Entries from September 2001

Do you know what sucks?

I'm really trying to hold back a full-blown fit of muppet anger at the moment (and the accompanying sprew of fuckshitdamnmotherfuckergoddammit that always seems to be right on a muppet anger's heels)... but, goldarnit, I'm pissed.

It looks like a big round of layoffs are imminent at my old job, and before this starts sounding like another case of fuckedcompany, let me just say this: I could care less about the company's success. I could care less if they make their profit and pageview targets, and if some sketchy wannabe gets promoted to middle management...

The thing is, there's a lot of really, really good people there (like Leslie, Dolon, Barb, Mark, Trevor, Thandi, Dave... and on and on and on)... and the idea of them getting screwed over by some asshole corporate idiots, more concerned with the bottom line than employer loyalty... well, it makes my blood boil.

Okay. I'm gonna go off and stare at my cats for a bit and try to mellow out for a bit. Seriously, though, the injustices of the working wounded just sometimes make me want to quit it all and hole up in some far off farmstead...


Something else that suck: Well, goddamn. Grand Royal, the record label launched by the Beastie Boys, is gone. I lost the thread with those goofballs after Ill Communication… but I’m still incredulous. Good luck, fellas.

The death of inspiration

End of an era: A couple of days ago, I went rummaging through my parent's basement and found the decrepit, dusty PC that I wrote with when I used to be a hackneyed, talentless movie critic. Amazingly, the hard drive still worked, and I managed to pull nearly two years of movie reviews that I wrote dating from 1996-1997.

At the time, I had absolutely zero writing experience. Looking back on the whole debacle, I'm astounded that I got the opportunity I did to learn some things about writing in such a public way. I made a lot of mistakes and said a bunch of idiotic things... but slowly, my writing improved.

It's funny, but I've been thinking about that whole period a lot, as I'm in the midst of prepping a bunch of the reviews I actually feel pretty good about for this site. So, it was with more than a little shock and sadness that I found out that Pauline Kael passed away yesterday.

What can be said about Pauline Kael that hasn't already been said? She was, for all intensive purposes, the most interesting and compelling film writer ever. Even when you disagreed with her (and that happened more often than you would expect), you still couldn't help but shake your head at the staggering intelligence behind her firey writing. Whether she was questioning the amount of actual work Orson Welles contributed to Citizen Kane, thumbing her nose at the whole auteur theory of directorial ownership, or trumpeting the merits of films that others dismissed (such as Bonnie & Clyde, and many of Brian De Palma's earlier works), she was never, never boring, and always jazzily eloquent.

I owe a huge debt to Pauline Kael for inspiring me, astounding me, and keeping me interested and excited about writing for film... and writing in general. If you've never read any of her many movie review collections, I highly recommend For Keeps: 30 Years at the Movies, which is an excellent complilation of her best reviews. ...

Gimme shock treatment

Gimme shock treatment: Boy, does my brain feel like week-old, squishy oatmeal. Busy week at work, lots of stuff that needed to get done "last weeK", blah, blah, blah. I'm feeling a rather pervasive sense of disinclination at the moment; I suppose that explains why I'm on my ass in front of the goddamn computer instead of out gallivanting around town on this chilly Friday night...

Renée is away on some kind of university camping retreat for education students. If you knew Renée you'd know just how not her that is. I'm sure she's squatting in a field somewhere, face contorted in a rictus of agony at the idiocy of it all...

Okay, now I'm just wasting both of our time with this babbling... here, do something useful and look at some boxes of macaroni and cheese. Have a great weekend.

Tongue to Ass syndrome

The Failure of Tech Journalism: This is more like it. A scathing, inflammatory examination of just why techonlogy journalism sucks rocks, and how more and more of the media we consume ever day is tainted by commerce. Nothing like a good, spirited read to wake the brain up on a dozy Saturday morning…


I can't believe this is happening. I feel sick to my stomach with sadness. Going to go give blood. Canadians, call 1-888-236-6283, or check the Canadian Blood Services site to find the closest Red Cross in your city. Americans, call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.

If anyone knows the whereabouts of Sarah McNally, please, please send me an e-mail, and get her to contact me. Thank you.


Today I tried to dive into work - anything to keep the mind off of yesterday's horrifying events. It's so strange how I can almost forget for a moment just what happened - then I see a Web site mentioning the attack, or catch a quick soundbite from a passing radio, or see a flag at half-mast, and it all comes flooding back.

