Ink & Paper

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Weary One

The weary one, orphan

of the masses, the self,
the crushed one, the one made of concrete,
the one without a country in crowded restaurants,
he who wanted to go far away, always farther away,
didn't know what to do there, whether he wanted
or didn't want to leave or remain on the island,
the hesitant one, the hybrid, entangled in himself,
had no place here: the straight-angled stone,
the infinite look of the granite prism,
the circular solitude all banished him:
he went somewhere else with his sorrows,
he returned to the agony of his native land,
to his indecisions, of winter and summer.

By: Pablo Neruda

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Friday, May 13, 2005

"I am a corporate hobbit whore."

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Well it looks like his fame of being a short, hairy-footed stump of near-humanity is on the wane as Elijah Wood has apparently become a corporate whore.

Besides being known for being a smelly hobbit who is scared of his own shadow and fights like a girl, Elijah has now become a talking head for Microsoft, as he hosted the coming out (hee hee) party for Microsoft's new gaming system, the Xbox 360.

I personally could care less about some new electronic rubix cube, frankly Mario One was hard enough for me. As well, can anything ever top Space Invaders? No. Frogger came close, but who wants to be French anyway? So some new gaming system is about as attractive to me as a giant juicy steak is to Jeff.

Hey I thought that Elijah was Canadian. A couple of sites that I looked at claim he is American. Anyone know? I should note that the two or three sites I visted look like they were written by recent graduates of Hobbit High, who are no doubt stabbing blindly at their keyboard with a stick, failing to understand the physics of a booster seat. A sample of some of the literary magic I am talking about....

Even though his parents are divorced, Elijah has 1 younger sister and 1 older brother.

Yeah, because it is a scientifically proven fact that parents divorce after only two kids. His hobbit face probably caused the divorce.

And further proof that Hollywood actors are completely ignorant of their own idiocy...

"I don't actually have an official website. In fact, there was a website that was calling itself offical, which was not. But I don't really believe in having an official website. There's something.. the idea of self-promotion kind of freaks me out." - Elijah Wood

The Blog Author continues quote: Yes. I hate self promotion. I feel it is ok however to plaster my face on millions of 40 foot screens, on movie posters, TV shows, or magazines. I have no problem showing up at parties, talking on Oprah, or having people do websites in my honor. But self promotion? No thank you. It makes me feel icky, like the morning after Gollum and I got drunk, ah, uh....

What a load of hobbit crap.

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Hey I just realized that it is Friday the 13th today. Wow. My life is so empty of all meaning.

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My life continues to be a donkey driving a Pinto....

My goddamn washing machine is broken. Again. This time I didn't even touch it, unlike last time (3 months ago) when I man-ripped the handle off in my excitement of doing laundry. Nope, this time the spin cycle has giving up the ghost, leaving me with sopping wet clothes of questionable cleanliness.

Last time it took 3 weeks to get a handle fixed. So I am looking at this piece of garbage machine and wondering if this is where I throw in the (wet) towel and just say "Ah the hell with it," and begin mooching another 4 weeks of laundry off of friendly neighbours. The likelihood of it getting fixed before I leave is somewhat akin to the likelihood of me wearing a parka to the Hilton.

But I may try. I may go and try to get it fixed, just to experience one last Kuwaiti maintenance kick in the ass before I go. Hey, at the end of this week my G12s are gone, so I am going to have lots of time on my hands. I could make this my mission, my coup d'etat, before I leave.

Where is the Maytag man when I need him? Probably drunk at some WKRP in Cincinnati reuinion party, yelling at the Token Black Guy, Venus Flytrap.

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If now and then we encounter pages that explode, pages that wound and sear, that wring groans and and tears and curses, know that they come from a man with his back up, a man whose only defenses left are his words and his words are always stronger than all the racks and wheels which the cowardly invent to crush out the miracle of personality. If any man ever dared to translate all that is in his heart, to put down what is really his experience, what is truly his truth, I think then the world would go to smash, that it would be blown smithereens and no god, no accident, no will could ever again assemble the pieces, the atoms, the indestructible elements that have gone to make up the world.
--Henry Miller

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You know what gets to me? You know what causes me to fly into fits of rage and run around kicking the millions of stray cats that live nearby? I'll tell you. It happens when goonie friends that I have drop by the website once in a blue moon, all swash buckling Australia style, and tell me what to do with my blog. In this case, Goonie Cadrin, who will now pay, swings by to say that my blog should be more like Brother Jeff's and that we should have a blog war, comparing stories etc etc.

First, I ain't gonna take blog writing lessons from a guy who leaves one comment a month on my site and still sends me emails that have so many grammatical murders that reading my G9 papers makes me feel better.

Second, Goonie Cadrin, this is all a joke, I ain't mad at cha. But the joke is going to be at your expense. And admittedly, you have been like Teflon when it comes to cut downs and hacks in the past few years. So bend over.

Third, there isn't going to be any blog war. Why? Because war is wrong. But really, it's because my stories are lame and I think you have all heard them before. Jeff is like South Park, big entrances, lots of press, but has no staying power. Me, I'm like the Simpsons.

So Goonie Cadrin wants a story eh? Something involving girls, drinking, police, maybe a few car wrecks? Wait, the haze of my memory is lifting ever so slowly. I wrote this story shortly after the events took place, but for loyal bloggies, it is all brand new. Go pee first, it is pretty long...

You've no doubt missed a few of the references that I have made to Montreal and growing up, moving away and long-distance phone calls. That's okay, it's TV's fault that your attention span is so diminutive. But there is a story to be told. Some have heard it before and some wish they had been there. And it's always better in writing because I can proof read it before you see it.

August 2002. Cadrin is moving to Montreal to chase girls, although he says it's for school. But he's a skirt-chaser so don't believe a word he says. 5:00am on a Sunday, the little Warthog (R.I.P.) buzzes up in front of my apartment and Megan says goodbye to two foolhardy chaps determined to drive 4500km in a 1984 Honda Civic which has already done some hard BC miles this summer.
Day One sees us tear out of Alberta and through Saskatchewan and Manitoba, our enthusiasm carrying us through the mind-numbing prairies. Not too much to report, saw a lot of signs that proclaimed the local hockey hero and somewhere in Manitoba a grasshopper made it through the vent system alive and proceeded to scare the hell out of us as it buzzed around the car. After we took some pictures of it, he was shuffled out the window. A few pregnant teens running the cash registers of the gas stations we stopped at, but nothing you don't see in small town Alberta. Stopped in Kenora, Ontario after driving some pitch-black northern Ontario highways, safe only for the grace of God. About 15 hours of driving, definitely over the speed limit.
Day two starts off with our usual Tim Horton's coffee and the pedal down style that rattles everything in the little Warthog. Flying along these northern roads, savouring the scenery of lakes and rock, Jay passes an Ontario Provincial Police car going a little fast. The OPP guy says it was 140km/hr, and we can't argue because our speedometer gets a little sketchy after 110km/hr.

The cop totally had us pegged for some dope-smoking, drug-running college bums and made us empty out the glove box and the ashtray. After looking into the back of the car, he fixed his gaze upon Cadrin, proclaiming "You look pretty nervous." Cadrin gulps and says it's not everyday that he gets pulled over by the police. Jay makes a mental note not to send Cadrin on any of the undercover missions he's plotting. After the cop checks Jay's credentials, he lets us off with a warning. Thankfully, because a week or two later Jay reads an article in the paper about how some guy got a $150 ticket just outside of Kenora. Lucky.

