Tuesday, November 30, 2004

What we do, we do rationally

Michael Moore looks like a normal human being now. Huh. What I'd like to know: Which is the act? Was it the self-righteous raving loon who frightened small children with his massive girth and wild-eyed, slovenly appearance, or is it this new, neat and self-effacing professional? Who's the real Michael Moore? Has he always been just the cool, calculating showman, putting on the most advantageous persona for the moment? Also, this may be cultural conditioning talking, but I have the uncanniest desire to respect him in some small way just for wearing a suit. (Via Classical Values.)

I need to be thrilling

Wow. I've had 21,000 hits on the protest photos in ten hours, and they're getting linked from multiple dozens of blogs and message boards. That's just...neat. Additionally, I may have accidentally generated a meme for the simple expression of cluelessness on the part of Bush=Hitler types. I expect them to show up in a Fark Photoshop contest any time now.

How Not To Be Seen

Danger Will Robinson

Yow. It's a good thing I got out of the crowd early. CNN has footage; they're starting to throw things and attack riot cops. I notice most of the signs I shot at City Hall, interestingly.

A moment leading nowhere

Free Dominion's planned Pro-Bush rally finally had some details posted, while I was out and about. Here is the latest on our assembly point. We will be meeting at South Keys Mall at 2212 Bank St. (near the Outback Steakhouse). South Keys? South Keys? Don't let the address on Bank Street fool you; that's at the south end of the city, near the airport. Way to angle for zero media attention...

You at the barricades listen to this

This was dawn

My mind is clearer now

I didn't sleep well last night. I never do when I'm anxious. But now it's a bright new day, and the horror I fully expect can begin. Photos of the rampaging hordes will be posted at this site, with intermittent commentary back here throughout the day. And so, off I go, armed only with a camera and the vaguely-stoned look that comes from getting only two hours of sleep. I hope that's enough.

Monday, November 29, 2004

I know that the night must end

It begins. It began long ago, actually, but the storm is gathering, and zero hour approaches quickly. On my way home from class tonight, I did a quick survey of the streets. Everything weaponizable on Bank from Wellington to Laurier has been bolted down or removed - except for a handful of newspaper boxes, which I'm guessing will be gone by tomorrow. The No Parking hoods are on metres in the same range; I'm not sure how far west in Centretown that extends, but I'm guessing to at least Bay. Everything seems normal from Gloucester Street south. So, as long as I'm doing this local-reporting thing, I figure I may as well do it right, with an explanatory infographic: The northernmost east-west street is Wellington, also occasionally known as Confederation Boulevard when the NCC is feeling cocky. It's solid government and parliamentary offices all the way to the canal. It's a broad thoroughfare that I'm guessing will be closed to traffic entirely tomorrow, as it usually is on Canada Day. The blue zone is the densest part of Centretown. It houses most of the important office towers not relegated to suburban industrial park. I live in this area, which is largely why downtown protestors annoy me: This is my home, damn it. I may not care much for Ottawa 90% of the time, but it's mine, and you don't care how much of a mess you make. I have to live with the consequences of whatever gets broken. The black line is Sparks Street, an open pedestrian mall; it will no doubt be packed if Wellington gets closed off. Red and green are Lowertown. The red zone covers the Rideau Centre, the Major-General Pearkes Building (DND HQ) and parts of Sandy Hill behind the university. This is a low-density region south of Rideau Street, and will likely be swarming with protestors coming to and from campus. The green zone covers the By Ward Market, home to low-density but marginally more upscale bars and boutiques. Points of interest: A. Supreme Court. The wide open lawn will be inviting for rallies, and unlike Parliament Hill, it's flat and unfenced; it'll be harder to block off pedestrian access. B. Parliament Hill. Always ground zero for protests - there's one most every day for something, even as silly as against banning pit bulls yesterday and the day before - I'm guessing it will be locked down for most of the day, since it can be. C. McDonald's, Bank between Sparks and Queen. Ever the target of anti-Americanism during riots. D. Bank and Laurier. There's an open plaza on the southwest corner, part of the L'Esplanade Laurier office complex, and a similarly inviting parking lot across the street. That parking metres are available starting south of here makes me suspect this will be an initial base camp for protestors making their way north. E. Confederation Park. Across from City Hall, the main protest organization plans to concentrate their efforts here. F. The US Embassy. Need I say more? It's already a fortress, but I don't envy the Marines on duty tomorrow regardless. G. Another aggregation of open space, in this case between several parking lots, and near the CHUM MarketMediaMall. Again, too tempting for the discerning rabble-rousing hippie to resist. I plan to go out two to three times tomorrow - 9ish, noonish, and 4ish; I can't afford to miss my night class, or I'd cover the 6:00 rally too. I hope not shaving, messing my hair up, and wearing an old jacket is enough to infiltrate the crowd. No one's capable of more violence than Persons of Diversity and Tolerance, and I don't plan to get hurt in the name of citizen-journalism, if at all possible.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Big Tent

Time for a filler quiz-thingy:
You Are a Liberal Republican

When you tell people that you're Republican, they rarely believe you. That's because you're socially liberal - likely pro-choice and pro-gay rights. You're also not so afraid of big goverment, as long as it benefits people and not politicians. You are the most likely of any Republican type to swing over to the Democrat side sometimes.
Not entirely accurate, but close enough. And, goodness knows, I'd vote for Rudy Giuliani for anything if I had the chance. (Via The Tiger in Winter.)

He won’t give a damn, no, not one bit about your revolution

I don't mention it much, mainly because it's usually fairly dull and tedious, but I do still work at a nearby Radio Shack. Today, however, had a moment of minor interest and drama. A guy came in to look at megaphones, of which we carry one model at the moment; it's $149. He also seemed to require very little in the way of a sales pitch to be convinced to buy one, which should have tipped me off that this sale wasn't going anywhere - or, if not that, the megaphone already hanging around his neck, the stack of Socialist Worker newspapers under his arm, the general scruffiness, and the earnest Lenin goatee. Yes, this was one of the heralded freaks planning to descend on Centretown for Bush's visit on Tuesday, attempting to buy a megaphone, and strangely curious about the generosity of our return policy. I'll be damned if I'll help some trust-fund communist cause a riot blocks away from where I live, for free. If there was any chance of us keeping his money, I wouldn't have given it a second thought; it's not as if I typically demand to know how customers use what they buy. Not using the Nexxtech Personal Massager to "arouse circulation" and "loosen flaky dandruff?" Don't care, don't want to know. But in this case, he was transparently planning to rent it for three days, which annoys me. Sorry, comrade, that's not the sort of injustice that you can promise will be remedied when the revolution comes; if you want a gratis $150 piece of hardware to play with until you return it, dirty and unboxed, go elsewhere. Despite the half-dozen in the stockroom, I sent him off to another store halfway across town, which actually did have none. I feel guilty about it - mainly for the sake of the need to boost numbers for this sales period - but not much. He'd already call me an evil bourgeois capitalist pig-dog imperialist war criminal if he knew me. Why disappoint expectations?

Will you call up the bank? Will you wire the coast?

I think it's time to close my bank account with CIBC, no? Consider the implications of this. The privacy and security of hundreds of Canadians' savings have been assured not by government oversight or sound corporate management, but by the inherent decency of a random guy who owns a scrapyard in West Virginia. I wonder if any of those affected will consider that in their future attitudes towards Americans.

To me you look just like a fossil

Reason #853 to curse the CRTC for being denied access to American cable channels: This. I loved the novels, and even wrote a term paper in the last year of high school comparing The Maltese Falcon and Anonymous Rex as examples, respectively, of the traditional and post-modern hardboiled Noir genre. The entire concept - dinosaurs never became extinct, just went into hiding (Dinosaurs and detectives, two great tastes that go great together!) - is a little too light on its feet to stand up to any application of logic, but that's okay; it's a parody of a genre anyway, and a fairly witty one at that. Meh. Maybe Space will pick it up eventually...

