Monday, March 30, 2009

Going Down

Quote(s) of the Month

In a scathing response to the whining of Jake DeSantis and anyone else who thinks the American public is somehow legally or morally obliged to pay "retention" bonuses, Matt Taibbi writes:
[...] [L]et's just say, Jake, that you're telling the truth, that you don't know anything about this toxic portfolio. If that's the case, then why the fuck does anyone need to retain you at an exorbitant salary to help unwind that very portfolio? If these transactions aren't and never were your expertise, then where the hell is your value here?
[...] [H]alf of Wall Street is unemployed right now. There are plenty of unemployed traders out there whose resumes don't include such entries as "Worked for years at small unit of AIG that helped destroy the universe; throughout that time was completely ignorant of burgeoning global disaster unfolding 5 feet from my desk."
And... well click the link and read for yourself. You won't be disappointed.

Rice Paddies (1)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sic Transit Gloria Cyclopis

According to the latest Technorati rankings, this blog is the 471,890th best blog in the world. I remember those early, heady days when I was around 180,000th. Nothing lasts forever, I guess...

News from the Old Country

Greg Gutfeld, the host of Fox's late-night show Red Eye, after apparently insulting damn near everyone in Canada with a "lighthearted, humorous and ridiculous" portrayal of the Canadian military, and in particular its activities in Afghanistan, felt compelled to issue an apology. Well, actually, it seems the apology only came after Canada's Minister of Defence contacted Fox and demanded one.

Here's a clip of the "offending" segment, and I encourage readers to try and get through 30 or 60 seconds before stopping...

If you're anything like me, you probably found that clip offensive too. Not, however, because it mocked Canadians and the Canadian military, but because it's about the lamest, most puerile, un-funny piece of shit you've likely seen in a while. Christ on a fucking stick, if all these clowns can offer up is lame stereotypes from 30 years ago, then they should be apologizing to Americans (whom one would assume are the intended audience). What's offensive is that these fifth-rate shitheads couldn't even haul their heads out of their own asses long enough to check a fucking newspaper to see if anything they said had any remote connection to the real world. [Hint to other would-be comedians: it's only funny if there's some chance, however remote, that what you're saying could be true. Simply making stuff up requires a subtlety and nuance that nobody at Fox is capable of. At this rate, I'd say that in about 10 years anything commonly recognized as "comedy" will be associated exclusively with "the Left."]

Personally, I'd have been quite happy if the Canadian government had just ignored this. Being offended by the content of this clip is like getting upset after seeing some monkeys whacking off in their cage at the zoo...


According to this CBC story, Canadians are among the most optimistic people in the world about their financial future. Actually, I have no idea what this is about. Possibly this?


Good grief. Was Canada's health care the problem in Natasha Richardson's death?
Assuming Richardson initially declined medical care here [in the U.S.--R] as well, once she did present to caregivers that she was suffering from a possible head trauma, she would've been immediately transported by air, weather permitting, and arrived in Denver in less than an hour. If this weren't possible, in both resorts she would've been seen within 15 minutes at a local facility with CT scanning and someone who could perform temporary drainage until transfer to a neurosurgeon was possible. If she were conscious at 4 p.m., she most likely would have been diagnosed and treated about that time, receiving care unavailable in the local Canadian hospital. She might still have died or suffered brain damage but her chances of surviving would have been much greater in the U.S.
Sigh... I most certainly mean no disrespect to Natasha Richardson in the following, but...

I've read nothing to make me believe that she didn't receive medical care at least as good as I (a Canadian citizen) would have received in similar circumstances. And I seriously question whether I, a hypothetical not-rich visitor to the United States would receive the kind of medical care described above. In fact I question whether most Americans would receive that kind of care, as theoretically possible as it may be.

In more general terms, I sure would like to live forever, but shit happens, and I'm not going to be the guy crying because I'm on the waiting list for a heart transplant or something. That, to my mind, is not what a "health care system" is about.


Today's weather forecast for Halifax: partly cloudy, and a bit on the cool side at -3C.

Under the Tracks (2)

Monday, March 23, 2009


In Japan no milestone big or small can pass without some sort of formal ceremony to mark the occasion (and annoy the hell out of me). And so yesterday (yeah, a Sunday...) I had to get up at practically the crack of dawn (well, 8:00), put on a suit, and take the family to the "graduation" ceremony of my daughter's kindergarten. The fathers all looked like they had hangovers, and the mothers all cried (ostensibly tears of joy for our little snowflakes moving on to bigger and better things; I suspect, however, they were tears of cynical laughter at their husbands having been forced to get up so unreasonably early on a Sunday morning...).

Under the Tracks (1)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hey, Listen to This!

Just click the thingie below.

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings--Nobody's Baby
Alt. Link

My work is done. Well, actually, it ain't, if anyone listened to that and thought, "that sounds like Amy Winehouse's band." Google it, please.

I'm currently working myself up to a major (for me) post on a Millie Jackson tune. I'm not researching (heaven forbid), or anything. I'm just mapping it out in my head. There will be a question asked, though: Why do modern R&B/pop singers resort to double entendres and innuendo (etc.) to express things that singers in the 70s said in plain English?