Jay starts up the car again, except this time it's unbelievably loud. The cop is still behind us so we putter along in this rackety car until he passes and we can pull over and look under the car, discovering that we acquired a crack in the exhaust pipe when we pulled over for the cop. Cursing the OPP, Jay wonders what the cop will think if he passes us now, as we are crawling around under the car. "Oh, so that's where they hid the drugs."

Attempting a quick fix, we appropriately pull out the duct tape and try to fix the exhaust pipe. It's cracked right where the pipe meets the catalytic converter, so it's a tough task. Our tape job complete, and with no sign of Red Green around, we continue on. We are a long ways from anywhere and wondering if our car will make it to Thunder Bay, much less Montreal. It's still super loud and when we pull into a nowhere town a few kilometers down the road, we discover our duct tape is a melted mess, just like we thought it would be.

There is one garage in this town. Actually this garage seems to be the entire town. This garage only stays afloat because when losers like us pull in, looking for repairs, the mechanic can charge us whatever the hell he wants. It's not like there is any competition within 200km. We wander around until we discover that the mechanic only has one hoist and it'll be "a few days" until he can put the Civic up onto it. Now this is starting to worry us, as we are on a fixed schedule. We ask to borrow his floor jack and could we scrounge around in his junk pile? Sure. So while Jay jacks up the car, Cadrin wanders into a potential tetanus shot and emerges with a scrap piece of aluminum, taken off of a wrecked RV. Using tin snips, Cadrin creates a sleeve for the exhaust pipe, and fits it over the exposed crack in the exhaust pipe.

We now need hose clamps, so Jay buys some off of the mechanic for $3.00 a piece. Cadrin clamps the aluminum in place and fires up the car, which sounds better that before it was broken. Smiling, we tear out of this town before we have to buy another golden hose clamp and head towards Thunder Bay, proud of our McGyver-esqe repair. Round number one has been taken out of the little Warthog.

Thunder Bay is a nice town and offers us our first glimpse of the Great Lakes. The scenery along the lakes as we drive is fantastic and we eagerly lean out the windows to take pictures. Of course we aren't gonna stop, time's a wastin'. We are switching off the driving responsibilities as we go along, driving through areas of northern Ontario that don't get any radio and wondering how long we would have to sit there if the car broke down.

We were feeling pretty cocky having done 2 and a half provinces on our first day. I suppose then, that is why Ontario decided to teach us a lesson. It's fucking huge! We finally pulled into Sault Saint Marie late in the evening, Jay driving along in the inky blackness and praying that no deer decide to appear on the car hood. It's been about 14 hours since we left Kenora, but with our "pitstops" and the punishing hills along the great lakes, we had a few setbacks.
Day three is a Tuesday. We rip out of Sault Saint Marie early in the morning, driving through the foggy morningscapes of rural Ontario. The car was a little cranky getting started but it hums along just fine as we drink in the peaceful sunrise. I forget what time we got to Ottawa, our first taste of eastern freeways, and despite having spent a week there a few months ago, Jay manages to get lost and we tour around for a little while before we find the Parliament buildings, whose pictures are quickly snapped from the rolling car.

We manage to get out of Ottawa, taking a two-lane, somewhat backroads highway for the final leg to Montreal. There are, of all things, signs warning us to watch out for turtles crossing the road. That's a first for both of us.

Suddenly, the signal lights decide to bite the dust and Cadrin swears he isn't gonna drive in Montreal with no signal lights, so he pulls over and tears off the steering wheel in some small town on the Quebec-Ontario border. While he fiddles with this, Jay wanders around. Good to go? Ok, lets roll.

As we approach Montreal the highways become freeways and the speed and sheer number of cars is mind-blowing. The little Warthog is straining to keep pace at the 145km/hr speeds as Jay attempts to get us onto the correct autoroute. Amazingly we find McGill despite the beautiful women that kept borrowing our eyes.

Our first goal is to find someplace for the night and our one plan of staying in the residences is quickly blown apart. Of course we haven't planned ahead and now are wondering just where we'll stay for the night. One of us remembers a motel in a town just before the bridge into Montreal, so we venture back onto the freeway and are quickly shuffled off the island, dodging city buses that seem intent on rubbing us out, NASCAR-style. We find a motel in a town called Vaudeville and then decide to stock up our food supplies.

Herein lies the glory of Quebec culture: You can buy beer in the grocery stores. The prices are about equal to Alberta, but the convenience is unsurpassed, especially since Ontario is still government controlled and it's impossible to buy beer anytime after 4:00pm. Later we discover you can also buy beer at gas stations. We retire for the night, watching TV and unwinding, amazed that we drove 4500km in less that 3 days.

Wednesday is our fourth day and we rise early with the goal of getting Cadrin an apartment. After stopping at Tim Horton's (where the customers leave tips on the counters!) we launch onto the freeway again, although it's seemingly getting less hectic the more we drive it. We find a good parking spot (more on this later) and Jay watches the car while Cadrin ventures off to the campus housing office. He comes back an hour later and has some names and appointments set up for later in the afternoon, so we decide to take the valuables out of the car and wander around.

A few blocks later we spot an apartment for rent and inquire. The landlord, Georges, shows us the place and Marc demonstrates that his French skills really aren't that hot after all.
The apartment is small but close to McGill. Cadrin decides to think it over, as the price is a little high. Jay and Cadrin wander to the end of the block, talking it over. Beggars can't be choosers, and since Cadrin has already decided to store the little Warthog for the winter, proximity becomes important. Cadrin signs the deal and is told he can have it in a week or so. Not bad, although now we must survive until then.

We stop for lunch at Old Dublin, an overpriced Irish pub just off of St. Catherine's street and then decide to head back to the campus, stopping along the way to check out the engineering building, which is pretty nice. Actually, the entire campus feels like knowledge incarnate. It feels like a university should.

Back to the car. Here is where Montreal decides to kick our asses all over the place. The car is parked on the left hand side of a one-way street. The street is on a hill, and we are at about the middle of the uphill. It's 4:30pm and rush hour is beginning to pick up steam.

The car won't start. Radio and electricity are okay, but it won't turn over. The little car that treated us so well as we floored it across the country is tired and subsequently treated to a barrage of swearing. The meter we are at is ticking and it's a humid 28 degrees out.

After talking it over, we decide that we can't leave it here, as it has all of our stuff in it and would probably be raided by the morning. We run around for a bit, trying to find a place to store the gear, with little success. We find out there is a hostel of sorts just down the street. Of course they are full, but we are told that we can store our stuff behind the counter in possibly the least secure place on the planet. Nonetheless, we load up our shoulders and arms and begin to struggle down the street towards this hostel, t-shirts sticking to our backs.

Jay is carrying a legal box full of Cadrin's textbooks. When the bottom falls out, sending books crashing to the pavement, Jay almost cracks like an egg. He's hot, they're stranded and his head hurts. Cadrin helps him and they get the all the gear to the hostel, where it is placed behind the front counter, asking to be stolen.

Jay calls AMA and soon they arrive. The tow truck driver is a nice guy, about 250lbs and from the Middle East somewhere. He was nice to us two white boys despite the fact that he was suddenly labeled a terrorist threat a few months back. He listens and states that our starter is the problem. We debate towing the car to the nearest shop, but our driver decided to give the starter a few whacks with a metal rod in an effort to unjam it.

