19 December 03: Northern Lion Gold Corp. has received the results of the Phase II exploration program at its Haveri gold project in Finland.
The program consisted of a three-dimensional (3D), induced polarization (IP) survey, carried out by SJ Geophysics Ltd, Vancouver, B.C., in October, 2003. The survey, on north-south lines spaced 100 m apart, employed a modified pole-dipole array. A total of 28.2 line-km were surveyed, covering an area approximately 1.2 km by 2.3 km. Data collected were processed by SJ Geophysics using proprietary inversion software to yield a highly visual, readily-usable portrayal of resistivity and IP (chargeability) information.
The program has identified a broad, NNE trending region of low resistivity, up to 750 m wide and more than 2 km long. The region encompasses a number of areas of anomalous chargeability response, several of which exhibit significant depth (in excess of 200 m). Four of the known mineralized zones (Haveri, Shaft, Sankari, Haveri North) appear to correlate well with anomalous chargeability and a number of similar features have been identified that require further investigation.
In addition, the program has identified a prominent, arcuate chargeability anomaly, approximately 700 m across, which partially encloses a marked resistivity low, located on the Ansomaki claim, in the center of the Haveri claim block. In the mid-1970's, Outokumpu OY completed two diamond drill holes within this anomaly, both of which encountered elevated gold values over significant widths (1.3 gr Au/tonne over 11.0 m and 8.0 gr Au/tonne over 5.4 m). The Company owns 100% of the recently-acquired Ansomaki and Ylojarvi claims, free of royalties.
The results of the Phase II program are being correlated with the extensive Haveri data set that the Company compiled in its recently-completed Phase I exploration program. This information will be used to plan a campaign of at least 5,000 m of diamond drilling that is expected to commence in late January, 2004. The drilling will test newly identified targets and further define and upgrade the present inferred mineral resources in the Haveri Mine/Shaft and Peltosaari Zones.
The Company's exploration activities on the Haveri project and the preparation of this news release are under the supervision of John R. Fraser, P.Geo (B.C.), Vice-President, Exploration, for Northern Lion Gold Corp., a "Qualified Person" as defined under National Instrument 43-101.
project is located
175 kilometers north of Helsinki, in Finland, a mining-friendly and
member of the European Union. Northern Lion is fully funded to earn its
70% interest in the Haveri project.
November 03: TNR Gold
has amended the Opikiegen Property agreement between itself, Slam
and Pure Gold Minerals. According to the amended agreement, TNR will
the right to acquire a 50-per-cent interest in the project by spending
a total of $500,000 over the first three years on exploration and
maintenance including taxes. Of this amount TNR will commit to spend
on or before Oct. 15, 2004, and spend an additional $250,000 on or
Oct. 15, 2005. TNR will issue to Slam and Pure Gold an additional
post-consolidation common shares over the term of the amended agreement.
1 November 03: The Ministry of Trade and Industry of Finland has granted to Northern Lion Gold Corp. the Ansomaki mineral claim, located adjacent to the company's Haveri claims. The Ansomaki claim covers 54 hectares and was held previously by Outokumpu Oyj. The Northern Lion geological team believes the Ansomaki property to be strategically important. Although there is only a small amount of data available at this time, the property hosts some encouraging magnetic targets, which are in line with trends from the company's adjacent Haveri claims. Also intriguing, are the results of historical drilling done by Outokumpu at Ansomaki in the mid-1970s. One drill hole encountered 0.1 per cent Cu and eight grams per tonne Au over 5.4 metres, and appears to be related to an electromagnetic anomaly identified in airborne data acquired by the company earlier this year.
The company's geological team is currently on site at Haveri conducting a 3-D IP geological survey that will form the basis of target selection for the company's impending drill program. The Ansomaki claim will be surveyed during this geophysical program.
Northern Lion's Haveri gold project is located 175 kilometres north of Helsinki, Finland, a mining-friendly and infrastructure-rich member of the European Union. Northern Lion is fully financed to earn a 70-per-cent interest in the Haveri project.
29 September 03: Northern Lion Gold's five-million-unit private placement has now been completed. The agents, led by Pacific International Securities, have fully exercised the 15-per-cent overallotment option, bringing the total gross proceeds of this offering to $4,312,500. A total of 5.75-million units have been issued. Northern Lion management is very pleased at the response to this placement. In particular, the strong institutional investment is a real endorsement of the merits of the Haveri gold project.
The proceeds of this financing are sufficient to finance all of the expenditures required to earn a 70-per-cent interest in the Haveri property, in southern Finland. With the company fully financed, its geological team is now able to focus clearly on the company's goal of establishing the Haveri project as a viable multimillion-ounce gold deposit. A state-of-the-art three-dimensional IP geophysical survey is currently being implemented with groundwork set to begin in early October. The results of this survey, combined with continuing analysis and interpretation of a vast catalogue of historical data, will be the basis for an aggressive exploration drill program expected to begin early in the new year.
Management continues to view Finland as highly prospective for new mineral exploration. In addition, Northern Lion's experience to date working with Finnish government officials and with the Geological Survey of Finland has been excellent. While it is focused on Haveri, the company's geological team continues to assess other exploration opportunities within the Fennoscandian shield.
Northern Lion's stock closed at $0.99, up $0.07, upon release of the news.
4 September 03: TNR Gold Corp. continues to get joint-venture partners for its Argentina properties:
The company has signed a Letter of Intent with Secureview Systems Inc. to enter into a formal agreement by which Secureview will acquire an option to purchase a 50% working interest in TNR’s Las Carachas Property in Argentina.
The Las Carachas Property consists of 10,000 acres located in the Andes mountain range in the northern portion of the San Juan province of Argentina The property is an accessible (by road) project in the heart of the Maragunga Belt. Detailed sampling has identified strongly anomalous gold, silver, lead, zinc and copper values. Three distinct exploration targets have been identified: high-grade polymetallic fissure veins, volcanic hosted disseminated mineralization and a porphyry copper/gold system. Further drill target definition and drilling is contemplated.
This Letter of
TNR’s program of aggressively seeking joint-venture partners to fund
on prospective assets in its sizable project portfolio.
University College's Fall term starts September 2. I will be
teaching classes in the Applied
Communication Department and the Entrepreneurial
Leadership Program. This will be my first time teaching in
latter, and my colleagues have been their generous selves in supplying
me with insight and materials.
23 July 03: Read
Northern Lion Gold Corp.'s updated factsheet.
The company is trading near its year high.
17 July 03: After a review of recently acquired geophysical data, Northern Lion Gold Corp. (formerly Vision Gate Ventures Ltd.) has applied for, and has been granted by the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Finland, two separate nine-square-kilometre reservations of land adjoining, to the east and west, its existing Haveri property at Viljakkala.
The Company has completed its initial review of airborne geophysical mapping (total field magnetics, multi frequency EM) of the Haveri property and adjacent territory carried out on behalf of Glenmore Highlands Inc. in May, 1996. The mapping was flown on lines spaced 100 meters apart, for total coverage of 311 line kilometres. These data suggest that prospective gold-bearing lithologies and structures at Haveri extend well beyond its boundaries and are consistent with the Company’s initial interpretation that the gold-copper mineralization at Haveri was formed in a volcanogenic massive sulphide environment.
team is proceeding with the planned Phase 1 exploration program,
data acquisition, compilation and interpretation, and ground
surveying, to identify Phase 2 drill targets. Phase 1 activities will
an evaluation of the two newly acquired reservation areas noted above.
29 June 03: In early June management of Vision Gate Ventures Ltd. visited the Haveri gold property in Finland to confer with geologists and other technical specialists previously involved with the property and with government officials at the national and municipal level. Local politicians, representatives from Finland's ministry of trade and industry, and the Geological Survey of Finland showed strong support for the company's Haveri project, reflecting Finland's position that mining and exploration activities are a vital component of its economic well-being. Management was briefed by various Finnish government officials on the willingness of the European Union (EU) to promote and finance EU mining projects, especially projects located within the Fennoscandian shield. John Lando, company president: "The response from government at all levels to our undertakings in Finland has been nothing less than outstanding. Support for our redevelopment at Haveri and also for other potential mining opportunities in Finland is very encouraging."
