Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My beloved Fisher ProCaliber is dead! Yep, the frame's bent beyond repair. Know what one of those puppies costs these days? 'Way, 'way more than I can afford. Gary, if you're out there, I loved that bike, man. It was my first taste of what a "good" bike really was.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Here lie the remains of George W. Bush. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Meanwhile, wouldn't you hate to be Joe Biden? He's doomed on Thursday night. I mean, how does an intelligent, experienced human being debate a cretin? How can he possibly avoid squashing her like the tiny mammal she is without looking cruel? McBush tossing her in front of Biden is like any one of us tossing a paralysed 'possum in front of a speeding Peterbilt. The 'possum, cute as it may be (and ain't Sary just the cutest little thang?), is going to be flattened. The laws of physics will ensure that. Sprinting across a field of raw eggs in track spikes while carrying an SUV (hey - they're all-American, right?) without cracking a single shell would be easier than debating Sary without making her look stupid. I mean, after all, she is stupid. Poor Joe.

Have I mentioned lately how stupefyingly glad I am not to own a television?

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Falls's coming, though you wouldn't have known that today. A darn fine sunny day. The later afternoon of which I, of course, spent in a movie theatre. What can I say? Went to see "Tell No One", a French murder mystery. Good movie.......except for one little detail. It needed a 20 minute near-monologue by one character, confessing to a crime, then not necessarily confessing to that crime, then...well...let's just say it seemed like a lazy way to tie things up.

Meanwhile, speaking of freedom of speech, our very own CBC took this column off their site after the wolverines at FOX News - you know, the American "news" outlet? - got all hot and bothered about it. Gotta love the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's toughness, eh? Imagine the nerve of a Canadian columnist expressing a negative opinion of Sarah Palin, potential Bimbo-in-Chief, gross insult to women (not to mention parents) everywhere, and as blatant a piece of political cynicism as has ever come down the pike. Yep - bravo CBC (henceforth to be known as the Conservative Broadcasting Corporation).

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

First of all, how could Paul Newman die? That wasn't supposed to happen. The guy was a brilliant actor and an actually nice, intelligent human being. Dumbya, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Putin, Harper - they're all in the pink. Venal scum, each and every one of them, but Paul Newman is dead. The world just isn't right.

And, I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of Mark Hobson. A fellow pissed-off photographer.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Heck of a fun day today. And, relevant to the photo. It's old, but, you know? hang onto something long enough and it'll eventually become relevant. As you can see, it's a stop sign. You know, the things that are supposed to tell people to stop? When you're riding a bicycle, if you've got any sort of survival instinct at all, you do. People sitting comfortably inside 2,000 pounds of metal, however, well, to them it seems to be optional. At least, it was to the driver who hit me this morning on my way to work. Boy, that's some fun, I'll tell you. Especially that half second when I realized that, golly, the front end of that SUV seems to be half an inch away, moving faster than I'd really like it to be. My next memory is of being on the ground and being really, really - and I can't state this too strongly - REALLY angry. And, later - much later - glad not to own a large handgun. 'Cause I'd have turned the guy and his SUV into Swiss cheese otherwise. As it was, I just spent a good few minutes getting seriously Nixon-oid on him (there's a generational joke if there ever was one).

There are no penalties to drivers for running down cyclists, unless you count a scratch on the front bumper's paint a penalty. For the cyclist, however, well - paraplegia, anyone? Quadriplegia? Death? I got lucky. Scrapes. Bruises. Probably some soreness, stiffness tomorrow. And my bike out of action till repairs get made.

The thing is, it brings up the question: Why bother to obey traffic laws? I was hit at a 4-way stop. I stopped, looked, assumed that the driver approaching the intersection from my right would do the same when he got there, and rode on. Big mistake. I should have just run it. After all - he did.

So, drivers? When you're cursing cyclists who seem disinclined to obey traffic laws? It's because we don't want to die at your hands. Because you either don't see us (and I was wearing a bright yellow jacket, riding a bright yellow-and-red bike, and wearing a red and white helmet - how can you not see me?), or regard us as amusing targets.

In some large cities, cyclists have apparently taken to carrying hammers attached to the crossbar of their bikes. Not an all bad idea, really. Wouldn't be able to do damage anything like an SUV body-blow, but...

Well, enough whining. "Americans"! Let us good folks of British Columbia take over. You'll feel muuuuuch better. Really.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

There's a lot of good advice for Obama here.

Meanwhile - and I think I've said this before - I've got to get out more. Or get more inspired. I dunno.

