Monday, October 31, 2005

Scary movies

Nancy Burden references Retrocush's 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All Time . Where is The Entity and the scene where she is being raped (once again) by an invisible force and you can see the imprints of fingers pressing into her breast but cannot see any fingers? Scariest movie ever. And where was the scene of the tree, as scary monster tree, coming in through the little boy's window in Poltergeist? Retrocrush had lots of Poltergeist there but the scary tree frightened the bejeezus out of me every time I watched that movie.

Avoiding the phone

This past weekend, I did a lot driving around from place to place, doing errands and whatnot. It seems that everyone was veeerrryyy busy because at every intersection, I noticed there were people around me who were using their cellphones. It's true. I dare say you find that hard to believe. You are surprised, perhaps even shocked. Especially if you know that using a cellphone while driving is illegal in Newfoundland and Labrador . I know, dear reader, you are saying 'sure b'y, they were at the intersection, they were stopped at a traffic light'. That is true but I watched and they continued to talk on the phone when they moved through the intersections. I watched one quite carefully since she was driving behind me. She was very animated while talking on the phone and was waving her hand around as she drove. Think about that--one hand holding the phone, one hand dramatically waving around and me praying my car was ahead of a three handed woman. I observed her carefully, as I braced for impact, until I scooted out into another lane, specifically to get away from her. I can only hope she didn't hurt anyone. So this made me wonder if anyone has ever been ticketed or fined for illegal cellphone use in Newfoundland and Labrador? I tried to find some stats about it on the government website but decided poking my eyes out would be more fun (and about as useful). If anyone knows any info about this (yes, I mean you four readers of my blog), please add a comment here and enlighten me.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Lottery Winners Are Crazy

Alright, the story of 17 colleagues winning the lottery makes me happy because I think it's great to share that kind of money. Imagine the total number of people affected by such a win, when you figure in relatives and close friends (wish I was one). Still, it kind of ticks me off because these lottery winners always say, as at least two of the winners in this case did, "I'm gonna keep working". Why? And that's the way it always is. It seems that every time someone wins the lottery they say they'll keep working. That means no one I know and love will ever win the lottery because most everyone I know buys the tickets so they can quit their job, tell the boss to shove it, tell that nasty customer where to put his stupid complaints.

I don't believe any of them. You got over 3 million in the bank and one morning you just won't press snooze on that alarm clock again or you'll be in the boardroom and decide you don't need to partake in the umpteenth meeting about brainstorming for new clients--you'll just stand up, laugh maniacally, and say to hell with all this, I'm a millionaire and I'm outta here. I would.

Dirty Water

Is your water coming from a treatment plant just downstream from your sewage lagoon?
No problem, we’ll just load the water up with chlorine.
Oh. Chlorine causes rashes and skin infections?
Oh. Well, you just wait there and we’ll get back to you sometime. Honest we will.

And Martin finds this whole thing unacceptable?! Wonder how’s the water at 22 Sussex?

Harriet Miers Withdraws

Poor Harriet. I kind of feel bad for her (although the fact that she’s Bush’s lawyer doesn’t endear me to her). She didn’t ask for all this. The press have pounded her and even the Republicans didn’t like her. They don’t seem to be focusing on the fact that Bush appoints people with no apparent qualifications, to major roles in his administration. Conspiracies abound that Bush has done this so now he can nominate some staunchly conservative jurist and the people will say “oh, at least it’s not Harriet Miers”. I think the decision went more like this:

George W., Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, sit around in the Oval Office, trying to think of who to nominate for the Supreme Court.

Rove: “C'mon, let’s just pick anyone. We can do it.”

Bush: “Not just anyone.”

Cheney: “Yes, anyone.”

Rove: “The most outlandish we can think of. Just to see if we can pull it off.”

Cheney: “Oh, we can pull it off.”

Bush: “I don’t know anyone. Only Harriet but she’s never even been a judge, though.”

Rove: “That’s it, let’s nominate Harriet.”

Cheney: “I think we can do it.”

Bush: “But she’s never even been a judge. Thinks for a moment. “But she is a devout Christian.”

