Wednesday, April 30, 2008

from the "never far from home" dept.

It's my first full day in Denmark and boy, am I bagged. I guess being up for almost 48 hours has something to do with it.

Usually I am able to beat jetlag by staying up to a decent bedtime in the new location. Not this time. Even after a decent seven hour sleep last night, I'm already hitting the wall. And it's just lunch time.

The good thing is that the trip to Romania isn't until Friday... so I have some time to get the body clock reset.

On another note: I see HBO is premiering a film about the recount following the 2000 US presidential election.

You know, the one that the Republicans stole, the one that the Democrats wimped out on, and the one that helped Katharine Harris get implants?

The trailer looks promising. Especially Laura Dern's (swoon) portrayal of Ms. Harris. Have a look:

From Hedehusene, Denmark... that's it for now...


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

from the "day one" dept.

I have arrived in Copenhagen. A good flight. A little sleep. A couple of films. And my bags all arrived.

So far, so good.

I am waiting for Jesper to pick me up... and then it's off to his place for a dinner of herring with a visit to Ikea for dessert.

Or something like that.

The battery on my computer is quite low... and I've buried my euro-power plug adapters in my bag... so, this will be a short post.

More to come!


Monday, April 28, 2008

from the "waiting is the hardest part" dept.

Here I am at SEATAC. Outside security. Waiting.

I've found a power outlet (!) and Wifi is a reasonable $7.99 for 24-hours. I don't need quite that much time... but I will be here for a while.

The plane is scheduled to depart at 7:01 pm. It is 3:29 pm. So... I think I'll charge the battery on the laptop, then go for a big meal, a couple of beer (for help sleeping) and then check in.

International travel is SO exciting! Right, Tom?

More to come.


from the "rush to wait" dept.

I'm at the La Quinta hotel in downtown Seattle and my flight to Copenhagen takes off in about six hours. So I have a bit of time to kill -- at least until I have to check out -- at 1 pm. And then figure out how to kill five hours at Seatac.


It was a good weekend. I celebrated by 30th birthday Saturday with the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. It was a dandy game and the Ms won. My buddy Randy and I consumed a few beers, hot dogs and pretzels. Mmm... ballpark pretzels!

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday except it wasn't my birthday and the Mariners lost. In between the games we hit all of Seattle's finest stores: Apple, Bottleworks, REI and Target.

Plus a NAFTA meal Sunday night (Canadians eating Mexican in America).

Randy has headed back to Canada while I get ready for the big trip. It's going to be a long haul. 10.5 hours to Copenhagen. And then I have a couple of hours to kill before my Danish friends fetch me at Central Station.

I'd hoped to get a podcast up today, but the audio editing programs are driving me nuts -- it seems like too much work for too little reward. In other words, I'm sure you can imagine the sound of a ball game.

I will capture on the road reports in the coming days... no editing required... and see how that goes.

Until then... here's a little more roadtrip music for ya:


Saturday, April 26, 2008

from the "goin' mobile" dept.

And so, another adventure, another year, begins.

It starts slow... just a short drive to Seattle for a couple of ball games.

Then, on Monday, a big winged thing will drag these old bones across the (Atlantic) pond to Denmark. And then the real adventure begins.

I'm going to attempt to post audio clips and photos along the way. Hopefully it will actually work this time.

Until the next post, enjoy one of my fav road trip songs. What's yours?

[The Who - Goin' Mobile]


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

from the "road tune of the day" dept.

Johnny Cash - Hurt

from the "does it come with a bunker?" dept.

This is absolutely unbelievable: Hitler dolls on sale in Ukraine

The BBC report is HERE.

from the "nature television" dept.

From the Daily Mail:

Smile you're on ele-vision: How a camera attached to an elephant's trunk captured amazing jungle views

We revealed the amazing story of how four tiger cubs were captured on special cameras in logs carried by elephants - giving the most intimate insight into their early lives ever recorded.

Now, we show for the first time other creatures of the jungle caught in this extraordinary - and pioneering - way.