Thursday, November 25, 2004

What You Feel

I received a curious phone call today, from a representative of CTV Newsnet. They've apparently scoured through the public records to talk to those five-hundred-odd cranks who wrote to the CRTC in favour of Fox News' admission to the Canadian broadcast market, appealing for help in similarly intervening to Big Brother on their behalf. The PR guy I spoke with was kind enough to ask my permission before sending me an e-mail with all the pertinent information, which I appreciate: Dear Mr. [Denton], This is Craig Gibson from CTV News in Toronto. As a previous intervener to the CRTC in support of the Fox News Channel being allowed on Canadian cable and satellite systems, I am hoping you might be able to support a change in licence for CTV Newsnet, the 24-Hour Headline News Channel by writing a letter to the CRTC. Basically, a CRTC restriction placed on Newsnet's broadcast licence requires us to air two minutes of headlines, weather and either business/sports/entertainment/or health, every 15 minutes. This means when we are covering live news conferences or breaking news events, we must stop our coverage, give the headlines, and then resume the coverage two minutes later. This is jarring to viewers and does not serve their interests. The request to the CRTC is to eliminate this restriction. CTV did not oppose Fox News coming to Canada. In fact, CTV believes Canadians should have access to a wide variety of viewpoints and opinions on our airwaves. We are requesting this change because we want a level playing field, where CTV has the journalistic freedom to make professional decisions in the best interest of providing comprehensive and responsible news coverage to as many Canadians as possible. Also, we want to have the ability to have one of the best headline news services in the market so we can compete fairly with the American news services. Here is a package with more in-depth information about why CTV Newsnet wants its licence changed along with a formatted letter. So there are two attachments. One is a letter of explanation which has ideas for points you might want to include in your letter and the other is a template letter where you fill in your own address and comments within the body of the letter. The letter can be as brief or as long as you would like to make it. Please make sure you have the CRTC reference number 2004-0921-0 at the top of your letter. At the end of the letter make sure to put *** end of document*** ... this signals to the CRTC that there have been no electronic errors in getting your letter. Please email the completed letter to the CRTC at procedure@crtc.gc.ca and cc David Spodek at dspodek@ctv.ca The deadline is December 20th, 2004. But the earlier this letter is sent, the better. If you have any further questions you can email me or call me collect at 416.332.7135 Thank you for writing a letter of support. It is much appreciated. Craig Gibson CTV Newsnet. I actually had no idea that the much-derided "CTV FashionFileWorld" aspect of the channel was a mandated part of their broadcast licence. I have no problem with lifting that sort of inane restriction. Plus, despite being part of the nearly-as-biased-as-CBC BellGlobeMedia empire, Mr. Gibson is right - CTV News itself wasn't at all hyperbolic about Fox News' arrival. Nor, interestingly, has this particular appeal only been initiated recently. Googling, I see it's been a going concern for the network since August. I wonder if this direct-appeal-to-the-opinionated approach is? It's mildly amusing to learn that being a letter-writing crank in an atmosphere of general indifference makes my opinion genuinely valuable to another arm of the mainstream media. I'll do it, if only for that little ego-boost, I suppose.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

If it turns out it's over too fast, I'll make every last moment last

NBC is airing their latest adaptation of A Christmas Carol (one that looks promising, actually - I do enjoy hearing Kelsey Grammer sing) this Sunday. It's a Wonderful Life airs Saturday. Did I miss something? Isn't it still November? As occasionally mentioned, I'm a huge consumer whore. I love commercialism in holidays; if nothing else, the economy demands it. I'm fully aware that the modern forms of celebration of the major holidays are very recent inventions. There never was a Victorian Christmas like Martha Stewart might put on, but the fiction is fun to maintain nonetheless. (Me, my perfect fantasy Christmas would be in NYC, about 1948 or so: an age of everyday elegance, yet with the apparatus of the modern commercial economy.) Yet even as an enthusiastic participant in the willing suspension of disbelief that is the month-long holiday season, I find it mildly annoying to be starting the Christmas movies up already. Does that make me curmudgeonly? Is it wrong to start being curmudgeonly in your early 20s?

You have many friends, and you're a diplomat (Oh, that word)

Canada has formally rejected the Ukrainian election results. That's a good sign; for a while I was expecting Canadian diplomats would try, as always, to be impartial at exactly the wrong moment towards exactly the wrong person. It's noteworthy, though, that despite vaguely agreeing with the assertion that the votes were cooked, it took American prodding to issue a semi-joint statement. Think of the moral high ground to be taken in rejecting the corrupt Mini-Putin, Yanukovich, before the powers that actually matter were to say anything. But, then, that's probably expecting too much of a bureaucracy that still likes to imagine Cuba as a friend and ally.

Let me do a few tricks, some old and then some new tricks

Judy Sgro's pal the Romanian stripper is in good company: Ottawa and Toronto — Immigration Minister Judy Sgro says she's trying to shut down a temporary worker program that allows foreign women to come to Canada to be exotic dancers, a program that helped make the Toronto Liberal a target because she granted a visa extension to a Romanian stripper who worked on her election campaign. [...] The exotic dancer, whose case has fanned political controversy because she was a volunteer in Ms. Sgro's election campaign office, was one of 552 Romanian women granted temporary work visas last year to perform in strip clubs. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada says not enough Canadian women want to be exotic dancers to meet the demand. Ergo the federal government subsidizes the import thereof. I have to admit, I did a double-take on reading that earlier today; I'd assumed that the Sgro Stripper Scandal was an isolated case, not one of hundreds of resident aliens doing the same. I'm not a prude. I have no problem with Romanian women emigrating to Canada in order to become strippers; obviously it's an attractive option compared to jobs they can find at home, or there'd be a lot fewer than 552. I do have a problem with this government policy, because it seeks to deny market forces. If demand outstrips supply, exotic dancing jobs have to offer some improvement in either pay or working conditions, and that's the whole of it. What I see here is the Canadian government subsidizing the cost of a non-essential good or service by artificially depressing the costs of doing business, and that's poor economic planning no matter what the non-essential good or service may be. Essentials like public utilities, I can at least see the arguments for; strippers, I can't.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

No one mourns the wicked

Why is anyone upset that Stockwell Day didn't offer condolences on Yasser Arafat's death? I mean, at all? Obviously it's a means of attempting to crucify him yet again on supposed homophobia, what with implications of AIDS and the like, but why is this even a story? Terror kingpins need no condolences. We should be glad a monster like Arafat is dead. I won't dance in glee - that would be sinking to the Palestinian level of geopolitical discourse - but I won't pretend it's somehow sad an old murderer is finally gone. If only CP stringers were as rational. (Via The Shotgun.)

And, dear friends, if I'm elected: I'm all right, Jack, screw you all

NRO on the increasingly-stolen-looking Ukrainian election: You know what is coming next, right? Anybody want to guess which hyperbolic lefty columnist compares the situation in the Ukraine to Bush's reelection victory? Who will be the first to say that "the Ukrainian people are fighting to have all the votes counted, why aren't we?" My bet's on Paul Krugman, if we're guessing. However, there's an easy rebuttal: That's what a cooked election looks like, unlike ours. International observers both right (the Republican senator named in the WaPo editorial excerpt) and left (Ontario Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj) contend systematic fraud on the part of the government. Those are genuinely credible voices of complaint, unlike those of the fever-swamp of conspiracy theorists crawling out of the angry left to claim a Kerry victory on November 3. Destroying ballots on a national level, as Wrzensewskyj accused Ukranian officials of doing in an interview yesterday - that's what an authoritarian-trending-totalitarian regime does, unlike the Bush administration. The contrast should make perfectly clear just how free and fair American elections actually are, despite the more hyperbolic paranoiacs among us.

