Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Horror of 2011 and the Hope of 2012

(Click pic to enlarge)

I can't remember a more gloomy New Year's eve, grey, strangely warm, and eerily ominous. Last year, on the final day of 2010, I wrote this:

It was the worst of years. The year when the crazed tyrant Stephen Harper ripped a giant hole in the fabric of Canada, chewed on its heart and its liver, and lied through his bloody teeth.

So what could I possibly write about the even more horrible year of 2011?  The year when a morally degenerate ideologue, and his band of American-style RepubliCons, seized control of the country I love and began screwing it into submission.

For who could ever forget this image, of one of those ghastly Cons firing imaginary bullets into the legacy of murdered women, and the bleeding side of the helpless opposition? 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Rob Ford and the Big Lie

Well at least we know one thing eh? When Rob Ford called 911 because he felt threatened by the comedian Marg Delahunty. And then used the F-word when talking to a dispatcher, because police didn't come quickly enough.

It wasn't because they didn't know where he lived.

According to numerous police and emergency service sources, 911 calls to the mayor’s Edenbridge Dr. home are a reality for the South Etobicoke division. Exactly how many calls have been made is unknown.

Now I don't give a damn what goes on in the Ford household. In fact I'd rather not think about it. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stephen Harper and the War on the Unemployed

You don't have to be a weatherman, or an economist, to know that a cold wind is blowing in Harperland, and that a recession could be just around the corner.

So what are the Cons doing? Answer: Planning to cut corporate taxes even more, and taxing our paycheques.

Canadians will see the biggest increase in payroll taxes in a decade next year, according to a Canadian Taxpayers Federation analysis of how many of your dollars will go to federal government coffers.The combined net increase of 4.84 per cent is the highest since 2002.

Even though businesses are just sitting on their money, instead of creating jobs. And if you miraculously manage to qualify for employment insurance, good luck collecting any benefits. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

When the Religious Fight Each Other

Well let's Iraq the Sunni are bombing the Shia.

In Nigeria, the Muslims are bombing the Christians.

In Israel, secular Jews are battling the ultra-Orthodox.

And in the Church of the Nativity, where Jesus is said to have been born, the Christians are fighting the Christians.

With brooms... 

Fighting the Stigma of Mental Illness

I was trying to think about something to blog about on this cold, wet miserable night. Then I read about the death of Joe Bodolai, the American who nurtured so many great young comedians in Canada.

Who killed himself the other day by drinking a mixture of Gatorade and anti-freeze, but not before writing this last post.

Which both stunned and saddened me.

Then I read Sabina Becker's reaction.

And it stopped me in my tracks. Because what puny words could I write about anything compared to something so honest and so powerful that moved me so much?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Don Cherry's Horrible Year

Well as you no doubt know Don Cherry has probably had his worst year ever eh?

All those NHL concussions, and all that terminal brain damage, have no doubt taken the shine off his rock'em sock'em videos.

Now even Raffi is going after him for being such a bully.

And I'm afraid it's only going to get worse. 

Citizen Peladeau and the War on the CBC

Jumping Jiminy Cricket. I must have had too much booze soaked plum pudding eh? But when I saw that Pierre Karl Péladeau says his war on the CBC isn't a vendetta, I couldn't help thinking that his nose must be growing. 

The media magnate insists that his crusade to force the CBC and its French-language arm Radio-Canada to release confidential data about their operations – including the salaries of Peter Mansbridge and other network stars – is not about politics or ideology. It is about taxpayer dollars, and how they impact Quebecor’s bottom line.

Because while it may be true that he's not political, he just wants to be the Citizen Kane Citoyen Péladeau of Quebec. And he doesn't care whether those who work for him are Cons, separatists, or former FLQ terrorists.

Surely he can't complain about taxpayer dollars, when his ruthless media octopus gobbles up so many. And surely he can't deny that his tacky little news network's main purpose in life is to destroy the CBC. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What Christmas Means To Me. Once Again.

I wrote this post two years ago, and although so much has happened since then, and we now live in the darkness of Harper's Canada, I see no reason to change it. So here we go again.

