23 Nov. 07: Literally nothing motivates me more than publication. What others see as social or work or even family occasions, I see as opportunities to get work written, designed, and put online or placed between the covers of a book.
I zealously encourage students in Kwantlen's advanced business programs to create their own websites. "Own your own name online. It's better than a business card." A superb student of mine, Agata Zasada, had already launched Agata.CA by the time she was raising the level of discourse in my Professional Communications class last summer. Her goal: "To connect friends, family, colleagues, coworkers, and Kwantlen students with me on a personal level. I use this website to express myself by posting pictures of 'fun' times with friends, vacations, and significant other. I use bright colors, black, and bold fonts to attract attention. This website acts as an online window to my life."
This fall she established Zasada.CA, "to provide immediate access to my most important accomplishments (class projects, references, education, and career information). The 'eye balls' that I want to look at this site: my prospective employers ... and instructors to provide feedback and to see my educational and professional background."
Now I am showing her own work in my classes.
9 Nov. 07: TNR Gold Corp. (TSX-V: TNR) has added Ike Osmani, PGeo, to its exploration team as chief geologist for South American projects. Mr. Osmani brings 26 years of Canadian and international mineral exploration experience in gold and base metals. He will be working closely with Roberto Lara, exploration manager for South America, to provide project supervision and control requirements.
Gary Schellenberg, president and chief executive officer of TNR, commented, "Mr. Osmani is joining TNR at a key point in the company's strategic development." TNR has pursued a successful strategy in Argentina of acquiring mineral properties with joint venture partners, as well as operating its own exploration programs. During 2007, TNR increased its direct involvement in Argentina and is now operating three programs ranging from discovery-stage to intermediate-stage exploration. The company will commence drilling on its El Salto property in the coming weeks and the El Tapau and Eureka properties in early 2008.
21 Oct. 07: Do you know that flow-charts haven’t been around for millennia? The first flow-chart, I learned yesterday, was probably drawn by Herman Heine Goldstine and John von Neumann in 1948, at the dawn of the computer age. I’d read about von Neumann when I was a little kid in love with mathematics, but Goldstine was a new name for me. From the Free Encyclopedia: During World War II, Goldstine “was commissioned a lieutenant and worked as an ordnance mathematician calculating firing tables at the Ballistic Research Laboratory at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. The firing tables were used in battle to find the appropriate elevation and azimuth for aiming artillery, which had a range of several miles. The firing table calculations were accomplished by about one hundred women operating mechanical desk calculators. Each combination of gun, round and geographical region required a unique set of firing tables. It took about 750 calculations to compute a single trajectory and each table had about 3,000 trajectories. It took one of these people—known, ironically, as computers—about 12 days to compute one trajectory, and more than four years to compute a table.” Wow. Now that's incentive to invent an artificial computer.
16 Oct. 07: "It doesn't take a marketing genius to realize that suing adolesents who worship your product may not be the ideal way to promote that product." Slate has an excellent article today explaining the ambivalence of copyright holders.
07: Northern Lion Gold
Corp. (TSX-V: NL) has
contracted an initial 5000-plus metres of NQ diamond drilling on its
Moura and Cercal projects in
Portugal, to commence in October 2007.
11 Sept. 07: New World Resource Corp. (TSX-V: NW) has completed its preliminary review of the La Negra lead-zinc-silver project in central Chile. Geological mapping and soil and rock chip sampling have identified high-grade polymetallic mineralization, including combined lead and zinc values of more than 18 per cent, in the workings of a Spanish-era mine on the property. A quartz-tourmaline alteration zone, favourable to zinc-lead-silver mineralization, is exposed over 40 hectares. Based on the positive results of this initial review, the company has claimed an additional 2,750 hectares of land adjacent to the original 1,660-hectare La Negra project area. The company is proceeding with construction of an access road and a full first-phase exploration program. The La Negra project area now totals 4,410 hectares.
30 Aug. 07: TNR Gold Corp. (TSX-V: TNR) has signed an option agreement to acquire a 70-per-cent interest in the El Tapau property, located 130 kilometres west of the city of San Juan, in San Juan province. El Tapau is strategically located in proximity to the company's El Salto property, which will allow for work programs to be carried out simultaneously. Both the El Tapau and El Salto properties are accessible year-round by paved and dirt roads.
The El Tapau property is believed to host an intrusive-related gold system in the Frontal cordillera of the eastern Andes, at an altitude of about 2,300 metres.
TNR personnel recently completed a reconnaissance trip to the property in order to evaluate its mineral potential and design a program for further exploration. The Tapau claim contains veins and porphyry-style stockwork that are mineralized with gold and copper. Initial investigations indicate a large mineralized system situated below the auriferous veins found in the northeast part of the claims. Systematic rock chip (157 samples) along this zone, over an area of 600 metres long by 400 m wide, has yielded gold values ranging from trace to 19 grams per tonne with the average value being 2.2 g/tonne. Sample analysis was done by Alex Stewart Assayers, Argentina S.A. Numerous historical underground copper mines are located on the claim, and quartz stockwork zones are common throughout the project area. Historical IP done by Quantec indicates a strong large chargeability high, approximately 1.5 kilometres by 2.0 km (east-west) in extent, underling this area, and is open to the west.
Additional work has been recommended by geologists for the remainder of 2007. In order to improve geological understanding of the origin and structural extent of mineralization, TNR has planned a work program to begin immediately. Work will include: detailed geological mapping; systematic rock sampling on the claim; geophysical IP to test the full extent of the previously identified chargeability anomaly; trenching.
