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“Attention, brave little toaster: Oversteer my bagel! Go!”

Thursday, March 18th, 2010 Posted in Automotive, Cool | Comments Off on “Attention, brave little toaster: Oversteer my bagel! Go!”

Journalistic biases be darned, here’s what happens when a Subaru fanatic-cum-talented auto journalist gets to spend a day in the playground of his dreams. Image courtesy of Jalopnik

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Shut up. You had me at “Steaming platter of spaghetti!”

Monday, March 15th, 2010 Posted in Automotive, Funny, Sports | Comments Off on Shut up. You had me at “Steaming platter of spaghetti!”

Who says NASCAR fans aren’t into book-learnin’ ?

Deadspin has a hilarious ongoing series where they post excerpts from NASCAR-themed Harlequin romance novels. Yeah, that’s actually a thing. It’s amazing stuff. The comments are pretty good, too.

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Leave it to the Germans to be logical

Thursday, March 11th, 2010 Posted in Automotive | Comments Off on Leave it to the Germans to be logical

2011 Volkswagen Touareg

Bucking the industry trend of making every new version of a car or SUV heavier than the last, VW’s new SUV has gone on a diet. That alone is not exactly newsworthy, until one realizes how substantial that diet has been. Indeed, it seems “Frau VW” has been hitting both the elliptical trainer and Activia yoghurt like a fiend, and it’s showing.

VW appears to have come to their senses and asked themselves, “If ze customers don’t vant to go off ze road, zen vy do vee keep building our cars like zis?” Then they answered this question by ridding the Touareg, VW’s biggest SUV, of its burly, off-road-specific mechanical bits, decreasing the vehicle’s price and weight in the process.

For the tiny fraction of current Touareg owners who actually venture off-road, VW will still offer the complicated, heavy, off-road gear as an extra-cost option. For the rest of the pavement-bound customers, VW will employ a less heavy-duty AWD system, one that’s more suited to on-road performance than to rock crawling up the side of a mountain. All in, this eschewing of unneeded 4wd mechanical complexity translates to a 450 lb. weight savings. That’s the weight of 3 people, or 2 decent-sized bratwurst platters.

With the lower weight, the Touareg’s already-impressive on-road performance will undoubtedly improve. Factor that in with the typical Volkswagen/Audi 1st class interior and exterior design, and this truck is sure to be a sales success.

So to review, the Touareg will weigh 10% less, will be more fuel efficient, thanks to new Hybrid and diesel options, will drive better, and will be even better looking. This is around the time I realize it’s too good to be true, and my Jewish self reminds me these guys were, in darker times, the industrial apple of Hitler’s eye. Even still, VW builds some nice cars.

Thanks to Autoblog for the photo

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Dan goes to the Olympics

Friday, March 5th, 2010 Posted in Canada, Olympics, Sports, Travel | Comments Off on Dan goes to the Olympics

Our famous writer Dan shares his Olympics experiences here at NorthGeek. Check out his other blog!

My Dad invited me to join him for a trip to Vancouver to watch the tail end of the Olympic games. Sure, one might say, that sounds like an amazing opportunity and a splendid father-son trip. Fact is, joining him out West not an easy decision. There was a lot of important work to be done back home in Montreal. Besides my laundry piling up, there was the matter of my hyper-stressful day job, which involves helping rurally located, plus-sized clothing shoppers ensure they are receiving the best possible customer service experience – all I‘m saying is air traffic controllers and hostage negotiators should spend a day in my shoes.

I had also been putting off teaching myself the entire Lynyrd Skynyrd song catalogue on my acoustic guitar, and felt that the time had come to pick up my dusty “axe” and make good on this commitment. Bode Miller might have been lying in agonizing wait for 4 years for his elusive gold medal, but I would not watch him compete until I had mastered the guitar solo on “Free Bird.”

Finally, I had just purchased my first set of cross country skis, and before Pops presented me with the offer to join him in Vancouver, I had every intention of using the days of late February to break in my skis, perfect a decent waxing technique, work on my upper-body form, etc., etc.