Cheeky langur monkeys, a rare sloth bear, spotted deer and a leopard with her cub are just some of the other animals that film-maker John Downer came across in his fascinating experiment.
The rest of the story and some fascinating photos are HERE.

from the "road rash" dept.

From the IHT:

Bolivia's popular 'Death Road' claims US mountain biker

The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 22, 2008

LA PAZ, Bolivia: A U.S. tourist killed in a Bolivian mountain-biking accident was a casualty of what is quickly becoming one of the country's leading tourist attractions: a thrilling ride down the so-called "Highway of Death."

Kenneth Mitchell died Saturday after tumbling from his rented bicycle and falling down a 60-meter (200-foot) cliff, said Alistair Matthew, founder of Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking, the La Paz-based outfitter which led Mitchell's trip.

Mitchell is the 12th cyclist to die on the road in the last decade.

The cause of the accident was unknown. Mitchell's bike, left behind at the cliff's edge, was still in perfect working order, Matthew said.

"It is a shock," Matthew told The Associated Press. "He was not riding crazy. He was riding confidently."

Officials at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz confirmed the 56-year-old Mitchell's death but declined to release his hometown.

The highway east from La Paz — the world's highest capital city — winds dramatically down the face of the Andes, dropping 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) in just 64 kilometers (40 miles).

The narrow dirt track earned its macabre nickname for the frequency with which Bolivian buses would plunge off its 1,000-meter (3,300-foot) cliffs, killing hundreds a year until a new paved highway opened 2007.

But the old route's stunning vistas and hairpin turns are drawing a growing number of thrill-seekers from around the world.

Matthew's company was the first to turn the highway into a tourist attraction, leading just a few hundred daring cyclists down the road in 1998.

Ten years later, he estimates some 25,000 riders of all experience levels braved the road last year with as many as 15 different outfitters.

In hostels and bars throughout Bolivia, travelers rave about the ride and proudly sport their souvenir T-shirts. But for some cyclists, the "Camino de la Muerte," or Highway of Death, lives up to its name.

Mitchell's death is the first fatality for Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking, whose guides plan a team ride down the road later this week to reflect on the accident.

"The risks can be minimized. They can't be eliminated," Matthew said. "We're not selling a ticket to sit on a couch to watch a video of someone mountain biking. We're going into the big outdoors."

Monday, April 21, 2008

from the "moore on the dems" dept.

My Vote's for Obama (if I could vote) Michael Moore

April 21st, 2008


I don't get to vote for President this primary season. I live in Michigan. The party leaders (both here and in D.C.) couldn't get their act together, and thus our votes will not be counted.

So, if you live in Pennsylvania, can you do me a favor? Will you please cast my vote -- and yours -- on Tuesday for Senator Barack Obama?

I haven't spoken publicly 'til now as to who I would vote for, primarily for two reasons: 1) Who cares?; and 2) I (and most people I know) don't give a rat's ass whose name is on the ballot in November, as long as there's a picture of JFK and FDR riding a donkey at the top of the ballot, and the word "Democratic" next to the candidate's name.

Seriously, I know so many people who don't care if the name under the Big "D" is Dancer, Prancer, Clinton or Blitzen. It can be Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Barry Obama or the Dalai Lama.

Well, that sounded good last year, but over the past two months, the actions and words of Hillary Clinton have gone from being merely disappointing to downright disgusting. I guess the debate last week was the final straw. I've watched Senator Clinton and her husband play this game of appealing to the worst side of white people, but last Wednesday, when she hurled the name "Farrakhan" out of nowhere, well that's when the silly season came to an early end for me. She said the "F" word to scare white people, pure and simple. Of course, Obama has no connection to Farrakhan. But, according to Senator Clinton, Obama's pastor does -- AND the "church bulletin" once included a Los Angeles Times op-ed from some guy with Hamas! No, not the church bulletin!

This sleazy attempt to smear Obama was brilliantly explained the following night by Stephen Colbert. He pointed out that if Obama is supported by Ted Kennedy, who is Catholic, and the Catholic Church is led by a Pope who was in the Hitler Youth, that can mean only one thing: OBAMA LOVES HITLER!

