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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cinnamon Girl

Reader-submitted question: Are you allergic to gluten?

No, but someone else in my household has celiac disease, which is a gluten sensitivity.

Gluten-free baking is a huge headache. No other flour bakes the way wheat flour does. The first few times I tried to make cookies with rice flour, they shattered as I took them off the cookie sheet. I almost cried. I thought I was messing up the recipe, but it turns out that wheat flour holds together much, much better than any other flour when baked.

So far, I have found exactly two gluten-free recipes that are really good: a cinnamon loaf made with rice and corn flours and oatmeal cookies made with sorghum flour. Everything else is just terrible. I hardly ever bake now: I'm not a fantastic baker, but I'm not bad, and it pains me to spend lots of time creating something that just ends up in the trash.

A few specialty shops sell gluten-free breads and pizza crusts, but they're not very good. I don't like any of the substitutes you can buy in stores; instead, we eat rice and potatoes. I've found one brand of rice lasagna that's not half bad, but it's really more stress than it's worth. You can't just drain the noodles after boiling: you actually have to dry each one individually with a paper towel. Yes, it's weird. No, it's not tasty enough to be worth all of the time you'll spend drying noodles.

If you have celiac disease and like to bake, I highly recommend sorghum flour, which you can buy in your local health-food store (or order from the south, if you live north of 60). It is an acceptable substitute if you have a recipe that doesn't call for much flour.

I also highly recommend Ricki's blog for lots of recipes that don't require gluten.

Thanks for your question.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Murrow turning over in his grave

Reader-submitted question: Do you currently work in journalism?

I'm not really sure what to make of this question, because this reader knows that I am no longer working as a news reporter.

I currently work as a writer and editor. I am not employed by any news agency. (Not long ago, a reader suggested that CBC might want to fire me because I have criticised their management in the past. This might be true, but as I haven't worked for them in years, they are out of luck.)

It's debatable whether my columns on this site could be considered journalism. I do not do original reporting or research for this blog, but I do provide commentary on issues of public concern. I probably wouldn't call this "journalism", but I suppose you could make that argument. There is no licensing body: anyone can call himself a journalist.

It used to be obvious who was a journalist and who wasn't. If you worked for a news agency, you were a journalist. If you didn't, well, you weren't. Thanks to the Internet, those distinctions have disappeared.

The medium is not important when determining whether a person is a journalist: many bloggers qualify. To figure out if a person is a journalist, you need to evaluate the way he assembles material and his purpose in presenting it.

Many people assemble material and intend to make their findings public in the public interest: investigators, researchers, ombudsmen, etc. However, a journalist is usually an amateur rather than an expert in the subject matter. (He might think of himself as something of a "professional amateur", though.) He researches things that he is interested in researching, and he is expected to present material from a variety of sources. "Balance" is important: there are usually at least two sides to a story, and both of them should be included. Some news organizations strive for balance in each individual story; others provide balance over time.

A journalist's purpose in presenting material is to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information they need to function in a free society. This makes reporting one of the most honourable jobs in our society, and it's the reason we need to keep an eye on the way this job is done. I often hear about how so-and-so is much too critical of some agency: that's usually part of a journalist's job. They are watchdogs in our society: they do the research you and I don't have time to do. But abuse of this role can hurt the entire profession. The Project for Excellence in Journalism calls this the journalist's "obligation to protect this watchdog freedom by not demeaning it in frivolous use or exploiting it for commercial gain."

"Journalist" is a general word that can be used to describe dozens (maybe hundreds) of separate jobs: photographers, editors, producers, reporters, columnists, critics. Some of my work on this site might make me a columnist or a critic, and I will occasionally publish something that is strictly about editing. Other entries are really in something closer to a diarist style, which is not journalism.

Thanks for your question.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Canadian Blog Awards

Voting ends tomorrow, so I'll be voting today in the Canadian Blog Awards. But first, I'm going to go to Darcy's to see who won the northern voting bloc.

If you want to vote for me no matter who won the northern run-off, you can use both of these links:

If you want to join our voting bloc, please go over to Darcy's first. I'm totally serious. As much as I'd like to be recognised, I don't want you to throw your vote away if another northerner can use it to get into the finals.

After the Best NWT Blogs contest ended, a reporter asked me about the purpose of the contest. Saskboy can correct me if I'm way off, but I don't think these contests actually tell anyone who has the best blog in Canada (or the NWT, in the case of our smaller version). You couldn't decide that, anyway. They tell you who has the most readers who are willing to vote. However, I think they're worthwhile because they draw attention to blogs in general. Every time I take part in one of these contests, I find a new blog I've never heard of before but continue to enjoy. For example, I was certain I knew who had the best photo blog in the north until Darcy pulled the northern nominees together: I'd never been to Kluganoch Corner before. (That photo of the eye is amazing.)

I love it when northerners get recognition for a job well done, and that's why I'm participating in the northern voting bloc. Please consider voting today: it will only take a few minutes and the link is at the top of this post.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy birthday, Laura

Pieces of me you've never seen well

Reader-submitted question: Can you please write about media bias?


But before I start, I think it's important to be clear about what media bias is not. Media bias is not criticism, even repeated criticism. And it's not crushes on Obama.

Although repeated criticism can sometimes be a sign of bias, it is not the same thing. For example, a beat reporter might cover environmental issues. She would certainly write stories from time to time that were critical of environmental groups. That does not necessarily make her biased; more likely, it makes her thorough. Of course, she might still be biased (more on this below).

Political reporters are often accused of bias. The people who claim this are usually upset that a candidate or political party they do not like is being made to look much too good. This is the flip side of the situation I've described above: instead of repeated criticism, a reporter is accused of asking too many "softball questions".

Neither of these things are true bias in and of themselves. They can be signs of laziness or sloppiness, and they can even be indications of bias, but you can't just assume that a reporter is biased because he or she didn't press the prime minister hard enough on your pet issue. If the local food critic doesn't like your restaurant's beef stew, that doesn't mean he's biased.

I do not like either sort of accusation of bias. I see most of this in the American political world, but we do get some of it here in Canada. You ought to have real evidence before you claim that a reporter is biased, and it's better if you're not doing it just because you're angry that he published the recipe for your secret blend of herbs and spices. In fact, I am not aware of many situations that I felt showed a true bias on the reporter's part. More often, it is just angry ranting from someone who feels he or she has been treated unfairly.

True bias is much more insidious, and most people don't even notice it.

The true bias in the news industry is laziness. Reporters are people; they sometimes don't realise that the world is much bigger than the tiny part of it they see every day. Stuff White People Like has a series called White People In The News that spoofs this myopia. My father points out that major media organisations report on evangelical Christians as if they were something new, when in reality they are a huge percentage of the American population. But as a reporter, if you don't see evangelical Christians every day, you don't even think about showing them on the news. You might look for a real wacko for a story about, say, Elizabeth Dole's ads about "godless Americans", but you're seeing them as a special-interest group or as an interesting specimen, not as an important part of society. That's bias.

This happens in other ways, too. The tried-and-true expert will always give great sound bites and is always available, so a reporter's going to call him instead of someone else who might have a different perspective but be less accessible. That's bias.

The reporter might see one agency as being a "fringe" group, and another as representing reasonable opinions that she just happens to share completely by coincidence, not because she's pushing her own agenda on the news. Sometimes that's true. But other times, that's bias. I bet the people at Women For Faith & Family have some great opinions on gender parity, but you'll never see them on the news unless it's to talk about a religious issue.