Rove: “There you go. Let’s do it.”

Bush: “There’s no way.”

Rove: “Sure there is. We just got a brand new justice appointed as Chief Justice, ahead of all the ones who have been there for years.“

Cheney: “And we got them to believe WMDs were in Iraq, that Saddam was connected to September 11, that Kerry was a coward…”

Rove: “We got most of the Katrina crap dumped on Mike Brown.”

Bush (excitedly) “And the media didn’t even focus that much on the fact that I’d been the one who appointed the head of a horse association to FEMA.”

Rove: “Exactly. You’re Teflon, man. So, let’s do it.”

Bush: “I don’t know. You really think we can do it?”

Cheney: “Well, if it doesn’t work out, then at least you can say that you tried to nominate a chick. If they won’t accept her, that’s their problem.”

Rove: F#c$ing brilliant!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Abitibi Idle

There was an announcement yesterday of, what the government calls “a significant move”. Abitibi will “idle”, not permanently close, its Stephenville mill. For this move, the province has to cough up 10 million dollars per year for the next three years (maybe longer) and the union is in negotiations as to how much the employees will take in the way of concessions. I know this should be good news and it is, I guess. The details of the deal are not all out in the open yet. Nevertheless, I still feel like Danny Williams just stood with his bowl out to Abitibi, and said “please, sir, I want some more”, long enough for them to dump some extra gruel in the dish. I want the people in Stephenville to have their mill, I really do but when do we say “okay”?

This is the question, the hideously ugly question, but when do we say “okay” to the Abitibis and FPIs and all the other corporations we battle with in order to keep their ventures here in our province, particularly in our rural areas? When is enough enough? The reality, in this multinational corporation world of ours, just may be that these places will eventually close down and part of me wonders if the millions we put into the coffers of these businesses wouldn’t be better served by investing in our own companies, industries right here in Newfoundland and Labrador—started by us, run by us and operated right here in our province.

Danny Williams heads the new Department of Business and has a Business Advisory Board. Maybe it is time to buckle down and figure out ways we can make ourselves more self-sufficient and less dependent on big companies who throw us bones while making us, and more importantly the workers they employ, pay through the nose. I think this may have been the plan of Mr. Williams but I think politically he cannot afford for places like the Stephenville mill to go without a fight. I believe that if he did this radical thing and decided to help out Stephenville with a 150 million dollar investment in some other, home-grown industry, he would hear the cry of how “Danny is letting rural Newfoundland and Labrador die.” Well, maybe it is dying anyway, folks. A sad idea but more true than not. Maybe Danny has to bite the bullet and do it. Maybe we have to put in that experimental transplant that might seem crazy but just might work instead of the pacemaker that is keeping us barely alive, that is merely prolonging the inevitable (how’s that for stretching an analogy?). But then again, we all remember the Sprung Greenhouse. I don’t know but I sure hope Mr. Williams does and that he has the guts not to stick to the status quo in order to save his political hide. The subject is not closed, only idle.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Oprah and James Frey

James Frey is going to be on Oprah today. Don't normally watch Queen Oprah since I hear a little too much about her on there and not so much about others (she has a healthy dose of self esteem). Still, this one should be interesting. Oprah chose Mr. Frey (who doesn't give a f#@k about what others think. The man is outspoken, gritty and about as unlikely as you can imagine for an Oprah Book Club choice. Again I have to go to a Salon.com article (you can read it for free by watching an ad) since Hillary Frey (wonder is she related?) says it better than I can.

A live show with him would be more interesting but I am just looking forward to how he either kisses her behind (and sudddenly does give a f#@k) or how she reacts when he doesn't. I might post about it once I've watched it.