Yes, Senator Clinton, that's how you sounded. Like you were nuts. Like you were a bigot stoking the fires of stupidity. How sad that I would ever have to write those words about you. You have devoted your life to good causes and good deeds. And now to throw it all away for an office you can't win unless you smear the black man so much that the superdelegates cry "Uncle (Tom)" and give it all to you.

But that can't happen. You cast your die when you voted to start this bloody war. When you did that you were like Moses who lost it for a moment and, because of that, was prohibited from entering the Promised Land.

How sad for a country that wanted to see the first woman elected to the White House. That day will come -- but it won't be you. We'll have to wait for the current Democratic governor of Kansas to run in 2016 (you read it here first!).

There are those who say Obama isn't ready, or he's voted wrong on this or that. But that's looking at the trees and not the forest. What we are witnessing is not just a candidate but a profound, massive public movement for change. My endorsement is more for Obama The Movement than it is for Obama the candidate.

That is not to take anything away from this exceptional man. But what's going on is bigger than him at this point, and that's a good thing for the country. Because, when he wins in November, that Obama Movement is going to have to stay alert and active. Corporate America is not going to give up their hold on our government just because we say so. President Obama is going to need a nation of millions to stand behind him.

I know some of you will say, 'Mike, what have the Democrats done to deserve our vote?' That's a damn good question. In November of '06, the country loudly sent a message that we wanted the war to end. Yet the Democrats have done nothing. So why should we be so eager to line up happily behind them?

I'll tell you why. Because I can't stand one more friggin' minute of this administration and the permanent, irreversible damage it has done to our people and to this world. I'm almost at the point where I don't care if the Democrats don't have a backbone or a kneebone or a thought in their dizzy little heads. Just as long as their name ain't "Bush" and the word "Republican" is not beside theirs on the ballot, then that's good enough for me.

I, like the majority of Americans, have been pummeled senseless for 8 long years. That's why I will join millions of citizens and stagger into the voting booth come November, like a boxer in the 12th round, all bloodied and bruised with one eye swollen shut, looking for the only thing that matters -- that big "D" on the ballot.

Don't get me wrong. I lost my rose-colored glasses a long time ago.

It's foolish to see the Democrats as anything but a nicer version of a party that exists to do the bidding of the corporate elite in this country. Any endorsement of a Democrat must be done with this acknowledgement and a hope that one day we will have a party that'll represent the people first, and laws that allow that party an equal voice.

Finally, I want to say a word about the basic decency I have seen in Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton continues to throw the Rev. Wright up in his face as part of her mission to keep stoking the fears of White America. Every time she does this I shout at the TV, "Say it, Obama! Say that when she and her husband were having marital difficulties regarding Monica Lewinsky, who did she and Bill bring to the White House for 'spiritual counseling?' THE REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT!"

But no, Obama won't throw that at her. It wouldn't be right. It wouldn't be decent. She's been through enough hurt. And so he remains silent and takes the mud she throws in his face.

That's why the crowds who come to see him are so large. That's why he'll take us down a more decent path. That's why I would vote for him if Michigan were allowed to have an election.

But the question I keep hearing is... 'can he win? Can he win in November?' In the distance we hear the siren of the death train called the Straight Talk Express. We know it's possible to hear the words "President McCain" on January 20th. We know there are still many Americans who will never vote for a black man. Hillary knows it, too. She's counting on it.

Pennsylvania, the state that gave birth to this great country, has a chance to set things right. It has not had a moment to shine like this since 1787 when our Constitution was written there. In that Constitution, they wrote that a black man or woman was only "three fifths" human. On Tuesday, the good people of Pennsylvania have a chance for redemption.

Michael Moore

Sunday, April 20, 2008

from the "iMeat" dept.

This is simply too good to be true: An iPod protection sleeve that looks like meat. Seriously.

Engadget has the beef.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

from the "faux-holes" dept.