The acquisition of El Tapau project continues TNR's strategy of identifying prospective projects and fostering work on its large portfolio of base and precious metal projects in the Americas, with special emphasis on Argentina.
TNR has agreed to make payments totalling $1-million to PetraGold over a five-year period and commit to work expenditures totalling $3-million over a four-year period. PetraGold maintains a 2-per-cent net smelter returns royalty purchasable by TNR for $2-million.
27 Aug. 07: I'm rated.
25 July 07: Northern Lion Gold Corp. (TSX-V:NL) has engaged Contact Financial Corp. of Vancouver to develop and implement a comprehensive investor relations strategy for the company. Company president John Lando commented: "This is an exciting time for Northern Lion as we refocus our exploration and development on our prospective Portuguese mineral licences. Contact has an outstanding track record in working with emerging public companies. We are very pleased to have secured its assistance in increasing our exposure to industry analysts, and institutional and retail investors in North America and Europe."
15 June 07: Jennifer Chang, a fine
student of mine who recently graduated from Kwantlen University College's Entrepreneurial
Leadership program, has launched a company, BioGreen: Integrated Pest Management.
28 May 07: TNR Gold
Corp. (TSX-V:TNR) is
diamond drilling program on its Tyner
Lake copper project, located in Southern British Columbia, Canada. The
program will consist of drill testing five targets, generated by TNR's
2006 3-D-IP geophysical survey on the property, for a total length of
approximately 800 metres.
The 2,550-hectare Tyner Lake claims are located in the Guichon Creek
batholith area, which hosts the Highland Valley copper mine and is
expected to average approximately 400,000 tonnes production of copper
concentrate per year. Exploration work in the late 1960s and early
1970s identified several copper-in-soil anomalies in and at the margin
of a poorly exposed quartz monzonite intrusive. These copper anomalies,
completely covered by overburden, were tested by electromagnetic and
magnetic surveys that confirmed the presence of numerous conductive
zones, which were never drill-tested. TNR's 2006 survey has provided
TNR with various drill targets that will assist company geologists in
testing the claim's geology and in determining the exact nature of the
anomaly. To earn its 100-per-cent interest in Tyner Lake, TNR agreed to
total of $100,000 (Canadian) to the vendor and expend a minimum $35,000
in exploration costs before June 15, 2007. TNR has already met its
minimum exploration-costs requirement and has paid the vendor $25,000
thus far. The Tyner Lake copper property is subject to a 1-per-cent net
smelter return held by the vendor upon commencement of commercial
8 May 07: My summer teaching term starts today. See some of what my students will be learning.
1 May 07: Former BC Attorney General Geoff Plant has recommended in his "Campus 2020: Thinking Ahead" report that Kwantlen University College be given the status of "regional university." If the provincial government accepts this recommendation, I'll be teaching at a place called Kwantlen University.
11 Apr. 07: Big news from Northern Lion Gold Corp. (TSX-V:NL) today: The company has reached an agreement to sell all of its Finnish mineral properties to Lappland Goldminers AB, a publicly traded Swedish exploration company, for approximately $10.46-million, consisting of $5-million cash and 1,771,726 shares of Lappland Goldminers, at a deemed price of approximately $3.08 per share. The purchase price is approximately equal to the entire amount of the company's historical investment in Finland. The company has recently shifted the focus of its exploration and development activities to its Cercal and Moura projects in Portugal. The company also holds a strong portfolio of projects in Sweden.
Company president, John Lando, commented: "This transaction will allow us to focus squarely on the world-class exploration opportunity that we have assembled in Portugal, without need for new financing or share dilution. The history of Rio Tinto, and the recent success of Lundin Mining's Neves Corvo project, demonstrate the magnitude of potential that lies within the underexplored region of the Iberian Pyrite belt where we are currently defining drill targets.
"Although the decision to sell our Haveri project and other less advanced projects in Finland was not easy, with close to $11.5-million in cash and marketable securities, we will be well-positioned financially to proceed aggressively in Portugal. In addition, the Lappland shares will give us a substantial equity interest in a company that is close to a production decision at its most advanced asset, the Faboliden gold project, and has the expertise and financial means to uncover hidden value at Haveri."
12 Mar. 07: I've
told my clients that I will be concluding most Basil Communications
Inc. projects over the next two months in order to devote myself more
singlemindedly to my Kwantlen
gig. I've been doing both full-time for four years. It was a tough
20 Feb. 07: Real good news from Kwantlen's School of Business: With the award of initial accreditation by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), the School of Business at Kwantlen University College joins the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University as one of British Columbia’s three accredited business schools. Douglas G. Viehland, executive director of the ACBSP, said, "Kwantlen University College has shown their commitment to teaching excellence by participating in the accreditation process, achieving accreditation, and then continuing the process of quality improvement. This accreditation is evidence of Kwantlen University College’s commitment to quality business programs."
Notes & Miscellany28 Dec. 07: From Media Bistro: "A funny thing happened to John Reiss in his first meeting with Chris Matthews. Conversationus interruptus. During a 2 1/2 hour lunch, 'I said hello, I said goodbye,' says Reiss, new executive producer of Matthews' Hardball on MSNBC. 'It's fair to say he did the majority of the talking.'" I'm sure my buddy, who has always been a fanatic about politics, is loving his new gig. (Here's an interview John did with the New York Observer.)
17 Dec. 07: Diane Middlebrook died over the weekend. She was a great friend. I notice that some of the obituaries are quoting from an interview I did with Diane for Ellavon about ten years ago. I will try to write something new soon.