It’s All In the Numbers

The gruesome milestone has arrived. 2000 American soldiers have now died in the Iraq war and while this is a number, a milestone as the media are calling it, there is more to the story than this one number. There are over 15,000 American soldiers injured, hundreds of contractors killed, and 200 other "Coalition forces" who have been killed. These statistics are awful to us but every number is a loved one to someone and when you factor in the lives devastated by these 2000 deaths and over 15,000 injuries, the numbers add up to much more. Every day I hear the news about Iraq and every day I think of some son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, wife or husband who has died and wonder if only The US government had told the truth about the WMDs, if only they had thought this through more and avoided the senseless rush to war, then that person would still be alive. And that's from here in Canada. Imagine being the loved one or friend of a person killed or still fighting over there. Just ask Cindy Sheehan.

Then there are the other numbers, the ones the media doesn't announce as milestones: the Iraqi dead. Iraq Body Count, a British research group that gets its data from reports by major news agencies, says that the numbers of civilians killed since the beginning of the conflict number a minimum of 26690 and a maximum of 30051 while the Lancet estimates that it's more like 100,000. That's civilians. Other numbers are: 539 days (how many days it took for the first 1000 American soldier deaths) and 402 days (length of time for the second thousand deaths). I'm no mathematician but those numbers don't bode well for the soldiers in Iraq.

I pray for all the injured, those mourning the dead, and the soldiers still fighting the war.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Civil Rights Pioneer Dies

Rosa Parks has passed away. By merely sitting down, she taught us all what it means to stand up for our rights. Her decision to refuse to give up her seat to a white man led to her arrest and set about the Montgomery Bus Boycott which saw hundreds of black people boycott busses while walking miles to get to their jobs as hired help. This would be a gutsy move today but in 1950s Alabama where lynchings were still happening and where blacks were not even permitted to sit in the same area as white people or drink from the same fountain, one must wonder where a person would get the courage or the self-confidence to make such a move. There were many more who fought for civil rights in America but Rosa Parks set the ball rolling and we should all take a moment to remember her.

Danny and the Women

Warning: Long rant but I am ticked.

A newly formed Newfoundland and Labrador feminist organization (NL Feminist Coalition) has been created. Someone, on their behalf, put an ad in a local paper, telling Danny Williams that the women of the province will not be silenced. This comes about after a speech Danny Williams made, defending himself against the opposition and the “Joyce Hancocks” of the world. For those of you who don’t know, Joyce Hancock is a prominent feminist in our province and Premier Williams was responding to an assertion by her that he does not listen to women and is treating them unfairly. This, in response to the non-renewal of the contract of the former head of the College of the North Atlantic, who is a woman.

There, that was nice, wasn’t it? I was polite in explaining the situation. Now, let me have at it because I am sick to death of all this. Yes, I like Danny Williams and no, I don’t think he is on a mission to decimate the role of women in any high-up positions. You only need look at his record for that. I am sick of so-called-feminists taking the time and energy to get all riled up about things like this, or that Mayor Andy Wells had his picture on the front of a paper with a gag in his mouth (the feminists felt this was demeaning to women—yes, dear reader, Andy Well is a man), or that we say as “loved our fathers” in our Ode to Newfoundland. See, the thing is that I don’t see these people taking out ads when some d#*khead beats his wife half to death and gets a slap on the wrist, I don’t hear an outcry and the creation of yet another coalition to help the single mother whose husband won’t pony up the child support or a woman fired from a convenience store after she got pregnant. Oh, I know that the Status of Women Council is aware of these things and they do pipe up from time to time on such issues but not enough and not angrily enough. Their anger tends to come from the kinds of matters that make people scratch their heads and wonder how this is a “woman’s issue”.

As a woman, I have a problem with people stretching for something to fight for when there are still battered women and men who get away with beating them. I have a problem when a woman (or women) being dismissed from some high-paying position (or any position) is always because she is a woman. If the head of the College of the North Atlantic was a man and his contract was not renewed, no one would have said it was because he was a man. The idea is ludicrous, as ludicrous as the idea that the Premier of our province is picking on women in order to remove them from the upper echelons of the government hierarchy. As long as we want to be treated equally, we need to stop saying that everything that happens to us as women, is simply because we are female. Sure b’y, that’ s cracked.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rex Goudie Sells Out

Well, not Rex (he'd never do that) but the concert for his CD launch apparently sold out in less than an hour. CBC Radio reported this morning that there were about 200 people lined up outside the Mile One Stadium and some had been there since 6:00 last evening. They said that some people had taken the day off work to get the tickets. This must all be so surreal for Rex. I wonder if anyone had told him, this time last year, that he would be selling out a Mile One Stadium concert in 30 minutes, would he have believed it. I would say not. And I like it when someone makes it big like that without expecting or demanding it. Sure b'y, it's great.