Great stuff today from Crooks and Liars!

One of Bill O'Really's minions takes tries to take Rev. Michael Pfleger down in an ambush interview... and gets blown out of the water. It is SO tasty to see the minion get shut down. Stay with the video all the way to the end. It's the best part. More background under the video.

From C&L:

And that’s what America really looks like. Which is why you normally don’t get to see it on TV.

Turns out the man in the video above is a Catholic priest by the name of Rev. Michael Pfleger, and apparently Bill O’Reilly did use a part of the interview above on his show. Approximately 5 seconds of it. On April 2. And yet, despite how well Pfleger deflects the nonsense tossed at him by O’Reilly’s ambush reporter (as seen in the above, not on his show) O’Reilly has been flogging the same “racist, hate-monger” nonsense for weeks.

As if that’s not bad enough, after the 5 seconds shown from the above interview, O’Reilly went on to do a full 6 minute segment discussing whether or not…wait for it…Pfleger should be sanctioned by the Catholic Church!

I wish I was kidding. (Watch the Bill O’Reilly video over at BradBlog)



from the "trivial matters" dept.

It's past mid-April in Vancouver and you'd think spring would be here, the blossoms in full bloom. But no. It's cold. And it snowed last night.

Now, that may not be a big deal in the rest of Canadaland, but it is here. Because it rarely snows. And it should never snow in April.

It's a good thing then, that I'm dragging my arse out of here in exactly one week. By this time next Saturday, I should be freezing my ass off in Seattle, watching the Mariners and the As at Safeco Field.

Two days after that I fly to Copenhagen and begin the next big trip. Unfortunately the weather there looks much like it does here. At least it's Europe!

I've been spending the last few days getting things in order. Buying new toys for the trip, getting the taxes signed off on by the accountant, making lists and getting comfortable in my comfy new (temporary) home at 2nd and Main.

And I've been wondering how well my Obama cap will go over in Ukraine. Hmmm.

That's it for now. Stay tuned.


from the "de-bait" dept.

If you saw the Democratic debate on ABC, you know that it was a joke. Silly questions about patriotism (flag pins=good Americans) as opposed to relevant questions about health care and the economy.

Imagine if ABC was around in 1858:

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 (Slight Return)

by publius

Presidential candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas held this debate on April 16, 1858 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

LINCOLN: In my opinion, slavery will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. "A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Excuse me, did an Elijah H. Johnson attend your church?

LINCOLN: When I was a boy in Illinois forty years ago, yes. I think he was a deacon.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you aware that he regularly called Kentucky “a land of swine and whores”?

LINCOLN: Sounds right -- his ex-wife was from Kentucky.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why did you remain in the church after hearing those statements?

LINCOLN: I was eight.

DOUGLAS: This is an important question George -- it's an issue that certainly will be raised in the fall.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you denounce him?

LINCOLN: I’d like to get back to the divided house if I may.

The rest of the debate is HERE. (h/t: Obsidian Wings via BoingBoing)


Friday, April 18, 2008

from the "reality TV" dept.

It amazes me that the same country that produces President Bush also produces some of the funniest political satire.

A case in point: The Colbert Report.

Last night the faux-news show featured appearances by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards (doing a brilliant parody of Colbert's WORD segment -- in this case, the edWORD).

What does it tell you that the next president (hopefully) of the United States will take the time appear on a comedy show hosted by a comedian playing a character?

Love, love, love it!

From the AP:

Clinton is Ms. Fix-It, Obama a media critic on 'Colbert'

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton played up her image as a tireless problem solver - this time for laughs - when she visited Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" Thursday night.

Not to be outdone, Sen. Barack Obama, her rival for the Democratic nomination, showed up via satellite to poke fun at what he called the media's fixation on gaffes and trivialities.

Clinton emerged just as host Stephen Colbert, broadcasting from the University of Pennsylvania ahead of the state's primary Tuesday, was lamenting that he had no technicians to repair the lost signal on his giant rear projector screen.

"Are you telling me there is no one in this theater who can fix the mess we're in?" Colbert cried out.

