Weekly Reckoning: Peek Freans Edition

weekly-reckoningHave you ever tried to concentrate on putting together a web post but suddenly you’re interrupted by a craving for Peek Freans? Even though you don’t particularly like them? But then you start wondering about the name and why in the world anyone would call them Peek Freans? Then the phrase “Peak Freans” hits you and start thinking about Frean resources? Then “Freak Peens” pops into your brain and you start laughing at your computer? Fortunately this has never happened to me, but I can imagine the mental stress of the Freen-afflicted. Hang in there!


PUNDITS GONE WILD. It’s ‘Lection Day on November 4, which means that my favourite bad TV shows will be pushed into next week by the juggernaut of American democracy. Here’s an enjoyable wonky piece on how these elections play in the political funhouse of Louisiana.


NOBODY LIKES JIAN. Last Sunday, the CBC announced that it was firing Jian Ghomeshi. On Monday the Toronto Star ran a story detailing the experiences of several women who had been assaulted by Ghomeshi, painting a picture of a psychologically damaged sexual predator incapable of understanding consent and utterly without compunction about his acts. His PR firm dropped him, speaking and hosting engagements (including the Giller Prize) dried up, and friends and associates (see Owen Pallett’s piece for a particularly powerful response) began to speak up. Teddy bear references appeared. More women came forward, including ones who are talking to the Toronto Police.  Now his former band mates from Moxy Fruvous have released a statement, and let’s just say that it’s not overflowing with support for Ghomeshi. I can’t imagine what next week is going to bring.

STOP HARVESTING! STOP IT RIGHT NOW. Harvest operations are 99 per cent complete in Saskatchewan, which means that you can stop harvesting right this moment, bub. Hop off your harvesters and run screaming through the naked fields, sacrificing your vocal cords to the corn king who dances through the sheaves in the dim autumn light. You’ve earned it.


Weekly Reckoning Of The Week of Reckoning Every Week Edition

weekly-reckoningHello! It’s time to reckon with things. Lucky for us, Pope Gregory XIII straightened out time for us with his handy calendar that lets us reckon on a weekly basis. Let’s get started. Which is really to say, let’s continue.

1. BREAKING: CBC DUMPS JIAN GHOMESHI What? CBC announced today that it is ‘ending its relationship’ with Jian Ghomeshi, host of Q. CBC won’t disclose the circumstances behind the decision, but Ghomeshi is planning to sue the Corpse for a nice $50 million, citing bad faith and breach of confidence. I have no idea what went on behind the scenes or who may be in the right, but I will say this much: CBC, you had one celebrity.

EDITED TO ADD: It’ll probably emerge that Ghomeshi has been doing some truly awful things, which will make my comments look insensitive and glib.

UPDATED: Ghomeshi posts an extremely detailed defence on Facebook.

2. WHO NAMES A RACCOON DENNIS ANYWAY Actually, I have the answer for that: Saskatoon resident Wendy Hook is the mysterious raccoon-namer and -keeper. Unfortunately, the labyrinth of Saskatoon bureaucracy has no provision for raccoons as pets. The Hooks have been pleading with the city, but it doesn’t appear likely that they’ll be able to keep Dennis around. Pity the Hooks and their pet Dennis, with his undoubtedly ridiculous little raccoon hands.

3. KULTUR MACHT SPASS Don Delillo, author of the po-mo classic White Noise, reviews eight seconds of white noise from Taylor Swift.

4. “THERE MAY BE TWO KINDS OF FEMALE ORGASM AFTER ALLThis is the sort of headline I will always click on.

5. WHO WILL PROP UP OUR BOOM-FUELLED JINGOISTIC MUNICIPAL FANTASIES NOW? The Roughriders keep losing games. Come on, Riders. We can’t go back to those pre-boom underdog days. Regina is a world-class something something. We can’t build a brand new stadium to house humiliation.



Weekly Reckoning: When You Reckon With The Week You Get The Reckoning Edition

weekly-reckoning1. STATE-SANCTIONED DEATH ISN’T CHEAP AND IT ISN’T TRANSPARENT. Everyone who’s anyone agrees that if you’re going to be sentenced to death by the State, the state to do it in is Oklahoma. If you end up getting shuffled off to their lethal injection chamber, you can rest assured that they’ve spared no expense in providing you with a state-of-the-art, $100,000 end-of-life experience. It’s now very unlikely that you’ll spend 43 minutes dying horribly on the gurney. Even more reassuringly, you won’t have to put with nearly as many nosy journalists; the new chamber provides only five seats for the press, down from the previous chamber’s 12.

2. REMEMBER THOSE PROTESTS IN FERGUSON? THEY’RE STILL GOING ON Thousands of protesters marched through Ferguson on Saturday to decry police violence and the broken system of law enforcement that allows uniformed police to shoot black youth in the street, leave their bodies in the sun and suffer no meaningful consequences. Meanwhile, I went for breakfast this morning at a golf club where I overheard three white guys make jokes about Martin Luther King Day, because they were dirtbags.

3. A LITTLE MORE EBOLA FOR YOU ALL. A health care worker in Texas who treated Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan has Ebola.

4. WHATEVER THE FUTURE HOLDS, HE’S NOT GOING TO OKLAHOMA. Oscar Pistorius, the girlfriend-murdering athlete who murdered his girlfriend in about as murdery a way as possible, may face the harshest punishment of all. Wait, he may face a suspended sentence or a fine. But we don’t know yet. It’s all about the intricacies of the South African legal system, which none of knows us a thing about, really. Is this even news? I just like a bit of outrage in the afternoon.

