Saturday, March 31, 2007

John Legend - Save Room

Pretty Hot and Sexy video from John Legend, who acquits himself so well on Tony Bennett's "Duets" album.

Stools for Stooges

Would someone PLEASE explain the kitchen counter stool obession?

Every single advertisement in the last 5 years for a new condo development and even new, large luxury homes, feature these idiotic, unstable, uncomfortable eyesores as some kind of high fashion bonus.

Now I can understand that, in the typical 600 square foot condobox, now selling for minimum half a million dollars in Vancouver, that, when the so-called "kitchen" is, in fact, a tiny area with a stove, fridge and fake marble countertops, that you might want to sit at your little fake counter because THERE IS NO WHERE ELSE TO SIT!

But, now even the glossiest of high end home and garden mags can't resist this cliche. If the kitchen has a "work island," then inevitably there are the Wobbly Ones.

What ever happened to sitting down in a chair?

Closed for Business - As Usual

Yesterday, I had one of those special Canadian Business experiences that go a long way to explaining why we have one of the lowest GNP per capita in the civilized world.

I walked into a very large and fancy and one-of Travel offices, thinking I would talk to an agent about my current desire to go to the Galapagos Islands.

Here’s what I e-mailed the owner of the business when I got home.

"Why do we have the lowest GNP per capita in the Western World?

A visit to your offices this morning around noon explains all.

I live in the neighbourhood. I stopped by hoping to discuss with an agent a trip tp the Galapagos Islands.

Your receptionist looked at me like I had just emerged from a space ship. When I told her what I was looking for, she told me that all the agents were in a meeting.

Now, no doubt the meeting was fruitful and important.

But more important than a customer at the front desk? A call couldn't have been made to bring one agent out from the meeting on the off chance that YOU MIGHT DO SOME BUSINESS?

Your website tells me that you are a "full service agency." Do even know what those words mean?

I grew up in the service industry and do you know what I say about your shop?

I say, "Hahahahaha...good luck.""

A good friend points out that it’s time to write that book about horror stories in Canadian service.

Please add yours in the “comments” section below.

Guest Editorial from V.

I'm sure you followed the story of Rebarman. This is the guy who killed a junkie by driving a rebar through his head down in the DTES. The junkie was flailing along the street cursing loudly over the bad outcome of a drug deal. Rebarman was a refugee wanted on drug charges in the USA and "known" to the Vancouver Police. Junkie threw Rebarman's girlfriend to the ground because she asked him to stop cursing in front of her toddlers. Rebarman went into an alley, grabbed some trash rebar and did his deed.

I found this this pastoral vignette to be a perfect encapsulation of the insanity of both our drug policy and refugee policy. Undoubtedly, Junkie would have turned his life around if provided with a free squat through Simple Sam's Silly City program. And Rebarman was undoubtedly a victim of oppression in his native Honduras.

And we pay for this dreck.

Reminds me of an old Yiddish saying from Czarist Russia, sardonically muttered at times of state oppression. "For these pleasures, we pay taxes."

Bush's Private Army

This morning, on Page C8, The Vancouver Sun's Jeff Lee reviewed a new book called "BLACKWATER: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

You can not only read all about this startling new book here, but you can watch the video of the author describing what should obviously be a front page story, one that is shouted from the rooftops.

While Larry and Anderson are droning on about Anna Nicole, the American government, thanks to initiatives by Rumsfeld and Cheney in 2000, is employing a private army in Iraq and New Orleans (!?!).

"So what?" you say.

This is what: This army, run entirely by a frothing-at-the-mouth right-wing Christian fundamentalist, is unanswerable. In what claims to be the world's largest democracy, a Praetorian guard, under private contract, is fighting and killing with no need to explain itself to Congress, the American people or the world.

You can also go directly to the Blackwater website here.

If you have ever had any doubts about the illegitimacy of the American presence in Iraq, this should pretty well throw you over the barbed wire fence with a big thud.
Try also this website for further examination of this nightmare.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Mark's Take - Guest Editorial

Mark Leiren-Young, the Vancouver author of, among other things, this little play called "Shylock," which I keep performing on this and other planets, has long been making fun of the madness we call "The News."

Check out his latest summary, which he files on a regular basis for

Although...I don't know how he can claim that he is the father of Anna Nicole's baby, when we all know that Larry King is.

Rock on, Bro....

Diana Krall - Temptation : Montreal Jazz Festival 2004 Live

Here's an excellent contibution from a regular Commentator to The Berner Monologues. Hot Stuff, indeed!

Give This Man a Ticket

The Mayor claims that 75% of all drug treatment programs don't work, and therefore they should abandoned and replaced by his innovative drug substitution scheme.

However, his own initiative, the Municipal Ticket Information (in which spitters, pee-ers, poo-ers and other homeless annoyances are issued traffic tickets and required to pay fines for their sins of poverty) is an 81% failure. 176 of 217 tickets issued have not been paid.

By his own lofty standards of science and reason, shouldn't this idiocy be abandoned at once?

Oink, Oink

This chart shows how American legislators spend money. It is a pefect example of feeding your electoral district for votes.

We wait for someone to publish the Canadian version.

How Do They Do It?

For those of you who may have thought that the circus is dead and gone, forget it! Check out this fabulous story about the opening of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey tonight at Madison Square Garden, featuring the DEATH DEFYING WHEEL OF STEEL!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Diana Krall - Cry Me A River

The Julie London - Barney Kessel version is deservedly considered the all time classic. HOWEVER, this one don't hurt!