Now for those of you who know, it is possible to roll start a vehicle with a manual transmission. But most of you who had this experience have pushed the car forward. Remember that the car is facing uphill on a one-way street, or rue.

So here we go. Jay is in the drivers seat as Cadrin and Mr. AMA push the car backwards down a hill into oncoming rush hour traffic. The transmission is in reverse and Jay is popping the clutch like there is no tomorrow. No deal on the first trip down the hill, so we push the car back up and try again. It's so freaking hot in the city. Two or three times and after switching, Cadrin finally gets it to turn over, stomping on the gas pedal. The car dies anyway.

So now we can get the engine to turn over, but it won't stay started. After poking around, we see that the key is not staying in the 'on' position, flipping back to the left whenever Cadrin takes his hand from it. Out comes the duct tape and the key is turned and taped into the on position. The car is running finally and Jay thanks the helpful tow truck driver. In this sea of cars and unfamiliar streets, he has saved us.

We get back to the hostel and take our stuff from behind the counter, never once being questioned about if it was ours or not. It's all still there and we load up the idling car and get
"the fuck out of this city."

Back at our hotel we rent another night. We get beer and are sitting in front of the motel in plastic chairs, beers in hand and simply watching the traffic fly by us on the highway. You can take the boys out of Alberta, but not the Alberta out of the boys. The shining silver lining of this cloudy day is the fact that we found Cadrin a place to live. This day is done and round number two has been taken out of the little Warthog.

Day four is a Thursday and despite the imminent demise of the car, we decide to drive to Sherbrooke, about 150km away. Duct tape start the car and away we go, skirting Montreal and emerging in the northern tail end of the Appalachian mountain range. It's scenic, made even more so after the previous day of city roads and parking meters. We get into Sherbrooke and find a cheap hotel with a pool. We wander through the mall and do some banking. It's foggy and raining intermittently, but the town has a peaceful feel to it. Hit the pool for a swim and then crash for the night. A remarkably easier day.

Friday is our day five and we decide to drive up to Trois-Riveries, although Cadrin wanted to push for Quebec City. Jay killed that idea, worried that the car might give up the ghost and leave Jay to miss his Saturday flight home. So only to Trois-Riveries. This, by far, is one of the most beautiful towns we've seen, situated on the banks of the St. Lawrence and illustrating just how much the West has to learn about the beauty of architecture. Wandering around the scenic town, we eat and then decide to head back to Montreal. The car starts fine and Jay offers a silent prayer of thanks, no longer fearing the wrath of Megan.

The drive back to Montreal, about two hours long, is uneventful. Entering Montreal, the car decides to give us one more scare. On the freeway, dong the minimum speed of 145km/hr, the duct tape lets loose, killing the engine. Now the freeways in Montreal are about 4 lanes wide with shoulders barely big enough to park a moped on. Cussing ensues and while Cadrin tries to navigate the car, Jay is rapidly pulling new strips of duct tape off of the roll. Throwing the car into neutral, Cadrin restarts it at about 120km/hr and we continue on through Montreal, back to our hideout in Vaudeville. Crisis averted.

We get into Vaudeville in the mid-afternoon and find out that it is actually attached to another town by the name of Dorion. Now Vaudeville is a typically suburban town, grocery stores and nice homes. Dorion is a trucker stop, greasy restaurants and diesel. A two-sided coin of Quebec.

We decide to stay in Dorion in an effort to find cheaper accommodation, which proves to not be a problem. We unload the car and wander around.

"Marc is that a strip club over there?" asks Jay, straining to recover some of his grade 12 French knowledge.

"Yep. Maybe we should check it out," replies Cadrin.

This is the place were our parents hoped we would never go. Dark, it puts the old dank of Franklins to shame. And that is before we noticed the big screen TV playing a porno. This place is a hole, although it's what you should expect from a truck stop town. We have a beer and since there is no action yet, leave in search of some supper.

We eat at some chain restaurant and head back to the motel. Not too much happening and since we are miles from Alberta and Jay is heading home tomorrow, we decide to get a little tipsy. After a few beers, we drunkenly decide to go back to the strip club. We'd like to say it was the alcohol's decision, but surely you wouldn't believe us.

Now, as a rule, Cadrin and Jay don't usually frequent these places, actually it is well documented that Jay feels pretty uncomfortable in these establishments. But we are drunk, a long way from home and looking for something to do.

We enter the bar and there is a show going on. We grab a table and order a drink. The bar is certainly not accustomed to seeing the likes of us, but no one bothers us, so we chill out for a while, watching the ladies.

We notice a hallway leading away from the bar and quickly determine that this classy establishment offers lap dances to those men willing to pay. Soon after we notice this, one of the strippers comes over to our table and asks to sit down, and we oblige her request.

Lets call her Amber, just because I don't think it really matters anyway. Amber asked us where we are from, small talk stuff. Now despite the fact that I said Cadrin is only in Montreal to chase skirts, it's not true. Marc and Jay have limited skills when it comes to the opposite sex, so we figured something else was behind Amber deciding to sit with us. Small talk for a while and suddenly she announces that she has a show to do. Minutes later she is on stage and naked. Jay remarks that this is the fastest he has ever met a woman and gotten to see her naked. Cadrin laughs.

The show ends and Amber comes back to our table. More small talk and she lets us know she is a bisexual. Cadrin's eyebrows raise up a little. Finally Amber leans over to Cadrin and asks him if he wants a lap dance.

Now we had talked about this possibility while she was dancing and decided that as a bond of friendship, if one of us got one, the other was obligated to do so as well. Amber is focusing on Cadrin, as Jay has remained quiet through most of the conversation. Cadrin says yes and Jay shakes his head as Amber leads Cadrin away. "Only on this trip," Jay thinks to himself.

Ten minutes later they return and Amber wanders away. Cadrin sits down and says nothing. Amber doesn't return and Jay is thankful, for sobriety has brought with it that tangible Catholic guilt and when he suggests they head out, Cadrin agrees without any talk regarding the promise recently made.

As they wander back to the motel, Cadrin only says that he saw a lot of boobs and that he hands were somewhat "busy." Jay thanks Cadrin for not holding him to the deal and Cadrin says no problem, he kinda figured Jay wasn't comfortable with the idea.

Saturday is day six, Jay's last day. The lads leave Dorion and Amber behind and head into Montreal, as Cadrin has decided to drop some stuff off at his new apartment to lighten the car's load. The car is running fine, still duct taped together. About noon Cadrin drops Jay off at the airport.

Jay is a sissy when it comes to goodbyes, so he ducks his head and grabs his duffel bag. A handshake/half-hug is quickly exchanged and before Jay knows it, he is watching the taillights of the little Warthog disappear around a corner and Cadrin is gone.

Now I could get all poetic about how this is growing up and moving on, but you've read enough of that. So the story ends. Jay is soon on a plane headed west and Cadrin goes camping for a few days. The little Warthog is towed for scrap, Cadrin deciding that the repairs aren't worth it. The friendship remains, perhaps a little stronger now, although the distance isn't much fun. Simply put, this adventure was one of those things you only get one chance to do. We did it and this small written testament to our adventure will serve to keep the story true as we grow older and our fading memories lead to embellishment.

By: Cadrin and Jay

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Some excerpts from a NY Times article that got me thinking...

A single-engine plane bearing down on Washington without clearance prompted a frantic evacuation of the Capitol, the Supreme Court and the White House on Wednesday....The incident briefly put the capital at its highest stage of alert as the plane flew toward the city, violating restricted airspace rules put in effect around Washington after the Sept. 11 attacks.

