Thursday, December 30, 2004

Where's Waldo?

Now first off, I certainly don't expect the Prime Minister to abandon his Christmas/New Years vacation, nor do I begrudge him the use of an Armed Forces plane to travel the world (even if it is used to visit unseemly foreign dictators/tyrants who feel the need to redeem their image, but that's another story) on our behalf.

But when a human catastrophe such as the current Asian basin earthquake/tsunami happens, one at least expects the leader of a G8 nation (and a nation that pats itself on the back frequently for its good deeds) to at least make a statement as to what his nation will do to help. He could have merely called in the press, said we were shocked, alarmed, concerned etc, etc, etc and will work night and day to render whatever assistance we can provide. Find someone in Ottawa to take the point and it could have been back to the beach, the dune or wherever it is that he's at.

I'll tackle the feeble early effort of "official Canada" in a later post, for now the generosity of the "average" Canadian is at least showing we have a pulse. But our government has more than dropped the ball on this situation. From the wandering ministers called in on their holidays to say a few words, over to the folks at External Affairs who really have no idea as to the status of missing Canadians we've been less than brilliantly served by our Political pontificators and our bureaucratic minions.

At least we managed to ratchet up our cheque writing abilities from the pathetic four million dollars to up and over 40 million today, but really we have the capability to offer the world much more than just dollars, but alas we seem mired in incompetence.

The public would have liked to have been reassured that we have a plan, a desire and the ability to do something. Starting with a least a statement from the guy that has been promising to improve our world image and return us to the prominent role we once held. So far were tall on talk, short on action. This whole situation has not been handled well by anyone in Official Ottawa, from a Prime Minister to minor minion in the offices of government we've dropped the ball, time to pick it up and get to work!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Jerry it's as though we knew ya!

It was sad to hear of the passing of actor Jerry Orbach, best known for the role of Lennie Briscoe in Law and Order, Orbach was the consummate character actor. You could almost sense the character of Briscoe brought to life by Orbach.

Little known to those of us who just get our pop culture from the tube, Orbach was an accomplished actor in the movies and on broadway including stints as a song and dance man. A long forgotten art of show business.

Perhaps the best testimony to his talent is the fact that he managed to survive twelve seasons in the revolving door cast of the NBC hit. Dick Wolf who created Law and Order had developed a bit of reputation for cycling through his cast members until Orbach arrived and just seemed to fit the role perfectly as the wise, rumpled and cynical officer of the law.

The key at the end of the day one guesses is that your daily toil is recognized as a job well done. In this Mr. Orbach can rest easy, the kind words spoken of him today will bear witness to his work!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Something completely incomprehensible!

You watch the visual images on television or the net and just wonder what must have gone through the minds of the mothers, fathers and children of the Asian basin as that wall of water crashed ashore in so many places.

The fear on the faces is one to wrench your heart, the feeling of helplessness compounded by the distance from the actual event.

The totals of the dead rise by the hour, seemingly never to end as more and more villages are rediscovered abandoned as the water recedes. In most cases those that had so little to begin with, now seem to have even less.

The International community is slowly coming to the scene to offer whatever aid and assistance can be provided with such a historical tragedy of Nature. Donations are asked for and surely will be provided. Yet internal politics will get in the way, already reports are coming out about Muslim groups in Sri Lanka refusing aid from Israel, refusing to put aside hatred in aid of their own people. Splinter groups of rebels have refused to allow government troops inside their territories to render assistance when it is most needed. There are already fears that whatever monies are provided will only get caught up in a bureaucracy that seems incapable of placing the common good at the forefront of the list. The concept of it all boggles the mind, when tragedy on a scale such as this takes place surely ancient hatreds and rivalries, not to mention bureaucratic incompetence can be put aside for the good of the ones suffering the most.

Canada has provided some monies and NGO organizations are sending their forces to lend assistance. One curious absence is the DART component of the Canadian Forces, a supposedly rapid relief force that has been designed to respond to just these types of emergencies, yet curiously has rarely been sent to many international disasters. This time it supposedly is because we haven’t been asked for, yet when you read of the mission statement of the force, there probably is no better example of why it has been assembled. Sadly our cash and equipment starved Forces have found themselves in this situation before, unable to load up and head out until the need has passed. This is not the place for pointing of fingers and such, but there needs to be a serious accounting of why one of the world’s richest countries seems to be incapable of responding promptly when these major disasters strike. Paul Martin has made much of his bid to return Canada to the forefront of the world’s nations. The time is long nigh for less talk and far more action. We need to provide tangible assistance and not just kind words and pats on our own back.

