June 2004 to March, 2012

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Neologism of the Day: adabhore

This item on BoingBoing asks the irresistible question, “What’s the word for liking and hating something at the same time?”

My made up reply… adabhore… combines adore and abhor. Have an idea of your own to contribute?

March 5, 2012   3 Comments

Xpresspost put Xs through Saturday and Sunday

Canada Post’s xpensive Xpresspost claims 2 day delivery, guaranteed. I dropped a parcel off on Saturday afternoon. Sunday, still where I left it. First half of Monday, same thing.

Tracking says:

The parcel first travelled from the west coast of the U.S.A. (Oregon) to Toronto in 2 days for $8.99. From Toronto to Victoria, B.C., the time remains to be seen, but the cost will be $23.09. The extra $14.10 must be for the ferry ride to the Island. Hope my parcel gets a window seat.

[UPDATE] At 4:10 p.m. today (Monday) I went to the post office where I left the package on Saturday. It was still sitting there.

March 5, 2012   2 Comments

What’s Danica shopping for at Kensington Market’s Blue Banana?


Really, it’s a fascinating store with lots of interesting stuff to see and buy, but sharp-eyed photog friend Rebecca Staton found a way to poke fun at the place.


March 4, 2012   2 Comments

Help Mayor Ford fund his subways

The Ford brothers need ideas to pay for their subway dreams and muse that casinos and lotteries may be the way to go. What else can you suggest? Here’s mine, Rob and Doug: Bikini Car Washes.

March 2, 2012   6 Comments

It’s Block Google Day


Today is the day that Google implements its controversial user tracking scheme but you can opt out if you can find the button. Here’s a link that will help.

March 1, 2012   2 Comments

Two previously unpublished Barker Fairleys

John and Ruth Colombo both sat for Barker Fairley portraits, John in 1968 and Ruth in 1974. I was thrilled to see the pictures when I first visited the Colombo home a couple of years ago. Yesterday, I was permitted to photograph them so that I could post them on my blog.

Copyright and all reproduction rights rest with the owners, so respect that. Contact John and/or Ruth if you need to.

Click to enlarge

Ladies first. Barker Fairley was able to capture Ruth in a single attempt. I think Ruth likes it and I think she should. Attractive and intelligent. Ruth is a very good writer with a strong academic background and tells me that her portrait was done in her “blue stocking” period.

I wasn’t sure about the meaning of the term, so Ruth explained that it refers to intellectual, educated women with literary interests who, back in the 1800s, lacked the money to buy silk stockings and settled on blue ones which were cheaper (and left blue dye on the legs when removed).

So what, in his extremely reductivist way, did Fairley want to say about Ruth of the 70s? Restrained and refined in hair and dress. No frills. Classy. Her glasses help communicate the “educated” look, but it’s the hint of structure around the mouth that speak loudest to me. It’s a pretty mouth, a kissable mouth and centred quite evenly and straight on her face. But the quirky, angular lines around that mouth are what denote the character.

I think Barker Fairley saw a clear-eyed, disciplined mind quite capable of resisting and even destroying boring, conventional ideas. There’s a strong will there, and self-assurance.

March 1, 2012   1 Comment

Barker Fairley’s struggle with John Robert Colombo

Click to enlarge

This is the third picture that Barker Fairley made of John. Only one other sitter gave him as much trouble – Northrup Frye. It took three tries to do him too, so John is in good company.

As this is my blog, I get to throw out my hypothesis about why Fairley might have had such difficulties with both men. I think he was a little overwhelmed by them… a bit intimidated. Why? Well, Northrup was a close friend of Barker’s but he was also a colleague and highly respected literary critic (still is). I read Barker’s comment about his final success in capturing Frye, that he was pleased that Frye’s humanity had shone through at last. What had Fairley been painting before that humanity showed up in his images of Frye? Maybe a literary giant, a competitor?

All this is preamble to the John Colombo picture. [Read more →]

March 1, 2012   No Comments

Canada’s Nixon

The Watergate Affair was bound to be compared with the “dirty tricks” phone calls during our last federal election. The phrase “Canada’s Nixon” isn’t mine… others have been quick to see Stephen Harper in this light.

I remember Nixon as a man who thought of his opponents as enemies, feared the press and used tawdry schemes to defend his grip on power. Harper’s record is eerily similar. Personally, I’d love it if he left office early, as Nixon did. Failing that, I trust that he will not get another term as prime minister.

February 27, 2012   3 Comments

Toronto-Danforth by-election race heats up

At first, I thought the riding next to ours was going to hand its seat to the NDP as a Jack Layton memorial. Craig Scott’s lawn signs were plentiful while Liberal Grant Gordon’s were few and small. Yesterday, I noticed that Gordon’s signs were running neck-and-neck with Scott’s. As we all know, he who wins the lawn sign race wins the election.

The March 19th showdown will be interesting because Toronto-Danforth see-saws. It was a Liberal riding for two cycles before Layton took the prize. In this case, will support for Gordon from Liberal leader Bob Rae help or hurt, considering Rae’s NDP past?

February 27, 2012   1 Comment

The underside of Rosedale Heights School for the Arts

Rosedale Heights School for the Arts overlooks Bayview and the Don Valley. It sits at the south west end of the viaduct, across from Castle Frank subway station.

I wonder if the visual arts are being pursued with as much energy and enthusiasm in the classroom as they are in the concrete caverns supporting the school parking lot.

Sure the styles are derivative… but aren’t they terrific? Colourful, lively, assertive. The setting is perfect, too… cave paintings, under the car park that juts out from Castle Frank hill. Careful on the stairs. A lot of the wood is rotten and slippery when wet.

February 26, 2012   3 Comments