5. VICE IS INHERENT AND LOOKS PRETTY HILARIOUS. Here is the trailer for P.T. Anderson’s adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel Inherent Vice. Come for Joaquin Phoenix’s muttonchops, stay for Josh Brolin’s flattop.


Weekly Reckoning: Troublesome Edition

weekly-reckoningTROUBLE. Hear me, people. There is trouble. Rhymes with rubble and tastes even worse (rubble tastes like McDonald’s). Are you troubled by this influx of trouble? You should be. It’s troubling.

1. HEY DO YOU LIKE TWILIGHT? WELL TOO BAD Rob Bricken of io9.com seems optimistic, but I can’t see how, because the Twilight franchise, that godawful horde of books and films that made the last decade so painful to experience, is coming back in the form of a short-film competition for women filmmakers. Actually, this seems like the best possible way to revisit Twilight: a series of short imaginative takes on the world created by Stephenie Meyer, and not a money-fuelled juggernaut rolling over our screaming souls.

2. IS YOUR SPERM SECOND-RATE? HAVE A DRINK. NO, WAIT A recent study has determined that even moderate alcohol use can result in low-quality sperm. And carbonated water makes your sperm all jumpy-like.

3. A BOX OF FLUFFY PUPPIES? YES Greg Zubiak was out walking in a field near Glaslyn when he found a box of 20 puppies! Yay! They’d been abandoned and left to contend with coyotes and the cold. Boo. But he gathered them up and took them to the Battlefords Humane Society! Yay! They’re stretched pretty thin right now with the sudden influx of fluffy puppies, so the Battlefords Humane Society is looking for donations of time, money and teddy bears, because tiny puppies need to cuddle with teddy bears, which is the world’s most adorable fact.

4. HOW’S THAT EBOLA DOING? GREAT, THANKS FOR ASKING Africa continues to be ravaged by the worst Ebola outbreak in history, with 3,400 dead so far and the disease neatly outpacing anyone’s ability to keep up. Meanwhile, the lone US patient is “fighting for his life” in Texas.

5. YOU THOUGHT THE HONG KONG PRO-DEMOCRACY PROTESTS WERE A GOOD THING THAT POINTED THE WAY TOWARDS A BETTER FUTURE, BUT REALLY THEY’RE JUST TROUBLE, ACCORDING TO A WIRE SERVICE HEADLINE I guess some “Hong Kong residents” are pushing back against the “protesters” (who aren’t residents?) and the police are the voice of reason? Hmm. The story mentions that the protests are hurting business, which I guess is more important than democracy and human rights now. This is going to end up like Tiananmen Square back in 1989, when pro-democracy protesters really slowed down tanks, sort of.

Weekly Reckoning: Blonde Revision Edition

weekly-reckoningApparently Elvis had blond hair. Please retrofit your memories accordingly.

1. JUPITER’S GREAT RED SPOT IS SHRINKING  One of the most amazing space facts of my childhood involved the Great Red Spot of Jupiter. I read all about it: a permanent storm, an angry red pustule on the skin of the largest planet, a reminder of unimaginable cosmic fury. Apparently it’s not as permanent as I was led to believe, because it’s been shrinking noticeably and changing shape over the last few decades. Who fed me the lie of the eternal storm of Jupiter? Was it Carl Sagan? Probably Carl Sagan.

2. DON’T MILLENNIALS UNDERSTAND RACISM?  Hah hah, millennials are dumb. Dumb like gravy. And racist! They’re racist because they think that thinking and talking about racism is racist, and that empty platitudes about equality constitute a serious statement about the world. Those millennials should all just go back where they came from, which I suppose is the luminous void of eternity. No, I kid. Millennials are needed to replenish our dwindling supply of cranky old racists.

3. GODZILLA 4EVER  After a ridiculously huge opening weekend, a Godzilla sequel is already in the works. Not bad for Gareth Edwards, who had all of one low budget feature to his name before this monster of a monster movie. You can read Jorge’s review of the film right here on the Dog Blog.

4. THESE PEOPLE AGAIN  The Royal Family just can’t get enough of Canada. And we can’t get enough of those long-faced castle dwellers who incarnate the foundations of our law and government.

5. NORTH KOREAN EXECUTION ONLY TEMPORARY  Remember the story about the former girlfriend of Kim Jong Un getting executed by firing squad? Apparently they’re really cutting corners on death sentences these days, because she just appeared on television. Granted, it’s possible to record someone as an electrical signal on magnetic tape and reproduce that signal at a later date, thereby granting the recordee a form of crippled immortality, but that appears not to be the case here. The lesson here is that North Korea is weird and that we can’t believe any news that comes out that vortex of totalitarian unreality.

Weekly Reckoning: Hatful Of Reckoning Edition

weekly-reckoningGood afternoon. Your Reckoning begins… now. No wait. NOW. Hold on a sec, I’m just figuring out this here AutoReckon-5000 I got off of eBay… you know, you can start reckoning whenever you want.

1. HOW YOU KNOW IT’S THE 21ST CENTURY Austria’s Conchita Wurst, a bearded drag performer, won the 58th Eurovision Song Contest with the tune “Rise Like a Phoenix.” Yay! Also, can the Eurovision Song Contest be done now?

