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Friday, August 31, 2007


Fascinating stuff down under. And I don't mean Australia. Down underground that is. I came across this very interesting interview on 'bldg blog' about the new urban explorers who seek their own kind of adventure in storm sewers.

In particular, Michael Cook, writer, photographer, and one of these urban explorers, operates a website called Vanishing Point on this very subject. As far as I can tell, Ottawa is mentioned for its own "Governor General's Drain". Check out the interview: Drains of Canada: An Interview with Michael Cook. Somehow, I think this spot missed rob mclennan's attention in his forthcoming book "Ottawa: The Unknown City" (available this October).

Monday, August 27, 2007

Paul Watson - Where War Lives

A couple of days ago Greg A. Lato, of "latoga's Motion Blur" photo blog asked if he could use my photo of Paul Watson for his own 'Paul Watson' blog post. He wanted to give a head's up that Mr. Watson will be a featured guest today on National Public Radio's (NPR) Fresh Air (hosted by Terry Gross).

According to the Fresh Air website, "each week nearly 4.5 million people tune in to the show's intimate conversations broadcast on more than 450 National Public Radio (NPR) stations across the country, as well as in Europe on the World Radio Network."

...And this would probably account for the many hundreds thousands of hits to my Paul Watson photos on Flickr today. So, a warm welcome if you've made your way here via and the Fresh Air broadcast.

And if you want to hire me, that's okay too. (My resume is here.)

Please also see the following page for the audio presentation that was produced by the Ottawa International Writers Festival.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

rob mclennan toasted by Susan Newlove

Ottawa poet rob mclennan clinks glasses with Susan Newlove at rob's farewell party held at the Carleton Tavern 25 August 2007. rob leaves this Friday for sunny Edmonton to be the writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta...soon to be known as the "University of Awesome".

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Paul Watson

Journalist with the LA Times, Paul Watson inscribes his book "Where War Lives" (McClelland, 2007) for readers in attendance at the Library and Archives Wednesday evening. The evening was particulary poignant in that two Canadian soldiers were killed in action Wednesday in Afghanistan, including two injured Radio Canada journalists.

WHERE WAR LIVES: An evening with Paul Watson
Hosted by the Ottawa Citizen's Kate Heartfield
$12 General / $10 Student/Senior / Free for Members 7:30pm

From OIWF website:
"A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist takes us on a personal and historic journey. Paul Watson was born a rebel with one hand, who grew up thinking it took two to fire an assault rifle, or play jazz piano. So he became a journalist. At first, he loved war. He fed his lust for the bang-bang by spending vacations with guerilla fighters in Angola, Eritrea, Sudan, and Somalia, and writing about conflicts on the frontlines of the Cold War. Soon he graduated to assignments covering some of the world’s most important conflicts, including South Africa, Rwanda, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Watson reported on Osama bin Laden’s first battlefield victory in Somalia. Unwittingly, Watson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of Staff Sgt. David Cleveland — whose Black Hawk was shot down over the streets of Mogadishu — helped hand bin Laden one of his earliest propaganda coups, one that proved barbarity is a powerful weapon in a modern media war. Public outrage over the pictures of Cleveland’s corpse forced President Clinton to order the world’s most powerful military into retreat. With each new beheading announced on the news, Watson wonders whether he helped teach the terrorists one of their most valuable lessons. Much more than a journalist’s memoir, Where War Lives connects the dots of the historic continuum from Mogadishu through Rwanda to Afghanistan and Iraq."

Paul Watson, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photojournalist.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

BBC World Book Club Wants You...

...or your question at least:

"The BBC World Book Club is a unique radio programme that brings readers from around the world together with their favourite writers. Every month the presenter Harriett Gilbert invites you to send in your question to a best-selling author.

On Friday 28th September the BBC World Book Club will be celebrating its 5th anniversary with a very special guest – the Sri Lankan-born Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje will be talking about his novel The English Patient. The programme will be recorded at Canada House in London at 12:00 midday.

If you would like to put a question to Michael Ondaatje about The English Patient, or be a part of the 5th anniversary recording at Canada House, please email with your question."

Sunday, August 19, 2007


sunflower, originally uploaded by johnwmacdonald.

Sunflower against blue sky.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Bananas, originally uploaded by johnwmacdonald.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Liz Hay Photos in Quill & Quire

This June I was invited by QnQ to do a photo shoot with Ottawa's Elizabeth Hay, author of a new novel, Late Nights on Air, published by McClelland & Stewart. Quill blog recently announced that their September issue is on newsstands now (week of the 2oth). The article was written by Ottawa's night-club Ottawa Citizen journalist, Fateema Sayani. I am very pleased with the three photos they chose: one on the cover itself, one in the table of contents and a full page photo fronting the article. Sweet!

