Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Liu defended himself, saying: "I just [learned] that the city government has paved the pit, and without my pictures, the pit would not be noticed by the government, and there would perhaps be more people falling over."
Someone ought to do that in Montreal. A great photo sequence of a car slamming into a known pot hole could finally shame the city government into fixing our pot-hole problem.
See what happens to the Chinese cyclist next...
Monday, December 26, 2005
For instance, for years Dr Pepper was not available here (or at least in Quebec). We don't have as many brand extension choices for Tropicana orange juice. The chocolate bar 100 Grand is not sold here (except in a handful of spciality shops at higher prices). And Canadian kids must go without some great cereals.
I think scarcity makes many of these products taste better. It's exciting to drive to Plattsburg, NY and return with 10 packages of fat-free Lays (the ones with Olestra that Health Canada prohibits) or cans of Coca-Cola with Splenda.
Perhaps the most famous item not sold in Canada is Cookie Crisp cereal by General Mills. I'm not sure why.
The good news is I discovered a major supermarket in Montreal that sells the cereal with it's illegal English-only packaging. I won't say where. I don't want to get them in trouble. They have lots of other US-only stuff. E-mail me if you want to know.
Anyway, is there anything better than the sight of Cookie Crisp in the cereal aisle?
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Monday, December 19, 2005
"We should not revisit this question. I think that was decided, and we have to understand that we have to respect each individual. I think that
English speaking Quebecersthe gays and lesbians have the same right now on in our society, and society is not really free when someone is not free."
The irony extension I installed on Firefox just hit 9! I... can't... hold it... much... longer... captain!
referendum on secessionwas decided, and I think we have to live with that, and people, I think, will get used to that because it is now normal, and I don't want to live in a society where some people don't have the same kind of rights than other people."
In a related story, Comrade Duceppe no longer lives in society.
Friday, December 16, 2005
This is what my car looked like when I returned home today.
It took 30 minutes to brush the snow from the top and to dig a trench around the sides and front. In that time, several pedestrians and a Métro supermarket delivery van guy volunteered their thoughts about my situation.
"L'hiver est beau!" said one lady. Yes, lady, it's a delight. Oh, were you being ironic? F you.
The chain-smoking genius in the white supermarket delivery van confided to me that the large pile of snow on the driver's side was caused by the snow plows. How insightful. Maybe you can next tackle the mystery of how the bread gets dark when you put it in the toaster oven.
My favourite idiot comment wasn't even a comment. It was a slight giggle from some dude holding what looked like an old-fashioned styrofoam hamburger container in his hands.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
This photo, taken yesterday at around 3:45pm, shows a grey Honda Civic stopped in between the inner middle lanes of René Lévesque Blvd. W. at Bleury Street. The Civic was a few cars ahead of me. He went through the green light, even though there was no chance of clearing the intersection. The traffic light changed to red and instead of (belatedly) clearing the intersection, the Civic decided it was less illegal to block traffic by staying in no man's land.
A few seconds after I snapped this photo, a car driving westbound tried to make a left turn onto Bleury Street. He was prevented from making the legal left turn by the moron Civic.
I think most people are good drivers, in the sense that they know how to operate a motor vehicle. But I don't think most people are aware of the basic rules and customs of the road. Don't block the box. Slow traffic keep to the right. Don't blow the horn after dark. These are simple rules. Yet too many people are blissfully unaware. And the government does nothing to educate them.
Maybe the government should include a voluntary paper test in your driver's licence renewal package. If you complete, return and pass the test, then the government will erase two demerit points from your record. You'll receive a scorecard with your results and an explanation of the rules related to those questions.
The CBSC is a national voluntary self-regulatory organization created by Canada's private broadcasters to deal with complaints made by viewers or listeners about programs which they have seen or heard broadcast on a member station. The CBSC administers four industry codes, namely a code of ethics, a code concerning television violence, a code concerning sex-role stereotyping and a code of journalistic ethics, which set out the guidelines for television and radio programming. [Emphasis mine]
I sent a complaint letter about Snyder's comments to the Council on November 6. I got a reply on November 16 from the Council saying, in part, the following:
By copy of this email, we are asking CFTM-TV to respond to the concerns you have raised and to hold a copy of the logger tape of the broadcast which concerned you. This is always the first step taken by the CBSC in pursuing a complaint. You should know that broadcasters who are members of the CBSC take their responsibility to respond to audience concerns very seriously. The dialogue between broadcasters and members of their audience is a cornerstone of the CBSC's complaints resolution process. Concerns are often resolved satisfactorily through this dialogue phase.