It's Christmas Eve, and once again I have to explain to my friends, that although I'm an atheist, and believe that our beautiful planet is our heaven and our hell.

And although I hate the shopping and the greed.

And although I know that it can be a lonely time for many, including all those gay people who have been rejected by their families.

I do love this time of the year. The lights, the colours, the snow, the food.

And all those sweet little stories that moved me when I was a child.

Like the one whose happy ending made me cry when I was nine-years-old, and was spending Christmas in hospital recovering from meningitis.

The story of the poor little old donkey and his friend, who was ordered by his father to sell him. But the only one who wanted him was a tanner... for his hide.

Until the kind stranger arrived...

Stephen Harper's Scary Christmas Message

Oh boy. It was such a lovely evening. The setting sun glowed golden. And for the first time this winter it was cold enough to imagine it was almost Christmas in Canada.

But sadly that golden glow didn't last long.

For when I went home and put on the TV, I was quickly reminded that it was only almost Christmas in Harperland.

OMG. I don't know what was more scary. When he tried to smile by opening his mouth and baring his teeth. Or when he promised to "keep promoting the things that unite us as Canadians."

But it wasn't until I read Jane Taber, that I really started screaming.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chicken Lilley and the Sun News Bigots

If they ever make a Canadian version of the classic movie Chicken Run, they're definitely going to have to give the lead role to Fox News North's Brian Lilley.

Because not only does he look the part, with an absurd pompadour instead of a cockscomb, but he's as cowardly as they come.

A few months ago when he was going on about how Nycole Turmel was a "separatist" and the CBC was the root of all evil, Martin Patriquin made him look like an idiot. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Occupy Canada and the Great Darkness: My Video

I visited St James Park the other day, about a month after the Occupy Toronto campsite was torn down. And not even the Christmas lights on the old gazebo, could brighten up the bleakness.

I much preferred it when it was full of gentle dreamers, talking about changing the world.

For long after this horrible year is history, I will always remember how after the horror of Stephen Harper's majority, and the tragedy of Jack Layton's passing, the birth of the Occupy movement made me feel alive again.

In the Great Darkness of Harperland, where so many look on helplessly as a sinister regime sets out to turn us into a prison state, privatize medicare, and sabotage all efforts to try to save the planet, it revived my will to RESIST.

Oh sure, like any other baby movement Occupy Canada has made many mistakes. Like when it tried to close down the port of Vancouver recently, and alienated some of its good friends in the union movement. 

But its heart is in the right place. It's right to want to save the world. It's encouraging many young people to get involved in politics.

And in a country suffocating with apathy, this picture still haunts me.

So I agree with this guy.

If nothing else, Occupy Toronto has created an infrastructure for resistance at a time when resistance is as necessary as breathing.

And of course I agree with Stephen Lewis.

 “We will not recognize the Canada that exists in 2020,” he said, exhorting progressives to do what he suggested Occupy has done: “Grit your teeth and go after these neanderthals and philistines.”

So I decided to put together a little video, with some pictures and videos I took, some pictures from others across the country, and some music from the Canadian folk group The Travellers. 

To say thank you to Occupy Canada. For keeping my hopes for a kinder, gentler, better world alive. For saying Harperland is not Canada. This land is OUR land.

And daring to RESIST...

Fox News North and the Phony War on Christmas

Well I have to hand it to the Cons at Sun News, because if it wasn't for them I'd never know  that a brutal War on Christmas was raging.

Although so far most of the reports flowing in from the front seem depressingly familiar.

More like scary Lezra, and the never ending War on David Suzuki.

Although the hairy hoary windbag Charles Adler has tried to escalate the situation, by spouting off ad nauseam about "self loathing white liberals." trying to crucify Christmas.

And even warning Santa to watch his back. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Religious Fanatic Attacks Poster of Virgin Mary

Well I suppose it was too real to be tolerated. A poster of the Virgin Mary receiving a pregnancy test.

So a religious fanatic attacked it with a pair of scissors.

"This is Satanic, this is the ultimate Satanic attack, when Lucifer attacks his worst enemy, the Blessed Virgin.

