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September 30, 2005

Writer's blocks

Writing a novel, I said once, is like trying to make the Mountains of Edom out of Lego blocks. Or to build the whole of Paris, buildings, squares, and boulevards, down to the last street bench, out of matchsticks.

- Amos Oz, A Tale of Love and Darkness

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I have set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAlabama State Senator Hank Erwin gives his theory on why Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.
New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast have always been known for gambling, sin and wickedness. It is the kind of behavior that ultimately brings the judgment of God. [...] [T]he signature of New Orleans is the French Quarter, Bourbon Street. It is known for sin. And you have a Bible that says God will judge sin, you can put two and two together and say, it may not be the judgment of God, but it sure looks like the footprint.

But what of the fact that the evil, sinful, anti-christful French Quarter was left largely unscathed by God's wrath?
Well, I understand that, and I think the lord sent them a message that we need to turn around or we may have another hurricane come.

Watch the interview here

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIf I understand correctly and then extrapolate, a theory that states that noxious man-made emissions pollute the atmosphere and lead to global warming, one of the consequences of which is a higher frequency of category 4 and 5 storms in the Gulf of Mexico is far-fetched. A convoluted plot by a smiting, faceless almighty in which tens of thousands of innocents suffer to demonstrate a point to a few middle-aged gamblers from Iowa and some university-aged Mardi Gras revellers, however, is a perfectly sound theory. One of the great things about God is that you can make him say what you want him to say. The proof?
The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was flooded by Katrina. But Erwin said the Baptists knew they were ministering in a sinful place that could be targeted.

- links via Crooks and Liars

For an even better take on Katrina and the Almighty, go here and click on the picture.

- via -=JeW*SCHooL=-

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Mysterious and secretive

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSomeboday in Toronto is very strange. A quick check of my stats showed that a Torontonian came to this site with the search, "Who is Bonhomme? What kind of creature is he?" Assuming I'm the Bonhomme in question, I'm not sure how to answer. I've never been very good with open-ended questions. You tell me what kind of creature I am.

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September 28, 2005

Scary numbers

Numbers / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usPresident Bush is being briefed by Rumsfeld who tells him 3 Brazilian soldiers have been killed. Bush pauses for a minute and asks nervously:

"How many is a brazillion?"

- via Mr V

September 23, 2005

And Martha just points and laughs

Tacos / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usOur hearts were in the right place but our culinary abilities were, as far as I could tell, down the street in the pub. Yesterday my good friend Sexy Realtor and I decided to make jerk chicken tacos. Our success was limited, and our tummies left half empty.

It started off quite easily. The chicken jerked perfectly and the wine – guava juice for me - flowed swiftly. Our supper's fate began to make its ominous presence known when, due to a complete lack of foresight, we jerked the chicken with the bones still in it. This is was silly because one sign of a successful taco is when you don't have to pick bones out of your teeth when you eat. Another is when you do not experience internal bleeding and intestinal infection due to chicken bone splinters lodges in your digestive tract. No Martha Stewart I, but I do know how to make a taco. And so we set to work deboning the jerk.

Sexy Realtor used a knife. I know myself much too well to entrust myself with a sharp, pointy object. I reasoned that whatever damage I could inflict would be much lessened if I used my fingers. Good thing.

When one is deboning chicken one must dive right in with abandon. I am a highly-strung and excitable individual who bottles up much of my frustration with the incredibly inane people with whom I come into contact daily, and so I relished the opportunity to rip flesh from bone, even if it was just a jerked chicken.

When one is using one's fingers with food covered in sauce, one must be careful not to get the sauce anywhere but on the food. This would be true of any sauce, but particular attention should be paid to sauces that stain and hot, spicy, sauces, such as jerk sauce, for example. One should never, say, laugh uproariously at something hilarious one's co-chef has said, and reach up to wipe away a little laugh tear from one’s face without first rinsing the caustic solution from one’s fingers. The consequences could be dire.

Fire Eye / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe pain in my right eyeball was instantaneous. It felt is if it were self-combusting while boring its way back into my brain at the same time. I hadn't known such agony since I sat all the way through "Alexander" because the extremely sexually attractive man I was dating at the time insisted on seeing it. My brain emptied itself of all thoughts save survival.

I ran blindly in circles around Sexy Realtor's kitchen. His five thousand pound chocolate lab with halitosis thought I was playing an amusing game and yipped and jumped half a pace behind me, tugging at my shirt with his fangs. My friend managed to fend off my flailing arms and lead me to the sink, but I tripped on squirming the dog and hit my head on the corner of the counter. I decided to wait for death, shivering in a heap on the kitchen floor while the dog covered my face with sloppy, malodorous affection.

