Anti-Bush comic no laugher
It's usually a calming moment in my weekly routine when I turn to your magazine's howlingly unfunny "comics" section and groan inwardly. However, I found this week's edition of Ernie Pook's Comeek by Lynda Barry (NOW, September 8-14) particularly offensive. It displays an overview of "Homeland Security" in which a parent holds her child, declaring, "No child left behind!"
An increasing number of corpses pile up around them, and in the last frame she holds her now deceased child and says, "No child left." As if this weren't enough, the sun is now replaced with a skull and crossbones chanting "USA! USA!"
Yes, George W. screwed up royally when his people needed him, and anti-American sentiment seems to be the new black, but the last time I checked comic strips were supposed to be funny.
Even the dull-as-dishwater Life In Hell seems preferable by comparison.
50 Ways analysis superficial
Re Andrew Dowler's review of 50 Ways Of Saying Fabulous (NOW, September 8-14). How disappointing and irritatingly superficial. AD misses so much: the intensity of feeling that characterizes emerging sexuality (misread and dismissed as melodrama - as if that's such a bad thing); the complicated transitions from childhood to adulthood, especially in a world that we all know is hyper-nervous about representations of child sexuality, let alone gay child sexuality. This is a bold and innovative picture from a competent director, Stewart Main, who's never been afraid of offending naff reviewers like AD.
Auckland, New Zealand
Nothing to Crowe about
Why does the Toronto International Film Festival continually present Cameron Crowe films?! They aren't that special - formulaic, schmaltzy, white heterosexual love stories - but TIFF organizers keep showing them year after year. Crowe isn't in the same league as Godard, Fassbinder, Greenaway, von Trier or even Egoyan or Tim Burton.
And don't give me the lame reason that the TIFF has a pluralistic mandate to please audiences from all segments of the population/market!!
It's not as if he needs recognition, hype and publicity to flog his films. He has Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner to do that for him. How low will the TIFF stoop to get Cruise to attend a gala? Enough Cameron Crowe already!!
Bashir A. Patel
Water's hate-filled torrent
Deepa Mehta's Water (NOW, September 8-14) should be banned. The kind of discrimination the movie focuses on does not take place at this day and age in India. And there is no need to bring it out now.
Clear-cutting to wipe butts
Re The Final Frontier, by Tim Tiner (NOW, September 8-14). Thank you for your beautiful and haunting boreal report. FYI, NOW readers: the Kimberly-Clark Corporation consistently purchases virgin fibre from this endangered 10,000-year-old forest to make one-time-use products such as Kleenex tissue and toilet paper. C'mon, people. Stop wiping your butts with a diminishing global treasure. Use 100 per cent recycled fibre tissue products instead. For more info, check out www.kleercut.net.
Sunflowers make me sleep
Accolades to Robert Priest for turning me on to the power of sunflowers (NOW, September 8-14). For the last five months, I've been suffering from insomnia, anxiety and depression, for which my well-meaning doctor prescribed Ativan and Prozac. Unfortunately, the side effects were worse than the problems they were designed to manage.
I developed intense and uncontrollable cravings for carbs and fats, resulting in rapid and astronomical weight gain. So I stopped taking my meds and launched a search for alternatives.
Enter Priest's article.
His description of the health benefits of sunflower seeds, especially their antidepressant and sleep-regulating qualities, was the answer I was seeking. I'm actually feeling better.
I do believe this sunflower therapy is working. Thanks, Robert. Next year I'm growing my own.
Anita V. Robeson
Miss the irony, miss the joke
Letter writer David Stone (NOW, September 1-7) must be the kind of guy who drains all the humour from a joke by needing someone to explain why it's funny in the first place. Personally, I loved Diane Sokoloski's Love & Sex piece (NOW, August 25-31)! So let me spell it out (sigh). David, it was a piece of irony written from the perspective of an intelligent, self-deprecating gem who knows how to poke fun at herself and urban life. I laughed all the way through it!
Like so many of us, Sokoloski has a rich imaginary sex life that helps her get through the day.
