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  Thursday, May 31, 2007

Smear Job!

Witness the right-wing blog smear machine in action. The woman from that airbrush blog "exposed" me as someone who makes a living from generous government arts grants. Her readers -- including Kathy and our old friend, Rick -- chimed in with enthusiasm.

Except ... it's not true.

Like most people, I work in the private sector (here, buy some stuff!!!). Here are some of the juicier comments from the blog, condemning me for how I don't make my living. I'm sure none of these good people were surfing at work:

Which makes Brett just a... _regular_ welfare bum.
All in all, I prefer being "a pig in a fright wig" -- with a well paying private sector job and groovy benefits. Brett's jealousy of those more successful than he is is quite startling.
- Kathy Shaidle wrote that one

Graphic designer? The guy's a hack. That's why he's parked at the government nipple. He'd otherwise starve.

Just another wannbe failed liberal artist sucking at the government teat and believing he is entitled to suck at the government teat.

more bellyaching from another trough-wallower.....I would imagine the twit worships at the altar of dr fruit fly as well......when they cannot win the argument, the personal insults and attacks start flying....this is just the start, mark my word....

I can understand if the government wants to commission a respected artist to design a new museum or other large community project -- they are in the public eye enough that their work is properly vetted -- but the thousands of art grants approved by bureaucrats are really ridiculous, and people like Brett should think twice before they draw attention to themselves.

Curiosity got the better of me and I checked out a link or two from this Brett charactor's blog. I'll give the lad credit. He certainly knows where to find taxpayer's dollars.

You win Kate...priciples,hard work, capitalism, art that doesn't need 'tax grants' to survive(somebody tell Atwood it is possible)and the real winning point a zinger punch to the left totally unexpected.

And my favourite:

Anyone who does a job well and isn't a parasite living off his/her neighbours, meaning they're making an honest living and aren't hanging off the tit of the Nanny State, shouldn't be the butt of anyone's condescension or judgment.Obviously, Brett Lamb needs to grow up--but what are the chances? Coddled, entitled, arrogant, swaddled in government cash for life, and used to getting his jollies by putting other people down, this guy sounds like the eternal adolescent. Is he gay, too, I wonder?

Swaddled in government cash FOR LIFE! I'm so LUCKY! Or I would be, if it were true. Which it isn't. Damn! I pointed this out in the comments thread. I wonder if she'll offer a retraction?

But the post is really about defending her cheesy airbrush work. I was held up as an "elitist" (yet Conrad Black is a swell guy?) who dishonestly sucks money from the public purse while Kate presents herself as an honest working-class person (one not afraid of making fat jokes), running a small business. Is she? Look at her work. Did she create Darth Maul? Or Darth Vader? Or Spiderman? Or some of the other characters she reproduced?

Do you think she paid a royalty to use those characters? Maybe she did. Like her, I can only make assumptions. I know that when I do work, it has to be original and I'm very careful not to rip off sources or violate copyrights. I certainly wouldn't reproduce and sell someone else's work without compensating them.

Receiving an arts grant is not a crime, but stealing is. Right?

5:03 PM , # , |

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Over on Lansdowne

Don't make our street nice!

Even though it's a dumb thing to be protesting -- Lansdowne was narrowed south of the bridge and it improved the street -- they're right, there was little consultation, especially beyond the street itself. The effects of the reconstruction will spill over to neighbouring streets and we weren't informed. The first time I heard about it was when the yellow signs popped up.

There's also construction at the corner on Rohan Walters' little infill house. The red chunk is new.

Meanwhile, across the street, the plaza remains completely empty except for the weedy little Domino's pizza.

10:10 AM , # , |

Monday, May 28, 2007

Soon Turned Out, Had a House of Glass

Did you know that Conrad Black lives in a big, glass house? So does Kathy Shaidle.

When I first saw Kathy Shaidle on television, my reaction was, "THAT'S Kathy Shaidle?" After all, she often makes fun of people's appearances, so it was a shock to find out that she looks like Porky Pig in a cheap wig. She shouldn't be making fun of anyone's appearance.

Here's her review of this year's long walk:

Antonia Zerbisias seeks
"solace in a Hagen-Dasz container"

Wears track pants on national television. When she's not partaking in sophomoric afternoon excursions with much younger platonic male friends, in which they display their jealousy of people whose lives are more accomplished and exciting than their own, lawsuits and all. And I thought my life was dull.