2. HEEEEEEEE’S GONE  Lee Marshall, newscaster, radio deejay and the voice of Tony the Tiger (the second person to play the character after Thurl Ravenscrof), has died at the age of 64.

3. A HEARTWARMING MOTHER’S DAY STORY WITH SOME HORRIFIC DETAILS  Imagine being reunited with your daughter after seven decades! Because you’d given her up for adoption! After being raped by “a stranger in the woods.” Well, let’s move past that to the bit where mother and daughter are reunited at the respective ages of 102 and 77. Happy Mother’s Day!

4. CANADA, CANADA, CANADA. “Woo hoo!” said Team Canada as they headed into the World Hockey Championships against France. “Uh, whoops,” they said later, after they’d lost 3-2. “What the hell?” said Canadian hockey fans, who still dream of Paul Henderson picking up Esposito’s rebound and sending those Commie hockey rats packing back in 1972.

5. WE ARE OFFICIALLY LIVING IN THE DARKEST TIMELINE  Community, the greatest show on broadcast television, has been cancelled by NBC after five weird seasons. From a Wes Andersonesque pilot about a group of misfits at a community college to a bizarre free-for-all of genres and ideas (examples: a Goodfellas parody about cafeteria chicken fingers, a paintball game that turns into five hundred action films, a clip show that featured only new footage), Community ruled. Except in the fourth season, when showrunner Dan Harmon had been fired and a pale parody of the show popped up in its place. That season never happened.

Weekly Reckoning: You Won’t Believe What’s Reckoned Next Edition

weekly-reckoning‘Sup? I found two beetles on my kitchen floor this morning as I was sweeping up. One of them scuttled for the corner but the other ran straight into the dustbin, which gave me little choice but to dump him into the garbage along with everything else. That’s evolution in action, folks. One will go on to found a line of successful Corner Beetles, the other a genetic dynasty of insects that enjoy hanging out in little piles of coffee grounds and cat hair. Anyway, let’s reckon with a few things.

1. GRAVE OF E.T. DISCOVERED  One of the most enduring stories in videogame history appears to be true after all. Back in the early ’80s, Atari’s legendarily awful E.T: The Extra Terrestrial tie-in game was rushed to market in order to take advantage of the movie’s popularity. The game proved to be so unplayable that thousands of unsold copies were said to have been dumped in a concrete-covered landfill somewhere in New Mexico. Well what do you know.

2. APPARENTLY BEATING WOMEN IS ALL PART OF THE AMERICAN DREAM  Entrepreneur and woman beater Gurbaksh Chahal, who was caught on video hitting  his girlfriend 117 times over the course of a half-hour, managed to escape jail time but has been booted from the board of his company. His defense, apparently, is that he “lost his temper” becasue  his girlfriend was sleeping with other people for money. That’s right, the old “I didn’t do it and anyway she was a whore so if I did happen to beat her brutally, you understand” defense. To sum up: Bam*117=Justified. He also mentions the American Dream for some reason.

3. AT LEAST YOU CAN’T PUT A COPYRIGHT ON IRONY  I keep on coming back to this story because I can’t quite believe it. But here it is anyway: publishers Lawrence & Wishart are claiming that the Marxist Internet Archive is infringing on the company’s intellectual property by hosting works from the 50-volume “Marx Engels Collected Works.” I would have thought that Marx and Engels’ writings would have passed into the public domain long ago, but intellectual property and copyright is a tangled and thorny issue, and most attempts to navigate through it end up in torn clothes and deep scratches and insect bites. The Archive has promised to delete all the offending texts by May 1, which some of you may know as International Workers Day. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go cry into my means of production.

4. WHOOPS  It seems that some of the bodies sent home to families after the South Korean ferry disaster were, um, not the right bodies.

5. INCREASINGLY EFFICIENT CHURCH REPORTS 100% INCREASE IN WEEKEND CANONIZATION RATES  Pope Paul XXIII and John Paul II were canonized this weekend. John Paul II celebrated by killing a guy.

BONUS FOOTWEAR SIGHTING  I saw this shoe on a fence on 14th Avenue yesterday. Better claim it if it’s yours.

through the fence

Weekly Reckoning: Three-day Recharge Edition

weekly-reckoningWelcome everyone! It’s a turkey kind of day in which we all celebrate the horrific death and miraculous return of Jesus. It’s the day when we hide candy and chocolates around the house in the hope that the Son of God will show up to collect them, whereupon we can trap him and drag the secret of resurrection from his weary body. As usual, though, children descended on the hidden treats and carried them off to their nests of blanket scraps and spring bracken. Stupid kids.

Of course, that’s only if you’re Christian. Secular types take the weekend to commemorate the death of Officer Alex J. Murphy and his rebirth as Robocop.

1. GOODBYE ALASTAIR MACLEOD  One of Canada’s greatest writers died this weekend at 77. MacLeod was born in North Battleford and grew up in Nova Scotia (aka. “watery Saskatchewan”). He published three collections of short stories and one novel. At my wedding, my father quoted from MacLeod’s work and the words were so simple, clear and beautiful that they were almost impossible to hear. If Jesus returns this Easter Sunday, I picture him passing MacLeod on the way and stopping for a while, just for the pleasure of his company.