The company has recently commenced the phase 1 exploration program on the Haveri gold property. This work will consist of compilation and analysis of the vast quantity of analytical and geophysical data acquired by previous operators Voukseniska Oy, 1942 to 1962, and Glenmore Highlands Ltd., 1996 to 2000, as recommended by John R. Fraser, PGeo (BC) in the N143-101 report entitled Summary report on the Haveri mine property, available on the SEDAR Web site. Additional work by the company's geological team will include the mapping of geology, alteration and structure, as well as ground geophysical surveying, such as induced polarization, if required. The purpose of this work is to develop an overall geological model and an understanding of the high-grade gold occurrences present at the Haveri deposit and the other known gold zones on the property.
in phase 1 with the expectation of a significant phase 2 program
of further geophysics and extensive diamond drilling. Phase 1, with a
exclusive of geophysics of $210,000, is expected to be completed by the
end of September. The company has an option to earn up to
interest in the Haveri property by spending $1.7-million over three
The property hosts an area of widespread copper-gold mineralization
several high-grade gold occurrences in a volcanogenic environment.
is optimistic of the potential for the Haveri claims to host a viable
24 June 03: Effective June 25, TNR Resources Ltd.'s name was changed to TNR Gold Corp., following a 4-to-1 share consolidation. The Company now trades under the symbol TNR on the TSX Venture xchange. Its new CUSIP number is 87260X 10 9.
the Company and its exploration projects please visit the
company's website or call 1-800-667-4470.
29 April 03:
Gate Ventures Ltd. (VGV)
is up and trading again, having received all the regulatory approvals
its change of business, its recent financing, and its property
in Finland. You can witness investor reaction here.
An important announcement from Basil client TNR
Resources Ltd.: TNR and NovaGold Resources Inc. have restructured
agreements on the million-ounce Shotgun and Rock Creek gold projects in
Alaska. Under the new agreements TNR will focus it efforts at targeting
a potential “Donlin Creek Type Gold System” at the Shotgun deposit
south of the 25 million ounce Donlin Creek property in the Kuskokwim
Belt. NovaGold will provide technical assistance to TNR for initial
and development of the exploration model. NovaGold will also
in an upcoming private placement financing for TNR with the funds to be
directed at the Shotgun Project. Under the agreement TNR can earn up to
a 50% interest in the Shotgun project by advancing the project to a
decision by spending US$3 million dollars on exploration by May 2006
issuing to NovaGold up to 1 million TNR common shares. TNR can earn a
20% interest in the project by spending an additional US$6 million
project development and issuing to NovaGold a further C$1 million in
4 April 03: Vision
Gate Ventures Ltd. (VGV:TSX-V)
just announced that it will undertake an equity financing to raise
proceeds of up to $650,000, to be utilized to advance the highly
Haveri Property located near Helsinki in Finland. An extensive amount
data is available from previous work conducted on the property in the
1990’s by Glenmore Highlands Inc. (now Mountain Glen Mining Inc.).
this data as well as conducting a detailed structural analysis of the
Property will allow management to construct a comprehensive exploration
model over the next 3-4 months.
13 March 03: Numerous colleagues and clients are returning to Vancouver after spending the last several days in Toronto for the annual PDAC convention. PDAC stands for Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, and I assure you that the prospecting and developing that took place were not always limited to geological phenomena. Deals were proposed, structured, and massaged; old friends were sought out and new ones were made; hangovers were shrugged off; and new speculative ventures now proceed with audacity and drama.
Basil Communications Inc. clients were busy on numerous fronts: Vision Gate Ventures Ltd. promoted its Haveri Gold Project, and Argent Resources Ltd. introduced its new Timmins Gold Camp acquisition acquisition. Here's hoping the price of gold stays up.
24 February 03: Beginning in May I will be teaching part-time in the Applied Communication program at Kwantlen University College, and I could not be more excited. Kwantlen has a fine reputation; my colleagues have sent their sons and daughters there. It has been too long – seven years – since I stood in the front of a classroom.
I shall be
Basil Communications Inc. projects, working out of my Scotia Tower
in downtown Vancouver. My work in business and publishing should
inform my teaching, and my friends know that I do like to be busy.
opened up its resource-rich nation to international investment only in
the last decade. Opportunities to reexamine legendary properties
with modern techniques are plentiful. Basil client Vision Gate
has recently signed an option agreement to acquire 70% of the famous
Property. Mining has taken place at Haveri for over 250 years,
early activities being directed towards production of iron ore. A
rich, fault-controlled, native gold deposit was discovered by
Oy at Haveri in 1960. This mineralization, which according to local
was not mined, was located on the 96-metre level near the bottom of the
open pit, on the east side. This is thought to be the source of
spectacular gold samples in the possession of retired local miners.
this discovery, the mine closed due to low gold prices (1960:
and the fact that Vuokseniska Oy was developing iron deposits elsewhere
25 January 03: Visit Basil clients TNR Resources Ltd. and SJ Geophysics Ltd. at the Vancouver Resource Invesment Conference and at the Cordilleran Roundup this week. The Investment Conference is being held at the Vancouver Exhibition Center Jan 26-7, and the Round-up's at the Westin Bayshore Resort and Marina this year, January 27 - 30.
At the Roundup on January 27, 28-9, SJ Geophysics will be exhibiting its latest updates and innovations on the company's 3D IP surveys and inversion and on its cluster computing. SJ will be displaying 3D, GIS and cluster software on a 30-inch LCD display supplied by NEC and Patch computers.
January 26-7 and at the Roundup on January 28, TNR will be highlighting
its recent drill program at Rock Creek, near Nome Alaska.
TNR's PDF brochure -- 1.8
The above photo, courtesy of Chris Gierymski, is from Rock Creek.
9 January 03:
Esteemed resource-sector analyst John Kaiser, author of The
Bottom-Fishing Report, issued an optimistic update to his
yesterday, noting, "My sense is that we are heading into a major bull
for resource sector juniors that will last several years. Speculators
junior resource plays are virtually in a no-lose situation, because
gold soars as the global economy shrivels in response to a stricken
Empire, or base metals climb as a strengthened American Empire
the global economy to get back into expansion mode. There is, of
a muddle along scenario which the Europeans prefer, but Europe is not
the shots. ... And with a bubbling economy will come a revival of
in luxury items such as diamonds, the hottest grassroots exploration
for resource juniors if world class trophies like Diavik and Ekati are
your quarry. Call it intuition, call it delusion, I feel bullish for
first time in a decade."
About the Company
Robert Basil is President of Basil Communications Inc., a private Vancouver firm, founded in 1996, that provides high-end marketing, strategic planning, and multimedia services for public and private companies in Canada and the United States. The company's current's clients are in the high-tech, engineering, and natural resource sectors. "Essentially what I do is stop pages from being blank," he says.
Basil received his Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, at SUNY/Buffalo, and received a graduate degree at Stanford University, where he also taught American Literary and Political Culture Studies (1993-1996). Basil has been a professional writer and editor for twenty years. He has contributed dozens of articles to books and journals – and has served as Executive Editor for Free Inquiry Magazine (1985-1989) and as the Acquisitions and Senior Trade Books Editor for Prometheus Books, Inc., (1990-1993). His two essay collections, Not Necessarily the New Age and On the Barricades, received critical praise and wide attention. Basil has been interviewed by more than a hundred radio and television programs, including “Larry King Live,” and has been quoted as a communications and cultural expert in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and many other newspapers.
In 1997 Basil launched Ellavon: An Ezine of Basic Culture, an internet publication that has won plaudits for its articles, interviews, fiction, columns, and virtual art and photo exhibits.
A patron of the
plays some jazz piano and has become quite the photo
enthusiast since moving to North America's most beautiful city a
of years ago.
Notes & Miscellany
New York was enchanting. I stayed with my best friend, whose
bedroom is actually called "The Bob Room." I saw Bernadette Peters in
and wept from beginning to end. I ate at least one knish
one slice of pizza every day. At the Frick museum I finally
out why J. M. W. Turner is a painter of staggering talent, and at the
the drawings of Arshile Gorky finally made perfect sense to me.
a street-vendor I bought the new Nan Goldin and Diane Arbus books. My
and brother-in-law treated me to a lavish dinner in Brooklyn. Riding
subways I had numerous conversations with emphatic and charming New
(more or less an impossibiity before September 11, 2001). My
breakfast came to the table about ninety seconds after I ordered
Women everywhere were beautiful and walked rapidly. My heart felt good.
Sun reporter Peter O'Neill must have been beside himself – with
if not with personal elation – when Saskatchewan MP Larry
Spencer told him the other day that homosexual activity should be
back in the Criminal Code. That's Page One bigotry.