Much younger platonic male friend? Huh? Thanks for the compliment, but I'm not "much younger." That's an intentional smear. And 'platonic'? Does Shaidle get her lingo from watching Mary Tyler Moore reruns? "That's right, Grandma Kathy, my women friends is all platonic-like; I ain't some gentleman caller looking to pitch woo."

Then, Kathy retreats to her worn out, standard insults: you're stupid, you're boring, you're jealous, you have no talent. Oh, wow. We've never heard her say THAT before. Once, when I first started reading Kathy, her harsh, sharp tone was a breath of fresh air in the timid, tame Canadian blogscape ... but it soon turned out she just reuses the same old material over and over and over and ... ZZZzzzzZZZzzzzz ...

Where was I?

Oh yeah ... You know, I finally read that book The Rebel Sell and Chapter 4 - Extreme Rebellion generally explains Kathy. Here's the key point at the end of the chapter:

Because everyday acts of symbolic resistance that characterize countercultural rebellion are not actually disruptive to "the system," anyone who follows the logic of countercultural thinking through to its natural conclusion will find herself drawn into increasingly extreme forms of rebellion. The point at which this rebellion becomes disruptive generally coincides with the point at which it becomes genuinely antisocial. And then you're not so much being a rebel as you are simply being a nuisance.

I could never connect how it was possible for Kathy to do an ideological 180, from peacenik to warblogger. But that explains it. In present-day secular Canada, being a religious conservative is as close as you can get to being part of some sort of "counterculture". That explains why her blog consists of post after post of cheap shots and few ideas; the substance of her ideology isn't as important as the dizzy feeling of being a 'rebel'. That explains how she can chide people for not thinking critically while turning obsequious at the mere mention of Conrad Black. There's no depth to the snarl.

Anyhow, speaking of glass houses, some right-wing blog written by an artist who airbrushes cheeseball, kitsch paintings on motorcycle helmets, linked to the walk post and sent a couple of -- expected -- odd and offensive people to the comments (now deleted). Sociopaths and right wing blogs! They go together like ... dragons and boobies!

That blog blew the lid off a major story: journalists like to gossip! Except that when you think about it, you realize that a journalist who doesn't like to gossip would make a pretty piss-poor journalist. That's why I like meeting up with journalists ... for the gossip, stupid.

Kate & Kathy's strategy is lame; they insinuate that something reasonable is unreasonable, hoping that if they do it often enough, something will stick. It's that ol' timey Rush Limbaugh/Ann Coulter tactic. It's borrowed, it's cheap and it's a cheat.

8:35 PM , # , |

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Where's Conrad?

Long Walk, 2007 -- 23 km

Spring arrives and again, it's time for the annual long walk. Joining me on the walk was Antonia, and we set for ourselves a newsworthy destination: the estate of Conrad Moffat Black, Baron Black of Crossharbour. He's on trial in Chicago these days and probably not feeling his best, so our mission was to deliver some flowers to his home. And so, the trip began ...

Yonge & Sheppard, looking north up Yonge.

Our starting point was Don Mills & Sheppard, at the end of the new subway line in the parking garage at Fairview Mall (where I played Santa for three Xmas seasons). From there, we walked westward along Sheppard towards North York Centre. Condos are still sprouting all along Sheppard (intensification was one of the requirements for the new subway). We detoured north to pass Mel Lastman Square, then walked south on Yonge and stopped for a coffee.

If you live in North York, we found the guy who stole your lawnmower.

After walking south and under the 401, we started to think about the mission: flowers for Conrad.

(above, left) North York is the home of a special dish, the BBQ CHIKEN. (above, right) Zack waits, hoping for flowers.

At Yonge and York Mills, we stopped at the gas station to look for flowers. There were no flowers. We considered buying him a cheap cigar or maybe the latest issue of FHM. Zack wanted Doritos.

(above, left) I was worried; they never have flowers gas stations. (above, right) Antonia confirmed our worst fears, there were no flowers.

From the gas station, we continued on to Hogg's Hollow. Many of the once-modest homes have been torn down and replaced by houses built by people who seem to treat everything in their lives -- children, dogs, trees, geese, goats -- like hood ornaments.