I still haven't heard from my friend Sarah, who works in Manhattan. As far as I can tell, her office is far North enough that she should have been okay - I've tried calling her parents but there was no answer today. I'm hoping for the best.

Images have been permanently burned into my brain. It's as if I have some cruel Viewmaster stuck in my head, playing back the horror over, and over, and over. The plane cutting into the second tower. People, covered in soot and ash walking away from the disaster area, looking like walking corpses...

What I will never forget, though, was an image that thankfully hasn't been shown too much: a medium shot of a man falling to his death from the tower. The camera is far enough away that he's just a dot - but you can see his legs flailing away in the panic of the moment, and you're screaming at the television, ohmygodohmygod he's still alive ohgodohgod and then that's all you can take and you can't cry anymore and you finally turn away to hug your girlfriend and pet your cats and be thankful for what you have, right here, right now.

Fallen silent

I really don't feel like saying much, these days. Still very much innundated with thoughts, sadness, fear... pretty well the same thing that every other human being is experiencing right now...

I'm appalled by some of the disgusting comments that political "pundits" are tossing out. I received an e-mail from my friend Dan in Toronto, who was reacting to a three-way discussion on the CBC yesterday. He gets it perfectly:

Fulford (note: one of the "pundits") has just spoken of the 'casual way' in which Palestinian men discard their lives. This is revolting to me. There is nothing casual about it: it comes after a lifetime of exposure to the relentless logic of power that we wield. These people come logically and with a clear if limited historical understanding of their conditions to the malignant conclusions that we are reaping the fruit of. These men have reached the rational, accurate conclusion that the ugly conditions of their lives, that we play a role in imposing on many and massive populations around the world will not change except through radical intervention... We must learn to separate consequence and guilt to proceed, and this is what Fulford and other reactionaries cannot do. The terrorists are guilty of the dreadful acts and must be brought to justice. These acts are not our fault, but they are the consequence of our actions. We cannot be afraid of this. It will free us to condemn the revolting inhumanity of the acts of Tuesday without the crippling hypocrisy that veils the Fulfords of the world with their feigned inability to account for the motivations of the terrorists.

Knowledge is the best weapon

I've become slightly obsessed with reading as much as possible about the Middle East, past U.S. foreign policy decisions, Osama Bin Laden, the Islamic religion... anything to be as informed as possible.

With all of the analysis, conjecture and punditry floating around, this piece, written by Mir Tamim Ansary (an Afghan-American writer) is by far the best and most forward-thinking I've read so far:

... I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is no doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in New York. I agree that something must be done about those monsters.

But the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think Bin Laden, think Hitler. And when you think "the people of Afghanistan" think "the Jews in the concentration camps." It's not only that the Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the perpetrators. They would exult if someone would come in there, take out the Taliban and clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their country.

Some say, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan , a country with no economy, no food. There are millions of widows. And the Taliban has been burying these widows alive in mass graves. The soil is littered with land mines, the farms were all destroyed by the Soviets. These are a few of the reasons why the Afghan people have not overthrown the Taliban...

Read the whole piece...


Astoundingly wrong: Conversely, this Salon article from June of last year (written by Bruce Shapiro) is so incredibly, tragically wrong...

Then. ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz reported that:

The threat from [international] terrorists is so high, the potential for massive casualties is so real, that an independent panel [note: the National Commission on Terrorism] is pushing the government to take immediate, drastic action."

To this, Shapiro reported FBI Director Louis Freeh as saying:

Even the American cells of violent Middle East political movements as Hamas and Hezbollah, Freeh declared, are devoted exclusively to "fundraising and low-level intelligence gathering."

Shapiro even goes so far as to say that findings by the National Commision on Terrorism are nothing but a "con job".

If only someone had acted on this...

Goodbye, Mr. Dressup

Quietly, a large part of my childhood died early Tuesday morning. Ernie Coombs, known to millions of children (and folks who once were children) as "Mr. Dressup" has passed away.

With all of the sad events of the last 7 days, I could really use a good laugh and a smile. Thank god for Coudal, who pointed me to this collection of amazing LP covers: When LP's Roamed the Earh. Thanks, guys - I needed that.

I really need to redesign

I’m getting really sick of it - but I keep finding other things (usually work, sadly enough) to suck up the time… Well, dammit.


The last couple of days have not been good. Had been feeling incredibly empty: Vacuum tornado sucking from the pit of my stomach through to my brain; blackness mixed in with a violent inner storm. Nothingness on the outside.

I suppose this is my way of grieving. I know I can be happy. I know these images in my head will slowly fade like oxygenated Polariods. Through all of this sadness, I feel alive.