16 November 03: Congratulations to the younger of my two younger sisters, Dr. Jennifer Basil, for getting tenure in CUNY/Brooklyn's biology department last week. In addition to being a brilliant scholar and teacher, Jenny is probably the fastest articulate talker alive. This is from her website:
the sensory ecology of a number of marine invertebrates. I am
interested in how animals extract local information from their
and use it to 1) navigate to distant goals (food, territories, mates)
2) create representations of familiar environments. I place the
behavior and spatial
Basil family friend and ally Paul Matulic is quoted by William Safire
the latter's recent Sunday New York Times magazine column.
Apropos recent comments by American Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
the occupation of Iraq will be "a long, hard slog," Paul contrasts the
"slog" of Iraq with the "quagmire" of Vietnam: "Quagmire
being stuck and sinking, while slog connotes moving through
10 November 03: One of my brother's clients is a terrible scoundrel. He caught on to this only recently, despite warnings from me and other colleagues. My brother is unfailingly generous and sweet, and he is hard-wired to see only the good in people, even in people who are no good at all. I am taking an odd pleasure in watching the emotions evolve: from good cheer to puzzlement to irritation to cursing indignation. I have never heard cursing indignation from my brother before (it's on the daily to-do list of yours truly, though). He's found his first bastard, as it were. It's like my brother has learned a new instrument.
23 October 03: In her recent book, Diane Middlebrook concludes that "depression killed Sylvia Plath." (See Arts & Letters, 15 October 03.) Friends of the masterful musician and songwriter Elliott Smith (pictured above), who committed suicide two days ago, have been concluding the same thing about him. People are beginning to understand that suicide often is "death by depression." Of course things are happening in and around a depressed person -- "in" as in drugs or alcohol abuse, "around" as in self-destructive or very unhappy relationships -- but it is fallacious to say that these elements drive one to suicide. Depression is both the train and the track, as far as I am concerned. Everything else is just buzzing by the windows.
Depression, like homosexuality, is an animated identity that's invisible ... until it's enunciated by the one whose life it defines. That is why by some people depression is regarded as a capricious and irresponsible choice: It seems to be brought into being by the spoken words of the suffering individual, who seemed not to suffer when silent -- when in the closet, as it were.
awful. If you haven't heard his sweet and tuneful and indeed
music, do please give it a whirl. It is part of heaven.
20 October 03: After the Red Sox lost to the Yankees in the seventh game of the American League Championship Series last Thursday, I wrote some (male) friends an email: "God was said to rest on the seventh day. Now we know that God rests until there are five outs to go. Then God wakes up. And damns the fans of Boston and Chicago. Pains given by destiny are worse, I think, than ones given toward the heart."
To which a charming colleague replied: "Pedro Martinez was put on earth and given sway far beyond his station. It was a travesty that he started the eighth inning."
10 October 03: Yesterday the Vatican urged the people of Africa, including people with AIDS, to stop using condoms when they have sex. Today the Vatican urged the people of North America not to let the media over-excite them regarding the pedophile priest sex scandal. "It is fair to condemn evil, but one must keep it in proportion," said Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, according to a Washington Post story.
Various Catholic family members remind me that the Vatican is not the Church; the people are; and I don't argue with them, though I sometimes want to. This is from an editorial published in the National Catholic Reporter today: "American Catholics have rarely been as angry with the leadership of their church, and therefore as angry with Rome, as they are today. Polling, even before the crisis, suggested that a substantial block of Catholics in the United States regarded the institutional dimension of their faith, especially the hierarchy, as increasingly irrelevant," the editorial says.
"Unless one is willing to discount the opinion of American laity simply because they are not ordained, then the reasons for the poll numbers are a serious matter. While those reasons have hardly been explored, it is not too great a leap to surmise that the sense of hierarchical irrelevance stems in no small way from the pope’s appointments and the pope’s expectations of those appointments.
has been the hallmark of this pope’s bishops, and loyalty, furthermore,
to an agenda that brooks no questions and demands that certain topics
great interest to some in the church be eliminated from discussion. The
result has been that bishops, laity and the priests in between often
the sense that they have been shackled. Pastoral instincts are
under the need to adhere to a growing list of rules and to be cautious
of increasing sanctions from on high."
6 October 03: A correspondent notes that it's been "slim pickins" around basil.CA lately. I could say that I've been knocked down with the flu, but that might explain maybe the last four days at most. I think rather that I'm in a pre-compositional fugue state — *gazes dimly* — in which amorphous sensation can begin to ploop sentences. That, at any rate, was the way it used to work.
October has always been my favourite month; it was Kerouac's, too. For the author of Dharma Bums and Tristessa it was pals and football and autumn in the northeast, and then memories of that. For me it has been the same (substituting cross country running for football).
Yesterday the Bills won in overtime and the Red Sox came from behind to
force a deciding game with the A's. This is demise
Life is tragic. It is also the best possible miserable situation.
I need a word that means "temporary happiness," the emotion a Red Sox
has going into the playoffs or a Bills fan has when the team is
Ideally the word would also convey futility and delusion.
15 September 03: "The next time you read about a rich person donating $100 million to charity, you should be aware that this seemingly generous gift may never actually reach the institutions that need it," writes philanthropist Lewis B. Cullman in The New York Review of Books. "The chances are that the donation is being used to set up a private foundation. The gift will earn the donor a full deduction against income or estate taxes. But the little-understood trick of this form of philanthropy is that the $100 million that launched the foundation need never go to charity."
I ought not
have been surprised
that "charity" is used to maintain and even extend the property rights
of the wealthy. Writes libertarian Bruce
L. Benson: "If self interest in preserving a private property
arrangement is even a significant part of the motivation for voluntary
wealth transfers, then it follows that preventing the evolution of or
the stability of private property rights will also prevent the
of or undermine voluntary charity. A theory of charity based on an
of altruism alone implies that the institutional environment does not
One need only examine the true role of church charities throughout
to see the accumulation of money, land, and power camouflaged as loving
When I watch track and field, I always watch it alone. That is because
I'm sitting in front of my TV emoting wildly and often wetly, and I
that it would discombobulate my friends to see me. My favourite events
are the women's running events. I have a picture in my bedroom of
plain-jane New Englander Joan Benoit winning the inaugural Women's
Marathon in 1984. I have spent a lot of time wondering why the women's
running events move me to trembling. It is not because the
are beauties; often they are not, though they *all* are lovely.
25 August 03: Twenty-year-old Carolina Klüft of Sweden won the Heptathalon at The World Track and Field Championships yesterday. "I don't put any thoughts about records in my head," she said. "I just try to have feelings. That's important for me."
feelings I get watching track and field are the ones I was probably
to get in church.
20 August 03: I came across this maddening item via Reason.Com's Hit and Run column.
A "sober bar" in Edmonton, Alberta that caters to recovering alcoholics was told to get a liquor licence and start serving alcohol if it wants to let customers smoke. ... A bylaw inspector's warning creates a painful Catch-22 for the owners of north-side Keep it Simple club. If they stay dry and ban smoking, they say they'll lose 90 per cent of their business. ... If they start selling liquor, they'll be tempting many patrons to return to addiction. ... "The city is forcing us to promote alcohol as the only way we can keep smoking," co-owner Tom Charbonneau said. "Other restaurants and bars have that option, but we don't."
8 August 03: I'm not an out-of-control hypochondriac. When I'm not sick, I don't feel sick. During those rare times in which I do feel sick, however, I tend to believe it's brain-tumour time for Bobby here. Don't most brain tumours start out as scratchy throats?
I have been studying a psychiatric condition known as hypochondriasis. One of my closest buddies has been practically incapacitated by it for more than two years. Talking with him has become an unbelievably frustrating experience. He is paralyzed by fear, and he is thinking in loops, and there has been no reaching him.
Jerome Groopman has an excellent piece in this week's New Yorker called Sick with Worry: Can Hypochondria Be Cured? The author interviews Arthur Barsky, one of the world's few hypochondria researchers:
argue against themselves,” Barsky said. That is, the therapist
reminds the patient that it is possible for a healthy person to have
but no actual disease: a headache is almost always a headache, not a
of a brain tumor. The therapist also tries to reduce the amount of
that the hypochondriac pays to bodily sensations. (Hypochondriacs are
attuned to physical sensations; studies have found that they are better
than other patients at measuring their heart rates, and can more
distinguish between two flashes of light delivered in rapid
Research has shown that focussing on some minor physical symptom
the sensation. For example, if a person holds a sheet of paper between
his thumb and forefinger, he will notice a tiny, natural tremor in his
hand. A person who stares at the tremor will start to shake more,
a person who is diverted by conversation or watching a video will
less. “I also tell people to pay attention to their throat,” Barsky
‘‘If you do it long enough, you’ll probably start thinking, well, it
a little dry. Then it starts to feel a bit scratchy and itchy, and you
may even cough. The more attention you pay to your body, the more
your symptoms will become.’’