For now though all our thoughts and prayers should be with the people who have found their lives shattered by the wrath of Nature. Totally unpredictable these waves have washed far beyond their shores. You only need watch television and see the grief on their faces to realize the horror that they have suffered. The numbers of the dead are numbing, the potential for even more devastation through disease and hunger even more daunting.

You feel so helpless when these things happen. The feelings we have; is it guilt or relief that it was their part of the world and not yours? The random fate of humankind seems so unfair at times, one day you awaken to start your day, and suddenly you won’t awaken again. Times like these truly are tests of faith, reconciling how such a thing can happen with the human spirit to reach out and do what we can to help. You fear it may never be enough, but you have to start somewhere I guess. The question is will we stay for the long haul, long after the visual images are replaced on our television.

Some who are trying to help:

The Canadian Red Cross


World Vision Canada


Care Canada

Caritas Canada

Mennonite Central Committee

Friday, December 24, 2004

Peace On Earth, Goodwill towards Men!

Merry Christmas to one and all, may Saint Nicholas have lessened his load at each homestead along the way.

One hopes that our goofy little world will one day live up to the salutation at the top of this post.

Now bring us our figgy pudding!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

If I could only find an agent!

Occasionally I’ll let my mind wander and wonder what life would be like had I headed for Hollywood and worked my way into the world of network (and cable) television.

Some of the shows I’m waiting on a script for and the roles I’d like to be considered for!

THE WIRE—Available in Canada on Movie Central, this is a top notch HBO Crime Drama with many intertwining plots rolling from season to season. The series is based on the work of David Simon, who last gave us the equally great Homicide: Life on the Street. It’s an excellent study into life in Baltimore from the docks, to the urban zones that seem to have laws of their own. It’s a terrific ensemble cast and gives you a real feel for policing in a sphere that seems just on the verge of total chaos. Corrupt politicians, crooked and honest cops, drug dealers galore and honest citizens trapped in the middle. This is a show that has it all. My choice for a part would be any police role that doesn’t end in wanton violence and a sudden demise.

THE WEST WINGPresident Bartlet is winding down his time at the White House and judging by the way this formerly enthralling show has gone its not a moment too soon. Back when it first started out the writing was sharp, the dialogue witty and engaging. The characters all seemed to offer up something new and vital from week to week. Lately it’s slipped quite a bit, taking on some rather predictable gimmicks designed to keep the audience attached. The President’s FDR role playing of the last week and the possible attack of the killer asteroid, moved things along the “getting harder to believe” aspect of script writing. But if I could hop in the time machine, it would be back to season two or three, they were at the top of their game, Bartlet was a President to follow and the team were at their energetic best, me thinks I would have found the role of advisor to the President to be a great ride.

NYPD BLUE—now into it’s final episodes now, when it first came on the air it added some fresh views on the ole Police drama format. Fast paced camera work, believable characters it found a loyal audience in the early days. Proving that actors don’t know when they have it good, David Caruso courted career suicide by walking away from the show and toiling away in a rather failed movie career before resurfacing with the CSI franchise on a beach in Florida. While many others have come and gone over the years, Dennis Franz has held the fort at the 15th precinct house. He made his Andy Sipowicz character a mainstay on network television. For my agent, a role as Andy’s partner would be just fine. Lets face it Andy’s career at times resembled a giant train wreck, just by showing up at work and keeping a few steps behind you could fast track your own upward mobility. He takes all the heat from all the bosses, you just clean up the mess and take your promotion.

THE SOPRANOSTony runs a tight ship, but just look at his house, his vehicles and his Club (the ever popular Bada Bing) this guy lives the guy’s life. Sure there’s the odd chance of getting whacked by a rival mobster or even by the traitors in your midst, but there’s no gain without a little pain. Silvio has managed to stay alive and pad the bank account as Tony’s dependable fixer. That would be the role to shoot for, (pardon the pun). Too bad for Steven Van Zandt, but hey Bruce should heading back on the road soon anyways, so bada bing, bada boom, I’ll take over the club thank you very much!

LAW AND ORDER—He just retired from regular duty (soon to reappear in the latest of Dick Wolff’s L & O franchises. But when Jerry Orbach was on the job as Lenny he brought the role of Briscoe to life. There was a lot of hard earned experience in that wisecracking frame, much married and equally much divorced Briscoe reeks of the guy that lived his job. He’s seen it all and probably done it all as well. If only for one of those great one liner’s or that exasperated look being one of Briscoe’s partners would be a great role to work.