2. ALSO, HAPPY 4/20 DAY  In a delightful twist sure to make certain people very happy, Easter Sunday falls on April 20 this year, or 4/20 Day, which is everyone’s day to celebrate the healing/relaxing/whatevering powers of cannabis. Pro-marijuana activists hit Parliament Hill today to promote pro-pot policy and generally do their thing, which is smoke marijuana (read prairie dog’s “The State of Pot 2014” for some excellent coverage of the topic). One day, and I think it’ll be soon, people will shake their heads in amazement that people ever had to rally to promote marijuana usage. They’ll also shake their heads because the air will be so thick with pot smoke that no one will be able to see. That’s right, hippies: marijuana cigarettes will make you go blind.

3. BACK IN BLACK, ORPHAN-STYLE  Is this news? I’m not sure, but the second season of Orphan Black, starring Regina’s Tatiana Maslaney, Tatania Maslaney, Tatania Maslaney, Tatania Maslaney and Tatania Maslaney, premiered last night and it was probably the best episode yet. Everyone agrees with me because I’m right. I look forward to upcoming guest appearances from Tatiana Maslaney.

4. LITERALLY THE BEST NEWS I’VE HEARD TODAY  If you’re an unforgiving grammar jerk like me, you can’t handle the endless misuse of the word “literally” (on the other hand, you may be the forgiving kind, choosing to see it as an example of linguistic exuberance), there’s a Chrome browser extension that will turn every instance of “literally” into “figuratively.” I am literally imagining this right now.

5. A POSSIBLE CANDIDATE FOR IMMORTALITY Do you, like me, suspect that Queen Elizabeth may never die? That she simply sheds old bodies and climbs into new ones, and by that method has ruled over Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Normans for the last millennium? Anyway, her current shell turns 88 tomorrow.

Weekly Reckoning: Too Much Showgirls Edition

weekly-reckoningGood afternoon. I write to you from what remains of my crumbled psyche. Last week I read a book on Showgirls, Paul Verhoeven’s softcore exploitation film from 1995. The book maintains that Showgirls doesn’t suck (the book is even titled It Doesn’t Suck). So I sat down and watched it. Then I watched the 2012 sequel Showgirls 2: Penny’s from Heaven, which posits that the world of dance is secretly controlled by sleazy Theosophists.

The book is wrong, by the way: that film sucks.

1. A PATHOGEN IN EVERY POT  Feeling comfortable? Good. Here’s a terrifying article about diseases escaping from labs.

2. AND A VAGINA IN EVERY PATIENT  Are you bummed out over being biologically female but born without a vagina? Worry no more! Scientists have successfully grown and implanted four vaginas using the patients’ own cells, and everything seems hunky dory so far.

3. LET’S MAKE A VENN DIAGRAM OUT OF THIS ONE  If you’re wondering whether you like booze, first ask yourself if you’re a Saskatchewan resident. Chances are, one positive answer will entail the other. Now go buy more booze and keep this economic boom going.

4. TWO HOUSES, COMPLETELY UNALIKE IN DIGNITY  On Buzzfeed, Drew Philp explains at fascinating length why he bought a house in Detroit for $500; meanwhile, Thomas Frank blames America’s domestic and foreign policy woes on suburban McMansions. And he’s right. Those houses suck more than Showgirls.

5. FINALLY, A REASON TO STAY UP LATE ON TUESDAY  Don’t go to bed after The Tonight Show on Tuesday. Why? Celestial magic, that’s why. We naked apes of the sublunar plane will be witness to the massive clockwork of the cosmos when the moon, earth and sun align, transforming the moon into a baleful orange eye staring down at us in pitiless judgment. We call it a lunar eclipse and it gets going around 2:00 a.m. EDT.

Weekly Reckoning: The Captain America Sequel Was Pretty Cool Edition

weekly-reckoningAnd that’s how you review a movie in the title of a blog post (for a proper review, read Jorge’s take on Captain America in the current issue). On with the aggregation, which fulfills the Internet’s function as a gigantic virtual washing machine that agitates and agitates the information without ever quite getting the stuff clean.

1. MAYBE WE’LL GET TO VIEW ALL OF THE POPE’S DOODLES IN THE MARGINS OF HIS ZANE GREY PAPERBACKS The Vatican Apostolic Library, which has taken notice of that thing of which Peter Mansbridge once said, “it’s called Internet,” is digitizing an impressive 41 million pages of documents from its library. That’s 82,000 manuscripts, people.

2. NATURALIST PETER MATHIESSEN RETURNS HIS COMPONENTS TO NATURE Peter Mathiessen, who wrote some of the greatest books on nature (as well as some kick-ass novels) I’ve  been had the pleasure of reading, died on Saturday at the age of 86. He’s probably best known for The Snow Leopard, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse and the novel At Play in the Fields of the Lord.  You can read some of his work for free right over at The New Yorker.

3. OMG GUYZ TEH SEX ON TEH CABLE TEVELISHUN Salon.com, the once informative and enjoyable site now reduced to a species of dreary leftist clickbait, is worried about all the sex on the new season of Game of Thrones. To be fair, the article seems as weary of the topic as the rest of us. But there’s an interesting notion buried in the article about the creative latitude involved in adapting George R.R. Martin’s work (which can be summarized thusly: “Can we stage this scene with everyone naked? How about just the woman naked? Can we turn it into a bloodbath then? Okay.”).

4. CHANCES ARE YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A COMPLETE JOKE OF A PRESIDENT George W. Bush, who is not done embarrassing us all with his presence on Earth, has  started painting portraits of world leaders, including Vladimir Putin, Tony Blair and Angela Merkel.