However, on the subject of being mostly indoors...I haven't been totally idle, so, allow me to recommend some books. It's a trilogy of grim. Julian Barnes's "Nothing to be Frightened Of", coupled with two Philip Roth novels - "The Dying Animal", and "Indignation".

Barnes's book is a combination autobiography/meditation on death. It gets a tad long here and there, but still, it's worth the read. He recounts his own fears of death, and the manner in which his parents, his brother (Jonathan Barnes - well-known authority on Aristotle (and if that isn't cruising perilously close to an oxymoron, I don't know what is)), other famous authors (if you read, Julian's famous too), and various other folks have approached their own deaths. Julian is not happy about the prospect. Of course, who is? Neither, however, is he accepting of it. Here, he and his brother part company. His brother shares Aristotle's outlook on it - once you're dead, you don't feel pain, fear, anticipation...anything. So, what's to be afraid of? Julian remains unconvinced.

Roth's novels are, to put it mildly (which is about the limit of my ability), brilliant. And I'm saying that even though I'm only about a quarter of the way through "Indignation", his latest novel. Roth is, to use a well-worn cliche, unflinching. He looks at decay and death, and reports what he sees. There is a scene in "The Dying Animal" in which David Kepesh, the narrator, realizes that his great love, the one he found far too late and failed to recognize as such, has crossed over into the land of the dead (despite the fact that she's alive, naked, in his arms). It brings the sort of feeling that someone recently dead, if they could somehow live on within that dead body, would experience as the nails were being driven into the lid of their coffin - there is nothing more.

Yes, it sounds grim. O.K., it is grim. But, it's brilliant. Like I said.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The weather's crappy so thoughts turn to spices...right? Sure. Why not?

Went to see "Burn After Reading" Friday night. It's hilarious. I can't figure out the reviewers who describe it as cold-hearted, or misanthropic. I mean, it might be if you're a member of the consumerist, I'm-entitled-to-whatever-I-want-now! class it mocks, but, otherwise, it's a heck of a good time.

The plot is driven by Frances McDormand's character's desire for (and belief that she's entitled to) cosmetic surgery to tighten up her fat ass (among other things). This sense of entitlement is most explicit when she berates a Russian diplomat for what she perceives as his ill treatment of her in declining to purchase her stolen government documents. "I'm an America citizen, and I won't stand for this sort of treatment!" she shouts when her offer to betray America is turned down.

Her self-centred stupidity leads to two deaths, one coma, and one rapid exit to Venezuela (because they have no extradition treaty with the U.S.). And a lot of confusion among the higher levels of American law enforcement.

Go see it. You'll crack up.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ah, continuing the "I've got to get out more," theme. But, funnily enough, it plays nicely into this little news item. Sometimes you have to get outside to get a view from the inside.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I gotta get out more, I know.

On the "wild excitement" side (photographically speaking, that is), I got a new toy today. Yep, blew a pile of dough (twenty bucks) on a credit card-sized WhiBal. Wow! Living on the edge! Still, when you're not completely colour-competent, you begin to wonder about things. At least with this little chunk of plastic, I can feel a little better about colour accuracy (I hope). Stick it in the first photo of a bunch taken under the same lighting conditions, shoot in RAW, click the image of the WhiBal while processing, and apply the resulting settings to all the others in the series. Oughta be simple, right? Yeah, well, we'll see. At least the thing is small enough to fit in my wallet, so I'll always have it along.

And, no, I didn't use it for this shot. Who wants perfect white balance in a shot taken in the light of the setting sun?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Finally! I got my copy of Fred Herzog's book of Vancouver photographs today. I was going to stick in a link to Amazon, but they're out. At the American site, in fact, there's only one "used" copy available, and it's priced at $160.00! The Canadian site has one or two used copies at $90.00 each. Hunt around. A book no photographer should be without.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Phew. A quiet day in Stupid World (i.e. politics - the Land of the Lost). Got to like that.

Heck, couple it with sunshine, warm temperatures...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Notice how the lights in the sky aren't on.

And, "Americans" are going to elect John McBush and Sarah Pale-Imitation-of-an-Intelligent-Human-Being in November. Is it any wonder I just poured myself a healthy dose of vodka? I guess my family values just aren't up to snuff. (By the way, out here in the civilized world, this is referred to as "nepotism" and is, to put it mildly, frowned upon.)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It struck me today that I need to do something to ensure that folks reading this blog (all 3 of you) are able to be absolutely clear about just who it is that I'm referring to when I use general terms like "Americans", and the variations thereof, and "Canadians", and the variations thereof. This is because I know at least a few Americans and Canadians who are rational, intelligent people, concerned about social justice, fairness, etc. So, henceforth, whenever you see "Americans", or "Canadians", I'm talking about the folks who think Sarah Palin and Stephen Harper are really, really swell folks. If you don't see the quotation marks (often referred to, appropriately enough, as scare quotes), then I'm talking about the rational folks. If you see "", then I'm talking about the scary lunatics who think that Sarah's just real darn exciting, or that Smirkin' Steve actually represents people with a conscience (not to mention an actual soul).

