I didn't hesitate to geek out for a moment and say, "Wow, Lorraine Segato!" I think I needed to do that to balance out some karma. See, when I was in my last year of university, I was talking with Doug Saunders (now a Globe columnist) one afternoon and he told me a story about how he'd been in the elevator in the student centre with Lorraine Segato and, on purpose, he asked her "Are you with the band?" even though he recognized her and she replied, "I'm Lorraine Segato!" and he thought her haughty reply was hilarious. Anyhow, finally after all these years, someone recognized Lorraine Segato. Rise up, rise up!

That night, warm and safe, I thought of all of the fun friends I'd met at the Hot Docs festival.

9:27 PM , # ,


Terror of the Phone-tastic Wage Slaves

Sometimes people ask me why I hardly ever answer my phone. There are a few reasons:

1. It's hardly ever for me.

2. Sometimes it's hard to get into a good work groove and the interruption of a phone call can pull me out of work for much longer than the length of a call. And many calls could be more easily handled with a simple email.

For example:

EMAIL: please send that junk. thx

PHONE: Hi Brett, How's it going? You're good? Yeah? I'm good, too. How's Zack? How's the cat? How's your week going? Nice weather out, eh? Hell, yeah, I can't wait for the weekend. We're going up to Collingwood. No, just two days. Yeah, we're bringing the inflatable dolls. Oh yeah. By the way, could you send that junk? Yeah, love that junk. Can't wait to get it ...

3. But the main reason is because 90% of the calls I receive are from the telemarketers and a small but significant minority of those are from belligerent telemarketers who force me to hang up on them mid-call.

What's worse is that most of the belligerent callers are from charities. The other day I got a call from a woman at some liver foundation who wanted an "emergency donation of $100-$200" and she just wouldn't shut up so I just hung up. And I feel bad when someone forces me to do that.

I often get two or three calls from the same charity on the same freaking day. I have this conversation ever week or two:

POOR SAP: Hey, we're hosting a great charity event on ...
BLAMB: I know, this is the third time you called ... TODAY.
POOR SAP: Oh, I'm sorry, sir. We'll take you off of the list.
BLAMB: The last person who called said they were going to take me off.
POOR SAP: Well, I'll take you off right now.
BLAMB: Thanks.
POOR SAP: Sorry about that.

And I feel bad because I know that the people who are calling are working really cruddy jobs, like Brenda who was just "fired" from the hell of telemarketing. But it's hardly fair that I avoid my phone because of the flood of crap calls I receive. So let's get that Do No Call list going, asap.

Compared to Old Blogger, New Blogger SUCKS. What were they thinking? Old blogger was nice because you could handle most of your stuff in one handy little window and didn't have to jump around from window to window they way you do now. Why can't I have all of my stuff in one place? Why do we have to jump around so much?

And the text window is jittery. If you bold text, italicize text or create a link, the window automatically jumps to the top. It's annoying having your text window jump around every time you want to bold text. There, it just did it again. Maybe it's because I'm using Mozilla.

It's frustrating because they added a bunch of superficial interface crap to make the service look more functional and intuitive but the substantial structural changes they made have made it more cluttered, confused and annoying to use.

Anyhow, if they were going to change things, you think they'd make those changes for the better, right? Right? Right?


10:13 AM , # ,


Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Rockin' the Paradise

One time, back in the 80s, they asked Dennis DeYoung from STYX to write a song for the movie version of DUNE and he wrote such a crappy, sappy-assed load of crud, they couldn't use the thing. Here's a sample to prove it:

Those summer nights when we were young
We bragged of things we'd never done
We were dreamers, only dreamers
And in our haste to grow too soon
We left our innocence on Desert Moon
We were dreamers, only dreamers
On Desert Moon, on Desert Moon

He wrote that for DUNE. DUNE. The book in which everyone gets high on spice and ride around on giant worms. Did he bother to read the book? Here's what he said about his "song":

Desert Moon' represents a time and place we all wish we could return to.

Giant spice worms, Dennis, you dope. Who would want to return to that besides Everett McGill? See, DeYoung had peaked a few years earlier with STYX.