5. BUT WHAT ARE THOSE SEASHELLS FOR? This isn’t news, exactly, but I’m fascinated by Japanese toilets and their advanced butt-cleaning technology. So is the author of this article. Maybe he’s a little too fascinated? You be the judge. Maybe North Americans are too horrified by excretion to lend additional pleasure and comfort to the act.

Weekly Reckoning: God Pities Phelps Edition

weekly-reckoning1. FRED PHELPS ABOUT TO DISCOVER WHAT GOD HATES Fred Phelps, notorious (former) leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, is dying in a hospice in Topeka. According to his son Nathan, who now works with LGBTQ organizations, Phelps was excommunicated from the church in 2013. Now he’s dying alone, without family or the organization he once led.

2. LET’S GET DRUNK IN A HOUSE HAUNTED BY GUILT The Winchester Mystery House, a crazy California mansion built expressly to confound ghosts, is now open for overnight . Sarah Winchester built the 6-acre, 160-room maze of false doors and staircases in order to confuse the spirits of people killed by Winchester guns. And now you can hang there! And get loaded! Truly we live in an age of wonders.

3. AND TAKE SOME DEAD SOLDIERS’ DIARIES FOR READING MATERIAL You may recall from last week’s Reckoning that 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the Great War. To commemorate the occasion, the UK National Archive and Imperial War Museum released the diaries of nearly 4,000 soldiers.

4. ANOTHER CREEP BRAVELY SORT OF DENIES HIS CREEPHOOD The predatory and altogether horrible photographer Terry Richardson, noted for his porny photos of celebrities and hilarious hijinks like ejaculating on his models, has taken a stand against the young women who’ve called him out on his behaviour. Good for you, Terry. Don’t let the haters who know the difference between provocative portraiture and masturbating on your subjects get you down.

5. THE FAILURE OF FACEBOOK “Facebook gets worse the more you use it.” And in one sentence, the author nails the intractable problem with Facebook: that it becomes spammier and less useful as you continue to use it, and that it’s not a bug but an inherent property of the service. I feel that you can get a decent Facebook experience if you manage it carefully, but the piece describes something about the network that I’ve been trying to formulate for a while.

Weekly Reckoning: Stay Inside Or Freeze Your Eyeballs Edition

weekly-reckoningYes, it’s cold. This is not news. It’s an ongoing and eternal condition. This lousy weather trumps your verb tenses and freezes all time into an unchanging lattice of stilled space-time. But in the meantime, there’s the Internet.

1. SOME SORT OF SELF-SERVING MEDIA CELEBRATION IS GOING ON That’s right! It’s Oscar night! Celebrities are putting on their Oscar hats, having their teeth fitted with Oscar grills and wearing the skins of past Oscar winners. You can watch it on TV, but I prefer the snark-laden live blog on Deadline Hollywood, which usually collapses in a heap of disgust before the night is over. Unlike previous years, Nikki Finke won’t be providing the commentary, so it may be a little more measured. If schadenfreude’s your thing, check out The Razzie Awards and find out who took home a Golden Raspberry.

2. NO CANADIAN BOOTS ON THE GROUND FOR UKRAINE John Baird, who isn’t winning any awards for being our cuddliest politician, ruled out military intervention in Ukraine, even though he’s not afraid to make noise about possible diplomatic sanctions.

3. IT’S LIKE HERDING ONE-EYED CATS Before R&B music was absorbed by the musical establishment like delicious sauce being swiped up by a big bland white towel, it could get pretty filthy. Here is a guide to the salacious, smutty and downright obscene music of early R&B.

4. LASER-POWERED MIND CONTROL Scientists. Using lasers. To make a fly copulate with a ball of wax. SCIENCE.

5. FAITH-BASED SEX LAWS DOING AN END-RUN AROUND JUSTICE In Phoenix, prostitutes have been subject to mass detainment without a formal arrest or access to a lawyer. Instead of jail, they’re taken to… a church. Where they’re lectured on the evil of their ways in a “diversion program,” the alternative to which is jail time. Read this piece and weep (warning: really obnoxious and pervy American Apparel ad running on the page).

Weekly Reckoning: Victory Lap Edition

weekly-reckoning1. WE WON. I say “we” won because I literally played in the Canadian Men’s Hockey team and scored at least one of the goals that ended in a 3-0 score in a game in which Canada just kept the puck the hell away from those nasty, greedy Swedes (video autoplay warning). Am I Jonathan Toews? Sidney Crosby? The other one? No, I’m the astral body of Guy Lafleur.

2. UPDATE YER IPHONES, FOLKS. A major security flaw has been identified in iOS devices that could allow “hackers” and “hacktivists” to read your “important emails,” because god knows the world is full of electronic sneaks who want to intercept your lunch plans with that vaguely racist guy from accounts receivable. Anyway, if you think you’re important enough, there’s an update available for your many devices.

3. WHAT’S WHATSAPP ANYWAY? By now everyone knows that Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion. But what exactly is WhatsApp? And why does Robert Reich think that WhatsApp is everything that’s wrong with the US economy? I feel that it’s everything wrong with app naming, but maybe that’s just me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to develop WheresBeef, the newest app for locating your nearest butcher or cow.

4. FALL DOWN EVERY MOUNTAIN, DROWN IN EVERY STREAM. The last of the singing von Trapp family has died at 99.

5. TAKE THAT, PIERRE TRUDEAU. The Alberta Court of Appeal has ruled that its laws do not need to be printed and published in English and French. The ruling came down over a fight involving a decade-old parking ticket.

