September 30, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XLIX

September 27, 2005

This Is The World We Live In:

•Observed in Toronto: A silver VW Beetle (one of the new ones) with a Paul Frank license plate holder, and a customised license plate that read "YAY FUN".

•Read on the BBC: A West Yorkshire hospital has banned cooing at babies. Quoth the hospital's neo-natal manager: "Cooing should be a thing of the past because these are little people with the same rights as you or me."

•Observed in Montreal: A boy and a girl walking down the street, holding hands, and each listening to their own, separate iPod.

•A very worrying search referral: 'merde sex'

•Sitting next to me on the train on Sunday: a young man (old teen, more like it) alternately looking at pictures of his newborn daughter, and the book The Importance of Logical Thought. I felt awful for him.

•In Toronto: the Toronto Skydome has been renamed 'The Rogers Centre', which I think sounds less like a sports stadium and more like a terribly British, public school sex show.


September 23, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XLVIII

I'm in Toronto. Tomorrow I'm going to my uncle's cottage where, he informs me, a family of bears has just moved in. So it's a good thing I left my Goldilocks outfit in Montreal.

September 22, 2005

Cosmic Alignments

Two extremely auspicious events passed by this week without any mention on my part.

The first was on Tuesday, when I wrote my 400th post in this blog.

The second was the autumnal equinox the next day, when the sun set in the Arctic Circle and won't rise again for six months.


September 21, 2005

Netscape, I Could Hug You

Don't you think this picture and headline are really incongruous?

What's the threat? Apathy? (Actually, it's obesity. The terrorists are going to feed us to death.)

Other interesting snippets from Netscape's headlines:

Britney Spears, it has been revealed, opted for a Caesarian delivery of her first child, recently, because she was afraid of the pain of childbirth. Her publicist has denied rumours that she thought she was getting a salad.

An Italian man, evidently skilled in procrastination, was browsing Google's collection of satellite maps recently, and accidentally discovered the ruins of a Roman villa, buried just underneath the ground. When the Italian entered the underground building, he was surprised to find lava pits, walking mushrooms, and a really pissed off dinosaur.

And, finally, an Australian man forced the evacuation of a building when a 40,000 volt static charge built up in his nylon jacket. Hilariously oblivious to his superhero-like abilities, Frank Clewer strolled into an office building in Sydney and ignited the carpet with sparks from his jacket. When the fire brigade evacuated the building, Clewer went to his car, realised he had melted the rubber mat by the pedals, and returned to the building so that the fire fighters could quarantine his jacket.

Clewer caused a good deal of damage to the building. Authorities are debating whether or not to charge him.


September 20, 2005

They're Blind to Its Futility

One of the things I really enjoy about Montreal in the autumn is the outdoor photography exhibitions on Avenue McGill College. Every year, the city sponsors local photographers to exhibit their work on a series of big outdoor boards that run along the main street running up to the McGill campus. On a nice, sunny day, strolling up the avenue and admiring the pictures is a very pleasant thing to do, indeed.

In true exhibition form, the photos are exhibited alongside little placards discussing their significance, usually relating to the broad theme of the exhibition. Since this year's theme is 'Je lis Montreal', some hack obviously decided it would be a good idea to post Braille versions of the placards, so that all the blind people admiring the visual arts exhibition wouldn't feel left out.


September 16, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XLVII

That kooky D. Beirne, who knows what he'll come up with next.

September 15, 2005


A brief whip round of the major news stories in the music world, this week...


Well, how could I fail to mention the most recent Breton to join the global population, Preston Michael Spears Federline? (The name is yet to be officially confirmed by Britney's publicist, and frankly it seems a little too plain vanilla to possibly be true— I think Oxford Circus Spears Federline would be much better.)

The birth was announced on Britney's website late yesterday, which may seem perfectly innocuous if it weren't for the (vehemently denied) rumours that Spears actually gave birth on Sunday. But why would she want to delay the news until today? Surely she's too over the moon at her long-awaited motherhood to do anything so tawdry as timing the announcement of her first child to coincide with, oh, I don't know— the launch of her new perfume?

Oh dear.


Bob Dylan recently announced a deal with Starbucks, whereby the singer's new CD of re-mastered live recordings will only be available through the coffee chain's stores. In response, a petulant HMV Canada has announced it will no longer be carrying any of Dylan's CDs in its stores. Yes, that will show him:

"Fine! So we can't make money on one of your CDs? Well then, we won't make money on any of them! Take that!"

[the following week:]

"Gee, I wonder why Bob Dylan hasn't called to apologise? Oh well. Fancy a latte?"


