Friday, February 29, 2008
Food for thought:

The Tyee explains why everyone who can't afford a 1.5M Kits duplex is soon going to be living and working in the suburbs:

"Historically, federal and provincial government funding has been what governs affordability, with municipal densification and land-use playing subsidiary roles. Governments and non-profit or co-operative societies build non-market dwelling units. Their operation and maintenance are necessarily assisted by government subsidies to ensure a continuing stock of affordable housing. Vancouver's 'affordable housing' explosion occurred between 1947 and 1986 when potent government programs encouraged their creation. Funding has since diminished significantly and, consequently, so has the affordable housing.

Efforts by the city have had a negligible effect despite numerous attempts. For example, although the rate-of-change bylaw protects rental housing stock, it doesn't have the capability to prevent landlords from continually raising rents. This has led to a number of superficial upgrades and tenant evictions across the city. Recent issues along Main Street speak to this point.

[. . . .]

I don't think I would be doing the issue of affordability justice if I didn't address the conflict between the city's environmental and 'high-quality' design agendas and the economics of lowering costs. I am the first to admit that city's desire to implement stricter energy performance regulations on new buildings is very noble. Not to mention that 'green' designers like myself serve to greatly benefit by getting more work.

But the fact is that higher performance buildings cost more money to both design and build. More specialists are required. Better systems and 'eco' products must be purchased -- each at a premium. As the old saying goes, 'you can't get something for nothing.' Do homes perform better now than they did 50 years ago? Without question. But they are also exponentially more expensive.

When dealing with development, it is naive to believe that developers altruistically take an economic loss for implementing these great environmentally-friendly systems: the costs are passed directly to those buying into their projects. This serves to directly increase construction costs -- over and above land costs, development fees, etc. -- and, ultimately, makes them even less affordable."

And, on a brighter note:

Warren Buffett's new annual Chairman's Letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders

New IMB shipped today from Toronto!

"It's in the nature of sf that a reader may forgive much for a certain quota of conceptual invention. And the planet itself, called Sursamen, is an extraordinary creation. You can watch the prose clicking into a kind of rapturous hard-sf overdrive as Banks begins to describe it: 'Sursamen collected adjectives the way ordinary planets collected moons. It was Arithmetic, it was Mottled, it was Disputed, it was Multiply Inhabited, it was Multi-million-year Safe, and it was Godded.' This means, as Banks evinces an infectious delight in explaining, that the planet is a series of concentric shells held up by massive towers, with internal suns rolling across each ceiling, and a different species of lifeform living on each level. The whole thing (and thousands of others like it) was built long ago, by an extinct alien civilisation, for purposes unknown. At its centre lives another kind of alien, and no one knows what that is doing there either.

Such is the epistemic suspense that drives the narrative, as aficionados of the Culture series welcome the fecund variety of new spacefaring species, as well as the pleasurable return of familiar paraphernalia such as knife missiles, and new additions to the catalogue of arch ship names, chosen by the machine Minds of the ships themselves: here is the Lightly Seared on the Reality Grill; there the Experiencing a Significant Gravitas Shortfall; and over there a kind of hero, the Liveware Problem. The novel itself has a kind of liveware problem: the ship Minds are more sympathetic characters than most of the medieval-fantasy humans.

The story's superbly kinetic endgame, meanwhile, seems a little squeezed. Here, Banks gleefully mashes together tropes from 2001: A Space Odyssey and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the matériel of his universe works at maximum efficiency: combat drones work offstage magic and talking combat suits helpfully emit expository info-bursts."

It's raining on Main Street and everyone is broke and crabby:

JOE GRANOLA [of some scholarly book on First Nations politics]: Have you read this?

CJB: Nope!


CJB: Not someone I'm personally familiar with. Sorry.


CJB: Again, not a name I recognize.

JG: Man, for someone who owns a bookstore, you don't seem to fuckin' read much!
Nicholson Baker observes Wikipedia, like some exotic tropical plant flourishing under glass:

"On December 7, 2007, somebody altered the long article on bedbugs so that it read like a horror movie:

Bedbugs are generally active only at dawn, with a peak attack period about an hour before dawn, though given the opportunity, they may attempt to feed at your brain at other times.