Shows from the past that would have been an interesting audition in no particular order, M*A*S*H, ALL IN THE FAMILY, SEINFELD, GET SMART, HILL STREET BLUES, STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO, HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS just to name a few. Now if only I had actually had some talent!! Or more importantly an agent!

Something the Car Saleswoman neglected to tell me!

Just found an interesting little bit of information on the car I purchased three years ago, a little something that the lady at the dealership never seemed to mention somehow.

Oh well, three years on still puttering around town, touch wood!!! On the other side of the coin however, there is this from the what comes around goes around department this little tidbit for the bean counters at GM!!

Monday, December 20, 2004

The hiatus nears its end

Regular visitors to the ole Podunk site will have noticed a certain lack of contributions over the last three weeks or so. I arbitrarily decided to take a sabbatical from the daily grind of composing something that might possibly make some sense, adding links and finding worthwhile gems on the internet.

What with Christmas fast approaching I knew that my output would drop off anyways, so I chose to go cold turkey so to speak, just stop dead, not even look at the blog for awhile so as to recharge my brain cells, rest my fingers and give my eyes a chance to return their pupils to a normal size.

But alas, the lure of the blog is calling again, I feel the beginnings of my brain processing the latest shenanigans out of Ottawa, Washington and places near and far and realize that it's about time to get back into the saddle.

I mean C'mon' when the Prime Minister takes two planes to the Libyan sand dunes to meet with a rather strange individual in a tent surrounded by camels, the satirical juices just get a flowing. When the Secretary of Defence of the worlds most advanced military machine, basically slags his own troops as they scavenge garbage dumps for armor plating before they go into battle, well you just know its time to get back into the game.

We'll ease ourself back into the bloglines and may even take the odd day off from time to time, but with a few weeks under the belt listening to music, finishing off the Christmas shopping and reading something other than blogs we feel refreshed enough to get back to our unpaid labour of love.

Interestingly enough, whilst I disappeared for a while, the hits to the podunk (and my other blogs HockeyNation, Twelve Men on the Field and boondoggle) kept on coming. In fact there was hardly any drop at all in the traffic to most of the blogs. Which of course leads me to wonder how I'd be missed, if no one knew I was gone?

Stay tuned new material on the way. Thanks for sticking with A Town Called Podunk!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Making History an enjoyable read

With over 50 books published to his credit, Pierre Berton must have had an idea or two on how to turn a phrase. The Canadian icon passed away on Tuesday at the age of 84. And with his passing a chapter of Canadianna has come to a close.

Berton became the National biographer of sorts, compiling stories from the Klondike Gold Rush, to the building of a railroad and over the falls at Niagara. He took us to Vimy Ridge and through the dustbowl years of the Great Depression. If there was an event in Canadian History chances are Pierre Berton has chronicled it for us. Bringing to life the characters and events that have moulded our persona, made our country larger than life at times and showing Canadians young and old that there is a fascinating history to this land, if only you find the time to look for it.

His Canadian epics have been turned into television mini series, his easily identified voice and larger than life persona requested for causes big and small. In the 60’s and 70’s when Canadian cultural nationalism began to find its feet, Pierre Berton seemed to be everywhere.

From The pages of Maclean’s, in major newspapers from coast to coast and on radio and television, Berton was media convergence before the term was even thought of.

While his books were his mainstay, He will no doubt be remembered for his work with the CBC’s Canadian mainstay, Front Page Challenge. Week after week, Canadians became more aware of themselves and the world around us. Pierre, Gordon, Betty and Fred explored the events of our times and asked the questions we would have asked had we been lucky enough to be an eyewitness to history. The longevity of that show and the outcry when it finally went off the air a huge testimony to the popularity of the panel, and none was more popular than Pierre Berton.

But by and large he always was and will always be known as an author. In bookstores everywhere from St. John’s to Victoria, Windsor to Whitehorse, his works would find a prominent place of honour. They would also in the words of the trade, “move” quite nicely providing a handsome reward for the author, who always believed he could make a decent living by staying in his own country.

For those that complain that they don’t know enough about their own country, or find our history “too boring” find a topic you would like to know about and then go find the book on it by Pierre Berton. Whether it’s the history of chasing invading American troops across the border, or trekking across the vast wilderness of the Arctic, the touchstone to your country is no farther away than a book by Pierre Berton!

May he find St. Peter an easy to work for Editor, but oh the tales he shall tell!