Sha-la-la, stop right where you are, don't you move a thing

The Somerset Theatre was one of those great old single-screen movie palaces I miss so much. Unlike most such sadly-lost treasures around Ottawa, however, it lasted long enough that I saw a single show there shortly before it closed. It was July 1, 1999; I saw The Phantom Menace there for the third time, with my parents. (This was during a period when I was still trying to convince myself that Episode I - and the prequel trilogy as a whole - was, in fact, worthy of being seen multiple times. I haven't watched it since, despite buying the DVD for some reason.) It was a fairly nice place, despite being renovated inside to the standard 80's movie theatre style - patterned carpets, too many neon lights, ugly and uncomfortable seats. When the Somerset Theatre closed in 2000, Hartman's grocery store bought the building and site. It laid vacant for four years, a sad and empty husk. Hartman's has occupied parts of the lot at the corner of Bank and Somerset - next to the site of the old Somerset - for nearly forty years, if I remember my local history correctly. The current building's exterior demonstrates the piecemeal assembly and expansion of the store over the years; the Bank Street facade is composed of a former Bank of Montreal, a two-story house, and a bricked exterior joining the two together. The interior also always belied a puzzle-like construction of multiple buildings into a single story, with not-quite-even seams in the linoleum flooring, and narrow, oddly-shaped aisles. I first became familiar with Hartman's when I spent a co-op term during high school at Amberwood Productions, an animation studio then situated at 400-404 Maclaren St., behind the grocery store parking lot. We production assistants had a supervisor fond of buying fresh cookies from their bakery, and would most every day send one of us to pick up a box. Accustomed to huge suburban big-box grocery stores, I found Hartman's somewhat charming, if in a declassé manner. Comfort with it was part of what made moving to my current location, several blocks away, so appealing.
In April of this year, the Somerset was demolished, and construction began on the most ambitious Hartman's expansion yet: a full-sized modern grocery store for Centretown. Lowertown got one several years ago with the giant Loblaws on Rideau, which is wonderful, but still inconvenient. Yesterday the expansion opened. Today I saw the inside for the first time. It's glorious. It boggles my mind to see the warehouse-style ceilings, and for that matter such a huge store in general, where it is; even with five storeys of luxury condos above the store itself and a parking garage below, that much wasted space has to hurt, property values in Centretown being what they are. But more than that, it's just so clean. Spotless, even. Huge wide aisles, no strange corners, no mysterious stains on the floor; a bright and inviting space where buying raw meat doesn't seem oh-so-slightly iffy. I like to think I'm fairly astute in not falling prey to simple marketing and design tricks, despite being the consumer whore I am, but I was still itching to buy unnecessaries simply because the store was so beautiful. I no longer have to go to Loblaws merely to shop in a less charming-slash-dingy environment. I like that. Now, if only Hartman's prices were as reasonable...

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Nobody's on nobody's side

The Globe & Mail's insufferably smug TV critic, John Doyle, is today - well - his usual insufferably smug self: Before the CRTC's decision to allow the Fox News Channel into Canada, there was some speculation about whether conditions might be attached. I wonder what conditions might possibly apply -- that it be less hilarious? After all the fuss and anticipation, I think most Canadians who are curious about the Fox phenomenon will be a tad disappointed with the alleged news coverage. What they'll see is a lot of blustering and badgering, a good deal of boasting, and not a lot of news. But they will be entertained. This is, after all, the channel whose star pundit, Bill O'Reilly, referred to this newspaper as the "far-left Toronto Globe and Mail." The same gent (and I use the term advisedly) roused himself to comment on the coverage of Fox News in this paper by declaring, "Hey you pinheads up there, I may be pompous, but at least I'm honest." And he is, too - at least, to the extent that O'Reilly knows he's partisan, and admits it; he doesn't live under the ludicrous fiction that journalism happens in a bias-free vacuum. Later, when the "pinheads" comment was taken to refer to Canadians, O'Reilly declared he was referring to staff at The Globe, not Canadians. As for me, he called me "a Canadian intellectual." It was meant to be an insult. I was very flattered and amused. [...] Over the next few days I was inundated with e-mails from the United States. Most were abusive and some were outrageously so. I was called "a douche nozzle," "a douche bag" and many variations on the theme. I wrote about the mail, pointing out that it was both nasty and unimaginative. This story received some attention in the United States. I began hearing from Americans by the thousands. Most apologized for their fellow citizens, declared their admiration for Canada, and bemoaned the idiocy of Fox News and its supporters. I'll grant that some people do feel the need to apologize for things not under their control. They're representative of a self-loathing and whiny minority that is validated only in feeling victimized by their fellows, and nothing more. Next, The New York Times stepped in. Intrigued by the story, the Times wanted to know more. I gave the Times access to the mail I'd received. In a Sunday feature, the Times then chronicled the back-and-forth between O'Reilly and me, and printed examples of the sort of American mail that came my way. The Times provides stories to newspapers around the world, and this story duly went international. Soon, I was hearing from people in Australia, Britain, France and many other countries. On Fox, O'Reilly mentioned the Times story. Somewhat chastened by the ignorant, poisonous vitriol of his supporters, he tut-tutted about that sort of behaviour. That was it, really. But the upshot was clear: O'Reilly was revealed as a buffoon, and fans of Fox News were shown to be belligerent crackpots. Aww, you have the sweetest names for people whose politics you disagree with. Can anybody here possibly take Fox News seriously? Hardly. The channel describes itself as "fair and balanced" when it clearly is not. Its other slogan is "We report -- You decide." That, too, is a joke. There isn't much on Fox News that most reasonable people would describe as "reporting." There is an awful lot of talk. There is shouting, bullying and blather. It is all so ostentatiously over-the-top and biased that it's wonderfully funny. Yeah, it's friggin' hilarious what shows up on Fox News nowadays. While it's funny, it is also important that we see it. Fox News Channel has easily overtaken CNN as the most-watched news channel in the United States. It didn't achieve that position by being a sober, diligently objective newsgathering operation. It achieved it by adding an operatic quality to the news -- apparently the future of civilization hangs in the balance, and if the Fox News pundits don't get their way, democracy and decency will disappear. Fox News has taken the side that we're at war, we didn't start it, and a lot of Very Bad Things will happen if we lose. John Doyle thinks this is a gut-bustingly amusing fiction, which tells you quite a bit about what sort of a condescending prig he is. A lot of Americans are afraid of the rest of the world, afraid of change, and ignorant about what happens in other countries. What they want to hear is a news service that agrees with their suspicions and tells them that, basically, people in other countries are stupid and envious of the United States. Fox News does precisely that. Projecting much, Mr. Doyle? Try the flip-side on for size: "A lot of Canadians are afraid of America, afraid of change, and ignorant about what happens in other countries. What they want to hear is a news service that agrees with their suspicions and tells them that, basically, Americans are stupid and envious of Canada. CBC does precisely that." Fox News undoubtedly helped re-elect George W. Bush. That despite CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, the NYT, WaPo, et al's efforts to the contrary, which is something of an achievement. In one instance, O'Reilly interviewed Bush and reminded viewers that the President was brave because he had agreed to be interviewed. Considering the overwhelming majority of journalists that are biased against him, kind of, yeah? In another instance, a report by a Fox News correspondent was posted on the network's website, just after the first presidential debate. The story claimed that John Kerry had boasted about his manicure and described himself as "a metrosexual." The story was bogus; not a word of it was true. Yet, for a time, Fox News presented it as a legitimate report. Do I even need to bring up CBS News and Rathergate by now, or is everyone good with remembering just how minor a screw-up this story was, by comparison to that debacle? Now in Canada, we're not so small-minded, petty and unsophisticated that we'd even consider making an issue about some guy's manicure. Also, we don't hate France. Loathing of France seems to be the bedrock of Fox News. I've got a funny feeling that it would be a head-slapper of a revelation to the Fox News Channel that Canada is officially a bilingual country and, for many Canadians, French is their first language. The really funny thing about that is that a great deal of them don't consider themselves Canadian, but only citizens of a latently-sovereign Quebec. Shhh, don't tell the Globe columnists; it'd only bother them if they knew. In fact, I've got lots of funny feelings about Fox. It's going to be hilarious to have daily access to its preposterous view of the world. As the one here coming across like one of the less-charming upper-class twits in a P.G. Wodehouse novel, I hardly think Doyle is allowed to call anyone else preposterous. He's like this every day, too, and somehow manages to turn everything into bashing either Americans at large or George Bush specifically. It becomes rather tedious.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Self-satisfied, awaiting the next forty years

Well, I'm satisfied. Go back to Mississauga and tell your constituents just how effective you'll be out of caucus, you dolt. Tell them you weren't just stroking your ego in an impossibly stupid game of chicken. I'd pay to see the next meeting of the Liberal riding association for Mississauga-Erindale, I would...