The BBC reports that the Sex Pistols will be added to the Celebrity Walk of Fame in London's Covent Garden, along with big-spectacled actress extraordinaire, Dame Thora Hird. This is probably the only time that Thora Hird and the Sex Pistols will ever appear on the same list, ever. Unless the Sex Pistols start advertising Stenna stair lifts.

(Whoa! British pop culture reference! Big up to the Countdown-watching crowd!)


Finally, the news that Paul McCartney's hot young midlife crisis— ahem, sorry; "wife"— has created quite a scene at the offices of J-Lo's fashion firm in New York. Heather Mills McCartney stormed into Sweetface's office, held a press conference, and then tussled with security.

Mills McCartney explained that she "just want[s] to raise awareness about the skinning alive of all the animals in China."

Um, Heather? I think the phrase is 'all the tea in China.'

September 13, 2005


Okay, so I know that reprinting email forwards on my blog is a little beneath my usual standards, but I appreciated this for both its punniness and its political content.

Q: What is Bush's position on Roe vs. Wade?
A: He really doesn't care how people get out of New Orleans.

Wakka wakka!

September 12, 2005

Coming Soon, To Le Network Renard...

[Int. scene: RAYMOND lies in bed, asleep. SERGE enters]

SERGE: Salut, my friend! C'est un magnifique morning outside, pourquoi you are still in bed? Perhaps one of my trademark pithy remarques will cheer you up, hein?

RAYMOND: Merde, Serge! I was levé tres tard last night, arguing with mon frère.

SERGE: Pourquoi?

RAYMOND: He tried to rapé ma copine!

SERGE: He tried to grate her?

RAYMOND: Serge, s'il te plaît, I would like to sleep.

SERGE: But our girlfriends will be ici any minute!

RAYMOND: Maryse and Été? Elles are coming? What for?

[The door opens; MARYSE and ÉTÉ enter]

MARYSE: Raymond! Leve-toi! Something terrible s'est passé! My mère has noirposté the town council into giving her a building permit!

RAYMOND: Et alors? Why do I care?

MARYSE: Le permit is to build un McDo on top of our vineyard!

RAYMOND: Sacre-bleu! Our vin, it will be ruined!

ÉTÉ: And we will be forced to eat la nourriture americaine! La malbouffe is coming!

SERGE: Quel désastre! Il faut que we do something!

RAYMOND: Okay! I suggest we all put on our maillots de bain and cygne about on the beach for quelques heures.

MARYSE: What a brilliant ideé!

[The door swings open, and CHRISTINE stumbles in]

CHRISTINE: Serge, I have just finished my third bottle of wine.

SERGE: Oh, maman. Your drinking makes me so triste.

CHRISTINE: I'm sorry, Serge. I am trying to change.

SERGE: Pourquoi you cannot drink four or five bottles, like we normal people?

MARYSE: Vive la France! And vive les stéréotypes!


September 09, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XLVI

September 08, 2005

Oh, God, Yes! Separate My Biodegradables!

I'm taking a class about social movements, and today we were discussing the reasons people participate in social movements, using recycling as an example.

At the back of the class, one girl piped up:

"Yeah, but I mean, some people probably do it just for the emotional satisfaction they feel, you know?"

Only a Canadian could describe recycling as emotionally satisfying.

The Weird and Wacky World of Web Tracking!

More bizarre search referrals:

"adult actioncam" on AOL Search.

"kelly clarkson underwear" on Yahoo! (hit number 3!!!).


Also, I wish I spoke more Dutch.

September 07, 2005

Researchers Agree: Drinking Causes Drunkenness

From HEALTH TALK with Dr. Bob Martin:

"In a new study, U.S. investigators found that students who said they started drinking by the 7th grade were more likely to say they had . . . sex while drunk."

Well, one would think so.

Oh, okay, I may have used some ellipses for humorous effect there. The actual story seems far less stupid:

"Kids who begin drinking in the 7th grade are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior in mid-adolescence . . .

In a new study, U.S. investigators found that students who said they started drinking by the 7th grade were more likely to say they had unprotected sex, multiple partners, sex while drunk or high, or been pregnant.

In another related study, a group of researchers showed that middle-schoolers who binge drink -- downing at least 5 drinks on one occasion -- are more likely to binge drink in high school . . .

[S]tudents who said their parents did very little to control or supervise . . . were more likely to binge drink."

Now, God knows that a small army of sociology professors have spent years trying to enforce upon me the idea that even things that seem obvious in hindsight are only 'obvious' because we already know them... But uh, guys? If you leave kids unsupervised, they're going to get drunk and have sex. In fact, while you were so busy questioning all their classmates about their private lives, some kids just went and got drunk and had sex with each other. Oh no! There goes another group! Stop them! STOP THEM!