4 August 03: I have not yet found an appropriate critique of President Bush's remarks in response to a reporter's question regarding gay marriage. He said: "I am mindful that we're all sinners, and I caution those who may try to take the speck out of their neighbor's eye when they got a log in their own." By making this call for tolerance, Bush cleverly camouflages his bigoted stance — it is more than merely a "personal religious belief" — that homosexuality is a sin.
Bush and the
Pope came up rather too often yesterday, clouding an otherwsie
"Gay Pride Parade" Sunday. The Gay Pride Parade has in recent
become a huge, completely inclusive and citywide festival. You
90-year-olds holding the hands of their great-grandchildren alongside
Dykes on Bikes and young men covered in silver-speckle body
This event always fills me with joy and makes me cry ... cry with
that joy but also with the memories of how f*****g ignorant I was in
school, alas, how I let my gay friends down.
Agha and Robert Malley demonstrate astonishing "negative capability" —
the phrase Keats used to describe Shakespeare's dramatic empathy — in
their recent New York Review of Books piece
on the Middle East. The section on Sharon is a masterpiece, I
I am with a medical professional, I try not to complain. There is a
story in today's Washington Post that has made me ever so grateful
for the good fortune I have had.
17 July 03: "Maybe
bullies are cowards, but losers are name-callers," notes one basil.CA
reader, an American who points out that "Donald Rumsfeld is the most
Defense Secretary in Bob Basil's life."
Another dispiriting demonstration of common wisdom: bullies
I denounce Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for saying a ban on gay
should be put in the Constitution and for adding, "Matters such as
should be addressed by the state legislatures. That's where those
— with the local norms, the local mores — are being able to have their
input in reflected." (Great syntax!) "Local mores" and "local norms,"
I remember correctly, have historically been used to crush civil rights
(letting blacks vote was not part of the American South's "local
and vanquish individual liberties (distributing sexual images online is
still not the "local norm" in Muttfug, Tennessee). "Local mores" and
norms" are code phrases hypocrites employ to hide their bigotry.
20 June 03: The lead letter in today's New York Times was written by Paul Matulic, a dear friend of the Basil family. The letter was on a subject dear to basil.CA's heart. Matulic writes: "The Catholic Church must purify itself of its grave sins in the sex abuse scandal. In putting public relations over conscience, it failed to recognize its own preaching on confession and penance."
I wrote Paul,
following this issue since the early nineties -- back when I was an
I bid on Jason Berry's groundbreaking
book on clerical sex abuse -- and I write about it
on basil.ca, never losing my dismay, alas. As an adult I have been a
and published critic of the Catholic Church -- but never, mind you, a
of a Catholic's or anybody else's individual religious spirit and
if that makes sense -- and I must say that in the past I never
the Catholic Church capable of this villainy, but MAN OH MAN.
morning I checked out http://www.catholic.org
-- not sure why, perhaps fishing for a basil.ca item -- and I just had
to hold my head in my hands."
The Family Violence Prevention Fund marked this Father's Day with a campaign to honor men who have pledged themselves to an effort to stop violence against women and children. It sounds like a positive and inspirational effort. Yet on second thought, one can see why some fathers' activists are rankled. Imagine a Mother's Day campaign that focused on stopping women's abuse of children. [...] Aside from child abuse (which is more often committed by women) and violence in same-sex relationships, study after study shows that anywhere from one-third to half of spousal or partner assaults are female-on-male. While men are less likely to be injured because of gender differences in size and strength and less likely to be murdered by their partners, violence by women against men is no laughing matter —as it is often treated in popular culture. Earlier this month, a New York woman was charged with beating her former boyfriend to death with her high-heeled shoe. The domestic violence establishment still clings to an ideology that denies or minimizes violence against men.
Canadian author Patricia Pearson's When She Was Bad: Women and the Myth of Innocence is a wonderful book-length treatise on the subject. As Pearson helpfully points out:
of child homicides in the United States; more than 80 percent of
an equal or greater share of severe physical child abuse; an equal rate
of spousal assault; about a quarter of child sexual molestations; and a
large proportion of elder abuse... The rate at which infants are
by women in the U.S. is higher than the rate at which women are
11 June 03: A buddy from New York writes:
So if it's true that the Bush Administration lied about evidence of WMD (not yet clear, but increasingly plausible), and if it's true it lied about ties to Al Qaeda (almost certainly true), and if it's therefore true it took America to war on the wings of these lies, would this be the greatest US government deception in our lifetime?
It certainly seems to be bigger than:
* Kennedy lying about his health
the Gulf of Tonkin (there were larger reasons --
* Nixon lying about lying
* Reagan lying about tax cuts bringing in more money
* Bush I lying about "no new taxes"
* Clinton lying about sex
always in search of dishonesty in government (witness the Clinton
will soon call for Congressional hearings on the subject.
5 June 03: Come
see what my delightful Kwantlen
College students are learning. Syllabi, some assignments, and
powerpoint presentations are online at my teaching-resource site vastscape.com.
30 May 03: I generally defend my once-adopted nation, the United States, when I am out and about among the Canadians, but when I return home I hold my head in my hands. In this issue of The New York Review of Books, Stanley Hoffman writes:
two and a
half years after it came to power, the Bush administration, elected by
fewer than half of the voters, has an impressive but depressing record.
It has, in self-defense, declared one war—the war on terrorism —that
no end in sight. It has started, and won, two other wars. It has
changed the strategic doctrine and the diplomatic position of the
States, arguing that the nation's previous positions were obsolete and
that the US has enough power to do pretty much as it pleases. At home,
as part of the war on terrorism, it has curbed civil liberties, the
on the rise throughout the world is not just hostility toward the most
powerful nation, or based on the old clichés of the left and the
right; nor is it only envy or hatred of our values. It is, more often
not, a resentment of double standards and double talk, of crass
and arrogance, of wrong assumptions and dubious policies. Whether our
leaders are capable of self-examination at a time of military victory
affect the planet for a long time to come.
Please pardon my brief absence from basil.ca. I've
had guests in town: most recently John
and Lily Glionna, in from San Francisco. I don't think there is
more delightful than introducing one's own friends to one another. Now
our throats are hoarse and our bellies are round and our eyes are red
now John and Lili have several charming places to stay when they come
Richard Gregg is riding around the world on his bicycle. He
with me earlier this week after crossing the border into Canada for the
first time. It took almost thirty minutes just to unpack 200
of stuff from his bike and carry everything up three flights of
Richard is a charming guy, bold but not blustery. He is
by people who are bored or stifled. "Our life means our ride" could
be his motto.
9 May 03:
After seven years, I am back in front of a class, teaching Applied
in Kwantlen University College's
School of Business. "If you have an important point to make,"
Winston Churchill, "don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile
Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a
time--a tremendous whack." Yes it does feel great.
I cannot make it through a nine-to-five day without reading The Wall
Journal's Best of the
is a combative, rightwing summary of the day's political and cultural
The website is obnoxious with self-satisfaction, but I always learn
sometimes about the world and sometimes about the word.
15 April 03: I had the honor of spending some time with Al Arsenault this weekend. Arsenault is a Vancouver beat cop and the Director of Odd Squad Productions, which brought out the great documentary "Through a Blue Lens" in 1999. The film follows Vancouver policemen who videotape their interactions with bedraggled drug addicts who live in the city's downtown eastside. It is a brilliant piece of work, filled with humanity and more than a little charm, too.
Arsenault is an
programs like safe-injection sites that many Canadians believe are
a worthy alternative to American-style punishment protocol. And
happy that, for the time being anyway, cops can be seen everywhere in
downtown eastside. Don't give our citizens the means to get high,
he says; give them access to treatment, so they can get well.
This Monday Vancouver tripled the number of police patrolling the
city's most beguiling neighborhood. It is an odd site seeing
getting arrested everywhere in an area that until a few days ago had
an open-air drug market tolerated by city citizens for
Since Monday night, hundreds of "dealers" have been thrown in
(The term "dealer" is polyreferential, as my philospher friends'd
For every gangster with a bucket of crack, there are a dozen "middlers"
who sell it on the street, essentially earning a small portion as a
In other words, virtually every drug-using downtown eastside resident
at least a part-time dealer who helps the occasional dopers, West End
and surburbanites in their cars get drugs and get high.)