The reporter's also usually trying to get all of the characters in the story to fit a handful of stereotypes. This is not because he's a terrible person, but because he knows the story will be better if it follows a set pattern. He probably doesn't even know he's doing this. And that's bias.

Now, repeated criticism or softballs could be a sign of bias. It's more likely that they're a sign that problems happen again and again (the restaurant's stew AND bread AND steak AND apple crisp are all TERRIBLE! Off with the chef's head!) or that the reporter didn't prepare enough for what should have been a much tougher interview (if you were a tree, what sort of tree would you be?). But it's certainly possible that the reporter actually is biased. I have Bernie Goldberg's book BIAS, which explains some of these things. Now, Bernie himself has been accused of bias, and some of his research for the book was definitely sloppy. But I think his main point is sound: true bias is not intentional, and most journalists would be horrified to discover that their own unexplored biases have crept into their work.

Now, this is all in the context of news reporting. Columnists are paid to have opinions, even biased opinions. A good newspaper will publish a range of opinions on many issues. Don't ask me to condemn Keith Olbermann's biases: they are well known and he's not working as a journalist.

Thanks for your question.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"I don't have time to read through your past blogs."

Reader-submitted question: I'd like to know what the deal is with your Hasselhoff fetish.

Geez, do I not get enough hits from Germany? Now I'm going to get Hasselhoff fetishists, too. Thanks a LOT.

This is really a more specific version of the most common complaint I get: that my sense of humour is far too dry. The people who say this are usually quick to reassure me that they personally are smart enough to get the joke; they are just concerned that OTHER people won't understand.

I do have a very dry sense of humour, I guess. This never occurred to me until I started blogging, but I'm pretty sure that it must be true: dozens of people have independently come to the same conclusion. Here's a good rule of thumb: If you think I might be joking, I'm probably joking.

Explaining a joke usually ruins the humour in it. I don't really like doing this, but you DID ask, and I feel a certain obligation to respond to questions from readers. You can look away if you want to. This feels very man-behind-the-curtain-y.

David Hasselhoff is a running joke, as I think most of you figured out long ago. It started as a one-time joke that I didn't really intend to take any further. Somehow, I had stumbled upon what is probably the world's worst and yet most AWESOME music video:

I challenge you to pick the best part. You won't be able to do it. Every time you think you've found the tackiest scene, you'll change your mind because you'll see him in front of a green screen with a video of HIMSELF or something equally ridiculous.

I started to post about David Hasselhoff as his biggest fan. Although I didn't realise it at the time, this is basically the same thing the Knight Foundation does. My readers responded in a way they hadn't responded to my boring posts about journalism ethics: I think it was just weird enough to draw strangers' attention, although I hadn't thought of that when I started. It was silly enough to make people want to contact me, and I really liked that. I got the idea for the Being David Hasselhoff Contest one afternoon when I was working on something else, and I loved the response. People send me things in the mail, or e-mail me to say they've found a new website that is so bad it's good.

I really do like David Hasselhoff, at least some things about him. I love the awfulness of campy videos like the one above. I love that he somehow ended up doing all sorts of ridiculous and tacky things, like really bad movies and terrible (but AWESOME) posters. I love that he apparently poses for photographs with full-sized cutouts of himself. I am not a fan of America's Got Talent, which is awful in an entirely different way.

Thanks for your question.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Did nothing spark enough thought in you to maybe write about it?"

Reader-submitted item: Sparking public debate is, for me, the most important thing journalists do. I just wish to see more of that debate talked about on your blog.

This really resonated with me. I'm writing this post in the middle of the night -- I couldn't sleep because I was thinking about what to say. It's very true. As a reporter, you know you've got a great story when you hear people talking about your coverage.

(Forces of Evil: This is not the same thing as reporting it well. You know that. Go away.)

There are quite a few NWT bloggers now, but I think only three of us blog about northern media. The other two are far harsher than I am: they are not nearly as tolerant of errors, nor do they explain journalism issues. As a group, we do not tend to write about things in the news. I notice this same trend in Nunavut and Yukon: the non-journalist bloggers don't usually write about things they've heard on CBC or read in the paper. We tend to write about our own lives and personal interests.

As a journalist, this has got to suck. When you're a reporter, you always have a nasty little voice in the back of your head telling you you're not good enough. (In some newsrooms, the editor fills this role; in others, it's up to the journalist to tear herself apart.) To be putting content out day after day, hoping to get a response, and continually getting NOTHING back from readers -- well, that has to be disheartening.

I really like reading other blogs about current events, but I don't usually do that sort of writing myself. I agree with this reader: it would be nice to have more of it.

As a good-faith gesture, I am offering to do a post on a topic chosen by this reader. E-mail me to set it up: dryas at theedge dot ca. It can be any issue that doesn't involve my employer: I stay away from those issues completely because I do not want it to appear that this blog has anything to do with work. (No good can come of that.)

Thanks for your question.

Monday, November 24, 2008

"What's your deal?"

Reader-submitted complaint: You talk journalism, yet, you don't seem to ever discuss the issues of the day in the north.

You're partly right in two ways, but I'm not sure which you intended.

The first possibility is that you would like me to write about northern issues more often. I do some of that, but I don't consider this a "northern" blog.

It's not that I don't have opinions: I definitely do, but sometimes I don't feel like spending my evenings writing about them. Sometimes I do, and when that happens, I write about whatever the issue is. But I think this is the same blog I'd write if I lived in Red Deer or Halifax. Sure, some of the details would change -- for starters, I'd have to redefine Name of Town Withheld -- but I don't think the content would change much. I would still make fun of the Globe & Mail's columnists, defend the seal hunt and write about my son.

The second possibility is that you are pointing out that I don't report news. If that's the case, you are correct. Although I sometimes think of myself as a columnist, I don't consider myself a news reporter. That would be a fundamental shift in this blog's format. It's not a bad idea, but I don't have any plans to do that.

Bloggers often don't report news; they simply repackage it or comment on it. Considering the growth of online journalism, I'm not sure why this is. Bloggers usually restrict themselves to writing about a few topics: this is the format I use. It's not better than news reporting; it's just different. Do you mean that you'd like to see this blog become more like Bloggasm or Inside the CBC? I'm not sure that I could run a news blog in an hour a day before bed. I've never tried to do that, but I suspect it would take sustained effort, including interviews during regular working hours. That would be a problem for me, because I already have a job. Readers, if you have experience doing this, I'd love to hear how it worked out.

Thanks for your complaint.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Desperately Seeking Stacey

One of my dearest friends is coming to visit tomorrow, and I am thrilled. However, it means that yet again, I have to tell you that I may not be as quick to respond to your e-mail as I usually am. I'm not ignoring you; I just have company.

Although I am still cursing the germs that invaded my body a few days ago (the Saddam Husseins of germs), the timing was good: I will not be sick while Stacey is here, and I managed to write extra posts and schedule them throughout the week.

I just looked for photos of myself with Stacey, and pulled this one off Facebook. Honestly, I am not sure what to say:

This is from last year. We are both laughing and crying.

It's not the emotion that surprises me; I'm welling up now just thinking about how happy I am that she is happy. I'm surprised because this picture was taken almost exactly one year later at another friend's wedding:

(Sorry about misappropriating your body, Glen, but Amy has created a work of art here that simply must be shared at every opportunity.)

Even now, it is hard for me to really be sure that I lost so much weight. I honestly don't comprehend it unless I look at old photos. I really don't feel any different.

We will be sure to take more photos during Stacey's visit. I can't wait to see her.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Canadian Blog Awards: The Northern Round

SPECIAL NOTE: Saskboy, look away. :)

OK, remember the Canadian Blog Awards? Yes, as Mongoose would say, that waste of time where people get together to give awards to each other? (Zach Wells would probably compare the CBAs to the Governor General's Award for Poetry.)

