Monday, April 30, 2007


"Deal or No Deal," NBC's hit game show is a diabolically clever piece of work.

It pretends to be about hopes and dreams and courage and guts and all kinds of other all-American delusions.

In fact, it is entirely about greed and vanity.
And, of course, Beautiful Babes.

Which means it plays on at least three of the oldest traits of man. The show is positively biblical.

Last night, a charming and amusing young man was the contestant. His name is Pyong Kong. He is a Korean American. He clogs and sings karaoke (quite well, actually) and his wife, his brother, his best friend and both his immigrant parents were in the studio cheering him on.

The host is Howie Mandel, who in other incarnations was a child-like manic stand-up, then a serious actor on a weekly TV hospital melodrama, then a TV talk show host. Mr. Mandel, a Canadian, is an enormously talented guy, who I am sure could do almost anything in the various worlds of performance. He is quick-witted and self-assured and charming. He also knows what cannot be taught. He knows how to use his voice and his body and the audience and the camera to his own and the show's best advantage. Where lesser players would shout, Howie will say something of great import quietly, almost - but not quite - off-handedly.

So, last night, Mr. Kong was beating the board. He had placed himself after 45 of the 60 minutes allotted to the show in the position of having the company (represented by a shadowy figure on high, who cellphones Howie with offers) offer him $289,000 if he would stop playing the game.

The young man had nothing when he came into the studio. He told us all that he needed money for their honeymoon and for the down payment on a house. He told us that his parents had come to America with $750. He clearly wanted to say, "No deal!" take the cash and get out of there.

But then...

And this exact same scenario happened again tonight with an arrogant, little tennis player who told us that she wanted to pay off her student loans and go to University to study pharmacy. She worked the game until the house offered her $299,000 to quit.

Anybody watching, anybody with a brain, anybody not caught up in the heat of the bright lights and the screaming Coliseum-like crowd, anybody not switched on by greed and ego would say at this point, "Hey! I just beat the house. They're offering me a small fortune. I'm outta here!"

But, this, of course, is exactly what did not happen two nights in a row.

In the end, both gambled, both lost and both went home with pretty good sums, but considerably less than they could have.

And until those barfacious moments, this is a gripping, silly entertainment.

In the end, it becomes a confirmation of our worst suspicions of human nature.

This is not Masterpiece Theatre.

That's both a good and a bad thing.

Everything is My Movie - Back Off!

"'scuse me, 'scuse me, 'scuse me."

Or, if you're trying to get off the vaparetto in Venice and pushing past the human walls in your way, "Permesso, permesso..."

But we have a starkly different sensibility here at home.

Today, nobody can tell me nuttin' cause the world is here entirely for my amusement.

Yesterday, I left my friend sitting on the patio of a cafe near English Bay while I went inside to visit the bathroom. Actually, it was more than a visit. I intended to pee. In fact, I did pee.

But to get to the bathroom, I had to say, ever so quietly and politely, "Excuse me, please," to a young couple who were standing on the narrow carpet, waiting to place their orders.

The man looked at me with pure, desalinated hate.

Yes, hate.

How dare I ask important Him and lovely Her to do anything unplanned that might not profit them or might even for a moment, yes, inconvenience them?

On my return, they saw my approach and moved a few inches back, but with such monumental put-out fussiness, you could have read it from the back row at Covent Garden.

Theft is Theft. When Will These Criminals Be Charged?

Not only has the war in Iraq been an unmitigated disaster from any point of view, it has also been a huge act of theft. Theft of public funds, that is.

Do yourself a favor and read this piece from yesterday's NY Times, which chronicles the billions of taxpayers' dollars spent on projects unfinished and abandoned.

To see Cheney and Bush continue to lie so blatantly to the world public is stomach turning.

Can Gordo Be far Behind?

Business Week writes about how private companies such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Carlysle Group are buying up private infrastructure such as key roads, airports and bridges (Golden Gate for $3.4 billion and Brooklyn Bridge for $3.5 billion, for example. Cities supposedly think this is a great idea because they get money they can spend on other things.

I don't understand why this is even considered.
You don't put basic infrastructure like this in private hands, because it allows monopoly pricing. They will squeeze the most money out of it they can, and that will be the majority of the surplus value produced by the roads. Since they will set the cost to maximize profits, it will be above what a proportion of the population and a proportion of businesses can afford (check a supply/demand curve to see what I mean - you get a lot more use at price = 0, and you get a lot more money if you price a lot of people out of the market).
What this will mean is that a lot of businesses will go under (or never be created), a lot of people won't travel even short distances (which will strangle businesses that need those travellers, price certain people out of certain jobs) and will in general reduce economic activity.
However much money any government gets in the short term, it will lose more from reduced taxes due to reduced economic activity and reduced economic growth in the long term. (ie. it isn't just people who use the roads/airports/bridges who lose)

And odds are, you'll eventually have to either regulate these things to keep prices reasonable (at which point the companies will start shorting on maintainance) or you'll have to buy them back at a huge markup.
All of the foregoing comes from Crooks and Liars, which I have emailed to me each morning. I've added it to my Links list(on the right), and I use it here frequently.

I've posted this item today because it makes me wonder how long it will take for Mr. Campbell to try again to sell off various roads and other British Columbia infrastructures.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Modern Life is So Daunting

I'm confused.

Why would David Suzuki, Canada's most renowned environmentalist, allow his name to be attached to a SUV?

Art Imitating ...???

Talk about a "post-ing!"

From the "National POST," comes one of their photos of the week.

"A staff cleans a sculpture during preparations for a sex culture exhibition in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan province April 24, 2007. The exhibition begins April 25. (CHINA)"


Saturday, April 28, 2007


At last.

An ad we can understand. An ad we can relate to. An ad we can look at.