The new construction proved one thing: money can buy a lot of things, but an ounce of taste ain't one of them. We considered pilfering a horse statue (above, left) for Conrad but it just wasn't 'right'. The brand new "log cabin" was the only new house that impressed Antonia.

Our detour led us to a dead end. There was no route through to Bayview and we would have to walk all the way back to Yonge. Without flowers. We were putting in a lot of legwork for Lord Black.

A lucky break!

After making our escape, we found a flower store on Yonge. Keeping things simple, we found the cheapest flowers possible and bought a bouquet of yellow tulips for $3.99. Obviously, we expected Black to be in Chicago and doubted the flowers would even get to him.

We walked east, to Glendon College and then up Bayview. Reaching our destination on foot was more complicated than we expected ...

(above, left) The migrant workers who usually pose in this spot don't work on weekends. (above, right) Zack give the flowers his final approval.

A family of cut-outs on the lawn of one of the houses waved to us and we almost felt at home in the enclave of the cash-non-poor. The rich are very friendly (unless you ask them to support government policies that benefit all Canadians, like funding health care). We counted down the addresses until ...

Disappointment: the gate was locked and no view of the house.

We reached the Black estate and it was the only house not visible from the street. And the gate was locked. We took a moment to rest our sore knees and feet.

(above, left) Zack likes flowers and wanted to keep them for himself. (above, right) Once again, Black finds himself on the wrong side of the law.

We left the flowers in the gate and started walking south, hoping to find a short cut back to Bayview. It didn't look promising, so we turned back and started to retrace our route ...

Almost a paparazzi.

But when we reached Conrad's gate, it had opened and there was a big, black car about to pull out. We stopped for a moment, expecting either a service vehicle or a security guard coming to get the flowers. Instead, the car pulled out in front of us and Conrad Black and Barbara Amiel were seated in the back seat. The driver waved, drove over our flowers and whizzed off. I dug into my bag and pulled out my camera but only managed to snap a shot as they rounded the corner (the camera is old, slow, failing and can't focus properly).

"Brett, you wouldn't make a very good photo journalist," Antonia said dryly.

I imagine Conrad and Babs were taking a drive over to Prince's house for some drinks with the Purple One and Sheila E.

Mmmm, sausages.

Sore and tired, we dragged ourselves back to Bayview and from there, to Yonge & Eglinton where we celebrated a good walk with street sausages. The simple joy of the sausages made me think of poor Conrad Black and how much energy he'd invested in pompous materialism and superficial status. And what did it get him? A court date and the threat of a lengthy prison term.

And it made me think of Marge's lecture at the end of Fargo:

And for what? For a little bit of money. There's more to life than money, you know. Don't you know that?... And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day...

Eating our sausages, warm & safe, we thought of all the fun friends we met on the trip to Conrad Black's.

Previously: 2005 Long Walk

2:21 AM , # , |

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Robot Johnny posted a bunch of his poetic movie reviews, including a bunch from this year's Hot Docs.

1:37 AM , # , |

Something Bad, Something Good

The Globe Redesign Reconsidered
I picked up a copy of the Globe & Mail the other day, hoping that my initial reaction was simply 'the shock of the new'. Sometimes our initial reactions to things are overly-positive, sometime a bit too negative. I was expecting the latter to be the case ...

Instead, the redesign left me even more disappointed. The initial shock had worn off and I spotted deeper problems with the redesign such as the column widths. The new columns are so narrow, sometimes there are as few as two and a half of a hyphenated word on a line. The lack of balance between the column width and the font size with right-ragged alignment makes some articles really difficult to read.

The other thing that really annoyed me was the treatment of the editorial cartoon. The cartoon used to be an element of the page layout and was allowed lots of space ... the issue I picked up had the cartoon squished between two heavy, horizontal lines. Instead of being a key element of the page layout, the cartoon is presented as just filling another content slot.

I can't stand seeing the Globe on the newsstand anymore; I can't believe the mess they've made of it. The fact that they didn't even bother to come up with a new nameplate that matches the redesign just shows how arbitrary the whole thing was.

Casino Royale
I borrowed my brother's DVD copy of Casino Royale and watched it the other night. I'd pretty much given up on Bond films, they seemed like a Cold War relic that didn't translate to the new era. But this new flick restarts the series in grand fashion and suggests that it might even be possible to do a really good one.

