Archive for October 2008

The election is over and the political landscape pretty much looks the same as before the election.

The Elections Canada event was a $300 million exercise in apathy.

I can completely understand the lowest voter turnout in Canadian history, I vote in Alberta where Conservatives will have to be pulled from office with a collective crowbar.

I went to the polls at about 7:15, and it was almost deserted. A half dozen people about to vote. I never even watched the results. I honestly did not care. I’ve written about politics for years and this time I had no idea what I did- sleep? while the results went on.

Not good, but there it is.


One. The fellow that suddenly repeatedly stabbed- reportedly up to 50 times- and then cut the head off a fellow Greyhound bus passenger in Manitoba was charged with second degree murder. I’m no lawyer, but what, pray tell, do you have to do in Canada to be charged with first degree murder?

Two. A middle-of-the-road aging lady who happens to be a Liberal Member of Parliament in Toronto has some fans. They put St. Paul MP Carolyn Bennett campaign lawn signs on their lawn. One recent morning a whole street of these citizens- 25 of them- supporting their choice of candidate, a Canadian right, found their houses spraypainted, their vehicles vandalized, and in a truly frightening discovery- a number had their brake lines cut on their vehicles. Some only discovered that their brake lines were cut when driving their children to school or driving off to work. What maniac hits an up-scale neighborhood of ordinary people, threatening their lives for supporting their main-stream candidate?

Is she a radical? Is she new? Has she done crazy things before running for parliament?

Actually it is Dr. Carolyn Bennett, and she is not some obscure PhD, she is a real family doctor. She is a three-term MP, running for her fourth term. Her husband is a film producer. Looking for something radical there, you’ll find his film credits include Love at First Sight (I saw this years ago- I think it’s Dan Akroyd’s first-ever picture- he plays a blind man in a chick-flic love story), and My American Cousin (I saw this too- filmed in Penticton where I used to live- about a young teen girl in the 1950s or 60s who thinks the achingly beautiful area of the Okanagan she lives in is boring and backward, especially compared to her James Dean-like American cousin up for a visit.) The guys name is Peter O’Brian, a name I’d never heard of before this. Oh, he was also involved in making White Oaks of Jalna, the Canadian film answer to Sleep-Eeze. (Snore. I saw one episode-it’s a miniseries.) Oh, here’s what might be a lone radical movie- from 1977- Outrageous with female impersonator Craig Russel. Apparently his films have won 19 Genies. Nothing really there to inspire firebrands and hell-hath-no-fury radical fears.

Threatening lives for wanting to vote for Dr. Carolyn Bennett, MP? I do not, I absolutely do not, understand this. At all.

Three. Why didn’t anyone important listen to those who saw this economic train wreck coming ? Why didn’t more bankers see it? There are smart people in banking (you’d assume). Why were investment banks in the position of borrowing up to 36 times their shareholder investment to buy and hold what amounted to paper junk? Why was that allowed? What would possess a country to have its banking system lend mortgage money to hundreds of thousands of people with no credit to back up their investment in a house during a real estate bubble? Don’t these bankers have meetings once in a while?

Huffington Post has a brief on who to blame, and who warned of a looming crisis. First, the names to blame, which include Henry Paulson, the man trying to sort out the mess now. The HuffPo link on who saw it coming isn’t working right now, so here is a top 10 list from Times Online.

I can write about the candidates, but here’s the question- who am I going to vote for?

First, in this election I don’t give a damn who the local candidate is. I haven’t attended a single discussion on the candidates, not a single forum, haven’t met them, haven’t gone to their campaign office to pick up literature.

Let me first say how much a departure that is for me.

Two federal elections ago I actually arranged a local forum of federal election candidates. (I went into the Liberal campaign office just set up and noticed a large calendar on the wall. It was almost filled but one day was free of meetings and forums. I picked up a marker, wrote in “forum” and the place, and phoned the other candidates saying the Liberal candidate had already committed to that date. (Which he had without my asking, because during a busy campaign, everyone is just going to go with what’s written on the calendar.)

So it’s very different for me not to seek out the local candidates and talk to them.

Why don’t I give a damn about local candidates in this election? They don’t matter. They are interchangable. Once in a while you get a great one, like our MP just leaving. No one is going to be able to fill his shoes.

So I’m voting for the party.

First to eliminate some choices. Bloc is out, of course. I’m in Alberta.

I just love Elizabeth May but, sorry Green Party, I’m not sending a vote your way.

Okay, that leaves the Conservatives, the Liberals and the New Democrats. That means, for the first time in my life in an election, particularly at this late hour- just two days before the vote- I am officially undecided.


I’m one of them.

The late great Richard Pryor had an epiphany he recounted for a crowd during his stand-up comedy act which had used a lot of foul language, including the “n” word. In fact, at one time Pryor’s act was saturated with the word.

In the video he describes for the audience a moment of a heartfelt realization that so moved him he wept. This video clip doesn’t show it, or say it, but the moment he is describing is actually during a visit to Africa. From that moment he describes, he disliked using the word “nigger” or having other people use it, and he explains why.

His act uses a lot of foul language, be warned if you choose to play the video.

I looked up the video clip a day or two after seeing some rather angry Republican crowds on other Youtube videos and in the mainstream television news. Not that they are angry Barak Obama is black, or his middle name is Hussein, or that he had attended a church lead by a minister who declared to his congregation, “God damn America.” They may be angry or they may be frustrated. I shouldn’t be interested, really, but it is somewhat alarming that there is that much pent-up frustation in this race for the White House.