Sure, one might argue, cross country skiing is an enjoyable hobby, but it pales in comparison to watching Olympic-level cross country skiers battling out on the world stage. For most people, yeah, I guess so. Not for this guy. So it was with a heavy heart that I begrudgingly accepted the offer to go see the Olympics.

Of course, I’m kidding. The Olympics were incredible. That they were in our home country and in beautiful Vancouver made it a truly unforgettable experience. On top of that, we were invited there as VIP guests of a big Canadian company, who had pulled out all the stops for us, putting us up in a swank hotel, feeding us food and drink at every turn, and affording us special access to meet various athletes, celebrities, luminaries of Canadian business, and, of course, tickets to see the events themselves.

Indeed, what I learned about corporate-sponsored events is this: if viewing a concert given by a c-list Canadian pop star is merely bearable, then viewing said concert whilst downing free cocktails and edible-by-hand lamb chops, all served by pretty waitresses who are forced to banter with you, makes the concert amazing. Really amazing. But more on that later.

The next few days, I’ll be describing to you the highlights of what I saw, who I met, what I ate, and where I went. If at any time you find this dull and not entertaining, feel free to log out and not read anything I write ever again – honestly, I won’t be upset: I saw the Gold medal hockey game and watched Canada win in overtime – I’m not going to be upset about anything for a long, long time.

Stay tuned, amigos.

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Is this the best decorative lawn ornament money can buy?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 Posted in Cool | Comments Off on Is this the best decorative lawn ornament money can buy?

Imagine your nextdoor neighbours, year in and year out, always outdoing you with their lawn decorating. You install a bird feeder and, not to be outdone, they put up a flock of pink fiberglass flamingos. You counter with a family of fiberglass penguins, and so they install a gaudy, Italian marble fountain. Where does this silly one-upmanship end?

Well, not unlike the bombing of Hiroshima in WWII, if you pay a hefty price up front (in this case, $28 million USD), you can end the war quickly.  Also,  if you act now, they’ll probably throw in a few skids of freeze-dried ice cream.

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Why’d you do it, VW?

Thursday, November 19th, 2009 Posted in Automotive | Comments Off on Why’d you do it, VW?

The Volkswagen New Beetle, the original retro-revival city car and a smash hit for VW – inspiring the likes of the PT Cruiser, the MINI, and the new Fiat 500 – is getting very, very long in the tooth. Believe it or not, it’s been in production for nearly 12 years – an eternity in the car industry. So how is VW celebrating this car’s success and longevity? By playing “dressup,” of course.



Yes, VW has decided to dress their New Beetle with Porsche-inspired racing paint. Look, I’m as smitten by the go-fast orange paint on race-ready Porsches as any car guy, but painting a Beetle like a race car – and yeah, I’ll give special dispensation to Herbie The Luv Bug – just does not work. The Germans, once the purveyors of restraint and common sense, have brought tackiness to a new level.

Why’d you do it, VW? Exactly how many hairdressers and sorority girls clamoured for a “racing-inspired” version of their favourite city runabout? Yeah, I thought so.

It’s a little bit like Nike deciding to sponsor golf legend Jack Nicklaus, in the twilight of his career, and then asking him to dress in Tiger Woods’ signature red-&-black golf duds, and finally, insisting that he do his best version of the Tiger Woods Fist Pump after every winning putt. I cringe at the idea. And I hate golf.



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How to give a great wedding speech

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 Posted in Funny, How To, Inspirational | 1 Comment »

This post is re-published with permission from

Here’s a speech I gave at my good friend’s wedding party a short time ago. Names have been changed to protect their identities, if you really want to know who’s who, I’ll probably tell you.

Everyone, if I could please have your attention, my name is Dan Reitman. You may remember me as one of Richard’s groomsmen. If you attended the wedding but don’t remember me as a groomsman, you may remember me as the lanky guy at the party attempting to breakdance at 1am. I know what you’re going to ask, and the answer is, no, I’m not a professional dancer, it’s just talent I like to share.
For those of you who could not make it to Aberdeen, rest assured the wedding in Scotland was spectacular. It was a wonderful melding of Canadian and Scottish families and culture, Francine was a beautiful bride, and Richard looked amazingly presentable.