"I can," Clinton said as she strolled onstage. She questioned an assistant about technical specifics before figuring out the problem. Then she called out a makeup artist to take care of Colbert's shiny forehead.

"Wow, Senator Clinton, you are so prepared for any situation!" Colbert exclaimed. "I just don't know how to thank you enough."

"I just love solving problems. Call me any time," Clinton replied. "Call me at 3 a.m."

She exited without ever sitting down - exactly two minutes after she had entered.

"I'm sure she left her cell phone number," Colbert quipped.

Later, Colbert rapped Obama for belittling the questions he received in Wednesday's televised debate on ABC News. While campaigning Thursday in North Carolina, Obama complained that the debate fixated on matters like his controversial former pastor instead of issues affecting voters.

"Well, Stephen, I think the American people are tired of these political games and petty distractions," Obama said.

"Sir, speaking for the news media, we are not tired of it," Colbert retorted.

Obama announced he was putting "manufactured distractions" on notice, and Colbert promptly added them to the notice board.

Backstage, Clinton shared a private chat with her old rival John Edwards, who also appeared on the program. Clinton aides wouldn't divulge what they discussed during the brief meeting.

Edwards has declined so far to endorse either Clinton or Obama - an endorsement that would be welcome ahead of the May 6 primary in the 2004 vice presidential nominee's home state of North Carolina.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

from the "blame Canada" dept.

The creatives at South Park are taking aim at Canada again... I'll post the episode after it airs (soon)...

On that note, did you know that Denmark is the Canada of Europe? That's what the Urban Dictionary says:

Denmark is the Canada of Europe. Denmark is pretty cold, we like hockey, and nobody really pays any attention to us or know where Denmark is.

Q: "Denmark? Is that like the capital of Ikea?"

A: "No, Denmark is like the Canada of Europe"


from the "torching the ideals" dept.

From Human Rights Watch:

China: Olympic Flame Turns Up Heat on Sponsors
Corporate Social Responsibility Rhetoric Does Not Match Reality

(New York, April 17, 2008) – With fewer than four months remaining until the start of the Beijing Games, corporate sponsors of the Olympics risk lasting damage to their brands if they do not live up to their professed standards of corporate social responsibility by speaking out about the deteriorating human rights situation in China, Human Rights Watch said today.

“Shareholders and consumers who care about human rights should not let Olympic corporate sponsors off the hook,” said Arvind Ganesan, director of Human Rights Watch’s Business and Human Rights Program. “Their silence on abuses in the run-up to the Beijing Games makes their claims to support human rights especially disingenuous.”

The 12 highest-level corporate benefactors of the Beijing Games, known as the TOP sponsors (“The Olympic Partner”), are: Atos Origin, Coca-Cola, General Electric (GE), Manulife (parent company of John Hancock), Johnson & Johnson, Kodak, Lenovo, McDonald’s, Omega (Swatch Group), Panasonic (Matsushita), Samsung, and Visa.

GE is in an especially prominent position as a TOP Sponsor and the parent company of NBC, which is the US broadcaster of the Games. According to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC’s) most recent quadrennial review, corporate sponsorships and broadcast fees accounted for 87 percent of IOC revenue from 2001-2004, and the TOP sponsors have paid at least $866 million total for the 2005-2008 period.

In advance of the Beijing Olympics, Human Rights Watch has documented an increase in human rights abuses directly related to preparations for the Games. Those include ongoing violations of media freedom and an intensifying persecution of Chinese human rights defenders who speak out publicly about the Games, as well as the ongoing crackdown in Tibetan areas.

The TOP sponsors have remained largely silent about these developments, despite their widely publicized commitments to the principles of corporate social responsibility and human rights. The Coca-Cola Company and General Electric, for example, are members of the Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights (BLIHR), a group of companies that pledge to apply human rights principles in their businesses and urge other companies to do the same.

General Electric’s own human rights policy states, “GE seeks to advance human rights by leading by example – through our interactions with customers and suppliers, the products we offer and our relationships with communities and governments.”