21 Nov. 07: Years ago, when I was just starting in Vancouver, I got a job doing Investor Relations for a public company. My job was to draft news releases, presentations, brochures, and the like, and present them to management and staff. One staff member always tore them to pieces: "What about THAT, and THIS, etc. And you forgot THAT, etc." I did my best to address all these concerns and maintain a professional demeanor.
After awhile my main client, the company President, evidently guessed that this regular show was beginning to make my smiling responses seem a tad bit "forced." He turned to my colleague during one of these meetings and noted, "Where were you when the page was BLANK?" While this remark later became my unofficial job description on basil.CA -- "Essentially what I do is stop pages from being blank" -- it silenced my colleague thereafter, sometimes to the detriment of the company's IR activities.
Feedback must always be gratefully received.
19 Nov. 07: The Stanford Women's Cross Country team won its third straight NCAA title today. *Yay!* I was fortunate to have a few runners from an earlier incarnation of that team in my classes at Stanford in the mid-90's, when they won their first title. A bunch of other stellar athletes swung by to take my courses as well. I loved these students: They were focused, knew how to manage their time, worked hard, met goals, and got along with people. They treated me like a "writing and research coach," a designation of which I approved, obviously, and I am one happy Cardinal alum today.
11 Nov. 07: My 11-year-old niece said I could publish her Remembrance Day poem here.
by Jade Dervla LaBelle
The poppies grow
The poppies grow
on an old battlefield
The war-pocked earth
to flowers must yield
And the doves fly freely
above the ground
These peaceful symbols
in numbers abound.
28 Oct. 07: I do love my buddy Jack Fox's blog. Recent posts are accompanied by startling photos: the author making it through thyroid surgery and hating "binding" (but loving breakfast).
16 Oct. 07: Overheard yesterday morning at the Surrey Central SkyTrain station: "Your sister's only rarely aware of what a fraud she is." I spent the rest of the day thinking about how poignant the use of the word "only" was in that sentence.
14 Oct. 07: The view from here this time of year.
8 Oct. 07: Thanksgiving is the right holiday to celebrate twice. The last time I celebrated *American* Thanksgiving in the States was in 2001, with an OTC client in Phoenix at his house, which was filled with four generations of Arizonans. It was a couple of months after the WTC attack, so it was a truly commemorative dinner, a dinner that was eaten, by the way, over the course of maybe six hours, in chairs either in front of a HUGE TV showing football games or out back around a peanut-shaped pool, in which whippersnappers splashed and perhaps wondered why no adults launched in. America!
Last night I spent *Canadian* Thanksgiving with the beautiful Fraser family in North Vancouver. It has been a blessing in my life to be a regular guest in their warm, welcoming, artful home.
7 Oct. 07: Years of running on roads eventually took a toll on my knees and ankles, so I can't run anymore, and my plumpy girthiness demonstrates the consequences of that, alas. Still, I love watching track and field to this day, and my favourite dreams, which blessedly happen often, are dreams in which I am running.
Marion Jones never appealed to me as a runner, oddly enough because all she ever talked about was wishing to run fast. There was nothing *behind* this wish, it seemed, no other purpose, and no joy that I could discern. I was not surprised that she admitted cheating.
Allyson Felix runs for the "glory of God". Normally I hold my head when I hear athletes say that. But not with Ms. Felix. Whom she calls God is her Muse, the source, whatever it might be, of her imagination and strength ... and her speed. Artists know that their muse must be respected ... and answered to.
Mess with your muse, and it's gone. "Treat it gentle," as Sidney Bechet warned.
6 Oct. 07: Stanford beats USC!
2 Oct. 07: Porn is sad.
30 Sept. 07: Care to attend, but don't attend to care.
23 Sept. 07: My son, Miles Basil, turns 21 today. I love him, and I'm proud of him.
22 Sept. 07: It is tempting to flatter others. Whether its content is true or false, flattery is usually believed. When your flattery fails to fly, though, you are busted forever. One time, a sister-in-law told me I had "very large hands," perhaps trying to appeal to a type of masculine vanity I don't happen to have. (At the piano, my reach extends to a ninth, or an "octave plus one." This is average for a man.) I've had trouble believing anything sweet she's said about me or anybody else since, so I try to focus our conversations on people's faults. She hasn't lost her credibility on this subject, and she's hilarious, too.
Note: Flattery is a type of bullshit, in that its stated message is very much at variance with its true purpose.
15 Sept. 07: A West End conversation overheard: Building Manager: "The plumber came and left. A tube of mascara was plugging up your bath-tub, and a small teacup was clogging up your toilet." Male Tenant: "What? I don't even wear teacups anymore!"
14 Sept. 07: A Kitsilano conversation half-overheard: "I would love to come by your place, but only to visit with your cat."
1 Sept. 07: Allyson Felix won the Women's 200m race at the World Track & Field Championships yesterday in Osaka, Japan, running so beautifully I found myself in tears.
31 Aug. 07: U.S. Senate Republican colleague Mitch McConnell says what Sen. Larry Craig did was "unforgivable"; Senate Republican colleague John McCain says what Sen. Craig did was "disgraceful." And former Governor Mitt Romney, on whose Presidential campaign Sen. Craig was serving, called Craig's conduct "disgusting."
We thus have the spectacle of a bigot being abandoned by friends who are answering to the very bigotry our bigot espoused. At first I enjoyed the what-goes-around-comes-around template of it all. But what's coming and going around is hatred, and I am afraid it is a closed system.
[A friend responds: "Actually, I don't think what's coming around is hatred; it's hypocrisy catering to hatred. Not forgiveable, but a different crime."]