A few weeks later, somebody replaced everything with:


(thx. Pete)
With another day of Market Carnage unfolding, a useful anodyne: Mr. Seth Klarman, a successful practitioner of some hard discipline:

"When Benjamin Graham first developed the principles of value investing in the 1920’s, he could not have imagined the changes the investment world would undergo over the next eighty years: the wondrous technological advances, the vast accumulation of wealth, the institutionalization of investing, the new financial instruments. Because so much is so very different, I’m sure he would be especially pleased to find that value investing is, in many ways, the leading investment discipline being practiced today. Yes, there are other approaches—growth, momentum, black box computer programs. But there is only one approach—one discipline—that is simple enough for anyone to follow, logical and commonsensical to anyone who pays attention and incontrovertibly proven to work.

Value investing involves the purchases of bargains, the proverbial dollars for fifty cents. Unlike speculators, who think of securities as pieces of paper that you trade, value investors evaluate securities as fractional ownership of, or debt claims on, real businesses. They are evaluated as one would evaluate the purchase of an interest in a business or of the entire business. Buying such bargains confers on the investor a margin of safety, room for imprecision, error, bad luck, or the vicissitudes of economic and business forces. Value investing is a long-term orientated investment approach—never to be confused with short-term speculation—that requires considered patience, discipline and rigor.

Value investing lies at the intersection of economics and psychology. Economics is important because you need to understand what assets or businesses are worth. Psychology is equally important because price is the critically important component in the investment equation that determines the amount of risk and return available from any investment. Price, of course, is determined in the financial markets, varying with the vicissitudes of supply and demand for a given security. It is crucial for investors to understand not only what value investing is, and that it works, but why it is a successful investment philosophy. At the very core of its success is the recurrent mispricing of securities in the marketplace. Value investing is, in effect, predicated on the proposition that the efficient-market hypothesis is frequently wrong. If, on the one hand, securities can become undervalued or overvalued, which I believe to be incontrovertibly true, value investors will thrive."

Pulpfiction was recently voted "Best Used Bookstore" and "Best Local Bookstore" by the readers of the West Ender newspaper. Thanks to those customers who continue to wander in day after day, and to my patient, professional and long-suffering staff: Chris Clarke, Keith Dunsmuir, Michael Young, Bonnie Jacques, Katie Davis, Saelan Twerdy, and Mr. James Nadiger.

CJB at work, Monte Clark Gallery, Toronto. A lecture on Evan Lee's photographs on a warm September afternoon. Crowd phobia and multiple anxiety disorders ramped up to colossal proportions. Seated so as not to collapse or suddenly bolt. Something like sense being made nonetheless: standing-room crowd totally silent, the only sound the circling buzz of the world's largest (and completely lost) wasp.

Photograph courtesy Evan Lee.
These Things That I've Been Told

BOOKSTORE REGULAR: So, I'm going out on a blind date with one of your regulars.

CJB: Oh yeah? Who?


CJB: He's a regular?

BR: So he says. He was in last Saturday, when you were throwing that guy out. He'd never seen anyone thrown out of a bookstore before!

CJB: He can't be a regular here, then. Seriously, though, I haven't given anyone the boot for weeks. Maybe he's thinking of some other bookstore.

BR: No, he definitely said it was Pulpfiction on Main Street.

CJB: Maybe I just blocked the experience out. Anyway, have a good time!


Saturday morning, 10am:

OLD BRITISH GUY WITH HITLER MOUSTACHE: I've got some excellent stock for sale!

CJB: Bring it in!

BOX 1: Reprint leather hardbacks c.1950 -- Stevenson, Wilkie Collins, Zola, etc.

OBGWHM: I'll need a pretty penny for those!

CJB: These are pretty common reprints, but, sure, I can make you an offer.

BOX 2: Trashed Susan Howatch, Da Vinci Code, etc.

OBGWHM: You're not taking them all?

CJB: Sir, these books are totally unsaleable.

OBGWHM [of Da Vinci Code hardback with tiny toothmarks along the bottom boards and edges of the dust jacket]: What's wrong with this one?