Weekly Reckoning: Reckon To The Max Edition

weekly-reckoningThis week, there’s no stopping the Weekly Reckoning. It’s totally extreme. It’s taking reckoning TO THE LIMIT.


1. LET’S PRIDE. Saskatchewan flies the pride flag. Way to go. Regina is still not flying the pride flag, because why respect and support human rights unless absolutely given no other choice? This has been written about already on the Dog Blog, but it bears repeating. Oh, and that Leader-Post  currently stands at 84 per cent bigot.

2. COME BACK TO THE iOS, FLAPPY BIRD, FLAPPY BIRD. Flappy Bird, the mobile game that no one can stop playing, is no longer available on Google Play or Apple’s app store. The success of the game has ruined creator Dong Nguyen’s life. So there you go. Sometimes even $50,000 per day in ad revenue isn’t worth it.

3. LET’S PRIDE SOME MORE. There are six out LGBT athletes participating at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, and one of them just won gold. Congratulations, Ireen Wüst of the Netherlands.

3. DANISH CHILDREN TREATED TO LIVE GIRAFFE EXECUTION, DISSECTION. I’m not kidding. This weekend the Copenhagen Zoo killed and dissected Marius, a healthy two-year-old male giraffe, in front of a live audience. The zoo carried out the act in order to prevent inbreeding (apparently Marius’ genes are overrepresented in the captive giraffe population), despite a petition and offers from other zoos to shelter the genetically unremarkable animal. The dissected carcass was then fed to lions – again, in front of an audience. The article contains some fairly graphic images.

THE LAST BEST WORD (SO FAR) ON THE NEAR-FUTURE DYSTOPIAN HELLHOLE KNOWN TO THE WORLD OF SOCHI. See if you can figure out whether these images are Sochi hotel rooms or contemporary art installations (It’s actually not too difficult to figure out which is which, especially since the bizarre hotel pics have been circulating for a few days now, but it’s fun to think of Sochi as a gigantic Russian art piece work that people ended up inhabiting because it was no worse than anywhere else in Russia).


Weekly Reckoning: Carrot Top Edition

weekly-reckoningNo, there’s nothing new to report about Carrot Top. I just wanted to remind you that we live in a world where Carrot Top exists. Not much we can do about it, so let’s just carry on.

1. IT’S TIME TO ADMIT THAT APPLE KNOWS WHAT IT’S DOING WITH ITS iPHONE BUSINESS. Oh, I see you there, laughing at Apple and poo-pooing the 5C. But now you have to admit that Apple was right all along! HAHAHAHHHAAAA oh who cares.

2. ROGER AILES MOVES TO A TINY TOWN IN UPSTATE NEW YORK, TERRIFYING THINGS ENSUE. Here’s a story about the head of Fox News and what happened when he tried to reproduce his peculiar brand of American fantasia in the town of Garrison, New York. Read this story – it lays out the entitlement and paranoia of the ultra-rich in fascinating detail. Ailes comes off like a tin-can William Randolph Hearst in his attempts to control the editorial direction of the local paper, which he transformed from a glue-and-scissors weekly into a conservative rag.*

3. ONCE AGAIN, MAGNETS MAKE US FEEL BETTER. Chief psychiatrist for the Regina-Qu’Appelle health region, Dr. Dhanapal Natarajan, is feeling pretty good about a machine that uses magnets to “induce changes inside the brain that result in improvement of the depression and anxiety symptoms.” It’s being promoted as an “add-on therapy” for sufferers of depression. If magnets can help us overcome the creeping suspicion that we’re leading ghastly imitations of real lives in the 21st century, then I’m all for it. Bring on the brain-altering waves. Or you could just look on the bright side, like Shae Therrien here.

4. DON’T DRINK THE TAP WATER. A state of emergency has been declared in West Virginia, where a chemical spill has left 300,000 people without drinkable water. A foaming agent used in coal processing leaked from a 40,000 gallon tank. Freedom Industries (really?), which owns the coal processing plant, has issued an apology. Residents are currently experiencing freedom from having to drink the local water, bathe in it, or wash their clothes with it. They can still flush their toilets, though.

5. CHEWBACCA WAS GIVEN A CAMERA. YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HE DID NEXT. Actually you will believe it: he took tons of behind-the-scenes Star Wars photos. Peter Mayhew, the once and (fingers crossed) future Wookiee, has been posting photos that he took on the set of Star Wars movies. I hope someone can explain Mark Hamill’s weird floral shirt.

*I’ve never written the phrase “conservative rag” before. That was fun.

Weekly Reckoning: The Hot Button Edition

Weekly ReckoningDon’t touch those buttons! They’re hot.

1. THE FUTURE IS DARK AND STORMY.* Increasingly lousy weather is one of the most easily observable and predictable effects of climate change. Oceans heat up, moisture increases, storms a-brew. Even Toronto Hydro had this one figured out. A 2012 study predicted increased incidence of storms, ice storms, rain storms, dark skies, massive charges of electricity leaping between the earth and heavens, that kind of thing. So Torontonians should buckle down, because power interruptions, fallen trees and ice coating everything like a crystal skin are here to stay.