29 Aug. 07: Happy 75th birthday, Dad!
28 Aug. 07: I was not a fan of Mother Teresa while she was alive. Her hospices were lavishly funded but she denied indigent Hindus available health care and pain medication so that they could "imitate Christ" in their suffering. But news of this nun's 40-year-long "spiritual crisis" has quite moved me, even though that "crisis" generated so much hypocricy.
15 Aug. 07: Posting will be light for the next short while: End-of-the-semester grading.
5 Aug. 07: Vancouver Pride Day.
2 Aug. 07: A friend sent me this link to a story in the Seattle Times about the Pickton trial and Vancouver's downtown eastside neighborhood. It's lucid and depressing.
Years ago, before Robert "Willie" Pickton was arrested, what first struck me about the "missing women" saga was that the Vancouver Police Department said there was no serial killer at work. This seemed nuts to me. Why? Because several dozen women from one neighborhood were missing and presumed dead, and killers typically don't hide their victims' bodies. It's a very rare M.O., in fact, pointing to one killer (or one conspiracy of killers) not several, separate killers. After spending just one day going through the VPD's own files, the Royal Canadian Mounties came to that very conclusion and determined that Pickton should be arrested for multiple murders.
The second thing that struck me about the saga was how unthinkingly ready people were to assert that there were dozens of men roaming that neighborhood murdering women and then making them disappear. People were more comfortable parroting lines from gender politics (male killers surround us!) than drawing a much more obvious conclusion.
30 July 07: Former San Francisco 49er Quarterback Steve Young said Bill Walsh was "blessed with one of the greatest gifts you can have, which is to see the future ability of another human being." He was an intellectual genius in the most violent team sport: a perfect Stanford man.
20 July 07: Bill Maher believes babies are offensive, but he's right about everything else. [See his recent TV special.]
19 July 07: I stayed up almost until dawn reading student exams, having a delightful time. The topic: BS.
16 July 07: I have had to separate my own very bad (but not unusual) experience in the Catholic Church from my opinions of the faith itself. People I love and admire, and who have taken care of me, are good Catholics. My family is Catholic. Many of my students are Catholic. Notwithstanding my background in publishing books and articles critical of religion, I have never had an argument with anyone about faith. I wouldn't presume. The settlement the Los Angeles parish made today with victims of pedophilia made me, at once, heartened and morose.
13 July 07: My cat companion, shown below, got his first shot of insulin today, to treat his diabetes. My vet says Dig also has FIV, the feline immunodeficiency virus, something I hadn't known existed. Wikipedia says "the primary mode of FIV transmission is deep bite wounds. ... FIV attacks the immune system of cats, much like HIV attacks the immune system of human beings. FIV eventually leads to debilitation of the immune system in its feline hosts by the infection and exhaustion of T-helper (CD4+) cells. FIV and HIV are both lentiviruses; however, neither can infect the other's usual host: humans cannot be infected by FIV nor can cats be infected by HIV." Before a Kwantlen colleague found him, Dig had been a stray for some time. He'd had a rough time of it, obviously, but he looked like a regal hobo, retaining his dignity to a moving degree. That is why I named him Dig. I love my cat!
11 July 07: My friend Julie Kingsnorth is one happy pregnant woman.
7 July 07: At the suggestion of students in my CMNS 3100 class, I signed on to Facebook last week. I now have almost 200 "facebook friends," mostly former or current students. I can see why this "social networking utility" is nicknamed crackbook. [Facebook seems always ready to reward continuous attentiveness. That's why it's addicting. – 11 July 07]
5 July 07: There are two kinds of secrets: those you keep out of fear you'll be despised, and those you keep out of fear you'll be disbelieved. Reveal the former and you can disappoint friends; they might have to throw you away. Reveal the latter and friends can disappoint you; you might have to throw them away.
4 July 07: God Bless America.
1 July 07: God Bless Canada.
30 June 07: I always regarded it as bad form for a man to deny to a single woman that he was making a pass at her. *I* certainly never denied it, no matter what I was up to. I now wish, though, that just once I had managed to say, "The only way I could hold you ... is in high esteem." What a perfect line, awkwardly exact, like me at my best.
21 June 07: The cyst removed last September from my left sinus seems to be growing back. No need for surgery, but time to sniff some steroids.
20 June 07: Gotta bring my hoary head back to St. Paul's tomorrow: CT scan in the morning, surgeon in the afternoon. Nothing serious, but wish me luck!
16 June 07: "If you want to hide something from your family," a woman noted, "you need to put it on your website." This is probably not true, but it is nonetheless really funny.
14 June 07: My buddy Jack Fox has put together a new website, Trans-Can-Scan. Certain people believing that civilization is ending will find evidence in Jack's worthy endeavor. Watch this to witness real civilization come into being. "Boldness is the root of beauty," Pasternak wrote. I wonder whether it's the root of conscience as well.
9 June 07: One runner to another today, by English Bay: "She was his best friend, but only after she died and got easier to track down."
9 June 07: In his Playboy Interview John Lennon said: "I'm not pushing Buddhism, because I'm no more a Buddhist than I am a Christian, but there's one thing I admire about the religion: There's no proselytizing." I thought of Lennon yesterday, after a colleague said my goal as a teacher was to turn students into Basil clones. There's no proselytizing in my classrooms.
3 June 07: A friend of mine likes to rank misfortunes the way the nuns used to rank sins. It's not very edifying. Insofar as each activity discourages self-pity, however, the habits aren't so bad.
