Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year's Eve!

It's probably best to keep wishes for the new year separate from those for new year's eve since they are two quite distinct, although related, events.

So, Happy New Year's Eve!
To all: Don't drink and drive.

To mathematicians: Don't drink and derive.
To critics: Don't drink and deride.
To surgeons: Don't drink and debride. (Yes, I know it's not pronounced that way.)
To politicians: Don't drink da bribe.
To reporters: Don't drink and describe.
To oppressors: Don't drink and deprive.
To protesters: Don't drink and decry.
To refusers: Don't drink and decline.
To judges: Don't drink and decide.

You get the idea.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

House guests

My sister is visiting. She is not in this picture.
The dog—Landon, the Sheltie—is visiting too. That's him in the picture. Euripides, my Siamese, is enjoying his company. As much as a cat can enjoy the company of a dog, but Rippy seems glad of having a male pal.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year's resolutions

Having a parking gate come crashing down on your head is a little like making New Year's resolutions, isn't it?
Aw, it's the holidays. I just put up a picture and write some words. Sometimes they match.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Writers' strike

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Murray Christmas!

A musician hanging out in our Christmas tree.
More later — Santa came and we're checking out what's under the tree.
In the meantime, Murray Christmas (an old family joke) to you all!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Again, I did NOT PhotoShop the red nose into this picture. I shot this outside Tucson, Ariz. I saw two of these signs - the other was on the other side of the highway.
I shit you not.
If you don't believe me, Rudolph will bypass your house completely and you won't even get a lump of coal!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Buy the book

Are online sales down this year, or below expectations? If not, then why am I getting e-mail after e-mail, imploring me to buy more and more? And for myself?
On the 16th, I received the following from
"As someone who has shopped at, you might like to know it's not too late to treat yourself to a little something to enjoy as you're recovering from the holidays.
"Maybe you got everything on your holiday list taken care of early, and it's time to relax with that mystery you've wanted to read or a few new DVDs."
But it's not just Amazon. I received a similar pitch from Dover, the publisher, yesterday!
The biggest gift-giving holiday of the year is about to happen and I'm supposed to buy *myself* stuff now? And to help me recover from the holidays that haven't happened yet? Or to reward myself for finishing my shopping and decorating and baking early? Are they nuts? As if anyone is going to have time to read a book between now and Christmas! Unless they're a recluse, shut-in, orphan, on welfare or on life support - and in all of those cases I'm sure a book or DVD is farthest from their minds.

P.S. The picture above is from San Francisco. I made a note of the building, but it's not to hand and I am just too swamped getting the house ready for my sister's* arrival to look it up. If you're really interested in knowing the building, e-mail me and I'll look it up for you... after Boxing Day.
*Not Marge, the sister whose Christmas present I read before mailing it to her. The visiting sister is Roxe, from Ottawa.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rear window

The "picture" I posted of our snow the other day was pretty lame. This might make up for it.
I was working in my home office on Monday. It looks out on the back of the house and although I was concentrating on what I was writing, I became aware, in my peripheral vision, of a flying white lump of something. It was an across-the-lane neighbour shovelling her snow.
Well, it wasn't the neighbour — it was the snow she was shovelling.
When she was clearing the walkway between her house and the next-door one, she'd just heave each shovelful over the fence, and sometimes she'd achieve remarkable height.
This isn't the best example of that, but it's the best I could capture shooting through the window.
Today it rained and the temperature went above 0C. We still have lots of snow on the ground, but less than before.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

If you've never been here...

... this (right) is what Toronto looks like. Today anyway.
Of course, it's also what most of southern and eastern Ontario look like today. I've lost track of the accumulation that Environment Canada has estimated for most of us. 25 cm? 40 cm?
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like sketches in a similar vein (only much more amusing) by Sparky Donatello.

WHITE CHRISTMAS TRVIA: I just discovered this week that Environment Canada actually has a definition of "White Christmas." If there's not at least 2 cm of snow on the ground by 7am on Christmas day, it ain't white. Saith the guvamint weather agency.

Christmasy but creepy?

This fellow and five of his brothers appear on the now-closed Village Theatre in Chicago. This whole figure—especially his tangle of musical instruments—has always struck me as Christmasy. I think he reminds me (without the instruments) of Marley after he's removed the bandage that keeps his jaws shut.
But he's sort of creepy too, which detracts a bit from his Christmasy aspects.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Canadian Women Artists History Initiative

We interrupt seasonal pictures for some relatively new news: the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative, based in the Art History Department at Concordia University in Montreal, appears to have officially started.

It is a collaborative effort to bring resources and researchers together to build and build upon scholarship on women artists in Canada. Its focus is on the period before 1967, and includes Canadian women artists born before 1925 (1965 for those in architecture) and working across a broad range of media.