Today, I received a reply from TVA. In short, TVA says (1) none of the four codes listed above were violated, and (2) Julie Snyder wasn't making fun of Quebec anglophone, just anglophones in general. You know, like Americans and Brits. But definately not Quebec anglophones.
Sir, The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (« CBSC ») has sent us your correspondence of November 6, 2005 for review and response. Your complaint was more particularly about the humorous comments made by Mrs. Julie Snyder : « Enfin un anglophone qui parle français comme il faut », following her conversation in French with popular singer Chris de Burgh.
First of all, we apologize if those comments have upset you. However, with all due respect, we are of the opinion that the different codes supervised by the CBSA were not infringed. Mrs. Snyder’s comments were not particularly about the Anglophone artists of Quebec, but the Anglophone artists in general, of whatever country.
That's... how you say... ah, yes... bullsht. When the average Quebecer listens to Jodie Foster speak French in an interview, he says "wow, an American who speaks French," -- not "wow, an anglophone who speaks French comme il faut."
To a Quebec audience, the term "anglophone" is strongly associated with a particular community in Quebec. People in Ontario or BC are commonly referred to as "English Canadians." People in the United States are "Americans." But only English-speaking Quebecers are commonly referred to in Quebec as "anglophones." And the "comme il faut" line suggests that Snyder was refering to Quebec anglophones... they speak French, but not very well.
So, I don't buy argument that the "anglophones" Snyder was referring to are those in Sydney, Johannesburg and Cleveland -- none of whom speak French. Snyder was talking about the ones in Kirkland, Cote St. Luc and Westmount who speak French, but not "comme il faut." And I contend that was crystal clear to her audience.
In that context, it is certainly not far from the reality to pretend that most English-speaking artists, coming from an English environment, rarely speak French to Quebecors the way Mr. Chris de Burg did it.
I swear that's the way the TVA dude spelled "Quebecers". Was it an innocent typo? Or was it an ominous tell about the plans for us all by (TVA's parent-company) Quebecor? Is the Péladeau-owned company planning a new world order in the province of
Finally, Mrs. Snyder said the comments on a very humoristic tone, as we know her, insisting on the fact that she has a lot of difficulties herself speaking English, and that consequently, Mr. Chris de Burgh had a superior French than her English.
This is true. I agree.
Therefore, the audience was amused about the whole situation, knowing that the comments were aimed at the author of the comments only.
His conclusion doesn't follow from his premise. I agree that Snyder acknowledged her own shortcomings in her second language.
But the "comments" were not "aimed at the author" -- the comments were aimed at anglophones and their (relative lack of) ability to speak French properly.
Once again, we are sorry if this matter has upset you in any way, and we thank you for taking the time to inform us of your concerns. Hoping the whole satisfactory, we remain,
So, that's TVA's reply.
TVA still doesn't get it. Imagine if Jay Leno said about Will Smith: "Wow, a black guy who can speak English properly!" And then imagine if NBC responded to compaints by saying, "Mr. Leno was referring to the black people in Haiti, Niger and Congo who don't speak English properly."
I guess TVA doesn't see a problem in promoting negative stereotypes about anglophones in Quebec.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Titled Montréal en tête (“Head in Montreal” or something), the cover features a tuqued man and his vaguely multi-racial grand-daughter. The headline announces: Montréal, ville solidaire.
It features articles on fire safety, theatre, rights and responsibilities, the new city government structure, important public works phone numbers, a list of winter activities and more.
One problem: all the articles are in French. (So much for solidarity.)
I understand that 53 percent of Montrealers speak French as a first language. But 18 percent speak English as a first language. And another 29 percent learned Chinese, Greek, Italian (or other languages) in childhood and (most) probably use English today with their friends.
Bottom line: at least 33 percent of Montrealers self-identify as English-speaking but the city government sends unilingual French newsletters oozing comically ironic messages of solidarity.
Perhaps I’m unfair. The English-language version must be available upon request, no?
Yes. In fact, in small type at the back of the newsletter readers are informed that “[t]he English version of Montréal en tête is available at all Accès offices and other points of service.”
I guess I could use the exercise. But I don't imagine I'll be sprinting to a point of service in the next few months. (It was -19C with the windchill factor today in Montreal.)
Which brings me to Alan Alda. Apart from being a fine actor (especially on live TV), Alda figured out how to provide better service than an entire North American city government.
A few weeks ago, I sent an e-mail to Studio Fan Mail, a sub-contractor that stars use to manage fan photo requests. Today, I received a photo of Alan Alda. In the mail. I didn’t have to visit an Accès Alda office. Nor an Alda point of service. I sent an e-mail message and I got what I needed in my mail box.