2 June 07: A couple's conversation, overheard in the bar of the Sylvia Hotel. The Man: "I tried heroin, but it had little appeal." The Woman: "If it did, then you would be thin."
What a question to consider! --> Would you rather be the most hated person in town, or the least beloved? Answer's obvious. Hence the world we have.
6 May 07: I've been spending the past week fixing up my home office, assimilating all the stuff from my Scotia Tower digs. Having spent 11 years there with my colleagues, clients, and good pals at the Coast Mountain Group of companies, I have found this transition bittersweet.
16 Apr. 07: Please send your prayers and good vibes to Blacksburg.
15 Apr. 07: On the back of some old sheet music today I found something I must have scrawled more than 20 years ago: "Teaching is like hand-gliding. Unless you jump off the cliff, you cannot fly." How could I possibly have known then how true that really is?
12 Apr. 07: Last night students in Kwantlen's Entrepreneurial Leadership program were giving their final, team presentations in my "professional communications" class. It seemed that they would therefore have to miss most and maybe all of the big hockey game: The Vancouver Canucks against the Dallas Stars, at home, in the first game of the playoffs. Once again, I found myself admiring my students' commitment to learning. One group gave a particularly good presentation, and at its end the fellow at the podium glanced at an open cell-phone lying on the table before him and said to the class: "Before we take questions and comments, I would like you to know that the game has been tied at one." [The Canucks won the game 5-4, in the fourth overtime period. It was the sixth longest game in NHL history, so my students were able to watch hours of hockey after our class ended. One could not have asked for anything more.]
11 Apr. 07: Meagre posting of late, I know: It's semester's end crunch-time. I am going to quite miss this audacious batch of students.
26 Mar. 07: A person who isn't kind or compassionate instinctively—kind or compassionate "on the inside," as it were—can *practice* kindness, can *act* kindly. You can't practice compassion, though, unless you feel it.
26 Mar. 07: I am recovering from a bad migraine this afternoon. In the mild sensory derangement that follows my migraines, I always seem to witness something unusual. (See my 17 June 05 post in the Archives, "Notes & Miscellany" section.) On the bus to my Vancouver office an hour ago, I saw a bewigged lady walk by several available seats and order a mentally handicapped woman out of hers: "That seat is for seniors. Get OUT!" The handicapped woman pliantly moved. I resisted the temptation to go over and scold this "senior": Bad karma, lady! Two stops later, she left "her" seat and was walking over to the back exit door when the bus-driver breaked hard at a yellow light, sending her flying toward the front of the bus, crashing into the ticket machine. It must have been fifteen feet. She could have broken her neck, but she didn't. She got up, dusted herself off, pronounced herself A-OK, and apologized for not holding on to the railing more tightly. A picture of humility and grace. Assumptions I make about people are wrong most of the time. I'm alive because I remind myself of this fact continually. I remember to remain mute whenever and wherever possible.
15 Mar. 07: A very funny "reasonable conservative."
1 Mar. 07: From the estimable Jacob Sollum: "More troubling is the Vancouver model of free needles, free methadone, free heroin, and free amphetamines, all courtesy of the taxpayers. This strikes me as exactly the wrong way to achieve drug policy reform, guaranteed to alienate people who might be willing to let others use drugs but don't want to pick up the tab for it. The message should be freedom coupled with responsibility, not government-subsidized drug addiction. The rhetorical and policy contortions produced by prohibition are something to behold. Instead of allowing adults to obtain oral stimulants for whatever purpose they like (which was the situation in the U.S. until the government started requiring a prescription for amphetamines in 1954 and even for a decade or so afterward, when prescriptions were easy to come by), the government drives them into the black market and then allows the select few who are sufficiently fucked up to get oral stimulants at taxpayers' expense. Meanwhile, doctors commonly prescribe stimulants to people who have trouble focusing and paying attention, a condition that used to be self-treated but nowadays is recognized as a disease requiring professional diagnosis. If you take these drugs without that diagnosis, you also have a disease—drug dependence—that one day, if we're lucky, may be treated by giving you the drugs." The rest (and comments) here.
14 Feb. 07: Thirty years ago today, when we were seniors in high school, my girlfriend gave me 365 mini-Valentine's Day cards, each one with something witty and/or sexy written on the back. Allie told me that this stack of cards would guarantee that I would be happy on every subsequent Valentine's Day, no matter what might happen to our young romance (which ended about a year later). Allie was a prophet. Every year since, even when alone or during maddening times, I've awoken cheery on February 14. That gift has kept on giving – it's my favourite cliche – and I am very thankful.
11 Feb. 07: I talked to my best friend last night, and before heading home from my office I downloaded the song "Shannon" – the one about the dog swimming out to sea, Beach Boys style – from I-tunes, and I was happily going back and forth between that song and "Bang a Gong" while waiting in line at the Safeway: right across from me the aisle over was a pristine, full-lipped, fat-eylashed, long-fingered hispanic lass wearing white curdoroy pants. I don't think I have seen that bit of wardrobe since 1973, at Minerva Deland Jr. High. I was enthralled and felt like a visionary, having apparently prepared for this event by having sunglasses on. Then a woman looking like a petite Mary-Louise Parker got in line behind me. "I have a good feeling about this line," she said. "I share that feeling," I had to say, beginning to feel giddy. Our line warranted those good feelings, for within a couple of minutes I was at the cashier, who started zipping through my groceries. He stopped after the asparagus. "I cannot fucking believe this!" he noted. "Well look at that," Ms. Parker echoed. My bunch of asparagus cost $19. "Out of season," Ms. Parker extrapolated. The cashier whipped over to Vegetables. "Indeed this has been a good line," I thought. The cashier came back, said that $19 was indeed the price. I was halfway through saying he could take them off my order when he let it be known: "They're staying on your order; you just don't have to pay for them. I'm stealing them for you: *here*. Nobody in my line is going to pay nineteen bucks for asparagus."