Bad Humour All Round

Let me see if I understand this.

A suicidal man calls 911 for help. Help doesn't arrive for some time. The man kills himself.

Let's be clear about some basics. If a guy is determined to kill himself, sooner or later, he's bound to succeed. Doesn't matter how hard you or I try.

That does not excuse, however, a system that cannot take care of itself or people in crisis who turn to it for help. There were several communications breakdowns and errors in the human chain of non-response here.

Not the least of which was the now alleged bad jokes being made at the time by two cops who were privy to the dispatcher's calls.

But hear this. Jamie Graham, Vancouver's Chief of Police says of all this that he is worried that the officer's attitudes may reveal "a complacency, a callousness, perhaps a bad attempt at black humour that has no place in circumstances of this kind."

And right you are, Chief.

But, soft! What ghost sits on yonder wall?

Isn't this the same Chief of Police who but a few moons ago left a pistol target sheet on the desk of a female City Manager with some clever, cryptic comment about the dangers of public life?

Does the entire Force need urgently a weekend at Comedy School?

Monkey see; monkey do-do.

Rove / Nixon

I thought I had posted this yesterday, but not all things including cyberscience, are perfect.

Watch for karl Rove in this piece as a very young and already deranged campaigner for Nixon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I'm Taking My Ball & Going Home

It must be fun to be the government.

If you don't like something you just change the rules.

Case in point.

80 year-0ld Victoria School Trustee, John Young, successfully sued the government last September. The B.C. Supreme Court decided that fees could not be charged in public schools for any course leading to graduation. Mr. Young waged this war for a decade because of his admirable belief that poorer parents should not be unnecessarily burdened with the cost of so-called public education.

On Monday, Education Minsiter, Shirley Bond, introduced Bill 20 which will again allow school districts to levy fees for a broad range of activities.

In short - Bah, Humbug.


"For more than 40 years, the homosexual activist movement has sought to implement a master plan that has had at its centrepiece the utter destruction of the family. Barring a miracle, the family as it has been known for more than five millennia will crumble, presaging the fall of Western civilization itself."

Guess who said that?

You are right, Bunky!

Dr. James Dobson, founder and Chairman of the Board of Focus on the family. Dr. Dobson is a personal friend and frequent White House guest of the current president.

On one occasion, I questioned on the radio if Focus on the Family had any other legitimate reason for its existence other than pro-active homophobia. They threatened to sue both me and the broadcaster and I had to apologize on the air and note that Focus has many wholesome activities. You can view those activities on their website.

They also review movies. Brokeback must be a favorite.

Now, among all the gay men and women that I know, I have never once heard anyone admit to being a part of "a master plan that has at its centrepiece the utter destruction of the family."

I have heard gay friends talking about centrepieces. That is, floral arrangements for banquets.

So Bill blows Bob and Western civilization crumbles. Now that's power.

Harry Nilsson Everybody's Talking

Of course, Harry Nilsson's most famous and haunting song is the one running over the titles and under the action of one of the best movies ever made - "Midnight Cowboy."
If you have a chance, rent the 25th Anniversary DVD and watch the interviews with Hoffman, Voigt, Schlessinger and Brenda Vacarro for great insights into how actors and directors work. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Vacarro many years ago on the radio and she was a gas...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bad Behaviour - The Political Norm

Is there such a thing as "respect" in American political life?

The current "debate" about Elizabeth and John Edwards run for the White House would suggest not.

Mrs. Edwards has cancer.

Mr. Edwards is continuing his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Mrs. Edwards is working at his side.

This has brought a huge wave of support from millions of Americans, including thousands of cancer survivors, who applaud Mrs. Edwards courage.

It has also brought a tsunami of hateful attacks from the likes of Rush Limbaugh.
Mrs. Edwards has been accused of abandoning her children, among other apparent sins.

These attacks are nothing more than anti-feminism and anti-woman. And they are orchestrated by Republicans and people who call themselves Christians.
Every cancer doctor in the world can tell you that there are 2 basic reactions to the disease. There are those who essentially curl up and die, and there are those who say, "I love life and I will carry on and do my best." The second group live longer and better.

Shame on the political opportunists and the hating, self-hating garbage men with too much time and money on their hands. Better to do good than to do lots.

Everything is Show Biz

Many of you are already persuaded that religion is show business. Certainly there is considerable evidence for that argument. "Elmer Gantry" and "Jesus Christ Superstar" are two of my favorite amusements and they certainly support this notion.

Even so, I like my religion straight, not stirred. If I'm going to service give me an old-fashioned Orthodox Synagogue or the full shpiel Latin Catholic Mass. That has nothing to do with any set of beliefs; only with what I am comfortable and familiar.

Thus, with some sadness and world-weary disgust, do I read the NewsGeek, of all the irrelevant publications on Earth, has come up with a feature called, "The Top 50 Rabbis in America."

Does somebody still read Slime and Newsgeek? Have they run out of comics?

Of course, THE LIST was contrived by 3 show biz executives. Of course, everyone is taking this very seriously and tooting their shofars that their rabbi is high on the list.

What is this - American Idol Rebe?

My 2 favorite rabbis here in town are very different men, one from the other, but they share similar qualities. They are both brilliant intellectually with stunningly fast minds and endless reserves of knowledge and understanding. They are both great teachers. And most importantly, they are both living embodiments of human kindness.

