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Ugh. I need another weekend. This one went much too quickly. Next weekend isn’t much of one either, what with my concerts coming up. Oh, well. Such is life.

I made up for last night’s idleness by going out into the pouring rain (I’m sorry, but I’ve run out of adjectives to describe the rain – it’s been how many days in a row now? 30 some?) and catching a movie. I’ve wanted to see “Walk the Line” forever, and the time finally came.

Run. Do not walk to see this movie. Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant. Truly. There were a few moments in the movie where I had to catch my breath. It was so real. It was so in the moment. He was so present. As someone who has only a minimal amount of acting experience, it was amazing to see someone so committed to the role. To every second on film. You could see it in his eyes. He was Johnny Cash. And I don’t know a thing about him. Reese Witherspoon was also great. It was nice to see her in a serious role, as opposed to a romantic comedy. Her transformation throughout the movie was fantastic, too. They’re both Oscar-worthy performances. The film is, too. The music makes it come alive, and there’s great supporting work by the rest of the cast. Just a great all-round movie. Go see it. Even if you don’t like country music, the love story and Cash’s drug addiction will still draw you in.

Other than that, I don’t have much else to report. It’s still raining. The Leafs still suck. I’ve got too much to do and I don’t want to start any of it. Such is the paradox that is me. And on that note, I think I’m going to go and start a new book…

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year, and since it’s the year of the dog, my year, I thought I’d post what people born in the year of the dog are supposed to be like. Let me know if you think this is me or not! I’ve added my own observations to the text as well (in brackets and caps).

“In the West, the Dog is man’s best friend, but in Chinese Astrology this Sign is a little more unpredictable than that. Dogs are loyal, faithful and honest and always stick to their firm codes of ethics. However, this Sign has trouble trusting others. It’s generally quite trustworthy itself — except for the occasional “little white lies” the Dog tells in order to make things go more smoothly (I DO THIS ALL OF THE TIME. SERIOUSLY. ANYTHING TO RESIST CONFLICT. I ALWAYS ACT AS IF I LIKE CONFLICT, BUT THAT’S ONLY IN THEORY. IN REALITY, IT MAKES ME NERVOUS). The Dog makes a wonderful, discreet (WHY CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS IN THE OPEN?) and loyal friend (despite any white lies) and is an excellent listener (I’M A TERRIBLE LISTENER). This Sign tends to root for the underdog (SEE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS, SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS AND THE NDP) and its keen sense of right and wrong makes it duty-bound to the core. The Dog’s mantra seems to be, Live right, look out for the little people and fight injustice whenever possible (THIS IS TRUE – TO A POINT).
Dogs can also be rather dogmatic, too. They don’t go in for light social banter; instead, they go straight for home, expostulating on the topics that are most important to them (THIS IS TRUE. I CAN’T SIT AROUND JUST TALKING ABOUT TRIVIAL THINGS LIKE, HOW WAS YOUR DAY? POLITICAL DISCUSSION ARE BEST). At these times the Dog’s narrow-minded (I THINK I’M QUITE OPENMINDED, OR MAYBE NOT…) or stubborn (DUH!) side can become apparent; this Sign has trouble staying light and calm when an important issue is at stake (I HAVE TROUBLE STAYING LIGHT AND CALM EVERDAY. AND WHEN THERE’S A PROBLEM, THIS ESCALATES). This Sign can also be very temperamental; mood swings characterize its emotional life (OOH YEAH!) and often the Dog needs to run off to be alone in order to recuperate (HENCE WHY I’M HOME ALONE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT). Part of the problem is the result of this Sign’s load of irrational fears (BEING ON THE SKYTRAIN DURING AN EARTHQUAKE) that turn into niggling anxieties (I HAVE TO TURN MY TV OFF ON AN EVEN CHANNEL AND AN EVEN VOLUME LEVEL) that turn into hurt feelings and occasional grouchiness. This sensitive Sign needs to warm up to others over time and gradually learn to trust them (THIS IS TRUE. THERE ARE VERY, VERY FEW PEOPLE WHOM I TELL EVERYTHING!). Without that trust as a foundation, Dogs can be judgmental and coarse (SOME PEOPLE SAY I SEEM SNOBBISH WHEN I FIRST MEET THEM – IT’S JUST ‘CAUSE I’M SHY AND DON’T TRUST EASILY!).
The Dog’s discerning nature does make it an excellent business person (DON’T KNOW – HAVEN’T TRIED!), one who can turn that picky (UH HUH), guarded nature (DOUBLE UH HUH) into a keen sense of the truth of another’s motives. Where love is concerned, Dogs often have a tough time finding the right match (OR ANY MATCH…OR ANYBODY IN GENERAL…). They can be so anxious and overwrought in the romance dance that they’ll stress their partner to the max! In any forum, this Sign is happiest when able to be quite physically active (I DISAGREE. I LIKE LAYING IN MY BED, READING A BOOK); at home or at work, the Dog will always be constructing something new or cleaning something up in order to make things better (YEAH. MY LIFE IS SELF-IMPROVEMENT). Dogs need to work on controlling their irrational worries (I WISH…) and would also be well-served to relax their mile-high standards, which can sometimes wind up alienating the ones they love (I KNOW…).