Daniel Crag makes a great Bond and stripping out gadgets and cheese and Russians really made the movie seem fresh. The movie looks damn hot and David Arnold's latest John Barry-inspired score makes it feel like a Bond flick without being nostalgic.

The only sour point is a weak opening credit sequence. The song is forgettable and the graphics look like a good idea that they weren't able to pull it off (kind of like the Globe redesign!).

There you go, I watched a video and read the paper ... pure excitement!

12:18 AM , # , |

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Editorial Cartoon

I've retired the Ms. Johnson strip and have returned to doing a regular editorial cartoon. Here's the first.

1:35 AM , # , |

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I'm out on the farm and there hasn't been much of a mention of it in the news (haven't found anything about it in the London, Ont. area), but the tick population has EXPLODED this year. We just pulled two off of Zack and one was swollen and huge and disgusting. The dogs are on antibiotics to prevent Lyme Disease. The last time I saw a tick around here was when I was in the 3rd grade and the teacher plucked one off the head of a kid in our class. That was in the late 70s.

It's something to be aware of if you're going camping. We've never seen ticks like this, have never had to pluck one off the dogs before (let alone, bunches of them) ... so be wary. If you spot any articles on this, forward the links.

4:31 PM , # , |

Friday, May 18, 2007

Mexico Trip - May

Just got back from my third trip to Mexico in the past four months. This time, we went south to Oaxaca as well as returning to some familiar territory. Here's story of the trip:

Mmmmm, pickup truck chicken .... rush hour in the "DF".

We met in Mexico City (where we visited in February) and had dinner at Cluny's because we like the white wine sangria. We spent the next day strolling around Mexico City, including a trip to the Palacio Federal to see the Diego Rivera murals and the skinny kitties. You know what's so special about the skinny kitties?

They're skinny.

The city's art museum was once the main train station.

I love Mexico City, but my favourite thing is the Guantanamo Bay-style children's maze that exposes the poor imagination of the over-zealous Republican politician who announced that he would 'double Guantanamo'. Why expand Guantanamo when you can just make it more complicated? It needs a better name, too. How about The Jack Bauer Memorial Non-torture Centre for Information Retrieval at Guantanamo Bay?

Next, we took the bus south to Oaxaca.

(above, left) We were confronted on the street by some roughneck (right) Oaxaca's zocalo is the best we've seen. Its controversial 2005 reconstruction was one of the issues (the government spent money on beautification instead of much-needed infrastructure) that sparked the protests that started in 2006.

In Oaxaca, we stayed in a cheap little hotel (with turtles and a bird named Lorenzo) in the middle of town. On our second day there, we went on a crazy tour with a local guide who took us to the ruins at Mitla, Yagul, Mescal tasting, puppy petting and to see how traditional Zapotec weaving was done using natural dyes. His mom also fed us lunch. There was also a blockade because of a land dispute ... so we also did some walking.

Because we like to climb, a few days later ...

Monte Alban

If there's one thing we like, it's bald dogs, climbing and ruins. We took a bus to the top of the Monte Alban and as soon as we arrived, some guy at the gate said that it was going to start raining in half an hour. One minute later, it started to rain. Ha ha! Off by 29 minutes, buddy!

We hid out in the museum while it thundered and once things calmed down, we went back out.

Ruin sites are even better in the rain.

Later, on Mother's Day, we were sitting by a square and I was having coffee and talking to my Mom on the phone and a woman -- who was clearly high -- came and took my coffee. And I said to my mom, "Some woman just took my coffee." The woman walked back and forth in front of us, enjoying the coffee and when she was done, she handed the cup back to me and said, "It was very flavourful."

After a week in Oaxaca, we took the bus back to Mexico City and then an overnight bus to Uruapan.

On the bus to Mexico City, one of the movies was Herbie: Fully Loaded ... I'm still confused by the opening of that movie. When it starts, Herbie is in a junk yard run by HITLER! And Hitler is determined to destroy Herbie but is thwarted by miscellaneous hijinks. I thought Hitler LOVED Herbie! Anyhow, besides being a crap movie, Herbie had three things I hate in it: Herbie (as kid, I couldn't stand both Herbie and Benji), the guy who plays the 'Mac' on the PC vs. Mac commercials and Linsay Lohan. A day after the trip, MAXIM magazine declared Lindsay Lohan the 'Hottest Woman'. Lindsay Lohan. Who was the Hottest Man? Andy Dick?