If you told them they were on such a spurious "list," they would both change the subject.

Daily Numbers: Wall Smart

From a good friend come these revelations:

1. At Wal-Mart, Americans spend $36,000,000 every hour of every day. 2. This works out to $20,928 profit every minute! 3. Wal-Mart will sell more from January 1 to St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) than Target sells all year. 4. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot + Kroger + Target + Sears +Costco + K-Mart combined. 5. Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people and is the largest private employer. 6. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the history of the World. 7. Wal-Mart now sells more food than Kroger & Safeway combined, and keep in mind they did this in only 15 years. 8. During this same period, 31 Supermarket chains sought bankruptcy (including Winn-Dixie). 9. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other store in the world. 10. Wal-Mart has approx 3,900 stores in the USA of which 1,906 are Super Centers; this is 1,000 more than it had 5 years ago. 11. This year, 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at a Wal- Mart store. (Earth's population is approximately 6.5 billion). 12. 90% of Americans live within 15 miles of a Wal-Mart.

Beeeg Party eeen Venice!

From, comes this NEWS.

Twenty kilos of black caviar at 4000 euros a kilo. That is only one item on the expense list that Russian baron Roustam Tariko assembled in organising a party the likes of which had never been seen before in Venice. To celebrate his 45th birthday, he rented the rooms of the Cini Foundation on the island of S.Giorgio, where the guests -- all rigorously masked -- arrived and were greetedby scores of jugglers, actors, and extras. Mr. Tariko, known as "Mister Vodka", controls two-thirds of the Russian vodka market, is one of the richest men inthe world, and spared no expense on his personal celebration. By way of example,the vegetables were embellished by spraying them with edible gold, the wine was among the best Tuscan variety (at least 500 euros per bottle) and, in the"sweets room", there were two fountains that flowed with molten chocolate.

And there are those who are kvetching that Venice has lost its edge...feh!

Kettle Calls World Black

The quote of the month belongs to Anderson Cooper. He actually managed to say last night with a perfectly straight face, “A lot of people are cashing in on the death of Anna Nicole Smith.”

Anyone more than Anderson or Larry King or CNN?

I know nobody – repeat, nobody – who has the faintest interest in this non-story.

The list of legends that were devoured by their own unmanageable celebrity includes Marilyn, Elvis, and James Dean. But it does not include this sad, minor talent and her even sadder young son.

Please, CNN, move on…Try news...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Like, "Arf, already."

A South Korean "scientist" claims that he and his team have cloned a wolf. Or two.

When I read the headline, I thought this will only be credible if the dogs are called "Rufus" and "Rufus." Or, "Shmulley," and "Shmulley Too."

But, now I learn that they are, in fact, called "Snuwolf" and "Snuwollfy."

I'm sorry. That's just a bit much.

Does that mean that every time you want to call one of these phantom, petrie-dish wonders over for a scratch behind the ears, you have to go into the old vaudeville routine, "So...what's New, Wolfie?" Or, what Snuwolffy?

Will the beast reply, "I dunno, Dave. What snu which you?"

The Police Reunion - Roxanne

They rehearsed for days in an empty sound stage at Lion's Gate's North Van Studios. They'll be at GM PLace soon. And here they are at the Grammy's last month. Check out Sting looking and sounding like a 20 year old. This is one amazing guy and fab performer. Check out, as well, Sting on Tony Bennett's CD, "Duets," joining the master saloon singer on "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

Berries Buried

It's been some time now since the mainstream media has reported anything more than what the government and corporations have given them.

A shame, really, because there are so many "little" stories worthy of more serious attention.

Like this tiny gem lodged among the dust balls in Richmond.

A man is appointed by the Provincial Liberal government to the land commission in 2002. His name is Peter Dhillon. He is a cranberry grower and formerly the head of the Agricultural land Commission's south coast panel. Some might want to stop the tale right there and cry, "Conflict of interest!" But, forebear.

Mr. Dhillon manages to get Richmond Council to remove 2.5 hectares of his own land from the agricultural reserve and have it rezoned as industrial, a small fortune thus made. This decision by Richmond Council flew in the face of their own staff recommendations against the rezoning.

Hang on.

He's doing it again.

New application for an adjacent 2.5 hectares.

Now, let's be clear.

The Daily Rag has reported all this, and The Rag is my source for this rant. Many thanks.

But we will never hear more of this. We will never find out the how and why and who of this story of corruption and ill-will and disobedience to public service. Will some good reporter follow the money? Will some shoddy truth be exposed?

Don't hold your breath.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

John Denver - Sunshine

That old secret cure - SUNSHINE! - has returned this morning.

Here's a guy I didn't really like so much until I interviewed him for CTV, appropriately enough on a hilltop in California. He was delightful - warm and smart and forthcoming.

Ici on Parle Francais

I've been ranting and raving here and on the radio and in print for years now about our reluctance to bring immigrants fully into the mainstream of our economies. Why not qualify doctors, nurses and teachers from other countries as soon as possible and let them contribute and earn as equals to any other Canadian, and so on?

Today, I have a picture from the opposite side of the fence.

On Friday, I phoned a downtown hotel to speak to a friend of mine, who is visiting from New York.

When the young lady at the hotel answered, she said something like, "Foogglarmishtot, Hody, qualpu?"

And I said, "I am sorry. I didn't understand one word you just said."

She repeated, and repeated, and repeated. Eventually I divined that she was, in fact, welcoming me to a downtown hotel and asking how she could help me.