2. RACIST BABE. Remember the early ’90s, when folk music got a jolt of energy from musicians like Ani DiFranco? I first saw her over 20 years ago playing “Both Hands” at one of the workshop stages at the Winnipeg Festival. She blew everyone else off the stage (with the possible exception of Greg Brown, who’d keep his cool in a tornado). Anyway! DiFranco has re-entered the zeitgeist, because she’s holding a retreat for fans at… a plantation. You know, one of those grand old Southern mansions where black people were reduced to the status of cattle (even though Nottoway Plantation would prefer not to tackle that topic). The backlash has been swift but ongoing, with former fans castigating DiFranco and one of the featured musicians respectfully backing out of the retreat. But if you like DiFranco and don’t care about racist things, buy a ticket, because “there’s room in the circle for everyone.” That is, everyone who a) isn’t bothered by the gaudy status symbols of slavery and b) has anywhere from $1100 to $4000 to plunk down on a mind-expanding good time.

UPDATE: Ani DiFranco has cancelled the event. She also released a long, thoughtful, considerate, self-justifying statement on Facebook in which she neglected to actually say that she was sorry.

3. THE DREADED D’S. Phil Robertson, the douchetastic dickhead of Duck Dynasty, has been reinstated on his show. He’s the biggest draw on A&E’s biggest show, so if you were looking for further proof that life is a popularity contest and popular people can say any old thing they like, knock yourself out. Son Alan Robertson  says that “[w}e will continue to represent our faith and values in the most positive way through Duck Dynasty.” Because nothing represents faith like standing around in front a couple of cameras while producers shout lines at you. Oh, and shooting ducks. Oh, and being bigots.

4. IT IS NOW THE LAW that all headlines about Russia must contain the phrase “as the Olympics near.” Because that’s clearly the most important thing in a story about a train station bombing that killed at least 16 people.

5. THE SHOCKING TRUE HISTORY OF “THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.” Have you ever wondered about the implicit status marker of Santa’s pipe? Are you curious about the sociocultural matrix in which one of our founding Christmas stories was embedded? More importantly, do you have nothing going on tonight? Because this is a long one.

*Dark & Stormy:

1 can Barritt’s Bermuda Stone Ginger Beer

1 oz (or more) Gosling’s Black Seal Rum (151 overproof, no less)

Combine. Add ice. Garnish with the will to destroy your brain.

Weekly Reckoning: Very Aggregation. So Newsgathering. Wow! Edition

Weekly Reckoning1. WOULD ANYBODY LIKE TO READ THE OFFICIAL FBI FIELD GUIDE TO TORTURE? For some time now, the American Civil Liberties Union has been attempting to view FBI documents on interrogation practices. So far the FBI has offered up a 70-page document that is so heavily redacted that it’s largely useless for the ACLU’s purposes (namely, determining whether the agency’s techniques are unconstitutional). It turns out that an unredacted, freely available edition has been sitting at the Library of Congress since 2010. Why? Because the author filed a copyright claim on the work.  Which is confusing, since US government publications are copyright-free. I bet somebody in the FBI is envying Justine Sacco right now.

2. GOODBYE MR. BRONFMAN. Edgar Bronfman Sr., the Canadian-born billionaire, died Saturday. The story says that he was “surrounded by family,” which is how all these wealthy old people seem to go. When I die, I want my obituary to read “besieged by family.” I also want it to read “Mr. Morgan’s body will be trebucheted in a random arc and direction next Thursday. Funeral services will be held at whatever spot he lands.” My tombstone will simply say “Wheeeeeeeee.”

3. STOP WATCHING THE NEW BEYONCÉ VIDEOS AND READ THIS. What is this “this” I refer to? Why it’s an oral history of Sir Mix-a-lot’s 1992 callipygian call-out to big backsides. So when you resume your evening of watching Beyoncé Knowles back her posterior into the camera lens, you can draw an assured cultural line between her record-breaking iTunes album and “Baby Got Back.” And if you’re not listening to/watching the new Beyoncé album, just what are you doing with your holidays? Get on that.

4. HOW THE HELL DOES BLACKBERRY STILL HAVE $3.2 BILLION IN CASH ON HAND? Because they posted a quarterly loss of $4.4 billion. I’m no economathemagician, but that strikes me as a lot of money.

5. YOUR INADEQUATE COOKIE. Over at Serious Eats, one man set himself the task of creating the perfect chocolate chip cookie. He came up with a recipe so complicated and time-consuming that no one in the world could possibly follow it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Weekly Reckoning: Riveting Local Reading Edition

Weekly ReckoningThere’s a cat in my lap and a burning curiosity in my brain. Let’s do this.

1. ONE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-THREE WORDS. That’s how many words the Leader-Post’s Andrew Matte needs to tell you that mayor Michael Fougere is low-key, ambitious and from Nova Scotia. Also that he “even quit smoking because running with a smoker’s lungs became problematic.” Come on, mayor: you just drape the smoker’s lungs around your neck and bring them together over your chest with a clip or something. Otherwise it’s smoky lungs flopping everywhere.

2. BRAD WALL VS. BILL DOYLE. The titans have clashed! Stern words have been exchanged! Meanwhile, 440 Saskatchewanians are out of a job. Where does L-P business columnist Bruce Johnstone land in the battle between Big Potash and Big Rest Of Us? The answer may surprise you! No it won’t.

3. NEW ADJECTIVE HORRIBLE, SEASONAL. Here is a gallery of the most mistletoe-able women in 2013. Nine clicks to reach Jennifer Lawrence? Come on.