10 Feb. 07: Attentive indifference is the goal. Be there, have no care.
3 Feb. 07: I stand to win 40 bucks on the Super Bowl tomorrow if the Chicago Bears get within six points of the Indianapolis Colts. I have two bets going, and I almost always win these things. (Same cannot be said for my bets on baseball, where Red Sox love vanquishes judgment.) I started studying football in the 1980s, when I was living in Buffalo and the Buffalo Bills were the city's most cherished cultural institution. I wasn't interested in the game; I wanted to have something to talk about with other men, most of whom cared little for my real devotions, things like arcane religious literature, crank outsider art, and the like. Away from the embrace of university, these obsessions were not getting me invited over for drinks. I asked my friend Bob Chon to tutor me on Monday Nights. We'd watch the first half of the game together at his apartment, and he would explain defensive patterns, field position, players' histories, etc., and then, alone, I'd head over to a nearby bar (all bars in Buffalo are sports bars) or the apartment of another friend and converse up a storm. (Bob would later coauthor one of the first books every published about Fantasy Football.) I have never stopped studying football, and now I'm suffused with an erudition utterly incidental to my primary interests. There is more than one example of this happening in my life, but to me the football thing is the most charming one.
[4 Feb. 07: Shoulda knocked on wood there, Mr. "Football Scholar." The Colts beat the Bears by twelve points. – Ed.]
1 Feb. 07: Today let us praise two combative left-wing Americans: with our tears for Molly Ivins, and with a big salute to Michael I. Niman.
23 Jan. 07: Our website basil.CA celebrates its fifth anniversary this week. A few days back, a friend of mine described basil.CA as "a monument of modesty," a line that kept us both in fits of laughter for the rest of the afternoon. [Mr. Riff emailed me the other day: "My recollection of the description was 'modestly monumental.'" That's indeed what it was, and why we laughed. -- 1 Feb. 07]
10 Jan. 07: See what my students will be learning this semester.
5 Jan. 07: Speaking of "riffraff": Rob Cohen and John Glionna wish to have it announced in basil.CA that they will be visiting me in Vancouver next week. We've all been friends for almost thirty years.
21 Dec. 07: Fred Herzog's photographs of old Vancouver are enchanting. Above is a 1957 shot of "Hastings at Columbia."
4 Dec. 07: I take pictures of my home so that I might accommodate my joy.
25 Nov. 07: Miss Lasko-Gross's autobiographical graphic novel, Escape from 'Special,' has been charming my weekend. Here is a nifty interview with the artist.
20 Nov. 07: Jonathan Mayhew presents and enacts his word-games for insomniacs.
16 Nov. 07: Give some of your art away, and be indifferent to its reception, if you can. It is audacity that is the root of beauty, Pasternak wrote. That, at any rate, is how one finds friends.
5 Nov. 07: Simone Dinnerstein's recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations is very fun to listen to. National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" program broadcasted an extended interview with the Brooklyn pianist this morning: a lovely way to begin the day. (You can click on the photograph above to watch a video on YouTube provided by her record company, Telarc.)
4 Nov. 07: Today a cabbie turned me on to Zain Bikha, a South African singer discovered by Yusef Islam (the former Cat Stevens). Bikha's version of "Allah Hu Allah" is what my driver had on the radio, and it is very beautiful.
27 Oct. 07: My favourite tree.
19 Oct. 07: The Like: A precocious trio who obviously obsessed over my own favourite bands from the nineties, especially Elastica. A wonderful pleasure.
16 Oct. 07: Vancouver's Stanley Park right before the rain this morning.
13 Oct. 07: Recent photography by Nicola Vinci, featured in the current issue of Eyemazing, reminds us that we were born old.
23 Sept. 07: The University of Nebraska Press has published Volumes I and II of The Complete Letters of Henry James. The editors indicate that the series will eventually comprise 140 volumes (starting at about $100 a pop). I have two bookcase shelves devoted to Mr. James, but my days as a James "completist" appear to be over, alas. (Edmund White's review of Vols. I & II is charming.)
22 Sept. 07: I believe Frank O'Hara would have enjoyed this clip from "Jimmy Kimmel Live" as much as I have. There is art and delight within this campy duet.
21 Sept. 07: The typically scabrous Janet Malcolm is in a jaunty mood writing about the failures of email.
21 Sept. 07: Short lines written within a long dream: "Pigeon Park/ 's in my head./ PERIOD,"/ he had said./ "It's no lark."
15 Sept. 07: Former ally Robin Plan writes an excellent blog. Her default position is lacerating scorn. I was lucky enough to publish much of her early work: Suicide Survivor Notes, Goodbye Radio, and TroubleWaits. She writes, for the most part, about mental illness and the industry that claims to treat it. A recent post:
"Our society likes to believe that incest is taboo. Wrong, incest is ordinary. Revealing the truth of incest is what’s taboo. Victims who do tell are not believed. None of which is remarkable or in the least even slightly bearable. ... It gets you thrown in psych wards, stigmatized as a suicidal borderline cutter and psycho-bitch entertainment, all of which is barely tolerated by the larger society, and tolerated only because the porn industry depends on us to fill the ranks of the sex class, to be tied up, pissed on, and double-penetrated by father’s successors. None of this is remarkable. Girls who grow up abused are expected to do the right thing and turn their rage against themselves. What’s remarkable is for a victim to put her anger where it belongs."
