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Showing posts from May, 2007


I think I've been a little too deep lately. Not to mention too pretentious, too intellectual, too...frigging...boring.


Here are some of my favourite comic clips.

WARNING: Parental guidance strongly advised. In some cases--notably #3--the guidance should be well away from the computer speaker. Not work safe, not least of all because you probably don't want your colleagues to notice you've pissed yourself.

High speed connection recommended.

1) Ron James on Tim Horton's

2) George Carlin on losing things

3) Nikki Payne

We saw this routine live a few years back. I couldn't breathe. I cried in places, I was laughing so hard. The room actually went silent a few times because nobody else could breathe, either. I must reiterate the warning above: although they've bleeped her here, Nikki's material is...dirty.

4) Bill Engvall

The more I hear, the more I like. He kept us sane on the road back from Florida.

5) Stuart MacLean needs to pee

If you've never hear…


Being a rambling dissertation on the co-existence of science and spirituality

"Within you is the whole universe. You are a microcosm of the macrocosm.”
--Rabbi Shoni Labowitz

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
--T.S. Eliot

This month's issue of Discover magazine is an absolute goldmine. If you're me, at least. Reading about the cutting edge of science--articles such as "Soul Search", "Blowing In The Wind" and "In No Time"--my mind gorged itself on new information, evaluated, and found--pleasantly--that it all reinforced what I had believed already.

If you ask a scientist what time is, or what consciousness is--or even what an atom is--and she's feeling particularly honest, she'll respond "no idea. Next question."
We fool ourselves into thinking we know how things work. The reality is we have not the slight…

Ken On Those Moving Picture Things

Can I let you in on a couple of peeves? (Sure, Ken: it is, after all, your blog.)

But first, because I suffer from literary bloat, some background.

A few weeks ago my wife's company had a big garage sale. There were probably fifteen or twenty of us set up in the company parking lot early Saturday morning. Of the lot, we had by far the least amount of stuff--just one table, whereas there were some people there who wouldn't have a house to go home to, it looked like.
Our collection included a couple of big boxes of books. It's hard for me to get rid of books, but eventually the question must be asked, am I ever going to read this again?, and answered uh, nope, so why not make room for stuff you will read?
We also had some Nintendo DS games that had failed to hold Eva's interest overmuch, a vacuum food sealer that we hadn't used in about three years, and a bunch of assorted bric-a-brac that just kind of floats into the Breadner household on the tides. It was decided that …


My friend Jen made a fair comment on my last jeremiad, saying it was the most depressing post she has ever read. She then added something that got me to thinking..."and you said Pan's Labyrinth was dispiriting!"
Yeah, I did.
Fantasy is something I generally avoid in my reading and viewing. Call it a fault of mine, a defect of imagination, but I prefer my characters human and my settings at least halfway plausible. My chosen form of escapist literature is either historical or speculative fiction: what might have been, what could be. There are exceptions: the world of Harry Potter is clearly impossible. But J. K. Rowling is so adept at world-building that you come to believe, over the course of just one novel, that Hogwarts just might exist, if only you knew where to look.
Likewise Guy Gavriel Kay sets most of his fiction in a world ever so slightly removed from our own, and incorporates his supernatural elements seamlessly. But you take something like Lord of the Rings. I…

One Song Glory

Anyone out there ever seen Rent, either the stage musical or the movie adapted from it?
Rent is a modern recasting of La Vie Boheme, concerning a down-and-out group of New Yorkers, living and loving and dying on the dirty streets of Avenue A. It's inspiring and dispiriting in equal measure: an occasionally light and frothy tragedy packed with life lessons.
One of its characters, an AIDS-afflicted former rock star named Roger, is obsessed over the course of the play with writing one final tune encapsulating his short, bittersweet life. He laments, in part

One song (glory)
One song before I go (glory)
One song to leave behind
Find one song, one last refrain (glory)
From the pretty boy front man, who wasted opportunity
One song--he had the world at his feet

The lyrics to that particular tune came to mind today, unbidden, as I considered the state of the world...and shuddered.

There are a lot of people out there in the world pushing doom and gloom of late. Doom and gloom has become a multibill…

A Whole Bunch of Totally Unrelated Stuff

I don't think I have too much to write on any one given topic today. But the topics are building up. So: compendium post.

