Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Seal Heart

Canada's Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, ate a portion of a seal's heart at an Inuit celebration in Rankin Inlet. Animal rights activists and members of the EU are disgusted and have condemned the G.G. for her action. Inuit leaders have praised her for her show of respect for their culture and I concur. Animal Rights activists and European leaders who are shocked and disappointed in Michaëlle Jean have shown how myopic and enthocentristic they are. Time to grow up and gain some perspective.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sods and Odds

CD in Play: The Flaming Lips, Zaireeka (Disc 1)

Criminally Incognito

A little while ago, I posted about the graphic novels I have been reading over the past while. I made one serious omission: Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' Criminal Series. Brubaker's stories find their footing in the pulp and crime genres recalling Jim Thompson's work. (The Killer Inside Me, The Grifters, and The Getaway) Geo and J are not fans of the crime genre, but even they found themselves enjoying the collected Criminal stories. It is a grim world of losers and predators, aptly depicted by Sean Phillips moody artistic style. The duo are also working on a pulp superheros and supervillains series called Incognito. Compelling stuff, actually.


After a long time of searching, I have finally pucked up a copy of The Flaming Lips experimental album Zaireeka. Rather than re-explain it too you, just follow this link. I have hopes for throwing a Zaireeka party at some point.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What's In a Name

CD in Play: Isis, Wavering Radiant

CBC has reported on a study from UBC showing how people with ethnic names are receiving less call backs in the job application process than people with more English sounding names. Shocking for people who have bought into the propaganda about Canada's cultural mosaic, but not for some one like me who's father had a highly ethnic sounding name.
Skallagrimsson is pseudonym, for those of who were not aware, my actual name is Germanic sounding. Well, it also gets confused for being Jewish and nothing makes you more aware of the thriving prejudice in this country than a Jewish sounding surname. However, my Dad changed his own surname in order to change people's perceptions about him. His father's name is Belarusian and in this country there was a definite prejudice against Slavs for decades. The stereotypes held that Slavs were incredibly stupid, lazy or conversely only good for hard, unskilled manual labour. That particular prejudice started dying off with my generation: "Polack" jokes didn't have that much meaning, for instance. But slavic prejudice was very real and my Dad felt so hampered with his name that he changed it.
His story isn't unique, and many Canadians throughout the history of this country have felt the sting of ethnic prejudice. Quite honestly, I am not so sure we will ever truly see its end - but one can hope.

Ah... Propaganda.

Actually, this could still be used today.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Sometimes I wish I were a dragon...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It is Time

...for stormy weather. There is a storm front moving in. I went out for a walk and saw the dramatic, looming ominous clouds and felt the strong winds. I saw a dust devil spin past on 25th and saw lightening strike further south. It was a short walk. One thing that I have never experienced before was the smell of the storm. In BC you get the smell of rain when the rain hits, but tonight it was on the wind. That fresh, beautiful smell with out the rain.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fingers Crossed

After a very biased media campaign for the BC Liberals, I am extremely nervous about the election results for tomorrow. Campbell and his crew have done nothing to deserve the trust of British Columbians. I weep for the province if they win.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Graphic Content

Music on CD and on iPod: Painkiller, Scorn, Slint, Sloan, JAMC, Henry Mancini, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Andy and Joey, Black Moth Super Rainbow.

One of the staples of my reading has been graphic novels. I loved comic books as a kid and have been reading them on again and off again over the years. I quit reading comics in the mid 1990's when it seemed writers had begun losing work to artists who couldn't really couldn't write. and were more interested in rippling muscles and expanding bust lines than good storytelling. But I always find myself returning to comics at some point. The advent of the graphic novel has been a godsend for people like me: no more collecting single issues. It also seems a bit more mature in a way.
There are quite a few talented writers that are out there producing works for comics that are interesting, informed, informative and highly imaginative. Back in Vancouver, I was helped out quite a bit by the staff at Golden Age and the owner of Elfsar when trying to come up with titles that I might like. Here in Saskatoon, Theo at Unreal City has been great at pointing me in some really worthwhile directions. The following is a list of some of what I have been reading. Writers are immediately listed after the title followed by the artist:

Queen and Country by Greg Rucka and various artists: Ostensibly an updated sequel to the British series, The Sandbaggers, as I understand it from my friends Elijah and Iain. I am currently reading Volume 1 of the collected series, but read the Declassified issues prior to that. So far it makes an interesting companion piece for Misha Glenny's book on the rise of Global Organised Crime, McMafia. Rucka is a good writer, but the art might be hit or miss for people. It misses sometimes, but the stories are so tight I don't mind. One of the artists is from Vancouver, BC. Rucka also wrote White Out, which is an excellent crime story set in Antarctica. (I have only read the first one, however) White Out is about to be released as a film starring Kate Beckinsale - but I do not hold out high hopes.

Ex Machina by Brian K. Vaughn and Tony Harris: This series is still ongoing and the wait times for the graphic novels can be frustrating, but Vaughn and Harris have yet to disappoint. The story centers around a failed ex-superhero who decides he could do more good for New York as its mayor. He wins and confronts problems within the city, with former allies, unknown enemies and his own origins. If you have found that the DC and Marvel universes have become too bloated and too ridiculous, then this is the series for you.

Planetary by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday: This series has and still is blowing my socks off. I am envious, because I had some very similar ideas to Ellis'. But as in so many other cases, my inability to complete projects has only short changed myself. Planetary is about the Planetary Foundation - "Archaeologists of the Impossible" dedicated to discovering the secret history of planet Earth. The series runs the gambit of comic genres and delves into quite varied film and literary genres. The villains of the piece are an amoral and quite evil analogue of the Fantastic Four. I look forward to seeing how Ellis finishes this off. Cassaday's art is incredible and really brings this world to life.

DMZ by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli: America has spread itself thin fighting conflicts it can never win across the globe. Forgetting domestic threats on the home front, the government is unable to put down militia groups who rise up and declare independence from the USA. (forming the Free States of America, or FSA) Matty Roth is an intern with the Fox News analogue, Liberty News, who gets stuck in Manhattan while on an assignment with a veteran reporter. New York City is now a Demilitarized zone (hence DMZ) caught between the machinations of the USA and the FSA and the agendas of those people and groups who are stuck inside the city. Roth takes up the mantle of journalist and investigates the lives of those caught in the middle of conflict in the DMZ. Quite compelling stuff here.

100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso: What is it about comics writers and the name Brian, you must be asking? No clue, sorry. The basic premise is a man known as Agent Graves meets people whose lives have gone wrong in some way and gives them a chance to seek vengeance, or not. He meets them shows them how and by whom their lives were ruined and offers them an attache case with an untraceable gun an d 100 untraceable bullets. But the game Graves is playing is much, much larger than anyone knows and the secret history of the United States of America is coming undone. Who are the real Minutemen? What really happened at the Roanoke colony? What was Croatoa? Who are The Trust? Read 100 Bullets and find out.

Other things to check out would be Red Son, (Communist Superman) Y: The Last Man and IDW's Doctor Who series (if you like Who) - Geo's husband J turned me on to that one.

Keep an Eye on Guinea

I was reading in Wikipedia about how the West African country, Guinea, has withdrawn 30 ambassadors world wide with no explanation. (because I am typing this on Geo's computer, I cannot paste the link) So I did a little reading on Guinea's new president, via a bloodless coup in December 2008, Moussa Dadis Camara. I have a feeling this will become an interesting story to follow and watch develop. The politically inexperienced might want to get in on the ground floor on this one.

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Author of This Blog Would Like to Direct Your Attention to the Following:

It is May the 8th of May, 2009. I live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and it bloody well snowed overnight here. It snowed, in bloody MAY!!! Now I like the snow and I do like winter, but this is just unsettling.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Booze in the News