I’m not sure what kind of fictional president Alda’s Senator Arnold Vinick would make. But in real life, Alda does a better job at serving his public than does the City of Montreal at serving its own.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
The December 2005/January 2006 election campaign is only now underway. Whatever you do -- and especially if you're a reporter named McGee -- don't make him angry. You won't like him when he's angry.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
At first I thought he was going for a Hugh Hefner smoking- jacket-and-ascot look. But it turns out Comrade Duceppe is merely cold.
The transit authority only recently added an automated station announcement recording to the older MR-63s. Years ago, the driver would announce the station. Or not, depending on his level of hatred for his employer/his passengers/his life in general. It was always fun to hear how the driver would pronounce names like Atwater or McGill.
To recap: I'm riding on the Orange line, but in a "Green line" metro car. It was weird. Like that time David Banner half-changed into the Incredible Hulk and we got to see Lou Ferrigno without the green skin. Or was it Bill Bixby with green skin. I forget. Anyway, who cares.
I found a seat and began experiencing the weirdness. The lighting is different on the MR-63s. The door openings and closings sound different. But the most noticeable difference is the PA system. Surprisingly, the older MR-63 metro cars have a better, clearer PA system. Also, the station name announcements are said more slowly. Same narrator, I think. But slower.
(Editor's note: If you are still reading this, thanks. I'm boring myself writing it.)
It was what happened before the Lucien l'Allier station that shocked me. The recorded name for this station name pierces my ears at the first "U" in Lucien on the regular MR-73 metro cars. Every day, I brace myself for inevitable "L-UUUUUUU-cien..." redlining. But on this day, my ear drums got a rest.
The new recorded station name flew into my ear with the care and gentleness I have not seen since the passing of The Joy of Painting's Bob Ross. It was a beautiful thing.
Bottom line: The Montreal transit authority should use the new recording in the MR-73 metro cars.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
It turns out the version I recorded from ABC (or maybe CFCF-12) was longer than the cinema/DVD version. But that's just the beginning of the story. Read this:
Think you've seen Superman II? Think again.I recently obtained a copy of what has become known as the "Restored International Cut" of Superman II. What the heck's that all about, you ask?
Let me explain... no, there is no time. Let me sum up.
Richard Donner directed "Superman: The Movie" and also shot 70% or so of "Superman II" at the exact same time. Before Donner finished filming all of "Superman II", Marlon Brando filed a lawsuit over a discrepancy in how much he was paid in regards to the original film's box office grosses.
As a result, he was completely removed from "Superman II" by the producers. Donner then argued with the producers who wanted to make the film "more campy", and as a result he was removed from the project and replaced with Richard Lester. And all of you who have seen both "Superman: The Movie" and "Superman II" knows just how much campier the second one really is (for so many reasons I won't get into here).
Gene Hackman then refused to return for any of Richard Lester's reshoots, and so in several places in "II" it's just a body double and a voice double redoing his lines and... all kinds of terrible stuff.
Well initially when "II" aired on television in foreign markets, a lot of the original Donner footage was in various versions (they have since been airing the theatrical version on television). The "Restored International Cut" is a masterful piece of work... it takes all of those lost Donner scenes from VCR recordings of these other versions from countries around the world and edits them all back in.
And I have to tell you, my friends, what Donner would have done and what we've all seen that Lester did are very different movies.
Anyway, it's just really blown my mind to have the curtain pulled back on something I knew and loved for so long to reveal nothing but a bad director fighting with a good director and muddling the final product.
Read the rest here, including a scene-by-scene summary of the differences. I have not yet seen this fan-created copy. It is supposed to be very well done. Like Wikipedia, this Restored International Cut is another neat example of how community-based initiatives are enabled by the Internet.
Ideally, Warner Brothers and director Richard Donner will open their vaults and re-cut the movie with previously unseen Brando footage and all the extra Donner-directed scenes, which were cut from the cinematic release and only included (partially) in the international TV version. Basically, I'd like them to try to create the film that should have been made.
UPDATE: I have now seen the Restored International Cut. The entire movie is made from old VHS copies. (I thought they would have used the official DVD footage with interspersed VHS extras. I was wrong.) There were only a few extra bits and parts that I don't remember seeing on my CFCF-12 version I watched as a kid. The subtitles are used to indicate to viewers if a scene was directed by Donner or his replacement.