My favourite libertarian, Virginia Postrel, has revamped her web
log. While you're there, you will want to read the interviewshe
did with the American Institute of Graphic Arts previewing her upcoming
book The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is
Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness.
You don't have to be a revolutionary Trotskyist to enjoy and benefit
the literature of the
Communist League, a small but articulate organization I have been
for more than a decade, twice utilizing pieces from the League's "Women
and Revolution" series in my "Writing and the Bill of Rights" class at Stanford
University. I always learn something that helps me win an
let me put it that way. Recent polemics on Iraq
and the Near East
are worthy of your attention.
26 March 03: The above photograph accurately represents the attitude not just of my neighborhood but of my nation's government toward the war between Iraq and the United States coalition. This attitude is distressing as hell. Said American Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci: "So many people in the United States are so disappointed that Canada is not fully supporting us now. There is no security threat to Canada that the United States would not be ready, willing and able to help with." True, true.
I asked an
friend of mine what he thinks of Canada's screw-you posture. "The
United States can hate only so many allies at once," he said, "and for
now France is using up all the oxygen. In truth we Americans
think of Canada much, and when we do we wonder why Canada just doesn't
become our country's biggest, prettiest state. In my opinion you would
do well to remember, gratefully, that Canada is protected by the
umbrella of the United States."
It's button time again in Vancouver, as protests become a regular
feature on the grand lawn of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
3 March 03: So
the British war protestors who had travelled to Iraq to become "human
against future American bombing are returning home
out of fear for their safety. Iraqi authorities had begun dictating
sites they could protect. C'est la guerre.
24 February 03: Joyce Lee Malcolm in an excellent ReasonOnline article called "Disarming History" analyzes the scandal of Michael Bellesiles' book "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture." Bellesiles claimed that gun ownership was rare in early America. Supporters of gun-control hailed the book, which won numerous awards. Friends with whom I had had spirited Second Amendment arguments sent me more "I told you so" emails than I cared to save. I was forced to start baiting friends to argue with me about the other Constitutional amendments, but the joy was just not the same. I was thus happy when the tide turned. Writes Malcolm:
As we’ll see, not only have virtually all aspects of his work been "challenged," but Bellesiles’ critics have discovered wholesale and systematic misrepresentation of the historical evidence. If anything can be learned from this extraordinary episode, in which one of the most extravagantly praised scholarly books in many years has been exposed as one of the most fraudulent, it is the importance of maintaining rigorous intellectual standards even when they work against one’s political preferences.
Canadians have a socialist sense of entitlement but a capitalist
of accomplishment. Alas.
3 February 03: The older I get, the more impressed I am by the perspicacity of my old colleagues at the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal – CSICOP – who attempt to encourage the critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims. They have the hearts of Sisyphus. I have lost entire weekends inside their website. I recommend a recent media case study by Matthew Nisbet on Bjorn Lomborg, whose often dubious scientific claims received worldwide, credulous attention.
the polarized, black and white style in which most public controversies
are covered, with journalists featuring Lomborg's counter-claims
the most extreme arguments of environmentalists. In other instances,
13 January 03: My favourite parts of BC Premier Gordon Campbell's desperate, disingenous news conference yesterday:
GC: I have never broken the law as a British Columbian to my knowledge and I don't intend to.
Q: Is that because you have never been caught, Premier?
GC: I've never been driving under the influence of alcohol to my knowledge.
Q: Premier, isn't that an incredible coincidence, that the very first time you did it, you were caught?
GC: I think I made a terrible mistake and I've said that.
Q: How often have you made that terrible mistake previously?
GC: To my knowledge I have never made that mistake.
the mug-shots were taken. I remember when they processed me and ...
of that processing is pictures. I don't believe I was smiling. If it
like that, I read one report that said I was grimacing and that would
a far better definition of what was taking place in my head.
Mayor Larry Campbell tells the Vancouver Sun that he wants our city to
copy a controversial but successful Swiss program of prescribing heroin
-- AND COCAINE -- to hard-core addicts. "I can see this kind of a
operating in Vancouver," Mr. Campbell said. "It's an effective way of
a small but very resistant group of people addicted to heroin. In fact,
by rights we should be offering prescription cocaine to the hardest
because they often are hooked on both." Our new mayor oversaw too
many autopsies as the city coroner to stick with conventional North
New York Times reports that President Bush's National Security team is
planning to "call for a heavy American military presence in the country
for at least 18 months, military trials of only the most senior Iraqi
and quick takeover of the country's oil fields to pay for
I love the relaxed manner in which the third element of this sentence
appended. The United States here blatantly and without apology
its ambition to control Iraqi oil. I imagine that these
costs (a) will be defined rather broadly, and (b)
not be going to Iraqi construction workers. I called a TV
producer friend of mine and read him the story. "You sound
he said. "Living in Beautiful British Columbia has perhaps made
a tad more naive about these things than you were back here in New
5 January 03:
The business culture of Vancouver is unlike what I experienced in the
goodness knows. This is never more true than during the Christmas
Season. As a publisher and editor and teacher, I think I worked
every Christmas Eve until I was 36, when I moved to Vancouver, where
are lucky to surround a conference table with the people you need at
time between, say, December 15 and when the kids go back to school in
I will never really get used to this annual citywide relaxation -- I
come to my office every Christmas Eve -- but I have come to enjoy it,
an exile would take to exotic food prepared for him with humour and
26 December 03: Rodney Decroo's Christmas story, God Damn Us Every One, is the funniest thing I have read all year. This is how it starts:
“Great. Fucking great. Hey, I know, why don’t we get a gun and play Russian Roulette while we’re at it?” I said glumly into the phone.
“What,” asked Laura, “you don’t like it?”
“No, I don’t like it. I think it’s a profoundly bad idea.”
“It’s great idea. If you don’t like it, go have Xmas somewhere else. We’re not having a commercial Xmas in our house.”
“A commercial Xmas? What the hell are you talking about?” I asked. “What’s fucking commercial about a turkey, gravy, cranberries, a few beers and some friends?”
“No. If you
why that whole concept is playing into western corporate cultural
“Great,” I said. “Hey, I know. We can make up some chants and protest the neighbor’s Xmas celebrations. A progressive variation on Xmas caroling.”
“That’s not funny.”
“Yeah, well, we wouldn’t want to be funny.”
“We’re being fair. I said an activist Christmas. At least we’re celebrating Xmas. Ali isn’t happy about that, but I said we had to compromise out of respect for your traditions.”
“My traditions? What… what are you talking about? Listen, tell Ali if he doesn’t like it to go celebrate whatever he wants to celebrate at his own fucking house.”
“He’s a refugee and you’re being racist.”
“Great. Terrific. Now I’m a refugee hating racist. Look, I’m at work. I gotta get off the phone.”
“you become what you hate.” Well, it’s an adage because it’s true.
this particular Xmas, I morphed into the doppelganger of the malicious,
drunken uncle who staggers through the party insulting family members
groping second cousins. …
4 December 03: The archives of Ellavon: An Ezine of Basic Culture are back online. When my "server guy" told me yesterday that I had let my domain-name registration lapse, I literally almost fainted, like the time I thought my then-infant son had expired of heat stroke in his stroller. (He chose that summer afternoon in Buffalo to become the way-deep sleeper he is to this day.)
Included in the Ellavon archives, by the way, is work by Kat Kosiancic, Kristi Coulter, Julie Damerell, Robin Plan, Joseph Conte, Jonathan Mayhew, Marilyn Suriani, John Sindelar, John Glionna, Diane Middlebrook, Paul Kurtz, Jeanne O'Day, and my brother Chris Basil. I'm relieved and grateful that these essays, stories, galleries, and interviews are back online.
Except for very specific sectors of human activity – teaching, editing, research, food-handling, and I suppose showing up on time – I am not an especially fastidious or organized person. This summer, for instance, I did not notice that Kwantlen University College had stopped direct-depositing my paycheck after the first two checks. (They were holding my checks in the Human Resources office instead. Why? To encourage me to pass along documentation I'd promised them in the Spring. Nothing serious, just nothing that made it to the top of my to-do-lists, either.) When in early September I walked into Human Services to collect three months worth of paychecks, everybody on the floor, it seemed, stepped out of their offices to take a look at this new teacher in the Business School. "You must be very rich," one lady said.