CJB: Well, it looks like a mouse or a squirrel has been chewing on it.

OBGWHM: You didn't think I'd be bringing in the good ones, did you? [ACTUAL QUOTE]

CJB: I have an idea--

OBGWHM [interrupting]: And this one? What's wrong with it? [Susan Howatch hardcover, no dust jacket, held together with duct tape]

CJB: I don't really have to tell you, do I?

OBGWHM: Look, I don't like your attitude!

CJB: Sir. Grab your stuff and hit the fucking road.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Spring sunlight through the open door, a little warmth there too. The 4" purple pansy that someone abandoned in among the recent arrivals last week inclines its fragile petals toward our neighbor star.

I don't write here much these days, largely out of the sense of having previously articulated everything I want to say. It's humbling to look back in the archives and discover that a much younger self has already stated what you're slowly fumbling to express.

"Cat." "Cat."

BUSI 121 -- Foundations of Real Estate Mathematics -- still eating my head, 9pm-1am, 5 nights a week.

Clint Burnham's amazing resurgent salt-and-pepper beard.

"Christopher, you have 13 friends."
Hell freezes over: CJB joins Facebook.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

These things that I've been told can rearrange
My world, my doubt in time. . . .


And I've seen love
Make a fool of a man

He tried to make a loser win

But I've got nothing to lose
I can't get back again


I Haz Can Cheeseburger?

Don English thoughtfully prevents me from ordering Germany's latest contribution to world culture by forwarding the A.V. Club's verdict.

"'Overall, I think this wasn't about the cheeseburger itself, it was about the experience of eating a cheeseburger in a can. It's something I would never want to relive, but that won't stop me from telling every single person I know about it.'"

Rackstraw Downes, Beehive Yard At The Rim Of A Canyon On The Rio Grande, Presidio, TX, 2005 (click to enlarge)
Monday, February 25, 2008

But when the suppers are planned
And the freeways are crammed
And the mountains erupt
And the valley is sucked
Into cracks in the earth
Will I finally be heard by you?


Christopher Brayshaw, A Local Tree, 2008

Handmade archival inkjet print, edition of 5 + 2 AP, approx. 4" x 6"

Water Park
Carol Sawyer

28 February -- 30 March 2008

Opening reception Thursday 28 February 2008, 6-9pm

Curated by Christopher Brayshaw

CSA Space
#5 - 2414 Main Street
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V5T 3E2

See Pulpfiction Books, 2422 Main Street, for admission

Carol Sawyer appears courtesy Republic Gallery

Thursday, February 21, 2008
When it comes to broken dreams you'll get your share

Are you feelin' all right my friend? (esp. 1.11-27 and 2.51-3.23)

City of brotherly love, place I call home

The hurting's on me, yeah

It's -- how they say? -- 'semi-risque'

Geological Specimens, 2007-8
Monday, February 18, 2008

Vancouver, 2008

Sunbird, 2008

Today's soundtrack: The Joe McDuphrey Experience, Solar Waves
Sunday, February 17, 2008

First direct sunlight through the window, calendar 2008. Shot in low-rez, on the fly, today's window of opportunity being approximately 25 seconds or thereabouts. All the usual culprits visible: Fred the plant (at right, rescued from the garbage and nursed back to health by Mr. Michael Young); the plastic rats and baby rats (center-left); and the lovely windows of the old ballet academy across the street (reflected in the open door, far left). I don't pay much attention to the calendar seasons, but I do try to mark this day each year. A weird sense of accomplishment, having once again made it through the long rainy dark. If I could fix the date of my death, I'd choose a February afternoon like today: warm sunlight; earth-smells; tree-buds: a whole world of living things waking and continuing on.

Guy sporting plastic bags on his hands and a black eye wants to know "where the pretty girls are."

CJB: Just the words? Or should I hum it, too?

GUY: Naw, man. All the tender young pussy.

CJB: Excuse me?

GUY: Her! [Gesticulates at Robin Bougie's Cinemasewer launch poster (above)]

CJB: Out.

