Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The passing of a legend.

Here at Brain-spillings, we always endeavour to bring you up to date on the latest news regarding celebrity deaths. This is partially because some of you reading this are in the 2007 Celebrity Death Pool. But this is mostly because I'm one sick motherfucker.

The latest: Robert Goulet.


Oh, wait. That's Will Ferrell's imitation of him. ("I don't care if he is Mister Notorious Big. Can he croon?") The real deal:


Croon on, Bobby.

PS: Do yourself a big favour and search YouTube for "ferrell goulet". Gold.

I'm back, bitches.

Back from a weekend in the mountains*, brushing up on union stuff, singing karaoke for the second time in my life, and eating applesauce on pork for the first time in my life. It was fun (and tasty), and the free booze was a nice touch; you ever wonder where your union dues go? Straight into my liver.

But seriously, we learned some useful information on how to better serve our fellow union members — and no, mother, I don't mean "how to better serve them kickass Cosmopolitans."

* Alright, it was the hills of the Oak Ridges Moraine, south of Barrie.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Life is about change. If it isn't, then you're not doing anything.

We should always be looking to better ourselves: physically, professionally, interpersonally, emotionally, the list goes on. If you're not, that means you want things to stay exactly the same... and if that's the case, it must mean (a.) your life is perfect, and (b.) nothing around you ever changes, either, as change naturally generates other changes.

As a consequence, your life, and the circumstances surrounding it, should eternally be in a constant state of flux. It's nice to have things you can count on — a steady paycheque is always a comforting thought, as is the eternal hotness of Halle Berry — but in the end, shit's gonna evolve. It's up to people to (c.) recognize this fact, (d.) embrace it as part of their core philosophies, and (e.) learn how to best manage this change. If you manage things right, you can actually have it working in your favour — new challenges, ideas and perspectives should always give you something to work on, and something towards which to strive.

I heard an interesting guy on the CBC this morning: he's a history teacher in Etobicoke who's being presented with a Governor General's Award for Teaching later this week. They had a snippet of dialogue in his class, and he asks his Grade 11 class this question: "What is 'success?' How will you know when you have 'succeeded?'" I've been thinking about that, off and on, for a good deal of today. What I've figured out is that, in order to be successful, you have to (f.) be happy, and (g.) feel as though you've made a difference in your own life or the lives of others.

Bigger than this, though, is the idea that success is very much a dynamic, rather than static, phenomenon. Sure, you may achieve something important today, but how will you view that tomorrow? Next week? Thirty years from now? You have to spend the rest of your life incorporating that success, and the lessons learned in achieving it, into how you see the world.

Success is merely the beginning.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Finally, it's not a disgrace.

It's an odd thing to pick out of a World Series, but there's something I've noticed so far which is actually a nice surprise.

The Star-Spangled Banner.

Yes, it's the anthem of our neighbours to the south. Yes, the melody is an old hymn/drinking song, and the lyrics glorify war. And yes, it's challenging to sing (so I'm told; I can always nail it pretty well). But, how many times have you been watching a major sports event, and they trot out some lame R&B singer who takes seven minutes to embellish every note past the point of ridiculousness, making everyone in the place, and at home, cringe while they wait it out? (Or, if you're like me, you flip the channel and end up forgetting about the game and missing the first two batters in the top of the first.)

Game 1, which ended up as a Red Sox blowout win, featured a novel arrangement by legendary film composer John Williams, played by the Boston Pops. I didn't really like the arrangement — it seemed needlessly goofy in places — but it was solidly played (and, most importantly, it was short). Tonight's Game 2 was a solo effort, with James Taylor and an acoustic guitar; again, the arrangement was a little unconventional, but he sure didn't butcher the thing like Mariah Carey very likely would have.

On a different note (har, har) — I've been watching Rogers Sportsnet instead of Fox, because Sportsnet is carrying an alternate feed, with different announcers. When I've flipped back to Fox, it's driven me crazy: the ridiculous amount of graphics cluttering up the works, the sound effects, the needless slo-mo replays, the schmaltzy special features... I could go on. Sportsnet is showing the feed from MLB International, an in-house production which pares down the graphics and has a much more straightforward broadcast team. Good choice, Uncle Ted.

Also, I'm baking cornbread tonight for the first time. It smells pretty good, and is currently cooling. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Little help.

Hey.

I misplaced my sunglasses.

If you see them, could you let me know?

Thanks.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Crossed more items off the to-do list for my life.

Over the past couple of days, I have...

