Weird…I was looking for a sample menu from Dooney’s, a cafe/restaurant in The Annex, and found their site…which is like some kind of left-leaning editorial/news service. Lots of literary news and books reviews (not surprising; Dooney’s is a known writer hangout), but I’m still looking for that sample menu.


Congratulations to the Senators for making it to the second round. As my second favourite team I’m hoping they win it all should my beloved Habs falter. This would also have the added benefit of sending Leafs fans into a state of catatonia.


[tags]toronto, dooney’s, canadiens, ottawa, senators[/tags]

"We're at war with somebody"

We went to see United 93 (imdb | rotten tomatoes) this afternoon. I’ll write more later, but I need some time to let it all sink in. It was one of the most powerful, moving, masterfully crafted films I’ve ever seen. But I can’t imagine that I’ll ever want to watch it again.


Speaking of important films, Cinematical pointed me to this Roger Ebert article about the 102 movies you must see in order “to have any sort of informed discussion about the movies.” To my embarassment I’ve seen only 40 of them.


Let’s say Via and Amtrak announce a joint plan to introduce a new super-highspeed train. It would reach from Goose Bay to San Diego, from Anchorage to Miami. It could get someone from Halifax to Vancouver in 3 hours, and passengers would travel in private rooms with stereos, comfortable chairs and great views. The trains could also be used to transport goods at high speed, reducing inventory costs for companies and improving the flow of trade across the border.

However, the VIA and Amtrak consortium warn that based on their projections approximately 45,000 passengers would die every year in derailments and other accidents. They also warn that the combustion of the special fuel used in the trains and maintenance of the tracks would cause substantial environmental damage. Further, maintenance of the rail system (which would break down very easily) would cost taxpayers several billion dollars every year.

Would the government allow something like this to go ahead? Would the public be interested in riding such a destructive and unsafe vehicle? Of course not.

So why do we still have cars?

It amazes me sometimes, the compromises we will make for our own convenience.


[tags] movies, united 93, ebert, cars [/tags]

Try and understand it

We saw our first Hot Docs selection last night: The Railroad All Stars. It was about a group of prostitutes from the worst slums of Guatemala who form a football team and enter a tournament in the hopes of drawing attention to their plight (they’re beaten or killed by their clients, harassed by police, etc.), and the hoopla that followed. We saw the whole range of backgrounds that brought the women there, and marvelled at the conditions they live and work in. I was flabbergasted by the attitudes some of these women had…an old woman who’d lost a house to a rainstorm — and an eye to an old boyfriend’s drunken rage — thanking god for all her blessings because her boyfriend had built her a wood and aluminium shack in the slum, or the woman who said “I’m not ashamed of what I do because I don’t hurt anybody; in fact, doing what I do, I probably keep young girls from being raped.” This didn’t strike me as temporary self-delusion on the part of someone in denial about her situation; this woman knew where her life had taken her, and seemed at peace with it.

And yet, somehow, the whole movie was funny. So there you go. Kudos to the director.


Because of the timing last night, I could only watch the first half of the hockey game; I watched just long enough to see Montreal tie the game at 2, but when I got home I watched the remainder on the PVR and saw them lose 3-2. While the officiating was still wonky (Justin Williams high-sticked Andrei Markov in the face with no call; Rivet also got hit in the face with a high-stick sans penalty; on the flip side, though, the Hurricanes had a goal called back when the ref at the blueline overruled the ref behind the net…it was the right call — Brind’Amour kicked the puck out from under Huet — but it was just weird that no penalty was called if the goal was waved off) but at least the Hurricans deserved their win this time. They just beat the Canadiens, pure and simple. The Habs just couldn’t recover from the loss of Saku Koivu, it seems, with their top line completely ineffective, and their second line just as useless. I’m hopeful Gainey will make some line changes — like, say, putting Plekanec on the top line with Higgins and Ryder — but in general I really fear for their chances in this series now. It’s a best of three, with two of the games in Carolina. Montreal’s lost their captain and best centre, and the Hurricans have all the momentum. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but Montreal’s going to have to find some kind of reserve their didn’t know they had to take this series.


By some unholy twist of fate, I’ve had “You’re The Voice” by John Farnham stuck in my head for the past 24 hours. It was playing in Green Mango yesterday when I picked up my lunch, and I haven’t been able to shake it (except for the hour or so when my brain had “I Wanna Drive The Zamboni” on repeat).


[tags]hot docs, canadiens, hurricanes, NHL, koivu, zamboni[/tags]


I just picked up a brownie from Camros, the new organic food store that’s opened up near my place. Yes, it was over $3, but it was so big that I had to split it with T-Bone.

And lest you think an organic brownie would taste like muddy sawdust, it was a damn fine brownie. Not the best I’ve ever had, but certainly a good brownie. Put it this way: if you haven’t told me it was 100% organic, I wouldn’t have known.