I am a heart patient. Two years ago, I had an angioplasty. By the time the cold weather returns, I will be 65. And my sex life is dyno-mite!

You know what sex is good for?

Almost everything.

And love is even better.

You want a cure? Love somebody. Get loved. Fall in love.

The British Heart Foundation is right on the money.


Transclunk is Dead! Long

Nothing could be worse than Transclunk, right? Dozens of unelected, unaccountable mandarins spending billions of your tax dollars on buses that don't work. What could possibly be worse?

Let's not hold our breath just yet, kids. The SCBCTAA -we're not making this up, sounds like an old Bob & ray routine, I know, but this is really it - The South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act will rid us for once and for all of the Goofy Mayors Parade.

Unfortunately, it may be replaced by an equally unaccountable, anonymous secretive group of hyper-managers.

This is a mighty fine mess you've gotten us into, Kevin...uh. Ollie...

Ooops, Pooops...Jolly Green Giant Slays Harper

Al Gore has denounced Canada's Green Plan, calling it a "fraud."
Now, watch David Suzuki stopping Environment Minister, John Baird, in his green tracks.

Rostropovich plays Bach´s Bourree - Suite No 3

Bach and Slava...what more needs be said...

Friday, April 27, 2007

All the King's Men

There have been 3 films of the Robert Penn Warren novel, "All the King's Men."

The story is about the rise and fall of the fictional and fascinating Willie Stark, a character based on the real life Huey Long, Governor of Louisiana.

There was a 1958 version of the story made for television. Most of us missed that.

There was last year's version, starring one of the greatest actors of our time, Sean Penn and a huge all-star cast. Now, I think I will rent that one and take a look.

And, most famously, there was the Robert Rossen version, filmed in 1949. I saw that movie, but, as I was 6 or 7 at the time and most likely half asleep in my chair, I have never remembered much about it.

Mr. Rossen made "The Hustler," a few years later, easily one of the greatest movies of all time with startling performances by Paul Newman, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott and Jackie Gleason. This is an iconic movie, with lines so famous they are quoted by any film buff who has had 2 beers in a row.

In the Rossen version of "All the King's Men," we also have an all-star cast: Broderick Crawford, who won the Oscar that year for Best Actor, John Ireland (nominated for Best Supporting Actor) and his actual wife, Joanne Dru, Mercedes McCambridge, whose major fame was the voice behind the spinning, puking head of Linda Blair in "The Exorcist," but who was magnificent as Luz Benedict in "Giant," and a very young and outrageously handsome, John Derek.

Mr. Ireland, who was born right here in Vancouver, had a career that included 197 credits!

The movie won the Oscar for best Picture, and I am writing about it, because I watched it Friday afternoon and found it fascinating for many reasons.

In some ways, the picture is superficial and obvious. And yet...and yet, the subtleties and shadings of character are quite wonderful to watch. There are no good guys, no bad guys. Everyone is in some way, large or small, compromised and corrupted, and at the same time admirable.

And because it was made in 1949, there are very different approaches to common problems in story telling.

For example, there is a dreadful set piece that lasts less than a minute showing small children leaving a school on a routine fire drill. Some of the children must leave by an outside metal staircase.

The camera shows us the children dashing down the stairs in an orderly and playful fashion. They've done this drill before, they are confident in what they are doing, and it's a clear relief from the monotony of the classroom.

Suddenly, we see a close-up of the structural support that is holding the staircase to the old, brick wall of the school.

The camera cuts back and forth between the children and support. The support breaks a little more loose each time we see it. After 3 of these builds, the support rips away from the wall. We hear some screams and that is the end of the scene.

Today, we would have to see broken limbs, blood spurting, the whole Scorsese/Tarantino craziness.

Yet, told in this old-fashioned, "indirect" way the scene is completely horrifying, completely effective. I hollered our loud, alone in my living room, "Oh No!"

Broderick Crawford had only one other role of equal stature and that was the comedy gangster in "Born Yesterday," with Judy Holliday and William Holden.

He became best known for a schlocky TV series called "Highway Patrol."

But as Willie Stark, he gave us a fully rounded, completely human portrait of a deeply flawed and wildly charismatic personality.

A Beautiful Contribution From Victor

I watched the Japanese-Einstein-Robot thingy and had an epiphany. No, really.

The Japanese are obsessed with robots because they are not making little Japanese. Their birthrate is far below replacement math. So we have this wonderful culture dying because they don't want to have kids. How ironic that they made an Einstein robot, a man who escaped, ....well you know.

This weary world has lost touch with fundamentals. Asians are aborting girl fetuses. Westerners are not reproducing. Africans are being devastated by AIDS.

As an aging man, who has been diagnosed with "an unpleasantness" ( forgive me, but as a boulevardier I do not discuss loathsome details) here is my advice to a world wrestling with the population question.

1. Find somebody to love.

2. No matter your sexual orientation, (S.O),there is somebody there for you.

3. If it works for your relationship, add a child to your love. Through birth or adoption. S.O. is irrelevant.

4. Most important. Be true. Subordinate the self to the family.

5. If you and yours fail in all this, you are still a family.

Even if there are just two of you who tried to have kids and failed.

Two old lovers in the same bed, warming each others' toes, please God as much as those who have been blessed with great grandchildren sitting on their knees.

HE doesn't judge us by our fertility. HE judges us by our morality.

Creepy Einstein Robot

One Japanese scientist has made a robot who looks exactly like him. He discovered much too late that now nobody knows who to put in the box at night.

That's What We Need - Another Department

Former attorney genera; Geoff Plant has released a massive new document called "Campus 2020 - Thinking Ahead." It is a detailed study, with recommendations, of colleges, university colleges and universities in B.C.

I received the document several days ago and I haven't had the time to read through it all as yet. So, this is not to denigrate or condemn the effort.

Nevertheless, two recommendations are ill-advised.

