August 29, 2008

Desperately Seeking A Sense of Humour

Oh ferchristsakes...a woman wrote a 'nanny wanted' ad on Craigslist. It was funny. Read it here.

Now, the NYT picked up the story, which I'm sure was her point all along (she wants to be a writer), and everyone is going crazy slamming her for being a terrible parent. Why? Because she's wealthy, lives in New York, has four kids, and wants some help with them. So?

Read the comments with the NYT piece - this country seriously needs a humour enema. Who the hell could raise 4 kids all day and not go nuts? Who wouldn't get a little help if they could afford it? My favourite line about this goes back years and years, to a self-righteous, self-centred myopic woman I once knew who used to respond to every mother's quest for help with the line "why have them if you don't want to raise them?". Yup. Far better you turn into an Andrea Yates, the mom-turned-stressed-out-crazylady who drowned her 6 kids after her wonderful husband walked out the door each morning, calling "I wanted 'em, you raise 'em" as he left. Sure she was nuts, but would it really have been so bad if she'd been able to ask for a little help?

The thing is, the ad is funny. It's satirical. I don't know the woman, maybe she's a totally self-serving bitch who really does just want a book deal. But I still think I'd rather have a coffee with her than any of the posters who are so sure they're doing a stellar job with their own kids.

August 27, 2008

Extra Column

I have an piece in today's Star about Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama.

Click here for a boo....

Bill C484 Tossed

Sure it's an election ploy, but thankfully the Harperites realized that the weasel wording of Ken Epp's bill had to go. While it had gathered steam for nearly a year, it will be replaced by a significantly more appropriate amendment to the criminal code. For the record, I'm not particulary thrilled by this reporters use of the term 'pro-abortion'. Nobody is pro-abortion.

August 25, 2008


This thing is getting bigger and scarier by the minute. As I type this, we have 12 deaths. This morning, there were 4.

Maple Leaf Foods has all hands on deck - there has been no back pedalling, no coy wording, just honest acceptance of their role in this. Small comfort for those affected, and this bacteria has a wicked ability to survive where most never could. We could be hearing far into the future of exposures - this thing can incubate for up to 70 days after consumption.

Here's a link to the recalled products. But I'll warn you - the list is growing by the minute. I'm chucking or returning anything under any of the listed brand names. Any maybe it's a warning to all of us to pay closer attention to ingredient lists - forget the processed stuff, take the extra steps, cook extra chicken or beef and make your own stuff for sandwiches. School starts next week - please clear out your fridges.

August 22, 2008

Live @ 5:30 Friday

Wondering why you can only watch Olympic events, even long after they've occurred, when the CBC decides you can? Are they not in the realm of 'news'? Tune in to hear the crazy restrictions set out by the IOC...

Video Gaming as a career? Oh, let my teen sons' hearts be still...

August 20, 2008

CHCH Live@5:30

I'll be guest hosting until the end of next week on Live@5:30, taking Donna's place for a bit. While I will do my best to parry with Mark in her absence, those are pretty smart pumps to fill.

I'll post topics here - but it's gonna be busy....

See you tomorrow for an extended run - and tune in and support your favourite columnist/blogger. Or me. Whichever.

August 19, 2008

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor

Noticed anything weird on websites you visit lately? Well, apart from the inherent weirdness of places you may visit that I don't want to know about.

The ads are getting more targeted. By that, I've started to notice this creepy personalization of ads, as if some ad exec is standing behind my chair, furiously taking notes of not just the sites I visit, but what I'm eating and drinking as I do so. And what I'm wearing. And what I'm watching on TV. And what I'm thinking of making for dinner. I mean, sometimes the ads seem to be ahead of me.

I'd finally gotten comfortable with pop ups asking if I'd like a larger penis. Well, you know what I mean. While I suppose a woman can suffer from erectile dysfunction in an indirect way, I at least knew that it was a blanket ad and I was merely a dolphin in the tuna net. The good old days of internet advertising.