"This particular church - so called - is run by a gay, feminist-type lobby. They claim to be Christian and yet they put up a blasphemous image of the Blessed Virgin, attacking her virginity and the fact that she was the mother of Christ, the God-Man."

Even though the poster's message was gentle and human. 

Is Cotlergate Stephen Harper's Watergate?

Lordy. Isn't life unfair? Great Ugly Leader makes destroying the Liberal Party his singularly depraved obsession. And gets rewarded with a juicy majority.

While the poor guy who said this:

“We’ve done tens of millions of dials through our call centre and there’s never been any complaint launched against us,” Kouvalis said. “We’re in the business of getting Conservatives elected and ending Liberal careers. We’re good at it.”

Has to go on TV and insist that he's no reprehensible dirty trickster.

Just a paid political hitman... 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Oil Sands and the Banana War

Oh. My. Monkey. It looks like Chiquita Banana is giving Canada's oil sands the cold shoulder.

The Canadian oil sands industry is facing an unlikely adversary in Chiquita Brands International, the banana company.

The Ohio-based company said it will work with environmental organization ForestEthics to eliminate shipping of Chiquita bananas with fuel from refineries that use Canada’s oil sands.

Which of course had Great Banana Republic Leader stewing in his own fumes. 

Bradley Manning and the Horror of Haditha

What perfect timing. Just as the U.S. ends its war in Iraq, not with a bang but a whimper. Bye bye Big Lie. Bye bye Shock and Awe. Bye bye mass murder. Bye bye Abu Ghraib.

In a junkyard near Baghdad, somebody came across the true horror of Haditha.

The 400 pages of interrogations, once closely guarded as secrets of war, were supposed to have been destroyed as the last American troops prepare to leave Iraq. Instead, they were discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad. An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp.

The documents — many marked secret — form part of the military’s internal investigation, and confirm much of what happened at Haditha, a Euphrates River town where Marines killed 24 Iraqis, including a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, women and children, some just toddlers.

To remind us that not ONE of the U.S. soldiers responsible has been convicted. And that just like the war criminals Bush, Cheney, and Blair they all got away. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Con Canada and the Dirty Trick Gang

Golly Sherlock can you believe this? The polling company behind those phony calls in Irwin Cotler's riding is feeling a little heat.

A trade association that represents Canadian marketing and polling firms says it is looking into complaints about controversial phone calls into Liberal MP Irwin Cotler’s Montreal riding made by one of its members.

So what does Nick Kouvalis the company's principal partner have to say about that?

“We’ve done tens of millions of dials through our call centre and there’s never been any complaint launched against us,” Kouvalis said. “We’re in the business of getting Conservatives elected and ending Liberal careers. We’re good at it.” 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stephen Harper and Our Broken Parliament

I see that Parliament has adjourned with the Cons gnashing their teeth flapping their wings over what Justin Trudeau said yesterday.

“Bullshit!” he cried, his fury dramatically framed by flowing locks and sharply drawn facial hair.

“You piece of shit!” he added in Mr. Kent’s general direction.

But I thought Justin was quite restrained considering the circumstances. If I was him I would have added this...

Because Peter Kent deserves every stinky word aimed in his general direction. And if we're talking about contempt of Parliament, I thought this was definitely worse: 

Remembering the Blogger Bruce McDonald

A reader reminded me tonight that it's been a year since the gay Progressive Blogger Bruce McDonald killed himself.

How time flies.

Although I never met Bruce, his blog Canuck Attitude, inspired me to begin blogging.

And since he died, I've written several post about him.

But this will probably be the last one, because what more is there to say eh? 

Bruce and his blog are lost in the mists of time. Nothing will bring them back. And these are the only words of his that I managed to save: 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Global Warming and the Bubbles of the Apocalypse

When I look at a picture of our beautiful little blue planet, and I think of what the Cons have done, I feel so angry and so ashamed to be a Canadian.

We're a rich, advanced country that should be a leader. Yet we've failed the world on climate change. We let our aboriginal peoples live in tents with sick children in the middle of winter. We send cancer-causing asbestos to developing nations. What's wrong with us?

Especially since, as John Ibbitson points out, the Cons may have done the dirty deed, but in a way we're all responsible for the Kyoto debacle.