The dog's yawning, it's time to go to bed...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Imaginary Album

Although I've been goaded into playing along in the past, I'm not really into the "I tag so and so" meme thing. I saw the one I'm about to show you while checking out Resonant Enigma's blog and was somewhat taken with the idea (in fact I'm actually volunteering to do this one):
1. Get your band name by generating a Random Article on Wikipedia. The title of the article is your band name.

2.Check this page for Random Quotes to get the album title. Last few words of the last quote on the page.

3.Then get your album art from this page that produces random Flikr photos, copyright free under Creative Commons.

4.Use Photoshop or whatever editing software you have to make it look good. You know, like a real "album covah!"

5.Write a little blurb describing what kind of music you think it would be.
And so, here it is:

Original Photo Credit: ooOJasonOoo

Heroin--Enjoy the Interval
  • Style: Self-described as Lou Reed influenced emo by lead singer/guitar player Joey St. Augustine. Others might call it Dylan on downers after an all-night binge of listening to Sabbath.
  • Influences: Lou Reed, Green Day, Gwar, The Partridge Family
  • Lyric: The sky is blue/ The sea is calm/ I ate some fruit/ I killed my mom
  • Quote: "Rock 'n' roll is like cool, ya know, and I really dig the bands that play that shit. But we really wanna roll 'n' rock, yeah? I mean, that's the kinda sound we're goin' for."
  • What Lester Bangs would say if he were still alive: Philip Seymour Hoffman? Almost Famous? Fuck, I'm glad I'm dead.
[The band name, title, and photo seem almost too good to be random, but I swear that's what came up first when I clicked the links. I think I'll have to do this again sometime...]

Vending Machines, No. 57

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Look Straight Ahead...

Some residents in Hobart, Australia are apparently up in arms about some racy signage outside a strip club, which they believe poses "a moral and physical danger to Hobart schoolchildren." As one eyewitness reports,
I know of one family friend's seven-year-old who walked into the pole outside the club on his way home from school because he and his little mate were ogling the picture of the rude lady.
Now of course there are several issues to be considered in a story like this, gentle readers. There's the obvious (from the article):
This external public display of soft porn contributes to the unwanted sexualisation of children and contributes to normalisation of the sex industry in the [sic] their minds, particularly in young women.
But this evening I'd like to focus on the less obvious. I'd like to focus on the never-spoken-of danger that boys and men of all ages through all of recorded history have had to contend with: the inability to watch where they're going when anything remotely connected to sex crosses their field of vision.

There are no reliable statistics kept regarding this phenomenon. In fact it's almost like the authorities would like nothing better than to pretend that this affliction didn't exist; this tragic affliction which is shared by every man ever born, including Adam! Think about it for a moment. How many times have you read about (or perhaps even witnessed!) some guy tripping over the curb, or walking into traffic, or stepping off a cliff...? Could this many otherwise healthy boys and men just simply be awkward or clumsy or even stupid?

There may be some men out there too overcome with shame to admit that they have this terrible affliction or that it has ever affected them. They're liars. Every damned (for surely we are "damned") one of them. The stories I could tell, the tears and the blood (my own, of course) I have shed... The shame...

Don't blame us. Don't hate us. Don't condemn us. It's genetic--we can't help but LOOK...

White Bird

It's a Beautiful Day--White Bird
Alt. Link

I don't know where that came from. I must be suffering from some kind of California "hangover"...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Back in Japan

So, back in Japan, I have to spend a night in Tokyo before going back to Miyazaki in the morning. This might sound like fun, but it was Friday morning when I left L.A., and Saturday night when I arrived in Tokyo. I'm getting too old for this shit...

Anyway, I've got enough time to have a shower and drink a few beers from the vending machine down the hall before waking up at the crack of dawn to take the train to the airport and get on my plane to Miyazaki.

A couple of pics from this pretty representative Japanese "business hotel":

Of course, when I get home, my first duty will be to shower my daughter with presents. Right now I'm kicking myself in the ass because I've just realized that the "Complete Season 1 of Spongebob Squarepants" DVD set, which was to be the centerpiece of my gift-giving, probably won't play in a Japanese DVD player. My daughter will probably get over the disappointment, I suppose. I don't know if I will, though...

California Dreamin'

You'd think that after five days in California I might have managed to take a few interesting pictures. Sadly, no. In fact, it seemed I did more driving than anything else. This picture, taken from my hotel room, pretty much captures the image of California that I returned to Japan with.

In fairness, this has more to do with a busy work schedule than with California "sucking" or anything like that. A couple of (very subjective) general observations:

--Aside from a few security types (especially at the airport), this trip really reinforced my perception of Americans as being incredibly friendly, generous, and kind to visitors. I've been to Boston, New York, several New England states, and now Los Angeles/Southern California. Every encounter I've had with Americans in America has been a positive experience. Maybe being Canadian allows me to "pass as American," but still...