But they're getting smarter, and it's making me more uncomfortable by the day. One day, there was a preponderance of ads for migraine drugs. How do they know I get migraines? Another day, every single one was trying to direct me a new diet - and I was having a fat day.

My search history is pretty boring, but even so, I don't really want anyone using it to draw up a profile of me. I mean, it includes everything from World of Warcraft, Imdb, the Mayo Clinc and Awful Plastic Surgery. What kind of conclusions can you draw from that? That I'm some psycho fantasy game playing wannabe actress with a nose job? (None of the above, for the record. You think I'd actually pay for this nose?)

This article in Slate explains some of it - browsers for sale. But unlike magazines selling subscription lists, this just seems more sinister. I learned not to order a damned thing through Future Shop on- line when I was deluged with crap spam within minutes of doing just that. And they own Best Buy, so consider yourself warned.

Right now some ad is asking if my teeth are too yellow. Oh, go away. If we're actually going to be chased by these hacks all the way to customized pimping, this medium reallly is being used only for evil.

About 6:00 the other night, some Swiss Chalet ad popped up. I paused - as usual dinner was not on the burner. But if they know us so well, they should know that since they changed their chicken pot pie to that crappy gravy, we don't eat there anymore. That, and the soggy fries.

I waited patiently for the next suggestion.


Meant to post this story sooner. Check out this house in Narragansat Bay, Rhode Island. The slide show with it is even more amazing.

Originally built in 1895, it had been abandoned and vandalised until it was purchased in 1961 by the current owner. He's turned it into an artist's colony, with everyone showing up each year to pitch in on renovations and maintenance.

Talk about a labour of love; I'm pretty handy with the power tools - wonder if they need an artist in residence who can't cook.

August 16, 2008

RV - Not The Movie

The first pieces are running today in the's the link to the main piece, and here's the link to a story of a fabulous guy we met in Nova Scotia.

There'll be more photos and stories after next Saturday (when the Spec travel runs another bit) in my Adventures section - if I can get Webgod Jeff into action to create a fitting tribute to the extravaganza.

August 15, 2008

"Go Long", She Said To The Poet

I often get cranky when it comes to poetry; while there are indeed poets who can take your breath away, I have always mostly come to the conclusion that the writing is far more inspirational to the writer.

Of course you're not supposed to admit that, any more than you're supposed to admit that art is in the eye of the beholder, that maybe ballet isn't your thing, or that opera hurts your ears. There have been moments I've alternately cried and been left cold by all of those disciplines.

But I came across this piece in the NYT that is just, perfect. The author, Dan Beachy-Quick is a poet, the note at the bottom tells me. But he did what I wish so many poets would do - he set the piece as a narrative, and in doing so, created the emotion that might have sadly eluded some had he only brushed the page with a few words.

He's writing about his young daughter, but as always when you write about your kids, you're ultimately writing about yourself.

Nice read.

August 14, 2008

Bill C484 Cont'd - EDIT

Thanks to everyone for all your letters. Your first-person stories are illuminating, and in many cases, heartbreaking.

The naysayers are equally welcome, of course. I'll continue to fight for rights you don't think others should have, and in some cases, I'm thinking, rights you don't yet know you're going to need.

This from Denise:
Thanks for shining a light on this -- can't believe it's past second reading
either. Interested readers can see Parliament of Canada website to follow

Click here for the link.

EDIT: Because so many of you have asked, here's a link to a petition.

August 13, 2008

CHCH Live@5:30 Wednesday

Tune in for a discussion about the current teacher's dispute, and whether or not your kid may be getting an even longer summmer. Like this rain hasn't made it seem long enough....

CHCH 11 at 5:30, repeat at 11:30.

August 12, 2008

With Thanks to Ira Nayman...

To supplement yesterday's this.

August 11, 2008

Pro Choice - For All of You

Well, that's been a fun day. You'd think I wrote something controversial or something, grabbing the abortion debate by the horns.