And one more thing. Would everybody just leave James Frey alone? Yeah, he lied. Yeah, he made a lot of money lying. But the man is a former drug addict. He is more than a few brain cells short. Why anyone didn’t check the facts of his book is mind-blowing. So, nobody did their homework, leave it alone. And hello Doubleday: controversy sells. You thought being on Oprah’s Book Club would make you a fortune? How about all of the exposure now? I want to read the book now. I really didn’t care before. And on that note, goodnight. I’ve got an early day tomorrow.

I had rehearsal today. Not entirely significant in the grand scheme of a normal week, but after Thursday’s “collapse” I was pretty nervous. But it was fine. Not perfect (it never is), but it was fine. And I actually enjoyed it. I faced the fear and now I’m back on the wagon again. The wound from Thursday will heal, and I’m glad to say that it already has a scab on it. Gross imagery – yes, but, well, it works…

Speaking of scabs, I’m going to have more bruises on my knees and a good scab on my right middle finger to go with the great scab on my right elbow. I have fallen twice this month. Twice. I never fall. Tonight I tripped on the curb crossing the street to go home. On Granville Street. Yep. Lots of people saw it. I fell, hit my knees, then my hands hit the pavement, and I still had enough momentum to make sure my face and glasses hit the sidewalk as well. I got up, a little sore (both my knees and my ego) and headed home. I got in the door and turned around and locked it. I walked ahead a couple of feet and then turned around, remembering I hadn’t locked the top lock. And I saw blood smeared on our white door. Freaky – yes. But it was mine. I looked down at my fingers and I had torn some skin off of my middle one. Good work, Hamm. It took forever to find a Band-Aid, but, then all was well.

What else? Oh, the Leafs suck. But that isn’t new. The Riders haven’t done anything of note lately, except sit back on their heels and wait for the second coming of Kent Austin, Ray Elgaard, Jeff Fairholm and Dave Ridgeway.

You know, I started writing this an hour ago, and then began talking to my Mom on the phone, so my train of thought has been lost. I really can’t remember what else I was going to say. So, we’ll just leave it at this: there’s nothing wrong with staying home on a Saturday night once in awhile…

In Renée Fleming’s book, she recounts the story of her first audition for the Metropolitan Opera Council. The auditions are a big deal in opera circles. Win them and you have a great start to your career. There are many levels to go through: local, regional, and so on. Anyways, she remembers getting on stage, and how her voice felt as if it were in a vice, with everything being squeezed out of it. Her pianist later said that he wanted to take her off the stage, telling the audience, “She can do much better – really!”