The supreme moment has arrived

Woo! I can finally stop having to put up with Wolf Blitzer's smarminess and Larry King's fecklessness any time something important happens. Plus, I can't wait to see the usual suspects in the Globe and Star start hyperventilating over - gasp - a net increase in free speech. The irony will be sweet. Now, I do have to complain that Fox News isn't being put in basic cable packages like CNN, but relegated to digital cable and satellite services only. That's a pretty dirty procedural tactic to depress potential audience numbers, but I'd expect no less from the CRTC. (Via Damian Penny.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I'll show you a thing or two

Bat Boy - probably my favourite new musical of the past few years - is becoming a movie. I would really love to know how they're going to pull off "Comfort and Joy," the show-stopper of a first act finale. I've never seen an actual performance of the show itself - only near-memorized the original cast recording - so I don't even know how it's handled in the stage version. I hope it's as emotional and energetic as I've always imagined. That's the trouble with falling in love with a show based only on the soundtrack. It's never going to be quite the same in the mind's eye as in the director's vision. I rediscovered Evita this past summer, devouring first the public library's copy of the 1975 concept album, the 1979 Broadway cast album, and finally the 1996 film soundtrack. (The OBC is best; Patti LuPone is sublime as the alternately rich-bitchy and sympathetic Eva.) It had been more than a decade since I'd last listened to any version, and I soon realized that what I'd previously heard was only a single-CD highlights album, which does no service to the story at all. Nor were the 'hit' songs featured - "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" and "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" in particular - anywhere near being the best of the show. In any event, after about a month of listening to these at work, I'd formed a definite (if vague in areas) mental image of the probable stage directions, and rented the DVD of the film to find out how close my guess was. It wasn't in the slightest. That's both the blessing and the curse of the stage musical adapted to film: greater realism is possible, though at the cost of emotional impact. "The Lady's Got Potential" is a prime example. It appears on the original concept album and in the film, though not on the Broadway album. Consider the content and the difference between the concept version: The lady's got potential, she ought to go far She always knows exactly who her best friends are The greatest social climber since Cinderella But Eva's not the only one who's getting the breaks I'm a research chemist who's got what it takes And my insecticide's gonna be a best-seller Hey, just one blast and the insects fall like flies, kapow, die They haven't a chance In the fly-killing world, it's a major advance In my world, it'll mean finance I'm shaping-up, successful, capitalist-wise But getting back to Eva, she just saw all those guys As steps on the ladder to the ultimate prize And he goes by the name of Colonel Peron He began in career in the army overseas, Teaching all the other officers all he knew about skis When others took a tumble, he would always stay on Hey, sure, Peron could ski, but who needs a snowman? He said: Great men don't grow on trees I'm one, I ain't gonna freeze Dictators don't grow on skis Peron would be no number two to no man He married in the meantime but the poor girl died Imagine if she hadn't, we'd have been denied The heart-warming, tear-jerking rise to fame of Eva Now, my insecticide contains no dangerous drugs It can't harm humans, but it's curtains for bugs If you've got six legs, I ain't doing you no favours Yeah, just one blast and the insects fall like flies, kapow, die They don't have a chance In the fly-killing world, it's a major advance In my world, it'll mean finance I'm shaping-up, successful, capitalist-wise Kapow, die They don't have a chance In the fly-killing world, it's a major advance In my world, it'll mean finance I'm shaping-up, successful, capitalist-wise Yes, Peron, he joined a faction called the G.O.U. G, government O, order U, unity They were the gang behind a military coup, So Peron was a heartbeat away from control of the nation They thought that Hitler had the war as good as won They were slightly to the right of Attila the Hun And Eva set her sights on Peron and his situation And Eva set her sights on Peron and his situation And its film counterpart: In June of forty-three there was a military coup Behind it was a gang called the G.O.U. Who did not feel the need to be elected They had themselves a party at the point of a gun They were slightly to the right of Atilla the Hun A bomb or two and very few objected Yeah, just one shell and governments fall like flies, kapow, die They stumble and fall, bye bye Backs to the wall, aim high We're having a ball The tank and bullet rule as democracy dies The lady's got potential, she was setting her sights On making it in movies with her name in lights The greatest social climber since Cinderella Okay, she couldn't act, but she had the right friends And we all know a career depends On knowing the right fella to be stellar Yeah, just one shell and governments lose their nerve, kapow, die They stumble and fall, bye bye Backs to the wall, aim high We're having a ball That's how we get the government we deserve Now the man behind the President calling the shots Involved so discreetly in a lot of their plots Was Colonel Juan Peron, a would-be dictator He began in the army out in Italy so Saw Mussolini's rise from the very front row And reckoned he'd do likewise sooner or later Yeah, just one blast and the tear gas falls like rain, kapow, die They haven't a chance, bye bye The terrorists advance But one guy doesn't dirty his hands Peron was biding time out in the slow lane Yeah, suddenly an earthquake hit the town of San Juan, kapow, die They stumble and fall, bye bye Keep away from the wall But one guy was having a ball The tragedy, a golden chance for Peron He organized a concert with incredible flair In aid of all the victims, such a grand affair Politicians, actors, stars of every flavor It was January twenty-second, 1944 A night to remember, yeah, that's for sure For that's the night that Peron first met Eva For that's the night that Peron first met Eva The oddball idea of the Greek chorus-slash-narrator character of Che (not that Che, you understand, just one remarkably similar in demeanour) being a cash-strapped research scientist was wisely dropped, as the complete lack of inexplicable references to insecticides in the second version shows; instead, he became merely the ubiquitous everyman observer. I'm guessing that original conceit was partially to give Che some kind of stage business to perform during this number; something involving an old-fashioned aerosol can, perhaps. I've obviously never seen any performance of the show involving that, the concept album predating my birth by several years and all, so I don't really know. What's certain is that any direction based on these lyrics would have to rely on the deeply figurative imagery of stage acting. However, in the film, "The Lady's Got Potential" takes place against a backdrop of Che walking through rioting crowds being dispersed by soldiers and tanks. It's effective, to an extent; the tank guns fire in closeup on each line that ends "kapow, die," and the rest has some nice choreographing of the crowd's movement with the rhythm of each verse. But it still feels like a copout; the lyrics are describing Peron's rise to power, and all we're seeing is Antonio Banderas dodging bullets in the streets. That's a valid visual representation, but it's excessively literal: this is the coup, this is the terror and violence of the coup. There's some great representative visuals that could have been used instead: cutting to Peron making back-room deals, swanning about Buenos Aires in his dress uniform, and so on. That's the kind of thing that could be portrayed by a few actors in upstage vignettes behind the narrator, too, which makes me think it's all the more likely to be the best interpretation for the lyrics. Musical theatre requires the perception of a profound personal connection between the singer and the song to be effective; the emotion should be palpable. In the film, Banderas manages to carry the number through the sheer charisma and heft of his performance, overcoming the weak and muddled visuals. City streets add nothing to the story; if anything, they distract. In the same way, "Comfort and Joy" reveals Dr. Parker tormented by the voices in his head, eventually deciding in the midst of this schizophrenic episode to kill Bat Boy. Again, going only from the cast recording, it sounds like a great opportunity for a powerful performance. The best way I can imagine to film this would be with little light on a minimalist set; the surreality of his lyrical soliloquy seems to demand it. The worst way, conversely, would be the excessively literal one - showing Dr. Parker in his living room, with the mentioned spade and burlap sack in hand, and the personified voices around him. Showing too much is less helpful than showing nothing at all. It seems to be a trend, however. The upcoming film version of Phantom of the Opera suffers similarly: For example, in the show the Phantom is able to mysteriously make the resident diva Carlotta croak while singing, ensuring that his muse Christine will take over. Schumacher takes it a step further and shows the Phantom secretly exchanging a bottle of throat spray with Carlotta's. Whenever he pulls a disappearing act, we see exactly where he goes. Did the audience really need to see that, or could we have wondered how he did it? It's kind of like watching a David Copperfield show in Vegas from backstage. It's interesting, but I'd rather see the trick and be mystified as to how he did it. Of course, there's going too far the other way, as well - see, for a recent example, Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Someone needs to get on the job of increasing film production in the genre; without a greater amount of practice and experience in the field, how can an average director be expected to hit the Moulin Rouge or Chicago sweet spot?

