Monday, March 22, 2010

The Life of Pie Graphs and Spurious Projects

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The latest Whore Derv is awarded to one of the shining stars of Canada’s literary firmament. While I must give him a priori and de facto respect for contributing to the re-invigoration of reading and writing in our nation, strong and free, I must admit that the concept of his latest book smells like poo. Writer’s Block is a pain in the ass, isn’t it my friend?

After selling over 1.2 million copies of the novel that won our winner a Man Booker prize, which is the most prestigious book award in the Commonwealth, our hero was the first Canadian appointed to represent the Washington Arts Commission. He has also been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for fiction, and won the Hugh MacLennan Prize for fiction. The book that won him a Man Booker prize impressed me simply for the fact that many people who don’t read a lot asked me if I’d read it, expecting that since I was a rabid reader that I would have. Granted, my taste tends towards the obscure sometimes, and I still have not read this book. But I cannot pooh-pooh anyone who gets people who don’t usually read excited about reading.

What I can pooh-pooh is a bad book idea, and a total waste of time. Our winner’s latest project is mailing the prime minister a book every two weeks on the general theme of stillness. He has then compiled in a book all these mailings: the book plus a page or two written by our great author on the book he mailed. His reading list, I must say, is excellent. Having read around 50% of the titles, I can flatter myself that I am very well-read, flattery which embodies the real purpose of any of these reading list books. Useless. . .

What he hopes to gain, or what his very purpose is, is beyond me. Perhaps he thinks reading makes you a better person. Perhaps it does, but I doubt it. The Prime Minister responds to our great writer only twice, and for that, I suppose we should be outraged. What?! Our Prime Minister isn’t secluding himself to read all of these books a famous Canadian writer is suggesting to him! FOR SHAME! Absolutely outrageous! Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of the current Prime Minister, and I’m sure a little extra reading wouldn’t hurt him.

But really the whole premise of this project is ridiculous. First of all, the Prime Minister is a busy fellow, even though he prorogued parliament when there was a lot of business to finish. Maybe he suddenly thought that the great writer was right! He hadn’t read all these masterpieces, and perhaps he started to feel a little insecure. Perhaps the prorogation of government was actually so Stephen Harper could catch up on his reading, about which our great writer has steadily been harassing him. Yes indeed, if anyone else had embarked upon this, besides one of the most famous living writers, I think we would have to regard this project as harassment. That would make the prorogation that pissed off the whole nation at least partially the great writer’s fault!!!

Secondly, the Prime Minister was indeed busy. He was busy undermining the foundations of our democracy through his iron fist control over his media image. The notion of the press as the fourth estate, the watchdog of government, protecting citizens against the tyrannies, large and small, of the political apparatus, has given way to pervasive suspicion of the media, a suspicion which the Prime Minister shares. This suspicion is part of his pseudo-populist appeal. Fourth Estate be damned: Stephen Harper is subjecting all media coverage of his government to approval through the Privy Council*. Doesn’t our great writer think that more appropriate readings should be drawn from, say, the creative commons movement who valorize the free circulation of information and knowledge? I guess we should be grateful, though, our great writer didn’t recommend The Art of War by Sun Tzu, or Machiavelli’s The Prince, Hobbes’ Leviathan, or any books that may have been written by Goebbels.

If you haven’t figured out who our winner is today, it is Yann Martel, author of the legendary novel The Life of Pi. His most recent book, the reading list I have been discussion, is called What is Stephen Harper Reading? I must say, I don’t particularly care what he’s reading. I do, however, care very deeply about what he is doing as our prime minister. Congratulations Yann! I hope that writer’s block goes away soon, for everyone’s sake!

*information in this paragraph was revealed to me by Mary Higgins, who is about to embark upon a research project on political communication in Canada.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Yeah, that 100 million dollar surplus MUST be a sign of incompetance!

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The winner of this month’s Whore Derv has run the gamut of politics, not in the sense of crossing the floor and joining another party (ahem Belinda Stronach), but in the sense of holding multiple positions and jumping levels of government. A former Health Minister of Ontario during the heady days of dollar flux now known as the e-health spending scandal, he left that portfolio for the Environment. At first I resented his attempts to undermine incentives for property owners to invest in renewable energy, however, he eventually made good and introduced the FIT program in the Green Energy Act. For those who don’t know, FIT stands for Feed-in Tariffs, and it guarantees independent green energy producers a fixed price for their surplus energy against the vacillations of the market price. Bravo, energy minister.

He has jumped the provincial ship though, and landed in the lifeboat of municipal politics. By now, you’ve probably guessed that I’m talking about the (no longer) Right Honourable George Smitherman. He made the news last night, a desperate grab for a soundbyte, criticizing current mayor David Miller for announcing a 100 million dollar surplus in Toronto’s budget. He announced he was confident that the mayor knew of this surplus much earlier and merely waited for the campaign to replace him to “ride in on a white horse” and … presumably to save the day. George! I love the FIT program, and I was all ready to embrace you after the bitterness in my heart over Caplan taking all the heat for the e-health spending scandal waned. But no, you had to show up on the news and slam the current mayor, who is leaving of his own volition, for announcing a 100 MILLION DOLLAR SURPLUS. And this after one of the most severe recessions since the great depression! Am I the only one who thinks you sound like a total nitwit again?

Congratulations George! Rather than simply congratulating current Mayor Miller for his recent success, you chose to desperately grab a soundbyte and sound like a numbskull in the process. You have won the current Whore Derv. By peddling your infantile brand via a gigamillion pixels, and trying to revive a Miller hate-on that has for the most part waned since the city strike last summer, you have honoured the award.








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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Laundry

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I can’t sleep because logic’s

Recipe is full of tar and sand.

Equal parts get me out of this mess

And get me far enough in it

To not be able to tell the difference.

Underbellies of thought

Bring but subtle comforts to not

Quite born beings.

Once it happens, they say, it

Comes naturally.

As if something could not be natural.

Water breaks the surface

Tension, that but holds together

This ragged self

Tells of monopolies of exhaust

Worry, tear-drops to clear

Duct work

And preserve, above all else

The sense that chance is not so random.

That those little fists

Have healthy walls to beat on

That the light of day

Pokes through holes

And gives these objects

That clutter the space in my bedroom

Their very colour.

That soil will grow

Something fantastic

And tasty to shade the lawn

With the ichor

Of plenitude

The lenient feathers of

Winged visitors in night’s

Event of apparition,

Who tell me this tar and sand

Ropes thick through

Rolls of waves too

Frightening to behold

So you hold a mirror up to it

To see it but once removed

And once removed,

This veil of vision leaves

And sleep settles in

Like blankets

On the clothes line

When the wind

Disappears.





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