The first suggests that colleges should stop granting full degrees.

That would be fine if it weren't for the fact that several colleges, including LANGARA, all already granting degrees and spending small fortunes building programs of study and teaching staff to do exactly that. And they are doing first rate jobs in those programs. And they are successfully placing qualified and job-ready employees in the workplace.

To dismantle all of that would be retrogressive to say the least.

The second recommendation from Mr. Plant is that the Province create 5 "regional learning councils.

Good grief, doesn't anybody ever learn?

This is exactly the same mistake we have already made with Health Care and Public Schools.

In both instances, we have created terribly expensive, new, and unnecessary levels of bureaucracy that clearly hinder the smooth and timely delivery of service.

Hospitals and schools are not longer responsible for their own performance levels. CEO's of regional boards are paid in excess of $300,000 and leave on a regular basis with glamorous pensions and severance packages.

To add another costly, obstructionist set of regional authorities for post-secondary education is to yield to ineptitude and monies spent that should go to students and teachers.

If these are examples of what Mr. Plant has come up with, I'm afraid to finish reading his report.

Couldn't Have Said it Better Meeself

Guest blogger boulavardier, Victor, comments:

Today, the media reported two stories that are riotously funny in their juxtaposition. The bingo caller at our biggest radio station ( The Top Dog, actually the First Flea) read the stories in sequence without grasping the irony.

Story #1. Vancouver opened its first hi-tek public washroom where the poor folks on the Downtown East Side could pee in comfort.

Story#2. The poor folks from the DTES peed in bottles last night which they intended to throw at the police working the NPA nomination meeting.

So why are we peeing away money?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Michael Bublé - Call Me Irresponsible

Here's a pretty slick and flashy promo for our Burnaby Boy's new album, which will be released next Tuesday. He's an amazing talent and his story is somewhat astonishing.

In the caffe

"I'll always figure out a way to make it happen."

This might be his epitaph.

For at least fifteen minutes he had been sitting alone. He had an old yellow Sony portable music machine with him, but he hadn't been listening. He was staring out the window. He seemed to be looking at or seeing nothing, except perhaps what was in his head.

Big, square-faced, handsome in a dull, blank kind of way. He was "reasonably" dressed until you looked a little closer and noticed that his pants were dirty and that he was wearing grey work socks with his black brogues. Later, when his "guest" had finally arrived and they were deep in negotiations, he scratched nervously at his ankle under the rolled down sock.

The guest was Ichabod Crane. A reed, a wisp with a beard. And he came equipped - pen, notebook, questions.

Turned out this was an interview of sorts. The man was a framer and he needed work. Maybe they found each other on Craig's List.

The man listed all his skills. And he did this with a vigor and aggression that you couldn't have seen coming when you observed him in his silence.


"If you look out the door and it's raining, chances are I'll be sitting at home watching a movie."

This wasn't reassuring news. Outside, a man had spent much time in perfectionist, obsessive deliberation parking his red and black Bugatti motorcycle. He was wearing matching red and black bike clothes, sleek and shiny and rubbery. When he took off his helmet, he was half-bald. What hair remained was pure white. He was easily in his sixties. Slim, pug-nosed, intense.

Do you remember Michael Mann's 1986 movie, "Manhunter?" It was the first attempt to film Hannibal Lecter. Never as good as Jonathan Demme's great success with "Silence of the Lambs," but still a chilling, scary movie. (It was later reworked as "Red Dragon," with Hopkins and Ed Norton.) Well, an actor named Tom Noonan played the psycho-killer, Frances Dollarhyde, in "Manhunter," and this is exactly what our motorcyclist looked like.

"But I'd love to work for you - inside or outside, it doesn't matter."

Ichabod smiled and wrote in his book.

"I may not be the best framer in the world, but I'll be there at 7 in the morning, and I'll be the last guy to leave."

He was smiling and loud and gregarious and happy. You could almost smell the disaster of his personal life, his eating habits, his furniture.

I Can Work! I can Work!

A rare congratulations to the Campbell Government.

As of next January, mandatory retirement at the age of 65 will go the way of the dodo bird.

Which is a darn good thing for people like me with no money. I will be 65 in December and I would keep right on working whether the government approved or not. I have to.

But it's nice to know that someone has finally said that this age discrimination had to go.

Many thanks, and pass the geritol.

The Best

Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show," seen here in Canada on The Comedy Network
(Mon-Thu, 11pm Westcoast time or whatever we're calling that this week) is the
only broadcast of which I am aware that dares to poke such huge, gaping and
hysterically funny satirical holes in the official fabrics. Whether it is Bush or
McCain or religionists or Democrats or show biz folk or himself, Stewart and his
writers just let it all hang out there. Stewart is a handsome, quirky performer
with unique style that either works for you or it doesn't.

This is a dangerous and subversive and courageous and democratic piece of
work. Mr Stewart is now rich and famous, and he deserves it all.

Nothing lasts forever and I have no idea how Mr. Stewart may re-invent
himself after this run, but it will be fun to watch and find out.

The Trail Gets Hot

Here is the first paragraph of an editorial in this morning's N.Y. Yimes:

"Congressman Rick Renzi, an Arizona Republican, was locked in a close re-election battle last fall when the local United States attorney, Paul Charlton, was investigating him for corruption. The investigation appears to have been slowed before Election Day, Mr. Renzi retained his seat, and Mr. Charlton ended up out of a job — one of eight prosecutors purged by the White House and the Justice Department."

Read the rest here.

It is about corruption at the highest level of the American government.

Great tap dancing by Eleanor, Fred and George

Please note that this is a one-shot, one-take wonder. Astaire was my all-time greatest show biz hero. He had studied every known form of dance, he was tireless in his preparation, and then he went out made it look like was just making it up as he went along.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

We are Not Alone

It was only yesterday that I dared ask why the Premier is so comfortable chatting about political operatives working for him calling talk shows and pretending to be who they are not.

