Archive for May, 2012

Stephen Harper’s a Big Mean Bully…

May 29th, 2012
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You know what I like most about the House of Commons?

The way the carpet ties the room together, man.

Stephen Harper

Nickel and Dime-ing Competition in Toronto

May 29th, 2012
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City of Toronto left of centre Councilors say they aren’t worried about a Toronto Taxpayer Coalition complaint that their mandatory bag fee is uncompetitive. The Coalition complained yesterday to the competition bureau, accusing the city of price fixing.

“There are no more pennies and five cents is the lowest (the fee can go),” she (left-wing councilor Michelle Berardinetti) said. “It has nowhere to go but up.”

In other words, the price is fixed. Except it isn’t:

“The merchants can charge whatever they want for the plastic bag” (left-wing councilor Adam) Vaughan said

See, here’s left wingers, bitching about a “right-wing think tank,” and their both wrong. Vaughan is right that merchants can charge what they want, as long as it’s more than 5-cents. But charge 3-cents a bag, and you’re in violation of the by-law.

Berardinetti is just wrong. As it is, it’s illegal for the price to go down. The price has, in fact, nowhere to go but up. To say the price wouldn’t go down if merchants could charge what they want, is to ignore the fact that five years ago the going price for plastic bags was zero. For the record councilor Berardinetti, zero is lower than 5-cents.

That’s the thing with these left-wing big government types. They want to be in charge of multi-million (billion?) dollar projects, and they don’t even get the basic concept of a nickel being more than nothing, don’t understand the fundamentals of competition, even at the nickel and dime level.

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Picture of the Day: Street View

May 28th, 2012
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Copyright Brian Gardiner 2012. Use by permission only

Picture of the Day

Ryder Wins!

May 27th, 2012
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The first Canadian to win one of the Grand Tours (Tour of France, Italy & Spain), Ryder Hesjedal gained over 40 seconds on the final time trial to win the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy).


Come on Ryder for the Tour de France, and the Olympics.




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The Freedom of Music Goes 8-Track

May 27th, 2012
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

“If you want,” I said to my son, “you can put some music of your music on for a while.”

He’s 14, quiet in the monosyllabic way unique to teenage boys and has a lovely smile. He flashed it now, half in a laugh.


sidebar-3 We were renovating a bathroom/closet and the two of us were putting up the drywall. Born to Run was on, not something he would listen to voluntarily. He’s into rap and modern pop, meaning Beyonce, Usher &tc. Bruce Springsteen is not his thing. Yet he refused my simple request with almost a chuckle.

“Don’t have any rap 8-tracks?” I asked innocently, and his time he did laugh.


I bought the 8-track player on eBay about a year ago, and now have a small collection of tapes, also mostly bought on eBay. It was a lark really, buying a piece of obsolete audio equipment that most people couldn’t get rid of fast enough back around 1980. But it was a lark that has come with it’s small pleasures. The fact that, as near as I can tell, a rap album has never been released on 8-track is one of those pleasures.

But there’s more. eBay is full of tapes at any given time and spending half-an-hour nosing through, bidding a dollar here, two there is a bit of fun. More fun is wandering through a used stuff store and stumbling on an otherwise unexpected cache of tapes. Truth is, until you have heard Boston’s first blasting though an 8-track player, as I have after stumbling across it at the Stratford Antique Mall, you just haven’t heard it in all it’s analogue glory.

Pulling out the 8-track and throwing on some classic rock is guaranteed to generate a conversation. Other people my age remember having 8-tracks, haven’t seen them in years, and end up reminiscing about everything from music they haven’t heard since 1978 to the way you had to use a matchbook to lift the tape and keep the audio lined up with the tracks.

A couple of years ago I predicted 8-tracks might make a comeback and while I hate to take credit, even when well deserved, and it hardly qualifies as a real comeback, a noticeable thing has happened. A year ago, one-dollar 8-tracks where common on eBay. Those same 8-tracks now cost $6-8. There’s been a defined spike in the price, which leads one to believe it’s not just me who has discovered 8-tracks.

The good life is in the small pleasures. Discovering a love for 8-tracks after all these years is one of the smallest.

The Freedom of Music, This Week on my I-Pod , , , , , ,

Saturday Fluffernutter: The Well I’m Still in the Closet Edition

May 26th, 2012
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorWhat’s going on in the land of comics? melissa-glick-warhol-fluff-for-web

DC comics announced this week that one of it’s famous characters, long presumed to like women, would come out of the closet.