My first unkind thought was to say, "Well, you could start by getting me someone who speaks English!!!"

But as I am now in my new and recent and beatific head space of "Take Life as it comes," I simply asked for the woman to whom I wanted to speak.

Imagine how many times I had to say that woman's name - uh, names, last, first, first, last, both together.

When the hotel operator (if in fact that is what she was) put me on hold, I moved on.

Yes, let's get new Canadians working as soon as possible. Let's allow them the dignity of supporting themselves and their families, let's give them the competitive wage, let's recognize their qualifications from Universities on other continents.

Let's do all that, and let's do it soon.

But could we not ask in exchange that some form of Understandable English be spoken if you have to deal with the public? If you want to live in a ghetto of your own making and speak the language of your Motherland here in Canada, that's your unfortunate choice. But if you are going to answer telephones for a big downtown hotel, shouldn't you speak in the local currency?

And why would a hotel put as their first contact with the public such a handicapped person? Putting me on the front desk at a hotel in Bucharest, Botswana or Bologna is not a great idea.

As we say in the hospitality industry, "Have a nice day."

Or, better yet, "Have a good one." To which I am always tempted to say, "Thanks, but I already do have a good one."

Hunters, Gatherers

Less than a week ago, I wrote here about how oil companies have consistently plundered the territories that make them rich.

This morning, the New York Times has an excellent article on the diamond trade in Sierra Leone.

This is of particular interest because it was only 2 nights ago that I watched "Blood Diamond." The subject and the setting are exactly the stuff of today's NYTimes piece.

Leonardo DiCaprio's character, the adventurer-mercenary, Danny Archer, says it best (in a flawless Rhodesian accent, no less) in the film when he points out that the history of Africa is the history of foreign exploitation. Diamonds, oil, gold, name your holy grail. The world has always come to Africa, and Africa has always been the worse off for it. Last week I talked about the enormous bounty Shell Oil is currently reaping in and around and off the shores of Nigeria, all the while further impoverishing the local people.

Nigeria is but a shiny stone's throw from Sierra Leone.

Read the Times story and weep for the continuing inhumanity of the upright biped.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Singing in the Rain

Here is the original.

It's only one of the best four minutes ever put on film.

Who Elects These People?

I've been thinking this morning about politicians.

More specifically about politicians who do absolutely nothing measurable and yet keep getting elected and re-elected and then elected again.

Why is this?

Gary Lunn is the Federal Minister of Natural Resources for Saanich-The Gulf Islands.

Years ago, folks on Salt Spring island appealed to Mr. Lunn for his help in making good community use of an empty RCMP building. He was hopelessly ineffective.

He's in the news today because he has vigorously defended the federal budget in a presentation to the Board of Trade. That must have been an exciting lunch.

To my knowledge, there is not one thing to which Mr. Lunn, elected in 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2006, can point to with pride and say, "That's real and that's my contribution."

Hedy Fry has been sucking up the air in Parliament since 1993.

I'm a simple guy. Can someone explain these phenomena to me?

Is this all that politics offers? Don't even poltiicians want a personal sense of accomplishment and contribution? Is getting elected and waving your hot air about all they need in this life?

Can't we do better?

The Daily Number

350 billion.

That's the number of American Dollars spent in the past 4 years on the highly successful Iraq War.

100 billion.

That's the number of American Dollars more that the greatest President who ever lived wants to continue the Iraq War.

Sam's New Program

The Mayor has just announced a startling and exciting new initiative.

In his continuing bid for a "civil city" that will play well before the millions of Olympic visitors, Sam has revealed his new HRP - Homey Run Program.

How it works is this. The homeless will be trained to operate rickshaws. That way they will stay healthy and earn minimum wages and be able to afford rent on apartments. The rickshaws will be imported from India and Thailand. Councillor Peter Ladner is considering adding an RL - Rickshaw Lane to the Burrard Street and Granville Bridges.

Friday, March 23, 2007

HamNation: Better Living Through Activism

This is completely silly and completely anti-sanity and completely right wing in-total-denial madness...but it's still funny.

School Daze

The current flap over schools for foreigners is a)long overdue, and b)the tip of a much concealed iceberg.

Downtown Vancouver is replete with young Koreans who are bringing much to our local economy. They rent apartments, pay exorbitantly for English language studies, buy food and beer, CD's, DVD's, clothes and coffee.

The only problem is the schools that are claiming to teach these kids English are doing a terrible job.

Language is spoken.

Say, it again. Language is spoken.

You can write declensions until you're purple, but if you can't say "Buon Giorno," you're toast.

The main library downtown is filled with foreign students pouring over their workbooks and electronic translators. None of them talk to Canadians. None of them speak English. None of them make local friends. They huddle together in floating ghettos, smoking cigarettes and speaking Korean. All of which is understandable and their right.

But don't these schools have an obligation to get these kids connected to the English-speaking community? Doesn't the government have an obligation to assure that schools actually teach what they claim to?

Big Smoke

Provincial Minister of Tourism, Sport and Arts, Stan Hagen, is blowing smoke up yer ass, again.

He's released a little self-serving fiction about how TV production is way, way up here in B.C., and The Local Rag has soaked it all up. Numbers, stats, flag waving, trumpets.

The only problem is this alleged piece of news is as believable as an episode of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.

Every actor I know - and that includes actors who have been used to working regularly and buying homes and cars - has been crying the unemployment blues for about a year now. The pickings are slim and the pay is cheap.

