Friday, July 31, 2009

As far as I know, this movie isn't out yet - not around here, anyway. But, if you never had the chance to see Julia Child in action, it sounds like the movie does a good job of portraying her, and, if that's true, then you really ought to go see it. After watching her once trying to teach David Letterman the right way to make a grilled cheese sandwich, my girlfriend and I were able to crack each other up for weeks by shouting, "Lean on it, David! Lean on it," in our best imitation-Julia voices. O.K., maybe you had to be there, but, believe me, she was, as they say, a hoot.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

School's out!

And it's still stinkin' hot! 34 C today (94-ish for my Yanqui friends). For this part of the world, that just ain't right.

Meanwhile, there are things I miss. And, sadly, missed. Trust me, though - there really was a moment of hope.

On the depressing side, there's this moron. Four times? Four?!? He calls Henry Gates a "jungle monkey"?!? And he dares to say he's not racist? I won't even bother to get into FOX News. It's far, far, far too depressing.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another of those "useless-but-necessary" spaces the city is full of.

Now, an odd thing. I think I've gotten far too used to image stabilization. This was taken with my spiffy new 50/1.8. Of course, it doesn't have IS. I took probably a couple of dozen shots that day. You wouldn't believe (well, maybe you wouldn't) how many of them were ruined by shaky hands. Gees.

Doesn't this scene just cry out, "Come on in and shop!"? Well, O.K., it's the loading dock for a particularly curiously located Costco, but...

And, as you may have noticed, my timing was off. It was last night I wasn't near the computer, not the night before. Blame it on the heat.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm going to be elsewhere later, when I'd normally be posting, so...

I mentioned (sort of) a couple of weeks ago my apparent fascination with doors, wondering about its origin. Fellow photographer, Tyler Monson (who has two photo blogs, each great - pick 1 or 2) left a comment that explained it all. We both photograph in cities. Oddly enough, there are a lot of doors in cities, so they're kind of inescapable as subject matter. But, of course, there has to be something more.

The other thing that cities are full of is relatively useless, yet totally necessary, empty spaces. Spandrels are one form of these, though spandrels are "artier". Now, again, I could use Tyler's "ubiquity" explanation, but, also again, there has to be something more. Let's face it, most photos on Flickr, etc., are not of doors and useless, vacant spaces.

I'd love to say I've got an answer, but I don't. So far the only ones I've come up with have been either too facile (I'm expressing a perceived (or not) void in my own life) or just too arty (I'm exploring the over-looked aspects of daily existence). The best explanation I can offer is that I like to photograph these things. Sometimes it's for the humour, sometimes the light on surfaces, shapes... It's just "fun". Of course, it could be that I'm just a simpleton.

Which brings up something else. Ever noticed how telling someone you do something because it's "fun" drives them crazy? Why is that?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Do you think there's a hope in hell that we've all heard the last of the Minx from Mooseland, the Floozy from Fairbanks, the Nitwit from Nome, the Wannabe from Wasilla? I swear, I'd get myself bathed in the blood of christ, dipped deep in the blood of the lamb, near-drowned by any bible-beltin' bozo you'd care to name if only - if only - I never had to hear her, or of her, again as long as I live. "And now, representing the worst that America has to offer, coming to you with an intellect lower than that of the average sea cucumber (she'll get the reference - maybe), and filled with righteous anger and indignation at those who aspire to things higher (at least hake level), we give you...(I can't bear to type The Name That Should Never Be Spoken - or typed - Again)".