Due to the excitement, we forgot to finish deboning the chicken. What's more, we forgot about the taco shells warming in the oven until several of them caught fire and the smoke detector went off, which sent the dog off into a frenzy of howls. Perhaps he thought if he howled loud enough we wouldn't notice he'd stolen the cheese of the counter, eaten half and pulverised the other half. The only cheese left in the apartment was romano. Also, the sour cream was off, the lettuce wilted, and the tomatoes squooshy.

Kitchen Fire / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAnd so once the smoke had cleared and my eyeball had oozed itself back into its socket, we were left with splitnery, blackened, tomato-sogged tacos that left us gasping for air due the hot jerk chicken and begging for water due to the tangy romano cheese. One more brilliant idea foiled by the indignity of reality. Martha would have just laughed and talked about, while still in prison, all the delicious and attractive nibbles she had made with just flour, water, prison rations and a little bit the creative spirit.

Orcs Kill Monopoly Pieces: Little Dog First to Go

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI am old enough for technology to pass me by. I laughed at my parents as they struggled with DVDs, cell phones, and Windows, but now I am old enough to feel left out by the march of innovation.

I first noticed this morning as I was reading an article on the BBC site that made absolutely no sense to me. It talked of a deadly plague that was killing not people, but game characters all over the world. Passed on by virtual evil mutant blood, as I understand it, the virtual disease became a virtual epidemic once it had entered "the orc capital city of Ogrimmar". Maybe that"s where all my missing sock twins have got to as well.

Now, people with spotty faces and no dates all over the world are in a tizzy over their game characters swooning and languishing on their virtual divans, but as near as I can tell, some virtual monopoly pieces have broken and need to be replaced. But I admit that I am mostly befuddled by this controversy. All I know is: never let orcs near your Monopoly. They don't play well with others.

I hate blogs that post pictures of dogs, cats, and kids

... but my cat is the most elegantly gorgeous cat that has ever existed.

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His name is נודניק (pronounced "nude Nick"), which means "pain in the butt", more or less, in Hebrew.

September 21, 2005

Don't read on an empty stomach

Chicken Lollipops / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
New Yorkers always think they know the real thing when it comes to Chinese food. Forty years ago it was egg rolls, chop suey and drinks with paper umbrellas. Then it was General Tso's chicken and sesame noodles.

But over the past decade, as large communities of people from India, Peru, Korea, Trinidad and Guyana have formed here, New York has had to expand its ideas about what Chinese food can be.

Dishes like chili-spiked, deep-fried chicken lollipops [(recipe)], which are a Chinese-Indian specialty, and lo mein topped with chunks of peppery jerk chicken, served at De Bamboo Express, a Chinese-West Indian restaurant in Brooklyn, are what Chinese food is now to thousands of New Yorkers.

Although we are lowly Torontonians and not classy New Yorkers, a friend and I have been inspired by the article: tomorrow we fuse Jamaica to Mexico (well, Texas really) and will be making jerk chicken tacos.

I want to fly this bird

Despite cancellations from Air Canada, due to union woes, and Northwest and Delta, due to bankruptcy, Boeing's 787 Dreamliner has already notched up an impressive 200 orders in one year. It boasts all sorts of technological features I don't pretend to understand (lightweight poly-something), but my homosexuality is all a-twitter over its radical new approach to interior design.

I prefer it over Airbus' ostentatious double-decker 380 that will feature lounges, gyms, boutiques, and restaurants that remind me a little of the Love Boat and that the likes of me will never be allowed to see. Check out the swooping arches, enormous windows, and calm nightlighting on the 787.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Interior / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

The 787 Dreamliner enters service in 2008.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

September 20, 2005

So fine me, then

By raising the fines that would be levied against offending broadcasters some fifteenfold, to a fee of about $500,000 per crudity broadcast, and by threatening to revoke the licenses of repeat polluters, the Senate seeks to return to the public square the gentler tenor of yesteryear, when seldom were heard any scurrilous words, and famous guys were not foul mouthed all day.

Yet researchers who study the evolution of language and the psychology of swearing say that they have no idea what mystic model of linguistic gentility the critics might have in mind. Cursing, they say, is a human universal. Every language, dialect or patois ever studied, living or dead, spoken by millions or by a small tribe, turns out to have its share of forbidden speech, some variant on comedian George Carlin's famous list of the seven dirty words that are not supposed to be uttered on radio or television.