But if anyone is thinking the “n” word (My Gawd, we gonna have a nigger in the Whaat Ha-ouse.) see Richard Pryor describing his epiphany. Apparently, it was quite a moment and what he is trying to get across comes through.

Here is a link to Pryor’s fan website. Careful, the site includes recordings of a time when he used the “n” word quite a bit. Don’t know who Richard Pryor is? Well, I guess you had to live during the time when he was a living icon. Here is the wikipedia link that briefly describes his life that ended in 2005.

Thank you for reading Aardvark Cola

There is a movie that I want to see. It is called I.O.U.S.A. Movie critic Roger Ebert wrote about it and has whetted my appetite for it.

Roger Ebert is my one of my favourite writers of whom I can only think of two at the moment, Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Steinbeck. Ebert is a mere movie critic. Emerson is the greatest American essayist. Steinbeck, the novelist, wrote about hardscrabble lives so poignantly you could choke on his dustbowl dust.

For a mere movie critic, Ebert seems to have a special window view into the human soul.

Some samples:

Ebert wrote the director of Immortal Beloved, a story on the life of Beethoven, “has created a fantasy about Beethoven that evokes the same disturbing, ecstatic passion we hear in his music.” I love that phrase. Beethoven’s music is powerful, but Ebert doesn’t write that. He calls it disturbing. Upon reflection, I agree. It is disturbing. Somehow I am grateful Ebert has pointed it out.

When I first saw Cool Hand Luke, I immediately thought it was a statement on the life of Christ. The scene with Paul Newman and George Kennedy toward the end, Christ (Newman) in the garden of Gethsemane, knowing his doomed end and seeing what a disciple cannot (Kennedy plays Dragline, a fellow prisoner in a brutal camp, a rival turned admirer). The last shot is a rural roadway intersection, a cross from the air, a scene that impressed me at the time as the final fitting symbol and epitaph of the struggle of Luke, with Dragline, describing Luke’s death as meaningful, not understanding that in Luke’s last tormented hours he was describing his life as futile and meaningless. Ebert writes of the movie: “When Luke collapses on a table after eating the eggs, he takes the posture of Christ on the cross. Yes, he is a Christ-figure, and on last night of the story, in a little rural church, he addresses his Father on the subject of whether he has been forsaken.” Ebert was the only one I know who saw what I saw in that movie.

I like honest, simple writing. I’m too often incapable of it. It is an art. Ebert can achieve it.

In describing his impression of the historical epic, Reds, I would have unearthed that film’s red raw guts to describe it. Ebert, instead, in describing how two Americans ended up in Russia during its revolution and becoming a communist state, included these two too-simple honest lines : “I liked this movie. I felt a real fondness for it.” I was dumbfounded. Two honest lines written so simply it is almost audacity in a review of a movie that provides that much scope.

Ace in the Hole, a Kirk Douglas film, portrays the worst of tabloid journalists, an asshole- there is no other word for him- manufacturing an event for his private ambitions by taking advantage of a trapped man in a mine, mercilessly keeping him there to increase suspense and public interest. It is a brutal movie, difficult to watch. Ebert wrote of the black and white film: “This story would curdle colour.”

Writing simply, with honesty makes admirable writing possible.

Now let me turn 180 degrees. There is no beauty in Ebert’s review of I.O.U.S.A. Instead, it is an unpretty letter of frank despair, addressed to his grandchildren.

He begins simply: “There is something called the “national debt.” In the movie’s interviews with ordinary people, it has a hard time finding anyone who knows exactly what that is. Well, I’ve never exactly known, either. I thought I knew, but it never came up in conversation..”

The national debt is $10 trillion.

Ebert writes he is getting it, he is beginning to understand what that means, and tells his grandchildren in his movie review: “What will this mean to you? It will mean you will live in a country no longer able to pay for many of the services and guarantees we take for granted. In 40 years, when you are still less than my age, it looks like the government will only be able to pay for three things: Interest on the national debt, “some” Social Security and “some” Medicare.”

He continues: “Here’s an interesting statistic. I remember when “Made in China” meant cheap and shabby merchandise. No longer. In the ranking of the trade imbalance among all the world’s nations, China is first with the highest surplus, and the United States is last with the largest deficit.”

Then concludes: “So here’s the bottom line, kids. The United States is probably going to go broke during your lifetimes. Actually, it’s already broke, but getting deeper into debt allows it to keep running on thin air, like the Road Runner. My advice? Learn Chinese. Start savings accounts. Don’t buy what you can’t afford. Any politician who tries to win votes by promising to cut taxes is digging our country’s grave.”

Anyway, I intend to see the movie.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, has been found by an Alaskan legislative panel to have abused her power in having her brother-in-law fired from his position as a state trooper.

The news can be expected to negatively impact the Republican chances in the November American general  election, which are already faltering.

For more, here is the Huffington Post story, a BBC News story written in Q&A style, and a post on the subject by the popular Alaska Mudflats blog, which covers much of issues regarding Palin.

With all the gloomy financial news, let’s hear Woody Guthrie sing ‘Dust Bowl Blues’.


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  • wordbeeps: No, he doesn't deserve an apology. Who tweets during a funeral? If you do, expect feedback. I didn't say the mourners were faking it. I think they we
  • Holly Stick: Look you fuckwit, are you too stupid to realise that Ghomeshi was an actual friend of Layton's, when you tweeted to him that the mourners were faking
  • aardvarkcola: Thank you. I see the rest of your message now. i'm honoured to to have your words on my blog. That alone is a delight. Lawrence