This is a person who couldn't even make it through half of one term as governor of America's most not-there state...and she's who the Republicans rally around? I mean, O.K., she hasn't flown to Argentina lately to bang a bimbo, or had her parents pay off the bimbo she was banging (Sary wouldn't bang anyone, right?), or declared that her alternative to Obama's health care policies! (wow, that's a surprise), but, still. Someone really ought to tell the Republicans that they've finally driven their party into the ground. It's dead. It has nothing - no scruples, no alternatives, no morals, no respect, no....pick anything you like, they ain't got it. They're left with some pitiful senators trying to figure out a way to make hypocrisy look honorable, a blow-hard radio talk show host who's last encounter with the truth was when he went to buy new batteries for his hearing aid ("Yes, Mr. Limbaugh, they really do have to be that specific kind."), a TV talk-show host who's had no close encounters with the truth since birth, and a dimwitted party leader who's best latest quote on policy is, "Hey, I'm not a policy guy". Oh, yeah - these are the sort of people I'd want running my country.

Although, come to think of it, I do have that sort of person running my country. Dammit!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Went to see "The Hurt Locker" today. Get your tickets now, folks. This is one darn fine movie.

Well, I finally succumbed to the 50/1.8 lens. Yep. For $150.00 (Canucklehead bucks) price, how could I go wrong, right? And this is the first shot out of the lens. O.K., not the best example of what it might be able to do, but, give me a break - I had my arms full of a library DVD ("Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels", which I've seen before, but, let's face it, a good movie is a good movie) and some CDs, plus a new phone. We'll see what it (or I) can do tomorrow. Maybe.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Like my Richard Prince imitation?

So, Americans. You seem on the verge of finally doing something about health care, but many of you also seem nervous. "Oooooh! It'll be too expensive!", or, "Oooooooh, the government's going to tell me which doctor I can, or can't, see!", or, "Ooooooooh, it's socialism!" O.K., take a deep breath. Ask yourself who's telling you these things. Pretty much all Republicans, right? The ones who've been bleating for years about fiscal responsibility while digging you into the deepest debt hole ever seen in the world? The one's who've been bleating for years about "family values" and "the sanctity of marriage" and the evils of "premarital sex"? Now, do you really think these folks are your most reliable advisers? Really?

As I've mentioned once or twice, I'm Canadian. Here's how it works up here. Say I wake up tomorrow feeling like there's something wrong, health-wise. Know what I do? I go to my doctor. Who's my doctor? Any family practice doc I feel like visiting (who, of course, isn't so overloaded he/she has no room for yet another patient. but that's a problem everywhere in the world). I go to his/her office, wait the usual time, tell him/her what's bugging me, he/she gives his/her diagnosis/advice/prescription/referral, I go home. If he/she has referred me to a specialist, his/her receptionist might make the subsequent appointment for me, or I might make it myself. I go to see the specialist. Oh, no! I need surgery! I go to the hospital (maybe not that day, but soon enough for the condition I have). All fixed up, I leave the hospital after whatever amount of time necessary. I go back to work, happy to be healthy again.

Now, pop quiz - what's missing from that description that would figure very large in an American's description of a similar sequence of events? As Lyle Lovett would say, "M-O-N-E-Y". Not once during that whole adventure would I have had to think about money. Ever. Not once would I think that maybe I'd have to mortgage my home, or take out a loan against my business, or sell my first-born son into slavery.

And, you know what's even more interesting? The price I pay for this wonderful system. I'd like to tell you how much it is, but it comes off my paycheque automatically. And it's so small an amount that, well, I just don't notice.

Now, I'll bet you're asking, "Gee, Steve, how can that be?" Well, I'm not paying the very large salaries of overpaid CEOs (millions a year), CFOs (ditto), board members (ditto), endless levels of employees, and, last but not least, dividends to share holders. And there are few incentives for doctors to order endless pointless tests (yes, there really are such things) in order to boost their profit margins.

Is this system perfect? Get a grip. No system is perfect. Is it better than what you've got? You'd better believe it. I lived in Tampa for three years, teaching at the University of South Florida. Covered by their health plan. Which would have evaporated had I lost my job. That doesn't happen here. You've got it, forever. I had to pay for every visit to my G.P. Doesn't happen here.