Well, we northern bloggers are trying to pool our resources to get one of us into the finals. Last time, we sent one vote one way and another vote another way, and Small Dead Animals, Daveberta and Yarn Harlot drove right over us. Clearly, that's not working.

Here's the process:
1) During the nomination stage, anyone can nominate any Canadian blog in one or more categories (New Blog, Best Post, etc.).
2) All nominations are reviewed to make sure they fit into the category. For example, you can't nominate this blog for Best Feminist Blog: although I am a woman, I don't write about feminism. The nominations that make the cut are put into a poll, and everyone has several days to vote.
3) The top five vote-getters are put into a second poll. The winner of that round wins the category.

Last time, we weren't coordinated at all, and we all lost by a mile. While most of us would probably like to be recognised, we cannot waste our votes on a blog that has no chance of moving forward in the category. (Think of Survivor.) That sounds cold, but I include myself in that. Don't vote for me if Townie Bastard has a better chance of winning.

Darcy at Way Way Up is pulling all of the northern nominees together. If we can decide who to support in each category, we have a better chance of getting some recognition for northern blogs.

Now, you absolutely do not have to be part of this, and you don't have to vote in the CBAs at all. If you really want to vote for Small Dead Animals, please do that. But if you want to support a northern blog, please go over to Darcy's first. We will have more influence as a group. There is no rush to vote: voting closes November 29th, so we have a few days to hash this out.

The Naked Angelina Jolie Self-Portrait Challenge

Of course, I know you are all working on your entries for the Naked Angelina Jolie Self-Portrait Challenge over at Amy's. I entered just before I left for the Capitalist's house last week, and now Michael is part of the contest. His entry is called "I pushed the button and then I jumped".

Send your entries to Amy: ahacala at gmail dot com.

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Why, God..."

Reader-submitted item: I keep finding these things and feel compelled to send them to you? But here's the most disturbing part, this is what awaits when you click on one of the pictures.

Personalise your Official Poster

Customise your poster with any message you want - replicated in an exact digital copy of your favourite artist's handwriting and signature.

Yes, that's right, you can write a love note to yourself, using The Hoff's digitally replicated signature, and pretend that he sent it to you himself. Days like this I want to shoot myself in the head. But I suspect you're already hunting for your Visa...

Oh. My. Gawd.

This website has changed my life. I am sharing it with you, dear readers, because I know it will change yours, too.

I ADORE my readers.

I hab a code

I'm sitting at home in my fluffy socks, sipping hot drinks and considering something a reader has pointed out.

I have been sloppy. Yes.

I don't write about Name of Paper Withheld very often, but I've had this blog for a couple of years and I do write about their coverage from time to time. I have always called them Name of Paper Withheld as something of a courtesy, because I figured that they wouldn't want this blog to come up in search results for the name of their publication. I think that's probably not possible now that people have posted a number of comments with the names of the publications the parent company is responsible for.

Yes, "publications". Plural.

The parent company is responsible for territory-wide publications in both the NWT and Nunavut. They also have a number of smaller weeklies throughout the north, with a twice-weekly paper in Name of Town Withheld.

I honestly don't remember whether I was thinking about the weekly or local paper when I started using the nickname Name of Paper Withheld. However, I am quite sure that over time, I have erred in referring to them both by this nickname. As a reader has pointed out, this is unfair and misleading. I owe you more than this sort of sloppy conflation. Many thanks to "Chris" for making this clear.

Some readers have told me that it doesn't matter; that they know "Name of Paper Withheld" is a sort of shorthand for the local newspaper. Although this was certainly my original intention, it has become clear to me that it is unfair and misleading to people who know the difference. I owe you more than that. I refer to both the local and national CBC news teams as "the MotherCorp" or "the national broadcaster", but I am generally more careful to note when I am writing about the local guys as opposed to the national guys. It is unfair for me not to apply the same standard to other news media.

Starting right now, I am going to be clear about whether I am writing about the local paper or the territorial paper. This will not change anything else about the blog, and I don't think most people will notice a difference. It has not been relevant to the majority of my readers, but I do have readers in Name of Town Withheld, and it is a matter of accuracy.

Further, I need to apologise for a conflation within the last few days. I wrote about a story in the local paper, and mentioned that it was promoted on the front page. Then I included an image of the territorial paper's front page, which showed an example of something else I was discussing within that post, but NOT the story in the local paper that was the main focus of the post. This created some confusion. To be clear: they are separate publications, and I did not intend for the image to represent the story I was discussing.

Regardless of my original intention, I need to apologise for the misunderstanding that resulted when a reader pointed out that they are different papers: I agreed that they are, but did not understand that he was criticising the fact that I had combined a reference to the front page of the local paper with an image of the front page of the territorial paper. I should have been more clear that the image was not intended to illustrate the main part of the post, which, after all, did include a reference to a front page. This was sloppy of me and could have been dealt with in an extra sentence or two.

I am not going to change the original post; rather, I will link this post to it. Then I'm going to take more cold pills and go back to bed.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I've never changed, never will

Reader-submitted question: I love ellipses. But I write scripts, not newspaper copy, so it's not as bad, right?

I've decided to write this as a radio column. So you'll have to imagine that I'm talking.

See what I just did? Well. I mean, did you HEAR what I just did? You're HEARING me say these words. And that sentence didn't have very good grammar. But that's OK.

Now, I know the Forces of Evil are still out there. And they can't WAIT to send me nasty messages. So I guess I should explain.

Writing for radio is not the same as writing for newspapers or even for blogs. When you write for radio, you write for the ear. You're going to write short sentences that sound natural when you read them out loud. And most of the time you're not going to write the same way you'd write for the newspaper. That's because you're not really writing at all. You're talking.

There's no punctuation in radio. Only pauses and changes in your voice. So you're not using ellipses at all,'re just leaving markers for yourself that tell you to take a breath. You could put commas there, or you could put in a period.

Or you could start on a new line.

It doesn't really matter. And that's because you're not creating something that will be read. You're creating something that will be HEARD.

Now, if I meant for you to READ this instead of HEARING it, I wouldn't write words in capital letters. That would be rude: you'd probably think I was shouting at you. But I wrote those words that way to tell myself that I want to put extra emphasis on them when I read them to you. I'm not using punctuation to give you clues about what I mean. I'm using it to give ME direction about how to speak.

See, there's more subtlety in the spoken word. I can stop...cast around for the right word...and pick right up again where I left off. It's natural. The written word is UN-natural. We need rules -- like grammar -- to help us understand what a writer means. We need extra help, help we DON'T need when we listen to someone speak.

A print journalist has only TWO reasons to use an ellipsis. As you can tell from this post, people don't talk the way they write. Sometimes a quote SOUNDS better than it looks. A writer can use an ellipsis to fix a quote for print. There's only one other time you can use an ellipsis. That's to trail off mysteriously...


But a writer CAN'T just stick an ellipsis in anywhere. Ellipses aren't decorations. You can't just use them because you think you need a really long bit of punctuation. And I THINK that's probably what happened here. The headline needed to be just a little bit longer. Instead of re-writing the headline, the editor tried to stretch it out.

Don't think I'm saying that radio reporters get off scot-free. They don't. But they don't follow the same punctuation rules print reporters use.

Now, before I go, I need to be really clear about one thing. That post wasn't about the ellipsis at all. The ellipsis is really not that big of a deal. Yeah, it shouldn't have been there. But really, WHATEVER. I'm not that sort of grammar freak.