That was me today.

I had my masterclass with Isabel Bayrakdarian. She’s such a beautiful person – inside and out. Warm, caring, generous – and hilarious! I sang my first song, and the second note was strangled. And that was it. I was finished. I sang for the next 45 minutes from my throat, able to connect to my body for a few notes here and there. But the rest of it was absolute crap. I haven’t sung that poorly in a long time. It was humiliating, humbling, but yet, not so bad. I still enjoyed everything Isabel said to me, and had a lot of fun working with her. But I learned a huge lesson today: singing is still a mystery to me. I still can’t figure it out. Can’t put the pieces together when I want, which is the goal. Good thing I have a concert next weekend. I can get over this big disappointment and move on to the next thing. I’ve learned that my breath support just isn’t good enough. Yet… The whole thing was actually inspiring.

Paul Martin had to step down. He had to. He knew he did. He was an ill-fated leader. I think, given a real mandate, he would have been a great Prime Minister. He did great things for our country, even under Jean Chretien. He has been a great public servant, and his friend Bono will miss him very much.

The Liberals are not in a bad spot. With 103 seats, they’ve got a lot of leverage. They’re down, but not by much. It’ll be interesting to see who emerges as the next leader. My vote is for Ralph Goodale. Now wouldn’t that be interesting: the only MP from Saskatchewan that’s not Conservative, and he becomes Prime Minister. Oh, I hope that happens…

Note to Mr. Harper: Are you incapable of smiling? Not one smile during his acceptance speech. You just got elected Prime Minister? What more do you want (answer: a majority so you could actually run the country the way you want – but you can’t – ha!)?

And on that note, I’m going to bed. My election coverage has officially gone loopy. But one more comment.

Dig of the night goes to: John Manley. When responding to the number of seats the Liberals lost, he said, “Well, it’s not as if we only have 2 seats,” referring to the 1993 election where the Conservatives were completely obliterated (poor Kim Campbell. Seeing her on TV tonight reminded me of how she was completely railroaded and hung out to dry for the Conservatives. They should never get elected again just based on that alone). See Mr. Harper? You’re not a giant killer. Your Goliath may be wounded, but you haven’t yet found his Achilles heel…

I almost don’t want to start writing this for fear I will never stop. The election was basically over 5 minutes after BC was allowed to watch, but, so goes it. For me, the election wasn’t over until 9:00, as that’s how long it took to get the first returns in from my riding, Vancouver Centre. Yes, it was my riding that was the last one to report, the same riding Peter Mansbridge was making fun of. Meh. But I did all of us a favor. I didn’t vote for Svend Robinson. I saved us from many embarassing situations. As the cover of Maclean’s pleaded to Vancouver Centre voters a couple of weeks ago on it’s cover: “Would the voters of Vancouver Center please do the rest of the country a favor and Svend him packing?” Done.

First and foremost, the usual issues. Our voting system sucks. The NDP has close to 18% of the popular vote, and 29 seats. The Bloc has a mere 10% of the popular vote, and they have 51 seats. I am struck by this bizzareness with each and every election, and with each and every election, nothing changes.

We will have more minority governments until someone with an actual VISION comes along. Blah, blah, blah, blah… This election was BORING> Nobody offered anything new or innovative. Nobody talked about issues. It was just negative schoolground bickering. It was petty and useless. No issues were debated. No really solid ideas were expressed.

Stephen Harper. Prime Minister Stephen Harper. You were right, Joel. You were so right. “Our country has voted for change,” says the Prime Minister elect. Our Prime Minister elect is kidding himself if he thinks the Canadian people have given him a real mandate for change. The guy has a whole 21 seats more than the Liberals. 21 SEATS! The Liberals are still in the triple digits – sponsorships scandal and all. The Conservatives won because people were ticked at the Liberals and didn’t have anyone else to vote for. It’s more of a punishment vote, not a vote for change. Mr. Harper had better remember that. He’s been given a free test drive. He’d better not screw it up.

