Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

Archive for the 'Guest Blogger' Category

Scott Pilgrim vs The Annex

Ok, so I’m a bit of a geek. As much as I try to hide it, people usually figure it out once they hear about things like my job as a programmer, the math degree from Waterloo or that I had Napoleon Dynamite glasses with super thick coke bottle lenses back in high school.

However, one of the things I never really got into was comic books. I’m pretty sure that I wanted to be Batman at some point of my childhood (but face it, who didn’t?) but outside of Archie & the gang from Riverdale, I never explored the medium. It’s only been lately that I’ve been checking some of them out, like Watchmen, V for Vendetta or Scott Pilgrim.

Today is the release day for Issue #6 of Scott Pilgrim or Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour. I’m sure you’ve seen the trailer or the commercials for the upcoming feature film starring Michael Cera and thought that it looks kind of like a comic book. Well, yeah, it’s actually six different books with the conclusion of the series being released last night. Actually, I shouldn’t act like this is some big underground, secret series as it’s featured in most bookstores these days and it’s pretty tough to ignore.

So anyways, where was I? Right, Scott Pilgrim #6. Since the series was set in Toronto and the writer was from Toronto, there were some pretty cool events in the city last night to celebrate the release of the conclusion to the story. I met up with fellow SilentTalkie Radio host Karim and his wife Kristie to check out the goings-on at The Beguiling, which is apparently a famous Toronto comic book store in The Annex. There was to be a few bands playing, awards for costumes, swag for sale and of course a lengthy autograph session with the man himself Bryan Lee O’Malley.

Karim and I showed up around 9pm and there was already the beginnings of a crowd gathering. There were a couple hundred people dillying about on a street that would typically have been quiet on a Monday night. I would’ve contemplated joining the autograph line, but I didn’t bring anything with me to get signed. After wandering the block, there were plenty of signs of life among the patios surrounding the store, but we could find no sign of the promised bands, so we tried to find a patio to grab a drink. An hour and a half later, we joined Kristie and headed back. The street was now so crowded with people that it was unofficially shut down. About halfway down the block, they were handing out awards for the best costumes and some other stuff. Unfortunately, instead of a PA, they were just using a bullhorn, so I couldn’t really hear exactly what was going on, but there was a real sense of anticipation building.

After a short detour for ice cream, (which I got in a mini-Blue Jays helmet, just admit it, you’re jealous) it was finally time for the book to be unveiled. The event seemed to lack organization for the hundreds of people there. (I think they hit their target of 1000 or at least were really close) People were standing in unofficial lines until about 11:45 when they finally announced where the lines were to get your autographed copy, or if you didn’t want to wait in the line of 500 strong, just your copy of the graphic novel. After a muffled countdown at midnight, we were handed our books and sent on our way.

All in all, it was a neat event. It was cool to see so many young people (everyone seemed between the ages of 15 and 35) just chilling, waiting for their piece of Toronto lore. On the nerd scale, with 0 being the Super Bowl and 10 being LARPing or a Star Trek fan expo, this is probably an 8 or about on par with the World RPS Championships. It was definitely nerdy, but it was still cool with plenty of girls and hipsters to be found. As for the actual book? Well, I won’t ruin the story for you, but it’s a fitting end, so check it out or just wait for the movie in a month.


A Plea to Cyclists

It’s been a while since Dave’s had a non-sensical rant on here, so I’d thought that I’d take this opportunity to fill that void. I’ll touch on a topic that’s become an increasingly frustrating part of my life, namely cyclists.

Now, I’m all for cycling most of the time. If I had a commute that was shorter than 35km, I’d probably be cycling to work. I understand that cyclists have tough choices. Whether you choose to ride in on the street or on the sidewalk, there’s always dangerous obsticles that present themselves. Most of these times, these obsticles are moving and don’t show you any respect. This is why there’s a push for bike lanes and bike paths to help alleviate these concerns and reduce the risk of an accident. So why don’t people use them? My place of dwelling is situated between one street with a bike lane and another without one. Would it surprise you to learn that I see more cyclists on the street without a bike lane? Are cyclists that lazy that they won’t go one block east to use a street with a bike lane? Instead, they’ll travel on a street, with high traffic density, typically used by cars to get in and out of downtown as quickly as possible. This seems like a poor choice, to willingly put yourself in a perilous situation, when, with 30 seconds of effort, you could be travelling on a street with your own lane and much less traffic. I just don’t get it.

The other thing is the number of cyclists that have blatant disregard for the laws of traffic while on the roadways. Stop signs, one way street, traffic lights or even attempting to pass a car on the right, who is in the process of turning right. Maybe the government needs to adopt an education and licensing system for people that ride bikes to make it safer for everyone. It seems like most of these things are common sense, yet they seem to be disregarded quite easily by cyclists, who apparently, have no concept of the trouble they can cause.