If you can't see the fun in her column, I'm sure you're missing out on more than just the jokes around you.
A jihad against Muslims?
Rod Scott ignorantly believes that Muslims are "imposing individual interpretations of faith on our liberal social justice system" (NOW, September 8-14) It is this very system of community-based arbitration that already allows Jews, Catholics and Ismaili Muslims to voluntarily resolve disputes.
Is Scott suggesting those rights be allowed to some faiths but not others, or that they should be taken away altogether?
That Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Homa Arjomand and Irshad Manji received a few death threats (NOW, September 1-7) is wrong but to be expected.
They're leading a jihad against Islam, after all.
But their chances of survival are far greater than [those of] the women of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, who are in greater need of armed protection.
Creative crime prevention
Punishment is not so much a goal in sentencing convicted criminals, as D.H. writes in his response to Alan Young (NOW, September 1-7). The specific goals of sentencing as per the Criminal Code also include denunciation, segregation, reparation, restoration and proportionality. But the important point that I feel Young was alluding to is that long-term crime prevention initiatives currently exist outside of the criminal justice system.
These include community-building, diversion programs, reinforced social programs and responsive education, among others.
SOCAN driving buskers out
It's a pity you didn't get someone to write an article on busking in Toronto who was actually willing to listen to buskers (NOW, September 1-7). The licensing system may be questionable, but you see more classical players because few of the singer/guitarists make enough money to bother doing it full-time.
The same is true at Harbourfront. What's much more of an issue is the loss of almost half the spots in the TTC after socan began charging the ttc $900 a year for each spot a busker might play.
That represents the loss of approximately 20 part-time jobs for playing musicians so socan can reap $25,000.
These wolves who claim to be protecting artists are protecting big business. If they really wanted to protect artists, they would make the original copyright untransferable and make public performance free of fees. I know of at least a dozen small venues that stopped having music because they couldn't afford the socan fees.
Killing the messenger
I was interested in your article Sweatshop On Wheels (NOW, August 25-31). I have owned and operated a messenger service since 1986 and would like to educate you on the real reason things have gone the way they have in the courier industry. Back in the 1980s, the Workmen's Compensation Board, now the Worker Safety and Insurance Board, went on a witch hunt, going after all courier companies. This explains why bikers must pay for their radios and uniforms, etc.
As well, clients simply won't pay more money to move product, yet demand better service and even ask for specific time guarantees, which are hard to offer in a city as large as Toronto.
Clients don't care enough about the standard of living of couriers or their brokers. All that matters are the shareholders and their profits!
Bikers put away breezy skirt
Your article The Courage to Ride (NOW, September 1-7) concerning cyclists boasts the same self-congratulatory attitude that will keep the world from taking cyclists seriously. Instead of concerning ourselves with riding "in a breezy skirt" (what is this, Cosmopolitan?), we should try to ride outside of the door-prize zone whenever possible.
Instead of "forming a bike gang," how about we actually signal when we intend to turn and stay out of blind spots?
The more ambitious cyclist who attempts to ride in a vehicular fashion by safely utilizing the entire lane rather than hugging the curb will be pleased to notice fewer blow-bys and will be more visible to drivers.
We as cyclists should never abuse the fact that we travel in the cleanest and most energy-efficient way possible as an excuse to act immaturely on the road.
J. M. Sufrin
Toronto's eco challenge
I can't believe, with all the money spent to promote the One Ton Challenge plus the city of Toronto's initiatives to reduce pollution and waste, that we're hosting excessive and unnecessary events like the CNE Air Show and Molson Indy. How about setting an example and making Toronto the leader in promoting world-class sailing events, running marathons, grand prix cycling races and kite-flying competitions, etc?
Come on, guys.
Get with the program.
DEA wake-up call
Regarding Marc Emery's arrest (NOW, September 8-14). How on earth did the DEA get access to Canadian citizens on Canadian soil? This is an alarming wake-up call to all Canadians, whether you support, ignore or despise the marijuana movement.