Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Who loves Canada most?

Paul Martin: Is a friend to the evergreen, serves baked tundra at parties. Embraces new Canadians and parachute celebrity candidates. Once placed second in a poutine-eating contest--even as horrified American tourists screamed: "You're eating yellow vomit!"

Stephen Harper: Uses maple syrup rinse on hair, sings O Canada in English, French and several multi-cultural languages not yet identified. Has adopted endangered BC marmot he's named Ben, after his favorite Mulroney. Lived two summers in a chip truck.

Jack Layton: Weeps spontaneously at flag-raisings and northern lights, even traffic lights. Continues to add to a beloved childhood maple leaf collection. Once hugged a socially-disadvantaged beaver so hard he broke its rib.

That's how much they love Canada.

Next issue, please?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

As the worms turn...

Prime Minister Dithers, pink and proud as punch, slithers his way back to the office, election writ in hand. Lackies cower in fear, muttering "rhubarb, rhubarb."

"Get out there and work our special interest groups," he commands.

"Beat them hard. Warn what will happen if they choose The Great Satan. The sky will fall. Fear and loathing. Plagues, audits, deportations, tax jiggery-pokery and acne."

In another wing of Canada's Kremlin, The Great Satan considers his own image in a mirror. How best to kickstart approval ratings out of negative digits? He whispers a Daily Affirmation.

"I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And by golly, I'm really going to try to make people like me." He jumps into a gay pothole and breaks a leg.

Jack Be Nimble--the third little pig--primps at his desk.

When Olivia joins me, he muses, we will be Ottawa's true power couple. Who will care which heiress dates Peter MacKay then? Note to self: buy matching parkas.

In the Great White Darkness, 30 million sheep stir uneasily in their sleep. They poke their dear little tails higher into the chilly night air, as is their habit.

"Ride us," they beg. "Ride us hard."

Monday, November 21, 2005

Jarhead vs. Bell phone punks

So I drive to Kingston for a few days, mostly to see Jarhead.

I mean, why stay in the woods? Two hours from Ottawa, but this is the Third World.

Since the second "windstorm" a week ago, Bell Canada can't keep the phone on.

It hums, it whistles, it plays endless loop tapes of motherly voices urging me to "Please try your call again." In two official languages.

A Bell guy showed Saturday but his ladder "couldn't reach the phone line. I'll need a bucket truck."

His promised return today? Didn't happen.

No web. And I'm tired of screaming over line noise and cross-talk.

Every time Hydro One burps, which happens about three times a day, the auto-zap on the pump goes off. It has to be manually re-set.

So anyway, by the weekend enough was enough.

Off to Kingston, my new favourite smaller Ontario city.

They've kept a good hunk of their waterfront. You can take your bike over to Wolfe Island and ride for miles. They're on the first-run movie circuit, with decent bars, live music. And the draft Guinness is always perfect at the Tir Nan Og.

I admit I liked Anthony Swofford's Gulf War book way too much. But don't let the mixed reviews for Jarhead--the movie--keep you away. Two of the most affecting sequences in the book are beautifully realized in the flick. Yes, the horse is one of them.

I notice guy reviewers all give Jarhead high marks. (Pete Howell gave it 4 in the Star). Women reviewers don't. The National Post harridan should try something harder than spritzers. Or be reassigned to the Harry Potter beat.

Anyway, if you're looking for something ballsy, funny, profane, awful, profound and deeply moving--often all at the same time--you could do far, far worse.

See it on a big screen for the desert sequences. This will not be the same experience on your poster-sized DVD screen.

Jarhead is a hell of a better use of two hours of your time than calling Bell Repair.

Where's a sniper when you need one?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Election? What election?

Voters excited by prospect of winter election

Good grief!

So a buddy of mine has a very peculiar problem.

The company he worked at for years terminated him this summer.

But every two weeks, as regular as clockwork, his paycheck arrives in the mail. That's right: every 14 days, they send him a check. Just as if he was still in the plant. Doin' his job. But he ain't. They know that.

"How much money are we talkin' about?" I ask.

"Would you believe 10 grand so far?" he laffs.

He puts each newly-issued payroll cheque in a desk drawer.

"I want to see how long it takes them to discover they've screwed up," he claims. "They'll go bananas! Heads will roll!"

"Is it a computer sending you payroll cheques?"

"No!" he sez. "Each cheque has been hand-prepared. Each one has TWO original signatures of company pay execs! It's totally nuts!"

"Cash them all!" I urge. "Let them try to get the money back!"

He just laughs.

"I always figured the execs never knew what I did when I was there," he sez. "It's no surprise nobody's noticed I'm gone. But, duh! What does that say about me, Dunf? I'm kinda insulted. Still, it's such a hoot. I can't wait to see how it turns out."

"You could call your old company," I laugh. "Beg them to stop."

"To hell with that," sez bud. "I don't work there any more. Why is that my responsibility? To solve their screw-ups? Beg them to stop sending me money? Who fired who? Let it ride, baby! Let it build til it blows!"

So if you were my buddy, would you...

(a) call the company to helpfully point out they're idiots

(b) cash all the cheques immediately

(c) ask your buddy to put it on his blog and solicit advice?