Bottom line: the DVD is worth watching if you are (or used to be) a fan of Superman 2.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
The Quebec Party has come a long way. People like René Levesque made chain-smoking acceptable. Jacques Parizeau opened the door for angry drunks to assume the leadership. Bernard Landry made it okay to berate hotel workers of Mexican origin for plebiscitary setbacks. And now André Boisclair has made cocaine use cool again.
Obviously, the bar is getting higher. Those thus far excluded from the leadership -- women and anglophones -- shouldn’t be discouraged.
My advice: Go buy some crystal meth.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Of course, what if the administrative reminder from the city never reaches you because of some mixup at Canada Post. The city will assume you received it. And if you don't pay, it will assume you want to go to court. The next letter you get will be an appointment notification letter. At that point, you're screwed because you'll be on the hook for court fees too -- even if you decide to pay the original fine.
Fortunately, you can now check the status of your parking ticket at the city's Web site. Wait a week or two and then check to see if your ticket is in the system.
I was browsing the the television channels this morning when I came across a replay on CPAC of Question Time from the UK House of Commons. A few things struck me.
1. Unlike at the federal Parliament in Ottawa where ministers answer questions on matters related to their portfolio, in London the prime minister answers all the questions himself. And because Britain is still more-or-less a unitary state, the prime minister has to answer questions about foreign policy, education, healthcare, and trivial local issues. It is a challenge for any one person to keep up-to-date on so many issues and be prepared to answer questions about them every day.
2. Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, is a gifted speaker with an encyclopedic knowledge of facts. It is a beautiful thing to watch him answer a question. His off-the-cuff answers sound as thoughtful and genuine as Assistant DA Jack McCoy in NBC's Law and Order. But Blair doesn't have a script. He knows the basic gist of what he wants to convey and speaks without notes. His voice goes down at the end of a sentence to indicate that the sentence is over. That is a sign of someone who knows what he wants to say in advance of saying it. He did not fill pauses with "hums" and "ahhs". And he never one used the word "essentially" as our own prime minister is known to do. The leaders of the Liberal Democrats and Conservative parties also spoke eloquently. As did the backbenchers.
3. The MPs in London sit very close together. They have no tables or desks. The debates and questions happen in close quarters.
These observations lead me to question why the members of our own federal Parliament lack the vigour, thoughfulness and skill of Blair and his colleagues. Is it the British school system, which emphasizes debate skills? Or does the UK Parliament attract a higher quality of leaders? Or am I just being a snob?
Monday, November 07, 2005
After singing Don't Pay the Ferryman, host Julie Snyder interviewed de Burgh in English and French. Chris de Burgh understands French and speaks it decently. He's no Jodie Foster. But he's okay for a guy from Ireland.
I'm not sure if Snyder was trying to suck up or if she harbours deep-seated resentments, but she said to the audience: Wow. Finalement un anglophone qui sait comment parler francais comme-il-faut.
Imagine what would happened if Canadian Idol host Ben Mulroney had made a comparable comment to French singer Charles Aznavour. The Quebec unions and the St. John the Baptist Society would be in the streets protesting this provocation. CTV would be issuing on-air apologies. (Remember what happened when Triumph the Insult Comic Dog visited Quebec City?)
Yet, Snyder's disparaging comments about the proficiency of Quebec's English-speakers' abilities in French won't even be noticed in Quebec.
For the record, Julie Snyder's English sucks raw open ass. She admitted as much when she made the self-evident claim that his French is better than her English. Duh. In fact, my favourite part of the interview was when Snyder touched de Burgh and then said (in hinglish): "I'm not gonna to wash tonight." A little too much information, Julie.
Monday, October 31, 2005
I am writing to comment on the varying-sound-level problem I have noticed on Global TV in Montreal. Television shows seem to have their sound level set at around 6. Sound for local promos for Global shows or contests is set to 10. Regular national ads are set to 7. This is extremely annoying. Not as annoying as CTV's According to Jim, but pretty darned annoying nonetheless.
As you might imagine, this sound problem forces me to keep my hand on the remote all evening to prevent hearing loss from a local This Morning Live ad. I then have to turn the volume back up to hear a rising-crust pizza ad featuring that hideous old Italian women who gets serenaded by her son or grandson (hard to say which it is) before smiling her weird gingivitis smile.
Anyway, please do something about this sound problem. It really sucks.
UPDATE: Here is Global's reply
I'm writing in response to your e-mail of October 31, 2005 concerning the uneven and sometimes very loud signals on Global Quebec.