That post was about journalists seeing themselves as the only ones who get the facts right, when in reality they mess up all the time. And they KNOW that. They just can't resist getting in a few digs at the competition. Most media organisations do this.

Here's an example. CBC might say that print media reported that Mr. Smith died, but his family says he's still alive. It's just their way of reminding you who you can trust. CBC does this all the time. So does the Paper of Record. But this story was an extreme example. That's why I picked it. NOT because of the ellipsis.


Thanks for your question.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You said you'd give me light, but you never told me about the fire

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Stop the presses! Somebody else made a mistake!

You may not believe it, but Name of Paper Withheld is suddenly very concerned about journalists' factual errors.

Yes, you read that correctly, but I didn't give you all of the information you need to make an assessment of this development, so don't jump to conclusions just yet.

They are very concerned about OTHER journalists' factual errors. Not their own.

Yeah, you can breathe again: The world has not turned completely upside down.

You see, a journalist from another country visited Name of Town Withheld and filed a story to a British publication. Name of Paper Withheld reports triumphantly that that story included some mistakes. For example, most residents do NOT heat their homes with wood. What a bunch of idiots those overseas guys must be!

Yes, this is quite a scoop. Hold the front page. Oh, you were already planning to put it on the front page? Carry on, then.

I've been away for almost a week, but I'm pretty sure this is a new approach to factual errors. They are apparently worthy of a new story that ridicules the original mistake. I guess Name of Paper Withheld won't mind if I casually skim the latest issue of the paper for errors, then. Maybe I'll find a decorative ellipsis.

UPDATED NOVEMBER 21: I have written a new post that deals with some of the concerns described in this post's comments section.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'm really back

As in "actually back". I've been away for almost a week, and all of the last few posts have been scheduled posts. Yes, this was a massive violation of the trust you place in me, blah blah blah. Bring it on.

Little Miss Know-it-All is also back. She'll be posting tomorrow. Family comes first.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chances not taken, deeds not yet done

Reader-submitted question: If I send a complaint, will you make fun of me?

Your question is biased and ignorant. You have no idea what it's like to have a blog, and you just hate all self-published writers who take questions from their readers. How DARE you complain about my blog? Don't you know how hard I work on this? And that it's just me here? And that I do it all in my spare time? And that for these reasons, it is just plain wrong for anyone to disagree with me?

I, on the other hand, can criticise anyone I want. That's because I work really hard on this blog. I have a special ability to trash anyone, for any reason, and I am immune from the same sort of scrutiny.


OK, I can't sustain that.

I can't tell you what I'll do with a complaint I haven't seen. But in general, I post complaints on my blog, giving complainers a public forum. Sometimes I agree with them, or at least sympathise with their overall arguments. Other times, I don't. But I do make an effort to take your opinions into account. I even comply with special requests. This blog is successful because you care enough to tell me what you want to see here and how you feel about what I write.

The complaints you send always make me think. I love them. I really do. Some writers refuse to read any mail that is critical of their work, or lose themselves in a blind fury when someone suggests that they have made mistakes. I think that's counter-productive. I owe it to you to be transparent. You deserve to know who disagrees with me, and what their arguments are. How else are you to decide whether I'm right?

One more thing. I am a former reporter, so I do not like cowards. Many of my readers are or were journalists, and they feel the same way. Your opinion means more to us when you are a real part of this site: a person who provides a unique perspective on a number of different posts. You are more than welcome to say that I am wrong about something, and to explain why. You might even convince me to change my mind. On the other hand, if you come here through a search for your own name and leave me a rude "anonymous" comment, I'm going to respond this way.

Go ahead. Complain away.

I'm back!

The last three posts were written by Zach Bell. If you like his writing, check out his site.

Yes, the winner of the next Being David Hasselhoff Contest will also win my blog for a day. So start planning your entries.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What’s A Stuffed Norbert?

When you win a contest, you’re supposed to get something cool. What’s her face got a storm trooper’s helmet that could very well have given some much needed confidence to my community patrol. The reflective vests they wear now don’t go well with their “boy I hope nothing happens while we’re out here” kind of approach to citizen’s on the lookout.

The crocodile head could have served me well as a conversation piece at children’s parties.

“What’s that mister?”

“Stop talking or I’ll bring it back to life to eat you!”

No, instead of that or a stuffed Norbert (I haven’t even tried to find out what that is) I got to blog here. Not that this is un-cool but I actually had to figure out what on earth I could do to pump out content for a day to satisfy you people. Frankly, Megan’s blog is tough to live up to and I’m very lazy. Her posts are creative and attract comments from you the readers. I think I know why the blog is so good though and since I have this space to use, I think that it is incumbent upon me to reveal the creative edge that Megan has enjoyed for so long before I am banished back to my own blog for the rest of eternity. Yes, you should know why she is able to blog as she does and why her blog remains entertaining and fresh after all this time.

She’s crrAAaaaaaAaaAAZZZzzzyyy!

You see, this is a blog bought to you from the frozen wasteland up north that many Canadians know as “oh dear god no! You couldn’t pay me enough!” or “Yeah…it’s cold up there!” No one actually lives there aside from people who got lost hiking, took a wrong turn during a road trip or survived an airplane crash. I mean sure, there are a few oil riggers and diamond miners up there that have homes further south but people generally steer clear of the place. Megan can’t get out on her own so she has survived all this time by blogging. It’s not only her creative outlet but also the only connection she has to the real world…you know…the one with foliage?

Now don’t think for a second that I’m telling you to stop reading or commenting. You need to continue to humour her and tell her that it’s a good thing she works for the justice department. It doesn’t matter that the justice department up there consists of two polar bears and a penguin, just remember that it’s all she has. Remember to keep commenting and keep this poor gal company. She needs people like us. I just thought I would use my parting post here to explain some of the mystery behind this blog.

You can trust me and the credibility of my words. I’m a contest winner. So long and thanks for all the fish everyone.

Props Yo

You know if you go to the CNN elections website and look at the results for president, Missouri is still uncalled. That’s 11 electoral votes…WHO’LL GET EM! McCain has the edge!

Heh heh heh…Anyhow, aside from president, Senators and House Representatives, other things were being voted on too. There were a bunch of ballot measures with endearing titles such as Prop 102, Prop 4, Amendment 48, question 2, and initiative 1,000. That’s a big initiative.

Since I have the floor of a blog more popular and credible than mine, I’ll take this opportunity to whine about a pet peeve of mine. The definition of marriage and the government’s involvement in it.

In California, the proposition of contention was a ban of gay marriage. In fact, a ban on gay marriage was on the ballots in three states and a ban on homosexual adoption in one. All passed including the one in super liberal land also known as California. What’s even more shocking to me than the fact that the bloody thing passed is that as the African Americans voted 90% in favour of electing a coloured president thus moving their civil rights movement and quest for equality further, they voted away the rights of an existing oppressed minority by a majority of 70% among their own race. While blacks favoured a black president overwhelmingly, they also supported abolishing the rights of married gay couples in the great majority.

Even more than simply defining marriage, prop-8 also determined whether or not gay couples would have access to the same rights and benefits that heterosexual married couples do.

There are so many things wrong with prop-8 that I can’t even really go on to list them. That would make this one heck of a boring entry and heck, I’m already sounding pretty dry. So far there has been no mention of fat people exploding at a distant fast food joint or rabid kittens intent on dominating Vancouver Island. I’m sorry but I’m not even going to mention those…again.