I know this doesn’t apply to most cyclists, people that are grateful for reserved bike lanes, use them, and continue to push for more. I’ll support your cause in the name of safety and enjoyment. Just please realize that if you want continued respect on the roadways, make you sure you respect the vehicles as well. It does work both ways.



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When I was in Junior High (or Senior Elementary as we called it), I had a job delivering newspapers. When I came home from school, the bundle was waiting for me on the driveway, but before I loaded them on my bike, I sat down at the table and read them over. Then I would ride down to the end of the road where an increasingly senile old man would tell me that, in keeping with the Roman style, he’d have to kill me if I was bringing bad news. While the early 90’s had its share of bad news, I could usually find some good news to spare my life.

When I got to University, I was excited to find all kinds of newspaper companies offering their product for free, in the hopes that I would enter into a long term product preference relationship with them.

These days I get my news online. Google is happy to search the headlines of the world for me, and then deliver a series of headlines and images to me, hyper-referenced to articles it thinks I would find interesting.

So, not only have I developed a habit of reading the news, but also of not paying for it. Unfortunately for anyone in earshot when I’m reading it, I’ve also developed a habit of commenting on what I’m reading. There are millions of others like me, and the web hosts of news sites have clued in on this. Now, when you read a news story on any credible/popular new source, you can make a comment, or read from the scores of comments left by other readers.

I, on the other hand, benefit from a condition that is rarely a benefit in any way, I am perpetually afraid that I will come off looking like an idiot. This either prevents me from making comments or at least delays it long enough that I realize any comment I make would certainly be 1) ignored, 2) redundant, 3) fuel for an already cyclical debate, but most likely 4) a combination of the above.

Almost every time I read an article though, the same thing happens. I scroll down a little bit too far and I get a glimpse of how many comments there are. Then I read one, then another, and then it’s almost like I realize again for the first time how pointless the comments are. I can’t think of a single time that my news reading experience has been improved because of a comment I read at the bottom of the page.

These comments also fall into predictable patterns. For any kind of moderately serious crime, posters will use the story as yet another justification to reinstate the death penalty, blame the current or former government for allowing the crime to occur, or offer tips to investigators based on their analysis of the evidence provided in the article. Almost every story of course invites people to blindly defend their nation, political party, race, religion, gender or business as righteous, whether or not their compatriots in the story are clearly the victims, the attackers or simply bystanders in the particular incident.

So I thought it would be fun to speculate on what kind of comments would be generated if today’s news environment were present at big events in our history. Sometimes we already know the general opinion at the time, but the Internet would just make those opinions roughly a million times as extreme.

Go ahead, think of your own. Our friends at XKCD have done it for the moon landing. Here’s my kick at the can:

Titanic Sinks
Once thought to be unsinkable, the large British vessels hit an iceberg and falls to the ocean floor. Thousands are feared dead. More to come.

– “I hope this convinces a few more people to stay back in Europe. Last thing we need is more immigrants.”
– “Did anyone check the water for German subs? I don’t buy this iceberg bull-**** for a second.”
– “If boats like this can sink, what’s next? The end times are upon us.”
– “I wonder who was on this boat that the powers that be were afraid of. This administration will stop at nothing to keep their grip on power.”
– “Did the captain go down with his ship? I hope they don’t let him on dry land if he didn’t.”

Note: I hate reading comments on real stories by real writers. I’m just an idiot. Comment away.


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You want beef?

I’ve got a beef with the people who do the lines in my soccer league. I appreciate that they are taking time out of their schedule to call the lines, but they are also getting paid so I don’t feel too bad holding them to a certain standard.

Now, the linesperson basically only has two things to do:
1. Notice when the ball goes out and who touched it last.
2. Call offsides.

The first one is the soccer equivalent to the kindergarten task of ‘colouring inside the lines’. If the ball crosses the line you put your flag up and let the ref know who touched it last. For the most part the linesmen in my league have mastered this one.

It’s the second one that drives me crazy. Call offsides correctly! I’m not talking about them making the judgment call about a player in an offside position who doesn’t make a move for the ball. I’m talking about offside 101 here. If the player receiving the pass is (way) behind the last defender when the ball is passed he is offside. So call it! Especially when you are standing right there. There is an additional level of frustration since, when they miss a call by that much, it ends up with a breakaway and often a goal.

As one of my teammates said “You realize you’re getting paid real money to do this.” Of course, he got a red card for saying it, but sometimes the truth hurts.

Dear Linesmen,

Please try harder.



Bonus: Classic. (NSFW!)

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What are you doing today? Riding across Lake Michigan.

The 96th edition of the Tour de France is on right now and if you’ve never really thought about the race or the insanity that is bike racing but are reading this, then you have no choice.