I completely agree that regulating speech in any venue is ridiculous and contrary to human nature, but sometimes I wish that some of us could use a little more imagination than fucking throwing in the fucking swear every 2 or 3 fucking words when they talk, fuck! I must be aging quite rapidly.

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That meshuggeneh undead shiksa

Corpse Bride / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Once upon a time, a bridegroom jokingly recited his marriage vows over a skeletal finger protruding from the earth. After placing his ring on the bone, his mirth turned to horror when a grasping hand burst forth, followed by a corpse in a tattered shroud, her dead eyes staring as she proclaimed, "My husband."

This chilling Jewish folk tale hails from a cycle of stories about the great 16th-century mystic, Rabbi Isaac Luria of Safed, in what is now northern Israel, said Howard Schwartz, a top Jewish folklorist and professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. It also apparently inspired Tim Burton's charmingly ghoulish animated film, "Corpse Bride".
- via -=JeW*SCHooL=-

It is also the first time since I was a child that animated, non-living have got me all choked up. Take an afternoon off from being all serious and adult and go have fun with this charming movie.

September 15, 2005

Brownie's heckuva job

Michael Brown / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIn an interview with the New York Times, Michael Brown, former director of FEMA, demonstrates the various qualities that made him such a capable leader before, during, and after the cataclysm of Hurricane Katrina (note the ring of awesomely powerful credibility surrounding his words):

Effective leadership and communication
"I am having a horrible time," Mr. Brown said he told Mr. Chertoff and a White House official - either Mr. Card or his deputy, Joe Hagin - in a status report that evening. "I can't get a unified command established."

Assertiveness
"Would you please call the mayor and tell him to ask people to evacuate?" Mr. Brown said he asked Mr. Bush in a phone call.

Level-headed leadership (and articulateness)
Mr. Brown passed the list on to the state emergency operations center in Baton Rouge, but when he returned that evening he was surprised to find that nothing had been done. "I am just screaming at my F.C.O., 'Where are the helicopters?'"he recalled. "'Where is the National Guard? Where is all the stuff that the mayor wanted?'"

Fact-finding
In fact, he said, he learned about the evacuees there from the first media reports more than 24 hours earlier, but the reports conflicted with information from local authorities and he had no staff on the site until Thursday.

Brownie's final word
"Until you have been there," he said, "you don't realize it is the middle of a hurricane."

And even if you were there too, apparently.

Now, let us not forget the man who gave him this job ...

Una conversación fantástica

This morning while sitting in a café, innocently reading my book and minding my own business, I was flirted with by the mind-blowingly talented and mind-numbingly sexy Gael García Bernal.

Admittedly, it wasn't really the mind-blowingly talented and mind-numbingly sexy Gael García Bernal. However, the precocious man who took me happily away from my book could have easily been his equally sexy (no word yet on the talent), equally charmingly accented, ever-so-slightly older gay cousin. Happy Birthday to me!

Gael García Bernal / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Permission to be a jerk

Virgo / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) Aggressive line-cutting at lunch today inspires you to be more assertive. There are many things to do this week, and you will be able to swiftly plough through them all if you abandon all pretence of being nice, courteous and giving two fucks about the feelings of others. For the next few days, permit yourself to become that pushy jerk off who elbows through the crowd on the subway platform in order to nab the first available seat. For once, dirty looks become the sign of a job well done.

This describes me even on the best of days and I don't really need the affirmation. Still, it's nice to hear.

Update - Another horoscope concurs the first one in a less round-about way:
VIRGO (August 23 - September 22) You're a proud individual, and there are just some things that you've never been able to bring yourself to say, but "Give me some more goddamned fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy right fucking now" isn't one of them.

September 13, 2005

How Curious George Escaped the Nazis

Curious George / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Curious George is every 2-year-old sticking his finger into the light socket, pouring milk onto the floor to watch it pool, creating chaos everywhere. One reason the mischievous monkey is such a popular children's book character is that he makes 4- to 6-year-olds feel superior: fond memories, but we've given all that up now.

[...]

But in truth, "Curious George" almost didn't make it onto the page. A new book, The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H. A. Rey (Houghton Mifflin), tells of how George's creators, both German-born Jews, fled from Paris by bicycle in June 1940, carrying the manuscript of what would become "Curious George" as Nazis prepared to invade.