Since September 2007, Human Rights Watch has repeatedly corresponded with all of the TOP Sponsors and other sponsors (sample letters below), and has met with Coca-Cola, General Electric, and Lenovo, as well as Microsoft, which is an Olympics supplier. A meeting is scheduled with Visa.

“World leaders and even the IOC have belatedly started to speak out against rights abuses in China around the Games, but the companies are notably silent,” said Ganesan. “The Olympics are a key test for putting pledges of corporate social responsibility into action. To date, even companies with strong policies have failed that test.”

Despite their varying policies on corporate social responsibility, the sponsors are uniform in their eagerness to excuse themselves from saying anything about the deteriorating human rights situation in China.

Several Olympic sponsors claim erroneously that human rights concerns are “political,” when in fact human rights provide the foundation on which legitimate political activity can take place.

“Human rights should be fundamental to any lawful society and serve as the bedrock principles of Olympism,” said Ganesan. “Particularly when abuses are a direct result of the Olympics, companies should never stay silent or try to dismiss the abuses as peripheral.

The payment of tens of millions of dollars to sponsor the Olympic should increase the duty to speak out, rather than provide an excuse for cowardly silence.”

Human Rights Watch wrote to TOP sponsors in the fall of 2007 and again in March and April 2008 to ask companies to define their corporate policies and any action taken to address the deteriorating human rights climate in China.

Human Rights Watch has urged the corporate sponsors to take six specific steps in line with their commitment to corporate social responsibility:

* Make a public statement of support for the human rights dimensions of the Olympic Charter, which seeks to promote the “respect for universal fundamental ethical principles” (first Fundamental Principle) and cites the “preservation of human dignity” as a major goal of Olympism (second Fundamental Principle);

* Publicly certify that their operations in China do not entail labor abuses or other rights violations;

* Urge the Chinese authorities to fulfill their human rights commitments made when the Games were awarded, in particular with regard to media freedom;

* Urge the immediate release of courageous advocates who have been harassed, detained, and jailed due to Olympic-related criticisms;

* Press the International Olympic Committee to establish a standing committee or mechanism to address human rights abuses in host countries; and,

* Urge the Chinese government to allow an independent investigation of the recent crackdown in Tibet. The Olympic Torch should not pass through Tibetan areas in May and June 2008 unless there is such an investigation and foreign and Chinese journalists are permitted free access to these areas, in line with Beijing’s media freedom pledges. This recommendation was directed in particular toward the three sponsors of the Torch Relay, Coca-Cola, Lenovo and Samsung.

None of the Olympic sponsors has acted on any of these recommendations, to the knowledge of Human Rights Watch.

“Companies are quite literally paying for these Games, so they can’t argue that they don’t have any responsibility to address abuses that taint the Olympics,” said Ganesan. “If companies aren’t going to act on their own human rights policies in the face of gross abuses, why have those policies at all?”


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

from the "press freedom isn't free" dept.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Palestinian officials say an Israeli
military strike in the Gaza Strip has killed a Palestinian cameraman
who worked for Reuters news agency.
Medical officials say 24-year-old Fadal Shanaa was killed while
filming Israeli tanks in central Gaza.
Neither Reuters officials nor the Israeli army are commenting.
In all, 14 Palestinians have been killed in fighting Wednesday.
Three Israeli soldiers also were killed in an ambush in northern

(The Associated Press)

12:08ET 16-04-08

More on journalists and the high price they often pay: Reporters without Borders

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

from the "birds of a feather 2" dept.

Think John McBush is a breath of fresh air? Think again:


from the "some bastard grabbed .com first" dept.

After five years, I've finally simplified Roadspill's address. Now all you gotta do is type in -- none of that blogspot stuff.

How's that for new and improved?


Sunday, April 13, 2008

from the "doppelganger" dept.

In addition to being a Flames fan (begrudgingly), there is another reason why I'm digging the Calgary-San Jose series:

San Jose defenseman Doug Murray! Go Doug Go! But don't win the series!