"No," I said,
that because Canadians are all very polite, this lady was probably not
needling me but needlessly trying to praise me. "By the way," I asked,
"can one of you help steer me back to door that, uh, leads back
I am in love with Canada: You need help, you get help.
Rogers upon meeting Lorenz Hart for the first time: “I left
house having acquired in one afternoon a career, a partner, a best
and a source of permanent irritation.”
10 November 03: I generally refuse my downtownstairs neighbor Merrylynn nothing. She is charming and she means the world to me, and it is fun to say "I'll be right there, Merrylynn" and then zoom down the stairs. We are like brother and sister; we take care of each other. Yesterday she left a message asking me to return her video-copy of the movie "The Hours." I had to refuse. I needed to see it again, several more times. The movie has overwhelmed me. I felt this way the first time I heard John Coltrane and the first time I read Frank O'Hara and the first time I visited Pigeon Park – a beautiful cry of mortal reality that joins joy and sadness to transcend them both.
22 October 03: Author and pianist Charles Rosen relates this delightful anecdote in a recent New York Review of Books piece: "The very elderly and supremely distinguished art historian Walter Friedländer once returned a paper to a student at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University with the laconic remark that it was not good. The student asked Friedländer to tell him where it was wrong so he could correct it, and Friedländer replied sadly, 'It wasn't even wrong.'"
As a teacher I have had some similar experiences, always at the beginning of the term. Generally, however, I regard all of my students as being smarter and more talented than me. This belief falls somewhere in between an hypothesis and an act of faith.
(By the way: The editors of the New York Review of Books, bless their hearts, have placed the entire Fortieth Anniversary Issue online — a magnificent treat.)
20 October 03: Congratulations to Kat Kosiancic for sharing in the award for "Best News Magazine Segment" at the 18th Annual Gemini Awards last week. Kat was part of the team that produced "Searching for Sarah," a humane and heart-breaking downtown eastside narrative that appeared on "CBC News Sunday" last November. The piece was produced by Martin Cadotte, reported by Frederic Zalac, shot by Georges Laszuk, and edited by Denis Grenier. Kat was the researcher.
A related item: Kat has provided basil.CA with a wonderful photograph of the late Denise Greyeyes. (See September 11 note, below.) Denise shone in Kat's documentary "Be My Junkie Shadow." It's my favourite part of the video: You see two women meeting for the first time and becoming soulful friends. It is a duet. It is an astonishment. It is a privilege to witness. Here's the photograph of Denise, taken before she moved to the downtown eastside:
15 October 03: Diane Middlebrook's biographical account of the marriage between poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, Her Husband: Hughes and Plath, Portrait of a Marriage, has just been published. I am sure it is brilliant. I attended a lecture at Stanford University at which Diane discussed Plath's work: She ended by reciting the poem "Daddy" with such focused ferocity that we all gasped.
Sexton was the best literary biography I've ever read, and it
disturbed me. I had hoped that I would have found Sexton to be
and immoral, but I couldn't, at least not with any comfort and
Diane situates Sexton in moral difficulty without moralizing,
Sexton's decisions so that they all appear to be acts of
Diane got me to empathize with a woman whose miserable, powerful books
my mother would leave lying around in the den or living room when I was
a child. I realized that I had been graceless, for a very long
23 September 03: I have been irritated but not surprised by the notices of film-maker Leni Riefenstahl's death at age 101. Los Angeles Times film critic Manohla Dargis said, "She was vile — she was the apotheosis of an amoral collaborator. I've been waiting for her to die for years."
This used to be my view. I remember years ago in Buffalo being invited out for drinks by Richard Chon to meet some of his artist friends. It had been a lovely afternoon, until one woman, whom I regarded as being obviously disturbed, started to defend Riefenstahl's art. "She was not promoting political ideology, even in 'The Triumph of the Will,'" this woman said, "and certainly not in 'Olympia,'" Riefenstahl's documentary about the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I became livid with righteous outrage and wine, and I ripped this person I'd just met a new one. That ended the merriness of that afternoon gathering of Buffalo's artists and intellectuals.
As I was leaving, that woman followed me out the door and asked me, "Why are you so angry?" I don't remember why I was, and I forget what I said, and I don't know whether I knew even then. I also don't remember when my view of Riefenstahl changed to that one held by the woman I scolded in Buffalo — maybe after I had seen "Olympia" for the fifteenth time? maybe after I had grown reluctant to condemn aesthetic souls for being unable to predict political events that are unimaginable even in retrospect? It is a puzzle.
There is no
Leni Riefenstahl's odes to joy. It is true that there is not much
messy humanity in them, either. One German journal noted: "Her art
remained superficial. Not once did she manage to portray a person as an
individual." Riefenstahl's individuals were always emblems of a
— of team spirit, as it were.
Greyeyes (shown above) recently passed away. This image is from Kat
Kosiancic's 2001 documentary Be
Junkie Shadow. A tribute is being prepared and will appear in Ellavon:
An Ezine of Basic Culture. My prayers are with the family and
the pals of this generous soul.
6 September 03: Vancouver readers of basil.CA, go check out The Diane Farris Gallery, which opens the 2003 Fall Season with an exhibition of portraits by gallery artists in varying mediums including oil, watercolour, drawing, collage and photography. There's wonderful work by Shannon Belkin, Justin Ogilvie. Jesse Garbe, Phil Borges, Janieta Eyre, Chris Wood, Cherry Hood, and Lincoln Clarkes.
know where I'm going to be the evening of September 11: the
Vancouver East Cultural Centre, where poet Robert Creeley is
with Robin Blaser. Creeley was a professor of mine back in the
at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He's a surpassing
poet and essayist, if a middling teacher. I must say, though,
to me he showed such generosity and decency that he left me trying to
it in a world of new words and more humane aspiration. Bless that guy.
16 August 03: In You Don't Look 35, Charlie Brown! the late Charles M. Schultz writes, "There must be different kinds of loneliness, or at least different degrees of loneliness.... The most terrifying loneliness is not experienced by everyone and can be understood only by a few. I compare the panic in this kind of loneliness to the dog we see running frantically down the road pursuing the family car. He is not really being left behind, for the family knows it is to return, but for that moment in his limited understanding, he is being left alone forever, and he has to run and run to survive. It is no wonder that we make terrible choices in our lives to avoid loneliness."
Comix artist Seth
illustrates these words in a remarkable series of panels called "Good
published in Drawn
and Quarterly, Volume 2, Number 4. I came across these panels
many years ago and have been looking for them ever since, locating them
in my disorganized files only this morning. I now realize that my
Park Sentences were variations on Schultz's theme, that I could not
have even started without its echo in my imagination. "It is
wonder that we make terrible choices in our lives to avoid loneliness."
11 August 03: Elvis Costello once said, "writing about music is like dancing about architecture — it's a really stupid thing to want to do." Why Costello was complaining about the rock press always baffled me: Music writers adored him. What also baffled me was the quote itself: We are almost *always* dancing about architecture — unless we are dancing about in the fields.
To be fair, Costello was probably using the word "about" in a different sense, making the point that it's folly to utilize one art form as a commentary on another. But this point is absurd, too, both as it applies to music criticism and generally. Written commentary on restaurants and cooking is my favourite nonfiction (though this enjoyment does not extend to writing about wine, which as a subgenre is snotty and obscure). I might add that cooks often fashion recipes as commentaries on food writing (and food writers).
architecture." Here is a thought experiment: Imagine
dancing in a beery roadhouse, then at a Lower East Side loft, then in a
Greenwich, Connecticut mansion, then in your bathroom, then beneath the
stars at the Berkeley Greek Theater. Now try to imagine your
existing, in part, as a real commentary on the architecture; I
Just to let y'all know I've added The
Fifteenth Edition of the Chicago Manual of Style to my amazon.com wish-list.
(My birthday is September 1.)
31 July 03:
wrote: "The weak sometimes wish to be thought wicked, but the
wish to be thought virtuous." That was in 1746. Today his
might be amended to note that the weak and the wicked — both,
mind you — would happily accept the designation "mentally ill"
their initial wishes came to naught.