My mail has been mostly supportive, but I have to tell you, I am shocked and appalled at the fallout from the younger generation. I'm hearing from women in their eighties begging me to keep reminding people of what they went through to get our reproductive rights even to this precarious position (yes, the Supreme Court repeatedly overthrows making abortion a crime - but it is not enshrined in law). But 20-year-olds? You can tell they have always had a great many things to take for granted.

One of my favourite assumptions? That because I have a couple of kids, I could never see any pregnancy as anything but welcome. It's the other way around, folks. If anything, I know exactly what it means to have a child, and therefore tend to not romanticize or underestimate the commitment and sacrifice required. You don't get to change your mind when the going gets tough.

Equal rights are for everyone, not just women. Reproductive freedom means you can have a child if you choose, but shouldn't be forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy. Abortion as birth control is heinous. Late term abortions on a whim are vile.

But the most disturbing thing? The people that just don't get the political positioning on this whole issue. Conservatives - the ones who would readily, happily criminalize abortion - are also chopping funding for women's services - battered women's shelters, education, birth control (how's the 'abstinence only' stuff working for everyone?).

So to all you little twits who believe you are doing some noble thing by getting pregnant and keeping your baby, and you need tax dollars to raise it, be very careful whose policies you are supporting. And parents, talk to your kids. Boys and girls are each as culpable in the event of a teen pregnancy. Birth control is safe, effective, and, unless we follow the U.S. down the Stupid Path, readily available.

But if you choose to have a baby you can't afford, I will still advocate for programs to help your child, because that is what respecting your right to choose means - supporting you even if you make a decision that I wouldn't make for myself.

To those able to sidestep the rhetoric (please - calling someone 'pro-abortion'? Surely you jest...), I thank you. For those who so firmly believe they are wise enough to bring down their judgement on others, be careful what you wish for. Consider the fact that your mother, sister, wife or daughter has stared down this barrel. Yes, they have. I'll guarantee it.

August 9, 2008

I Heart Kwame

Unbelievable. John Edwards has made me love Kwame Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick is Detroit's trash- talking, custom-suit wearing 38-year-old wunderkind mayor. Elected on a platform of radical take-back-Detroit rhetoric that would make me use the word "gansta" (like that doesn't make me look like a ridiculous suburban mother of two) if I knew how to use it correctly. Which I'm sure I don't. But this rappin' pimped out Mayor of the People was considered a wave of change. Finally, a policitican who really was of the people, for the people, and by the people.

Well. The lad is sitting in jail. He (ab)used his power like any regular old political bully, lied about an - gasp - extramarital affair with a married aide, and continued to lie on the stand even when text messages (lord, how I've missed the current electronic revolution) proved him to be lying. That would be called perjury, Kwame. Get out your calculators as the charges add up faster than an a la carte menu.

Today comes news that he's also being charged with assaulting 2 police officers - a felony - who were trying to serve some friend of his with a subpoena. To rat him out. For anyone keeping score, that's a total of ten felony charges now.

And still, he won't surrender his office. He refuses. Perjury, assault, yup, my kind of guy. I'm not sure if this guy is a dumb as a bag of rocks - scratch that. It's the voters who really need to be inspected. Think I'm underplaying this? Read this link. It's the guy's Myspace page - read his interests. 'Cherry red Lincoln Navigators, strippers, closing down historical attractions, all-night bashes at the crib'.

Seriously. Two term mayor of one of the largest cities in the U.S. And one suffering one of the greatest financial meltdowns. And he likes strippers. And he doesn't read books.

And yet, I like him more than John Edwards now. Go figure.

You remember John Edwards. He didn't make it to the ring with Hillary and Barack. I liked his issues, I loved his wife, and I was willing to look past the fact that his hair looked like that. I mean, even he brought up the Ken doll reference - and Ken's hair is painted on. Anyway, unless you've on a dock with no internet (in which case I'm jealous) you will know he has finally verified that the National Enquirer is indeed the Paper of Record - he was boffing a campaign worker (or documentary maker, or whatever - some twit) who went on the record saying that "John Edwards is so willing to try new things - that's why I love him". Ah, live that down.