Today, it was grey and drizzly, and the chill of a freshly realized Winnipeg fall day draped its sad arms everywhere. After sitting down and watching my cats quietly sleeping together, and listening to the sounds of Renée moving papers and working on homework in the other room... life began to move again.

El dramatico

Boy, I never knew I could be so melodramatic. Feeling better today - work, as always, is as good a distraction as any.


It's coming, and I'm not looking forward to it at all. After years of comparatively balmy Toronto winters (where the mercury rarely dips below minus 10 degrees Celsius) the full force of a Winnipeg winter (minus 40, wind, snow, deserted streets) will be frightening. There's something disturbing about living in an area of the country where the weather can be so deadly, a man can die from just being outside for too long.

And no, we don't live in igloos here. You'll never guess how many times I was asked that question while travelling in the U.S.

Okay then. Four times - all of them serious, and three of them in the Carolinas.

But, I digress... Why am I talking about winter? Why, because the Autumnal Equinox just passed (thanks for the reminder, Barb), and that means I had better start looking for my winter boots and jacket.

I like fall - an introspective, cozy season if there ever was one - but winter? That's why I moved away from Winnipeg in the first place. Well, and to be with my sweetie.

On another note, if you're one of (surprisingly) many folks who came to this site looking for information on the mighty Jack Soo, it was probably this that you wanted - or that the search engine found here, at any rate.. Search engines are weird. (By the way, what the hell does Jack Soo have to do with this? Yeesh.)

World in a book

CIA -- The World Factbook: This is the reason why I love the Internet so much. I saw the 2000 version of this in a bookstore, and the information fetish inside me instantly said, "Buy! Buy! Buy!".

Well, it was 70 bucks and I was broke. But now, the latest version of this incredibly informative resource is online. On Afghanistan, the CIA reports:

"Afghanistan was invaded and occupied by the Soviet Union in 1979. The USSR was forced to withdraw 10 years later by anti-communist mujahidin forces supplied and trained by the US, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and others. Fighting subsequently continued among the various mujahidin factions, but the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban movement has been able to seize most of the country. In addition to the continuing civil strife, the country suffers from enormous poverty, a crumbling infrastructure, and widespread land mines."

To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)

I was coming back on the bus from work this afternoon, head throbbing from too many hours of squinting endless at a goddamn monitor at some mindless what-have-you... the bus was one of those, well, "squatting" buses - the ones built for the handicapped, the infirm, or the eldery. There was a woman at the front end of the bus in one of those motorized jobbies you see zipping around the Mall, barrelling towards you in a flurry of white hair and granny gumption.

The driver of said motorized jobby was this incredibly wrinkled woman, in her late 80's if she was a day... her husband was Hyman Roth, all the way to the loose-fitting hawaiian shirt and self-confident swagger. He was regalling this incredibly large woman sitting beside him with some story involving himself, a shotgun, and "a bunch of cocky bastards" (soundbites are a magical thing). Their stop came, and Mr. Hyman-Roth-esque and Ms. Motorized Jobby prepared to leave.

The problem quickly became apparent that Ms. M.J.'s vehicle had pulled into the bus in such a way that reversing was nigh-mpossible. Do you remember the scene from Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery, where Austin Powers is in a golf cart, and he's stuck backing up, and then moving forward, and then backing up, and then getting stuck in the hallway?

It was exactly like that. The minutes passed by painfully as the woman got more and more frustrated as she tried to find some way to get her vehicle out of the bus. Her (I'm guessing here) husband got more and more annoyed. The large woman looked on with the look on her face resembling that of someone stuck in a very small space with a very large, overwhelming smell. The cart went backwards. The cart went forwards.

After what seemed to be many, many minutes, the woman was almost in tears with frustration and humiliation. Just when the guy sitting next to me and I were just about to get up and try to help lift her out, she managed to wrench the steering wheel enough so that she could just squeek out the bus's door, followed closely behind by a muttering Hyman Roth.

I think a lot about getting old.

Life in a warzone.

Horror in Afghanistan: I’ve been trying to avoid thinking about much involving terrorism-Afghan-Taliban-Laden-WTC-tragedy-death-sadness over the last couple of days (yesterday’s link to the CIA Fact book notwithstanding); avoiding anything involving the news have helped keep the dogs of hand-to-brow melodrama at bay. Willful avoidance is also keeping me from soiling your eyes with more noxious self-abasement and babblebrook… but this is a really well-written article. Enough said.

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