The internets make some strange requests of me:

Please Publish on Your Blog, If Appropriate

"Hudson, Massachusetts - Helen Oram, the owner and publisher of, is a winner in a contest co-sponsored by Woman's Day magazine and the American Libraries Association. The theme of the contest was 'How I started a business with the help of libraries,' and 4 winners were chosen from thousands of entries."

Big thanks to Helen for taking time from her busy day to send me this important, nay, earth-shattering news.
Saturday, February 16, 2008

As sick as I've been in over ten years. Still no appetite to speak of, muscles knotted from scrabbling around on the bathroom's tile floor in the wee hours of the morning. No strength in my legs or arms. An old man's gently rolling gait down to the bus, one-foot-carefully-in-front-of-the-other. Plus lots of other symptoms we won't dwell upon here. Likely diagnosis: Captain Trips.

Lots of notes from well-wishers, Tolagson and the cats' co-owner among them. And, just now, the shy little fellow above, caught unawares by Mr. Keith Freeman, in today's unexpected and brilliant sun.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
This is pretty embarrassing
I have the flu. Deep muscular ache, sweats, repeated throwing-up: the works.

There's nothing like lying curled on your bathroom's cold tile floor, reading Le Carre's Honorable Schoolboy in between bouts of violent vomiting, to reintroduce a little humility to your life.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jamie Tolagson, Four Ghosts, 2008
Monday, February 11, 2008

Twenty Questions For Christopher Brayshaw
Floam 3.1 (Lier, Spring 2008, pp. 16-20)
By Thierry Hasselt-Claeys

Christopher Brayshaw is an independent Vancouver-based writer, critic, curator, and photographer. I spoke with him in Vancouver in October and November 2007, with followups by phone and email in January 2008. -- TH-C

TH-C: Recently in Vancouver I was able to research some of the more extravagant claims made on your website. Your periodical criticism is represented in the artists' files at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the University of British Columbia: short descriptive essays focused on younger, or at any rate less well known, regional artists. Catalogues, too, though one gets the sense that they were produced quickly, and probably -- you don't mind me saying? -- on a budget. But what is more problematic -- what I could not substantiate, despite copious looking -- were the repeated claims you make about exhibiting your photographs and performances. I feel confident saying, the only one who sees these things is you.

CJB: That experience might be fundamental to the work. When I studied art history at UBC in the early 1990s, one of the classes I took was a graduate seminar with John O'Brian, on Conceptual Art. I was particularly struck by works that we'd now call "hybrid forms": some of Smithson's more outre sculptural proposals, Lawrence Weiner's statements, things like that. The notion that a work could simultaneously exist as a physical object, and also as a description of or a proposal for an object that might be close to, but not exactly physically identical to, its prior manisfestations was exciting to me. Flavin's fluorescent fixtures, or at least Dan Graham's description of Flavin's fixtures, were also important. You know, the idea that the work exists as a diagram or schema, one that can be built, dismantled, and built again with different standardized units.

If you remove a painted panel from an Ellsworth Kelly or a Gerhard Richter mosaic painting, and replace it with a visually identical panel, it's pretty obvious that you've fundamentally altered or destroyed the work. On the other hand, only an idiot would claim that a Flavin made with "new" fluorescent fixtures somehow corrupts the artist's intent. The lamps burn out; they're meant to be replaced. Flavin didn't neccessarily perceive aesthetic distinctions between the interchangable units his sculptures are made from. This is a pretty powerful line of thinking, one that finds correspondences with Weiner's famous statement about his work. You know, THE ARTIST MAY CONSTRUCT THE WORK, THE WORK MAY BE FABRICATED, THE WORK NEED NOT BE BUILT. Weiner says each of those three conditions are equal to his intent; he doesn't prefer one over the others. So would it help if you had an invitation card or an installation shot? I mean, what difference would it make? What would proof change for you?

TH-C: Surely, though, you acknowledge a difference between Flavin's lamps or Andre's firebricks and your photographs, which -- despite your confusing claim for their participation in a "conceptual" lineage -- are actually governed by a conservative pictorial logic that Conceptual Art sought to displace or overturn.