Prop-8 was well funded on both sides. Religious zealots and wing nuts urged their congregations to donate money to take away the marriage rights of gays lest we all catch their evil disease. Flower arrangers and truckers that normally keep to themselves for reasons best not mentioned at a truck stop diner rose to the defence of their brethren and hoped to defeat the measure that would rob them of the most basic rights enjoyed by married couples. Simple things such as inheritance rights or death benefits resulting from the loss of a partner.

History was written of course and prop-8 passed as a state constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Of course this will see its day in the courts and the amendment will be declared unconstitutional federally and gays will get the right to marriage back but my own position is that prop-8 was a great idea…it was just completely misguided.

Here’s the straight dope on marriage. The word “marriage” is a religious term. It’s not a term that is only linked to civil law and in fact finds its origins in religious tradition and institutionalized acceptance of god and divinity. That was then…and for some reason, we dragged it into now. Now, marriage is an interchangeable term and that creates a lot of confusion and havoc. Marriage may as easily refer to a civil contract between two people as it may refer to a divine endorsement of the relationship that exists between two people. It is because of this interchangeable nature and solid connection to millennia old religious traditions that when two men are married, a god bag who can’t get over a badly interpreted part of some dusty old book will get upset. You can never make gay marriage acceptable to all because the state is handing out a license that strongly implies (if not outrights confers) a religious endorsement for a relationship.

The state needs to get out of the marriage business and prop-8 in California should have been asking whether or not the state should even be involved in giving out marriage licenses as opposed to domestic partnership licenses. You can never escape the religious connection to the term “marriage” and so you can never make this a dispassionate issue of civil law. People of all types are deserving of equal treatment as human beings, that much is simply true. To solve the inequity that exists regarding homosexual couples wanting the same rights and responsibilities that come with being married, the government should immediately stop conferring “marriage licenses” to people and give them something like civil union licenses or something.

If you read my blog, you’ll know that I hate the government and would like to see it one day disappear from this wonderful thing we call the planet earth. In the meantime though, I think it would at least be a step in the right direction if we could only have people stop demanding that the state define their relationships.

Ask yourself for just a second, do you really need the government to define the relationship you have with your significant other via a term with undeniable ties to religious tradition?

The People’s Blog

Hear ye hear ye, blog is now in session; the Honourable Zach Bell presiding.

Thank you bolded text. You look pretty in that uniform today.

Well thank you pseudonym. I’ve been drinking a lot of slim fast lately.

Well it certainly shows. Alright, let’s see what we have on the docket today. Well…this is a blog so we don’t have any white trash, odd stories of sexual favours (Judge Wapner was hilarious) or people demanding that they get their $50 back for some reason or another. Really Megan…how have you maintained an audience without this stuff?

Well, I could go on about The People’s Court and how hilarious it was but I have the opportunity for so much more. This is Megan’s blog and I have it today. It’s all mine and no one can rip it away from my clammy hands! Really…my hands are always clammy. It’s gross and I have no idea what do about it. I’ve tried petting domesticated creatures firmly but that only provides temporary relief and the furry little creatures run away squealing, yelping or crying to mommy…whatever it is they do. Granted, the ones that cry to mommy are often complaining about how I took their ice cream cone or something but it’s all the same to me in the end. My hands are just terrible and responsible for upsetting people and pets alike.

When you get your hands on a blog that’s frankly better than yours though, you have to come up with something and honestly, the best I can do is clammy hands. I could talk about the whole Ralph Nader thing and his “uncle Tom” comment in regards to Obama…but I’m going to limit myself to one political post for the day and the whole “I DON’T WANNA CATCH YOUR GAY” thing in California kinda got my goat so I’ll do that later.

I suppose I could toss out some shameless promotion. I mean, you should definitely stop by my own blog and heap praise on me. Comments that do not contain any praise will not be deleted but do be aware that an angry gang of fuzzy kittens will be dispatched in short order to teach you the meaning of “angry blogger…with an army of kittens at his disposal.” Some of them are tabby.

One of the great things about blogging is that it can be done without an editor or censor. Anyone in most any corner of our planet can put their own unadulterated opinion out there for your perusal and you can read whatever you like. The blogosphere is truly a free market of ideas and though membership is about as easy to get as a glass of water, I’m truly quite happy to be a part of it. It’s really the only free market in existence today and you can get most any idea you want out there in the largest marketplace of ideas I have ever seen.

But here I am in danger of getting all serious and philosophical on you so let me end this post with a brief definition of Zach Bell. Zach Bell is a semi-pseudonym meant to maintain a thin veil of anonymity though you can easily find out who I am. Heck, “Zach Bell” is actually a portion of my real name. I’m a libertarian and I hate government. I have two wonderful step children and to break the ice with them when we first met four years ago, I destroyed a newspaper, half a bottle of ketchup and a yellow shirt I had so they could be pictured pretending to stab me with a ketchup covered knife as I maintained looks of shock and horror. It worked well as I am today the recipient of many hugs. Unfortunately, none of the pictures taken survived but this sounds to me like a project that could be rekindled on my own blog some day in the near future.

I hope you enjoy my posts and if you don’t, Megan will be back to apologize for her terrible mistake in allowing me to actually take control of her corner of the blogosphere for an entire day.

I can’t believe I actually segued through that entire post kind of half competently. I amaze me sometimes with my feats of irrelevance.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A reminder

Zach Bell is taking over tomorrow.

Not Zach Wells, although he does hang out here from time to time. Zach Bell. I admit that I am a bit nervous. Goodness knows what's going to happen.

So remember: Address your complaints, subpoenas, etc. to Zach. Not to me.

I know I'm not wrong

Reader-submitted question: Do you really like being insulted?

Well, nobody LIKES being insulted. But in general, I don't mind giving a forum to people who disagree with me. They usually fall into one of two groups:

  • People who have a legitimate point or bring an alternate perspective to something I have written.
  • People who are incredibly stupid.
I love both of them, but for very different reasons.

This blog is better because of my readers. You often disagree with me, and you tell me why. I really appreciate your opinions and welcome your participation. Sometimes you make me change my mind. I feel like I know many of you, even though we've never met.

And then there are the other people who complain. In a single bile-drenched anonymous message, they can make themselves look worse than I could in an entire blog. I cackle with glee when these come in. Sometimes I call a friend, so we can laugh together. I can't wait to post them: incoherent rants from anonymice simply must be shared with the world. Sometimes I will get e-mails and phone calls from people who know the anonymouse and want me to know that they are mortified.

I know that a lot of other bloggers don't publish their hate mail: they would rather believe that nobody ever disagrees with them or criticises them. (Dooce prints off her hate mail and drives over it.) I've always felt that nasty comments say more about the people who leave them than they do about me. In fact, they usually reinforce my belief that my original post was correct. If you disagree with me, you are more than welcome to say so and list your reasons. But if you think you can bully me from my comment box, be aware that you're probably going to end up looking like an idiot in front of the same people you were hoping to impress with your original nasty comment.

Thanks for your question.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I keep my visions to myself

Reader-submitted question: Did you go to Bible camp?

Yes, many times.

My dad is an Anglican priest, so I had plenty of opportunities to go to Bible camps and conferences in my late teens. I was a pretty normal teenager, I think. I had a lot of fun with interesting people I would never have met if I hadn't gone to those camps and conferences. They were pretty normal, too. I think. In fact, I ended up going away to university with someone I met at a Bible conference.

Completely by coincidence, one of the people I think of as the "Bible-camp boys" just Facebooked me with this message:

Are you still playing the minx that papa could never oppress?