Maybe Mr. Minister should try a few months of waiting on tables.

Michael Penn - Try

O.K. Here's another Michael Penn video, this one directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, the director of "Magnolia" and "Boogie Nights."

The video also features Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Michael Penn - Walter Reed

New to me is Michael Penn. But isn't he darn good?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

read before using

The biggest industries in the world are:

- armaments

- pharmaceuticals

- illegal drugs

- oil

These enterprises share at least two qualities: They are vigorously aggressive and almost psychotically secretive.

The biggest selling pharma pill in the world is Pfizer's Lipitor. It is a statin drug used to lower bad cholesterol levels for heart patients or anyone else who feels this is necessary or a good idea. Most cardiologists, for example, self-prescribe a statin, usually lipitor.


A tiny news release out of Dallas today advises that the American Heart Association has changed its take on how and what children should take to help with their cholesterol levels.

This is the most spurious and questionable reporting and science. Did Pfizer support this study?

A major study also just released from Norway looked at two large groups of heart patients. One group was put on a severe program of diet, exercise and statin drugs. The other was told to "just live your life normally." Result? The exact same number of people in each group died of heart disease.

This is not to say that statins are a sham or that they should be dismissed. I take an older formulation statin drug every night before bed. Next month, we'll have a look at my blood cholesterol levels.

But, to encourage more children to take more drugs on one study with no real details explained is downright evil.

Don't believe everything you read, and read the labels on everything you think you believe.

Black, Black, Black

The Trial of Conrad Black is the most fun in town, the town in this case being Chicago. If you're not following this melodrama, you're not really up and breathing. It's got everything: more money than you can shake a Todd Bertuzzi stick at, power, greed, theft, betrayal, sex, bad words, local color, and the best ingedient of all - the chance to lay a good wager. Will he or will he not do jail time? Is Radler taking the fall, allowing the Good Lord to walk?

Last night, at the Third City Salon, sponsored by Bob Ranfsord, Virginia Richards and me, the 15 or so guests could hardly get into their soups and salads or focus on the subject at hand (Global Warming - Do You care?) for all the chattering excitement about "the trial."

O.J., the Trial of the Century? Ha!

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Snow ((Hey Oh))

soft rock rules...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Nixon Re-Dux

Executive privilege is a dangerous piece of law in American life.

President Bush, sounding more and more like a batty Richard Nixon, is now calling on this cancerous legislation in his refusal to let the man who created him, Karl Rove, testify in a messy political story.

"We will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honourable public servants."

Leave us not forget what Shakespeare's Marc Antony had to offer about "honourable men."

The Justice department fired eight U.S. Attorneys last December. Numerous documents, including e-mails, suggest that Mr. Rove, Bush's puppet-master, and Attorney-general Alberto Gonzales were both at the head of these firings and that the entire order was completely political. Friends and enemies stuff, as usual.

How can Congress hold a President accountable? How can parliament hold a Prime Minister accountable? These are not cavalier questions. They go to the heart of our democracies.

David Iglesias was one of the eight fired U.S. Attorneys. Read his comments in today's New York Times and then tell us again what a great president is Mr. Bush.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Federal Budget



It's not often that we get to see two movies released in the same year, telling the same story, with the same real-life characters, and two entirely different casts of actors and producers.

Such was the case over the past 18 months with Capote and Infamous.

Both are excellent films telling and re-telling the tale of American writer Truman Capote's obsession with the murder of the Clutter family in rural Kansas. Capote was already the toast of New York literary society for, among other things, "Breakfast at Tiffany's," when he found himself drawn to Holcomb to research the effect a gruesome murder might have on a small American town.

The result was "In Cold Blood."

That book was itself made into an extraordinary film in 1967, in which the part of Perry Smith, one of the 2 killers, was played to chilling and powerful and strangely sympathetic effect by Robert Blake, a movie actor for almost 70 years, who was himself recently charged (and acquitted) with murder.

"Capote" was nominated for 5 Academy Awards; "Infamous" for none. Philip Seymour Hoffman won the Oscar for the title role, predictably and deservedly so. Toby Jones, an actor who looks curiously almost identical to Mr. Capote, and who was first-rate as a supporting player in "The Painted Veil, is also quite wonderful in "Infamous."

But, whether it is the direction or the whole tone of this second movie or that Mr. Jones, as good as he is, simply does not have the chops that Mr. Hoffman so obviously does, his portrayal doesn't have the weight that the Oscar-winner does.

In Capote, Catherine Keener plays Harper Lee, Capote's good friend and the author of the iconic "To Kill a Mockingbird," and she's terrific. But so is Sandra Bullock playing the exact same role in "Infamous." With no make-up and subdued speech and movements, Bullock gives one of her very best, and entirely unheralded, performances.

Then, you can compare and reach your own conclusions about Chris Cooper vs. Jeff Daniels as Alvin Dewey, the local cop. I think Jeff Daniel's is a superior actor with a much broader range than Mr. Cooper, and I'm often amazed at what he brings to the party. Remember that this is the guy who stood toe-to-toe with Jim Carrey in "Dumb & Dumber."

John Forsythe, who achieved household fame for "Charlie's Angels," may have been the best Alvin Dewey in "In Cold Blood," 40 years ago.

The most astonishing casting, however, is James Bond - Daniel Craig - as Perry Smith. This performance alone is worth the rental fee. You'll be surprised.