“Global warming peaked as an issue when Al Gore won his Academy Award in 2007, and has basically declined since,” he said Monday. “And when the economy went up the hit parade, the environment went down precipitously.”

To a degree I can understand why so many Canadians feel this way. Thanks to the Cons we've come to believe that our prosperity depends on dirty oil. And in a cold country like Canada the day of reckoning seems so far off.

But what if it wasn't? What if  bubbles like these are already heralding the beginning of the Apocalypse? 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kyoto and the Shame of the Cons

I could run this old video of Peter Kent introducing a documentary where he calls global warming “the greatest threat to life on the planet” and warns that the devastating effects of climate change “will be seen in our children’s lifetime.

Or I could run this picture of him returning from the Durban conference yesterday, like some shabby Neville Chamberlain declaring "There will be peace grease in our time...

After declaring that Kyoto is dead.

Claiming that we would have to pull every car off the road, or pay $14 billion to stay in the treaty. Which is totally absurd. But even if it was true would be less than we are going to pay for our shiny new prisons. 

The Cons Go After Our Medicare System

They promised they wouldn't go after medicare. But that was then and this is now.

The Conservative government is putting the provinces on notice that Ottawa plans to shrink the rate of growth in health transfers.

As Finance Minister Jim Flaherty prepares to meet his provincial and territorial counterparts Monday in Victoria, signals continue to pile up that Ottawa will not keep increasing transfers by 6 per cent a year beyond the 2015-16 fiscal year.

And what does Stephen Harper have to say about this?

“We have committed to the 6 per cent for a few more years. Over the long term I think all governments recognize – federal government, provincial governments – that the cost of the health care system cannot continue to rise more quickly than our revenue. And that's a problem and that's a challenge we will all be dealing with in the next few years to come as we discuss the future of our health care system,” he said.

But then he would. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jason Kenney's Ridiculous War on the Veil

OK. So I'm not a big fan of religion, and I'm not a big fan of the burqa or the niqab. But then as you know I'm not a big fan of Jason Kenney either.

So I find his new war on the veil totally ridiculous.

It seems unlikely that a woman would go to the trouble of applying for citizenship, taking the test and paying the fee without a genuine desire to be classed as a Canadian citizen — just so she could secretly get away with not saying the oath.

And not just for all those excellent reasons, but also because even if nobody was wearing a veil at one of those mass swearing in ceremonies, how would we know that anyone in the room was REALLY reciting the Citizenship Oath? 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Krusty Blatchford and the City of Sissies

And so it came to pass that the ghastly Con scribbler Krusty Blatchford was strolling trolling through the streets the other day, when she came across a group of young boys hugging each other. Farted loudly.

And did declare Toronto to be a City of Sissies.

I know men have feelings too. I just don’t need to know much more than that. On any list of The 25 Things Every Man And Boy Should Know How To Do, hugging is not one of them. Killing bugs is. Whacking bullies is. Kissing is. Farting on cue is. Making the sound of a train in a tunnel is. Shooting a puck is. Hugging is not.

And herself to be a bearded lady... 

My Very Gay Message to Rick Perry

I've been taking a little heat recently, from some of my gay friends, for not having written anything about Rick Perry's grotesque little video.

But as I explain to those fools, if I wrote a post every time some Christianist bigot in Amerika opened and closed his or her filthy pie hole, I'd never have the time to write about anything else. Or fetch the beer.

Besides what more could I say eh? When his video is already one of the most disliked videos in YouTube history.

There are more parodies than you can count...

Some better 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Attawapiskat and Our New Canadian Flag

It's going to be -21 degrees and feel like -30 in Attawapiskat today. Where some families are living in tents and plywood shacks like this one.

So what is our hideous Con government doing, more than a month after that poor little community declared a state of emergency?

Preparing to send  them 15 modular homes. 

The federal government has bought 15 modular homes for the remote first-nations community of Attawapiskat, but Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan is holding out the possibility that the impoverished reserve may ultimately pay the bill.

Maybe as late as JANUARY. 