It was encouraging to see Vaughn Palmer asking the very same question in this morning's Sun, not to mention the entire NDP caucus asking the same question in the house yesterday.

The Premier's response is transparently below the required.

Starlight, Starbright...

How exciting to learn that we have a distant sister planet. Just turn left of this solar system, follow the known galaxy River Road, go past Ed's Eats, and there you be.

Even more rewarding to run into Mayor Sullivan's advance man on the new star, Ken Dobell, who has been awarded an additional $500,000,000 contract to develop poor people's housing in the red dust.

Now, when we look up at the heavenly skies at night, just before our last scotch and toke before beddie-byes, we can be comforted in the assurance that we are truly being taken care of by those who truly know how to take care.
So...take care.

Corinne Bailey Rae -- Like a Star

She was on Letterman last night and I just couldn't stay up that late...but, now we can see what all the rave is about.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Money Went Where?

An important point was made by commentator, "Martino," the other day when I was blogging about City Hall.

He said it is time for regular and public audits. I would say they should be called "Performance Audits," and they should reveal in somewhat the same fashion what the Auditor-General reveals for us in her federal audits, what City Hall is actually doing with all this money they collect in local taxes.

We really have no idea at this point how our local tax dollars are spent, and what is more, most of us don't seem to care.

If we cared, and if we were informed, half the departments would vanish.

Rosemary Clooney -- But Not For Me

They're writing songs of love...she was magic, unmatched...

Who's On First?

For the first time in Canadian history, a man has been released on bail after admitting that he shot and killed a police officer.

The man is accused of murder. He claims he didn't know the guy he shot 3 times with a .357 Magnum was a police officer. So now a Quebec judge has released him on bail.

But...let's see.

He admits that he shot SOMEONE 3 times with a .357 Magnum. The small detail that this was a police officer that he shot and that all of this happened during a crazy shoot-out in a major drug and stolen cell phone raid doesn't seem to have impressed our learned fellow on the bench.

Shoot a cop 3 times, claim ooops, sorry, I didn't know he was constabulary, and you walk out on bail.

A milestone. A millstone. A new low for Canadian jurisprudence.

What are we going to do about making judges accountable?

Rapunzel, Do You Have Hair?

A pair of academics will analyze crime patterns in the hope of predicting your next bank heist.

Another professor, far, far away in another land, has figured out that French Impressionist Claude Monet had cataracts.

I guess this is why those places are called Ivory Towers.

That still doesn't explain why these daydreams are published as news. Perhaps for me and you and Dave letterman's writers.

LIne 4, Go Ahead. You're on the Air

There is something creepy about the Premier of the province praising "one of Dave's callers" after an appearance on a Victoria radio talk show.

Many of you will say, "Well, that's just business as usual. That's politics. That's how is works." And you're probably right.

But that still doesn't wash away the bad taste of knowing that the Premier thinks it's normal or just swell or ticketyboo to have a political operative play havoc with what others are mistakenly believing is a free and open discussion.

Clearly politicians think that such forums are simply toys and illusions, playthings awaiting their amusement and manipulation.

Monday, April 23, 2007

chasing nakedness

Sunday afternoon, 1:30pm, English Bay Beach directly in front of the inukshuk or whatever the pile of stones is called.

A man is on the beach naked. He is swimming and when he emerges from the water he holds his clothes in front of his ugly little manhood.

Someone freaks.

TWO COP CARS arrive.

This is what the police need to do? The town is broiling with criminality. This is what the ploice need to do?

The Pidgeons are Gone! The Pidgeons are Gone!

Feeding pigeons is forbidden all over Venice, not just in the St. Mark's area. To accommodate the nineteen vendors who sold corn as bird feed, the municipality will now allow them to sell souvenirs, instead, but not in St.Mark's Square. Next Thursday, all the involved parties (vendors, Comune, Art Superintendance) will hold what should be the final meeting to finalise the details. It will create a completely new look for St. Mark's, free of birds which damage the monuments, bring disease, and are loved only by tourists and corn sellers.

The Trouble With Headlines

Who really knows what happened in that Delta classroom?

The drama teacher for kids ages 11 and 12 has been asking her students to act out the headlines. Last week the headline was Mr. Cho.

Someone complained. Now the teacher is on the carpet and the Sensitivity Police have parachuted in in full force.

What that teacher may have dome with those students may have been really, really dreadful. It may have also have been realy, really wonderful and creative and instructive and transformational and leading to deeper understanding.

How the hell are we supposed to know?

This is bad reporting and bad publishing. If you can't tell me the whole story, be quiet and sip your soda.

F--- OF

You know what drives me crazy?

The sudden emergence of accepted new words and spellings like, "one off."

That drives me crazy.

How did "one of a kind," or, "one of," become, the hateful, widely accepted "one off."

To all the sheep who adhere to this, I bleat "F--- Of!"

Brodie is an Idiot

Malcolm Brodie is both Mayor of Richmond and the Chair of Translink. He is an idiot.

Today, the Vancouver Sun has published a detestable, specious little editorial by Mr. Brodie in which he blames the victims of crime for being assaulted.

His basic pitch is that Skytrain is very well policed and monitored, but that the areas near Skytrain stations aren't his responsibility and therefore older women with purses should be careful when and where they walk.

Has Mr. Brodie ever had to catch public transit at 6 am to go to a job to support his family??? I doubt it.

Why has the newspaper printed this self-serving trash?

The real story was told right here a few days ago.

There is no police presence at these crime hot spots. There is no police presence because City Council doesn't want to spend money on policing and because Mayor Sullivan has a personal agenda which would see the role of police deeply diminished in our communities.