CJB: I don't agree. It's true that the Linguistic Conceptual Art of Kosuth, the Fox group, & etc. sought to eradicate -- or at least decenter -- "the pictorial" as an aesthetic category. But Conceptual Art, or at least my reading of it, is much more heterogenous than what you're arguing here. Artists like Graham, Smithson, Mel Bochner and Ed Ruscha joined the Conceptual critique of "the pictorial" to drawing, printmaking, and photography. I don't see how the text of Smithson's and Bochner's "The Great Bear," for example, could be considered apart from the images strewn around it. Ditto Smithson's "Monuments," ditto Graham's "Homes For America," ditto Ruscha's Royal Road Test. Conceptual Art was and is more formally varied than your after-the-fact reconstruction of it.

TH-C: Linguistic Conceptual Art was not the movement's only manifestation, true. But conceding this point by no means invalidates my critique of your somewhat incredible equation of your photographs with the industrially fabricated, serially produced units that Andre and Flavin employed in their sculptural production. If one accepts what you are saying at face value, it follows that you do not draw any aesthetic distinctions between your pictures. But you often criticize your production, saying in effect, "This picture is not as good as that one." So on one hand you imply that your pictures are standardized units, while, on the other, you continue to judge them by aesthetic criteria that Conceptual Art aimed to overturn. You can't have it both ways! Even Ruscha and Smithson sought to problematize the conditions under which their photographs were, or were not, accepted as aesthetically successful, as art.

CJB: Well, maybe I'm operating under a prejudice: I like objects. Even Kosuth's. I saw his Five Words in Blue Neon in New York in 1992 or 1993, where it had an immediate, visceral effect on me. His photostats and texts I liked a lot less; they had that "air of the crypt" to them, that dry and slightly dusty smell that a lot of Linguistic Conceptual Art now seems to exude. I came to the visual arts as a writer, but quickly intuited that xeroxing linguistically tricky sentences wasn't going to cut it. Nor did I want to be a graphic designer, typographer, or archivist. Not that there's anything wrong with those jobs, outside of the recognition than I didn't think I could bring any particular passion to them. Flavin, Weiner and Andre were all still making objects, or, in Weiner's case, at least allowing for the possibility of making objects. What set those three apart for me was their recognition that their objects were embedded in larger reception-and-distribution systems. Each of them considered how the objects they designated as "sculpture" would enter, transit, and occasionally exit a larger social economy. No one thought they were making something whose permanent resting-place was a climate-controlled, trustee-funded box. Weiner, in particular, had thought long and hard about the social systems his works circulated in. One of the first things I made when I tried my hand at "making art" was a Weiner "Public Freehold" piece.

TH-C: You drew it, by hand?

CJB: No, I took the text to a sign shop and had it cut in adhesive vinyl. But I'd given the shop the wrong measurements and what I got back was more like a Spinal Tap Stonehenge or a Richard Pettibone Weiner: a little ribbon of sixteen-point type. I put it up on my bathroom mirror in my old Kitsilano apartment.

TH-C: May I ask why?

CJB: One of my older American cousins used to play semi-professional basketball. When we visited his family I saw his bathroom mirror, which had all kinds of motivational slogans tucked into its corners, as a spur to better performance. I thought that by forcing myself to live with my failures, I might gain a better sense of what I was doing wrong. Later on I tried making copies of works of art that I desired but couldn't afford. Nothing ever came of my Judd stack or my Levine knothole painting, outside of friends' private amusement. I turned out to be useless at measuring, cutting, fitting, and most other basic trade skills. Sometimes I used the wrong tools all together. Ron Terada almost wet himself laughing when he saw a seventy-coat sky-blue monochrome that I'd painted with a 1/4" brush.

Photography was easier. Briefly.

Everything old is new again. Courtesy fellow reader Lorna Mills.

Courtesy Mike Grill. Apparently I'm not the only admirer of Vancouver's most widely photographed corner.