If we prove that they're wrong, they'll come 'round before long

Here's an idea. Rather than daintily tiptoeing around what Liberal Bush-basher Carolyn Parrish may or may not do during the official visit, perhaps the Whip (or even PM the PM himself) should, y'know, ask her. If she causes another embarrassing scene, whether telegraphed or not, expel her from the Caucus. Anything else shows a marked lack of seriousness on the part of the government in improving Canadian-American relations; if no one in the Natural Ruling Party (TM) can keep a handle on a single loudmouthed MP, how can we have confidence in their ability to accomplish anything? Granted, this assumes that the Liberals are actually capable of seeing that easing up on the old latent anti-Americanism is in everyone's best interests. I think that's probably a safe bet by now, however, no matter how enjoyable individual MPs might find it.

His figure whirling round our brain; a creature science can't explain

Superman certainly found some remarkably insane ways to marry and/or murder Lois Lane over the years, to say nothing of Jimmy Olsen's similarly bizarre adventures. It just keeps going, too. At some point you have to wonder if comic book writers throughout the entire Silver Age were just plain high, or completely out of their minds.

Every line we drew in dare, they went and crossed without a care

What's the chance we'd now be finding out just how unappealing John Kerry was on a personal level to reporters during the campaign, if he'd won? (Well, probably pretty good, at that. Denied the clarity and focus of an Anybody-But-Bush campaign, the media probably would have torn him apart pretty quickly. Good thing we'll never know for sure...) (Via Wonkette.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

With a white picket fence, and a gun, and a lawyer

Alan Dershowitz was in town last night making the moral case for supporting Israel. Hey, I don't need convincing; but maybe someone at the Citizen's City desk does. After some more or less neutral banter concerning the event itself Dershowitz spoke at, there's this bit in his bio: Mr. Dershowitz has never been bashful about his long resume of defending clients of questionable repute. "My job is to defend people charged with crimes," said the religiously educated Jew. "It's my job, I do it willingly and I do it proudly." "And I think it is in the tradition of the Torah (which is the Jewish bible) when Abraham defended the sinners of Sodom and he didn't apologize for that." I wouldn't defend murderers. I want to become a lawyer in order to prosecute, to make the best case for convicting and punishing the guilty. But someone has to argue for the defense, and better it's someone that considers it a sacred duty as part of the legal process than someone with motivations less wholesome. One of my heroes is John Adams, who - despite pressure from the public, and rhetoric at cross-purposes from his cousin Samuel - defended the British troops charged in the Boston Massacre of 1770. But I'm not entirely certain the bio is in aid of defending the role of the defense attorney, especially when it also involves the phrase "the religiously educated Jew." If it's bias (and not just a poor choice of words that coincidentally might imply Dershowitz is a scummy fanatic), it's subtle. Am I way off base here? Am I being overly sensitive to the possible intersection of anti-lawyer and anti-Israel prejudice? All I know for certain is that I'm going to keep an eye on the author, Aron Heller.

Come on and just do mimic, when you gotta gimmick

Having just today been reminded what Pixar can do at the top of their game, that Disney wants to make another Toy Story sequel without Lasseter & Co. seems like a bad omen. Does anyone else remember Disney Feature Animation's first foray into the Pixarless world, Dinosaur? I wish I didn't. It was notable mainly as a means of synergy with the then newly-opened Animal Kingdom park at Walt Disney World; the same CG models were used in queue and in-ride visuals. The story was utter dreck, a bad knockoff of The Land Before Time; that series became terribly tiresome from any creative standpoint halfway through the first volume, and rehashing it with stiff CG rather than mediocre cel work can't be an improvement. The characters were unlikeable and not particularly emotive; the limitations of the Disney "Secret Lab" crew compared to their counterparts at Pixar, I suppose. I'll await the next solo-Disney CG project, Chicken Little, before going into full doomsaying mode, but I suspect that'll only be saved - if in fact it is - by Scrubs' Zach Braff.

Now I don't like to spoil a wonderful story

Bush is making his first official visit to Canada on November 30. This pleases me. That's a Tuesday; I can probably make it to any public appearance or event without having to skip work or class, which I'd love to do. I've been waiting three years for that. (As a bonus, the Greater Ottawa Barking Moonbat Tribe is likely to be out in full regalia around Sussex Drive and/or Parliament Hill; I can go and get some pictures for later ridicule from a safe distance. Huzzah for a twofer!) UPDATE: Already one of their brethren writing in the Toronto Star is salivating at the rather unlikely prospect of charging him with war crimes (!). Live in the real world, you say? Hah! That's for the rubes and sheeple without imagination.

Cages or wings, which do you prefer?

Having finally finished my last paper for the term this morning (due at 5:30 today; let no one say I don't enjoy the paranoid exhilaration of meeting a deadline by only a matter of hours), I decided to go see The Incredibles. I'd read what some people saw in it from both a positive and negative perspective, but didn't really believe it could be so joyously uplifting in its philosophy, especially considering director Brad Bird's first film, The Iron Giant. Both films are basically about overwhelming power and the accompanying responsibility for it, but they make radically different arguments. "I am not a gun" is what the amnesiac Iron Giant declares when he realizes that he was, in fact, built as a weapon. He doesn't want to be a weapon. He just wants to be Hogarth's friend. That on his descent from space he passes the just-launched Sputnik is no coincidence; the entire film is an extended condemnation of the American nuclear doctrine throughout the Cold War, with the Iron Giant himself in the role of any ten ICBMs you'd care to name. If only, it seems to imply, we'd never made any threatening gestures towards the USSR, both countries could have lived in peace and harmony; absolute power only makes enemies out of potential friends. Conversely, Mr. Incredible is a gun, and he knows it. More importantly, he knows what direction that gun should be pointing: At them. At the enemies of civilization, of justice, of day-to-day society; at the supervillain just as much as the mugger. He doesn't want to abdicate the responsibility of that awesome power, because it pains him to see anyone be hurt when he could have made a difference. In the case of The Incredibles, the problem isn't a world gone mad (or MAD, as it were), but a world gone soft; superheroes just create difficulties for the government and the courts. Doing good and fighting for right isn't safe, and - more revealingly, as Wallace Shawn's insurance adjuster character kvetches at Mr. Incredible's long-suffering secret identity - it isn't profitable. Who cares about a gathering storm of evil in the world, when there's a healthy economy and a charming rogue in the White House? Another theme that runs through the film is "If everybody is super, then nobody is;" if we're willing to pretend that every person has exactly the same abilities, and can achieve exactly the same acts of heroism, we're just fooling ourselves. Not everyone is equal; for that matter, not everyone is even decent. I'd extend that to an indictment of international diplomacy, too; what does it say about UN bureaucracy that tinpot dictatorships are assumed, in that eminently corrupt body, to have the exact same credibility and innocence in their motives as the great democratic powers? Fanboy-gone-mad supervillain Syndrome is similarly eager to market his high-tech inventions in order to wipe out the advantage the good and heroic have over ordinary people; leveling the playing field between the super and non-super on an everyday level - enforcing the pure and depressing equality of mediocrity - is no less part of his motivation than doing the same on an international level, selling his robotic WMDs to whoever can pay for them. This is the appalling philosophy of far too many around the world, policy wonks and elitist literati alike. It assumes there's nothing to be gained in doing good; improving the world is too hard, and besides, it's bound to enrage some regional "street" or another. So, yes: insofar as valuing strength for the sake of doing right, in praising merit and conscience rather than enforcing a false consciousness of amoral egalitarianism, in realizing that some people actually are evil, and the only thing to do is not give them a chance to hurt you, it's fair to say The Incredibles is right-wing. But what of it? It used to be that these values weren't found near-exclusively on the right. These used to be things that the civilized world more or less agreed on. I don't know what kind of personal journey Brad Bird has made between the mid-90s and now, but I have my suspicions. When did he get mugged by reality? Was it as late as when most of the rest of us did? On some minor notes, Syndrome's death seemed remarkably gruesome for a Disney (co-) production; being shredded by a jet turbine, even if it happens offscreen, is still a cut above being eaten by hyenas or falling off a cliff. (To say nothing of the one similar episode of just deserts in Pixar's production history, of being eaten by a bird.) I also particularly enjoyed the aforementioned Wallace Shawn character being put in traction for his churlish, petty mediocrity, in light of the actor-playwright's previous comments in the same vein. Ditto Edna Mode, fashion designer to the superhero world; she's a delightfully nutty mix of Edith Head and Truman Capote. In sum, I'm impressed. It's the rare work of feature animation nowadays that's so thoroughly engaging both visually and mentally.