Brodie is a shameless and shameful fool. "You're head has been cut off, " he informs the recently beheaded, "because you bothered to stick your head on the chopping block."

This is your government.
And, by the way, have you noticed how the Op-Ed page is taking a dangerous turn of late?
Three of 4 articles on today's page are written by government officials. Don't government officials already have public platforms from which to spew their noxious gasses? What happened to the citizen-observer?

Mrs. Palfry

"Mrs. Palfry at the Claremont" is a charming and deeply touching movie.

We expect Joan Plowright to always give us her talented best, and she does. But who ever heard of Rupert Friend? Well, kids, he's only doing 7 movies this year!

Easily the world's most handsome young man and a fantastically gifted actor, all things being equal, we can look forward to watching this fellow for ages to come.

They're both at the Park on Cambie now. Go. You'll like.

Barbra Streisand - Somewhere Over The Rainbow (One Voice)

This is probably Streisand's best video. It was filmed at a $5,000/seat private party in her "backyard" in Malibu many years ago. I was thinking of her this morning, because I noticed that "Funny Lady" is on TV tonight. "Funny Lady" is a perfect and terrifying example of how a wonderful thing - this case the perfect "Funny Girl" - can be followed by a dreadful, dead-in-the-door thing like "Funny Lady." The charming, vulnerable, irresistable star of "Funny Girl" somehow is replaced by a brittle, bitter, all-too-clever schtickster. Exorcism2 and The Godfather 3 are even more appalling examples of how "intention" is the key to everything.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

TOSCA is in Town. Run to See Her.

It is not often that a company outside of New York, Milan or Buenos Aires manages to assemble such a perfectly balanced trio of lead singers as did Vancouver Opera for last night's opening performance of Puccini's "Tosca."

Renzo Zulian is Cavarodossi, the artist hero.

Yulan Zhang is the darkest of villains, Scarpia.

And Cynthia Lawrence is the alluring actress, Floria Tosca.

Against the most beautiful, classical sets of Rome 200 years past, this simple tight story is told with such swift confidence that you feel it has gone by in a moment.

It is one of the best pieces Vancouver Opera has ever presented. The three lead singers are each, alone and together, wonderful.

Click here for all the details of the 4 remaining shows, and do yourself a huge favor and see this and hear it. It is quite amazing.

MARIA CALLAS - TOSCA - Torture scene - Act 2 (1958)

On the other are Gobbi and Callas as Scarpia and Tosca in what must be one of the great pulp fiction terror moments eve put on a stage...It was brilliant last night, as well

Enrico Caruso - Tosca ''Recondita armonia''

In honor of last night's wonderful "Tosca" by the Vancouver Opera, here is Caruso...


A fascinating article in this morning's New York Times talks about the need for Blackberry connectivity in terms of validation, inclusion and desirability. And the writers speak about addiction.

They are absolutely correct about addiction and those other motivator, as well. And they could include, especially include, the ubiquitous cellphone.

But I see darker, more ominous payoffs and motivations. And darker consequences.

Nobody today can tolerate quiet.

120 years ago, if you wanted to travel from what is now Richmond to what is now Point Grey, you would sit on or behind a horse. You would pack a meal or two and perhaps a small boat. Except for the bleats of Mother Nature, you would be alone with your thoughts. Alone with your thoughts! Imagine!

Today, there is a small counter or hanging, plasma TV in every kitchen making sure you don't have a thought over breakfast. The cell and computer practically turn themselves on in their excitement to run your noisy, thoughtless life. In the car, your earcell is blathering on from the office or the next condo closing, in competition from ALLNEWSALLTHETIME or ALLTRAFFICALLDAY.

Nobody can buy lettuce anymore without conferring electronically. "I'M AT THE LETTUCE COUNTER, DEAR," the fool hollers, above all the other hollering fools, "IS IT THE TALL, STALKY LOOKING STUFF OR THE SHORT ROUND CRINKLY ONES?"

Nobody reads a book in a cafe. Everybody computes and cells and blackberry's simultaneously, a dance to multi-tasking.

Nobody walks down the street and observes the passing scene, the men, the women, the children, the shop windows, the bakeries, the new clothes, the cherry blossoms. Everybody is talking and scrolling and texting.
A world without thought is world in great peril.

And I am a total hypocrite and of no use in this deluge. For soon, my blog will be ALLAUDIOALLTHETIME and it will RRS to your iPod and I will join the fray gleefully and pocket the change and help you ignore the world around you and avoid the silence that might if you really, really listened answer your prayers, amen.

Would the REAL America Please Stand Up?

President Bush continues his hopeless, hapless war on the world at an ever-increasing cost approaching a Trillion dollars.

But that is far from the only cost.

The money has to come from somewhere.

This article from the New York Times chronicles one of the most ugly and most sad and most predictable fall-outs of Operation Stupidity.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Guest Editorial from R.

And check out fellow Blogger, Robert Werner, on his current thoughts on medicine and the media, among other issues.

NEW AXIS, er, AXES, uh, several anyway...