Friday, December 09, 2011

Stephen Harper and the Great Silence

Sometimes it's the small things that can tell you a lot about the country we are becoming under the sinister Harper regime. And how The Great Darkness is becoming The Great Silence.

We know about the big things. How the Cons have paralyzed the civil service with fear. How they're trying to muzzle the Auditor General.

We know how they're stifling debate on their insane Omnibus Crime Bill. We know how trying to obtain information from them is like extracting bloody water from a stone.

As they mock our democracy, and the rule of law, to try to turn us into a Banana Republic.

The instances of abuse of power multiply. “They’ll stop at nothing”, Liberal John McKay said yesterday. “It’s an elected dictatorship.”

But has anybody noticed how Lord Harper is going to new lengths to try to muzzle his own? 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Stephen Harper's Very Scary Christmas Party

OMG. I don't know whether I should tell you, because you'll NEVER believe me. But  I went to Stephen Harper's Con Christmas party last night. And boy was it SCARY.

Of course, the theme WAS fear and paranoia.

Suspicious Conservatives are vetting guests to their annual caucus Christmas party in Ottawa Wednesday night, ensuring there are no spies or interlopers in the crowd. Anyone, who is not a bona fide member of Stephen Harper’s team (lobbyists and journalists, for example) must be in a committed relationship with one in order to gain entry.

The invitation is very clear about who is – and who is not – allowed to come and tip a glass of Christmas cheer: “If you choose to bring a guest,” it reads, “please ensure that he or she is a close personal acquaintance, unless he or she is your partner, is not a lobbyist, consultant, or journalist, or employed in a similar capacity, and is not there is any commercial capacity.”

So it wasn't exactly "It's a Wonderful Life." More like "The Nightmare Before Christmas."  But then who should be surprised eh?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The True Horror of the Harper Cons

For more than five years, in my humble way, I tried to illustrate what the horror of a HarperCon majority would mean for Canada. I made this photoshop three years ago. 

But they got their preciousssssss majority, and now like a pack of hungry zombies, they are totally out of control.

They are tearing the flesh off our parliamentary democracy, they are trying to turn us into an insane prison state. They are torching the planet in the name of Big Oil.

And of course, I've tried to illustrate that too...

The Religious Bullies Go After Gay Kids

Don't you just love crazy religion? They are always attacking each other, claiming that only their god is the real one. Spewing gibberish and hate out of every orifice, or blowing up their rivals.

But nothing can bring them together as quickly as a chance to attack gay kids.

Christian, Jewish and Muslim representatives say they agree school bullies must be stopped, but they can't condone a requirement under the legislation proposed to deal with it that schools promote sexual tolerance through gay clubs.

"To force, especially Christian classrooms or schools, to have homosexual clubs would of course be an affront to their family values," Charles McVety, of the Institute for Canadian Values, told a joint news conference. 

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Montreal Massacre and the Murdered Legacy

I'm glad the Harper Cons weren't invited to this sad ceremony on Parliament Hill.

For how could those grotesque Cons mourn those murdered women? When they are greasing up their guns to murder their legacy.

“Even as we mourn the 14 women killed at l’École Polytechnique, this government is taking the last remaining safeguard off the very weapon that murdered these women,” Ms. Turmel said. “The Conservatives are recklessly dismantling the only positive thing to come out of the tragic events of Dec. 6.”

Spitting on their graves, and shattering the lives of those who loved them, and along with so many others worked so hard for 22 years to make Canada a safer place.

Free from this kind of violence... 

Attawapiskat and the Shameless Cons

Woohoo. Excellent. I see the Con Injun Agent has been kicked out of Attawapiskat.

Attawapiskat band councillors kicked out a federal appointee in charge of overseeing the troubled band’s finances on Monday when he showed up in the remote Northern Ontario reserve.

Good for that little community. First the Cons reduce them to misery. Then they try to humiliate them

“It is incredible that the Harper government’s decision is that, instead of offering aid and assistance to Canada’s first peoples, their solution is to blame the victim and that the community is guilty and deserving of their fate,” Spence and her band council said in a statement last week.

After first trying to claim that they didn't know what was happening. Or trying to blame Charlie Angus.