Monday, November 15, 2004

You can't fix an egg when it ain't quite good

While I find James Carville mostly just alternately annoying and creepy as all get-out, it's good to see that he has more of a sense of humour than most Democratic pundits right now.

It buggers up his very taxing schedule, pushing peace and understanding

Colin Powell's out. I'm not terribly upset by that. I appreciate the need for a diplomatic Good Cop-Bad Cop routine, but Powell frequently crossed the line into Overly Accommodating and Policy-Undermining Cop, which sent all sorts of mixed messages. Hopefully his replacement will have the willpower to ignore some of the more appeasement-minded impulses coming out of the State Department. Condi Rice would be great, but I'm still hoping she's being saved for possible Veepage should Dick Cheney's health decline further.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

I'll gladly support you, I'll even escort you

So tonight I'm watching Trekkies 2, the documentary that among other things seeks to prove that yes, German Star Trek fans are in fact far more mad than you or I, if probably harmless. One short segment follows a Mr. Bill Craft's lifelong campaign to have the USPS issue a Trek-related stamp. He relates to the camera the support he's had for this cause, with visuals of the letters he's received - from Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, faculty from MIT and Cal Tech, US Senators... ...Yeah, him. Am I alone in finding it mildly amusing to see Kerry's name in an objectively ludicrous (and certainly nonpartisan) context, right about now?

Then sign your name, get out of there

It's rare, but from time to time, I tend to agree with the BQ.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Prove to me that you're no fool

Amazing. CBS can act with lightning speed to fire a producer who preempted the last five minutes of CSI: New York for a breaking news bulletin on Arafat's death, yet has taken nearly three months to studiously avoid firing anyone over Rathergate. CBS: Now hostile to not just facts, but even the mere reporting of news!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Take up our quarrel with the foe

I remember. Let us hope Canada, however else it may decline, never forgets the disproportionate sacrifices made by its young men in the 20th century.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Where is it written

Okay, we're now pretty sure Yasser Arafat is dead. Or maybe not. He's been playing Schrodinger's Cat too long now. Either way, check out CNN's front page right now. In the immortal words of Dr. Nick, What the hell is that?
Um. Does CNN have a generic template for all high-profile obituary graphics, one that they perhaps think would look equally dignified with cancer-suffering statesmen and OD'ing popstars alike? That's the only excuse I can think of for this mess. I mean, Spencerian script on a muted background is perhaps the last graphical style that could be associated with a Palestinian leader. This is mildly inappropriate at best and overly revealing of CNN's biases at worst. (There's a style that's far more appropriate than subdued brown tones with elegant script, but I digress.)

Everything is fixed, and you can't change it

Now that's "fixing health care for a generation." Longer, even. Paul Martin, take note: without at least partial privatization, some PM ten or twenty years hence is likely going to be forced to do the same thing, for the same reasons. If Canadians want to keep the myth of feasible socialized medicine alive, they're going to have to accept that half a myth is better than a completely collapsed system. (Via Instapundit.)

Colablogging Returns

I've now tried Pepsi Holiday Spice. It's...interesting. First, the colour is a bit odd. It's definitely more reddish-orange than normal Pepsi; held up to the light, it's almost the colour of strong iced tea. Second, it's incredibly sweet, but I'm not sure if it's any more so than the regular sugared variety, since I'm used to Diet Pepsi. Third...well, it tastes of nutmeg. Very strongly of nutmeg. There's maybe a hint more cinnamon and vanilla than usual, and if I'm not mistaken the aftertaste of essential oils seems to be more orangey than the usual lemon-limey mix. But the dominant flavour is nutmeg, and you could probably achieve the same effect with about a quarter-teaspoon in a highball glass. I imagine it'd mix well with a good dark rum like Gosling's or Lamb's.

Don't be stupid, be a smarty

This does not greatly surprise me. But, then, an awful lot of the Quebecois' cousins in France didn't mind following Marshal Pétain, either; the only quandary is why the number is so low.

Look away, look away

A clueless ABC News talking head thinks red states are just itching to bring back slavery: Secondly, when you tell me "Let the states decide," that scares me, okay? I've got a little map here of pre-Civil War free versus slave states [...] It looks like the map of 2004. And when you say "Let the states decide," I remember what the states decided when they had slavery. And the kinds of things that concern me is [sic] despite what the president said about going after tax reform and entitlement programs...I think he's going to go after social programs, despite what he said. I think we're going to get a rollback on all kinds of things. Oh, I see! It's a metaphor! Disliking and attempting to partially dismantle the modern welfare state makes you the political heir of slaveholders! Espousing a creed of self-reliance is akin to considering other human beings as racially inferior non-persons and legal property! It's all so obvious now... On a side note, isn't it amusing that the Democrats never seemed to have a problem with the supposed benighted ignorance of the South when it was voting as a solid bloc for them? In the same way that there only ever seems to be a national homeless problem when Republicans are in the White House, the media only discovers the (remarkably condescending) notion that Southerners are really, really stupid in years when they don't vote for Democrats. Funny, huh? (Via Instapundit.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

So send your troops to all the stoops

Recline yourself, resign yourself

It's somewhat sad when cabinet members, through no fault of their own, become huge political liabilities. On the other hand, the truth is that through rampant (and unfair) demonization, John Ashcroft is a liability. His resignation is probably for the best; a new face at the AG's office will probably be able to get more accomplished. In the same way, though Dick Cheney seems to be a great guy and a hypercompetent administrator - and certainly not the HALLIBURTON!! oil-sucking vampire even the only slightly nutty like to portray him as - I won't mind if he has to resign for medical reasons well before 2008. (Just so long as Condi Rice gets the Veep nod, of course.)

But the dead don't talk

Gah. Now Arafat's alive again. Who is he, Rasputin? What does it take to actually kill a sick 75-year-old nowadays?

Gone where the goblins go

Guess who's probably dead, again? I won't shed a tear over this monster's passing. He was a gangster thug and a terrorist kingpin all rolled up in one - and yet even then an awful lot of people who should have known better wanted to imbue an inexplicable legitimacy upon him. (Well, maybe not that inexplicable. He was only orchestrating the murders of Jews, right? That's not exactly a deal-breaker in some places. France, I'm looking at you.) The sooner Palestinians realize that he and his ilk - the masterminds of the endless intifada - are hurting their cause of statehood, the better.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Through the dark turns and noise of this wicked little town

This is not good. But it's not unexpected, either. When the Dutch government's response to the murder by Islamofascists of a citizen reasonably and justly critical of Islam is to pretend there's no latent clash of ideologies, to decry the statement "Thou shalt not kill" as racist (!), it's an unhappy probability that retaliation will occur. It's despicable, no less so than the same vicious vandalism going the other direction. The problem, however, is not going to go away by ignoring it. Europe has a large unassimilated immigrant Muslim population, many of whom genuinely do not share a number of western values. Those landed immigrants who have immersed themselves in their adopted culture, who loudly do enjoy and appreciate freedom of speech and freedom from opression and blind submission (in this case in Canada), receive death threats. The only way out is to encourage the voices of dissent, and stop coddling the terror-enablers under the aegis of multiculturalism. It does no favours to the unreformed medievalists longing for the return of the Caliphate, nor does it do respect to their victims. Neither will studious neutrality solve the problem, as it's taken for tacit approval - and encourages hateful reprobates, upset with a lack of action, to lash out wildly at anyone who just plain looks different, as the above shows. Murdering someone for questioning the supposed superiority of a religion is wrong, no matter what the faith of questioner or killer; why is it too much to expect any government to get behind such a common-sense stance? (Via BoingBoing and LGF.)