My official responsibility, as groomsman # 3, was, as Richard and Francine told me, to hold on to this set of keys [hold up plain set of keys], and make sure they did not leave my sight. I’m still not sure what these keys are supposed to open, and I have the distinct impression that Richard and Francine gave me this task because they didn’t want me to feel left out. That’s the mark of true friends.
Anyhow, I’m thrilled to be able to stand before you today, on this, the one-month anniversary of their wedding – I’m not sure if they’re planning on having one of these every month, but you guys should know you are only getting one gift from me.

I’m going to say a few words about Richard and Francine; why I think they’re good people, and then I’m going to wrap it up, because I probably will have been rambling for quite a while, In fact I’m probably already doing that now.

I’m honoured to call myself a close friend of both Richard and Francine. Richard and I have known each other since grade 7, and I like to think I know him pretty well. Richard is a great friend. His enthusiasm and motivation in all things is infectious, and he brings out the best in people. He is also a man of contradictions. On the one hand, he’s a competitive athlete who loves sports, especially football and hockey, but this aggressiveness is nowhere to be found when he is confronted with, say, the common pigeon. It’s true, he is absolutely terrified of birds. Francine, on the other hand is a lover of animals. Especially cats. And unicorns. Try to explain to Francine that unicorns do not actually exist, and it’s your funeral, my friend.

Anyhow Richard and I have had some great times together with our crew of idiots. We had it all figured out in our mid-20’s, and then one day Richard realized that he needed to take some time off from the busy rat race – so he moved to Australia. We got e-mails from him detailing his exploits, about meeting Francine and their travels together in their rusty Toyota jeep with the funny name.

When Richard came back from Australia, it was clear that the unforgiving Outback and all the kangaroo meat he had ingested had changed him. He had fallen in love with two things: Australian slang, and [point to Francine] surfing. Richard would strain to work Australian words into his sentences, saying things like “arvo” instead of “afternoon”, or “chuffed” instead of “excited”. Luckily that wore off. But in all seriousness, while the surfing and aussie-speak were new interests, it was Francine that occupied most of Richard‘s thoughts.
When Richard returned from his Australian odyssey, he and Francine then endured a tough year of long distance phone calls, and then Francine decided to bravely make the voyage across the Atlantic to come live with Richard in Montreal, where she would live with us in our apartment on Terrasse St. Denis. It was an unbelievably gutsy move, and I could just imagine what questions were swirling in Francine’s mind as her plane crossed the Atlantic: how cold was Canada going to be? Will things work out with Richard? Are Richard’s roommates crazy? Do they have unicorns and kittens in Canada?

Francine had nothing to fear, though, because it was clear right from the get-go that Francine, whether she liked it or not, fit right in. She was, for lack of a better term, an instant hit with our group. Francine is an incredibly thoughtful, sensitive, caring person, with a wicked sense of humour, but then anyone who has spoken with her for even a few minutes can tell that right away. Possibly my favourite thing about Francine is that she laughs at all my jokes. Even better than that is how much this aggravates Richard.

And it was clear that they were truly great together. Francine has absolutely changed Richard for the better: where previously, Richard was known to saunter around our apartment in nothing but a skimpy bath towel for hours on end, clapping his hands enthusiastically at the TV in order to rally his beloved Habs, with Francine around, he did less of this. That was a good thing. There are probably more profound ways Francine has improved Richard that I can’t see, but they aren’t as embarrassing and satisfying to describe as Mr. claps-his-hands-loudly-in-a-bath-towel. But in all seriousness Richard and Francine are true complements to each other, and it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate their marriage.