"[Study leader Dr Ann Stueve] explained that there are "many possible reasons" why drinking early in life could put kids at risk of later problems. For one, early drinkers may have problems at home or with friends, or feel peer pressure to do more grown-up things, she said."

Also, drinkers will occasionally get drunk. I think Dr Ann Stueve needs to get out more; a Saturday night at a night club should be enough to convince her that alcohol at pretty much any point in one's life will put one at risk of stupid behaviour.

OH DEAR GOD, THERE GO SOME MORE! Kids getting drunk and having sex, everywhere!

Just think: if Dr Ann Stueve took all the time and money she wasted working out if alcohol leads to risky sex, and I took all the time and money I wasted blogging, and we put it all together...

We could get really shit-faced.

September 05, 2005

It's Not Brain Surgery...

From BBC NEWS | Health: Coil can cut aneurysm death risk

Another one to add to the 'try convincing your patient this is a good idea' files...

"Treating burst aneurysms by blocking them with platinum coils could offer patients better long-term survival than major brain surgery, researchers say.

. . . A brain aneurysm is a ballooning-out of the wall of an artery in the brain.

. . . Traditional treatment involves surgically opening the skull, and clipping the aneurysm to stop further bleeding.

In contrast, the coiling treatment is performed by making a tiny puncture wound in the groin and feeding the coil through the blood vessels to the brain."

I mean, what kind of sadistic bastards come up with this stuff? "There's a problem with your brain; so drop your pants, we're going in through the balls!"

See, this is why I never go to the doctor.

September 02, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XLV

September 01, 2005

Jetlagged Blogging: Part of a Continuing Series

It was the Underbelly staff party last night. I was fully intending to go and have a relatively booze-free good time, considering I had to get up at 4:45am to go to the airport the next morning. Sadly, when people insist on handing me coupons for five free pints, my inner stingy Scot gets the better of me and I have an uncontrollable urge to get what’s coming to me, which I certainly did.

I arrived home about 4:15am, finished packing, and collapsed into bed for a fifteen minute nap. Then I went to the airport. Now, while getting up at 4:45am to go the airport is pretty unpleasant under any circumstances, as you might imagine, doing it during the transition from drunkeness to hangover— stale beer taste in your mouth and guts slopping from side to side— is particularly charming.

I slept most of the way to London, then staggered uncertainly to my connecting gate with an overpowering and insatiable urge to eat a bacon sandwich. Also, an urge to vomit.

Once back on the plane, I slept again for most of the flight to Montreal, awakening about an hour before we were scheduled to land. As the plane sunk into its final descent, that gentle, floating deceleration, it began to lurch from side to side in the wind and driving rain. All of a sudden, the engines roared and the plane shot upwards, as did the lunch of the people directly behind and in front of me. After an alarming period of silence, the captain tannoyed us to say that the wind shear was so great that they had been forced into an emergency ascent.

So, let’s recap: hungover, hadn’t slept in a bed since Monday night, plane un-landable, stench of barf pervading the cabin.

And then they diverted us to Toronto. My favourite part of the experience was the recorded message on the bus that ferried us from the plane to the terminal:

“The GTAA thanks you for choosing to make Toronto part of your travel plans today.”


In Toronto, at least, they were professional and very efficient, booking me back on to a second flight to Montreal just three hours later. So I diddled around in Pearson, was cruelly reintroduced to the weak Canadian dollar ($2.50 for a bottle of water?!?!), and got back on the plane around 5:30pm. That was fine, until we came into land in Montreal (...), at which point the captain informed us that during take-off the flight attendants had noticed a strange noise in the nose cone area, and they weren't absolutely sure the landing gear was working. "Just so you know," he said. Gee, thanks!

Thankfully, it did work, though we had to sit on the tarmac for fifteen minutes while they checked it after we landed. Anyway, after all this, I just wanted to fall into a taxi, pay the exorbitant airport flat fare, and get home as fast as I could— so I went to the ATM to take out some cash, and discovered that the bank had cancelled my debit card without telling me (or sending me a new one, I might add). At this point I curled up into a ball on the floor and sobbed quietly until somebody felt sorry for me and kicked me home.


Thanks to the wonders of browser history, at least half the Underbelly box office staff have become aware of my blog. Hello! Thank you for adding to the difficulty of choosing things to write about that are both interesting to and appropriate for an increasingly heterogenous readership. Also, pictures from the staff party are here. I have more which I haven't posted, so email me if you want 'em.