At the Capitol, the evacuation took place so quickly that women's shoes were abandoned on the outside steps and food was strewn down a hallway outside a Senate restaurant. At the Supreme Court, three justices were whisked into an underground parking garage. And at the White House, the threat prompted the Secret Service to evacuate Vice President Dick Cheney and move Laura Bush and Nancy Reagan, who happened to be visiting, to a safer place.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, was in a telephone booth in the cloakroom at the time. "They knocked on the glass, and I could see the look of alarm on the attendant's face," he said. Capitol Police officers began shouting to stragglers, "Run, run, this is for real!"

By 12:03 p.m., the White House had gone to what Mr. McClellan described as a "red alert."

"We have to remember that we are a nation at war," he said. "And there are still people that seek to do harm to the United States and seek to carry out attacks on the United States."

Because the plane weighed only about 1,500 pounds, the Pentagon decided not to order an evacuation, as the plane would have done little damage to the building if it crashed there.

So why did this get me thinking? Well I was wondering to myself about the different types of reality that exist in this world. Specifically I found it intriguing that a 1500 pound plane caused such a commotion. Not surprising mind you, just intriguing.

There truly is a mentality of "the USA and then everyone else." While an errant plane causes mass evacuation, a media feeding frenzy, panicked memories of 9/11, calls to be vigilant in these times of "war", and contributes to the overall general xenophobia that seems to be flourishing in America, very little mention is made of other countries.

What do I mean by "other countries?" To be blunt, Afghanistan and Iraq. The US media focuses on this dinky plane, while they know damn well that their US military force has and is dropping bombs on civilians on the aforementioned countries. And I don't think I am going out on a limb with the thought that perhaps Iraqi and Afghani civilians don't have the luxury of radar and early warnings to help them evacuate the bombing run.

I don't mean to slight what happened on 9/11, a nation is not going to forget that kind of thing. But it cannot afford to forget that the number of innocent people killed in this war of retribution has far exceeded the number of deaths from 9/11. The blame for this ignorance lands squarely on the shoulders of the government, who has refused to count dead foreign civilians or even until recently, allowed pictures of US coffins to be publicized. The shroud of secrecy has descended fully, lifting only occasionally to let the population get a glimpse of the next boogeyman.

So will this plane scare cause any real introspection? A searching of souls, some empathy for those people that inadvertently live in never ending stress of Iraq or Afghanistan? No, of course not. If history is any indicator with this administration, this incident will further entrench their idea that security comes through force, not diplomacy, and that a bigger and more expensive shield is the surest way to national security. It doesn't hurt either that such incidents keep the populace on their heart medication, more willing to hand over a blank security check to their government.

More media noise over nothing, while the real screams of war are safely tucked over the horizon and out of earshot.

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It is looking like the May 19 vote of confidence that the Liberals hope to survive will come down to one independent MP. First, the numbers...

Total seats in Parliament= 308
Vacant seat= 1 (no byelection has been held yet)

Total voting seats= 307 (go English degree!)

Liberals have 132 + NDP's 19 = 151

Bloc has 54 + Conservatives 99 = 153

2 of the independent MPs are ex-Liberals and are expected to vote with the Liberals/NDP, bringing the score of seats to an even 153 to 153.

Leaving Independent Chuck Cadman to cast the deciding 307th seat vote. He is a former Conservative, and sounds like he is leaning towards singlehandedly dissolving the Liberal minority government, at least according to CBC, where I stole all this information from.

Anyway, I think this will be kinda like game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals for politico-nerds like me. Not that the hockey analogy is a good one, as it is odd to see politicians who are more active thatn hockey players. Work with me, people!

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If you haven't heard much about REAL ID in the newspapers, that's not an accident. The politics of REAL ID is almost surreal. It was voted down last fall, but has been reintroduced and attached to legislation that funds military actions in Iraq. This is a "must-pass" piece of legislation, which means that there has been no debate on REAL ID. No hearings, no debates in committees, no debates on the floor. Nothing.

Read a scary explanation by Bruce Schneier of the politics behind the REAL ID card that will be introduced in the US within 4 years. Thanks to the Glorious Mr. T for the link.

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So about ten minutes after my last post, I'm sitting here, visiting my Steve Urkel fan pages, when I hear the sound of screeching tires outside. Now I live by an intersection, and this is Kuwait, where everyday is Indy 500 day, so the sound of screeching tires is nothing new and by now largely ignored.

Except when their is a nice long BAM! that brings the tires screeching noise to an abrupt halt.

The intersection outside my apartment, or cave if you will, is a three way T intersection. In Kuwait, unlike Canada or Paraguay, no more than one direction of traffic is allowed to move at one time. So if I am at a three way intersection, only 33.3333333333333% of the cars are moving at any one time. In theory anyway. Reality, especially if you are on a quad (not lying), means that if the coast looks clear and you are Kuwaiti, well hell, lay on the horn and away you go.

The reason that only 33% of cars move at one time in a three way intersection is because drivers here, well, they aren't the quality that I grew up with in Canada. Small story...

Dacia, the heroine of Airdrie, picked me up from the airport in April. As we were driving out some guy cut her off. She cussed him good. But me, well shit baby, nothing that minor affects me anymore. I have become totally immune to all but the most heinous of driving offenses and sights. Hell, when we approach a traffic circle in Kuwait it pretty much becomes a merging of all lanes, "I got here first, move move!" goat rodeo. Saturday mornings, which is the beginning of the work week, always amazes us with the sheer variety of creative car wrecks that we see on the freeway. I have seen car wrecks that I have never though possible and it all seems as if it is some kind of movie. Cold, but you do get desensitized.

Back to today. I lean over and see that a white car, while attempting to make a yellow-light left hand turn has hit the light standard that is mounted in on the island. Not a major accident by Kuwait standards. How do I figure it is a yellow light that he was trying to run? Because I can see the red traffic light now, as it is angled towards me as it lays on the ground. The white car, with a husband and wife emerging, is stopped at the base of the now-fallen light standard. What makes this even more funny was that this standard was laying on the ground for the longest time, probably from a previous accident, until about 2 weeks ago when a crack squad of Pakistani/Sri Lankan/Indian immigrants rolled up, hopped out of the bed of a pickup, and fixed it. All for naught I guess, as the doomed traffic signal is now jutting somewhat out into oncoming traffic.

Just a note. This car appears to be a late 80s/early 90s Mazda or Honda. I am saddened by this, as I long to see a Mercedes or Jag wrapped around the pole. Oh well.

So what do I do? Run to see if they are ok? Call 912? No. I run for my camera and throw open the windows to take some pictures. Yep, I'm going to hell. About five minutes after the accident, the white car backs off the island and drives away as if nothing has happened. Now the light standard, still faithfully changing from green to yellow to red, is laying on the ground, one end sticking out 2 or 3 feet into traffic, wondering what it has done to deserve such ill treatment. And just to show this isn't my standard "April Fools, I saw some guy die" joke, here are the pictures. Enjoy the rubbernecking from half a planet away.

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Those tricky left hand turns!

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Gives the term "Island Hopping" a whole new meaning, doesn't it?

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Cue the music, the dog and pony show is about to start rocking once again....

The fate of Paul Martin's minority government could be determined May 19, a date the prime minister has set for a vote on the federal budget....But opposition leaders rejected Martin's offer to topple the government at that time, saying a confidence vote in the House of Commons should be held immediately.....Martin, who announced the date for the vote after holding an emergency meeting with his cabinet on Wednesday, said if his government loses that vote of confidence, he will seek the dissolution of Parliament. This means an election could come as early as June 27.