Bitter after being snubbed for membership in the "Axis of Evil",> Libya, China and Syria today announced that they had formed the "Axis> of Just as Evil", which they said would be more evil than that stupid> Iran-Iraq-North Korea Axis that President George Bush warned of in> his State of the Union address.> Axis of Evil members, however, immediately dismissed the new> Axis as having, for starters, a really dumb name. "Right. They are> just as their dreams!" declared North Korean leader Kim> Jong-il. "Everybody knows we're the best evils . . best at being evil> . We're just the best!"> Diplomats from Syria denied they were jealous over being> excluded, although they conceded they did ask if they could join the> Axis of Evil. "They told us it was full," said Syrian President> Bashar al-Assad.> "An Axis can't have more than three countries", explained Iraqi> President Saddam Hussien. "This is not my rule, it's tradition. In> World War II you had Germany, Italy, and Japan in the evil Axis. So,> you can only have three, and a secret hand shake. Ours is wickedly > cool."> International reaction to Bush's Axis of Evil declaration was> swift, as within minutes, France surrendered. Elsewhere,> peer-conscious nations rushed to gain triumvirate status in what has> become a game of geopolitical chairs.> Cuba, Sudan and Serbia announced that they had formed the "Axis> of Somewhat Evil", forcing Somalia to join with Uganda and Myanmar in> the"Axis of Occasionally Evil", while Bulgaria, Indonesia and Russia> established the "Axis of Not So Much Evil Really as Just Generally> Disagreeable".> With the criteria suddenly expanded and all the desirable clubs> filling up, Sierra Leone, El Salvador and Rwanda applied to be called> the "Axis of Countries That Aren't the Worst But Certainly Won't Be> Asked to Host the Olympics". Canada, Mexico and Australia formed the> "Axis of Nations That Are Actually Quite Nice But Secretly Have Some> Nasty Thoughts About America", while Scotland, New Zealand and Spain> established the "Axis of Countries That Want Sheep to Wear Lipstick".> "Yon's no' a threat, really, jist somethin' we'd like tae dae",> said Scottish Executive First Minister Jack McConnell.> While wondering if the other nations of the world weren't> perhaps making fun of him, a cautious Bush granted provisional> approval for most Axes, although he rejected the establishment of the> "Axis of Countries Whose Names End in 'Guay", accusing one of its> members of filing a false application. Officials from Paraguay,> Uruguay, and Chadguay denied the charges.> Israel, meanwhile, insisted it didn't want to join any Axis, but> privately world leaders said that's only because no one asked them.>>>

Who Protesteth Too Much?

The Conservative government is angry at two BC lobby groups for their aggresive tactics.

Cry me a river.

Autism and fishing rights have now been bonded.

What did you expect when you got elected? That everyone would love you to pieces just all the time wearing daffodils in their hair and blowing kisses?

Iraq Explained

It took a bit of work, but the Internet is a wondrous thing.

Here is the entire 8 page article by Peter J. Boyer published in The New Yorker magazine, which I have been reading over breakfast the last few days.

It is quite simply the best and the most detailed reporting a how so many men were so wrong so often in a military campaign that has clearly become a hideous disaster from almost any point of view.

You owe it to yourself to read this piece from beginning to ignominious end.

Dianne Reeves-In Your Eyes-Live at Vienne 1999

I liked her so much yesterday, I thought I'd better have MORE...

Friday, April 20, 2007

National THANK YOU Day

I hereby declare this to be well, heck, International "Thank You" Day.

Thank everyone you meet for somethingorother today. Twice.

Surrounded By Geniuses and Good Will

John McCain, the Senator who would be King, the man who strolls through the Baghdad market with only 100 soldiers for protection, has done it again.

He was quick, in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, to defend gun rights, and further to add that he doesn't see why America should restrict the sale of ammo clips.

The stand-up comedian also doesn't understand why some people don't think his "bomb Iran" gag is the funniest they ever did hear.

For the full, cheerful story, if there remains an ounce of human energy in your index finger, click here.

Dianne Reeves - How High The Moon

Wow! This is HOT!!!
I don't really know this lady, but, man, is she goooodd!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Follow the Money

Two stories in this morning's paper reveal the problem of not having enough real writers or enough real resources or enough political will to pursue stories to their natural conclusions.

Both stories concern City Hall.

In the first, we are teased about the possible re-alignment of taxes. Maybe businesses will be taxed less and homes a bit more. All of that is worthy of consideration. All of that is important, especially to small business owners who pay the highest tax rates in the country, and to home owners who pay a small fortune in taxes themselves.

But nowhere have I see or heard anyone ask, "What are we getting for our money?" Nobody has asked Vancouver City Hall to hold its books to the light.

The truth is that, like all good bureaucracies, Vancouver City Hall spends untold millions of total nonsense. Do you know about all the departments and all the meetings and all the discussions and all the real work that never gets done because first it has to be talked about for 6 months.

It is clear to anyone with a moment's business experience that 50% of all City Hall business could be dropped today and the only difference that would make is that we could lower the taxes for everyone.

I know of an architect who was making about $160,000 a year in private practice. That was the good news. The bad news was that he was working 26 hours a day, 9 days a week.

He smartly moved to City Hall as a Planner or some such. Now he earns exactly the same amount of money, but he works 4 days a week, leaves the office at 3 and spends quality time with his wife and young sons. Good for him.

The second story concerns the admirable efforts of the Vancouver City Police to catch those 2 assholes who beat the woman almost to death the other morning as she went to the 29th Avenue Skytrain Station. That's the good news. The Police are trying to catch the Bad Guys.

But the story not told is that the Police should be at that Skytrain Station and 10 other "hot spot" Skytrain Stations every morning and every night. But that's not going to happen in our lifetimes because City Hall doesn't want more police.

In fact, if you know anything, you would know that THE NUTTY MAYOR is on an active campaign to limit and discredit the police. The Mayor hates the Police and wants LESS of them in every way. Very soon he will announce the appointment of his new Director of The Civil City. And he expects the Chief of Police to share duties with this new WunderCat.

You want more police. You want more police in public, on the stroll, visible, obvious, present.

But you are not City Hall.

Baghdad Explodes; Bush Persists

Shortly after the American attack on Baghdad, Donald Rumsfeld was asked about "the insurgencies" that were obvious on every street corner. The then Secretary of Defense dismissed these actions and isolated and irrelevant and "clearly just looters."
Well, Rummy is gone - thank Christ - and yesterday "the looters," in a series of coordinated attacks killed almost 200 people.
The day before that, Bush cheapened the lives of the dead by using the old, emotional blackmail stunt of referring to the sacrifice of soldiers and their families in his latest attempt to justify this dreadful, unwinnable war.
Look at the destruction for yourself.