Not to be outdone, Marvel comics, which has had a fabulous super-hero since Canadian superhero Northstar came out in 1992, announced Northstar would marry his long termer, Kyle Jinadu in an upcoming Astonishing X-Men edition.

Serious question: is it as uncool to read comic books in the gay dating world as it is in the straight one?

fluffincolorSlightly, and weirdly, related, Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons has come firmly out of the closet, announcing he’s gay, he’s been in a committed relationship with partner Todd Spiewak for ten years, and their getting married.

This is of course shocking news to Coopers Texas, religious, republican TV mother, but nobody else. Besides having lived openly with Spiewak for a number of years, and thanking him at his Emmy acceptance speech, Parsons rather looks the part. It is a revelation more along the lines of Liberace being gay than Rock Hudson.

fluffincolorIf John Travolta is really in the closet as rumour and lawsuits suggest, it’s kitty-bar the door time. While the first two plaintiffs in lawsuits against Travolta claiming he made unwanted sexual advances whilst having a massage from male masseuses, there are at least two more suits pending.

Meanwhile, Travolta’s sexuality is all over the tabloid front pages, with suggestions of family breakdown in the face of numerous claims of infidelity with other men.

If Travolta is gay, he’s now out whether he likes it or not. If he isn’t gay, he may never be able to put the rumours to rest now.

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Ride, Ryder, Ride

May 25th, 2012
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Pink on guys doesn’t usually work. Oh sure some metro-sexual carrying a Starbucks mug with the tea bag string sticking out the side might get away with wearing a pink shirt to go with his suit and tie. It can be done with minimal mocking – but there will be mocking. There is, however, one Canadian boy who looks mighty good in pink.

Going into stage 19 of the 21 stage Giro d’Italia bicycle race, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal is riding 2nd place, having worn the Maglia Rosa – Pink Jersey – as the race leader for 3 days. With todays hard mountain stage ongoing as of this writing, and another tough day in the mountains tomorrow the job for Hesjedal is survive the mountains for a chance to win on the individual time trials Sunday morning. How likely is this? Current leader Joaquin Rodriguez had this to say after Wednesdays stage (note: english is not Spaniard Rodriquez first language):

I think Ryder Hesjedal is the great favourite. Today he was not able to lose any seconds and if the gap stays like this… I won’t have any chance against him in the Milan individual time trial. So, we have to attack him and make him drop, otherwise he will win this competition.

Make no mistake of the significance of this. A Canadian has never won the Giro and, in fact, Hesjedal is the first Canadian to wear the Maglia Rosa in it’s 95 year history. And Hesjedal’s performance at the Giro makes him a serious contender for the Tour de France and to medal at the Olympics in London this summer.

The Gyro d’Italia can be watched via live stream, starting about 7:30 in the mornings. Don’t miss Sunday when a Canadian stands to make history as the first Canadian man to wear pink and not deserve mockery.



Note: Hesjedal finished second in today’s stage, 13 seconds ahead of third place Rodriguez. With 2 stages to go, and Hesjedal a superior time trial rider, he only has 17 seconds to make up.

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Toronto the Not in a Death Spiral:

May 24th, 2012
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spiral toronto

The suggested “fix” to the road hockey “problem” sounds like a parody.

In order to qualify for an exemption from the bylaw, a resident would not only have to canvass all the neighbours and get at least 80% of them to give the okay for junior to play ball; the resident would also have to get city staff to conduct a traffic study on his street…

because that exemption is only going to happen if the street in question sees 1,000 or fewer vehicles each day, with an average gap between the cars of at least one minute, and sightlines deemed appropriate by city staff.

pimply minions of bureaucracy, Toronto: Not in a Death Spiral ,

May 23rd, 2012

Climate change should be the thing that we are all worried and concerned about as humans on this planet, how we affect the planet, our consumption, and how we treat the place that we live in. – Oxford University.


Seems like hypocrisy, but you would be wrong. Flying to a climate change debate in a private “hip.hop.copter,” burning “71.5 gallons of fuel, ploughing three-quarters of a tonne of CO2” for a 286 mile trip and preaching about, how we affect the planet, our consumption is actually OK:

…he’s committed to the issues and he’s written songs about it.’