Someone else writes to ask if yesterday's photographs are "pictures." Yes, but not aesthetically claimed ones. More like sketches or studies.
Sunday, February 10, 2008

Locations for pictures

One Hundred Famous Ghosts (64), 2008
Saturday, February 09, 2008

Pacific Magnolia, 2006-8

A found photograph I really wish I'd made

Oh we’re so disarming darling
Everything we did believe is diving diving diving diving off the balcony
Tired and wired we ruin too easy
Sleep in our clothes and wait for winter to leave

Hold ourselves together with our arms around the stereo for hours
While it sings to itself or whatever it does
When it sings to itself of its long lost loves
I’m getting tied, I’m forgetting why

Tired and wired we ruin too easy
Sleep in our clothes and wait for winter to leave
But I’ll be with you behind the couch when they come
On a different day just like this one

Friday, February 08, 2008

Six Decades of Pelicans -- huge online archive courtesy Things Magazine
Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mike Grill, Treasure Seekers (Small Version), 2007

Tonight's Youtube:

You'll get chilly receptions everywhere you go

But now the day has come to let you know where I'm coming from

Mount Foley and Welch Peak from the air, Cheam Range, British Columbia. Photograph by Drew Brayshaw

Photographer/pilot John Scurlock, Chilliwack Airport, British Columbia

Brother dru recently got invited to go flying with Concrete WA's John Scurlock, who, with the help of his little yellow kit plane (above) is busily assembling a massive photographic archive of the mountain terrain of western Canada and Washington's Cascade Range. Last night, dru treated me to an impromptu slideshow of his trip -- 200+ images of the high points of the Cheam Range, Chilliwack Valley, and Manning Park. The highlights from that flight are worth perusing at length, and enlarging.

I've spent months browsing Scurlock's online galleries. Though his images are presented as transparent "information," and not neccessarily in an art context, they exceed that initial purpose, just like August Sander's archives, or Atget's. This picture, for example, of Mount Waddington's main summit in late December, ice-rimed and draped in shrouds of drifting snow, not only accurately represents what the summit looks like, but also conveys Scurlock's amazement at that hostile alien world.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Unsurprisingly, "Vancouver's Disgruntled Voices" have a blog.

As someone who has spent a not inconsiderable amount of time trying to "intervene in the lackluster state of arts criticism in Vancouver," the claim that "anonymity allows us to say the things that the institutional politics of art makes prohibitive" strikes me as embarassing and sad. It's depressing to think that anyone should ever put the demands of a career, tenure, exhibition, graduate fellowship, etc. ahead of speaking truth to power.

Vancouver 911's cowardly typo-ridden communiqué implies that art is just another kind of system, something to be gamed. It's a symptom of "the lackluster state of arts criticism in Vancouver," not a solution to the problem.
Monday, February 04, 2008

"The film, which includes some breathtakingly beautiful images of the green, wet Guyanese jungle and a monumental waterfall that cuts through it, is driven less by narrative than by ideas and impressions. Nudged into shape by Mr. Herzog's voice-over narration, White Diamond seems motivated by a reverent, sober curiosity and a willingness to accept the irreducible mysteriousness of nature, in both its wild and its human incarnations."

John Huston's Fat City (1972). Screenplay by Leonard Gardner, from his great novel. Cinematography by Conrad Hall. Nb. 2.32. Bresson, Shore, Hopper, Wall & etc.

Tonight's Youtube:

Please, please don't judge me too strong

In the mansion of the governor there's nothing that is known for sure

Whatever happened to images 'cause now they’re gone

Let's admit the bastards beat us

Psychedelic and funkadelic, uh-huh!

One Hundred Famous Ghosts (63), 2008

Blind, 2008 (enlarge)
Bruised Billy Joel New York State of Mind

On the deck: Emily Haines' lovely Telethon

When I'm on will you leave me on?
When I'm on will you leave me on?
And when I'm down will you let me get under?
Take cover
Can't hide without a house

Newspapers blow over
Can't walk past the driveway
Without asking for directions

So full of stupid questions

When the daylight's like flourescent light
I'm going to take my time night by night
When the daylight's like flourescent light
I hang my hands over your eyes to hide
When I'm on will you rescue me?

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Cat Rackham Gets Depression

Mel Bochner, Complain, 2007
Courtesy Peter Freeman, Inc.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
In across the desk: a nice two volume hardcover Complete Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham, with slipcase.