Imagine how awful it must have been for the guys in STYX, having Dennis as their front man. No wonder they use Larry Gowan now. They probably liked to sit around and strum their guitars and get a little groove going and then Dennis would run in and start jumping up and down, shouting, "Hey guys! Let's dress up as ROBOTS!"

And as bad as they were, they never really recorded the definitive version of Mr. Roboto. That honour falls to a cover floating around on the Ares P2P network. Search for the title 'Mr. Roboto' and the artist 'Kidz Bop'. Your ears will thank you.

Mr. Roboto is a neat-o song; a dirge for a passing culture. It marks the exact point when North American society shifted from being an industrial, car-centred society to a gadgety, computer-centred one. The point at which tough guys like the Fonz and Bruce Springsteen lost the good fight to nerds like Bill Gates and ... um, other nerds. The point at which brains beat brawn. And the tension from that shift is heard clearly in the song, the lyrics overtly criticize technology:

The problem's plain to see: too much technology
Machines to save our lives. Machines dehumanize.

Oddly enough, the whole Mr. Roboto storyline has actually come to pass:

In Mr. Roboto:
Everett Righteous, a religious conservative, uses a cable tv network to gain control of US politics! At the time the album was released, RUSH was a popular Canadian rock band.

In contemporary USA: a big, fat drug addict named Rush and a cable news network that employs anchors with southern accents (so they seem 'down with the people') helped get George Bush almost elected!

In Mr. Roboto:
Rock & Roll music is banned!

In contemporary society:
"Rock" music is a spent genre that caters to politically-inert, middle-class twits in shopping malls!

In Mr. Roboto:
Robots are bad!

In contemporary society:
Robots are fun!

STYX pretty much evaporated after Roboto, they'd intersected with their point in history and then, irrelevant, they became the punchline to late-night talk show jokes. And Dennis DeYoung ... ?

11:16 PM , # ,



1:10 PM , # ,


Carnival of the Canucks

Jen is hosting the latest Carnival of the Canucks over at Circadian Shift. It's 99.999% pure Canucklehead.

2:12 AM , # ,


Tuesday, June 01, 2004

New Comics

I have a 2-page comic in the new issue of Taddle Creek (available in bookstores and magazine shops throughout the city). There's a new Happy Creature strip in the summer issue of Rosco (various locations, I get my copy at Suspect Video on Markham) and a full-page comic in the new DTM (Issue #11 launches on June 29).

It's all cartooneriffic!

1:38 PM , # ,


Catching Up

How have you been? I missed you. And you. And you and you.

Well, I stopped eating octopus. I haven't munched on a chewy, puckered chunk of octopu-goodness in months. I love 'em, but I think I overdid it. I don't crave octopus at all these days. I've been eating cereal with soy milk instead. The soy milk has 1/3 the fat that skim milk has -- SKIM! -- and I never liked milk much so the soy much more palatable. Sometimes, because I like it so much, I suspect that maybe the soy milk is made out of octopus. Or maybe squid.

Don't worry, I'm still eating banana sandwiches every day and will start posting some sandwich photos soon. No recent changes in that department.

They shredded my streetcar line and have been rebuilding the whole College Street line from scratch. In the long run, it's a good thing because the tracks were crumbling and slowing down the streetcars but over the short-term it's been difficult having a major route out-of-commission.

So I bought a bike.

I've been meaning to get a new bike for some time and the lack of a proper streetcar was the nudge I needed.

I also moved to a new computer a few weeks ago. This one came with an audio player that allows me to slow down and speed up the songs without changing the tone. How great is that? I asked Dan Fogelberg:

BLAMB: Dan, look at the speed controls on this new audio player!
DAN: Slower sad songs sound even more sad.
BLAMB: And faster fast songs sound even happier!
DAN: I don't care about those.

What a sap.

Anyhow, it may take a little time to work out all of the bugs on this site, so hold on tight and keep your seatbelts fastened and extinguish all smokey materials. They changed Blogger on me while I was away and I'm not sure if I like the new system yet. Their documentation has gone from bad to crud; that's not a good sign. The comic strip sites will be up and running sooner or later, part of this redesign was done to set-up a system of integrating the comic sites with the blog so everything can be updated more easily. And the Happy Creature site is going to be brand new!

What do you think of that, Dan Fogelberg?

DAN: It makes me want to cry.

10:28 AM , # ,


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