So, now that that's cleared up, there was a nice little article in today's New York Times about that new darling of "Americans", Sarah (I'd-Never-Burn-My-Bra-When-There-Are-So-Many-Good-Books-To-Burn) Palin. Yep, she's one scary dame. Notice how, in the photo accompanying the article (at least, the one accompanying it at the moment), the microphone is pointing away from Ms. Palin. Lest she say something incriminating?

Oh, what the heck. Here it is:

Given her record, it was obviously taken on one of the very, very few times she wasn't at home tending to her family values. Pay close attention, by the way, to her statement in the article that she wants to be President.


Friday, September 12, 2008

This just in - John McCain, Republican Presidential candidate is telling lies! Shocking! Simply shocking!

This, too, just in - what goes up, must come down! Shocking! Simply shocking!

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vancouver, for those of you who don't know this, is a big city bumped right up against mountainous wilderness. In winter, of course, those mountains get covered with snow. Snow brings skiers and snowboarders. Many of them are confident. Some of them are so confident that they regard the "Out of Bounds" signs as just something to scare people. So, they go off down one of the so-marked slopes. And they die.

Sarah Palin is confident. Not qualified. Not experienced. Not even very bright. But, she's confident. And - the scariest thing? - the media are treating her with respect. Americans are treating her with respect. Never mind that her pipeline is a pipe dream. She's confident. Never mind that she thinks it would be a good idea to bring Georgia and the Ukraine into NATO (hey, what's a minor war with Russia going to cost anyway?), she's confident. In fact, as she says in this interview, she's "wired in". Oh, boy.

Of course, so was Dumbya when he declared that victory had been achieved in Iraq.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This is going to be a long, very depressing fall. Between our very own Smirk-That-Would-Be-King and America's Slammin' Sarah (Hey-I'm-Just-a-Hockey-Mom) Palin, well...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Just some trucks, folks. And a somewhat lengthy quote from the late, great George Carlin:

"Now, there's one thing you might have noticed I don't complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky. They don't pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It's what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain't going to do any good; you're just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it's not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here... like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There's a nice campaign slogan for somebody: 'The Public Sucks. F*ck Hope."

I have to thank Mark Hobson (well, technically, his son, Aaron), at "The Landscapist", for that little nugget of George's wisdom.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

O.K., America, time to save Canada. Well, one Canadian, at least. Now, you may think this odd, but our Prime Minister called an election this past Sunday, and it's going to happen before your Presidential election (Yep. One of the strengths of our system is that we don't have to listen to a year or more of crap from politicians before we're forced to vote for one of them.). The sad thing is, I'm pretty sure my fellow Canadians will elect the Smirk-Who-Would-Be-Bush and his odious Ref....er...Canadian Allia.....um, er,....Conservative party to a majority. When that happens, I'm going to go out and buy a crate of the finest scotch I can afford and drink myself senseless. How, you ask, can America help? Please - oh, have mercy! - please don't elect John McBush president when you finally, after months of agony, get to vote. I'm begging you.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Wow! Seems I saw a bunch of movies this weekend. Friday night was "The Edge of Heaven", which, for all its very good intentions, I found predictable. Paths that don't cross but should, paths that do but shouldn't. Fluke incidents that, funnily enough, have major implications for characters who remain ignorant of those incidents. Fluke incidents that have major implications for characters who become all too aware of those incidents. Still, a better movie than most.

Next up was "Elegy", based on Philip Roth's novel, "The Dying Animal". Sadly, I was bored (mostly) by the movie. Dennis Hopper was fun. Penelope Cruz was beautiful. Ben Kingsley was hard. But the movie was dull. Which, given the novel it came from, is a pity.

Last was an old Neil Jordan film, "Breakfast on Pluto". It was the most fun of the three. And, by a long shot, the most original. If you haven't seen it, you should.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Ah, another serendipitous photo (Republicans, I apologize. You'll just have to consult a dictionary.). Suddenly I see this as "Sarah Palin - Washington Outsider". With all the substance of slowly deflating dime-store balloons.

