Tuesday, December 29, 2009

McNally Robinson Bankruptcy.

In March of 2008 I lamented the loss of McNally's Robinson's bookstore in downtown Calgary. It was hard for me to understand how such a great book store could fail in a city like Calgary. Their only competition was a small Coles store in Eaton Centre.  Today the independent chain has filed for bankruptcy and will be closing their two newest stores in Don Mills and Winnipeg. (G&M Story)

Aside from Pages in Kensigton, I spent a lot of time in McNally Robinson's store.  Independent book sellers are rare now and their survival always seems to be against the odds.  Maybe as consumers its just easier to buy what Chapters or Oprah want us to read.

The plight of independent bookstores probably has to do with the economies of scale and the basic tough business model of retail.  But I still wonder about this issue from a cultural point of view. Are we less interested in books? What about the role of the internet?  I know from listening to the radio in Calgary, or reading one of the two daily papers, there is really a strong effort to dumb us down and pander to short attention spans. Book stores should be an antidote to that, and are also a cultural force that promote literacy and local authors.

Hopefully McNally Robinson can emerge from the restructuring to hang on to the original store in Winnipeg and compete on the internet as well. 

Support your local independent book seller. Please recommend this post

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mr. Harper's Farewell Song

A little song I worked up in the heat of Winter Solstice insomnia. Sung to the tune of Henry Kissinger by Monty Python. Maybe it could be sung at one of those swank Galas when next time all the elites get together again.

Dear Prime Minister
We won't be missing yer
You're not the Leader of our dreams
Your too much to bear with your empty stare
And your Machiavellian schemes

I know they say that you are very vain
And rude and dumb and loud - and likely quite insane
Mr. Prime Minister
We won't be missing yer
Just wishing you were gone

Mr. Prime Minister
we're all dismissing yer
Looks like yer out on the street
With your Timmy's clothes and your think tank prose
You leave me feeling so downbeat.

All right so people say that you don't care
but the gays know where they stand
and the poor don't have a prayer.

Mr. Prime Minister
We'll be happy when you are done.

(boom boom bada tish)
Please recommend this post

Monday, December 07, 2009

Minnesota Quaker Group's Unique SSM Protest

A Quaker group in Minnesota is refusing to issue any marriage license at all until the State recognizes same sex marriage.

According to Minnesota Public Radio:

The congregation will continue to hold both opposite-sex and same-sex weddings at its meeting house, but will no longer sign the legal marriage certificate for opposite-sex couples. Instead, couples will need to have the certificate signed by a justice of the peace.

Quacker congregations have no formal clergy, and like many anabaptist type groups are peer to peer. Generally they are liberal both theologically and socially although this isn't always true. I think this is a courageous action and a good way for them to protest the injustice of unequal marriage laws.

Via Pam's House Blend Please recommend this post

Sunday, December 06, 2009

December 6 and Hong Kong

Our Prime Minister should have been in Ottawa on December 6 to honour the 20th Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. This is a very solemn and significant day for Canadians and the absence of Mr. Harper is deplorable to me. My hopes were never high, but still.

One of my father's good friends when we were growing up was a Canadian soldier in Hong Kong when it fell to the Japanese on Christmas Day 1941. He survived the battle but remained a prisoner of war until liberation in 1945. He and the other Commonwealth POW's were beaten, tortured and starved contrary to international war conventions. He had lifelong health problems from malnutrition and died too young. It chills me to think what went on in his head all those years. I suspect there are a lot of Canadians who have some connection to the battle of Hong Kong. In high school I learned about Dieppe, Vimy Ridge and the Normandy and Sicily campaigns. I had no idea until later in University about the Honk Kong veterans.

I welcome the Canadian Prime Minister visiting the Cenotaph in Hong Kong and paying formal respects to our war dead. However, I would prefer that he avoided the hyper-nationalistic manipulation of war imagery. I would prefer that he stop using slanderous rhetoric and smearing Canadians who want to know the truth about detainee issues in Afghanistan. Soldiers, dead or alive are not visuals to be used casually for self aggrandizement.

I don't think our Prime Minister gets the meaning of our history. Please recommend this post

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Three Alberta Stories

...in under 3 minutes..GO

1. Alberta Cabinet Minister Ted Morton had his brief case stolen from his car on Thursday night. The thief left the brief case outside an apartment building where a CBC employee lived, who found it and returned it. We Canadians are polite and very deferential to authority. If this had happened in the United States the documents would have been posted all over the internet and Mr. Stelmach would have to resort to a special Twitter transparency session. Its a weird story, and I take away two things, indirectly.

First Alberta seems to have no interest in whistle blowing and seem to be a-OK with their Government's absurdly high level of secrecy and non-openeness. Of course I don't suggest we steal politician's brief cases, but please tell me your at least somewhat curious as to what they're up to.

Secondly, Morton admitted that the reason he had his brief case stolen was because he left it in his car while having dinner, but not only that, that he left the car running during dinner. With the doors unlocked. It was a strange admission. What got me was the nonchalant nature, as if its normal to leave your car running for 1 or 2 hours when its not real cold out. Aside from the environmental issues I wonder who was paying for the Gasoline. This sense of disregard is more irritating to me than losing the brief case. I hope the meal was good. Mr. Morton is the minister of Sustainable Resources. I see their SUV's around Calgary from time to time.

2. Paul Stanway, Alberta's version of Ron Ziegler, will be leaving his post at the end of January. As a former publisher of the Edmonton Sun, Stanway was just what Mr. Stelmach needed - a propaganda specialist to crank out the fake realities of the Premier's world. The transition from an illiterate newspaper to the Premier's office must have been quite seamless. I wish they would stop using the word communication, or at least look up its meaning. I've never been much of a believer that this Government has any interest in dialoguing with Albertans. Mr. Stanway's job was very simple: to crudely hammer a one way message to Albertans and hope it sticks. In that respect it really doesn't matter who they replace him with. Too late to snag Duffy, but maybe Charles
Adler is available.

3. There have been two unverified sightings of Mariam Makhniashvili in Alberta. One in Okotoks, a small town about 45 minutes south of Calgary, and a more recent one in Grande Prairie, about 5 hours north of Edmonton. In both cases the RCMP have said they have no way of knowing about the reliability of the reports, but are following up the leads. People probably want to believe the story will end well. Hopefully it will. Canadians are good people and we feel each others pain. Please recommend this post

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Vasely Kandinsky - Composition VIII

I like all of Kandinsky's paintings but this one keeps sticking in my subconscious for some reason. He led a very interesting life as well, fleeing both the Soviets and the Nazis.

Please recommend this post