With deference and great respect very much the norm

Some people are so tone-deaf it's a wonder they don't annoy themselves to death. A Toronto MP wants to make Remembrance Day a federal statutory holiday. "Here is an opportunity for an enterprising young member of Parliament of any political stripe," McTeague said. "I think there has to be some direction given to a formal, permanent and long-lasting tribute to our fallen comrades, who by land, air and sea, gave us the country we have today." You want to give formal, permanent and long-lasting tribute to the Canadian military past and present? Stop mucking about with empty procedural gestures, and give them some money. Fund their comrades and heirs sufficiently that they're not forced to work with unarmoured personnel carriers and rusting subs. Remembrance Day is already respected and solemnized to a very healthy extent. Schools and other institutions across the country observe memorial services of some sort. It's one of the few times - the anniversary of D-Day being another - that Canadian public discourse actually seems to realize that our soldiers used to fight to preserve freedom and liberty, before the hateful term of "peacekeeping" came into being; it's acknowledged, if tacitly, that we still do remember those who fell doing something far more noble than guarding UN apparatchiks. Making November 11 a statutory holiday isn't going to increase observance; if anything, I think it might decrease it. Doing so would produce yet another rotating three-to-four-day-weekend, which I highly doubt many would use to honour veterans. Many might take road trips or visit the cottage one last time before winter, maybe, but not honour veterans. Here in Ottawa, of course, the War Memorial at Elgin and Wellington is ground zero for Remembrance Day ceremonies. Most of the city is shut down until noon. Would the other half-day off make a difference in the general mood or attitude towards observance? I'm not inclined to think so. Showing some real respect for the necessity of the Forces, and the duty served by past and present members, would have genuine impact in the public mind. Enacting another holiday won't. This is yet another empty gesture, from the reigning princes of the same in the Liberal politburo.

Bit by bit the pieces fit

Ontario high school dropouts beware: The Ontario government plans to introduce legislation that will require students to stay in school until they reach the age of 18, said the province's minister of education Saturday. Well, that's one provincial Liberal campaign promise fulfilled, I suppose. And it only took thirteen months to get around to it, too! Huzzah!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

When the final showdown came at last, a law book was no good

Hopefully the interim Iraqi government declaring a state of emergency is part of the current thrust to get tough on remaining pockets of insurgency in Fallujah and elsewhere. [Allawi] said the state of emergency, equivalent to martial law, would apply to all of Iraq except the Kurdish north. But even if it isn't, don't you just love how Reuters has made a casual transposition to punch up the headline with 44% more doom? I wonder if the American media will follow suit. It looks like they aren't, at least not quite yet. Come on, MSM; try redeeming yourselves here, and don't automatically spin the story to be as anti-Bush as possible.

Everything worth living for

Suffering from post-election depression would be the flip side of heavy emotional investment in the outcome. I'm not sure I understand why. Looking back at what I wrote about this year's election at home, I had an awful lot of faith in the Tories throughout June, and was, of course, horribly disappointed. In retrospect, I am mildly embarrassed by this passage: It still kills me, though. The Liberals and Conservatives aren't that substantially different. Canada had the opportunity to throw out a corrupt and arrogant pack of liars, and chose instead to be frightened by obvious propaganda. It's sick. I think I need to accelerate my plans to get out of here... It's hyperbole. It's not-particularly-well-reasoned hyperbole. It's petty, and angry, and unfair. Granted, I still don't like the Liberal Party, and still plan to emigrate as soon as is feasible, but those were both pre-existing factors. Spiteful, hopeless anger fades after a few days. If Bush had lost the election, I'd be even more crushed than I was when Stephen Harper failed (and greatly fear for the future security of America and the West at large), but I like to think I'd still get over it. For most of the week prior to the election, I actually was expecting a slim Kerry victory, but while I was mildly gloomy about the prospect, I would certainly have been able to get over it. Why? The difference between any two major candidates isn't so large that one or the other would be entirely unacceptable. We live in a society, as it's said, of laws and not men; the system will carry on, more or less, regardless of the players. Losing today just means you have another chance to be vindicated a few years down the road. That's what makes this story so sad. Someone invested such an incredible amount of emotion into the Kerry campaign that he actually killed himself over the election results. That's the direction the depressed folk in the first story are heading if they don't buck up and get over themselves, if maybe not as fast or going quite as far, and that's scary. Yet, they can't really blame anyone but themselves and the liberal echo chamber. If you keep telling yourself in the course of motivating yourself and others before the vote that another Republican administration will be the end of the world, what are you going to end up believing if things don't go your way? As someone who's been there, I think I can say that some people need to (at the very least) calm down. You don't win points for effort for hurting yourself (or others) on behalf of John Kerry. (Via Fark and LGF.)

Thursday, November 04, 2004

When the ones who matter have their say

Even the impotent nebbish that is Paul Martin knows which way the wind is blowing: OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Paul Martin is condemning anti-U.S. comments by outspoken Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish. Parrish told The Canadian Press on Wednesday that U.S. President George W. Bush is "war-like," and his re-election shows Americans are "out of step" with the rest of the world. On Thursday, Martin dismissed her comments as "clearly unacceptable." "She speaks neither for the government, nor does she speak for the caucus," he said after a cabinet meeting. I wonder why no one told Parrish to shut up earlier. No, wait; I don't, actually. The question is, does this actually mean anything? Can we expect actual cooperation again, or is this just CYA behaviour from a weak minority government? I'd hate to think the Liberals learned nothing from the failed yearlong experiment in demonization that was the Kerry campaign. They're typically sharp enough to pick up on things like that.

There's something else that makes the tune complete

Huzzah. I'm finally done my first term paper; it's due tonight, actually. The last book I needed for a credible, recent, non-nutty quasi-defence of Leni Riefenstahl, as required counterpoint to my primary argument, finally arrived from Chapters. I did have permission for an open-ended extension on the due date, but there's two more papers due next week, and I'd just like to get things over, done with, printed, and forgotten about. Which is to say, now I need to return to analyzing Thomas More's Utopia. Expect horrified condemnation of that august work in blog form very soon.

The world is full of fantasy, and who are you or I to disagree?

Well, that didn't take long: A learned conspirozoid explains why Kerry actually won. At least this time, the vast majority of America - even those parts still not quite understanding the Electoral College - will likely find it far easier to dismiss raving loons arguing that an indeterminate number of spoiled ballots "really" were marked for Kerry. This theory has the twin liabilities of being a) unproven, and b) too complicated to turn into a catchy slogan à la "Jeb Bush stole Florida." It also, necessarily, requires living in a parallel universe for a time: What now? Kerry won, so hold your victory party. But make sure the shades are down: it may be become illegal to demand a full vote count under PATRIOT Act III. Sigh. Look, guys: Come back in 2008 with an appealing candidate, okay? Spending another four years in the political wilderness, utterly convinced of your own purity, patriotism and honesty while accusing rampant conspiracy in everyone else is not going to convince those three million voters from the centre you need to come back into the Democratic fold; if anything, they're likely to become even more repelled. Grow up already. (Via BoingBoing.)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Worthy of a mighty nation, of thee I sing

Megan McArdle at Instapundit: A DEMOCRATIC FRIEND OF MINE JUST GOT A PHONE CALL from a Republican she doesn't speak to that often, allegedly to "say hi" but transparently to gloat. This is my plea to Bush voters to give peace a chance. If we have any chance of ending the sniping and bitterness that characterise the current political scene, it's going to start with Republicans being gracious winners. If you have to indulge your schadenfreude, do it silently by lurking on Democratic websites and reading hair-tearing left-wing editorials, not by alienating people with whom we'd like to eventually build a better America. Fair enough. It's been one day, and I've admittedly quite enjoyed the schadenfreude of the moment, but in good conscience I will stop now. I look forward to, well, looking forward again; hopefully everyone still remembers the cards that were on the table before the madness of the election. I would love to see - and I fully expect we will - Democrats acting entirely for the good of the country and their constituents in the manner of a loyal opposition. Bush hasn't vetoed anything yet, no matter how kludgey big-government, so it'll be up to them to be the voices of budgetary restraint. Acting responsibly in that role, I think, might salve a lot of the party's self-inflicted electoral wounds. The country isn't quite as liberal on the whole as the coasts would like, but moving in that direction can be well smoothed over with competence and compromise. Credibility is imperative. Even with majorities in both houses of Congress, politics are still codepedent, and reasonable debate between two reasonable sides is the only way to maintain that credibility. Let's not forget that.