1. Seen Van Halen live, with David Lee Roth as the lead singer.
I saw VH back in 1998, during their disastrous Gary Cherone experiment. This time, Diamond Dave and his high-kicks, top-hats and giant persona graced the stage. Great show, and Joe Louis Arena was jumpin'.

2. Ate at White Castle.
On the way back from the VH show in Detroit, my brother and I decided we'd indulge our curiosity and partake in the burgers whose virtues were oft-extolled on the Beastie Boys' debut album, Licensed to Ill. They're actually kinda... I dunno. How do I classify them? They tasted alright, but... well, I'm probably not going to seek them out, unlike Harold and Kumar.

3. Got lost in Port Huron, Michigan.
Man, don't take a wrong turn. Especially at 1:45 in the morning.

4. Acquired a crock-pot.
My mom never uses hers, so she gave it to me. (And yes, ladies, I'm entirely single.)

So, in conclusion, it was a weekend of firsts. Whatever could this week hold for me? I guess I'll tune in to find out!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fighting the post-Thanksgiving, pre-Rememberance Day blahs.

There's a very fine line separating "healthy self-awareness" and "problematic self-obsession," and I honestly don't know on which side I am these days.

Things are going kinda "meh" these days: work is rolling along alright, there's nothing new on the romance side of things, and I think my 6-year-old houseplant is dying a slow death. Other that that, not a whole lot else is going on in the Life of J.

In times like these, my mind starts to wander; if idle hands do the Devil's handiwork, then what do idle brains do? The Devil's tax return? (Aside: I wonder if he donates to the Church of Satan, and if he does, does he deduct that from his taxes?)

(Now do you see the degree of idle-ness my brain is running on these days?)

Anyway, when I'm not contemplating the financial wheelings-and-dealings of certain disgraced angels, all I can think about these days is about how I'm in something of a "holding pattern" for a lot of things in my life. Holding for what? I'm not exactly sure.

It was easy a few years ago. I knew exactly for what I was holding; namely, going back to school. Last year, I spent quite a few months getting back into teaching, re-immersing myself in the Daily Grind. But, now what? What's coming down the pipe next?

(Meanwhile, by thinking/typing that, I've probably just doomed myself in some way. I have visions of an asteroid crashing through my roof, or my car getting stolen, or martial law suddenly being declared in Ontario.)

(At least that would liven things up a bit around here.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This is gonna kick ass.

When you see a baseball game in Toronto, the fans are always polite. Someone might say slightly untoward about a player, at a modest volume, that may be heard a few rows away. They cheer when the scoreboard tells them to cheer.

Not in Detroit, though. While not as bad as fans in, say, Philadelphia (who have notoriously hucked batteries at players they hate and once booed Santa), Motown isn't afraid to let loose with their true feelings.

That's why this Saturday's Van Halen concert at Joe Louis Arena is going to ROCK in a FIERCE manner, befitting the Motor City.

Both I, and my brother (who's also going), are pumped.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A quick, nonscientific survey.

Alright, time to fess up.

How many people out there sleep with a teddy bear?

This survey is completely anonymous. Just post a comment stating:
  1. your age
  2. your gender
  3. whether or not you sleep with a teddy bear
I'll kick things off. I haven't slept with a teddy bear since I was about five.

Please note:
  1. This survey is completely anonymous.
  2. I will not judge you in any way.
Honest.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Eat shit, John Tory.

So, you want to run against Kathleen Wynne in Don Valley West, eh?

Early returns say you're doing a faceplant. In the most affluent riding in the country.

Jesus, buddy... if you can't peddle your shitty conservative message in this neighbourhood, maybe you'd better just move along and out of electoral politics.

Tell ya what, Charles Foster Kane — why don't you go back to running the CFL? You were pretty good at that.

Oh, and you're not going to form a government. It's going to be a Liberal majority.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

It's Thanksgiving time.

...and, as one of the biggest-ever acts on the Adult Contemporary charts in the early '80s would put it, it's "a time for Jell-O".

But, on the second Monday in October, I usually* say a little prayer of thanks of my own. It goes a little like this:

Dear Little Lord Baby Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Messiah, the One True God (Earthly Incarnation Remix Version), Kickass Carpenter, Water-Walker Supreme, Fisher of Men (And Probably Women), and 1979 Super Bowl MVP:

Thank You for everything.

Thank You for making it so that I'm not drenched in sweat anymore, like I have been since the anniversary of Your crucifixion way back there in April (or March as the case may be).**

Thank You for mathematically eliminating the Leafs from the playoffs so early in the season. I guess You don't want to get all of Leaf Nation's hopes up, in the case that they end up ninth-or-lower in the Eastern Conference.