See, after the OJ Simpson stuff, the Enquirer proved right over and over. Whether they paid for info or not, they got to the truth long before any 'respected' paper did. And since most newspapers today do little more than tramp over the ground formerly reserved for trash tabloids anyway, I'm surprised anyone even bothers to give them the sniff test. They were right. Edwards finally owned up.

And then the spin started. His wife, who knows about the affair, was in remission. Which means that even though she now has an incurable cancer, and she once had a somewhat curable cancer, this affair was in the middle of all that, so it was more okay or less worse, depending on your view of cancer. Or sex. Or cads.

And that Inconvenient Infant the Enquirer has snaps of him visiting? It's not his. See, the timing is all wrong. It's not in the timing he admitted to his wife, which means it can't be his kid. That timing might have meant he was playing hide the hotdog with the mistress while he knew his wife was sick - and that would be unseemly. No, some poor sucker who works for him has stepped up to the plate to take the fall for the impregnation - some poor young married sucker who doesn't understand that rats are supposed to flee the ship, not stick around and pretend they're in the band.

But picture this unlikely scenario: The Boss is boffing the Documentarian. He decides not to anymore, but she sticks around. And the now some flunky of the Boss decides it's his turn.


Here's the thing: I don't give a rat's arse who's doing who. Couldn't care less. But if you choose to run for office, you will expose your family as well as yourself to all of this crap. So either be so clean you squeak, or throw all your junk on the table at the get-go. I've always really admired Elizabeth Edwards. She is smart, articulate and very savvy. So, if she knew about her husband's affair two years ago, why would she push him to proceed, knowing this secret would blow apart the Democrats chances if her husband had indeed been selected to run, as either President or Vice President?

Yeah, unbelievable, but I'll take Kwame and his shockingly ridiculous Myspace page over John Edwards. The bar is low enough for Kwame to step over. John is just stuck staring heavenward, wondering how he can reach a standard he can't even see anymore.

Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be politicians.

August 6, 2008

Arlene's Cuban Grilled Ribs Recipe

Some people on the Star site and in my mail have been asking for the recipe that almost killed me in last week's column. This is it, verbatim. Now you'll all know just how dumb Arlene thinks I am...and apparently with good reason:

Cuban Grilled Ribs

2 and a half cups orange juice
10 garlic cloves (minced)*
2 small jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped**
2 T. red wine vinegar***
1 t. each salt and pepper
2 lbs pork back ribs (prefer back ribs to side ribs as they are less fatty, though more expensive, but not really because you're not paying for fat)****
Vegetable oil

1. Pour all of the following into a large, wide saucepan (you'll need the cover, also, so while you're rummaging for the saucepan, grab its lid): orange juice, garlic, jalapenos, vinegar, salt and pepper - that would be pretty much everything.
2. Slice the ribs into 3- or 4- rib portions. (Do this from the back of the ribs as the divisions are much easier to see. Use a very sharp knife. Ask Ari for his.)
3. Place the ribs in the saucepan, pushing them down and arranging them so as much of the meat as possible is immersed. (Don't get your knickers in a knot if they're not all covered. See step #5.)
4. Put the lid on the saucepan, turn the heat on high and bring to a boil.
5. Now that the whole thing is boiling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer, partially covered, occasionally stirring and turning ribs. You should let them simmer for about 50 minutes.
6. Now that the 50 minutes is up, get your tongs and remove the ribs, placing them on something that will hold them when you take them out to barbecue them.
7. Get Ari to boil the sauce in the pan on high heat. Tell him that he has to keep stirring the sauce so that it doesn't stick and burn. When the sauce just glazes the wooden spoon, it's done. This should take about 10 minutes.
8. While Ari is busy with the sauce, you barbecue the ribs - just long enough to crisp them up and give them some barbecue flavour - about 10 minutes. This is where you use the vegetable oil. Just brush some oil on the ribs before you put them on the barbecue.
9. When the ribs and sauce are done, dump the ribs into the sauce and toss to coat or stir the whole mess together. You can then dump them in a large bowl and put them on the table, or you can just put the pot on the table and let them go at it. Allow them to double - dip into the sauce remaining in the bowl/saucepan.
10. You can serve the ribs with coleslaw or a salad. I wouldn't bother with anything else because they won't eat it anyway.