I thought I might end my little speech with a quote. Because I’ve heard quotations make people sound smart, even if they aren’t. I wanted the quote to encapsulate how I feel about my two close friends, Richard and Francine, tying the knot, and how excited I am for their new life together. I thought it would be appropriate to use a hockey quote, so I spent about 3 hours online, looking for some interesting stuff, and I found it, but then I realized that I had gotten seriously sidetracked, and they were asking me for my credit card #, so I spent another hour, and I found this, and if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to read this, a recent quote from Hockey Legend Don Cherry :

“When you skate along to the blue line, and you’re about to take your shot, first you need to stare down the goalie. Get a read on his mind. Then look at the penalty box, it’s empty, that represents the risks in your life, where all your mistakes will be visible. You look up at the score board and the scores have been replaced by Scottish flag overlapping a Canadian one. Then look over at your bench, and your team is composed of one person; uour life partner. Francine . You take the shot, you score, and the crowd goes wild.”

I’m going to be honest with you, that was not from Don Cherry, I made that up 2 hours ago. What’s worse is I don’t know anything about hockey. But I do know that I’m so thrilled and excited for Richard and Francine, and I want you guys to know I love you both and wish for you a lifetime of happiness together. Thanks very much.

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Open Source Motoring, a.k.a. Sometimes You Can Never Have Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen

Friday, November 6th, 2009 Posted in Automotive | Comments Off on Open Source Motoring, a.k.a. Sometimes You Can Never Have Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen

I’m reluctant to use the term “open source,” as it may suggest to you, dear Northgeek, that I know the first thing about computers, programming, or any such nerdery (with all due respect to my fellow nerds), because I don’t. I don’t understand Linux, or why it exists.

That having been said, as a hopeless car geek, I can absolutely appreciate the concept behind the Rally Fighter, developed by Local Motors and, more importantly, by you.

Imagine, if you will, a car company that is run like a for-profit, open source co-op: the best solutions for every element of the car’s design and execution win – whether those ideas come from the CEO or from a hobbyist in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Is this the future of automobile manufacturing? The brave new world that says “adios” to Henry Ford’s assembly line? Mmmm, not yet. But the concept is damned cool.

Behold, the Local Motors Rally Fighter, or what apparently happens when a 50’s Corvette mates with a monster truck. Thanks, as always, to Jalopnik for spreading the word.  More info here.


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Vladimir likes to shoot stuff and go off-roading, but he also likes to party.

Saturday, September 26th, 2009 Posted in Automotive | Comments Off on Vladimir likes to shoot stuff and go off-roading, but he also likes to party.

God love the English upper class. They are, by all accounts, the cradle from which WASP refinement and modesty originated. By their playbook , if you are blessed with the genes that afford you the birthright of land ownership, a title, an uber-hyphenated name, etc., etc., then you act accordingly: you drive a rickety old Land Rover, you wear tweed, and you generally keep a low profile as you go about your patrician daily activities of gardening, hunting, drinking, inbreeding, and otherwise maintaining your estate. Much beyond those activities, whether you run an organic farm, a dog-fighting ring, or collect Crimean war-era artifacts on the side is entirely up to you, old sport.

But that was then, this is now. In this age of Cool Britannia, tastes have changed. Footballers, musicians , and Russian mobsters have replaced the moneyed old world elite in England as the aspirational conspicuous consumers of the day. In other words, Nouveau Riche is in, and stodgy old Land Rover has hopped on the bandwagon and embraced their inner baller. The result is this, the Overfinch Range Rover by Holland & Holland. The car’s off-road prowess remains, but is now clearly matched by the strength of its pimp-hand. This beast mixes the old guard hobbies of shooting birds, drinking whiskey, and driving off-road on your estate with the new world hobbies of shooting people, drinking Crystal, and driving off pavement to park next to the velvet rope of your club. Progress indeed.

[Image courtesy of Jalopnik]

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When you absolutely need to guarantee first tracks on a powder day…

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 Posted in Automotive | Comments Off on When you absolutely need to guarantee first tracks on a powder day…

New rule: if you are a young Swedish dude possessing Nordic good looks and the cojones to stylishly huck yourself off 90-foot booters, then that should be enough. You do not need a matte black Lambo Murcielago (or Gallardo, for that matter) with a SKI BOX ON THE ROOF – for fuck’s sake, Jon Olsson, leave some ski bunny luv for us mere mortals. Check out Cartorialist for the full lodown.


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