14 Sept. 07: I have been trying to read On the Road: The Original Scroll. It's been tough-going. I remember reading a comment from someone who worked at Kerouac's publisher, dismissing the notion that Kerouac refused to let editors touch that book. On the Road was heavily edited, he noted, adding that Kerouac understood and appreciated the process and worked at it diligently. I do wish, though, I could read the "scroll" without reading like an editor, because I can't help but notice not only the scroll's very sloppy writing but how Kerouac and his editors fixed it all so beautifully. Kerouac eventually made "spontaneous prose" his oddly unyielding aesthetic, and almost all of his later novels suffer as a result.
Freud's influence often hurt artists. "First thought best thought" (Allen Ginsberg's memorable forumulation of Kerouac's idea) makes sense when you're on the couch but not on the published page, 99 times out of 100. [Ginsberg was the one in 100. – Ed.]
"Your first thought is good to know" makes better sense as a maxim.
30 Aug. 07: I enjoy the satire of Jon Swift. It is buoyant, not bitter: *very* hard to pull off.
14 Aug. 07: Sometimes I give thanks and say, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." But then I always have to add: "It's only a matter of time, Basil!"
7 Aug. 07: I agree with Jonathan Mayhew on any subject we both think about. Here is Mr. Mayhew on singer Abbey Lincoln: "Today [August 6] is Abbey Lincoln's birthday. An acquired taste, and one I have never acquired. She sings what sound to me like arbitrary sequences of notes, with little relation to the original melody of the song, and consistently on the flat side. It sounds to me like a tone deaf-person singing. What she does with melody she also does with time, singing so far behind the beat as to make the beat irrelevant. She exemplifies annoying, self-indulgent mannerisms, the bane of jazz singing (unless you happen to like those particular mannerisms, I guess, which would make her a great singer for you!). Her voice does have a rich timbre, one that could be put to excellent use if she sang on time and in tune. She seems confident of her approach, diva-like in her delivery, which makes her badness all the more unbearable. It's an arrogant badness, not a self-effacing one. Am I the only one who thinks this? Evidently not, because my wife and daughter can't stand her either."
She was married to Max Roach, though. He must have heard something.
5 Aug. 07: Run, run to me. God bless Cat Power.
3 Aug. 07: A longtime reader notes: "Apropos your Lennon and McCartney musings, you stand to be corrected. McCartney must have done a number of duets, and certainly he believed he harmonized with his band (and late wife) in the Wings era. The most famous duet was the treacly one he did with Stevie Wonder about 20 years (or more!?) ago, "Ebony and Ivory." There was quite a sympathetic interview with him in the New Yorker a few weeks ago – enough to get me to buy his latest cd, which I regretted almost immediately. He is an immense talent who too often trivializes himself with silly pop ditties."
My post below originally mentioned McCartney's collaborations with Wonder and Michael Jackson. I chose to delete the mention, though, because these were accounting rather than artistic arrangements. While songs McCartney did with the band Wings did feature background vocals, there are no true harmonies or duets. (A Beatles duet would be "She's Leaving Home"; a harmony, "If I Fell.")
I tell my students that it is most important for them, while at university, to find their editors, people who will review their work ruthlessly and creatively. McCartney never sought, it seems, another editor after he split from Lennon, who had played that role better, maybe, than anyone who has ever lived.
26 July 07: "After love ends, the one who recovers first is the one who recovers best," wrote La Rochefoucauld. After Lennon and McCartney's union ended, neither artist fully recovered. Neither ever sang harmony, did a duet, again.
19 July 07: Wildcard. "Most cool," notes Andrew Sullivan. True.
16 July 07: I am a fuddy-duddy about the rights of writers. Don't publish emails written to you, without permission. Don't. What if the writer is dead? Get permission from the family, then wonder whether you are doing the right thing. Has the dead person published similar pieces while alive? Would he or she be embarrassed by what you are publishing? Are you using the work of a dead friend to aggrandize yourself? If you are, you will have a long dance in hell.
8 July 07: While making the basil.CA archives a bit easier to navigate, I came upon a conversation I'd heard on a Langley-bound bus very early one morning. I had transcribed, published, then completely forgotten it. (Hey Basil, that's why we write things down. – Ed.]
– “My son said ‘motherfucker’ yesterday. He’s three years old! Monique told me I should put hot sauce on his tongue every time he swears.”
work,” said the
cherubic toughie whose lips held an unlit cigarette the entire
“I tried it once, and the next day I came into the kitchen and my
girl was drinking hot sauce from the fucking bottle. It’s beyond
Last week we’re in the car and we hear a siren, and she goes,
‘Shit – cops!’
She’s still in diapers!”
-- from 27 Feb. 04
4 July 07: I wrote this down sometime last night after a dream: "No purple can ever be blue,/ Near to you, and noble, too."
17 June 07: Musician and crabby genius Juliana Hatfield once scolded me from the stage at the old Starfish Room in Vancouver. A peak experience for me, truly. Listen to "A Beer and a Shot" from her new EP, "Juliana Hatfield and Frank Smith sittin' in a tree."
16 June 07: A reporter on NPR's "Weekend Edition," John Ydstie, is interviewing singer-writer Feist this morning. Ydstie seems oddly fixated on the fact that Feist does not sing loudly yet ... somehow ... still sings beautifully. Feist responds to his puzzlement with the courtesy, the clarity, and the patience of the kind of Canadian I am still trying to be. It's a good interview.