First of all, I'd like to tell Jen she was right and I was wrong. iTunes is freakin' awesome.

I've been getting my music mostly by means of Limewire for the past year or so. I have found an awful lot of stuff residing out there on other people's hard drives. Alas, my musical tastes are eclectic enough that I haven't found everything I'm looking for...not even close. My friend Jason tipped me off to SHAREZ, which has entire albums, not just single songs. Downside: the selection, while voluminous, is heavily slanted towards world music. Nothing wrong with that...just not what I'm looking for.

Enter iTunes. So far, there's all of one group (The Proclaimers) that's woefully underrepresented at the iTunes store. Other than that, though, it's just as Jen said: you can spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars if you're not carefu…

Ahem. Go, Sens, uh, Go

If you go to the Toronto Maple Leafs fan forum and announce, as one unfortunate recently did, that henceforth you are going to cheer for the Ottawa Senators as they make a run for the Stanley Cup, the reaction will be immediate, intense, and unfavourable, to put it mildly. "Don't let the door hit you, wait a second, I hope the door whacks your ass on the way out" is one of the milder things I saw.

You probably wouldn't see this reaction, at least to this degree, if it was any other team. But the Sens and the Leafs have a history. No matter where the respective teams finished in the regular season, we owned them in the playoffs, eliminating Ottawa three times in four years. Then, of course, the Sens completely dominated us two seasons running, one of many reasons we didn't make the playoffs and have a chance at kicking them to the curb again.

And there's been the accompanying soap opera to ratchet up the hatred. For whatever reason, more Leafs seem to ge…

Well, that's a tad depressing.

My friend Jen tipped me off to something called "Pandora" last year, and I've been a subscriber ever since. It's Internet radio with a "learns" your tastes as it goes, with input from you the listener. Pandora has exposed me to all sorts of artists I never would have heard of any other way. Its library ranges from number-one hits all the way down to songs there's a good chance you'll never hear anywhere (although you should!)

Among the discoveries I've made:

Johnathan Coulton...quirky folk artist, gently funny songs
Hayley Westenra...beautiful clear soprano with the best rendition of "Both Sides Now" I've heard, maybe including Joni Mitchell's original. Mom, you'd love her.
Sixwire...rollicking alt-country, tight, slick harmonies.
Laura Powers...a pagan singer strongly reminiscent of Loreena McKennitt.

Of course, I had to cheat to gain access to Pandora, as did the many thousands of other Canadians who have signe…


One of life's little epiphanies gave me a good wallop a while back, reading about adjectives.

Adjectives are kind of neat. You can take two different adjectives that mean exactly the same thing, insert one or the other into a sentence, and completely change the flavour:

My Uncle Paul is spendthrift. My Uncle Paul is cheap.

My boss is opinionated. My boss is bullheaded.

My wife is conscientious. My wife is fussy.

Sure, it can be argued that each pair of adjectives has distinctly different meanings, but every last one of us goes around with preconceived notions of what each word means. Cheap's a great example. Being cheap, in the sense of being a tightwad, is usually perceived as a bad quality in this consumerist society, but who hasn't admired frugality at some point? Still, you hear "cheap" and a whole list of complimentary or not-so-complimentary meanings floods into your head. Usually mostly one or the other.
It's all in how you look at things, how your life expe…

Hey, Revolution! Wait Up!

I have this perverse streak in me that prevents me from enjoying popular things, simply on the grounds that they are popular. The more popular they get, the more I'm likely to dig in my heels. This usually means you'll find heel marks in the technology sand as I'm dragged into the future. Where Tomorrow Beach intersects with the Ocean of Popular Culture, that's where those heel marks are most pronounced. Oh, I'll do things, buy things, in my own good time, for my own good reasons. I don't consider the fact that millions of other humans are doing something to be sufficient reason unto itself for me to join in. Commit suicide, goes the old saying. Ten billion lemmings can't be wrong.
Examples? Well, J.K. Rowling had published three books about a certain boy wizard before I'd deigned to read even one. I haven't seen so much as a single episode of--well, you name the popular show. House, say. Survivor. (Although I heard somewhere the ratings on that are …