More on Doug is [HERE].


from the "pit stop" dept.

Need a loo whilst on the Tube? Here's a handy map:

Click for a larger, printable version.

Happy trails!

from the "ain't never been there, they tell me it's nice" dept.

More on the Thomas Kohnstamm Affair from the Melbourne Age:

Popular guide book giant Lonely Planet has suffered a severe blow to its credibility, with one of its authors admitting to plagiarising and making up huge slabs of his books.

Thomas Kohnstamm, who worked on more than a dozen guide books for the publisher, has even admitted that he didn't visit one of the countries he wrote about, saying he worked on the book about Columbia from his US home.

"They didn't pay me enough to go (to) Columbia," News Ltd newspapers reported him saying.

"I wrote the book in San Francisco. I got the information from a chick I was dating - an intern in the Colombian Consulate.

"They don't pay enough for what they expect the authors to do."

He also claimed to have accepted free travel, breaking the publisher's policy aimed at maintaining the independence of its authors.

Mr Kohnstamm's confession is a severe blow to Lonely Planet, considered a bible to travellers all over the world.

More than six million of its country guides are sold each year.

Lonely Planet has conducted a review of all Mr Kohnstamm's guide books, but says it has failed to find any inaccuracies in them.

UPDATE: More from the NZ Herald [HERE].
UPDATE: CNN's take is [HERE].
Ya think the publisher is loving all the free publicity? I can even see this being turned into a movie (I'm sure someone locked up the rights). It could be a good film, unless it's produced by the folks who brought us the film version of The Beach. Yeeech...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

from the "what, me worry?" dept.

These days I get my subversive yucks from people like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann. Before that I used to read National Lampoon (and listen to their Radio Hour).

But it all started with Mad.

And Mad always ended with a fold-in...

The New York Times recently created an interactive tribute to the Mad fold-in. It's amazing to look back at how political they were (and still are). And how it formed my love of satire and dislike of the right wing. CLICK HERE.

I think I'll pick up a current issue, just for old times sake...

[H/T John Gushue and DOT DOT DOT ]

from the "literary journeys" dept.

There's been a lot of discussion this week amongst the travel writer crowd about a new book by a former guidebook author.

Thomas Kohnstamm's book Do Travel Writers Go To Hell? is being hailed (by the publisher) as blowing the lid off the crazy world of travel writing. The book is the (supposed) true story of Kohnstamm's experience as a travel writer -- which we all know is incredibly exciting. Chortle.

The book hasn't yet hit the shelves (April 22) but it is already creating quite a stir.

And then someone leaked comments about the book from the private Lonely Planet authors group (which I am part of) hosted at Yahoo!.

They ended up in the New York Observer:

Over the weekend, news spread among the vast global network of Lonely Planet travel guide writers that one of their own had gone native.

His name is Thomas Kohnstamm. He worked for Lonely Planet for three straight years, contributing to guidebooks on South America and the Caribbean. Now, at 32, he has written a book of his own, to be published on April 22 by an imprint of Random House. It’s about his experiences as a delinquent travel guide writer who cut every corner because he was so short on time and money.

The main idea, Mr. Kohnstamm explained yesterday, is that “even on a good day, a fair amount of what ends up in a guidebook is arbitrary, and therefore people shouldn’t necessarily treat them as gospel.” The book is called Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? It’s Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, but with tourism.

News of Hell’s imminent release came to the Lonely Planet community directly from the company’s Australia-based CEO Judy Slatyer, who wrote a dramatic letter to the private Lonely Planet Yahoo! group. [ MORE ]

I, like every other travel writer on the planet, am certainly looking forward to Thomas's book. It'll make good reading as I head off to Ukraine, via Safeco Field, in exactly two weeks!


Thursday, April 10, 2008

from the "plastic is the future" dept.

The folks at Vice Magazine are at it again. If you thought their North Korea series was incredible, wait until you see their 12-part series on Garbage Island. You've read about the North Pacific Gyre here on Roadspill, but Vice really digs into this pile of crap. It's now playing on VBS.TV.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

from the "filler' up" dept.

from the "cabbage rolls and coffee" dept.