First of all, I'm sorry to have taken so long to get back to you. Global Quebec recently underwent a major change in the equipment used to broadcast our signal. The problem we are experiencing with the varying sound levels is a result of that change.
Our engineers are working to correct the problem. And we hope to have it corrected very shortly. Thank you for your interest in Global Quebec.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Today, my wife showed me a joltingly inappropriate headline from the Quebec fashion magazine Lou Lou. The article, written by Sophie Durocher, is about choosing the right coat.
The headline reads: Les choix de Sophie (Sophie's choices).
I assume that the headline writer had a vague idea that there was once a movie called Sophie's Choice, but never actually watched it nor read the synoposis at IMDB.
I further assume that said headline writer fancied himself rather clever to adapt a movie title for an article about choosing a coat.
Here, then, are a few suggestions for future fashion articles in Lou Lou :
- "Mein kampf... to get the right sweater"
- "Protocols of the Elders of Zara"
- "Schindler's list... for cheap handbags"
Thursday, October 27, 2005
About 100,000 people were at the federalist rally. I spent most of the next hour taking pictures, walking around and listening to the speeches, which were hard to hear because of extremely strong wind. (Insert fart joke here.)
Today is the tenth anniversary of that Place du Canada rally. I'm always a bit surprised by anniversaries of events that happened in my adult life and which I remember quite clearly. Anyway, here are my photos from that day.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
The Office of the Prime Minister will send you an official letter from the PM (complete with a gold sticker!) for any significant birthday or wedding anniversary. Simply complete the online form and wait a few weeks for mail from Ottawa. Then buy a frame, put it on a wall and impress your friends.
The PMO won't actually try to confirm that you are the age you claim to be. Nor will they request a marriage certicate to see if you and the misses have completed at least 25 years of wedded bliss. So, basically any 15-year-old with access to the Internet can get one.
In case you're wondering, the office of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II requires documenation before sending congratulatory letters. Also, the Queen only send letters to subjects on their 100th birthday.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
I found a discussion about this at Red Forum Deals. Someone posted a list of all the celbs to whom you can request a photo.
To request a photo from, say, Alan Alda, send an e-mail to email@example.com with your mailing address in the body of the message. (No subject line required. No formal request required.)
The company has an automated computer system that extracts your mailing address and mails the signed photo to you in a month or so. To see the list of celebs, visit the discussion forum at Red Forum Deals and scroll down the page.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
I wonder how much drivers spend reparing stuff on cars that probably wouldn't have broken/ripped/bent/shattered if not for Quebec roads.
My sudden interest in pot-holes stems from an incident on Monday evening last on the on-ramp from Sources (south) to the Trans Canada service road (east). Near the start of the long circular road, my rear driver's side tire hit a pot hole. I was driving no more than 40km. But I knew it was bad. I drove another 20 seconds, pulled up next to the Leon's store and had a look. F.
Worst part is I can't sue the bastards. According to CAA:
Since 1993, provincial and municipal governments are not liable for damage to vehicles attributable to the condition of the roads, lack of maintenance or failure to signal a known danger. As a result, obtaining compensation is much more complex.
Even worse, CAA-Quebec isn't even adding pot-hole information to their list. I was nailed by a pot-hole and it's not even pot hole season!
Saturday, October 08, 2005
I took this photo showing pedestrians edging dangerously off the south-west corner. They all want to cross Queen Mary Rd. to get to Snowdon Metro station (not shown, off to the right).
The city should put more frequent red lights on Queen Mary Rd. so pedestians can cross the road more frequently.
Friday, October 07, 2005
(Yes, I know there is supposed to be an exclamation point at the end of his name. Screw that. No one I know has an exclamation point in their name. I'm not going to make an exception for this orange beast.)
The decision by the Canadiens to adopt a mascot is crazy nonsense. The New York Yankees don't have a mascot. They don't need one. Neither do the Canadiens.
I can't wait until Youppi blocks the view of spectators during a good hit or exciting goal. He'll be lynched.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
There is no rhyme. Only a tad of reason. But mostly suckiness--circa 1997. It's an embarassment when you witness what a real transit system Web site looks like. (See London.)
What's most amazing is the STM has the chutzpah to list three Web site awards. One more obscure and meaningless than the next. Oh, and the most recent one is from 2001.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Every household in the city received the Elector's Manual in late September. The manual features illustrations of severely disfigured, hairless, and eyeless humans.
These stoic survivors are happy ambassadors for the city -- smiling their weird one-tooth smile and wearing short-sleeve shirts so we can get a better view of their bizarre-looking stumps.
Amazingly, they are able to put on a neck tie. God bless these brave souls.