Newfoundlanders Up for Awards

Some Newfoundlanders nominated for upcoming awards include Lisa Moore, who is nominated for the Giller Prize ( sorry, the Scotiabank Giller Prize) as well as Cathy Jones and Shawn Majumder who are nominated for Canadian Comedy Awards . Of course, I have my fingers crossed for all of them but Rachel Giese of the Toronto Sun and Book Television, doesn't seem to think it is going to happen for Lisa Moore. Too bad. Since it is her second nod, I think she should win. Plus, her book is quite different from the others and stands out as such. As for the Comedy Awards, I am torn since I would love for Cathy Jones to win but I adore The Daily Show's Samantha Bee who is nominated in the same category as Cathy.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Great column

I just have to say that I love Kathleen Winter's column in The Telegram. I can't give you a direct link but go to the The Telegram then click on Columns on the bar to the left. You can find Ms. Winter's column under Saturday. If anyone knows of a way to get her archived columns, please let me know.

A First For Everything

Well, Tropical Storm Alpha is whirling its way around the Carribean. This marks the first time all official hurricane names have been used and forecasters have been forced to go to the Greek alphabet for names.

More firsts include Britain's first case of bird flu (but they are quick to say that it was from an imported South American parrot (damn that Prince Harry for having to have such an authentic pirate costume for Halloween); Sweden's first case and the first signs of bird flu in Canadian birds. At this rate, poor Chicken Little will be slaughtered long before he can tell everyone the sky is falling (although the media is doing a good job of instilling such panic over the whole bird flu thing). I wonder if there'll be any turkeys left for Christmas.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Beatles Named Top Icon

Variety has put out a list of the top (entertainment) Icons of the Century and proclaimed the Beatles as number 1.

1. The Beatles
2. Louis Armstrong
3. Lucille Ball
4. Humphrey Bogart
5. Marlon Brando
6. Charlie Chaplin
7. James Dean
8. Marilyn Monroe
9. Mickey Mouse
10. Elvis Presley

I've never been a huge Beatles fan. I respect a lot of their music and scratch my head at some of it. I understand their impact and importance to culture and society but I'm not sure I would put them as Number 1. Then again, I'm not sure who I would put at number 1. This is why I hate these arbitrary lists people come up with. Who decides? (In this case, Variety says they "polled the entertainment community, Variety's far-flung editorial team and our readers via Variety.com") Anyway, I'mjust glad that Bugs Bunny made the list. I love Bogey but I would never put him higher up than Elvis. The rest of the list is unnumbered but includes Pacman and not Pong; Kurt Cobain and not Bono; Snoopy and not Charlie Brown.

Whadayouthink?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Pitching Woo

Well, not really pitching woo but pitching yourself. It is a hard thing to do, one that Newfoundlanders don't do too well as a group. Tooting our own horns is not our strong suit so Craig Welsh over at the highly recommended Townie Bastard, has a great two part series on "How to Pitch to an Entertainment Writer". Craig actually says it is more like "a primer on what to do if you're an artist and you want to prepare your media campaign". Good stuff for anyone who needs to pitch a new artistic release (and Craig's blog is always a good read).

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Various Degrees of Interest

Some notes on news of varying degrees of interest. Perhaps the title is a pun since the first thing is to note that MUN's Student Union (MUNSU) are boycotting tomorrow's convocation ceremony when Inco's CEO, Scott Hand, gets an hounourary degree. The whole Inco-MUN thing feels a little sordid to me since Inco builds a big building there and now MUN gives the head honcho a degree. Plus, Inco really does have a questionable record on both enviromental issues and human rights so why is an educational institution getting wrapped up in something like that? I'll tell you. It's called the root of all evil and Axel Meisen's hand is out.