*You can buy a jar of minced garlic at the grocery store. (If you do, half a teaspoon of minced garlic = 1 clove.) If not, get Ari to use a garlic press. It will do the job just fine.

**I just used chili flakes. Adjust according to your family's preferences. Two teaspoons would be quite enough to make it very spicy.

***You can use red wine or balsamic vinegar - anything with a little flavour.

****I'm guessing with your men, I'd double the quantity of ribs, therefore you will need to double the amount of all the ingredients.

Cat's Back

Ah, sorry to break up the fun, kids...but I'm back. Webgod was right - Internet you get at a drive-thru (or, say, Rogers) is crap. We were pretty much unplugged the whole time.

We left the Maritimes (or most of it) pretty much as good as we found it. Which was awesome, by the way. If you've delayed a trip out east as long as I had, go. It is amazing. The RV was definitely an experience - you'll get to read more about it in the Star and the Spec in a couple of weeks. We got in last night - the hulk is still in the driveway, waiting to go back this morning.

First, I'd like to thank Jeff for a crackerjack posting. He told me he almost broke his hands trying not to swear, but his post was better than many of mine - and the comments were fun, too. Of course, all this took place behind my back, so I just discovered all of it when I got in. Oh, and only 4 things, Jeff? I'll give you guys a list on him a little later - ten, no problem.


We were without newspapers for the most part for the past ten days - which makes me like a junkie without a fix. My boys were without their Warcraft game, which makes them even worse. We're slowly readapting - kettle's boiling. More later.

*Oh, one other thing. I screwed up in the current Wheels column, and confused the town of Minett with Minden. I apologise for the sloppiness.

August 1, 2008

While The Cat Is Away, The Webgod Will Play...

Someone said she was "wired for blogging". That was a week ago. I had my doubts about that from the get go, wireless Internet is a finicky kitten. Lorraine asked if I would guest blog while she was away and although I originally declined, I grew tired of waiting for 'Ms. Free Trip in a RV' to post something. I figured if I was, then you probably were too. So here I am.

Lorraine and I had once talked about creating Letterman-ish Top Ten Lists about each other in the style of '10 Things You Didn't Know About..." and then posting them here. Seemed like a funny idea at the time, but after I thought about it I realized I couldn't come up with 10 things. So without further ado I give you...

Top 4 Things You Did Not Know About Lorraine Sommerfeld

  1. When she answers the door, she DOES NOT look like her picture above. Sultry, smiley, 'look at my hot red leather' girl is nowhere to be found and has been replaced by ponytail, baggy sweat shirt, 'look at my fuzzy slippers' woman. Who am I kidding, she doesn't even answer the door for me anymore, she just screams at me to come in.
  2. Has leopard skin carpeting on the stairs and claims she likes it.
  3. She uses her mouse upside down. The buttons are at the bottom. Up is down, down is up. It's a mess. Then she wonders why she has so many computer problems. No word of a lie, every time I sit down at her computer (to fix something) and that mouse is upside down, I want to rip it out and throw it at her.
  4. Once, while we were having lunch at a local establishment, she overheard a waitress talking about a customer who had skipped out on a bill. Knowing that the waitress would probably have to cover it out of her paycheque, she tipped her the total of the unpaid bill. Class act. (Note to self: Lorraine has money to burn - increase my fee)
That's it for me. Hope this holds you over until the real blogger gets back!