The one good thing about dragging our asses through another election is that I will be back in time to tell you all how to vote. I was worried that Martin would screw me over and get his ass booted from Ottawa before I got back. I called him. He said, "No worries, Sir Archibald, I'll keep it together." He'd better, or smack, pow, to the moon.

Like it matters, the MP for Red Deer is one Bob Mills, who is an ex-teacher (yay?) and has been
a member of the Reform/Alliance/Conservative party since the early 90s. So much for yay.

Red Deer is a Liberal wasteland, and NDP is an acronym for No (red) Deer Party, and as such barely make a ripple in the polls. So I am going to be voting, but I'd might as well be feeding Dog Monday my little yellow pencil and voting paper.

This is all assuming that the independent seats in Parliament vote against the Liberals. I should probably go do some research, see what their tendencies are. Or I could just be a lazy ass and wait until May 19.

Speaking of sickness, as our political system is sick you know, your favorite author (me) has been keeping a nasty throat infection at bay since what feels like February. Every teacher at the skool, well not every teacher, has been sick lately, and I've been trying to avoid human contact at all cost. Feeling a bit of a relapse today, but will try to tough it out and not go to the sketchy government doctors office.

That is probably my one fear being over here, is getting sick. I have health insurance, but as with all insurance schemes, there will always be a catch somewhere. And I have seen the government public system here, and frankly would rather have a belt of whiskey and some back alley doctor take care of me than to go to these clinics. I think I'll be fine, knock on wood, but it definately won't have me complaining about waiting times. Too much.

Back in a while, you're all sleeping now anyway....

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Oh. Could it be? A politician that doesn't double talk? I don't believe it....

While speaking to students Friday in an American Studies class at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, (Senate Minority Leader Harry) Reid referred to Bush and said, "I think this guy is a loser."

"I tell people how I feel about things. I don't try to hide how I feel," Reid said.

But then he commits the typical political move when he does this....

Later that day, Reid acknowledged his comment was inappropriate and said he called White House adviser Karl Rove to apologize.

See this is the problem with politics nowadays. Even when you insult someone, you end up kissing ass just to get re-invited back into the party. Instead of continuing with the truth, as blunt as it is, Reid backtracks and covers his ass by kissing Rove's.

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From the "No one has stronger thumbs than this guy" file.....

A man in India has reportedly managed to send 182,689 SMS text messages in just one month. This equates to roughly (and feel free to check my math on this) 4.228 texts every minute, or about 6,000 messages a day.


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Another week draws to a close. This is the way the rest of the skool year is shaping up for me, if you care....

1 week left of full classes
2 weeks of classes without the G12s around
2 weeks of exams/marking, both of which are slack.

Then I fly home, stopping for beers in Frankfurt and Toronto. Drinking on the plane too. I plan on getting the wave going at 30,000 feet, or at least being the "coolest" guy on the plane. Of course, just to beat you to the punch, that would require everyone else on the plane to either parachute out or not board at all.

The Glorious Mr. T sent me a good link today, about a Christian-based telephone company which discrimminates against the gay lifestyle. See people, that is why Communism failed. Obviously and sadly there is a market for this service. Despite being totally lame and further regressing humanity, some of the sales pitches they use are pretty funny.

Speaking of idiots, there was a news story this week about a Baptist minister somewhere in the US who was telling non-Bush supporters to not bother coming to his sermons. While I caught the headline that this minister was planning on resigning, I still find this story fascinating.

Imagine going into your church, whatever your denomination is, and being told that because you voted for Kerry, "well, too bad, find your salvation somewhere else. This house of God doesn't like you Democrat supporters." I'm not overly religious, in fact I am sure that I fall somewhere in between the "full on heathen" and the "boiling the holy water when I touch it" categories of church goer, but I still think that the basic teachings of most major religions suggest a brotherhood of man, a love thy neighbour kinda vibe. So why all the anger?

Why can't we be like Neopolitan Ice Cream and all just get along together, mixing amongst each other and tolerating the chocolate, the pink, and the white differences among us? Why the political segregation of worshippers?

Frankly, and this is just my layman's opinion, but the relationship between the two major parties in the US seems to get worse everyday. More finger pointing, more of the blame game, more denial of both the truth and the responsibility. This seems to have gotten worse, far worse, since bush came around, but to be fair, it hasn't ever been good. If 9/11 (how tired are you of that phrase?) failed to bring the two parties together, which is evidently true, then I really wonder what it will take.

Furthermore, one of the many slants against the Republicans is that they see the world in black and white. Yet is it fair to suggest that the US political system is much different? The issues are never black and white, never. So to have a Democrat view and a Republican view further reduces the issues to their base form, negating the fact that the devil is usually in the details.

To be "Left" or "Right" on an issue doesn't tell me much. What is worse is that occasionally it tells me that you have no educated opinions of your own except for some vague feeling that you don't like the other "team's" version of truth. I would rather argue with someone who was informed, be they left-ish or right-ish, than with someone who simple doesn't like issue A and thus declares themselves for one team, right or wrong.

And this differences of right vs. left seems to be now fully trickled down to the drooling masses, where anyone with a soapbox or a pulpit feels free to further drive the wedge between the two forces in American politics, often with a healthy dose of religion just to make it super explosive.

And as this trickles down, one wonders how much worse the ignorant division will get. Will it stop, or is rock bottom still miles away? I can't think it is going to get any better and these are my reasons:

a. I am overly pessimistic. I'm so pessimistic that I am sure that Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson will one day be co-Presidents. Carrot Top will be VP.
b. Religion, when mixed in with politics, becomes extremely explosive. There is no greater social science experiement than the US religious-political scene right now.
c. The war on terror has created an "us vs. them" mentality between the parties, and they are supposed to be on the same side. It's like Shaq and Kobe, man.
d. The US economy is gonna tank and tank hard, probably within the next decade, according to gurus and Mr. T, thus leaving another blame to get passed around and truth to get twisted.

I could go on and on, but no one wants to read everything in detail nowadays. Just soundbites please. But I do think that with China set to eclipse the US in this coming century, economically and military-wise, I bet that the US will suffer a real identity crisis and it will be interesting to see if the two juggernaut parties can truly map a direction for the future, or if they will settle for "spinning your tires" mudslinging and inaction.

I don't know how I got here after starting out talking about what my next 5 weeks are going to be like, but here we are. You have to find your own way home. I'm on the weekend, so much more to come after these important messages....

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Probably a post a little later on today, just cause I am working at an "end of the week" pace today and am suffering from writers block. But I do want to say cheers to thousands of posts that are now popping up on my website. Isn't it a lot more fun when Bethany and Brother Jeff are plotting against me? I sure think so.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Looks like Willie is enjoying himself....

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Via The Superficial I learned that Jessica Simpson & Willie Nelson were in Iraq and Qatar a week or so ago, on a USO tour, pumping up the troops and no doubt, in Simpson's case, breaking a lot of Islamic taboos.

Why this matters....

It doesn't, really. I mean, think about it, how many more wars is humanity going to have? Lots. So are these series of performances going to affect the way the earth is spinning in 400 years? No. Hell people barely remember Bob Hope, and he did a million USO tours. So Jessica Simpson, despite being undressed (mentally) by thousands of troops, really won't be remembered for her contribution to foreign policy. At least I hope not....