Harry Steele has been named the chair of the panel to choose the chair of the Offshore Petroleum Board. I respect Harry Steele very much and am sure he'll pick the best person for the job. I just have to wonder how he gets along with Andy Well. Has Andy burned any bridges with Steele by opening his big yap and shouting something stupid about him (I don't think even Andy has the balls to shout something at him)? Let's hope not.

Danny Williams and his government are still trying to hammer something out with Abitibi. If anyone can get something out of this for Stephenville and Grand Falls, Danny is the man.

Lastly, a woman originally from Stoneville ran her van into the water in Stonehave, New Brunswick, drowning herself and her two children. Police are still investigating but it looks like it may not have been accidental. I can't understand that. At all. But, as Ron Hynes says (not Shaye-Ron's version is a million times better), Godspeed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Oh Canada (and Newfoundland)

I am one very lucky human being. I live in Newfoundland and Labrador and while it is often foggy here and the winters are snowy and wet, we don’t have earthquakes or hurricanes or tornadoes. As Hurricane Wilma bears down on various parts of the world and I see Pakistan trying to recover from the horrors of their recent earthquake, I take solace in the place I live. I don’t have a leader named Bush and my country has not been dragged into a senseless war; I can walk freely down my street without fear; I live in a country where my Prime Minister and Premier are comfortable, and accessible, enough to sit down for an interview with some crazy characters on This Hour Has 22 or Rick Mercer’s Report; gay people can even marry in my country. I am lucky and blessed and grateful. I know there are those living in Newfoundland and Labrador who have lost their jobs and people have lost their homes to the recent flood in Stephenville and maybe they don’t feel so grateful today (understandably). But I do and I think more people should try to remember all we have and stop focusing so much on what we don’t.

Sure b’y, I’m just in a good mood today. I’ll be crooked and ranting tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

You're Fired

So the news is out that two staff members of the DFO in Canada were fired for "inappropriate activities" with a credit card. One staffer from Newfoundland was fired for having fraudulently racked up $10,000 on a credit card. Staff spent excess money booking ultra-expensive flights at up to over $5000 more than the lowest priced available flights, bumped up how much they paid in exchange rates in other countries so they could pocket the extra money, and stayed around for vacations after conferences abroad--charging it all to the government. The sad thing is not just that this stuff happened but the yawns with which such news is met. We have become so used to fraud and abuse of money and power in government that we hardly blink an eye. After all, this seems small peanuts after the Gomery enquiry. Yet, as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we should be upset, no irate, about this issue too. This is the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, we are talking about. These are the people who should be providing us with more science about our fish stocks. They should be spending more to enforce our laws and prevent foreign overfishing but they're too busy finding creative ways to stick their hands in the public till.

I'm sure the coming days will see more discussion about this and the situation will be rectified, never to occur again. Sure, b'y.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Let It Rain

Dear God, it is still raining. 60 odd mm yesterday in St. John's and still going. Power outages, high winds... sniff, sniff, smells like fall.

Some venting today about simulcasting programs on our own Rogers Cable. This whole thing sucks, not just because we miss Superbowl ads but mostly because the people who set up the simulcasts don't seem to ever check the television listings in order to ensure that the show they are simulcasting is set to be on at that hour. A Nascar race on NBC Saturday night (or very early Sunday morning) was suddenly cut off, 20 minutes before the end, by a repeat of Saturday Night Live being simulcast from NTV. Argggghhhhhhh. Then last night, CTV cut off the last minutes of Desperate Housewives. Okay, so simulcasting is a necessary evil a la the CRTC but I say there should be thorough checking of the tv listings in order to keep everything consistent. I mean, how many times must one miss the first half an hour of a show (or worse yet, the last half and hour) because someone managed to miss a schedule change? I also think all simulcasts should start 8 minutes after the start of a show and end 8 minutes before the end of the show.

A small, insignificant rant today but this is just the first one and I'll be back.