Now I don't remember what I was going to say.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I hope your heart's not broken; don't forget me

Reader-submitted question: Do you identify with Stevie Nicks?

Yes, in some ways.

When I renamed my blog last summer, I did it with a lot more care than I took when selecting the URL the summer before. (I promise that I fully intend to move off Blogger soon.) I didn't just pick a name at random; I chose one that I felt fully described what I do here. The name works on many levels.

I've had this blog for more than two years, but I really don't write about myself very often. Even so, I sometimes feel like I'm giving away too much. This is one of those situations.

The Self-Portrait Challenge

I am participating in Amy's Self-Portrait Challenge. Go check it out. 

It is way too early and I should NOT be awake. But heck, I love the Capitalist and can do without sleep. (Apparently, I cannot write compound sentences at this hour in the morning.)

Here's my entry. I call it "5 a.m. on a Thursday".

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A few housekeeping notes

I am going away for a few days to visit the Capitalist. I've set up scheduled posts, so you will still get your regular Megan fix, but I may not respond to messages as quickly as usual.

On Sunday, this blog is turning into the Zach Bell Show: as winner of the Being David Hasselhoff Contest, Zach is taking over my blog for an entire 24-hour period. Yes, this is terrifying. The only thing I know for sure is that you should address all of your complaints and subpoenas to Zach.

I didn't give this the prominence it deserved because it happened during the contest, but Curtis Groom interviewed me for his blog in early November.

You suck! Signed, Anonymous

Anonymous comments are in the news lately. Someone posted satirical comments about the federal election on the CBC's website.

I didn't see the messages, but Name of Paper Withheld reported that they included a reference to the Conservative candidate levitating while bathed in white light (ha!) and our current MP smoking wood pellets from a bong (HAHAHAHAHA). The First People's National Party candidate was described as chanting "treaty, treaty, treaty: I have a treaty". Some people say this was racist. Name of Paper Withheld reports that when a reporter called her about it, she pointed out that she has a treaty.

She DOES have a treaty.

Although nobody can confirm it, the powers that be at Name of Paper Withheld have decided that their former reporter Terry Halifax is the one who wrote the comments. He is now a town councillor; if he wasn't, nobody would care.

I happen to know Terry: he took over after my buddy Mack The Hack left, and we are friendly because we worked Up There at the same time (but for different news media). He is refusing to say whether he wrote the comments.

Name of Paper Withheld's editorial board has this to say:

Many people, if asked, would likely admit to hiding their identity when posting comments online. It's the curse of the Internet. All too often people hide their distasteful and outlandish opinions with a fictitious name or address.

Yeah, you can laugh.

But this is leading somewhere.

I read the CBC's comment section at least once a day. It is full of garbage, and the Paper of Record's comment section is just as bad. I bet Name of Paper Withheld would have the same problem if they allowed comments on their stories. This makes me really mad. And everyone's been talking about Terry like he's a racist psychopath, when these comments are not even close to the worst things I've seen on the CBC's website. I don't understand why we're all upset about Terry and the satire he may or may not have written. The CBC should bear some responsibility for the things it publishes.

All news media publish feedback from readers, listeners and viewers. This is not new. What is new is that they appear to have thrown out their standards about what to publish. This is partly because it is almost impossible to monitor all of the comments people send to a large national media organisation's website. Although they apply editorial standards to the letters they publish in their dead-tree versions and the TalkBack they broadcast during their shows, you can post any sort of unverified crap on their websites.

I don't know why, but even the nicest people can turn into jerks online when they hide as anonymice. It's cowardly and stupid. If you really believe something, put your name behind it. We'll all respect you more when we know you're not trying to hide your identity.

I didn't see the post that caused all of the fuss, but I laughed at several of the snippets Name of Paper Withheld published. They were obviously satire. I bet the CBC would have accepted that post as a local column, and if parts of it really were offensive, they would have asked the writer to change those bits. That's because they feel an obligation to keep racist material off their news and current-affairs programs. They should take the same care with their website.

CBC would never, ever allow someone on air anonymously. Even a confidential source has to give his or her name to a reporter, and usually at least one of the higher-ups has to know who the source is and why the news organisation should protect his or her identity. You cannot tell a reporter that your name is "JustPeeChee" and expect to be taken seriously.

People like to say the Internet has changed everything about the news media. I disagree. It has changed many things, but the same rules of journalism should still apply.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


OK, so I suck. I did not mention the election, which I watched at a friend's house. I was the only US citizen and the only non-lawyer there. Fortunately, I was not the only former member of the elite media who attended.

You already know how I voted, so although it was an emotional evening, I will only mention two details:

  • I cried at John McCain's speech. It was gracious and simple, the sort of thing we would have heard from the senator before the campaign began. I really liked the way he chastised the crowd as they booed his remarks about calling Barack Obama to congratulate him on his win. I wish that John McCain had campaigned. I would have voted for that guy.

  • I jumped out of my seat in dismay when Obama talked about the "enormity" of the job he is facing.
Not ENORMITY, Mr. President!

Can we all agree not to use this word again unless we're talking about Nazi atrocities? Let's make that agreement together today, Remembrance Day 2008.


We may have our differences about hyphenated compound modifiers. But surely we can come together and promise not to use that word to mean "enormous". We never hide from history, we MAKE history.

Thank you very much, and God bless America.

The children really ARE the future

Reader-submitted complaint: Tonight my teenaged daughter figured that the winner of the contest was chosen by the judges based on the applicability of the entry to the US election. She wanted to know what major event would be happening around the time of the next contest, so she could start planning her entry now.

FYI, she plans on creating an animated entry, and has been working on her computer animation skills. I heard her musing today that if the contest occurred around the time of the 2010 Olympics, she would need plenty of time to figure out a one minute figure skating routine for the Hoff.

I hope you’re happy.

What an inspiration. Your daughter is actually planning ahead! Her dedication is admirable. And they say teenagers don't care about anything!

I don't know which criteria the judges used, as they did not provide reasons for judgment. Perhaps they will post in the comments box. I can say that I'm sure it was a very difficult decision. I'm not sure that I could have picked three: I tried, but I kept changing my mind.

I hope to make the Being David Hasselhoff Contest an annual event, but I'll do it twice a year if there is enough interest. So that would take us to the summer or winter of 2009. We will probably be heading into another Canadian federal election by then, right? Maybe she could do a video of the Hoff as Stephen Harper, refusing to take questions from the media.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Broken news?

Reader-submitted question: Apparently reporters had information about the presidential campaign and didn't release it. How is that journalism?

This is an excellent question. It gets to the heart of whether it is appropriate to make deals with sources.

An agreement to keep information secret until a certain date or time is called an embargo. Journalists agree to get certain information or unique access to something; in return, they promise not to report anything about it until a specific time.

This is common for some things, especially anything that is of high public interest but is very complicated. For example, the federal government releases embargoed copies of the budget to reporters each year. This gives them time to study it and think about what questions they want to ask the finance minister. They aren't rushing to air with half-researched stories just to beat the competition: if they want to get the information, they have to agree that they will all report the story at the same time.

In this case, teams of reporters were assigned to follow the Obama and McCain campaigns. In exchange for special access, they agreed not to report anything they learned until after the election was over. This has resulted in many fascinating stories, but one major ethical issue arose.

Republicans, you might want to look away for this part.

If reporters knew that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa is a continent or which countries are in NAFTA, were they not ethically required to reveal this information? After all, she COULD have become the vice president.

I am open to hearing other opinions, but my feeling is that they were NOT required to reveal this, and in fact were required to keep it secret until the agreed-upon date.