Why I am sad....

I'm sad because Willie Nelson is having to share a stage with Simpson, who probably has the IQ, and you can't spell "Iraq" without IQ, of one of Willie's guitar strings. I'm a little disappointed that Willie is running out his life doing USO tours, but he stopped listening to me a long time ago, and judging by his grin, he's happy to be able to oogle Jessica's boobies. And I'm not one to deny an old man some final jollies in his winter years.

What would Jay do (if he knew about this before it was over)?

Probably prayed for an insurgent attack. On Simpson. Why? If you are honestly asking me this, go away. Look, I know that it is not very nice to wish a hail of gunfire on anyone, but I'm in a bit of a bad mood, so I am wishing it upon Simpson.

I'm not too worried about Willie, his skin is looking pretty tough, and thus I have concluded that it is probably bulletproof. Plus he's tough as nails anyway and would probably use his freakishly long braids to helicopter-decapitate the bad guys.

Is this the end of Jessica and Nick?
Like I care.
Should you stop reading?
Yeah, probably. I thought I would get more mileage out of this topic, but it is pretty obvious that today is a weak blog day. Not like on Brother Jeff's Blog.

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I had a day today. Oy vey, a day. I won't go into great detail, but here are some general feelings and/or high lights....

- I had to toss a kid out of his retake test, after I had tossed him out yesterday during the first exam. Just when I can't think it will get any weirder, wham!, new day. 0 out of 35 for him and I don't care who calls the principal.

- There is no such thing as "special needs" in my school of 1200 kids. Yes, and if you believe that, I have some lovely swampland in Florida to sell you. This school needs to stamp 9/10 kids on the forehead with the words "SPECIAL NEEDS!" But that won't happen.

- I do not deserve disrespect from G10 kids who get dressed by their maid and driven to school by their driver. If they dislike me, fine, I can live with that. But not continous disrespect, no that I do not deserve.

Today was a 6 yellow car-bad day. Except for 230pm, when we had a meeting about what we need to do to leave Kuwait. That meeting made me happy.

I'll be back in a while....

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:50 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Monday, May 09, 2005

Just a note to say that I have noticed the number of comments has dropped* more quickly than Lindsay Lohan's pants at a booze party lately. It may be because I am writing huge essays that take up a lot of your work day, thus leaving no time for comments. Or it may be because I picked on X** a little last week. He did not deserve that. He deserved much worse.

I dunno what the reasons are, but I do know that even I get tired of reading and re-reading my posts, no matter how great/hilarious/intellectual/bible-like they might be. Comments are a good thing, like singing along loudly in your car to Buddy Holly or watching old people fall down. Comments are the Garfunkel to my blog's Simon, the Ebony to my blog's Ivory, the Black to my blog's Decker, the Al to Pink Shirts everywhere.

So take a moment to tell me that you are a proud, American Idle-tattooed fan of Fox. Tell me you are of Russian history and have sent ex-KGB men after me. Tell me that my whining about Kuwait makes you wish for a rapid increase in global warming. Whatever your fancy, but do take some time to comment.

There is no "I" in team, unless you are French (equipe), and as Captain For Life of this team, I am suggesting that unless you want to be re-initiated, have corn syrup and dry oatmeal put down your practice pants, comments would be good. Because although I am the MVP, the clutch playa, the last-second-go-to-guy of this team, we all need to give 110%, never say die, leave it all on the field, live with no regrets and all the other cliche sports quotes to make this a successful road to the Domination of the Universe. Sure, I'll be the one saying "I'm going to Disneyland" but think of all the reflected glory that you'll be able to bask in. Think of how you can say "I knew him when" after I have long since be commited to some sanitarium in the high Arctic.

Like I said, just a note. Thanks for coming out, I hope I don't have to make any cuts. Millhouse, you're cut.

*Brother Jeff and Ma Arch, excluded of course.
**X excluded to a certain extent, still probationary.

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Go on, laugh at my misfortune...

In certain ways, at certain times of the day or night, I become convinced that the stars all align in order, whispering secret phrases and waving complicated hand signals all in an attempt to cause me to fall victim to my one re-occurring kick in the ass.

Here it is. No matter what line up I get in, be it at some little store, a movie theatre, a mall store, gas station, VD clinic, or supermarket, I end up waiting forever. It doesn't matter if I am the only one in line, or if there are two people ahead of me, I will literally start to grow roots.

Today, at the Sultan Centre, the supermarket, I was walking to the check out, scouting out the tills to see if one looked faster than another. Like it matters, I oughta know better by now. Ah success! as I spot one till with just one guy in line. He has maybe 5 items and is dressed well, suggesting that he can afford the food he desires. I slide into line convinced this time will be different. I am immediately followed by 3 or 4 other people.

But of course my speedy exit from the store is nixed far before I ever get to the line. Buddy in front of me, well his debit card doesn't work. Nor does his credit card. Twice. Ah, hell, one more time. Nope. Call the manager. Manager comes, does the same steps. Guess what? I'm still in line and all the other lines are full up now. Wait. Wait. Geological period passes. Ice Age. Empires fall, rise, fall again. Still in line. Call another manager. Wait. Start eating my groceries just to stay alive, consider the idea of missing my flight in June as a real possibility all of a sudden. Call the bank. Wait. I think that Jan is probably 83 years old now as she waits for me in the car.

Now I know what you're thinking. You're saying to yourself "Jay, you donkey, this happens to me too." WRONG! Not every time, day in day out. This happens to people, I know, but this happens to me every single time I venture out from my cave like existence. Every. Single. Time. And this isn't just Kuwait, no this happens to me in Canada, the US, Moscow, everywhere. People have commented on my skill of finding the till that is just about to run out of the last bit of receipt paper in the entire northern hemisphere.

I'm sure I have heard a stat that says people spend X amount of their lives waiting in line. I'm sure it is an averaged number and I am even more sure that if I wasn't factored in, line ups would cease to exist. I am the snail on the back of the crippled turtle who is walking on a retreating glacier. That is my destiny when it comes to line ups. Can you imagine my horror when I walk into a Wal-Mart and see that only 2 of their 238 tills are open? I might as well put on a blue blazer and start grinning like an idiot, saying hello to people that come walking through the door.

No wonder I hate shopping. Not only do I have to go to Michaels to look at made-in-China useless pieces of wood and rubber stamps, but I am destined to have the computerized till get blown apart by some super virus right in the middle of The Boss's visa transaction, thus ensuring that our wedding will actually take place in Michaels. Gift opening to be followed by crafting session.

I always wanted super powers. But not like this, never like this.

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Ladies and Gentlemen....American Pie.

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And finally, like a long painful root canal, or perhaps the long wait to remove a cast from one's wrist after discovering that you cannot skate, we come to the end of my expose of the lame asses that make up American Idle.

Today we will look at the last of the four remaining contestants, one Carrie Underwood. She is as American as apple pie, except that apple pie was forever ruined by that movie American Pie when that kid... well... you know. So it is not a far stretch to call Carrie Underwood by her new name, American Pie. I'm sure you can connect the dots from here.

Now American Pie is good looking, from a distance. The kinda girl that looks all holy and sweet, until you date her for a month and break up with her because she already slept with your best friend before your first date was over. After the breakup, which includes her screaming at you in the high school hallway (much to your embarrassment) you find that American Pie is truly rotten on the inside, as she begins to stalk you, kinda like that movie with Alicia Silverstone, when she was all after that older guy and he was creepy for wanting to be with Alicia who was like 8 then. Anyway, the point is, American Pie looks pretty good in a generic way, but is really a raging super bitch that only my brother would manage to date.