Get behind Obama on this one, folks. It is what is charmingly referred to as a "no-brainer" (which makes me wonder why Republicans are so set against it, but perhaps the phrase isn't meant to be taken literally).

Oh, well...speaking of the stupid, there's Sgt. Crowley, of the Cambridge, Massachusetts police force. I have to admit, a 58 year old black man, dressed in 58 year old man-of-any-colour clothes, inside a nice house, presenting Harvard I.D., would make me darn suspicious that he was a thief, too. Especially if he had arrived at the break-in in a cab, which drove away after the driver had helped him with his nefarious B&E. Yup. And the fact that he just wouldn't quiet down and step back inside the house I figured he was burglarizing after I, an armed police officer, an armed white police officer, had explicitly told him to step outside, well, I mean, how unreasonable can a guy get? A black guy, that is. And, I mean, come on, an old black guy at that! Obviously a criminal.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ah, the world of lunacy. For a glimpse inside, go here.

For a glimpse that's a tad more reality-oriented, try this nifty little article. How 'bout that, eh? Your "inner nerd" just might be a colony of bacteria!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Or, there's the wider perspective, allowing us to see more things. For example, are you a fan of Kindle, and it's coming imitators? You might want to re-think that position. This is actually very scary. A guy I shared a lab with used to rave about how great it was going to be when we'd all be able to have computer chips implanted directly into our brains. Oh, yeah - faaaaaaantastic.

Of course, this isn't all that comforting, either. Unless, of course, you belong to the NRA.

Meanwhile, Smirkin' Steve and his Wrecking Crew keep on trucking. And allow programs (and the people they might have served) to die.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Light at the top of the tunnel? With brick wall at the end? Can this be good?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I just watched "Catch-22" for the first time, a long time. Great movie. And, as far as I can recall, since it's been even longer since I read the book, very faithful to that book. Both are as relevant to today's world as they were when they first appeared. This, of course, is a very sad thing.

Friday, July 17, 2009

If you're my age, you don't need this link to explain this photo. Walter Cronkite was an amazing guy. He was, obviously, a media star. The thing to keep in mind is, however, that he was never, unlike a few that most of us could name, a media whore. He was, if not the last, certainly near the end of the line of television news people who actually told the truth. At least, as close to the truth as he could get. It's hard to believe, now, but we tended to believe Mr. Cronkite when he spoke. Television news, these days, is up to and beyond its neck in bullshit, and believing what's said on the news is indicative of severe brain damage. Especially if you're watching the news as presented by a network named after a small, carnivorous mammal with a white-tipped tail. I've been missing Uncle Walter since the day he retired. Now it's permanent.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Doors. What is this endless fascination with doors?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What do you think the odds are that Jeff Sessions (Moron el Supremo de Party Republican) has any familiarity with Sir Walter Scott? The guy who regularly (before someone pointed out to him, I imagine, that his chances for political advancement might be reduced if carried on the practice) referred to males of African heritage as "boy", and described lawyers of Caucasian extraction who represented people of African heritage in legal disputes as disgraces to their race, and who now accuses Sonia Sotomayor of racism? You know - that guy? Do you think he's familiar with the "Oh, what a tangled web we weave..." quote? No? You think not? Can't blame you. Let's face it, it's an open question as to whether or not he can actually read.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

O.K., pick your own relevant bit of news of the world for this shot. "Veil" should probably be one of your guiding terms.

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Glimmer" is the name I filed this under. The term, "glimmer" is often tagged onto "of hope". Well, get over that cliche right now, 'cause it ain't happening. For example...

A new reason to keep the heck out of Tennessee. Stop me if you've heard this one: A man walks into a bar...and blows everyone in it away! How flat can a learning curve get?

Or, Paul Krugman's latest editorial. Hard to believe that humans aren't actually descended from ostriches.

And, here in my home town, Vancouver, drivers, upset that 1 out of 22 traffic lanes has finally been turned over to people on bicycles, write to their local paper to vent their frustration. Thanks for sharing, folks.