Rest in peace, pianist Rosalyn
Tureck. I am heartened that I had a chance to praise you while you
19 July 03: From The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan: "Replaying an old Miles Davis L.P. I recall one of my encounters with the satanic elf. Some time in the late 50's I went to Birdland to hear him. Between sets he joined our table for a drink, and chatted in his rasping whisper quite amiably. Suddenly we were approached by a timid white teen-aged boy with an autograph album. Nervously he asked Miles for a signature and as Miles obliged he said: 'I've always admired you, Mr. Davis. I play trumpet in my high school band and I think you have a wonderful embouchure. How do you get an embouchure like that?' Miles said casually: 'I got it from sucking off little white boys like you.' The boy absolutely froze. We all did. The words were spoken without passion, but they taught me more about feeling towards whites than dozens of liberal fund-raising sessions with Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte."
Davis quip — I think I first heard it related by drummer Max
Upon learning that Charlie Parker had died, Miles said, "That
died before we could get even."
1 July 03: The French artist Jean Cocteau was asked what he would do if his house was on fire and he was allowed to remove only one thing. "I'd remove the fire," he said.
This anecdote conveys the essential elements of cognitive therapy.
22 June 03:
This week The
York Historical Society opens an exhibition called "Remembering the
Forgotten Ones: The Photographs of Milton Rogovin." Rogovin is a
93-year-old photographer from Buffalo, New York. I first came
his pangenerational portraits of neighbors in the city's Lower Westside
when I was an undergrad at the University of Buffalo in the late 1970s.
I could silence a room simply by bringing in a book of his
I'm completely delighted that he is now getting big national
Today's Washington Post has a profile
of the true-blue photographer and his wife Annie.
21 June 03: Getting older has been, on balance, a wonderful thing for me. I cannot run anymore, and, while I used to love running more than anything else, I loved it right, which means I loved it as a mortal element of my life, not a given and infinite thing. Getting older has also meant that I have lost whatever looks I might have had as a young man, so I am indeed gratified that I was never vain (that way, anyways) in the first place; it has come in handy.
It seems perhaps too obvious even to note, but you have to be well into middle age before you can have the experience of enjoying things that go on and on a very long time: Like decades-long friendship, and like loyalty that lasts even when love hides out. As Kato Kaelin said to Jay Leno a few years ago, "You can't make new old friends."
We are put on this planet to witness and to foster creation, and orations can begin as praise.
I heard the
of Rosalyn Tureck for the first time the other night, on the
"The Goldberg Variations," a 1982 recording
of a live performance. I remember the first time I listened to the
recorded by Glenn Gould and Charles Rosen (in Richard Chon's apartment
twenty-two years ago) and by Murray Perahia (in my Vancouver office
year). Each performance is a living miracle, and I wondered whether
person whom I'd never heard of before could play in their
My goodness, yes. I am so glad there is more.
Happy birthday to Jim Goad, who
appears to be my favourite writer and whose boldness I admire entirely
6 June 03: Vancouver's great Pacific Cinematheque and the Carnegie Community Centre are sponsoring The Downtown Eastside Film Festival.
The flyer reads: "This festival is a community forum that uses the prism of film shot in and inspired by the downtown eastside as an entry point to explore the passions and prejudices of this compelling area."
The festival is
dozens of films and videos. I like this "show a lot"
Sometimes I believe that the downtown eastside contains all of
or all of mine.
1 June 03: My buddy the photographer Lincoln Clarkes is starting to receive big press in the States for his portraits of women who live and work in Vancouver's downtown eastside. His "Heroines" series is featured in this week's Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine cover story (registration required). The story was written by my friend John Glionna, who tooled around with me 24 years ago in Buffalo, New York's skid row neighborhood as I wrote a series of stories for our university newspaper on a similar subject. Our friendship, and our interests, and that kind of world, have remained.
I eavesdropped on Clarkes's self-searching ruminations on the nature of
art, the influence on "Heroines" of raising two now-grown daughters,
the parallels between his work and that of Gustav Klimp, the
Austrian Painter of semi-abstract, gemlike mosaics. Clarkes
in soft tones, oblivious to interruptions, girded by a firm
He will get to his point, even if he is still figuring out what his
15 May 03:
night-time dreams I often discover shared etymologies among words, and
often I wonder what took me so long to make the most obvious
Last night I dreamed that the words "plea" and "please" came from the
root -- something everybody reading basil.ca
no doubt figured out by the sixth grade. From the latin placere
-- "to please" -- and placare -- "to placate." I'm happy to be
4 May 03: These days I live alone, and more or less buoyantly, in an apartment in Vancouver's West End, where on a good day I get to watch the boats of English Bay go by from my balcony, and I can try cooking something new in the kitchen. I like to cook; I like the patience and the onions good cooking requires.
I cannot eat enough on my own to justify making entire feasts, so I have specialized in making soups, and I feast on food-writing instead, first turned on to the genre by Ruth Reichl when she wrote reviews for the New York Times. Sara Dickerman's recent Slate piece, Eat Your Words: A Guide to Menu English, charmed me:
bell of eating out. They are a literature of control. Menu language,
its hyphens, quotation marks, and random outbursts of foreign words,
less to describe food than to manage your expectations. [...]
menus exist in part to convince diners that they could not replicate
food at home—the sheer number of components on a plate helps persuade
that you are getting your money's worth. Take, for instance this
from a ritzy San Francisco hotel: "Rosemary Basted Loin of Venison,
Glazed Endive, Vanilla Spiced Sweet Potato Purée, Chocolate
Jus, and Pickled Cranberries." Nothing says "don't try this at home"
Chocolate Venison Jus.
I find it easier to admit to enjoying guilty pleasures when these
were born in Canada. I can count at least three times I woke up in my
End apartment suddenly loving an Alanis Morisette song that hurt my
only the night before. And I'm singing that new Avril Lavigne
"I'm With You," to patient colleagues at my office. And I've
that it is good for one's soul to submit to Shania
14 April 03: I have found that as I have gotten older, in most ways I have become an appreciably more patient person. I get too tired to tell people to hurry up, and I am too aware of my own ignorance to tell people to smarten up. I can now listen to opera all day Sunday, and I can listen to my downstairs neighbor complain about British Columbia's premier all day Monday. I am, on balance, almost a patient man.
There are areas, however, mostly having to do with the arts, that have seen my patience dwindle to nothing. I can now hardly bear watching movies or television shows (excepting "Law and Order") that depict brutality (particularly rape), mental illness, or adultery. (I watch lots of chick-flicks and sports documentaries.) And I will literally cover my ears when by some accident poetry starts coming out of my radio; I just can't stand it. "Poetry should be as well-written as prose," said Ezra Pound. It almost never is, alas.
"The crying of
a nice child
is ugly," wrote Anton Chekhov. "So in bad poetry you may
that the author is a nice person."
31 March 03:
update has been added to downtowneastside.com's
"Pigeon Park Sentences."
24 March 03: My colleagues here do tend to revere American documentary-maker Michael Moore, who has ingratiated himself to Canadians to a ludicrous extent, telling the world that Canada is so safe and gun-free that people don't lock their doors in Toronto, which is less a fantasy than an outright lie. But it is a lie that serves a purpose, no doubt.
I can't stand Michael Moore: His work is too heavyhanded to appeal to me aesthetically, too loose with the facts to appeal to me academically, and way too unfriendly to appeal to me as a man.
What galled me was Moore's invitation to the other documentarian nominees to join him on stage. One can suppose they believed Moore wanted to share his spotlight in order to honor their work, but in fact he was enlisting their support for his upcoming outburst without their permission. These film-makers were bamboozled in front of a billion people; they looked crestfallen.
17 March 03: I'm an amateur photographer who carries his Nikon Coolpix 990 digital camera around with him most of the time. Occasionally I point my camera in the right direction – the alpha and omega of my picture-taking technique (having photogenic friends has come in handy) – and I spend nearly endless hours happily enhancing my images with Corel PhotoPaint and Adobe Photoshop. One could say that I am an average talent, but is any craft that is so inflected by merry initiative ever really average?
I have a small but nifty collection of photographs, which I'd carry out of my burning apartment building before I'd grab anything else. I started collecting seriously the day my friend Marilyn Suriani showed me six of her photos and offered me my choice of one as a gift. I became completely perplexed. "You want me to give you all six, don't you, Bob?" I would have loved Marilyn forever anyway, and her photographs.
There's an excellent article on collecting in Photo District News. Numerous photographers are now limiting the number of prints they make of any one negative – or digital file – to "editions." One photographer told the magazine: “The escalating prices and limited [supply] drives interest toward an artist’s entire body of work. When you run out of one image, interest is deflected toward other images, and as the price of one image rises, the price of the entire body of work can also rise." The practice of locking away your negative after making a set number of prints is unlikely to become universal: Its effect on raising prices is unclear, and many photographers don't want to hamstring themselves.