But appearance is pretty much the only thing that matters these days in the music industry, and it is with that sad thought that we begin to critique her picture above.

First thing that you notice is that she is obviously wearing fake eyelashes. Either that, or she got them implanted in Paraguay like Amber Dempsey did. Amber Dempsey, you'll remember, was Little Miss Springfield until she was struck by lightening, thus making Lisa Simpson the reigning beauty queen even though Lisa hasn't changed her clothes in 16 years or so. Man, I'm off topic today. Anyway back to the eyelashes, which appear to be fakes as they appear to be falling off on the outside, giving American Pie the appearance of a washed up Las Vegas dancer. Or as my dear old Auntie Bee would say, "A whore hooker skank tramp." Oh Auntie Bee, you and your drunken opinions.

American Pie also has some rather big hair in this picture. It is a little known fact that she has a gigantic noggin, one that would surely put the Archibald genes to shame. In fact, her head was the whole starting point for that Seinfeld episode when that bird flew into Elaine's head because it couldn't avoid it. True story. Anyway, American Pie's massive cranium only creates massive hair, and a small ozone hole is known to have opened above her bedroom, causing her family to be exposed to very high doses of ultraviolet rays. Her hair, all 36 pounds of it, has clogged many drains in the LA area and she even got in trouble from Ryan Seacrest because it didn't look as good as he thought it would when it was splayed across his pillow.

She appears to be wearing one of Britney Spears' throwaway dresses, thus indicating to stupid men that they may have a chance with her. This is of course, bullshit, but sex sells and everyone is buying so I say go for it. It appears to be a sparkly dress, the kind you wear to your high school grad and maybe a wedding, but never anywhere normal, lest you catch the wrath of Auntie Bee.

There also appears to be some kind of vegetation growing up the left side of the dress, suggesting that American Pie is very very fertile, something that should scare most guys off rather quickly. Unlike me, most men are afraid of commitment and will take 7-8 years before popping the question. Unlike me.

She also seems to be really "feeling" this song, really getting into the songs "heart", as she holds out her left hand as if to say: "I am so into you that I need to push you away or I may do something that my church will hate me for." Again, this is on Fox, so chastity and abstinence is the kind of conservative vibe we like to see, even if it is total BS. But her closed whore-eyes indicate that she is lost in the abbreviated version of whatever lame ass love song she is singing, thus giving the impression that she truly cares about the music. Because it is all about the music on American Idle.

Anyway, she looks like a whore. She'll end up being one of those women in their late 30s who still dress skimpy for parent-teacher interviews, as if they still have some sex appeal to offer the world. Most likely American Pie will continue to spend a small fortune on getting her massive hair done, perfume, nails, eyelashes, and makeup. And in the end she'll just end up looking very weathered and tired, selling makeup at a Wal-Mart counter, with her eyebrows plucked into an absurdly high arch, giving her a permanently surprised look.

Well I think that pretty much sums up the token eye candy that it American Pie, so let's move on to the interview. Shall we?

AI: Do you have any formal singing training?

"Can't we just all admit that the only reason I'm here is to keep the average white male, aged 21-49, tuned in?"

AI: What other talents do you have?
AP:Play guitar, play piano.

Translation: I once saw a guitar, although it may have been a toaster, and I also made out with a guy behind the piano during band camp."

AI: If you don't make it on AMERICAN IDOL, what will you do?
AP: I will go back to school and finish.

Good for you. Getting your grade 9 diploma is one of the hardest things a person can do.

AI: What are your personal goals in life?
AP: To be happy.

Translation: There is obviously a howling wind that is blowing through my gigantic empty head, so the best I can do is hope to latch onto some 45 year old balding guy with a fat bank account and a mid-life crisis.

AI: What album would your friends be surprised you own?
AP: George Michael.

See dissertation on contestant code named Commie Pinko for relevant gay jokes.

AI: Who is your AMERICAN IDOL?
AP: My mommie.

Oh give me a break. What are you, 7? You could at least tell us where your "mommie" works. FYI: Hooters.

AI:Favorite female pop artist?
AP: Kelly.

I can only assume that this means Kelly Clarkson, one of the first American Idles. This is also indicative of how American Pie is willing to kiss a million asses just to win.

AI: What has been your proudest moment in life so far?

What? N/A? What the hell is that? Have you not had one proud moment in your life yet? I can't believe this is your answer and I can only conclude that you have thus spent your life standing in front of the mirror combing your massive hair. This is pathetic.

AI: If you couldn't sing, which talent would you most like to have?
AP: Be the drummer of a rock band.

Point of Order: This question clearly suggests that she CAN sing, something that is seriously in doubt.

As if she would be a drummer in a rock band. Seems to me like someone has a little Avril envy except that someone realizes that managing to hold two sticks at one time is far beyond her ability. I wish John Bonham were alive so that he would beat out a good rhythm on her empty head.

AI: Who is your favorite judge and why?
AP: Randy. He called me "dawg".

What is with the chicks diggin the 400lb one-trick-pony that is Randy? First the Vonz, now American Pie. Randy calling you "dawg" doesn't make you special. He probably calls his cat "dawg." It has lost all meaning.

Incidentally, when I was looking for a good picture of Randy on Google, I found one and I had to click on "see full size image." And I thought to myself "Self, I dunno if your computer screen is big enough to handle a full size image of Randy." This would be highly inappropriate, except that I too am a fat ass, so that makes it cool. Dawg.

AI: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
AP: I can't buy underwear.

Which would thus imply, hmmmmm. My phone number is (+965) 645-8773. Call me.

AI: Do you have any lucky charms?
AP: Fuzzy Wuzzy (the bear).

On second thought, don't call me.

AI: Who are your heroes in life?
AP: My mother.

Waitress of the month at Hooters. Stripper of the year at Dirty Hank's Strippertarium.

AI: What's been your toughest obstacle in life?
AP: I haven't experienced one yet.

Oh it's just all sunshine and lollypops when your a blond white girl in America, isn't it? Well I wish my life was so bloody easy that I had yet to experience an obstacle by the time I was 21. Not one obstacle? Not one? What about that time you had that really bad knot in your hair? No? Well I guess I was wrong, life is easy when you are a blond white girl in America.*

*Thus implying that American Pie is racist. If the Vonz wasn't blinded by her disco dress, she would be kicking you to the curb as we speak.

AI: Do you think the audition process was fair?
AP: No

Ha ha, just kidding, she said Yes. The corporate whore that she is.

AI: If you win, who will you thank first?
AP: God and my parents.

Of course you would thank God, this is Fox after all. According to Ciavarro, "If it weren't for people of religion, no one would ever win any major sporting championship."

Out of the 4 hosers that I have wasted hours of my life mocking, only one didn't list "God" as the first thing they would thank if they won. I don't want to start a religious argument here, but I think God is a pretty sharp GUY and He probably has a hell (oops) of a lot more important things on his 2,400,000,000 minds that to worry about some pissant TV show where people pretend to be someone they aren't. God wants you to be your own person, or at least that's what Mr. Sarnecki used to say in Religion 30. So it seems to me that God wouldn't want you to be singing someone else's songs, dressing up to impress people. You should be happy with you, that's what I learned in high school.