Georgia, Part II

There wasn't supposed to be a second installment of this narrative.
Our "Georgia-Peach" came home from the vet's and everything seemed okay. She was keeping her food--what little we were supposed to be feeding her--down, always a good thing, and her personality was returning. If anything, she was a bit dopey and lethargic, but nothing too out of the ordinary.
Eva was chatting on the phone last night when Georgia suddenly gave out a piercing scream, jumped two feet straight up in the air, and came down snapping at her own heel. What the hell was that?, I thought to myself. Did she step on her?
Our puppy looked around, seeming to come out of some sort of trance, and darted behind her Mommy, where she cowered.
No cats up here...nothing to explain why she'd suddenly--
Just then, she did it again.
She landed splay-footed this time, wailing. Tux went over to sniff her, anxiously. I approached cautiously, I petted her head, murmuring the kinds of things you say to your kids …

Sweet Georgia's Down...

When our Tux first came home from the pound, we made a token effort at crate-training him. That didn't take; I think it reminded him too much of the cells he'd just escaped. So we enlarged the crate...we gave him our guest room during the day (not like we were using it), and let him sleep with us at night. It wasn't too long before Tux had the run of the house 24/7 (save the basement, which is the cats' domain).
When Georgia came along, things got a little complicated. We got her young enough to crate-train, so we used the cage we'd originally bought for Tux, placing it in the corner of our living room and confining her in there during the day. She grudgingly accepts this, with the aid of a Kong and a knifeful of peanut butter, although I'm sure the sight of her brother roaming free galls her mightily. Still, she's not old enough to join him in gambolling all over the place while we're gone. So there she rests. Of course, she sleeps with us at night, to…

The Music of the Night

Turn your face away
from the garish light of day,
turn your thoughts away from cold, unfeeling light
--and listen tothe music of the night . . .
--Andrew Lloyd-Webber, The Phantom of the Opera

I've joined the Night People.
This undoubtedly comes as a shock to those who know me, even more so for those who knew me when last I worked a steady stream of night shifts and did little else but complain about working a steady stream of night shifts.
But this time's considerably different. When I worked nights at 7-Eleven, it wasn't so much the shifts themselves I hated, but what they contained: an endless parade of drunk, obnoxious, and vaguely (or sometimes not so vaguely) threatening types. Once I relocated to a store where the natural order of things reigned--meaning the busiest shifts were days and afternoons, and nights were pleasantly slow), I actually began to enjoy life in the bottomless pit between midnight and dawn.
Last night's shift was my first overnighter in a bit more th…

The Raptors are Dead. Long Live the Raptors!

Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer): It [basketball] is the archetypal male bonding ritual.
Niles Crane (David Hyde-Pierce): Couldn't we just go into the woods, kill something, and have done with it?

Such was my attitude towards basketball, until this past season.

When it comes to sports, I am an inveterate homer. So when the Raptors came to town twelve years ago, naturally, I became a fan. Not much of a fan, mind you--not fan enough to watch an entire game. Enough to keep tabs on them in the newspapers, and catch the odd fast break when there was absolutely nothing else on television.
Part of the problem, of course, is that the NBA and NHL seasons overlap. Given a choice between watching a Maple Leaf game and watching, well, just about anything else that could possibly be on contest. In fact, on those few occasions I find myself away from a television whenever a Leaf game's on, I am possessed of a curious itching sensation that only goes away once I track down a radio and ge…

Excuse me...haven't you got anything better to do?

Okay, the topics on the docket today have been discussed in both the blogosphere and in what said blogosphere derisively refers to as the "mainstream media". (Which is, by the way, an increasingly odd appellation in these days when anyone who is anyone has a blog...) At any rate, I have nothing new to add on either topic, but both are just so...damned...annoying that I feel compelled to write out some frustration.

Both topics, needless to say, are political.


(or...Everyone's A Little Bit Racist...except Captain Canada...

Boy, you really gotta hand it to Parliament.

How many problems are facing this country right now? Let's start a little list. Here's mine:

--Of course, the environment's going to hell.
--Perhaps worse, nobody knows exactly what to do about the environment going to hell.
--Our troops are at war in Afghanistan.
--Our dollar's approaching parity with the Yankee greenback, meaning our manufacturers are facing the horrors of competi…