Well…I suppose they're experts at ball handling…

Stephen Brunt, in yesterday’s Globe column (it requires registration, but if you search for ‘Stephen Brunt’ through Google News you can get the full content) is all too happy to jump on the reduced expectations of a Stanley Cup win in Montreal, recounting a friend’s observation that the city, content with winning a round or two nowadays, has become like Toronto. In this he may touch on the truth, but he’s more wrong that right. Montreal doesn’t have the same expectations now that they did, even as recently as 10 years ago (once Patrick Roy, who was known to single-handedly win a cup, left town just two years removed from their last cup win, the expectations began to drop), but become like Toronto? Not quite. Having lived here in Toronto for the past few, I’ve had plenty of chances to roll my eyes at LeafsManiacs. Yonge street doesn’t fill with honking cars when the Leafs win a playoff series, it fills when they win a playoff game. When they win a series, the mayor begins planning the parade route (at least, Mel Lastman did; David Miller seems a bit less frantic. Lastman actually wanted to throw them a parade for getting to the third round, for chrissakes).

There’s also a difference between the cities in the sports demeanor come October. Montreal fans are hopeful that their team can win it all, and passionate about the season’s outcome, but will grudgingly admit that their chances aren’t good. Toronto fans, on the other hand, seem genuinely convinced that their team will win it…each and every year. I’ve never experienced anything like it. They like to claim it’s devotion and dedication, but it smacks mainly of delusion. It’s kind of creepy. Like being in a sports bodysnatchers town.


Hot Docs starts tonight. Our first documentary is about soccer-playing Guatemalan prostitutes. Seriously.

"Continental integration by stealth"

“[N]othing less than the complete integration of Canada’s military, security and foreign policy into the decision-making and operating systems of the U.S.”

Sounds scary, no? It’s how Michael Byers opens his editorial in today’s Star, in which he says that close scrutiny of a report by a Canada-US military committee called the Bi-National Planning Group would lead us to a state of mild subjugation rather than cooperation.

Four years ago, when they began their study, it seemed a fairly laughable suggestion, but with Harper’s conservative government in power as they release their findings (which is a little too convenient to be a complete coincidence) it’s suddenly not quite as funny.

A rope. A tree.

The referees just handed game 3 to Carolina. First they didn’t call a penalty in the second period on a high stick that, by the look of it, carved Saku Koivu’s eye out. You’d think that an injury causing blood to stream from the eye socket and requiring a trip to the hospital would draw, oh I don’t know, a minor penalty or something? Then they gave the Hurricanes a four-minute penalty at the end of regulation time (on a high stick, which they must have decided to start calling again). Finally, in overtime, they didn’t call Vasicek when he checked the Montreal player into the boards from behind, but seconds later called the Canadiens on a marginal trip. Carolina scored on that power play.

It’d be one thing if Carolina had actually beaten Montreal, but they didn’t. The Canadiens dominated the whole game, much more than the shot clock showed. Cam Ward held the Hurricanes in it, Carolina scored a flukey one and the refs took over from there.

Congratulations, Dan Marouelli and Dennis Larue. Go home, watch the videotape of the gore pouring out of Saku Koivu’s eye and congratulate yourselves on a job well done.

"Artists do not want to sue music fans."

I read a couple of articles today about the new Canadian Music Creators Coalition — Canadian artists who’ve formed their own lobbying group after growing tired of having the CRIA speaking for them — and I’m pretty impressed. The three main points, discussed in much more detail in the Listening Post and Michael Geist articles above, are as follows:

  • Suing Our Fans is Destructive and Hypocritical
  • Digital Locks are Risky and Counterproductive
  • Cultural Policy Should Support Actual Canadian Artists

Zowie. CMCC, je t’aime. For now.


Stephanie Zacharek reviews United 93 for Salon, and though she feels it’s well done, wonders if it’s worth watching:

“Paul Greengrass’ ‘United 93′ is a movie made with tremendous care, and with almost boundless sensitivity to persons living and dead. But just hours after seeing the picture, I’m finding it hard to care about Greengrass’ integrity: I’ve never had a more excruciating moviegoing experience in my life, and as brilliantly crafted — and as adamantly unexploitive — as the picture is, it still leaves you wondering why it was made in the first place…I walked out of ‘United 93’ feeling bereft and despondent; my stomach muscles had tensed into a seemingly immovable knot.”

This only strengthens my desire to see the film. If a movie is well-crafted enough to feel gut-wrenching, even a fraction as much as I did on the actual day, then it’s worth seein. And, in my opinion, it’s a story worth experiencing, buried as it has been beneath and behind the greater spectacle of the World Trade Center destruction.