I learned about the plans for this effort when I interviewed Dr. Janice Anderson (PhD), curator of visual resources in Concordia's Faculty of Fine Arts, in June, but I just happened upon the group's Web site yesterday. I interviewed Janice in connection with the biography I'm writing of Toronto sculptor Merle Foster (1897-1986). The picture above is a figure from a fountain she sculpted.

Blue Christmas

The City of Toronto decks out many of its neighbourhoods and squares with large light displays every year. The city also offers bus tours — one of the east end and one of the west end — to view the "cavalcade of lights." It's a hop-on/hop-off arrangement, to encourage riders to hop and shop.
This blue tree is in Dundas Square and part of the light display near the Eaton Centre.

Me, I'm not so crazy about the background of Dundas Square, so I (admittedly crudely) PhotoShopped most of it out.
As messy and noisy and commercial as the background of Dundas Square is here, if I'd shot the blue tree from the other side, the tree would be overwhelmed by a ginormous advertising tower on the opposite corner. I'll try to get a shot from that angle some time this weekend, braving the fierce winter storm that is swirling about us even as I speak.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Time for something seasonal

Doesn't this guy look like the Ghost of Christmas Present in the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol? Only less jolly?
(His current gig is watching over Geary Street from the façade of the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Someone actually wrote "Hello" in the window grime. I did not PhotoShop that in. I shit you not.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Lost Arts (2nd in a series)

I knew it was a mistake but that didn't stop me.

I just popped into a Dominion store about a mile and a half from home for just a couple of things, and wound up buying too many groceries to schlep back on the bus.

I needed only a couple of little things, but yogurt was on sale, three for $1, the bags of crummy bagels [more like bread doughnuts] were going for three for $4. And of course it's Clementine season and I saw stuff that I'll want to have on hand over the holidays and if you don't get while there's that to get, you don't get.
I'd forgotten to bring one of the many eco-friendly store bags I have accumulated, so of course, I had to buy another. The check-out guy (not a kid) asked me which of the groceries I wanted to go in the bag. Huh? So I opted for the heavy stuff - the two cartons of egg nog ice cream and the Clementines. He proceeded to put everything in the bag.
I dragged the load out of the store and onto Yonge Street where I hailed a cab, to convey me, said groceries and other assorted Christmas shopping home.
Not unlike most Toronto cabbies, the guy didn't bother to reach over and open the door for me from the inside, laden though I was. As I seated myself among the bags spilling their contents onto the back seat and floor, I gave him my address which he apparently didn't recognize, despite the fact that I also gave him the nearest major intersection.
Thereafter followed the Toronto cabbies' refrain: "Let me know when we get there."
The guy (probably the brother of the bagger at the Dominion) figured I knew where I was headed, so why should he bother with his Perly's (Toronto's A to Z... street map) or his GPS (never mind learning where fairly major streets are)? Especially when no one ever hears the correct name of my street, he'd never be able to find it. (I enunciate RATHBURN; they hear Rayburn, Raglan or Robert.) (Street names changed to protect... me!)
So I give directions – how many blocks north and west of the major intersection, even down to the number of houses from the corner. So why do cabbies invariably go blasting up the street, and we're a block past my house before I can say, "Hey! Where are we going? What happened to the THIRD house on the right?"
Heaven help a tourist who comes to Toronto to see the famous Terry Murray gargoyles and has no idea where they are.
A tip: get into the taxi, give the address and then say, "Let me know when we get there."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Up on the roof

... or somewhere like it. When I was shooting gargoyles and grotesques and whatnot for Faces on Places, I enjoyed access to several rooftops in the city. A 300mm lens will take you only so far.
But this (left) is a far cry from standing on a roof, with a railing or something like it to keep you from falling over the edge.
I shot this fellow (who is not the sheriff or the deputy) out the window of my Day Job a couple of weeks ago before the snow. Being on rooftops was a cool experience; this looks chilling.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Admittedly, this is a departure from what I usually cover here, but since this is a big gift-giving season, I thought some of you might want to put this little gem on your gimme list.
For the low, low price of only $12.79 (and that's in American dollars!), you can guarantee a spot for yourself or a loved one in heaven! The "essential travel kit" comes with that low price tag, but for a mere $12.16 more, you can get the "all access travel kit."
Both contain a certificate of reservation with a unique I.D. number registered in the Book of Light™ as well as a first class ticket to heaven, the Official Heaven Identification Card (so you won't be hassled as you check out your eternal reward), and the Heaven 101 mini informational guide.
The "all access" kit also contains a VIP pass to the special-access areas of heaven, and includes framing for your ticket and certificate.
But here's the best news — both kits come with a money-back guarantee!
"Come on, Terry," you're thinking. "Don't be a sucker."
The Reserve A Spot in Heaven people are the ONLY official distributors of reservations into heaven. They are directly affiliated with The Board of Heavenly Officials, the only governing body in Heaven.
So there! Ye of little faith!