Most of you have seen "Capote." Take a night off and rent "Infamous," for the curious but rewarding experience of "deja...what-a-minute!"

Monday, March 19, 2007

Being jewish Yair Nitzani

This is wonderfully politically incorrect...and hysterically funny!

Life is a Cabaret!

Long before Liza became a cartoon of herself, she was a gifted performer.

Here she is from the movie with the equally brilliant Michael York and Joel Grey.


Listen to wallet-weary Canadians kvetching about the price of gas.

It's a riot of self-serving blindness and ignorance. Canadians think that the oil companies are "gouging," and that the government should intervene. We always want the government to stay out of our affairs until we feel diminished in some way, and then we insist "they" come to our rescue.

Shell and Exxon have been amongst the worst offenders world wide for a great many years in terms of their corporate citizenship. All over Africa, for example, billions of barrels of crude oil are shipped and piped and billions of dollars are being made, while the local people, far from benefiting from the good fortunes in their own backyards and on their own shores, are placed in ever more desperate and deplorable human conditions.

When it comes to oil, the words exploration and exploitation are almost interchangeable.

Now, you Canuckleheads expect the captains of oil to be concerned with the price at 41st and Arbutus? Give your SUV a shake. Stab yourself with a fork. Try checking into Reality for a change.

Who You Callin' Drunk & Dishorderly?


These are the various a.m. closing hours that Vancouver City Council, in its customary clarity of purpose, has allowed for Granville Street bars. Now, to its astonishment, there are unruly drunks falling out of every little over-serving, irresponsible hole in town.

What is truly amusing now is to hear the bar owners themselves bleating that"something must be done." Aren't these the good folks who have been lobbying so consistently to have their swill palaces open as late as possible? Any good drunk knows the beauty of a morning pick-me-up before heading back to the rigors of working for a living.

"I hate mob violence. Hell, I'll kill to prevent mob violence!'

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Here's that rainy day--

fabulous Jimmy Van Huesen tune....

The Master Planner?

Is George Bush an undiscovered genius?

Or is he even more of a bumbling, Clouseauvian oaf than we ever imagined?

Iran, the sworn enemy of America, is now THE main supplier of everything from shoe polish to refrigerators to bank buildings in Iraq. So says today's New York Times.

Please read that article and explain to me if this is part of Mr. Bush's secret machinations, or, yet another unintended result of a program based on total ignorance.
Either way, not is all what it seems...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Blockhead Quebec

Just when you thought it was safe to live in Canada...

Andre Boisclair is the leader of the Parti Quebecois and he is facing an election.

He is also a racist fool, unrepentant, and undeserving of holding office in Canada or any other civilized nation.

Here is what he said the other day, talking about his one year of study at Harvard University, where apparently he learned very little:

"When I was in Boston I was surprised to see that on campus about one-third of the students doing their bachelor's degrees had slanting eyes."


When I was a kid, growing up in Winnipeg, orientals were pejoratively called "slants." If you were an ignoramus and you felt you had gained the upper hand in a bargaining, you said, "I Jewed him down."

Very few of us outside La Belle Province have had much sympathy for the Parti Quebecois over the years. Now, Monsieur Boisclair has done us all a favor and confirmed our worst suspicions.

Drop this guy, toute suite.

Moving Story

And from the Department of In Case You Missed it, comes this tail, er, tale.

An idiot and his equally qualified wife go to the annual Sex Show. They buy products.

Idiot then has 10 beers and several cocktails.

Now he gets into his car and heads home along Highway One to Langley. (Shouldn't there be some law against Valley Folk coming into the Big City more than once a year?)

Wife wants to look at the vibrator they bought, but can't get the package open.

Hubbie, the genius behind the wheel, fights with the plastic packaging while driving and then, in a stroke of sheer brilliance, inserts the batteries...while driving.

Farmer Brown's Little Woman decides that now that her new toy is fully manned and operative, she'll give it a little spin.

The idiot's defense in court yesterday for his impaired driving charge is that he was distracted by his wife trying out her new vibrator.

You cannot write material like this. It just falls out of the sky.

Millions of people have had sex in automobiles, including moving automobiles. Imagine being a failure at even that!

Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder - For Once in my life

Tony originally found this great song and recorded it, but Stevie heard it and recorded it in a big up-tempo as-only-Stevie-can-do-it way and it went through the roof.

Now, here they are together singing live as they do on the "Duets" album.

Is this one of the great collaborations or what?

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Vancouver City Councillor, Kim Capri, who like most of her colleagues, voted against giving the police more manpower (Can we say such a thing these days without the Policewomen's League putting us in handcuffs?), has now taken to doing "ride-abouts" with the cops. And lo! She has found - wait for it - that people who fall out of bars late at night sometimes PEE AND FIGHT IN THE STREET!!!

Never saw a western movie.

Never stayed for an extra barley sandwich after closing.

Never, apparently, left her front lawn before now.

And, gosh, now that she's seen the yellow light, something's just got to be done, to be done, to be done, done, done.

How do these folks get elected? And what happens to them the day after they are elected? the capital city of Oz...

Auditor-general, Arn van Iersel, is afraid to go to his office because there are addicts and homeless people shooting up and fornicating right there in public in Bastion Square.

Doesn't Arn see the march of Human Progress here? Usually, addicts are too stoned to screw.

Well here are the solutions for Kimmie Bear and Arn.

For Kim, just keep giving the bars all the possible leeway you can to pour all the bad hooch at all the idiots they can for as late into the wee hours as you and your council will allow.