Here's a news flash for Sarah - I"m a "Washington outsider" too. Should I call up McBush and see if he'd like to consider me for a cabinet post? In fact, come to think of it, everyone I know is a "Washington outsider". Should we all apply? Surprise answer - yes we should! Most of the people I know have not only graduated high school, but they've got Masters degrees, Ph.D.s, M.D.s! Actual education. Actual proof of competence. Of intelligence. And when we "stand up to Big Oil"?...we don't invite them to come in and drill in wildlife refuges. When we declare a boondoggle a boondoggle?...we do it before we realize that it's politically expedient to do so. And we don't try to ban books. And we don't encourage teenage pregnancy. Nor do we force marriage (come on - it was Bristolboard's idea? Levi's?) on teenagers. Your daughter wants to keep the kid? How charming. Does Levi? Do either of them? Really?

The scary thing? I think these idiots - McBush and Ploddette - actually have a good shot at winning.

As if to confirm that last remark, I just saw a poll in my local paper that suggests that 40% of my fellow Canadians would vote for her. Prozac! Where's my Prozac?!? Thank god for scotch.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I laughed. I cried. And, frankly, I quaked in fear. Yep. Four years ago I was convinced - CONVINCED - that there was no way in hell Americans would re-elect the world's dumbest national leader. Wait, make that history's dumbest national leader. I was wrong. And now? Everywhere I look, people are making excuses for (when they're not actually praising!) McBush's choice of a gun-totin', oil-suckin', god-fearin' bimbo from a state with a population of - what? 12? - as his running mate. A woman who was stupid enough to purposely sentence an unborn fetus to a lifetime of misery, to praise her obviously brain-damaged daughter for keeping her baby even though said daughter is only 17 years old (has she even actually graduated from high school?), was a member of a political party that wanted Alaska to secede from the Union...! A woman who thinks that "running" a town with a population smaller than that of the student population at the community college where I teach qualifies her for the Vice Presidency! And poor old Levi! There'd better be a big payoff waiting for that poor sucker. "Oh, fer sure - I'm gonna marry her. Fer sure!" At 18?!? Kiss your life good-bye, pal.

Look, I'm a cynic. I think I was probably born this way. But, please, even cynics can only take so much. Please, for the love of the god in whom I do not believe, please, please, please do not elect this Dimwitted Duo! I'm begging you! Please!

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

If you get a chance, have a listen to Rufus Wainwright's "Going to a Town". It's on his "Release the Stars" CD.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Let's see. Take some fish, put them in a barrel - what have you got? The McBush campaign!

Years ago, there was a satirical program on BBC called "Spitting Image". The folks who made it finally gave up. Why? Because there was no way they could come up with situations ridiculous enough to match those that the royal family were actually living through. Well, evidently John McBush has decided that the best way to send humourists the world over into retirement is to follow that model.

Let's see. First, there's this quote: "He had his first face-to-face interview with her on Thursday and offered her the job moments later." That's from a story in the New York Times. This one's from the ever-popular "Republican close to the campaign": "“They didn’t seriously consider her until four or five days from the time she was picked, before she was asked, maybe the Thursday or Friday before,” said a Republican close to the campaign. “This was really kind of rushed at the end, because John didn’t get what he wanted. He wanted to do Joe or Ridge.”" Wow! He's sure the guy I'd vote for! Careful planning! Forethought! Wisdom!

Let's face it, can't you hear John screaming, "Bring me a woman, goddamn it!"? Although, not for the purposes you might think, obviously.

As for the Republican party in general (and their favourite pit-bull, Rockin' Rush), how come none of them is screaming about the daughter? Surely, under their strict moral code, she's a slut? A whore? A spawn of Satan? I mean, isn't that what Rumpled Rush would have been howling over the airways had Bristol (as in "board"?) been "Chelsea"?

How dim is this family, anyway? How does a 17-year-old not understand birth control here in the early 21st century? The pill? Condoms? Or, that favourite Republican method....ABSTINENCE?!? Come on - where's that good old Republican outrage? That good old Republican moral fibre?

Gees - talk about "No Child Left Behind"!

And, let's face it, you've got to love that the Republican presidential nominee's choice of a running mate was a member of an Alaskan secessionist party up until a few years ago: "...that she was a member for two years in the 1990s of the Alaska Independence Party, which has at times sought a vote on whether the state should secede..." Fantastic! A dimwit and (come on, Rush, I know you'd be busting at the seams to say this had she been Obama's running mate) a traitor!

Is anyone really seriously considering voting for these people? I mean, reeeeeeaaaaalllllly?

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