He's chosen C. What would you do?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Let the campaign begin!

Candidate prepares
for the circus to come.

Yo hosers! DirecTv drops XM Radio bomb

Merry Christmas, satellite TV gray market!

Santa came early for an estimated 1 million Canadians with access to the forbidden DirecTv dishes and receivers that grab US TV signals like ESPN and HBO from the sky.

Santa's brought them ... ho ho ho! ... 72 channels of XM Radio!

The music signals went up this morning.

Not content to watch the forbidden U.S. cable, network and premium movie feeds, rebel DirecTv-watchin' Canadians suddenly have access to dozens of channels of uninterrupted pop, urban, classic and Latin music streams from the American satellite radio service.

Bluegrass, country, club, alternative, jocktalk, old gold, even a 24/7 disco feed.

The 72 XM Radio feeds are included in all three DirecTv subscriber packages, from the monthly base $41.99US to the top tier $93.99US premiere programs buffet.

So much for which Canuck applicant gets on the air first or how much CanCon the CRTC demands of each homegrown satellite radio service? Kind of irrelevant, hosers.

Just as the CRTC dithered away years before licensing Expressvu and Star Choice while DirecTv established a substantial foothold in Canada, the agency's absurd tap-dancing demands for three satellite radio wannabees has allowed history to repeat itself.

XM Radio (US Edition) arrived today in a million Canada homes with the push of a button ... at the DirecTV control bunker in Castle Rock, Colorado. DirecTv claims a U.S. subscriber base of 13 million households.

Can even Howard Stern help rival Sirius play catch-up? Ha! Get a grip.

Complete XM/DirecTV lineup at

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Dazzling Olympics Gear

Have you seen the spiffy new uniforms The Hudson's Bay Co. has unveiled for Canada's 2006 Olympic athletes?

The Bay won the gear contract away from Roots, designers of trendy gear national teams sported in the recent past.

It's back to basics, and not a moment too soon. Goofy elf hats with earflaps complete HBC's winter ensemble, sure to draw admiring glances at Whistler/Blackcomb a year from now.

Gumboots rock!

Hunters Full Moon Special

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hunters! Know your targets!

Not a cow.

Brokeback Mountain toonz

I count the number of music reviews I've put on on one hand. But one went up the other day that might be of interest. At the moment, all seven reviewers of the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack album rate it at five stars (highest) ...

***** Heart, heat and a fine ride, November 7, 2005

Reviewer: Gary Dunford (Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
I am one of those who cringed, learning Brokeback Mountain--Annie Proulx's stark and understated, lean and searing 30 page short story--was being exploded into a movie. The soundtrack arrived this afternoon and I'm feeling a lot better.

Gustavo Santaolalla's original score is easily the equal of his work for The Motorcycle Diaries. The vocal choices included range from clever to inspired. A Variety review this morning claims there wasn't a dry eye in the house at Telluride.

Listening to the tunes and underscoring, a great deal of imagination, art and craft are in evidence. It definitely pulls from the same place within mined by writer Proulx. There will be plenty of people who will refuse to see the movie, largely because of the manufactured promotional controversy over the next month that it is about gay cowboys.

Read Proulx's short story--the last offered in Close Range, now in paperback. It is about heart, heat and lost opportunity. You only have to be human to be touched by that. I look forward to the film's opening Dec. 9. Until then, this aching, funny and wryly sentimental soundtrack touches every correct chord.

It's a keeper.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Carry me back to old Shawinigan

Unidentified lawyer carries large box of previously unexamined Sponsorship Scandal documents from Gomery Commission back to Shawinigan, Quebec

Spill yer guts

Several readers have complained there isn't enough confession here.

Blogs apparently are supposed to be endless grocery lists of what you ate last night (wax beans and salmon), what your emotional temperature is at the moment (better than you'd expect) and especially who you can't stand and why. (Uh. Gee. Can I get back to you on that?) The firewood is in the garage. Does that interest you? I don't have a new dog... yet. The power was out in the big windstorm Sunday night.

To tell the truth, I was in a confessional mood back in July, preparing the last Sun column. I had a good last graph for that column: it began, "Did I ever mention.... " But if I dropped some blockbuster, might they not make me write it another year? This seemed like a bad idea. And it seems more like cat droppings in retrospect.

I will try to be more confessional in the future.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Hunters! Know Your Animals!

Not a cow...

Gomery for Dummies

A brief summary of Justice John Gomery's investigation into the Liberal Sponsorship Scandal...

1. Bad people did bad things.
2. Friends of the government of the day were rewarded.
3. There was no interest, then or now, in exercising any particular caution or control over the partisan squandering of Canadian taxpayers' money.
4. There is no "direct evidence" that any senior hand--say leaders with 30 years political experience or more--left a clear and incriminating clue as to what was done or un-done.
5. The government is pursuing the recovery of $57 million dollars from ad agencies and party hacks involved.
6. The Liberal party proposes to reimburse the national treasury about $570,000--one per cent of the claimed kickback kitty in question.
7. This cash will come from taxpayers who supported the Liberal party with campaign donations and handed with great pride and ceremony to taxpayers who did and didn't.
8. Karl Rove is not involved.

All sheep can now go back to sleep.