And thank You, by the way, for renaming the former Prince of Wales Conference the Eastern Conference a few years back. It's so delightfully devoid of history, and yet so geographically perfect.

Thank You for inventing S'mores. The combination of graham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate could only have been invented by Someone who's tight with The Big Man.

Thanks for putting all those American troops in Iraq for so long. I've really been making the rounds, banging their lonely wives and girlfriends since 2003. And thanks for all the V.D. that I've contracted in that time, and the assorted burning sensations I feel when I urinate.

And finally, thank You for fluffy kittens, anthrax (the deadly poison), and Anthrax (the hair-metal band that first came to prominence in the late '80s and once did a hilarious guest spot on Married... With Children oh so many years ago; my brother and I still laugh about that one). I know You created them all, but I must say I'm a little curious as to why You'd create such a deadly poison which shreds a person's nervous system in about an hour.

But hey, You work in mysterious ways. And thanks for that, too.

Sincerely, Your buddy, JTL.

Amen.

PS: Bengals at Chiefs, this Sunday... who do you like? Yes, I realize it's Your day... but I've got a few burly fellows — no doubt sent by You — who sure would like to break my legs if I don't settle a few debts. Let's let Your omniscience work for us both this time.
_________
* I'm agnostic, so this would be a waste of time.
** Thirty damn degrees on Thanksgiving Monday? C'mon!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Titanic artifacts and Nuit Blanche.

I managed to cross a few things off my life's "to-do" list on Saturday. This included a bunch of stuff I never even knew was on there to begin with.
  • See authentic artifacts recovered from the Titanic, at the Ontario Science Centre.
  • Threw a baseball at 59 miles per hour in the radar gun a the OSC.
  • Vow to return to the Science Centre as often as I can, as I can get in there free. (This is a nice perk of being a teacher... that, and all the free red pens I could ever want.)
  • Discovered a delicious new dark beer called Hockley, which was recommended to me by the Chair of the Physics department at Ryerson. It has this gorgeous, slightly nutty, slightly caramel-y flavour, not unlike Waterloo Dark. I found it an an LCBO in Toronto, and I hope you can find it in your local outlet.
Then, at Nuit Blanche...
  • Walked on the field at the new Varsity Stadium, and marveled at the wonder of FieldTurf. Nice work, U of T! That's one easy-on-the-knees surface you have there.
  • Drew a chalk outline of frequent site-contributor ECB on Hoskin Street, complete with purse.
  • Sat down at a stranger's kitchen table, at the corner of Beverly and Cecil. Outdoors.
  • Got co-interviewed by a documentary filmmaker about what I thought about said kitchen table.
  • Saw a dumpster that got turned into a hotel room.
  • Watched a silent movie with piano accompaniment.
  • Made a "farewell AGO, come back in eight months when your renovations are done" card.
  • Inspected a replica of downtown Toronto where every building was made of little cushions.
  • Walked past a "life drawing" workshop where you could draw some naked dude.
  • Saw a naked dude.
  • Didn't draw a naked dude.
  • Walked around in the TTC's "ghost subway station," Lower Bay.
  • Took a subway at 4:30 in the morning.
Perhaps the most bizarre thing I saw all night was a set of "Scopitones."

Let me explain.

ECB, CH and I were walking around this art gallery on Richmond Street when we saw a giant screen set up in the courtyard, and what looked to be someone from the '60s on it. So, we ambled in and sat down to catch the action.

What we saw was something that looked like a music video from 40 years ago. "They didn't have music videos back then," we reasoned. "These have got to be some sort of performance-art pieces that they just made to look retro." We figured they couldn't possibly be real, because they were possibly the hokiest things we'd ever seen.

Ski-bunnies singing backup? Check.

Ridiculous numbers of costume changes? Check.

Snowball fights between a guy in a red sweater and women dancing in a forest? Check.

Wildly-gyrating hobos? Check.

So we laughed our asses off, thinking that whoever did these sure as hell did a convincing job. As ECB and I were heading off from Nuit Blanche, ECB said to me, "I think CH thinks those were actually from the '60s."

"There's no way they can be," I replied.

Well, it turns out that Scopitones are real. Go here for a bunch of them (look for "Good For Nothing Bill" for the dancing hobo); here's a whole whack of 'em on YouTube. For my money, nothing quite beats Bobby Vee's "Pretty Girls Everywhere" for sheer campy stupidity.