The Westing Game (1978) by Ellen Raskin

Categories: 1978, Books, and Fiction.

This is the kind of novel all kids should read. I am far too old for this type of book now but, as a child or tween, this would have been great. It feels like a legitimate game (it’s basically a far more complicated version of Clue with character development) and its humour is rooted in character and well-known stereotypes (in the sense of debunking them). It’s a crime this book wasn’t turned into a kid’s adventure film in the 80s, ala Goonies. Read More

Civilwarland in Bad Decline (1996) by George Saunders

Categories: 1996, Books, and Fiction.

I had no idea what this was. This book was bought for me as a gift because of the civil war painting on the cover and the gifter and I didn’t bother to read anything on the back. Anyway… The comparisons to Vonnegut are pretty accurate, only Saunders is darker and more offensive. As someone who used to worship Vonnegut a little too much, I think they are also unfair. Saunders is his own writer and though Vonnegut is the easiest comparison, I think it’s safe to say that he is original enough – and definitely funny enough – that Read More

Snuff (2008) by Chuck Palahniuk

Categories: 2008, Books, and Fiction.

I went through a few stages with this novel. At first I was thinking, ‘I think he wrote this just to piss people off, but it’s hilarious so I don’t care.’ Then I was thinking, ‘maybe this is his attempt at creating a gross version of As I Lay Dying.’ And some other thoughts passed through my head. But Palahniuk is so good at pushing the action forward to its surprise conclusion – which, knowing Palahniuk, we know is coming – that I sort of stopped caring what this was. It’s funny, it’s a page-turner, and it’s just edgy enough Read More

The Bargain of a Lifetime

Categories: 2011, Politics, and Society.

For only 39.6% of the popular vote, you get… Tax cuts and increased government spending on things you don’t need! (jet planes, assault vehicles, riot cops in the country’s most populous city) But wait! There’s more! For calling while the population believed that elections were expensive relative to the annual government budget and while politicians campaigned against a budget that never happened instead of over the first contempt of parliament in Canadian history you also get: more discredited supply-side economics! policies similar to those which helped cause Ireland’s current financial crisis! fewer of the laws which helped Canada weather the sub-prime crisis Read More

The US Census

Categories: Politics and Society.

I’ve been spending a lot time watching the Madness over the last few days and I’ve noticed something: embedded PSAs for the US Census. In these PSAs, the broadcasters would tell us (the presumably American audience) to fill out the census and to remember to mail it back. Then a little icon would pop up on the screen saying “2010 US Census” as another supposedly friendly reminder. Well, I don’t think we should take it. Why does the government need us to send in this information? They already know everything about us through our ID cards, cellular phones, and what Read More

Worst lyrics ever?

Categories: Music.

There have been some truly bad lyrics since “rock” music appeared lo those many years ago. One set of lines that manages to still stick in my head years later is a famous Backstreet Boys chorus, “I don’t care who you are Where you’re from What You did As long as you love me.” I mean, I get the sentiment. All this boy wants is for a girl to love him. Aww. Even if she’s from Fredericton, that’s okay. Even if she’s committed a few misdemeanors in the past, that’s okay. Even is she’s a bitch, that’s okay. That’s the Read More