... where was I?

One of our favourite adventures from our first trip was the hike up the Paracutin volcano, but it was a full day hike and by the time we got to the church it was getting dark and we were beat, so we went back for another look.

There's a Space:1999 episode where fun, sudsy bubbles cover everything and turn into rock; that's what I imagine happened here.

To give you a sense of scale, I made two old ladies climb over the rock and pose by the structure.

(above, right) We were there for a light stroll, so we didn't hike the additional 10km to the volcano across the lava field.

We were inside the cave and then this guy (above, left) appeared and started blabbering on in Spanish about miracles and god. And he just kept going on and on and I was starting to get a little uncomfortable (I couldn't understand a word) and Amber was being very polite and told me afterwards what he said. Yeah, it sure is a miracle if you build a church in the middle of a region that's completely covered with volcanos. Who coulda' seen that one coming?

I should point out that I'd just finished reading The God Delusion, so I wasn't falling for any of that "god" nonsense. I didn't enjoy the Delusion as much as I hoped; I was hoping it would be really good to make up for the fact that it inspired this guy. Somebody please make it stop!

Amber heading down into the ruins.

(above, left) It was in Uruapan where I really got to gear down and relax. Unfortunately, I only learned of the amazing avacado popsicle (above, right) the day before I left.

On the last day we toured Uruapan, including a visit to the local national park (above).

I had an afternoon flight, so I took the overnight bus again back to Mexico City (right) where I caught my flight home.

Mexico City was suffocating under a layer of its famous smog ... which really stunk and made me appreciate the good weather we had when we visited in February. The foul air was so thick ... my head started to fog up, I started to get dizzy and then this popped into my head.


But I wasn't beat. I remained calm, focused and managed to replace that hackneyed zefrank copycat with thoughts of something a little less offensive ...

Phew! Dodged another one.

(above, left) Flying across Lake Erie we had a good view of Cleveland, Ohio. (right) Coming in over Toronto, a view of my neighbourhood.

Back in the city! And that's the story of the time I went back to Mexico.

12:11 PM , # , |

Quick Thought, Super Challenge

Geez, I go away for two weeks and EVERYTHING HAPPENS while I'm away. Crickey ...

But before we get back to things, here's another episode of:

Facebook Sure Has Quirky Things That Sometimes Happen On It, Man

Before he was led away to be crucified, Jesus Christ told his disciples, "You will each deny me on Facebook three times." They said that they wouldn't but they ended up doing so (yet each and every one of them had added Pontius Pilot as a 'friend'). It's all in the Bible; look it up. I think it's in Ezekialias 11:38.

But that's not what this post is about, this is about the 'Facebooking Standoff'. That's when neither you nor another acquaintance -- typically people you sort of knew years ago in another life -- will add one another to your friends list even though you've added freakin' Rick Mercer and Giante Envelopz and someone who accidentally added you because they were confused and thought you were someone else.

Do you encounter that? Is there a long list of people you feel like you should add but just can't get motivated to push the damn button? And if they can't get motivated, why should you? In theory, you shouldn't care but in practice, not having those links could keep you from making a valuable connection in the future.

So here's what I'm going to do, I'm going to issue a challenge to all of you (even thought I doubt that the last two readers, Maria & Eva, are even here anymore). Here's the challenge for you: add one of those borderline people to your friend list and then write on their wall: OMG, I MISSED YOU SO MUCH! Make sure it's in all caps. If three people can demonstrate that they've done this, I'll do the same.

God bless us, every one.

12:40 AM , # , |

Thursday, May 03, 2007

It's Back!

I think i'll go for a walk outside now
The sandwich is callin' my name
I hear ya now
I just can't stay inside all day
I gotta get out, get me some of those rays
Everybody's smilin
Sandwich day!
Everybody's laughin'
Sandwich day!
Everybody seems so happy today
It's a sandwich day!

11:26 AM , # , |

A 'First' Story

When I was in the tenth grade, in computer class I sat next to a girl who was caught by the school principal having sex in a van in the school parking lot. She was at our school because she'd been kicked out of another school for (allegedly) doing a strip tease on a cafeteria table. She was the first celebrity I ever knew.

Her life would have been so much different in Denmark.

3:33 AM , # , |

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

DIGG pwned

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

1:52 AM , # , |

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


11:59 PM , # , |


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