September 11, 2005

Never Forget

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September 10, 2005

I Wish I Were Somebody's Crony!

[Brown] is the former head of the Arabian Horse Association but his official biography says he was also in charge of emergency services in the city of Edmond, Oklahoma, in the late 1970s. However, a spokesman for the city told Time Magazine that his role was really that of an intern - nobody reported to him.

I want a job that I can screw up in just about every possible way after having padded my CV, with the result that I not only get to keep my job, but keep my salary with reduced duties. That bozo Brown has got it made!

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Sufjan

Sufjan Stevens / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
"I had the typical aspiration to be signed to a big label, just like anybody else," he admits. "But after I didn't hear back from a few places, and when the feedback I did get made no sense to me, I started to think about what I really wanted".

You have to love (or rather, I have to love) a singer/songwriter who gives titles like "They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh!" to his songs. Sufjan Steven's sold out Toronto show is this evening and I’m going, thanks to the magic of friends who know what to get me for my birthday (especially when I tell them what to get me for my birthday).

Very Pretty

Daniel Dae Kim / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
American actor, Daniel Dae Kim

September 08, 2005

Punctured Eardrums and Pierced Bubbles

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThere are very few sounds with the awesome power to cut through the battery of drums and gravely guitars of grunge circa 1992. The eardrum-puncturing shrieks of little girls at play, however, reduces even Nirvana to quiet, Sunday afternoon jazz.

I am across the street from a Catholic primary school for girls. What is it about that very special ear-bloodying timbre? Why do little girls screech like miniature banshees as they play in the schoolyard? Are they so wrapped up in their games that they literally scream at the thought of losing? Are they being tortured by their nuns?

The girls and I got a treat yesterday. We witnessed the arrest of what turned out to be a violent criminal across the street from the school and right outside my entrance. The real life show was even complete with some mild police brutality in the form of hair pulling, a punch in the stomach and a kick to the nuts. The guy had a gun. It was a whole lot of fun. The little girls greeted the spectacle with silence.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWhen I moved into this neighbourhood it was fairly safe. Now I am treated to witnessing at least one arrest a week, sometimes involving multiple police cars. Last month there were four murders on my block. This may be nothing by American standards, but I don't live in America.

Poor girls. Their parents spend so much money to give them a nice Catholic upbringing, all calm and peaceful. It seems to me so naïve to try to shield children within a bubble of religion and pray that the good Lord will make everything alright. Real life will always sneak itself in, one way or another.

Very Pretty

Naveen Andrews / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
English actor, Naveen Andrews.

September 06, 2005

Let Them Eat Cake

Marie Antoinette / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this – this is working very well for them.
- via And Now, José?

Barbara Bush, Dubya’s mommy, speaking in the notion that many of Katrina’s survivors, now in Texas, are contemplating remaining in Texas. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Very Pretty

Jason Olive / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
American model and actor, Jason Olive

September 04, 2005

A Stream of 5s (or, Happy Birthday to Me)

Rosetta Stone / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWhen I was 5, my family moved to a country where only my father could speak the language. It must have been scary, but all I remember of it was coming to the realisation that there are many ways to pronounce the letter "r" and all its counterparts in other alphabets. Because I was young and my brain was still elastic, I picked up the language much quicker than my mother. When she went shopping, she would take me as the translator. I don't remember this and I wonder if I thought it was strange that I was able to do something my mother wanted. She must have felt very isolated and lonely.

Kate Bush / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWhen I was 15, I was an alterna-fag in the making. I was addicted to Kate Bush, the Cocteau Twins, Joni Mitchell, and, incongruously, Heart. Nirvana was only half a decade away. I would hide in my room and talk for hours on the phone with my friends, almost all girls, and write e e cumming-inspired poetry that, when I read it now, either makes me laugh hysterically or flush with embarrassment. At school I got good grades and was popular, and although I hated high school, I loved high school.

Chainsmoking in bars / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWhen I was 25, I had been living in Montreal for five years. I was the manager in charge of training and HR policy development at a small software company that would go belly-up one year later and throw me into the professional confusion I still find myself in today, ten years later. I hated working there and I couldn't imagine what the rest of my life would be like if I stayed.