"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems." - Homer J Simpson

This article is a response to an article run in thetyee.ca - Liberals, Liquor and Who's Really Getting Soaked. Showing a complete lack of respect for the average voter, the private liquor industry in BC is trying spook voters by stating that beer will go up by $3.00 if the NDP take power. This isn't the first time that people have tried to use booze as a way to win/sway an election. Back when Bill Vander Zalm (with the right wing Social Credit) was running, one of the few promises he did make was to lower the price of beer. When he became premier the price of beer actually went up - but that would never come back to haunt him.
Now we have the private liquor stores and the companies that own them are well connected into the BC Liberal Party. Some hailed private stores as a great step for free enterprise and competition in an area that has been too long under a government monopoly.
Take the liquor store for the North Burnaby Inn as an example. The NBI was initially a BC owned operation. It was competitive with the government LDB stores, paid its employees $12.00 an hour and had great selection. (particularly its wine selection) When the Liquor Barn moved in from Alberta, the NBI was one of the stores it purchased. Liquor Barn cut the wage back to $8.00 an hour, they slashed selection and dramatically increased the prices in a very short space of time. One bottle of wine my Dad used to buy shot up over $4.00 a bottle withing a month - that's four dollars over the LDB. So much for competition. And frankly, the NBI is a totally different place to walk into. The place is dingy compared to what it was before. It is like their is no pride in this operation, just another booze depot to cater to people's vices and addictions rather than a respectable establishment providing people with something enjoyable. And it does show in the employees faces. Before the Liquor Barn cut the hell out of the store, they were polite, friendly - but for a measly $8.00 an hour, why bother?
Then there was how the Liberals had arranged for LDB renovations during holiday seasons. Stocks were reduced, gift sets were cut in half and suddenly available at the private stores. Coincidence? No, just a bunch of idealogues and people invested in their own greed shafting people all over for their own ideals and or pocket books.
One of many scandals being under reported and materfully spun by the majority of BC news outlets. But the fears of the private liquor industryand their pet-in-the-pocket politicians are just another signal of a province and whole sector of society unwilling to do confront the problems faced by British Columbia. They just want line their pockets and to hell with you and everyone you know.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Summanmutikassa (which is to say, At Random)

I do not actually speak Finnish, I just have a thing for their language.

Free Painkiller

I had a busy day today, three callbacks all relatively minor. But still, I had a brain removal last night and a full autopsy tomorrow: Not much of a weekend. However, free things always relieve the pain. After a visit to Unreal City for free comic book day (one of the advantages of being single is not having to grow up in the ways many married people are expected to) I dropped in to a nearby record store. I wanted to pick up a copy of the John Zorn, Bill Laswell and Mick Harris collaboration that combined avant-garde jazz and grindcore, Painkiller. They had a two disc set of 1994's Execution Ground. Disc two is an ambient remix of two the other tracks. I actually wanted Guts of a Virgin or Buried Secrets. Dark and disturbing, but sometimes I want that.

Sound and Vision

With apologies to David Bowie - this isn't about him. So I am watching Dirty Harry from 1971. I've seen it too many times and it has one of the most over-the-top and ridiculous vilains ever comitted to film. He's just too unbelievably evil. What I really let it run for is the soundtrack by Lalo Schifrin. I really need to pick this soundtrack up at some point. I'd recommend it to other musicians for sure - so much that can be learned from listening to it. Schifrin also worked on the soundtracks for Cool Hand Luke, Bullit, THX 1138, (whose soundtrack I cannot recall) as well as TV themes Mission: Impossible and one of the Starsky and Hutch Themes. Hmmm? I need to do a Soundtrack post at some point.
Actually, I need to get back to playing music and start a soundtrack cover band. Schifrin, John Barry, Isaac Hayes, Morricone, Mancini...

Vancouver, BC

As much as I complain about the city of my birth, I am missing it at the moment. I miss meeting with friends at familiar spots. I miss my friends' kids. I miss my parents. However, I am dealing with it and reminding myself that the Vancouver I miss is about 10 to 12 years gone.

A Case Against the Automobile

A poisonous waste of resources, it is true. Convenient and certainly fun for people like me who like to drive: but the automobile is destroying the environment and depleting valuable resources. But this isn't the case that I wanted bring against motorised vehicles. Cars and trucks continually block my line of sight. Maybe I am trying to read something across the street, something interesting is going on por a particularly attractive woman is walking by. Whatever the case may be, it is far too often that vehicles of all sorts get in my way and it must end.