None of the
in my collection belongs to a limited edition. Would I value the
work of Marilyn Suriani, Laura
Rubin, Lincoln Clarkes,
et al., more if there were fewer prints in the homes of other patrons
collectors? It's hard to believe. Then again, Steve Martin once
that you don't really know what it means to be a collector until you
to sell a piece of art from your expensively assembled
which is an experience I am not looking forward to having.
25 February 03: Richard Chon and his band The Saddle Cats are gigging around the San Francisco Bay Area and assembling tracks for their debut CD. When Chon released "Li'l World" a few years back, I sent out copies to my family and some friends, many of whom have asked me to pester the fiddler for a new release – his music is that charming and winsome.
10 February 03: In my first year as a graduate student in the English Department at Stanford University, I took classes in Old English (which resembles today’s Icelandic, I was told) and Middle English (the language of Chaucer). Never has my interest in a subject been so unbuttressed by ability. I squeaked by, thrilled by the smallest achievements. My Middle English Professor, the late Donald Howard, was as funny a person as I have ever known; I adored him. (The most hilarious piece of writing I have ever read wasn’t by Twain or Mencken but Howard’s review of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” scholarship.) I used to stop by his office during lunchtime several times a week, just to shoot the breeze, and our honking laughter—we shared that trait — would resound through the Stanford Quad. “You have no talent for languages,” he told me one time, “and I know that you know I can’t do anything for your career.” Professor Howard correctly believed I was spending time with him for the mere pleasure of it.
Professor Howard could read cultural and political history in every word – in every syllable. His expertise and artistry eradicated my arrogant pretensions to scholarship; I was a naïf with some talent and initiative, perhaps little more. I started to study etymology, the way a butcher takes up the harp, with earnest humility and no schedule for achievement. A friend of mine gave me The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language – a grand reference book! – which has an entrancing “Word Roots” section at the back. I found out that the word “teach” descended from the same root that gave us “touch” and “toe” and “digit – ah, of course! Teaching is about pointing! – and that “learn” comes from the Latin “lira,” which means “furrow” or “track” … and “lira” is also the root of “delirium,” to fall out of the furrow, to lose track … in other words: to be incapable of learning, to go crazy.
I returned to
dictionary the other day to learn about “ridiculous” and “ludicrous” –
words used pretty much interchangeably to mean “absurd.” I wondered
they were etymologically related. They’re not; they are
related, though. “Ridiculous” comes from the latin “ridere” – to
laugh. And “ludicrous” from the latin “ludus,” play.
wonder if rapper Ludakris is aware of this salient echo.) To
Hence “prelude” – to play before. That night I dreampt
the word “allude” and realized in my dream state that it also must have
come from the latin word for play: allude: to play with.
I woke up and found Donald Howard’s celebrated biography of Chaucer,
which was completed by his colleagues and students in the months after
Howard died of AIDS, and took it back to bed with me, and opened it up.
5 February 03: Phil Spector, arrested yesterday for the slaying of B-movie actress Lana Clarkson, has long been a pitiful and rather creepy guy, blest by musical genius but also captive to narcissism and paranoia. Early on, his sense of entitlement grew to a malignant size: It was not enough that his fans be guided and engaged by Spector's musical creation; they had to admire every bit of it. He took the tepid success of his composition for Ike and Tina Turner, "River Deep, Mountain High," as treachery. I remember paying attention for the first time to the words of "Be My Baby," which he wrote for the Ronettes and which was sung by Veronica Bennett (who soon thereafter became Spector's wife "Ronnie"). Spector's demand for -- and expectation of -- adoration from his lover made the song hard to dance to after awhile:
kiss you give
29 January 03: Jonathan Mayhew's blog continues to charm. We're lucky he adds to it so often. Today's take on poetry is a keeper:
I've never understood: the idea that iambic verse is thumping and
Actually, it can be extraordinarily supple and flexible, almost
variable. It only gets stiff when it is used as a sign of the poet's
rectitude, as in J.V. Cunningham. Where did Pound get that line about
in the sequence of the metronome"? The metronome is a device for
tempo, not rhythm, and the tempo of the iambic pentameter is
malleable. It does stiffen up a bit with Dryden and Pope, of course,
is quite free both before and after: from Chaucer to Milton, and from
to Browning. … The problem with some current "formalists" is they write
as though Pound were correct in his metronome remark. The verse might
but it lacks a convincing rhythmic feel. It often sounds cramped and
rather than expansively Shakespearian. You don't get that forced,
the syllables on the fingers feel from Shakespeare that you get from
neo-formalists of today.
15 January 03: I doubt that anybody who comes to basil.CA believes that Pete Townsend is a pedophile or a disseminator of child pornography. Rock Critic and Who biographer Dave Marsh has been distributing an essay Townsend wrote last year in which the songwriter/guitarist -- a great man, a witness and a warrior -- describes his (at first inadvertent) research into internet child pornography. The piece ends this way:
But it must
to do something more concrete to stop the proliferation of questionable
pornography that seems so readily and openly facilitated by the
Another danger is this: I think it must be obvious that many children
becoming inured to pornography much too early and - as I have
- the internet provides a very short route indeed to some of the most
and shocking images of rape and abuse. The subconscious mind is deeply
damaged and indelibly scarred by the sight of such images. I can assure
everyone reading this that if they go off in pursuit of images of
rape they will find them. I urge them not to try. I pray too that they
don't happen upon such images as did I, by accident. If they do they
like me become so enraged and disturbed that their dreams are forever
an Instant Messenger conversation with my bud Richard Chon today, we
talking about the Gordon Campbell DUI, how much our culture has changed
in its attitudes toward alcohol, especially drinking and driving, and
made the following point: "MADD [Mothers Against Drunk Driving]
killed live music in the United States." Chich is a professional
and formerly a professional fan, ie journalist-critic; I bet he's
What a sad consequence of an enlightened cultural commitment!
9 January 03: There is something wistful about finding out that somebody loves your sweetheart more than you do. My buddy Richard Chon has introduced me to an astonishing website devoted to one of my favourite movie-loves, "Heavenly Creatures," the true story of Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme, exquisitely close friends who murdered Pauline's mother, Nora Parker. (The real pair is shown above, Pauline on the left and Juliet on the right; the actresses who portrayed them in the movie are shown below: Melanie Lynskey played Pauline and Kate Winslet played Juliet.) Chon writes: "I've never seen such intensive minutiae on display. This guy" -- Adam Abrams -- "is obsessed." The site includes an encyclopedic FAQ including material about the protagonists' real-life families and schools; sections on the Real People; Missing Details; The Film vs. Real Life; Comparisons, Narrative Gaps, Statements; Movie-making details about the Cast, Crew, Locations, Effects; an exhaustive list of articles and references; Other Art Inspired by the Film; Timeline, Bios, Diaries, Writings, Testimony; video and audio files; reviews; reader input; and a "Heavenly" Quiz. The film certainly warrants this affectionate treatment. In love no attention is unwarranted -- our film's heroines attested to that.
4 January 03: The Movie Review Query Guide is the newest entry in the New York Times CyberNavigator. The "primary intent [of this New York Times online service] is to give reporters and editors new to the Web a solid starting point for a wide range of journalistic functions without forcing all of them to spend time wandering around blindly to find a useful set of links of their own. Its secondary purpose is to show people that there's still a lot of fun and useful stuff going on out there." The Query Guide is an astonishingly complete selection of movie reviews. Yesterday I happily wasted several hours finding out everything that has ever been said about the movies of Mary-Louise Parker. Here is what a reviewer for the Christian Spotlight said about that great chick flick "Boys On the Side:
When I completely ignore God's perspective, I like this movie. One of its themes is that friends love and support each other despite their differences. It sensitively portrays AIDS in a world that still wants to abandon AIDS victims to "the consequences of their actions." The police officer turns Holly in for murder because of his personal integrity, but remains in love with her, and after her brief jail term, marries her and apparently adopts the child as his own. On top of all that, when Jane suggests to Holly that she abort the baby she is carrying, Holly refuses on the grounds that she would "feel like a murderer."
For most Christians, however, those values are best viewed in other movies. The characters constantly interject profanity in their conversations, culminating in a scene where Holly [the Mary-Louise Parker character] is supposedly liberated by the ability to use a word that even most non-Christians find too offensive for polite conversation. [That word would be"cunt,"alas. -- Ed.]
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