9 June 07: "I have been to lots of parties/and acted perfectly disgraceful/but I never actually collapsed/oh Lana Turner we love you get up." Frank O'Hara reading in the Lockwood Library at the University of Buffalo, 1964. I had never heard his voice before this morning. I feel like kissing somebody, or finding a beach.
1 June 07: Jack Kevorkian was released from prison today. The man who published Presciption Medicide for my old employer was a ghoulish pathologist, a messianic atheist. He believed that suicide should be transformed into a permissible, medical procedure. A medical procedure: In order to receive a physician's assistance, the "patient" would have to receive approval from a tribunal of medical professionals. Kevorkian brought an unwarranted level of certainty to thanatology, derived from an arrogance we see so often in medicine. (Thomas Szasz goes into some detail.)
23 May 07: "The better better better better the bet."
13 May 07: I've updated the basil.CA photogallery. [Below is a photograph of the protected swamp area and small salmon stream adjacent to Kwantlen University College's Langley campus.]
12 May 07: My friend Kat's documentary, "Be My Junkie Shadow," is being shown tonight at Vancouver's Pacific Cinemateque, as part of the fourth annual Frames of Mind Mental Health Film Festival. Here's the blurb: "A frank conversation with seven women living in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. All are addicted to heroin or cocaine; some are sex trade workers. 'We see how strong these women are as we hear about their dreams and desires, which seem to grow stronger as their bodies grow weaker,' wrote The Vancouver Sun's Katherine Monk, whose words take on even more resonance now with the knowledge that, in the winter of 2003, three of the profiled women (Angel, Denise and Alisha) passed away."
7 May 07: The late Elliott Smith sings For No One.
6 May 07: At first I thought that Jeffrey Brown did not draw well. I have adjusted this opinion. Brown makes you see. (Same can be said for another marginal drafstman, the brilliant Ted Rall.)
26 Apr. 07: 84 Charing Cross Road is a movie with no conflict. Characters played by Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins become friends over the course of a 20-year professional correspondence. They never meet in person. She cries when he dies. The end. I was enthralled, and I do miss Anne Bancroft.
15 Apr. 07: About Kurt Vonnegut, who died last week, Jonathan Mayhew notes: "The fact that he may be a writer for adolescents says nothing against him. Adolescents are those most in need of writers." For me it was R. D. Laing (especially The Politics of the Experience) and Eugene O'Neill (Strange Interlude).
Photo of author not too long before he starting needing Eugene O'Neill and R. D. Laing.
12 Apr. 07: A friend emails to say that he found "The Good Shepherd" to be "tedious," "dreadful," and "laughable." He continues: "The movie was trying to throw in every CIA story and myth into one poorly organized plot, with a predictable lefty bias to cover it. Plus, it was another one of those overly long movies Hollywood now makes (have the editors gone to another planet)? Two-plus hours of my life I won't get back." In response, I would have to say this: De gustibus non est disputandum. I do think "tedious" suits me beautifully, I don't mind certain kinds of "dreadful," and I do dearly love "long." (One of my top-ten favourite films, "A Town Like Alice," goes on for more than six hours, slowly, beautifully.) (And Andy Warhol made dreadfulness and tedium into works of art I find to be as moving and profound as anything ever created.)
At any rate, the appearance of Tammy Blanchard in a supporting role in "The Good Shepherd" was enough reason for me to watch the thing four times. I fell under Ms. Blanchard's spell the December 2003 afternoon I saw her on Broadway playing the title role in "Gypsy" opposite Bernadette Peters. That was a very fine day indeed.
1 Apr. 07: I watched the DVD of "The Good Shepherd" four times last weekend.
12 Mar. 07: Patty Griffin's single "Heavenly Day."
1 Feb. 07: Tracey Thorn's website has wonderful new music downloads.
4 Jan. 07: Independent record label Northern Electric has released photographer Lincoln Clarkes' second book, Views, in tandem with a CD compilation of the same name. Lincoln's first book, Heroines, a sampling of photographs from his epic downtown eastside documentary project, was widely acclaimed. (It was also sometimes attacked by those in the "professional do-gooders" set.) This new book has a wider variety of emotional and aesthetic tones: It's happy, witty, amorous work. Bravo, friend!
3 Jan. 07: The first slew of Drawn & Quarterly's comic artists – Julie Doucet, Chester Brown, Seth, Joe Matt – focused on autobiography. Doucet, with evident bitterness toward her peers in comics, would abandon that form for more abstract work. Seth, ever more fancifully, now creates narratives about a comics golden age that never was. And Brown's most recent book was a biography of Louis Riel. Only Joe Matt has stuck with it. Judging by the decreasing frequency of the publication of "PeepShow," though, the autobiographical genre isn't doing him any favours. As his comics come out less and less regularly, his stories are becoming more and more constricted in terms of subject matter, his four most recent comics being the tale of his addiction to pornography. It's still good work, but it is also very sad to see an artist's world, if not necessarily his imagination, get so small.
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Email: ProfessorBasil at gmail dot com
All text and photographs copyright © 2002 - 2007 Basil Communications Inc., with the exception of the photo of Kat and Josie, by Leah Wiebe; photo of Harriet Tubman, public domain; photo of Lisa Lopes, from the Atlanta Constitution; photo of Robert Rimmer, from harrad2000.com; photo of Virginia Postrel, from dynamist.com; photo of Julie and Buddy Miller from buddyandjulie.com; photo of Patty Griffin from atorecords.com; photo of Mary Lou Lord from rebricrecords.com; Julie Doucet self-portrait, detail of back page of My Most Secret Desire (Drawn and Quarterly).