I hung out in seedy bars in Montreal, chainsmoking and talking politics in French, which is what one did in Montreal in the 90s if one was artsy and bilingual (or, as in my case, trilingual). I still believed that true love would come for me and wash me clean. That delusion has since departed. Although I found my life stagnant, I had high hopes for humanity. We seemed to be learning something valuable. 9/11 and its aftermath was six years away.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usToday I turn 35. I think back to when I was a child who thought that, in the year 2000 when I was to turn 30, I would be so incredibly old and I couldn’t imagine what that would be like. I am five years older than that now and I'm still waiting to know what it feels like to be so old.

I speak several languages now, and although I don't listen to the same music anymore – aside from Joni Mitchell who is still a favourite – but there is always something floating out of my iTunes when I’m home and my iPod when I'm not.

I have abandoned all illusions of career, but am certain my writing is good enough to one publish (although I loathe the shmoozing aspect of publication-hunting). In the meantime, I accept short-term contracts and am able to scrape by.

I don’t live in Montreal anymore, but I miss it. I don't smoke anymore and I don't miss it. I don't smoke anymore and I don’tI like Toronto and will stay here for a while. I can't see myself growing old here though. I'm young enough to change cities when I feel like it. I still talk politics but miss the – what seem now in a post-9/11 world – simple politics of language debate and an independent Quebec.

9/11, Iraq, suicide bombers, war, Intifada, settlements, extremists, and a very scary neighbouring country to the south have shaken my upbeat view of humanity. We are just as barbaric as we always have been, but the difference is that now we have technology to both hide it and magnify it at the same time.

But life goes on and follows its course. Looking back, it's easy to see how the streams flow forward. Although it is often dark but most often tedious and mundane, life has occasional moments of great joy. Those are the moments to live for.

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September 02, 2005

Speak Now

Five days after the Katrina has hit and still tens of thousands are left desperate, with no food, no water, no way out of the city. There are reports of rapes, gunfire, and massive explosions as bodies are left to rot in the streets or among survivors at the Convention Centre because there is no way of removing them in the anarchy.

Michael Brown, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency attempts to sidestep the issue of why the emergency reaction was so slow and small. Ted Koppel doesn't let him get away with it. Neither does CNN's Paula Zahn (via Bring It On!).

And what is the President of the United States doing? Pledging aid five days after the initial disaster and putting on Sad Face for photo ops.

Please, give of your earnings, give of your time, if you can. Open your home to evacuees if you live close enough.

But at the same time, speak your mind. I do not understand why all of America isn't seething over the massive failure of the American government to take immediate control of the situation before it descended into dire chaos and placed tens of thousands of its citizens in further peril.

This is not about political rhetoric or partisan affiliations. This is about massive human suffering on a scale unknown in your country. This is about your elected government that has proven completely unable to care for the very citizens it represents and is meant to protect; in many cases, the very citizens who placed it in this position of power. This is about leaders too insulated the mundane realities to do anything but hide behind a theocratic veil and hope for the best.

By the very nature of democracy, something you claim as the pillar of American existence, are you not obligated to tell your leaders when they have done wrong? Are you not obligated to demand explanations? Is it not your responsibility to demand results?

So please give, and give generously whatever you can. But that should not stop you from speaking your mind. That should not stop you from acting upon what you know in your heart is right.

SPEAK NOW

Very, Very Hot

Anderson Cooper / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
CNN reporter Anderson Cooper, reporting from one of the myriad destroyed towns on the Gulf, when he rips into Democrat Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (who didn't actually deserve to be the target of the tirade). You're sexy when you seethe, Anderson.

Calm

Calm / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Very Pretty

Daniel Sunjata / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
American actor, Daniel Sunjata.

September 01, 2005

Apparently, Blacks "Loot" and Whites "Find"

Racist photocaptions from Yahoo News divide the desperate into the good and the bad:

Loot / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us"A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005."


Find / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us"Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans, Louisiana."
- via Besotted Blog

A cheer to Yahoo for showing us the difference between the "right" kind of desperation and the "wrong" kind.

UPDATE: According to the director of media relations the agency that accepted the first picture, the photographer "saw the person go into the shop and take the goods". In his own words, the photographer who took the second picture explains, "These people were not ducking into a store and busting down windows to get electronics. They picked up bread and cokes that were floating in the water".

Fair's fair. The young man who was described as a looter, looted (according to the director of media relations of the agency that accepted the photograph and caption). The people who found the food, found it.

And what does Yahoo, who first posted the pictures say? They say they don't have time to check the things out before the post them.

Admittedly, neither did I before I jumped to my immediate conclusion. But this is not a news agency. It's a blog and anyone who thinks you get anything more than half-baked opinions based on poorly researched facts in blogs is delusional.

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