Maugham's short-short "The Verger" has more to do with Pulpfiction and my strange head than you might expect at first:

"The manager stared at him as though he were a prehistoric monster.

'And do you mean to say that you've built up this important business and amassed a fortune of thirty thousand pounds without being able to read or write? Good God, man, what would you be now if you had been able to?'

'I can tell you that, sir,' said Mr. Foreman, a little smile on his still aristocratic features. 'I'd be verger of St. Peter's, Neville Square.'"
Chain Lightning, It Feels so Good

Just in across the desk: Penguin Niccolo Machiavelli Discourses, Heritage Front stamp on the title page.
Lights on, music blaring, folks browsing the front racks, other folks dragging in boxes of books, neon OPEN sign illuminated in the window.

SIDEWALK GUY [through front door]: ARE YOU OPEN?
Saturday, February 02, 2008
NONE-TOO-SUBTLE DEADBEAT: I'm bringing these books in for trade! You can just add them onto my credit slip!

CJB: Hold up. Let's see if I actually want any of these books.

NTSD [frowns]: What?

CJB: Let's see what you've got.

IN NTSD'S LITTLE CLOTH BAG: Terry Brooks [mediocre perpetually overstocked fantasy writer], bell hooks [binding loose from cover], out-of-date religious studies textbooks, Susan Faludi, & etc.

Meanwhile, NTSD browses the new books, the "Beats and Counterculture" wall, the new stuff on display. . .

CJB: Nothing there for me today, thanks.

NTSD: But I just want trade!

CJB: They'd take away my bookseller's license if I took this stuff. Sorry.

NTSD: There'll be no sale today then!

CJB: Quite right.
SFX: Willam DeVaughn, Be Thankful for What You've Got

CJB: Hey there!

WHITE WHITE GIRL (backpack, sparkly touque-thing, lil' cardboard fold-up container of vegetarian chili): Yo, yo, whassup with yo' bad self?

Rocking the house: Radio's new February playlist, African Popular Music Part 1: South of Sahara.

"The first record I heard was a South African LP called 17 Mabone. The cover featured an illustration of an American muscle car with 17 (I counted them) headlights across the front. The tunes, mostly instrumentals, often began with an MC invoking the Indy 500 or something similar, and then the music would come in — accordions, saxes, electric guitars, drums and basses. The cooking ingredients were familiar, but the recipe was new and different. I loved hearing familiar sounds and instruments approached in completely unfamiliar (to me) ways. It was incredibly tuneful too. I loved the wacky cultural borrowings and mish mash, the electric guitars and the references to US car races. The cultural porridge was thick and mind bending."
Friday, February 01, 2008
Brayshaw is a Brat (p.11, scroll!)

"Mr. Brayshaw does not utilise an ability to think critically when he demonstrates his narrow minded, self righteous attitude to politics."

It was a very good year. And now it’s gone.
You say the whole point of everything’s the moving on
And I can’t help but feel somewhat opposed to this
Like she had been --- by fascists


Anodyne Inc. Quarterly Report to Shareholders

Multiple distributions and quarterly report:

Dominion Citrus Income Fund (DOM.UN): 12,346 units x .01/unit = $123.46 (30 Dec)

E-L Financial Corporation (ELF): 7 shares x .125/share = $0.88 (30 Dec, world's best!)

Loblaw Companies (L): 217 shares x .21/share = $45.75 (30 Dec)

Norbord, Inc. (NBD): 1208 shares x .10/share = $120.80 (21 Dec)

North West Company Fund (NWF.UN): 600 units x .27/unit = $162.00 (15 Jan)

Parkland Income Fund (PKI.UN): 3510 units x .105/unit = $368.65 (15 Jan), plus $1247.68 (special distribution), plus 91 new units, plus $13.65 (all 15 Jan)

TerraVest Income Fund (TI.UN): 1109 units x .04167/unit = $46.21 (15 Jan)

Current portfolio:

Dominion Citrus Income Fund (DOM.UN): 12,346 units
E-L Financial Corporation (ELF): 7 shares
Hart Stores (HIS): 1769 shares
Loblaw Companies (L): 217 shares
Norbord, Inc. (NBD): 1208 shares
North West Company Fund (NWF.UN): 600 units
Parkland Income Fund (PKI.UN): 3601 units
TerraVest Income Fund (TI.UN): 1109 units
Amerigo Resources, Inc. (ARG): 1895 shares

Cash balance, $2355.53


Anodyne Inc., 25 October 2006 - 1 February 2008: 1.49% increase

TSE 300 index, 25 October 2006 - 1 February 2008: 7.91% increase

Relative result: (6.42%)

I am obviously unhappy about this quarter's poor relative performance (compare with 25 October 2007's annual report, reporting a 22.46% gain for Anodyne and a 14.45% increase for the TSE), but not distraught enough to liquidate any of the portfolio's positions. Like I say robotically every quarter: this stuff isn't for the faint of heart, and long-term means just that: having an investment horizon whose intervals are years, not months or even quarters. I pay much closer attention to the business' operating results than to share prices, and, in general, their performance has been satisfactory given the North America-wide recession that's apparently underway. Some businesses -- Parkland, the North West Company -- are performing extraordinarily well, but have seen their share/unit prices crushed since October.

Have I made any mistakes? A few. I'm probably insufficiently diversified: Parkland accounts for approximately 50% of the portfolio's current value. That said, Parkland is a one-of-a-kind business that I've owned in real life since 1986, and one that I'm willing to hold indefinitely. Parkland also owns "semi-visible" assets (eg., the Bowden refinery) which in my judgement are not accurately reflected in the current share price.

Perennial losers Dominion Citrus and Hart Stores have been posting middling sales for as long as I've owned them. I think both companies' business models are basically sound, and that both have taken steps to expand their core competencies: Hart by building new stores and a new distribution center, and Dominion by focusing their operations on higher-margin "value added" products like fresh-cut fruit. A recession is a tough time to hold retail and homebuilding stocks, Loblaw Companies and Norbord included. That said, Hart pays a (small) annual dividend, and Dominion paid a dividend before its conversion to an income trust structure, and I'd expect it to eventually pay one again after it converts back to a corporate structure in June.

Any other mistakes? Yes: not very many financial stocks are represented in the portfolio. I own Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank, and Scotiabank in real life, but the portfolio is limited to E-L Financial, and that single position is small. I like Fairfax Financial Holdings' value orientation, but can't make head or tail out of their financial statements and filings. Lots of complex reinsurance deals that I'm not experienced enough to properly evaluate.

So, not much change for now at Anodyne Inc. Next update: on or around April 25th.

A week of late nights (2am, 3am, 3:35AM) with Scylla and Charybdis: the Foundations of Real Estate Mathematics (BUSI 121) textbook and my new HP 10BII. The problem sets build on each other exponentially, so there's no opportunity, as with my other course this term, Capital Markets and Real Estate Markets (BUSI 101) to skip ahead, picking off the problems I can solve as I go. So I'm rolling along, performing interest rate conversions and amortizing payments, and then hit something like the following:

Scarecrow's Bar and Grill has recently been put up for sale. Bruce, a wealthy young playboy, is very interested in purchasing the restaurant. The asking price is $850,000. Since Bruce is seen as a low credit risk client by the bank, he has regotiated an $800,000 mortgage loan, written at 9.5% per annum, compounded weekly, with a 5 year term and semi-annual payments. The mortgage will be amortized over 20 years and the bank will receive a $6500 bonus that will be deducted from the face value of the loan.

A/ How much will Bruce owe at the end of the contract term?

B/ What is the effective annual rate paid by Bruce on the funds actually advanced?

C/ Immediately after receiving the loan, Bruce decides that he is no longer interested in carrying debt. Since he is rich and does not need the money anyway, he offers the loan to his friend
[ward?] at a price of $810,000. Calculate the effective rate Dick earns on this investment.

& etc. Which, at 1:25am with mice rustling in the walls and rain battering the sidewalk outside, was enough to make me feel like someone had snuck up and hooked jumper cables to my brain.

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