Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

the House is back

Parliament has reopened...without any bling. "old decisions must be rethought" is about as radical as Harper got, in the Governor General throne speech delivered by Michaelle Jean this afternoon.

no specifics. none of the Obama "we're all in this together", no discussion of how the government will regain our trust...and absolutely no mention of the bizarre way parliament closed in early December. there won't be any debate until tomorrow, when the much-hinted-at budget finally gets presented. the confidence vote could hit thursday. Iggy promises "a calm & serene" consideration of the budget. Layton is sticking to coalition talk...and the Bloc, eh bon, the Bloc will do what the Bloc will do.

i do hope it gets interesting.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

White House

President Barack Obama might want a map for his new Georgian Neoclassical address...the place has 132 rooms.

the original building was designed by James Hoban, an Irishman who may have based his contest-winning plan on Leinster House in Ireland (now home to the Irish Parliament).

NCWyeth painting

during the war of 1812, the building was burned down by British/Canadian soldiers...this is probably the only fact i have always remembered from my high school history class. the damage led to a white-washing of the stonework…which is why the building came to be known as “the White House”. the name became official in 1901 under Teddy Roosevelt.

to bring all this up-to-date, the Obamas have already chosen their decorator–Michael S. Smith from Santa Monica will redo the private rooms for the First Family. Smith is known for child-friendly combinations of formal antiques & more contemporary fabrics, which sounds like a sensible combo for the White House.

Michael S Smith interior

for their decor, the Obamas will be able to wade through the 40,000 sqft warehouse of White House furnishings; since the Kennedy administration, nothing has been thrown out. i wonder if that includes old holiday decorations?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Las Vegas, 1951

see those military men in the lower part of this picture? they were standing 6 miles from the atomic epicenter of the "Dog shot" of the 1951 Buster Jangle bomb test in Nevada...which was less than 100 miles from the city of Las Vegas.

i've been watching some completely crazy film shorts made during these Nevada atomic tests. the US army posted hundreds of soldiers to Nevada's Camp Desert Rock during this period; during tests, soldiers were told to leap from their foxholes and run TOWARDS the bomb.

mostly what happened (according to the documentary film footage) is they struggled against the dust and wind and the birds falling out of the sky. when they finally got out of their foxholes, they walked, looking a little dubious, towards the bomb site. afterwards, the army dusted them off with brooms. no joke.

(yes, that's Vegas Vic, with a 1950's atomic cloud in the background. no, it's not photoshopped.)

why am i studying all this? because i'm working on the final draft of a novel, Rats of Las Vegas; the storyline finishes in 1951, during these tests, and i want to get it right. because a person just can't make this shit up.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Globe Books

the Globe & Mail (like everybody else) is experiencing economic grief and has morphed its stand-alone Books section into a "greater web presence." today is the first example of the new the print edition, it's now incorporated into the paper, which saddens's Globe looks like a failing film actor, forced to go on a too-harsh diet, depressed, weak, lank-haired, coke-eyed...i can't bear to buy the poor thing today. it might take me weeks to go back to buying the Globe.

despite my aggravation at the stand-alone Books' demise, i'm going to try to read the Books home for the usual articles & reviews, plus a site for discussions, & Martin Levin's Shelf Life blog (old dogs, new tricks?)

instead of getting my Globe book dose on airplanes and subways, in cafes or in the bath, i'll be reading at my laptop. i'm trying to like it. really. i am, and my laptop is adjusting to the bagel seeds that keep getting stuck in the keys.

(here is Quill & Quire on why the Globe changed the Books section)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Snow in Paris

the Eiffel Tower was closed yesterday because of 10 cm of snow. which made me think of all those blue Eiffel Tower snow globes...

i actually love snow globes with the Eiffel Tower (well, i like snow globes with just about anything inside)--and before you turn up your nose at this essential tourist item, consider that the Eiffel Tower in a snow globe is an AUTHENTIC HISTORICAL ARTIFACT.
yep. French glassmakers claim to have invented the decorative glass paperweight in the 1800s; the glass globe was probably perfected by Central European artisans. and somewhere en route, an anonymous glassmaker created the snow globe. the trinkets were in production by the mid-1800s. but most historians consider the Eiffel Tower snow globe produced for the International Exhibition of 1889 as the first hot-selling example of the breed. (the image above is an 1889 snowglobe owned by Bergstrom Mahler Museum in Wisconsin.)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year

let's get this year on the road... a toast to those who left us in will not be forgotten
...and a most practical pair of work gloves for this year ahead.