The excitement is building... in just a few weeks I'll be in the home of Mother Motherland (above) in beautiful downtown Kiev, Ukraine. I'm slowly pulling my travel bits and pieces together as I wrap up my gig in promoland.

Strange to think another big trip is on the horizon. Followed by a summer of work. Followed by another big trip? I hope so.

Little else to report on this Wednesday morning in Deep Cove. Best put on some pants and head to work...


Monday, April 07, 2008

from the "cat boy slim" dept.

A Monday night classic music video. Pretty warped stuff:


from the "plane insane" dept.

From the WTF file: Air Canada is now charging $35 for customer service. Here's what the travel blog Gadling has to say:

These days, airlines are finding more and more ways to charge passengers for things they've long received for free-- headphones, food and drink, a second checked bag. Now you can add decent customer service to that list.

Air Canada began offering a service (ha!) yesterday called "On My Way," in which passengers can pay an extra $25 on shorter flights and $35 on longer flights, and in exchange they will receive "'speedy' access to 'specially-trained' customer service agents who will help rebook flights on Air Canada or other airlines, as well as pay for hotel stays and meals, if necessary."

Is Air Canada the world's worst airline?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

from the "Qatar Hero" dept.

I've been lax in putting up video and photos of Mr. P.'s retirement bash Monday night at the Biltmore in Vancouver.

It was a night of cool people, great tunes and fabulous snacks!

Special guests included Chad van Gaalen, The Wet Secrets and the Compadres! Plus a cast of thousands!

Music in the video:
Blame It on the Moon:
Performed by the Compadres
Written by Mr. P

Images: Yours Truly

UPDATE: The night even made the local press. From the Georgia Strait (note last line):

Radio vet Don Pennington feted
By Adrian Mack

Vancouver was treated to a surprise performance by freak-folkie Chad VanGaalen on March 31.

The critically lauded Calgarian, whose 2006 album Skelliconnection made the final 10 in last year’s Polaris Music Prize competition, made a rare appearance at the Biltmore Cabaret, performing alongside Juno nominees the Compadres and—making their Vancouver debut—Edmonton’s the Wet Secrets.

The event began as a private surprise party for retiring CBC Radio 3 producer Don Pennington, but, as emcee and CBC Radio 3 host Grant Lawrence explained to the Straight, “It’s such a special occasion, we figured we should open it up to the fans.” A notice posted on the Radio 3 Web site last Friday drew about 200 people to the event, which was also recorded for future broadcast.

Pennington has produced live music for the CBC for 33 years. “He’s worked with everyone from Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald to Black Mountain and Broken Social Scene,” Lawrence said. “People love him. We secretly called these bands, and they said ‘Don Pennington, absolutely.’ ”

He added, “Chad agrees to almost nothing. He doesn’t even like leaving Calgary.”

When asked at the show about the impact of his retirement on the CBC, Pennington joked, “Well, they’re fucked now.”


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

from the "ch-ch-changes" dept.

From the BBC Tuesday morning:

Deal 'close' for Mugabe to leave

The outline of a deal has almost been reached for Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to step down, opposition sources have told the BBC.

They say that representatives of Mr Mugabe, Zimbabwe's military chiefs and the opposition have held meetings chaired by South Africa's president.

The sources say Mr Mugabe would give an address to the nation but urge caution until the announcement has been made.

The opposition says it won Saturday's general elections.

Under the proposed deal, Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai would be declared the winner of the presidential race after Mr Mugabe had stepped down.

President Mugabe, 84, came to power 28 years ago at independence, but the economy has been in freefall in recent years.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has not yet given the results of the presidential race, sparking MDC claims that the outcome was being fixed.

BBC correspondent Ian Pannell has spoken to three MDC sources who have confirmed that a deal had almost been reached.

One was 90% sure that this would happen but others were less confident.

Ruling Zanu-PF officials have not yet commented on the reports.