4. AND I WAS JUST ABOUT TO RECORD MY POLITICAL COMEDY NOVELTY SINGLE “YOU DON’T TOPPLE STATUES ANYMORE.” Over in Ukraine, where citizens are agitating for the closer integration of Ukraine into the European Union, protesters toppled a statue of Lenin in Kiev. I’m happy to see that central Europe is still cultivating its statue-toppling skills. They even beat that thing with a sledgehammer.

5. “THE WOOL IS WET AND YOU HAVE TO KINDA YANK AT IT.” How are you spending your weekend? Whatever you’re up to, it’s probably not knitting from your vagina.

Weekly Reckoning: Third Time=Charm Edition

Weekly ReckoningI’m feeling a little nervous about the phrase “third time’s the charm.” What charm? Where? Is it a half-decent charm? Does it come in the mail? Does a guy show up at your door on a stormy night with a mysterious (and charm-containing) box? Does he hand over the box without a word or say “This is for you… natch”? Who says “natch” anymore? Did anyone ever say “natch” outside of Archie comics? So many relevant questions.

1. THINGS IN THE U.S. STILL HORRIBLE AND BEWILDERING, THANK YOU. I stopped following the depraved goings-on in American politics a few weeks ago, because the whole situation is so appalling that the only rational response is to sit in a corner and cry until everything’s fixed. Anyway, never mind the government shutdown, because the debt default is only days away.

2. ON THE PLUS SIDE, A GUY AND HIS DOG ARE PLAYING FETCH IN THE PARK ACROSS THE STREET. It’s kind of amazing to watch, actually, as this compact checkered dog takes off across the field, making an inerrant beeline for a no-doubt slobbery ball. It makes me wonder why we do what we do, which includes taking an hour or two on a Sunday afternoon to throw an object over a dog’s head. Do we get as much enjoyment out of it as dogs? Do dogs project their emotional states into inanimate objects? Or are dogs just humoring us? Be gentle with us, dogs. We’re fragile creatures.

3. BUT THEN WE DISCOVER THAT CELEBRITIES LIE AND ARE PLUNGED BACK INTO DESPAIR. Michael Douglas straight-up lied about his cancer. It was located on his tongue, not his throat.

4. WHAT DO ROCK STAR MICHAEL HUTCHENCE AND SERIAL KIDNAPPER ARIEL CASTRO HAVE IN COMMON? The answer may surprise you! Or it may not. I can’t judge your capacity for surprise in this jaded era. Anyway, the answer rhymes with “schmalleged schmauto-erotic schmasphyxiation.”

5.I WONDER IF HUTCHENCE AND CASTRO WILL BE REUNITED WITH LESUS IN HEAVEN. You’d better run out right now to grab your commemorative Vatican coin, because the first striking spells Jesus’ name as “Lesus.” Typo? Maybe – or maybe the Vatican has let slip its greatest secret of all. So if you want a good seat in the afterlife, start praying to our Lord and Saviour Lesus. Natch.

Weekly Reckoning: The Inaugurationing

Weekly ReckoningWelcome to the first ever Weekly Reckoning, prairie dog’s attempt to grapple with discarded butt-ends of the week! Let’s reap a few things.

1. AIN’T NO PARTY LIKE A POPE FRANCIS PARTY BECAUSE POPE FRANCIS JUST DON’T STOP (SAYING AWESOME STUFF). Say what you will about the latest head of the Catholic Church – he seems determined to run headlong at issues of social justice. At a meeting with unemployed people in Cagliari, Sardinia, the pope put aside his prepared notes and delivered a heartfelt message about the evils of a globalized economic system that swallows people and burps up their bones. Not that he used those words exactly: “The world has become an idolator of this god called money,” is what he actually said at mass later that day.

2. TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE THINGS GOING ON IN NAIROBI. The attack by the militant group al Shabaab that claimed 59 lives – including that of two Canadians  – has devolved into a siege with hostages. Al Shabaab opposes the presence of Kenyan peacekeeping forces in Somalia, so the best way to fix that is to fire into crowds of shoppers in a downtown mall. “10 hours have passed and the Mujahideen are still strong inside #Westgate Mall and still holding their ground. All praise is due to Allah!” the group said on Twitter, because of course they’d have a Twitter account (since suspended).

3. DAMN, NOVA SCOTIA. A survey on marijuana use in Canada has come out, and it turns out that British Columbia is not the pottiest province around. That honour goes to Nova Scotia, where 14.8% of respondents to the Stats Canada survey affirmed that they had smoked the international healing herb within the last 12 months. Having grown up in Nova Scotia, this makes sense. BC came in second at 14.2%. Dead last? Good old productive Saskatchewan at 10.1%, where we just drink to forget.

4. TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE THINGS GOING ON IN PESHAWAR. Remember just a few seconds ago when you were reading about the attack in Nairobi? Let’s add another 60 to the number of dead that can be attributed to religious extremism and political tactics of mass violence. A bomb going off in a Peshawar church killed an unbelievable amount of people as they left the building. According to reports, they were about to get a free meal being offered on the front lawn when two suicide bombers in the crowd detonated their devices.

5. LOUIS C.K. ENDORSES SADNESS, FROWNS ON SMARTPHONES. “You just feel kind of satisfied with your products. And then you die.” Louis C.K. takes a minute to explain everything that’s wrong with our technologically advanced and absurdly privileged Western world. And since I’m incapable of unlocking the magic combination of keystrokes needed to embed a YouTube video into this blog post, I urge you to click on the link below. Will you get a free kitten for clicking? There’s only one way to find out.

Louis C.K. on Conan O’Brien