What is it with human beings? And, of course, how the hell did we wind up in charge? (And if you're dumb enough to reply, "Well, it's god's will," so help me, I'm gonna come to your house and beat you to mush.)

Where's Voltaire (or Mark Twain, or Kurt Vonnegut, or Rabelais) when we really need him? (O.K., dead, that's where, but...)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

This young woman was waiting, as was I, for the light to change. Hmmmm......does that seem relevant to...

Just another day in conservative Amerika. Low I.Q. bigotry seems to be alive and well. And...thriving?

However, on a more positive front, there's Lance. Now, I'd be willing to bet that Lance isn't a guy I'd want to hang out with. My guess is that he's egotistical, overly aggressive, and generally obnoxious. But, I could be wrong. And, I don't really care. I really doubt that anyone who wasn't all of those things (on top of hard-working, driven, dedicated, obsessive) could win the Tour de France seven times. And, to come back for an eighth try at 38? And to be, let's face it, in good position to pull it off? Go, Lance, go.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saaaayyyy, speaking of "What's behind that black door?", I'll bet this comes as a surprise. The real surprise, of course, will come if he's ever actually prosecuted for any of the multiple crimes he's committed (further example here). (Warning: Breath not to be held.)

And, of course, there's also this part of his legacy. What do you think are the odds that John Yoo will be disbarred? Let's face it, either he's a criminal, or just criminally stupid. Either way, would you hire him?

Meanwhile, the Republican meltdown continues, with Rockin' Rush somehow managing to blame Barack Obama for Mark Sanford's penile servitude. Got to give the guy credit - he's got one hell of a fertile imagination. Oh, if only he could use his awesome powers of stupidity and paranoia for goodness, rather than badness!

And on, and on, and on it goes.

(Whoops! This just in! Sarah Palin is not merely nuts, she's paranoid! Oh, wait. That's not a surprise, is it?)

Friday, July 10, 2009

I don't know what it is about this building, but I can't stop taking pictures of it. It's the local community centre. I only use the library in its basement, but I use that relatively often, so...

Meanwhile, from the World of Bigtime Irony, there's this story. All the way from Oklahoma, land of tornadoes, to northern Ontario, not the land of tornadoes, to be killed by a tornado? Gees.

And, in Britain, the Powers That Be sink further into dementia. Technically, 1984 is far in the past. "1984" however, seems to be coming on fast.

Which brings me to my own home town, where the police, under the guidance of people who stand to make a lot of money off the 2010 winter olympics, are conducting their own 1984-ish crackdown on free speech. On the off chance you were thinking of attending this fiasco, I'd say don't.

Let's face it, folks, the terrorists have indeed won. Big time.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Yes, I know it's a bit blurry. Give me a break. I was holding the equivalent of a 300 mm lens over the heads of the people in front of me, O.K.? And, these guys were moving. I mean non-stop. The guy on the right was the Head Guy. The guys in the white shirts had to be the hardest working guys in music (as a couple of other shots that I might post will show).

It's a photo from the Vancouver Jazz Festival, and these guys were a Cuban band blasting out salsa and all sorts of other genres of Latin music at a park in downtown Vancouver on a sunny afternoon last Saturday. Now, I have to confess that most of what they played sounded, to my untutored ears, the same - brass played at a frequency only dogs could hear, a non-stop cow bell, and congas - but, like I said, my ears aren't atuned to this style of music. Plenty of other people's ears were. And, wouldn't you know it?, enjoyment is kind of infectious.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The meter's ticking. On sooooo many things.

Meanwhile, the Doc is out of town till Sunday and I'm already experiencing withdrawal. Mild, mind you, but... Gees.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

If you're a poor African country, this is the teller's window for aid from Canada - closed. Firmly. Same deal if you're looking for Canada's intellectual, policy, and financial commitments to countering global warming. Gotta love the nitwits in the Conservative party.