Bruce Springsteen - Highway Patrolman

Here's The Boss at his best. From the quiet, haunting acoustic album, "Nebraska." How reflective is this of the last few days?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Humpty Dumpty Land

Crook gets out of prison. Four days later he steals razor blades from a store. Store fuzz spot the fool. Fool runs. Scuffle ensues. Fool and Fuzz fall. Down, down, down they tumble, and with them goes Canadian jurisprudence.

In a heap at the bottom of the stairs, the Store Fuzz, now really high with excitement, rattle the Fool's cage a bit. Tooth or two go missing.

A few days after this melodrama, Fool is busted by the real Fuzz for stealing a car. Date: Aug.27/04 for the Great Razor Blade Caper.

By the way, if you think Fool was heisting the blades to shave with, you're about as clueless as the Judge who is next up in our story.

Yesterday, Judge William "I'll Believe Any Sob Story You Throw at Me, Buster" Ehreke ruled that the Fool deserves $12,000 in compensation from the store and the Store Fuzz for the missing tooth or teeth.

Don't judge Da Judge too harshly. He went to school a lot, became a lawyer, lived in Kerrisdale, or one of the other leafy glens, was appointed to da bench and has never spent a nano-second in the real world amongst real, dirty people. Never shot a game of pool, never played an evening of poker, never touched himself, told a dirty joke or peaked at the girls in gym class. In short, he's an over-educated, under-wise dork in a position way, way, way beyond him. His name is Ehreke. Is that pronounced, "EEEEEEEERRRRKKKKKKKKKK!!!!"

Let us pray now, Brethren, that the Store and its Fuzz appeal this non-decision.

The Pivot Legal Society, who believe that they are fighting at all times to uphold the law for tiny people everywhere, have argued that the provincial government must provide "greater public protection against abuse of authority by private security guards."

I have a simple question, kids.

When you're standing at an ATM at 9 pm getting out a little coffee money for tomorrow, who are you afraid of - the security guards, or the FUCKING CRIMINALS?

Is the Red Color Injected Dye?

I don't mind Mexican tomatoes. I just don't like being lied to.

When the main message is BC HOTHOUSE, and the rest is produced in Mexico....

See, not only do I not mind Mexican tomatoes, I'm prepared to go out on a vine and sponsor a Mexican tomato, marry one if that's what it takes.

And there's always the question of pesos. If I'm paying $X for BC HOTHOUSE, shouldn't I be paying $X - 100 for tomatoes produced in Mexico? Don't they pay workers about one ninetyth of the wage that workers earn here in our hothouses?

It's Not About Mr. Cho, Stupid. It's About Guns

Twenty-three year old Mr. Cho walked into a local gun shop, produced 3 pieces of identification, waited a few minutes for the local constabulary to clear him (He had no previous record.) and walked out the proud new owner of a Glock 9 mm automatic pistol.

What is the purpose of a Glock 9mm pistol?

Fun Fair with the family?

Sports? Amusement? Dinner conversation?

Why is it both legal and in every social way acceptable to buy this kind of killing machine on every second street corner in America?

Why does everyone assume that this kind of business is normal? That this is the definition of "business as usual."

This rant is not about casting blame. But it is about making a point.

Mr. Cho is not the story. He is not even interesting. There are nut jobs everywhere amongst us, waiting to explode. Witness the front page story today about the schizophrenic addict who burned down his mother's house. What are you going to do, blame their parents? Send everyone to Parenting Class? Yell at God for making some people less reasonable than others.

But this is a great opportunity for Americans and Canadians to look at some basic assumptions we share in out daily lives.

The question in this tragedy is not "Why?" All the shrinks in the world can't tell you why, and the ones who claim they can are as delusional as the people they are trying to describe.

The question is "How do we stop facilitating crazy people during their worst moments?"

Now, I have been asked if I approve of the complete abolishment of all guns from all citizens.

No, I do not. That would lead, with terrifying rapidity, to a totalitarian central government.

But I do not want gun shops selling every manner of small and powerful personal armaments on every street corner. Has that desire somehow threatened your rights or your sense of personal safety? Sorry.

The NRA has been quick to argue that, if all of those students and professors, now dead and injured, has themselves been armed, one of them would have killed Mr. Cho right smart. Remember that there are several states in the USA where carrying a firearm is legal and commonplace. The proponents of this "lifestyle" argue that life is quiet in their home towns, because the bad guys know what they're up against.

Great. Pardon me if I don't vacation there.

Asking questions and raising debate about how we live is not casting blame. It is asking questions and raising debate.

I think some guns should be available for some people. Which guns, which people is another, lengthy post.

I do not think that millions of small, deadly personal firearms should be available at every strip mall for all people without a criminal record to buy. I think this public policy leads to deadly consequences. I think the horror of Virginia Tech speaks exactly to this issue.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I was on a movie set all day today.

As we all approached the day's work, an actress asked, "What? What happened?"

Several of us explained to her about The Massacre.

You see, her dog had been sick yesterday and she didn't see or hear or read the news.

We define ourselves also by what we notice...and what we ignore.

Marvin Gaye

listen to the timely words...this is practically an anthem for this morning

The Gun Culture

There was a photograph in the newspaper over the weekend of a woman and her child. The child was a toddler asleep in his or her little wheely thing. The mother was holding with both hands, and aiming, a monstrous, mothering big 9 mm automatic pistol. The mother and child were attending a National Rifle Association gun show in Las Vegas. This is how some people spend their time. And money.

Now, this. The Massacre.

Look, nobody can stop a determined suicide or mass killer. There are crazy people everywhere at all times in history and if they're going to do something awful, all the sociologists and criminologists strung end to end in the world will not prevent the ultimate tragedy from happening.