A journalist must be trustworthy. He or she cannot break promises unless there have been shenanigans with the source. For example, the source might be using the journalist's promise to embargo the information as a sneaky way to hide information that he or she cannot keep secret. You can't embargo information that is already public, even if it's tough to get. (If the candidate has a criminal record, don't even try to embargo it.)

Some journalists believe that if a source lies, it automatically cancels any agreements they made. However, there is no consensus on this, and editors make decisions on a case-by-case basis. Republican staffers have reversed their positions about Ms. Palin's ability to lead -- the same people who touted her political skills last week are trashing her now -- but I am not sure that that can really be considered lying. Breaking agreements with liars is usually justified by saying that the person was using the reporter. This is usually true, but most sources are using reporters. Even Deep Throat had an agenda. "The source used me" cannot be your only excuse for breaking your word.

Reporters should not agree to terms they are not willing to follow. In this case, certain teams of reporters agreed to the embargo and others didn't. If the teams that were not operating under the embargo had discovered this information, they certainly should have reported it. It happens that they didn't discover it. We learned it because the embargo lifted.

Thanks for your question.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Announcing the winners of the Being David Hasselhoff Contest

The Readers' Choice winner is Anonymous, for her daring self-portrait. Anonymous, please e-mail me with your mailing address. I will send you your prize: a stuffed Norbert from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Yes, everyone around you will be jealous, but that's the price you pay for being awesome.

And now I'll turn this over to our judges:

Phew! You may tell the contestants that our job has been difficult.

After much coffee drinking, kibitzing, agonizing, long walks in the

snow, and hair-pulling (ok, there was no actual hair-pulling), we've
been able to arrive at our decision:

First Place

Zach Supports David Hasselhoff for Vice President

Second Place

Karan Taps The Potential Of David Hasselhoff, Common Man

Third Place

Shawn Reveals Ten Things About David Hasselhoff

Long Live The Hoff!

Yes, indeed! This is truly an inspiring moment.

Zach, you have won space on my blog for a full 24-hour period. Send me your posts, and I'll put them up. You can even have an entire series of posts, and I'll schedule them to go up throughout the day.

Karan, you have won a stormtrooper helmet. Shawn, you have won a crocodile head. I will personally deliver both prizes.

This has been great fun. Many thanks to everyone who participated! You are all amazing, creative people and I am honoured that you come here every day.

UPDATED: Zach responds.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

"In the first place..."

The contest is over, but you can still vote in the "readers' choice" poll. Please vote ONCE for your favourite entry. The judges will return tomorrow with a decision.

I have a backlog of reader submissions, mostly related to journalism. Be patient as I work my way through them.

Reader-submitted complaint: In the first place, the CBC is not a spokesman for the ruling party, but under the 1991 broadcasting act, is to fulfill several roles including:

  • actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression,
  • contribute to shared national consciousness and identity,
  • reflect the multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada.
Unfortunately, that does not make the CBC a spokesgroup for a political party, and more likely demands that many who lead the company are actually opposed to what would be considered by American conservatives as conservative ideals.

I was going to leave this to speak for itself, but I decided to respond after a ton of people contacted me about it.

You know one of the best reasons NOT to comment anonymously? If you post anonymously, you can't delete your comment after you realise how incredibly idiotic it is. Don't expect me to take it down.

You appear to be having trouble with reading comprehension, so I will state the obvious: I am often sarcastic. If I say something that is obviously false, like that the CBC speaks for the federal government, I am probably not being serious. Look for clues, like statements that I did my research by watching Fox News. Let me also reassure you that I am familiar with journalism ethics and the CBC's mandate.

Thanks for your complaint. If you are determined to hate my blog, perhaps you shouldn't come here.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Contest Closed

The Being David Hasselhoff Contest is over. It is now up to our judges to select the winners.

As requested, I am adding a "readers' choice" category. This will have no effect on the judges' selections, and it's entirely possible that the readers will choose an entry that the judges do not. The winner in this category will get a stuffed Norbert. Yes, from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

First, refresh your memory:

Amy Reports On David Hasselhoff
Jen Is David Hasselhoff
Curtis Complains About David Hasselhoff
Anonymous Is David Hasselhoff
Karan Taps The Potential Of David Hasselhoff, Common Man
Shawn Reveals Ten Things About David Hasselhoff
Alex Jumps On Beds With David Hasselhoff
Cayley's Dog Is David Hasselwoof
Sally's Top Ten Reasons Why David Hasselhoff Rules
Michael Is David Hasselhoff
Zach Supports David Hasselhoff For Vice President
Steve Is David Hasselhoff

Now vote. (If you're reading this through RSS or NWT Blogs, you'll have to click through to my site.)

Next News When It Happens

Entry #12 in the Being David Hasselhoff Contest is from Amy, with yet another entry that combines the contest with something that is very near to my heart.

You DO NOT want to miss this. Especially you, Glen.

This is why I love the Being David Hasselhoff Contest. Get your entries in. The contest ends tonight when I get home from work.

Amy rocks. In fact, she was the one who inspired me to start blogging. Check out her site: she live-photo-blogs her life. I go there every day, and so should you.

Previously on the Being David Hasselhoff Contest:
Jen Is David Hasselhoff
Curtis Complains About David Hasselhoff
Anonymous Is David Hasselhoff
Karan Taps The Potential Of David Hasselhoff, Common Man
Shawn Reveals Ten Things About David Hasselhoff
Alex Jumps On Beds With David Hasselhoff
Cayley's Dog Is David Hasselwoof
Sally's Top Ten Reasons Why David Hasselhoff Rules
Michael Is David Hasselhoff
Zach Supports David Hasselhoff For Vice President
Steve Is David Hasselhoff
Being David Hasselhoff

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Announcing the judges for the Being David Hasselhoff Contest

I have secured two judges for the contest. Both will remain anonymous. Goodness knows what might happen if their identities were revealed. I would not want their offices to be overrun with crazed Hoff fans and/or nudists.

They will reveal the three winners on Sunday night. Yes, really. They reserve the right to be frivolous and arbitrary (but not vexatious) and to use any reasonable standards in determining the winners.

I have also been asked to put up a poll so we can have a "readers' choice" winner. I think this is a great idea, and will find a suitable prize. The poll will go up on the weekend after all of the entries are in.

Remember, this contest ends tomorrow at 5pm Mountain Standard Time. If you want to enter, e-mail me right away: dryas at theedge dot ca.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"You helped me find my inner Hoff. How can I ever thank you?"

Say it with me: YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!

I'm talking about the Being David Hasselhoff Contest, of course. It would be unseemly of me to gloat about political victories. I would NEVER do such a thing.

Entry #11 in the Being David Hasselhoff Contest comes from Jen, who was my dearest friend when I was four. I'm totally serious. We are now back in touch, thanks to Facebook and David Hasselhoff.


Sadly, Jen does not have a blog, so you'll have to believe me when I say that she is very cool.

This contest is ending on Friday at 5pm. If you haven't entered yet, you are running out of time. Get those entries in: dryas at theedge dot ca. Don't say I didn't give you fair warning. There's a STORMTROOPER HELMET at stake. This is serious.

Previously on the Being David Hasselhoff Contest:
Curtis Complains About David Hasselhoff
Anonymous Is David Hasselhoff
Karan Taps The Potential Of David Hasselhoff, Common Man
Shawn Reveals Ten Things About David Hasselhoff
Alex Jumps On Beds With David Hasselhoff
Cayley's Dog Is David Hasselwoof
Sally's Top Ten Reasons Why David Hasselhoff Rules
Michael Is David Hasselhoff
Zach Supports David Hasselhoff For Vice President
Steve Is David Hasselhoff
Being David Hasselhoff

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Complaining About The Hoff

I'm flipping between channels. Do you know how tense I've been all day? I need to see EVERYTHING. But I can't ignore you, my loyal readers. Entry #10 in the Being David Hasselhoff Contest comes from Curtis, who has combined the contest with my regular "reader-submitted complaint" feature.