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It's almost time to go open some young minds. More later.

Meanwhile, there's this from South Carolina's Republican party. Evidently, since he did uphold the "lying hypocrite" standard of the party, they're not asking him to resign. I guess they're just picking on him because he got caught. Bad, bad, bad.

While here in the Great White (and Straight, evidently) North, we have our very own Conservative nitwits hard at work being as cretinous as only they can be. Amazing that at least one of them seems to have an actual mind...of her own, yet! Of course, that had to be suppressed as quickly as possible.


Sunday, July 05, 2009

No, it has nothing to do with anything. Unless...hmmm...maybe Woody Allen's pre-occupation with death? Nah, I'd picked the photo hours before going to see "Whatever Works". If you've been dithering about going to see it, just go. It's fine. Yeah, yeah, yeah - it ain't no "Annie Hall" or "Manhattan" or "Hannah and Her Sisters". So what? It's still funny, thoughtful, and head-and-shoulders (agh! cliche!) above the usual Hollywood movie (gad - especially in the summer). And, if nothing else, you can have the fun of trying to picture Zero Mostel in the Larry David role.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Ooooooooooh, dear. Poor silly Sarah seems to actually think she's presidential material. The only up side to this story is the hope that she will bankrupt herself, her family, and the remnants of the Republican party in her attempts, over the next three years, to convince people with IQs above 4 that she really is.

Orrrrr....wait! Maybe she just wasn't feeling the love.

Meanwhile, in another part of the world where the truth is as malleable as Republican morals...

And, speaking of Mr. Sanford... I'll bet you're as relieved as I am that he didn't spend any taxpayer money to go fuck his mistress, right? Not that there's anything wrong with that. Fucking the mistress, that is. Which is something he, his wife, and the Republican party don't seem to get. It's that he called for the impeachment of others in exactly his position, while he, himself, was in that position (doggy? missionary?) that's the problem. It's called "hypocrisy" out here in the civilized world. That's his crime. He's a hypocritical, lying, moralizing, solipsistic swine who is, frankly, just too darn dumb to be allowed to hold office.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

So, in "News of My Cold" - you may remember that I described how suddenly this current cold snuck up on me. One minute I was innocently (and, as far as I knew, in good health) making dinner, and, the next minute, I had a cold. Like flipping a switch. Well, today, coping with the usual signs and symptoms - stuffy nose, lethargy, dopieness, etc. - working away in my office, alone, I thought things were about as bad as they were going to get. I'd given my usual two-hour lecture and all had been well. I suspected nothing. Then, I decided to stretch my legs and wander off to see how the rest of my colleagues were doing. I opened my mouth to speak to one and...nothing but a croak came out. Yes, I am currently voiceless. Five hours, and one cancelled class later, I still can't talk. Granted, there are those who might applaud this, but, frankly, it's really bugging me. On the other hand, there's no one here just at the moment to talk to, so...maybe it's not such a great loss.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

So, black surgical masks. De rigeur at the M.J. funeral?

Yes, I know. I shouldn't pick on poor Michael. Let's face it - his father did that for him all his life. "Yeah, my son Michael's dead. Say, did I tell you about my new record label?" Now that's one cold-hearted bastard. Can you imagine having him for a father?

And, speaking of losers, could Mark Sanford sink any lower? I mean, I know the guy's a Republican and, therefore, intellectually-challenged by definition, but... No one in their right mind gives a fuck if ahead - you finish that sentence. It's the hypocrisy, you moron! Leaping lizards.

Actually, O.K., it isn't just the hypocrisy. It's the all-out stupidity! You live your life in public, Dickbrain! You think you're going to get away with this kind of thing forever? When schmucks like you are working night and day to expose this sort of behaviour in others?!?

What made Sanford think he was immune? A low I.Q. is the only possible explanation. Well, that and an ego the size of Texas.