Only to look like fools, and be exposed as LIARS. Again.

Attawapiskat "was always a problem," said Strahl.

"It was not good when I was there, and I don't think it's appreciably or any better now. That was well known, everybody knew it was a very difficult community for a bunch of reasons."

And Chucky should know eh? Because when he was in charge he couldn't even build them a school.


Our national disgrace.

Our poor native people.

Those ugly shameless Cons...

Monday, December 05, 2011

The Capitalist Pigs and the Cream Separator

Uh oh. I mean oink oink. I see the unrepentant capitalist pig just can't help itself. Stuffing itself with human misery. While the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. 

A new report finds that the gap between the rich and the poor just keeps getting wider in Canada.

So much for the Con plan to cut government jobs, drive down wages, reduce benefits by attacking unions, while giving the rich juicy tax breaks.

If You Want to Know What Bullying Feels Like...

You can read this story.

What world is this that playgrounds have become killing grounds? The murder of hope, love, creativity, passion, ingenuity, individually. This goes unpunished. Unnoticed. Why? When these die, our very person dies.

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s when people don’t care about bullying. I hate when people say, “It’s no big deal” because it is. I hate when people say you won’t get affected because everyone is and I hate when people say it’ll get better because it won’t.

Or you can just watch this video...

And of course my message remains the same:

Things will get better. In schools, workplaces, senior homes, or anywhere and everywhere.

But only if we make them...

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Stephen Harper's Reefer Madness

I have been so busy denouncing Stephen Harper's foul Omnibus Crime Bill, that would destroy internet freedom, handcuff judges, and turn us into a prison state. Even as the crime rate plummets to record lows, and Canadians have never felt safer.

That I haven't had a chance to say anything about Great Big Brother Leader's crazed War on Marijuana.

He says he's going to jail even more Canadians for smoking or sharing or selling small amounts of the drug, because he wants to fight organized crime, and protect us from the demon weed. 

Stephen Harper and the Big Brother State

Here's a question that I believe requires an urgent answer. If you lived in a country where a sinister, authoritarian leader had reduced civil servants to a state of fear and paralysis.

Nobody gets in trouble for keeping their mouths shut, but people in government are really afraid — like, really afraid — of Harper, and they are right to be. He has shown repeatedly that he will end the careers of public servants who contradict his message.

The result of this fear is paralysis and silence.

A country where the state is everywhere. 

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Has the War on Bullying Finally Begun?

It's taken a lot of dead Canadian kids. Kids like Marjorie Raymond.

“I have a hard time leaving this world,” she wrote her suicide letter, “but I think it will be for a better world.”

But it looks as if the Great War on Bullying has finally begun. 

Friday, December 02, 2011

What do Bachmann and Kenney Have in Common?

Michele Bachmann believes that gays should be able to get married as long as they marry somebody of the opposite sex.

Jane Schmidt, a student at Waverly High School, in Waverly, Iowa, recently asked Michele Bachmann, “Why can’t same-sex couples get married?”

“They can get married,” Bachmann responded, “but they abide by the same law as everyone else. They can marry a man if they’re a woman. Or they can marry a woman if they’re a man.

And of course, so does Jason Kenney. 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Peter MacKay and the Outraged General

Well if you remember, when we last left Peter Dumbo Mackay he was happily buzzing over Newfoundland, on his way back from a fishing trip, and claiming he was late for a military demonstration.

But wait. What's this alarming new development?

MacKay ---- Air Tax Payer to tower...Mayday...Mayday.

Tower ------Tower to Air Tax Payer. What's the problem?

MacKay ----- Uh...remember when I told you that fishy story? Well it was a whopper. 

Stephen Harper and the Flying Messiah

Golly. I can only imagine the panic that must have ensued in the PMO after Nycole Turmel demanded that Stephen Harper spend a night in Attawaspiskat.

"You should sleep in a shack with a sleeping bag, you will see the sleeping bags provided by the Red Cross are not enough. We need better, we need action. Where is the leadership?"

With the flunkies from the Con Ministry of Propaganda and Disinformation screaming that not even Leni Riefenstahl could turn that miserable village into a heroic photo-op.