To my beloved people on the Prairies, particularly in Sasktachewan: do you really think that voting Conservative is going to put you on the national agenda? Do you really think you’re going to get the time of day from a man who didn’t set foot ONCE in your province in 56 days? Do you think you’re really going to have an MP with a high-end portfolio from your province? Newsflash: all of your elected MPs are backbenchers, and always will be. And Conservatives are not going to put agriculture on the national agenda. They won’t. They’re all about big business. You’re going to be hurt. But yet, you’ll vote Conservative again – WHY?!?! They have done, and will do nothing for you! They have not stepped up to bat in equalization payment negotiations with Ottawa. They use you. They use your seats. They take advantage of you. Their focus is on Ontario. It always will be until either the population vacates the province due to civil war between Leafs and Senators fans, or our voting system changes. Mr. Harper says the West will be heard in this government, but it won’t be. At least, not Saskatchewan. One of these days I hope you will realize that.

Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell made some intersting comments tonight. She basically slapped Harper across the face for not seeking advice from his Conservative predecesors. Point: Campbell. She then went on to say that the Conservatives need to tune into the mainstream social values of Canadians and not force their own agenda on them. Point: Campbell and Hamm. I stated that exact thought last night. Now that the Conservative muzzles will come off, we’ll really see what we’re dealing with.

Mr. Harper is not the all-powerful leader he claims to be. He still has not broken through in the all important battleground of Ontario, and even though he appears as a social moderate, people still see behind that to his more conservative motives. We are not stupid, Mr. Harper.

What concerns me is the rural-urban split that we are really seeing for the first time in awhile, at least nationally. And it also conerns me that in a time when our world is becoming more liberal (small “l” liberal!) and more progressive, why are we turning to Conservative governments? Maybe it’s because we feel that’s the only way we can regain some control in our fast-paced lives – by returning to more traditional times. But it isn’t. The Conservatives will hurt us. They will. They are the Canadian Alliance/Reform party of old. A bunch of right-wing traditionalists who will not rest until they force their agendas down our throats. With free trade, big business, private health care, cuts to social programs and the reframing of our social consciousness, our country will be vastly different – if we let them get a majority. May this just be a temporary blip on our democratic journey. Besides, it’s hard to know what you’re dealing with until you deal with it…

Here is the first poll of the year 2006 on Nicola’s Stage. Actually, I don’t think I’ve had a poll before…

Anyways, I have no idea whom to vote for on Monday. So, I will give you my choices, and let me know whom you think I should vote for, by adding a comment. My friend Cherri feels sorry for Heather and I. We’re in a crappy riding. In her words, “You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

Here’s why…

In one corner, wearing an orange shirt, white pants, and a ring he stole a couple of years ago, it’s the comeback kid, Svend Robinson for the NDP (insert crowd cheering)!

In the another corner, the champ of all champs, in a strikingly red outfit, and known for her stunning announcement that the Klu Klux Klan is making a comeback in Prince George, it’s Hedy Fry for the Liberals (insert more applause)!

In the other corner, wearing blue pants, blue shirt, blue tie, blue shocks, and even blue shoes (so not to confuse you with his former party, the Canadian Alliance’s green hues) it’s our underdog. He may be the new kid on the block but Tom Fogarassy of the Conservatives isn’t going down without a fight!

And in our last corner, wearing an assortment of different colors, and waving diferent flags, our tag team group of Jared Evans (Green Party), John Clarke (Libertarian Party of Canada), Joe Pal (Christian Heritage Party of Canada), and last, but certainly not least, Heathcliff Dionysus Campbell, yes, Heathcliff Dionysus Campbell of the Marijuana Party.

Will the champ retain her title? Or will Svend Robinson, a former champ, return to his former glory? Or will Tom Fogarassy become a fabled rookie champ! Stay tuned…

So, let’s hear it guys – whom should I vote for?

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