So you see, it’s not what you do, it’s what you sing that counts.

Actually, isn’t it having a big f’in helicopter that counts?

Update: a small correction was made: quote was closed after the word CO2.

Welcome readers of Small Dead Animals.

Global Warming, Going... Going... Gone Nuts For The Environment , , ,

Picture of the Day: Up River

May 22nd, 2012
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Picture of the Day

James Bond Skyfall

May 21st, 2012
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What, You Needed Me To Tell You That?

May 21st, 2012
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It’s a classic bully maneuver: taking the victims arm and punching the victim with his own hand, meanwhile saying, “why are you punching yourself?” As the middle boy of 3, I’ve been both victim and aggressor in this classic game of making you feel bad about yourself, all the while being able to legitimately say, “I never touched him.”

Last week I used the “punching yourself” motif to describe NDP leader Thomas Muclair, because it seemed apt. Why wasn’t that bully Stephen Harper beating up on Muclair, Warren Kinsella asked, so I answered.

Never beat on someone who’s beating on himself I suggested:

Perhaps they feel it’s better to let Muclair define himself his own image…

Just a few days later, that same Warren Kinsella has read, digested and seemingly agreed with me:

A few days ago, this writer questioned the whereabouts of the Conservative party’s anti-Mulcair attack ads…

Stephen Harper, looking down at his opponent as he hollers away on an Ottawa street corner, knows the answer.

“We don’t need any ads to scare voters away from this guy,” you can picture Harper musing. “He’s doing that all on his own.”

You don’t have to be Stephen Harper to know the answer, you just have to read the same people Stephen Harper reads.

The Media Following My Lead. , ,

The Freedom of Music: Levon Helm

May 20th, 2012
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

The Band was, undeniably, one of the great acts of the rock era. A Canadian band with a lone member from Arkansas, they played Toronto’s haunts for years backing up Ronnie Hawkins as The Hawks. Hawkin’s was a taskmaster and a perfectionist. After performing all night, virtually every night, Hawkins would rehearse his band for hours afterwards into the small hours of the morning. sidebar-2

The practice time paid off, and The Hawks became masters of their craft. So much so that when Bob Dylan decided to change rock’n’roll irretrievably by mixing folk and electric blues, he chose the Hawks to be his back up band. The Arkansas boy however, had had enough of the life and, disappointed by the initial response to Bob Dylan’s decision to “go electric,” quit music and went home. Levon Helm left his bandmates to suffer the indignity of being booed and jeered every night, just because Bob Dylan decided to expand his musical horizons.

In 1967, living in Woodstock with Bob Dylan, Rick Danko contacted Helm asking him to rejoin the band. He did and became one of the staple voices of rock music. Music From the Big Pink, released a year later, became one of the most popular and influential albums of the 1960’s, cited by George Harrison as a great album, and Eric Clapton as the reason he left Cream for more rootsy styled music. Helm, for the record, never really left Woodstock again, his popular Midnight Ramble’s, ongoing until his death, took place in his barn/studio at his home in Woodstock.

A few weeks ago, an announcement appeared on Helm’s webpage, signed his wife and daughter. Helm was, it said, “in the final stages of his battle with cancer.” Usually such notices mean you have days to live. In Helm’s case, it was 2 days, as he succumbed to cancer on April 20th. He was 72.

As the post-mortem tributes came in, none summed Helm up better than Bruce Springsteen, who told a New Jersey audience about a week after Helm’s death:

Both his voice and his drumming were so incredibly personal. He had a feel on the drums that just comes out of a certain place that you can’t replicate.

When Springsteen refers to Helm’s voice as personal, he doesn’t just mean unique, although it was certainly that. Whether he was stretching his voice as in Ophelia, reciting a history lesson as he did in The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down or mock yodeling in Up On Cripple Creek, It felt as though Helm was singing directly to you. His voice had so much soul, every note dripping with that intangible something that made him one of the very special singers.

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Picture of the Day: Hawk in Flight

May 18th, 2012
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Picture of the Day

Fluffernutter Friday

May 18th, 2012
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RIP to Donna Summer, Queen of Disco, who passed yesterday after a battle with cancer.

Meanwhile Kristen Stewart stepped out London this week to promote her new movie, Snow White and the Huntsman, wearing Led Zeppelin.


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