Think about this:

As I’m writing this post and Dave is drinking beer and eating various types of wurst, Stage Five is in progress. Stage Five doesn’t sound all that impressive, but calling it “Stage riding across Lake Michigan in one day, but on land and in France” just doesn’t roll off the tongue. The length of this stage is 196.5 kms. Go back and reread that number. Seriously. That’s wider than Lake Michigan, which although skinny, is still a GREAT LAKE!

Crazy, right? That’s a lot of biking around. Well, that’s only the 6th longest stage on the Tour. The longest is 224 kms. Seriously.

Oh and not only is that impressive, but they don’t really have breaks. There are two REST DAYS, but other than that, it’s straight on through. Stage Six, which goes tomorrow, is a paltry 181.5kms. Stage Seven is the aforementioned 224kms and yep, that’s Friday. They do this ’til the 26th with TWO DAYS break.

And folks, this isn’t a leisurely ride down the path to pick up the latest US Weekly and some gelato. On the days when the Stages are short, they are only short because it’s a sprint. Full speed ahead. Plus, there are crashes, strategies, crazy fans and the French to deal with.

But also, it’s in France and most of France is covered in F’ING MOUNTAINS.



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Allez Les Rouges, Again

I’m not sure if you remember my last post for Dave’s blog but I summarized Canada’s latest World Cup Qualifying campaign at the halfway point. Needless to say, the second half of the campaign continued the trend started in the first half and Canada failed to advance. So once again, in 2010, I will be reduced to cheering for a country with whom I have no ties beyond a shared ethnic background that has little impact on my day-to-day life.

But not all is lost in the world of Canadian soccer. The CONCACAF Gold Cup has just started and once again, Canada is poised to make a decent run in the tournament. But wait, you say, aren’t these just the same teams that have defeated Canada over and over again in World Cup Qualifying? How can Canada hope to have an impact when it has struggled continuously on the International scene?

Well, it’s pretty simple. No one cares about the Gold Cup, especially in years when its champion does not qualify for the FIFA Confederations Cup. That’s right. Most countries have not sent their stars to this tournament and although Canada is missing some of it’s key players (Dwayne De Rosario, Lars Hirschfeld and Rob Friend to name a few), Canada has done pretty well in the tournament the last few times and is off to a good start, having beaten Jamaica on Friday, thanks to a nice goal by recent Toronto FC signing Ali Gerba.

Canada have won the tournament twice. Once in 1985 (just before making its only appearance at the World Cup) and again in 2000. They also would’ve reached the final in 2007 if not for a very questionable offside call that nullified a late potential tying goal against the US.

Just like in World Cup Qualifying, Canada have been placed in the toughest group, but, as mentioned above, they started off strong with a 1-0 win over Jamaica. Next is El Salvador (you can catch the game at 9pm Eastern tonight on Sportsnet) and if they can win, they will qualify for the knock-out round. Rounding out the group is a Costa Rican team, which has already lost to El Salvador.

I’ve already mentioned who’s not on the team but there’s still plenty of talent and some talented new faces who have an opportunity to impress. The squad will be led by Julian De Guzman and Atiba Hutchison in the midfield and Ali Gerba up front. Be sure to keep an eye on Simeon Jackson, who recently scored a last minute goal to give his team, Gillingham, promotion to England’s third level, and defender’s Dejan Jankovic and Andre Hainault, who are both having great first years in MLS.


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The Fabric of Society

I’m sure it’s happened to you at some point. Or maybe you’ve been an innocent bystander and watched it happen to someone else. Or maybe you’ve been the culprit. This is the common scenario of how it goes down: you turn away for a moment; get distracted by someone or something, leave a little too much room in front of you, and the next thing you know you’re looking at the back of someone else’s head.

I’m talking about cutting in line. Jumping the queue. Butting.

I try to imagine what’s going through the perp’s mind when it happens. Do they realize what they’ve done? Do they think they are entitled to enter a line as close to the front as possible without having to start at the end like the rest of us? What’s odd is that when I witness it happen, people often don’t speak up. They most likely get this bemused look on their face or maybe shake their head and scowl, then mutter things under their breath. When it happens to me, I’m pretty vocal about it.

The act of lining up for something encapsulates civility and order, without which there is anarchy and barbarism. I’m sure the Vandals never felt like they had to line up for anything. The queue is something I hold near and dear to my heart. I’m pretty sure it goes beyond any sense of morality I possess. It must be ingrained in my British identity. George Mikes once wrote, “An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one.”

As that about wraps it up, please excuse me. I feel compelled to go over there and start a line.


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Book of Dave To the left is page one of the book that is Dave Duncan. Luckily, this novel is further along than the one Dave is writing. Hooray for being born, Dave!


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