A malformation in the guise of many

Hah. Michael Moore and his staff are so upset, they've shut down the front page of his website. (Internal pages are still accessible.) To the general public, there's thus no embarassing "Kerry landslide, WOOOO" comments, no worrisome threats to riot, no adoring fans wondering aloud What the hell happened? Didn't we support enough demonization of all things Republican to win? All there is now is an old photomosaic of Bush made out of Iraq casualties' portraits - as if all casualties are caused directly by an eeeevil warmonger president, an argument that barely needs to be dignified with response. To which I, probably needlessly in that case, will respond: Whatever, jackass. The country had a choice between "America, Fuck Yeah" and "America: Fuck You," and it chose the former. You are the living, breathing, faintly repulsive embodiment of the latter. No bloody shirts will change that, no matter how hard you wave them. The electorate chose the candidate of strength, not weakness; leadership, not capitulation. Go ahead and make your little movies, and play your little propaganda games. In the end, they couldn't stop (and may have even been a contributing factor for) a net loss of support for the Democrats at every level. Go figure, huh? UPDATE: On the other hand, Moore and his ilk probably aren't that upset, as Kevin Steel points out; this guarantees four more years of Bush-bashing books, films, and TV, along with the same built-in market to consume them. After all, how profitable a target for derision would a Kerry administration be?

We have never reckoned on coming second

Mary Cheney is with the Vice-President, along with the rest of his family, on stage. This is the victory speech, mind you. Now can we cut out the sneering "embarassed of their gay daughter" trope? How about that? Cheney's speech is fine, as victory speeches go. No nonsense, no triumphalism, just dignified relief. Bush looks semi-stunned, but then, he's had about two hours of sleep in the past day and a half. That's expected. On the other hand, he's regained the coherency that's been ebbing all campaign. "America has spoken, and I am humbled by the trust - and confidence - of my fellow citizens." Right on. Now come the thanks. This is somewhat striking, compared to Kerry's speech; he made passing reference to Teresa, but Bush is thanking his entire family, from parents to siblings to daughters, plus Dick Cheney's entire family. Republicans seem to know where their real strength lies, perhaps - not in unions and activist groups, but families. Of course, he also gives a shout-out to "the architect, Karl Rove." Hah. On the other hand, I can really appreciate reminding Dems of just who they've been beaten by. He's also making a quite humble outreach to Democrats for national unity. I doubt it'll work, but I hope it does. I would love for 2008 to be an entirely different race - but let's stop talking about 2008 just yet. He concludes thusly: "I see a great day coming for our country, and I am eager for the work ahead." Spiffy. The one thing that George W. Bush has always had to his credit is rock-solid leadership, and I'm grateful we still have his service.

Don't Cry for Me, Massachusetts

Kerry's concession speech from Fanueil Hall started remarkably late. Some kind of last-minute wonkery to game the latest numbers from Ohio, perhaps? Edwards seems more enthusiastic than Kerry running up to the podium; I don't know why. It's not as though he has much of a chance in 2008 now. Has any VP candidate come back to take the prime nomination in the next election cycle? "We will continue to fight for every vote." Um, they're pretty much set in stone, now? I'd also like to know how Pretty Boy Edwards can continue "fighting" in the larger representative sense, as he implies, without an elected office to do it from. Kerry at least still has his Senate seat, and can probably keep getting elected to that until he finally becomes the Senior Senator from Massachusetts. Edwards is almost delivering a standard stump speech, though with a bit more bitterness than usual. (Obviously. John, you're a bore; we've heard this before! For God's sake, John, sit down!) "The man who never surrendered...Senator John Kerry." Didn't he do just that, four hours ago? Who's part of the "reality-based community" now, eh? The sweetest fruit of all, however: CNN's title bar. "Sen. John Kerry, (D) Fmr. Presidential Candidate." The crowd is no longer laughing at Kerry's lame jokes. Heh. On the other hand, they're applauding his appeal to "begin the healing," which is a good sign. So is urging the Democratic base to, y'know, get behind winning the war. He still could have pulled a Gore at this point, and made dark mutterings about the election being stolen while at the same time technically conceding; the angry left would have deciphered his code words. Kerry is actually smiling right now. It's a very genuine-looking smile, in brief flashes, during his wistful thanks to the crowd. I bet that smile might have won another couple thousand votes from the distrustful middle - it makes him seem a lot more human than the wide, toothy Career Pol grin. I almost feel sorry for him now. Fair enough. That was mostly humble and gracious, punctuated by minor diversions into unconscious campaigning. Thank you, Senator. You're a better man than I'd expected.

Always heading down a losing strait

Kerry's thrown in the towel. I am so freaking happy right now.

What if you never got to be President?

What was that about a Kerry landslide, Sully? Hmmmm? I don't usually take the time to engage in gloating over sheer wrongness in the pundit class, because everyone is bound to be embarassingly wrong at some point. But he really should have known better; wishful thinking just doesn't cut it. It was going to be very close either way, and that's what it now appears to be. Unless there's some bizarre reversal in Ohio, Bush wins. I can't believe the remaining, valid provisional votes can help Kerry enough to counteract the current Republican lead as they stand alone, let alone factoring in the likely overwhelmingly-Bush-leaning military absentee vote. What I am finding irritating - and I've been up all night except for dozing off from 11 to 12 or so - is that CNN has been going to very great pains to avoid calling New Mexico for the president, despite a ludicrously thorough sample of electoral precincts. I suspect it's because it was made known Karl Rove et al were waiting on the media call of NM to head over to the International Trade Center and have Bush make a presumptive victory speech. Is the MSM still interfering in politics with passive-aggressive sideswipes? I think so.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Well, in that case, you're fired

Father of the Pride is on hiatus until December. December, when no one's watching the regular schedule anyway. That wasn't unexpected, I suppose. (Via TV Tattle.)

When suddenly, and without warning, there was this total eclipse of the sun

It's been rapidly getting darker and darker here all day here since about noon, though not actually storming (yet); right now appears nearly dead-of-night dark. It feels just a bit too early in the year for that yet. I hope that's not an omen of some kind, because it's surely not a good one.

Monday, November 01, 2004

I paid full price for this freak show; now, nourish the child within me

Is the Order of Canada a bad joke yet?

The two-sided mint is the rule, not exception

I don't need an external battery for my iPod. I rarely go more than two or three hours of listening before being able to plug it in at home. But this still seems like a terribly neat thing to have, regardless. I think I'll build one at some point, just for the fun of soldering together an interesting little gadget. (Via BoingBoing.)

We have a chance to make history, here in our hand

It's E-minus-1, and I have almost nothing left to say. That bothers me. I suppose it's because tomorrow wraps up a solid year of nonstop campaigning at some level, and not much has changed between then and now. Few Democrats take national security seriously. Few Republicans are as socially centrist as I'd prefer. But that's the way it is, and that's the way it'll be tomorrow. As in June, I'm nearly paralyzed with anticipation - or would be, if I didn't have to use what free time I have to slog through an analysis of Utopia for Early Modern Europe. If Kerry wins - and I am sick with dread of that coming to pass, though it remains eminently possible - I will give him the benefit of the doubt, for a time. Hit the reset button; he can start at zero. I can only hope he'd show more resolve and leadership than he has during the campaign. I realize that's unlikely, but I don't want to be one of those embittered ideologues, who'll decry the best of outcomes should they come from the wrong side. If a President Kerry can actually succeed in the war we now fight, I'll stand behind him no less than I have for George Bush. Even those too far left for my taste in the domestic sphere can be heroic and stalwart when they've had to stare down disaster. On the other hand, should Bush be returned, I expect the perpetual sniping from the media and activist left to let up, and bloody well soon. Should their policies and ideologies be soundly rejected, I want them to stop pretending themselves victims of creeping fascism or Rovian conspiracy. I want them to undergo a period of self-reflection, and return in 2008 with, at the very least, a new FDR or Wilson - though I'd settle for a Truman or LBJ, at this point. Most of all, I just want the internal kulturkampf to quiet down, because we have enemies near and far that profit mightily from its distractions. I hope Bush wins with something between 280 and 290 electoral votes; a sound victory, but not enough to allow getting cocky. I hope that, failing that, Kerry won't be as bad for America and the world at large as I fear. I hope whoever's in the White House this time next year is as good and reasonable and steadfast a man as anyone could want. I hope.