Disclaimer: Uh, God, if by chance you read this blog (and you can't spell blog without God, kinda) just know that I am in no way telling you what to do or that I have any clue as to what you are thinking about. I'm just saying that I think you are above American Idle, that's all. Thanks and have a good day.

Anyway, that concludes this rather dark chapter of my blog. I don't care who wins American Idle, all I care about is that whoever does win dies a horrible and lonely death. I don't think that is too much to ask.

Honestly people, don't watch this show. I know that you are smart and well-educated, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this blog on a regular basis. Trust me, when you are in your mid to late 30s and you have to go see you snot-nosed kids do some shitty Bruce Springsteen cover at the school's talent show, you'll want to have as much tolerance as you can built up for it. Watching American Idle is weakening you to the point that soon you will be blindly listening to pop music, unaware that your mind is slowly turning to mush. Don't watch it. Go for a walk, call a friend on the phone, start a hobby that isn't scrapbooking, anything. Just don't sit there while they contribute to the dumbing down of western society. Just say No!

Man it gets lonely standing on my soapbox all day.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:30 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Sunday, May 08, 2005

Sixty years ago today was declared Victory in Europe day, signalling the end of World War II in Europe and the Soviet Union.

It is perhaps timely that we celebrate the end of Europe's last great war during these conflicted times. Six decades ago Europe was in shambles, blown apart both physically and psychologically, the effects of which would take years if not decades to physically recover from. The psychological effects of surviving total war for 6 years perhaps can never be measured. Although the world did not know it then, the celebration of the end of war was only a hesitation before the world was thrown back into the cauldron of what was to become known as the Cold War.

But it was over, the day to day bombings, the senseless and vicious destruction that had become the norm was now being replaced by a near unbelievable feeling of "it is over, its truly over."

Like coming up for air after six years underwater, the world gasped for breath and realized that institutionalized Fascism was beaten into near extinction. People have said this was the last "just" war. Is there ever a just reason for the harming of innocent civilians, many of whom had little knowledge of the events unfolding around them? Perhaps one must look past the appalling number of dead civilians and look to the bigger threat of having Hitler and the Nazis survive and thrive in a fractious Europe. Viewed in that light, one can certainly see the where the term "just war" came from.

Yet it is all so removed now. I know nothing of war, save for the few classes I have taken and the recountings I have read and heard. I cannot and hope to never experience anything near the horrors that my grandfather's generation saw with wide open eyes. But I wonder if all the modern day parades, all the speeches, can ever do justice to what young soldiers had to endure. I doubt it. Veterans who have been to war are oft to say that they cannot describe it to those of us who haven't. How do you explain the brutality of humanity, the lowest animalistic desire to survive no matter what, to people that were waiting for you in Toronto or Saskatoon?

I mentioned earlier that perhaps it is timely that we look back to the end of WWII in Europe during these chaotic current times. I remember reading somewhere that the buildup to the invasion of Iraq was compared to the run up to the Super Bowl. The spectacle of laser graphics, fast-talking announcers, embedded journalists giving us a locker room account of what the troops were feeling, all contributed to a surreal feeling that indeed this was nothing more than a game, to be observed while eating cheetos.

War is war, no matter how big or how small, no matter what the cause or the justification, no matter who is right and who is wrong. When I say 'war is war' I mean to focus your attention on the disruptive and devastating effects that war has on the innocent, be they living in Poland in 1938 or Baghdad in 2003. While we pat ourselves on the back, celebrating VE Day, I hope that we don't turn those very backs to the reality that humanity has yet to collectively say no to war, no to violence.

I do not wish to take away from the horrors that were experienced by normal troops in WWII nor do I wish to suggest that sometimes military intervention, mandated by a world body such as the UN or NATO, is regretably inevitable. I wish only to point out that we have, as a species, failed to advance much beyond the predisposition to fix the majority of our problems we have with violence.

Some current facts from the Federation of American Scientists....

- In 2001, total world arms transfer agreements were worth nearly $26.4 billion.
- U.S. weapons sales for 2001 accounted for 45.8% of all registered international arms deliveries.
- World military expenditures topped $839 billion in 2001, up from $798 billion in 2000.
- The Pentagon spends over $30 billion annually in research and development
- Small Arms kill an estimated 500,000 people every year, injuring many times more. There are approximately 500 million small arms in circulation around the world.

And more from Amnesty International Canada, especially selected as these are numbers that cause me to lie awake at night.....

- More than 300,000 children are thought to be fighting in conflicts around the world
- Child soldiers are often subjected to sexual violence and extreme physical and emotional abuse intended to make them obedient and ruthless killers.

Victory in Europe must be celebrated as I shudder to think what kind of world I would be living in had the Axis powers prevailed in Europe. But come tomorrow, when the parade displays and ticker-tape have been swept away for another five or ten years, I hope that the reflection turns to introspection, to action, and that such energy is directed towards improving the plight of the innocent people, the mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons, who are caught in the maelstrom that is war. It doesn't mean that you need to hop a flight to Uganda or Iraq, Sudan or Chechnya. It can be as small as a donation to an organization, a NGO, that is committed to helping the innocent survive and rebuild.

I hesitate to write this next part. When I found that article written by Debbie Schlussel (see link on my brother's page entitled "I feel angry at this") that depicted the recently deceased Marla Ruzicka as a detriment to humanity, I felt my eyes well up. How can we support people like Schlussel who seek only to undermine the good that angels such as Ruzicka hand out to the needy? I just find it abhorrent, after all Ruzicka had done to help civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, that some right wing gadfly, comfortable in her office, has the audacity to write such filth, such distortions. I don't know where or if this fits in with this whole post, but perhaps it is the Schlussels of the world that we, as a community of caring and educated souls, need to take a stand against to start putting an end to the human cost of war.

We won the battle that was WWII, but humanity is in danger of losing the war against violence. I urge you to make a difference. It is often the little steps that lead to great leaps forward. Thanks for reading.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:56 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Book reviews

The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III

Despite the fact that I think all people that put numbers after their last names are hosers, this particular hoser wrote a pretty good book. I never, and I bet you never either, thought you could write a suspense novel built around the auctioning of someone's house. And before you say, "The house is haunted," you're wrong, so shush.

The novel moves along at a good pace after the female (Kathy) gets erroneously evicted from her inherited house. Col. Behrani, an ex-Iranian air force officer, is seeking to rebuild his families good name in America, and decides real estate is the way to do it. Before the paperwork mistake is noticed, Behrani buys the house at auction, setting off a tug of war between Behrani and his family and Kathy and her new boyfriend, policemen Lester Burdon. The tug of war gets progressively more vicious, with the author giving equal time to both main voices, leading to chaos at the end, with some good surprise twists.

I would recommend this book, and I felt that author did a particularity good job of writing Behrani's voice, as he nails the immigrant construct of the English language really well. I think they made it into a movie, but I could be wrong. The book was on Oprah's book club, but don't let that deter you. Pick it up.

I am also almost done Home from the Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean and although it is making me homesick for Canada's normal and calm day to day life, I can't put it down. If you haven't ever listened to The Vinyl Cafe on CBC Radio One (12 noon on Sunday) or read one of the books, I strongly urge you to, as it dissects the oddities of everyday life.

And lastly, a wish of Happy's Mother's Day to my Mom, who has managed to raise 2 out of 3 kids (Brian and I) to be productive members of the community. And remember what Meatball said: "Don't be sad, cause two outta three ain't bad...."

Happy Mother's Day Ma!

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:24 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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