And for Arn, just import Vancouver's progressive mentality and give the poor addicts some free and better quality stuff every morning so they'll go back to being too stoned to do the other thing.

You see how easy this all is when we can all agree on "an integrated approach?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Yesterday, I was walking along Hornby street midday, heading in the general direction of the Hotel Vancouver.

My mother – may she rest in peace – taught me many years ago that the biggest, best hotel in town is always the best place a) for a cup of coffee, and b) for a pee. Although, pay special attention to not getting these missions confused one with the other. I highly recommend the Danieli in Venice. You just stroll right in like you’re paying 1700 euros a night for a canal view, through the mahogany and glass rotating door, past the front desk and the main lounge on the left and straight into the back hall. The bathrooms are all marble and fine towels. Make sure you smile at the concierge on the way out and mumble a deep-throated “Signore,” as you head back onto the Riva Della Schiavoni. (above)

So, I’m walking along Hornby and these two geniuses next to me are discussing the great inconvenience and apparent horror of those dirty, messy people who have been protesting the Olympic clock.

“Put a sniper up there. That’s all you have to do.”

Tops in citizenship, yep. Let’s get this guy his award.


VANOC and all its familiar faces are finding themselves on the road to Damascus. Suddenly, after spending untold millions of taxpayers’ dollars, it has come to these otherwise bright fellows that perhaps, just perhaps, they might expose their daily machinations to the great unwashed. “Transparency,” “openness, “ these have become the new watchwords. Why, the teachers and ditch diggers and latte makers might want some inkling on how their hard earned wages are actually being spent on the Big Snow Party. Imagine, the nerve!

O.K. Let’s talk about that. Let’s hunker down – in camera, of course – and figure out when and how we might open the pig pen. Being careful, of course, not to let in those protesters or any other nasties.

We now await humbly and with baited breath for their benevolence.


The Prime Minister wheels into town, and in a big public display, accompanied by the Preem, he announces scads of taxpayers’ money for reducing the emissions of greenhouse gasses. So far so good.

But, wait. An Oddity. There will be a demonstration project called “the hydrogen highway.” No, this will not be a place where addicts will suck hydrogen in replacement for their usual poison. No, this will be a place where cars can tank up on hydrogen for their new “green” cars. O.K. But here’s the oddity. The project is located…wait for it…between Vancouver and Whistler!

Vancouver and Whistler, uhuh. Any particular reason for this choice? How about Highway One between here and Hope, or twelve other locations?

Can you say, “Big Snow Party,” kids?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


We post this as a matter of High Cultural importance!

Get with the program, Bunky!

What you see here are not see-thru skirts. They are actually prints on the skirts to make it look as if the panties are visible and these are the current rage in Japan. They'll be the rage here in the USA soon. I forward this as a public service, so you won't have a heart attack when the rage reaches the USA.

No wonder Wal-Mart is doing so well!

What's in a Word?

Why I associate local politician John Reynolds with the Tintoretto exhibit currently in view in the Prado I have no idea. But lucky for you, eh? How else would I have found an excuse to show you the master's St. Mary Magdelen opposite?

Tintoretto is one of the Famous Five of Venetian fame (Titian, Veronese and ???). As far as we know, he hardly ever left town. How could he? He was painting practically every surface he could find - walls, ceilings, floors, stairs. If you never go anywhere else to look at Renaissance art, go for sure to the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice and have your mind utterly boggled by the genius and scope and sheer output of this fellow.

If nothing else, such a visit will allow you to forget for a grateful moment the silliness and skulduggery of the current shenanigans in Our Town.

Why - many have been asking - are two "retired" politicians, John Reynolds and Joy McPhail, making the media rounds and stumping for His Peculiarness, The Mayor of Vancouver, in aid of his utterly destructive program of replacing pills for heroin shots and coke snorts? Why indeed.

Now, it has been suggested by those so much more cynical than I that the answer is the oldest answer in the books - money. Moreover, some have had the gall to suggest that Dr. Strangelove has enlisted the financial help of a somewhat shady character, who is currently under investigation for internet fraud, to fund the famously badly named "Inner Change" program. (How giving a dope fiend one substitute drug for another can be imagined as effecting "inner change" is a mysterious leap that most of us are unwilling or unable to make.)

Then, this morning, to our immense entertainment comes a feature in The Daily Rag in which Mr. Reynolds makes a very strong point of declaring that he is not a lobbyist, that he hasn't broken any post-Member of Parliament promises, and that "I am not making a penny out of this."

You are all entitled to believe what you will.

But some questions are worth consideration.

Why and when and how did Mr. Reynolds and Ms. McPhail suddenly develop such strong interests in drug programs, when, in both their long and storied political careers, neither showed any such interest?

Doesn't Ms. McPhail spend most of her days and nights in Los Angeles of late with her husband, the Movie Maker? Why this? Why now? Why here?

There are many more layers of paint behind these curious pictures, boys and girls. Perhaps some day a restoration expert will be brought to the Truth.

A Love Supreme

Now this is the piece I tried several times yesterday without success to post. It's not Coltrane his true self, but Branford is pretty darn good in his own right and the sound quality is, of course, superior.

Monday, March 12, 2007

John Coltrane -' My Favourite Things'

Today is the birthday of THE definitive sax player. And this is one of my favorite things of all time. 'Trane takes a deceptively simple folk melody by Rogers and Hammerstein and changing it into a modal composition, he transforms the piece into something unforgettable.

