Entries from August 2001


You may have been wondering, "Where the hell is he?" You may not have cared. But, after weeks of slow, percolating stress and sore, throbbing back muscles, Renée and I have finally finished our move from Toronto back to Winnipeg. The cats are here, slightly stressed from the flight but okay, and I finally got the DSL connection working yesterday. Life, it seems, is slowly making its way back to normalcy.

Moving, it seems, helped remind me just who my friends are, and I love 'em to bits. Big, whopping bear hugs to Tonia, Bart, both of our families, and all of the wonderfully hip, deserving folks at my old job, with especially warm squeezes to Leslie (Wee!). I never would have survived it without you guys.

Oh, and by the way, thanks to Dan at dotComments for the helping hand fixing the comments function on this site. Yeehaw, they finally work!

Fast Food Nation Update 1

McDonald's Clarifies 'Flavor' Definitions: Interesting, at least to me, considering that I'm reading Fast Food Nation, which delves deeply into the whole mystery of just what "natural flavours" really are... I have, by the way, gone back to my absolutely-no-red-meat diet. Life as a carnivore was just too scary.

Field of Pork

Field of Pork: Holy synchronicity! This has to be the weirdest, most surrealistic image I’ve laid eyes on in ages. Via the Morning News

Winnipeg Story

I had been walking across the concrete parking lot expanse that is Polo Park. Polo Park, where I used to go as a child to get my picture with Santa, and later on where I used to go bowling with friends. The sun was high and piercingly strong, as it usually is in the central plains - there isn't the smoggy gossamer that Toronto has to mute the sun's rays - and the quality of light was dreamy and narcotic. Daydreaming was interrupted by what sounded like an injured animal. I looked over and saw a native man wearing a pink, intensely frayed sweater. He seemed to be trying to open his car door, and two men (friends?) seemed to be trying to play-wrestle with him.

It wasn't until I saw the flash of sun off of the handcuffs that I realized it was two undercover police officers trying to arrest the Man In Pink. They scuffled and awkwardly grd with each other, and if you didn't think about it in the context of an arrest, it almost looked like three good ol' buddies just goofing around. But the Man In Pink kept making this sound: high, keening, wounded. He fell down. One of the police officers fell on top of him. He got up and staggered a few steps. Fell again. And as the undercover police finally pulled the Man down, one of the police finally said something: "Give up. Please give up."

I turned my head away and kept walking.

Doomsday list

The question, courtesy of Heather: "If you were fleeing nuclear holocaust/a second term with G.W. Bush and could only take one mix tape with 12 songs on it and one book, which 12 songs and which book would they be?"

An impossible question. Here was my list at that moment (in no particular order, and has since endured a thousand revisions):

  1. My Funny Valentine - by Chet Baker
  2. The Girl from Ipanema - as performed by Joao Gilberto, Stan Getz, Astrud Gilberto
  3. I Wish - by Stevie Wonder
  4. Whiter Shade of Pale - by Procol Harum
  5. Papa was a Rollin' Stone - by The Temptations
  6. Time - by Tom Waits
  7. Way to Blue - by Nick Drake
  8. In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning - by Frank Sinatra
  9. From a Motel 6 - by Yo La Tengo
  10. My Curse - by The Afghan Whigs
  11. Man out of Time - by Elvis Costello
  12. 3 Gymnopédics - by Erik Satie

Book: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Where's the James Brown? The Thelonious Monk? The Hüsker Dü? The Sonic Youth? The Bach? The female artists? The Blues? Anything from the last five years? And on, and on, and on... Well, these are songs that I could listen to over and over, and not get sick of. They're uplifting and somber, beautiful, serious and inconsequential. Most importantly, however, they mean something to me. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

As for J.D. Salinger's lofty place as the sole book: I couldn't pick a "favorite book", so after agonizing on it for a bit, I went with the one I've read (and enjoyed) the most times. That's gotta mean something, I suppose. For example, perhaps I may one day become overwhelmed by a flood of sociopathical tendencies and decide, "What the heck!" and try to assassinate the President with a potato gun.

Then again, considering that I'm a red-blooded Canuck, perhaps I'll just sit in a broken papasan chair and mutter to myself about how much I hate them goddamn Texans (kidding)... and feel guilty about it.

Curious as to Heather's list, or any of the other responses? Check 'em out, and them come on back and share your lists with me.

Nostalgia is a dangerous state of being

On the corner of Bathurst and College Street in Toronto, Ontario, there’s a restaurant called Sneaky Dee’s. On the side of said restaurant (server of low-grade Mexican fare and watery draft) is the words, “Feed my eyes!” in gigantic, spray-painted black letters. On a Saturday afternoon, walking around with Renée in Winnipeg’s deserted, morose downtown (yet another victim of the suburban box stores and shopping malls which have infested middle-sized cities like this), with barely a single person to be seen, and the childhood memories of a bustling, vibrant city mocked by the emptiness of it all, that’s all I can say. Feed my eyes!

too weird for words

DanceMonkeyBoy: I’m sure you’ve seen this already, but if not.. you really owe it to yourself. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer incites the troops with a frantic boogaloo. Frightening. Hilarious. REAL. [3.0 mb .mov format].

Links journalists use

CyberTimes Navigator: Wanna be a hard-nosed New York Times reporter? Use the links they use in the newsroom, and feel the unbiased, hard-hitting investigative reporter just flooding into you…


Quite often, I catch myself thinking, "Boy, I can't wait to go home"... home being Toronto, which if you've been tuning in, you'd know I just moved from recently. I especially get East-sick (um, perhaps that's not the best way to put it) when I check out Barbara's blog and see the fun they're having. Then, I shake the cobwebs out of my fuzzled brain and think, "Oh yeah... I live here now...".

I think that's gonna be happening for a while.


thinkdink: Not only does she have a smart-looking new redesign (which the beatnik Pad is, sadly, long overdue), but I just noticed today that Jessica has linked to this site. Strange - I sent her an e-mail a long time ago about my experiences with Zyban (smoked for 14 years, quit smoking avec Zyban, got a weird eye thing [glaucoma], was it related?

Who knows?) but never heard back… so I assumed that was that. The Web is a wonderful place. Right back atcha!

The Chairman Smiles

The Chairman Smiles: I’m koo-koo for good poster art, and this collection of Communist proproganda posters from China, Cuba, and the Soviet union has easily sucked away the time I earmarked for working on my sadly ignored freelance Web development site. Bad Neil!

Fast Food Nation Update 2

Why McDonald's Fries Taste So Good: an except from the latest book on my nighttable, Fast Food Nation. As you can probably guess from the high number of FFN related links I've been posting, I liked the book a lot. Since we're on the subject, check out one of the many excellent interviews with FFN's author, Atlantic Monthly contributer Eric Schlosser.

Okay, enough about that.

Dean en France

Moving Story: Félicitations et bon chance to Dean, who jets off to a new life in France tomorrow. Another fellow Canuck succumbs to the beauty and romance of the France countryside… then again, having someone waiting for you on the other side makes all the difference…

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