--I found this strange, especially in a place like California: the salads I had at restaurants were awful. It was the lettuce. It seemed somewhat off, or at least not very fresh. I had one very good spinach salad, though. Everything else I ate was awesome.

--At my hotel, at the malls, pretty much everywhere I went, the service staff were Spanish-speaking people (I assume from Mexico). This in itself is not very troubling to me, but I hope that these peoples' kids at least have the chance to go to university, etc.

--This probably has more to do with me being an English-speaker and a Canadian than anything, but I clearly felt more comfortable on this trip than my Japanese colleagues. It sometimes seemed to me that, for them, anything less than complete obsequiousness from wait staff, for example, was to be interpreted as outright hostility. Personally, I quite enjoy it if someone in a shitty job can find a clever, subtle way of letting me know that I'm being an idiot. I'm not talking about general rudeness, I'm talking about an intelligent person reminding me that he/she is my fucking equal, regardless of the current circumstances. It's one thing I miss about Canada, and frankly Japan could use more of this.

--I didn't get a chance to spend an evening in a bar, meeting and talking to people. On a personal level this trip was a failure.

Monday, March 02, 2009


Tonight, still jet-lagged, I'm staying put in my hotel room. I have, of course, the necessary libations to offer the gods of travel (and my own bottomless depravity), but still... I can't shake the feeling that I'm somehow being beckoned to a more interesting place, a better place... Oh, alright, a fucking fun place. Someplace like this...

It ain't easy being an aging rocker...

Angel Stadium

From my hotel room I can see Angel Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim [clears throat...].


You know you're in California when...

... you have lunch at an In-N-Out.

A strange thing happened just after taking this shot. I had no sooner snapped it when some sort of security person scooted up to me in a golf-cart-type vehicle and told me that it was forbidden to take pictures. Having no desire to be deported back to Canada via Guantanamo, I meekly turned off my camera and put it back into its case. I suppose the "no pictures" rule may have had something to do with the fact that I was technically on a university campus (UC Irvine). Nevertheless, North America seems weirder to me every time I come back...

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Tree Branches in the Evening (2)


Fighting through severe jet lag, exhaustion, etc. to write this, but I'll probably be up all night anyway, so what the hell...

Arrived at LAX at about 10:00 this morning and, at the risk of offending my American friends, I have to say that the process of clearing US customs and immigration must be the slowest and most inefficient in the world. Please, will somebody in the American government go over and see how the Japanese do it? They have a similar fingerprint, photo, anal probe, etc. system, and it's never taken me more than 20-30 minutes to clear customs there. (Bonus for Canadian travelers: the anal probe is optional, no doubt due to the special relationship we have with our American overlords friends.)

Not being a big city guy, it's always a bit of a rush to stumble out of the front doors of the airport of a big city; jet-lagged, exhausted, stinking, and stunned, the sheer magnitude of the apparent chaos that confronts me outside makes it seem as if I've stepped onto the surface of another planet. I like to soak it in for a few moments as I get my bearings (a strategy that I've found prevents me from losing my mind completely when dealing with sensory overload). It always seems to me that I'm the only person there who hasn't got a fucking clue where he's supposed to be going...

Eventually we (I'm traveling with a couple of Japanese staff members) made our way to the shuttle bus that would take us to the car rental place. We had to rent a car and then drive down to Orange, where we're staying. In my somewhat shell-shocked state I didn't really feel like driving, but the looks of terror on my companions' faces told me that maybe I'd better and, with the GPS programmed, we headed out onto the freeway! Here I was, cruising down a California freeway! Now, in my mind I'd always kinda pictured this scene involving a beautiful blond-haired woman, the windows down, The Eagles or something on the radio... You know, the usual crap. In fact, it was more a white-knuckle ride into terror (although my fellow travelers seemed genuinely impressed that a) I had the air of someone who actually had half a clue about what he was doing, b) we neither struck nor were struck by other cars, and c) I didn't make a single wrong turn). We arrived at our hotel in one piece. Mission accomplished...

Each time I come back to North America I seem to experience an increased sense of reverse culture shock. It's really weird how the smallest, most mundane things can momentarily paralyze me, leave me trying to remember how I'm supposed to act, what I'm supposed to do, in this or that situation. In Japan, for example, there's no tipping anywhere, so I've gotten out of the habit. Now when I find myself in a tipping environment my mind seems to go into some sort of "calculation loop" as I frantically try to figure out how much to give as a tip. This used to be almost second nature to me. Another thing is North American food portions. Tonight, as I was struggling to finish my $10 side of beef and bushel and a half of potatoes it became clear to me why the Japanese are, by and large, a lot slimmer than Westerners.

Of course there's one cultural aspect of North America that trumps pretty much everything else: I can speak English. I can read the signs. I'm not illiterate (in fact here I might be considered an extremely literate fellow, if I do say so myself...). I can get into the background chatter at a bar or restaurant or wherever. I understand what people are saying to me and I understand what the fuck is going on. There's no confusion, and therefore no headaches. I would never say that I'm not able to relax in Japan, but here in North America I can relax in a different way.