Heart of My Heart

The news today is entirely personal.

At 9 o'clock this morning, I was on a treadmill at UBC's cardiology department. I lasted 14 minutes with steadily increasing pace and elevation and got my heart rate up to 142 beats per minute. This is a lot more than my customary 57 or 60 at rest.

All of this in aid of my semi-annual "stress test," which is necessitated by what is laughingly called "an episode" in June 2005. The episode (chest, shoulder, throat and lower jaw pains) was a textbook case of angina and that resulted in the inevitable angiogram and angioplasty. The latter is the now almost routine procedure in which a "stent" is inserted into a plaque-blocked artery. The day I had my operation, 20 more such procedures were performed at Vancouver General alone.

I "passed" today's test with flying colors, as they say. No hitches, glitches or sudden spikes on the pages of red and grey print-out graph.

I've now made a commitment to go back on a "statin" drug. I've been advised that my excellent diet and disciplined exercise regimen is doing all it reasonably can to lower my "bad" cholesterol, and that only such medication will really aid in getting the numbers to the lower levels I should have.

Such is life.

Twenty or so years ago, all of the above would have statistically been a fairly immediate death sentence.

With luck and good food and those regular walks and swims and bike rides and tennis games and the first rate attention of Dr. Izzerow and his gang, I might just last another 20 years or more.

But, no fear.

I'll still be the cranky, miserable s.o.b. I've always been. Nothing beats consistency.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


With considerable regret, I tell you all and sundry that I cannot perform the role of Claudius in the upcoming production of "Hamlet," scheduled for the Jericho Arts Centre May 11-26.

I am beginning a new job on April 1st (Community Liason for Langara College), about which I am very excited and enthusiastic, and the rehearsal schedule for the Shakespeare was impossible to mesh with my new responsibilities.

C'est la vie!

To Irina and all the cast of "Hamlet," I say, "Break a leg!"

To all else, go see it and support independent theatre in Our Town.

Madness in the 'Hood

Kam & Kim Poon and their son have been serving great coffee and delicious bird's nest cookies to regulars at 14th and Granville since '95.

Their landlord is a Prince Among Princes named Bao Pham. Mr. Pham recently evicted the SOMA Cafe near Main & Broadway to open his own shop. Now he is evicting the Poons from their Bean Around the World.

Wait. Mr. Pham isn't totally heartless. He did offer to let these folks stay on, with a small caveat - a rent raise from $7,000 to $9,000/month. Hey, it's only 29%.

Mr. Pham hasn't yet decided if he'll just expand Caffe Barney, which is next door, or if he'll take over the Poon's Bean Around the World.

O.K. There's still good news and bad news.

The good news is the Poon family has found a new location up the street at 3007 Granville St. The bad news is they can't take the "Bean Around the World" name with them. Such is the life of a franchisee.

Now, I'm confident that the Poon family is going to do just fine, thank you very much. They have a regular following and the change in location is all of about 100 feet.

BUT. Is this how City Hall and our exalted Mayor work on the "Civil City?" Is this how we facilitate small business, which is often the backbone of our tax base?


How Governments Spend Your Money

Yahoo News:
Polar bears, sea ice and global warming are taboo subjects, at least in public, for some U.S. scientists attending meetings abroad, environmental groups and a top federal wildlife official said on Thursday.[..]

The matter came to light in e-mails from the Fish and Wildlife Service that were distributed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Biological Diversity, both environmental groups.

Listed as a "new requirement" for foreign travelers on U.S. government business, the memo says that requests for foreign travel "involving or potentially involving climate change, sea ice, and/or polar bears" require special handling, including notice of who will be the official spokesman for the trip.[..]

Two accompanying memos were offered as examples of these kinds of assurance. Both included the line that the traveler "understands the administration's position on climate change, polar bears, and sea ice and will not be speaking on or responding to these issues.

This tale, taken from Crooks and Liars and Yahoo News, is now being re-worked as a spectacular Broadway musical called, "Polar Bear Blues." Chris Rock, Kid Rock and The Rockettes have signed on.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Frank Sinatra - Old Man River

Speaking of's one of the greatest songs ever written by an American - Jerome Kern for "Showboat" - sung by the Chairman of the Board.

This video, by the way, was originally posted on Youtube by our buddy, Bill Taylor!


Continuing our little series of honoring the great composers of "The American Songbook," here's a killer version of "Lady is a Tramp," from Pal Joey. Of course, Sinatra owned this number, but this is pretty hot.


Provincial Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon may or may not be right in seizing control of Translink away from the GVRD. Time, ridership and money will tell.

But we can surely all rise to our feet in huge thanks that the likes of Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie will no longer be at the wheel. Considering the marvelous job Mr. B has done in steering the fortunes of The Garden City of late, what confidence could any of us had in his leadership (???) at Transclunk.

In comparison, George Puil was Leonardo, Mozart and Steve Jobs rolled into one.

Stephen Harper, Man of Mystery


I don't want to know him. I don't want to love him. I don't want to laugh or have coffee with him or any other Prime Minister, for that matter.

I want the Prime Minister to take care of business. Stop.

Jean Chretien was a loveable scamp, a delightful rascal. And what a great job he did for all of us...or should that be on all of us?

So Canwest is telling us that Mr. H. is a mystery. That's news? Didn't Anna Nicole Smith die again today? No more grisly murder trials to cover? No more harm reduction programs to endorse?