Charles Hodgson

Charles Hodgson finally launches his book, Carnal Knowledge: A Navel Gazer's Dictionary of Anatomy, Etymology and Trivia. Hodgson is the voice of Podictionary, the popular word-a-day podcast. August 17 at 7:00 pm. Ottawa Bagel Shop, 1321 Wellington St. in Ottawa.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cartoon French Fries

Giddy-Up! This illustration is an advertising sign for Stagecoach Fries that is located on the corner of Stagecoach Road and Mitch Owens. The hardest-working fries on the block. (The black frame is photoshopped in. One more thing, I did not create this sign, I just thought I would take a picture of it for the ol' blog.)

Reid Reads

Monty Reid is the feature reader tonight at Tree Reading Series. Doors open at 7:30pm, with a brief ‘open mic’ set at 8:00pm. Royal Oak II Pub, 161 Laurier Ave. East

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Derek Olive on the Musicyle Tour

From Derek's website:
"In May 2007, Derek Olive and Johnny Eden will begin their cross-Canada MUSICYCLE tour in Powell River, BC, in an effort to undertake music touring in an environmentally friendly way. The tour aims to highlight the possibilities for merging music touring with sustainable transportation as well as to encourage healthy living. The tour will conclude in Halifax, Nova Scotia in September 2007, having passed through numerous small towns and major cities along the way, including Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Barrie, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec and Halifax."

Today, instead of the pair of musicians, it was just Derek Olive in front of the Centennial Flame monument on Parliament Hill at noon. I listened to his interview last week on CBC Radio and learned that he was planning to meet whomever was to show up at this location at noon on Sunday. But as he was getting ready for the 40km cycle ride to the Black Sheep Inn for the late afternoon performance he got a flat tire prior to his departure this morning. No worries though, it was fixed in no time for the rendezvous on the Hill with his trailer in tow hauling his guitar and gear.

As the minutes went by leading up to noon meet-up only three others showed up on bicycles to accompany him up to Wakefield. I showed up to take photos and to give support of his cause. The performance is at 4:20pm this afternoon the Black Sheep Inn. The three fellow cyclists will get in for free tonight.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

500 Years of Female Portraiture

500 years of female portraiture in under three minutes. (link via lens culture weblog)


Isabelle, originally uploaded by johnwmacdonald.

After five years as a NCC tour guide on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Isabelle will retire at then end of the summer. She'll be taking up a teaching career this fall teaching high school history among other subjects.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Consolation by Michael Redhill on Man-Booker Long List

Man Booker Prize announces longlist:

Darkmans by Nicola Barker (Fourth Estate)
Self Help by Edward Docx (Picador)
The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng (Myrmidon)
The Gathering by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape)
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton)
The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies (Sceptre)
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (John Murray)
Gifted by Nikita Lalwani (Viking)
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (Jonathan Cape)
What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn (Tindal Street)
Consolation by Michael Redhill (William Heinemann)
Animal's People by Indra Sinha (Simon & Schuster)
Winnie & Wolf by A N Wilson (Hutchinson)

Please go to for more details

Friday, August 03, 2007

Trans-Am Apocalypse No. 2

Trans-Am Apocalypse No. 2 by John Scott (1993). Car with primer and latex paint, incised with text from the Book of Revelations of Saint John the Evangelist, fuzzy dice. [The National Gallery of Canada] John Scott is a past winner of a Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts in the category of painting in 2000.

from the display caption describing the sculpture/art car:
"The artist has carved the Book of Revelation (the Apocolypse) into the muscle car's entire surface in a graffiti-like style transforming it into a more contemporary mode of transport for the famous Four Horsemen. What more appropriate vehicle for their fearsome mission than a monument to heavy metal and rebellion? Scott's use of the iconic gas-guzzler builds upon his interest in masculine identity and its association with aggression. Cloaked in biblical metaphor, Trans-Am Apocalypse No. 2 suggests the ultimate consequence."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Brigitte Bardot #1

I've blogged about this topic before but this is the first time I've seen my photo of Brigitte Bardot in the number one spot on a Google image search.

Love her or hate her, and I don't know about you, but I would rather see a *much* younger version of Ms. Bardot. From the web stats I look at from time to time, my photos of Brigitte Bardot are primarily responsible for the generation of 10s of thousands of hits to my website in the last year. Too bad these hits do not equate to dollars.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Burning Bush Leaf

Wet from the rains last week. Tinted with red already. It's hot as hell outside.