But America is a Gun Culture.

No sooner did CNN begin its wrap-around non-stop coverage ("Take cover and be careful, but send us your videos," they advised the students yesterday.), then President Bush weighed in with the important qualifier that the 2nd Amendment "right to bear arms" was still a crucial and cherished part of the American democratic fabric.

The CNN coverage was many things - excellent, as always, maddening, boring, displacing, fine, professional and, in some ways, completely deranged.

The deranged parts were the constant close-ups of REALLY BIG GUNS.

They just don't get it.

A friend in the office told me yesterday that for a while they had a former American Secret Security guy living on their street here in Vancouver. He used to tell them that when his 6 year old went to play with a neighbour, the first question they asked of the parents was, "Where do you keep your guns?" Not, "Do you have a gun?" Not, "a gun?" But, "Where do you keep THE GUNS?"

I remember vividly being puzzled by the discreet little blue and white signs sticking in the perfectly manicured lawns of homes in Palm Springs, California some 30 years ago. "Armed Response!" In other words, if you trespass, we will shoot you.


Scorsese finally won his Oscar this year for that dreadful piece of muck, "The Departed." This a movie entirely about shooting people. There is not one memorable character. Not one Memorable line of dialogue or set piece. No humour, no near-porno sex. Nothing. Just guns and shooting people, just as his worst movie, "Gangs of New York," was all about knives and blades and slicing people.

"Guns don't kill people. People kill people." This is the mantra of the NRA and all the other idiots with small weenies.

"Not over my dead body!" hollered Charlton Heston at an NRA convention a few years back.

If you Google the word "guns," 84,300,000 answers are retrieved in 0.05 seconds.

Let's be thankful for a moment that, although gun use is on the rise here and guns are smuggled across the border as we speak, Canada remains a relatively non-gun culture.

And let's shake our heads in sadness, shame and sorrow for The Massacre.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Art Smart

Art update.

The Vancouver Art Gallery has removed the insects and reptiles from one of its current exhibits. The SPCA says it is satisfied. But the chief curator of the gallery says this amounts "to silencing the artist's voice."


Silencing the artist's voice is censoring James Joyce and Henry Miller.

Installations and videos in art galleries are among the world's greatest scams, shams, skunks and con jobs. The fact that curators around the world have fallen for this self-indulgent, artless, lazy nonsense is hysterical.

No doubt the next exhibit, "Dog Poo Revisited, #13," will be a major hit.

Anywhere You Hang Your Hat

In Canada, what is ON your head is clearly much, much more important than what is IN your head.

We are a nation of "headists."

First there was the stink about who could wear a motorcycle helmet. Then the national riot about RCMP officers wearing a turban rather than a cap. That one almost brought the house down. Then, a month or so ago, we had the hideous spectacle of 11-year old girls daring to wear their hijabs on a soccer pitch. The world soccer governing MEN at FIFA had to be called in to settle that one. No scarves, the wise ones declared for time immemorial.

That last incident took place in Quebec.

Which is interesting, because so has the latest "headist" eruption.

Another 11-year old girl has gone quite mad and dared to wear her hijab to a tae kwon do tournament. Of course, she was immediately removed from the field. The spokesman for the local Montreal tourney was a cartoon of a satire of an impression of a "peasouper" francophone. Sometimes I wonder if these stories are invented by out-of-work comedy writers and peopled by out-of-work casting agents.

Aside from the righteous declarations of "how da game his played" by the rotten toothed spokesman, the most comical element of this farce is the fact that the children are all wearing big, padded safety helmets. The offending hijab is not even visible, let alone some kind of hazard.

So, enough.

Here's my suggestion.

From now on, let's make the sombrero the official head covering of Canada. It is large and visible and fun. And it is unwieldy, which means you can't really do much more in a sombrero than have a drink or a siesta. Which is what most Canadians are busy doing most of the time anyway.

Andres Segovia - Asturias

As long as I can remember, the name Andres Segovia was synonamous with the classical guitar. This should show you why.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Duke Ellington - Satin Doll

The relationship between Duke and Billy Strayhorn was complex and worthy of a few PhD dissertations for sure. What is never a mystery however is the result: rich, original, unforgettable, timeless. This contribution is from a regular commentator. Many thanks, M.

Independent Lens

Here's just a little taste of the GENIUS of Billy Strayhorn, the gay, black writer, arranger who wrote and arranged so many of Duke Ellington's hits, including "Take the A Train."

Go the library or a good book store and read "Lush Life," the wonderful bio of Strayhorn. Without him, there was no American music.

Rush-ing to Judgment

Here's another wonderful discovery.

A website/blog called "Media Matters." In this edition, the writer(s) chronicle a seemingly endless list of Don Imus-like racist, sexist disgusting comments from rich and famous American Radio Talk Show Hosts.

Check this out!

Duplicity Exposed

This is great!

A blog called "The Real McCain" that completely skewers this double-talking phoney deparado, including marvelous video.

If you believe in the basic, inherent falseness of most politicians (and why wouldn't you?), then you'll love this.

"We've Hit an Iceberg"

Today is the anniversary (April 15, 1912) of one of the greatest sea stories of all time - the sinking of the Titanic. No wonder this story has been made into at least 3 movies that I can think of, although there may be more.

The Maritime Museum, right here at Kits Point, terribly underfunded, has real Titanic memorabilia stashed away in its basement stores. It's worth a visit. And, of course, Victoria has a HUGE wave of Titanica on right now and that certainly seems worth a visit.

Finally, go to your specialty video store - Videomatica on 4th Avenue is a great one, and their website is right here in the right-hand column - and rent "A Night To Remember," made in 1958. Not anywhere near as spectacular as James Cameron's great and great, big movie, it is nevertheless just as powerful for the way all the stories told become one tragic and terrifying story.