I've already invested hours to your contest and I'm outta ideas. I spent three hours alone searching Google for Hasselhoff ideas. I have learned more about Hasselhoff than any heterosexual man should ever know. I have browsed town for a black leather jacket, I have cleared crap and snow off a wreck in the middle of a raven infested dump looking for inspiration. I bought mousse for my hair, but it all comes down to I am drawing on empty. I have failed to become inspired. Hell, I even watched the new Knight Rider twice!!!!!

Curtis blogs from the Mackenzie Delta, near the town I used to live in. Go read his blog. I know you want to.

I admit, I am really enjoying these combination entries. This is going to be tough.

This contest ends on FRIDAY. Send your submissions to dryas at theedge dot ca. We all know you want to. There are prizes:

  • First prize: Space on this here blog.
  • Second prize: A stormtrooper helmet.
  • Third prize: A baby crocodile head.
Previously on the Being David Hasselhoff Contest:
Anonymous Is David Hasselhoff
Karan Taps The Potential Of David Hasselhoff, Common Man
Shawn Reveals Ten Things About David Hasselhoff
Alex Jumps On Beds With David Hasselhoff
Cayley's Dog Is David Hasselwoof
Sally's Top Ten Reasons Why David Hasselhoff Rules
Michael Is David Hasselhoff
Zach Supports David Hasselhoff For Vice President
Steve Is David Hasselhoff
Being David Hasselhoff

Monday, November 03, 2008

Beware of greedy leaders who take you where you should not go

We interrupt the Being David Hasselhoff Contest for an emergency message.

Dear Americans,

If you are so clueless that you wouldn't vote unless Justin Timberlake told you to, please don't vote at all.

Love always,

Being David -- wow. Just -- wow.

Entry #9 in the Being David Hasselhoff Contest comes from Anonymous, who has left me speechless.

After this, the only thing I can say is that this contest is ending on Friday at 5pm Mountain Standard Time. And that the competition is fierce.

Very fierce.

Get your entries in. You know what to do.

Previously on the Being David Hasselhoff Contest:
Karan Taps The Potential Of David Hasselhoff, Common Man
Shawn Reveals Ten Things About David Hasselhoff
Alex Jumps On Beds With David Hasselhoff
Cayley's Dog Is David Hasselwoof
Sally's Top Ten Reasons Why David Hasselhoff Rules
Michael Is David Hasselhoff
Zach Supports David Hasselhoff For Vice President
Steve Is David Hasselhoff
Being David Hasselhoff

Sunday, November 02, 2008

"Imagine: An Essay on the Untapped Potential of David Hasselhoff, the Common Man"

In this time of the audacity of hope, Entry #8 is from Karan, who dares to dream of ACTUALLY MEETING DAVID HASSELHOFF.

The entries to date are outstanding, and I dare say that the battle for first place will be hard-fought. That said, I note that there is a shared assumption - a common thread, if you will - that permeates each of the entries so far. It is David's celebrity status. Indeed, one entry even suggests he could use that celebrity status to run for President of the United States.

My approach is different. I ask a simple, but as yet, unarticulated, question: What if we strip away the celebrity. In other words, what if David was just an ordinary guy, working in the wage economy and living life like the rest of us in Name-of-Town-Withheld? Would he still have that sort of je ne sais quoi that gets him on the "A" lists everywhere from New York to Berlin if he was just plain old "Dave"? Or would he be one of those middle-aged guys, wondering whether he should join both the bowling and dart league, or maybe just one? More to the point, how would I, an middle-aged female, react? As with many things in life, much would depend on the particular circumstances and accordingly, I propose to examine the question within various contexts.

Dave, the Guy in the Next Cubicle: I expect that in this context, he would be laid back, perhaps a little too laid back, and would just go by "Dave". Although I may appear uncharitable, I do not think he's the sharpest tack in the box, and he strikes me as the kind of guy who, even well into middle age, would still be liberally applying "Brute" in a vain attempt to impress female co-workers and his boss with his discriminating taste. I also cannot help thinking that he would still have hanging in his closet the baby-blue tuxedo he wore to his high school graduation, which he would pull out for those formal occasions, like the office Christmas party or a friend's funeral, or your wedding. I would likely dread the days that my boss asked me to work on projects with him. He would be endearing enough to not get fired, but I doubt he would ever be holding the key to the executive washroom.

Dave the Mechanic: Let's face it - most men look good covered in grease and wearing overalls that have their name embroidered on them and, having been Kit's playmate in the early 80s, Hasselhoff has got to feel a bit of comfort in this role. Again, I think we would just call him "Dave" and like most warm-blooded, middle-aged females, I would react exceedingly well to a mechanic with chiseled features and finely feathered hair who gave me that "I'll fix your car, pretty little lady" smile. He would do just as well as my plumber, especially if it was summertime and he wasn't wearing a shirt with his overalls. Oh, and he would also be captain of his bowling team - I would expect nothing less.

Dr. Hasselhoff, Gynecologist: Getting a pap smear is not sexy. There is a huge difference between a man exploring your anatomy in bed after a steak dinner and a bottle of wine, and a guy wearing rubber gloves and scraping cells off of your cervix while you're laying on a table under glaring lights with your feet in stirrups. I don't think we could face each other on the street after that, and Name-of-Town-Withheld is pretty small. Actually, I'm starting to freak myself out. Come to think of it, I don't think that David is smart enough to get into medical school anyway.

Dave, the Recently Separated, but Hot Guy in the Bar: Who knows? After two or three glasses of Chardonnay, it might be hard or a middle-aged cougar to resist a guy with a broken heart and a tight butt, even if he is just one step away from a mullet and wearing black bikini underwear. While you wouldn't want to wind up actually dating him, though. It might be career-limiting, especially if you had to take him to the office Christmas party and he came dressed like this.

Perhaps I have answered my question. Perhaps I have simply raised more. I'm sure that being plain old "Dave Hasselhoff" wouldn't be much fun for David. There would be no "A" list parties, no limos and very few hot chicks. Certainly, no one would film him eating a hamburger while drunk and post it on YouTube, and I wouldn't be writing this right now. Instead, there would be only the Legion, the Elks, the bowling alley and, if he could afford a computer, Facebook. Life would be, at best, ordinary, but more likely hard and mundane, full of ex-wives, estranged children and AA meetings. Maybe there would be darts. So long as he has his celebrity, though, he is an enigma who captures our attention. He is David Hasselhoff, the man so many want to be.

I could not agree more. You should check out Karan's very cool blog right now. In fact, you should subscribe to her RSS feed so you never miss one of her posts. The power of Hoff compels you.

You cannot hide. It's coming down to the wire. I know that you are David Hasselhoff, and so do you. Send me the proof: dryas at theedge dot ca. Or post it on your own blog.

Previously on the Being David Hasselhoff Contest:
Shawn Reveals Ten Things About David Hasselhoff
Alex Jumps On Beds With David Hasselhoff
Cayley's Dog Is David Hasselwoof
Sally's Top Ten Reasons Why David Hasselhoff Rules
Michael Is David Hasselhoff
Zach Supports David Hasselhoff For Vice President
Steve Is David Hasselhoff
Being David Hasselhoff