Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lotta douches out there.

A friend sent me a link to this, which could be the greatest/worst pair of answering machine messages left by anyone, at any time in human history. Keep listening until the very end; it builds to quite the crescendo.

The funny thing is, douches like this get attention from women. Now, my knee-jerk reaction to this fact, in the past, is to be mad at guys for being such douches in the first place. However, I think I'm going to have to spin this around 180 degrees, to a new stance:



Just... wow.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A resolution.

If anyone ever suggests a rap/R&B artist to me, I will politely say "no thank you," and promptly put on "Ace Of Spades" by Motörhead.

* * * * * * *

In other rock news, Triumph may be getting back together. Whoa!!! I hope Rik Emmett can still squeeze into that red unitard.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The old college try.

Apparently this "rap music" thing is pretty popular these days. Who knew? Certainly not I. So, armed with this week's Rolling Stone as my guide, I hit YouTube for a little sample of what the kiddies are listening to.

1. Young Jeezy — "Put On"

Starts with gunshots right off the bat, then into a drum beat that could've been copped from a Bananarama single. Apparently he "put[s] on for [his] city," whatever that might mean. More gunfire in the middle, and it just keeps going for about five minutes before its merciful end.

Lyrical Snippet
I feel like there's still niggas that owe me checks
I feel like there's still bitches that owe me sex

Vocal Stylings
Auto-tuned about eighteen thousand percent worse than Cher on that song "Believe," about a decade ago. You thought that was over-the-top? Listen to this song. Apparently Kanye West stops by for a bit and raps something, but all these guys pretty much sound the same to me.

Musical Description
The guy sitting at the keyboard that churns out fake synthesized orchestra notes just keeps stabbing away at the thing, in amongst the jittery fake drums. I always read about these hip-hop producers who are apparently good at this sort of thing... is this one of them? I can't tell.

Made this week's Hot List in Rolling Stone, which means some editors there like it a lot.

2. Lil Wayne - "Lollipop"

The background beeping could've been brought to you directly from my Atari 2600 in 1985, perhaps from "Pole Position" or "Chopper Command". Stretch Hummers in the video add a new dimension to the lyrics, which are thinly veiled references, repeated ad nauseam, of fellatio being like "licking a lollipop."

Lyrical Snippet
Man I ain't never seen an ass like hers
That pussy in my mouth had me loss for words
Told her to back it up like berp berp
And I made that ass jump like jerp jerp

Vocal Stylings
Again with the auto-tuning... seriously, cut it out.

Musical Description
The beeps hint at a melody, but it's simple and looped and kinda stupid. The bass sounds like it's coming out of the thousand-watt subwoofer in a Honda Civic of some greased-up Italian from Woodbridge.

Currently #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, #2 on the iTunes Top 10 Tracks.

I thought that maybe this was just a bad stretch for hip-hop, so I went back a couple of years to one of the biggest hits in recent memory.

3. 50 Cent - "In Da Club"

This song was horrible, but not quite as horrible as I'd feared. I'm convinced the sole reason for that is the handclaps, which could save pretty much any song (except perhaps William Shatner's screaming rendition of "Mr. Tambourine Man," in which Shatner "screams as if he just found out someone knocked up his 12-year old daughter," someone in Golden Words once observed).

Lyrical Snippet
Niggas heard I fuck with Dre
Now they wanna show me love
When you sell like Eminem
And the hoes they wanna fuck

Vocal Stylings
He could be speaking Croatian for eighty percent of this song and I wouldn't know. Whatever language he speaks must have about six consonants and two vowels.

Musical Description
Repetitive, rumbly bass with fake-horns and fake strings slipping in there now and again. The highlight? The aforementioned handclaps.

This was a huge hit?

The moral of the story here, as far as I can tell, is that I should just go back to obscure cuts from Santana's debut album.

Monday, June 23, 2008

We lost another good one.

  1. Shit
  2. Piss
  3. Fuck
  4. Cunt
  5. Cocksucker
  6. Motherfucker
  7. Tits
Bruce, Prior, Hicks, Carlin... the good ones always seem to leave us too soon.

G.C., 1937—2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fine, you bastards.

You got me, ok?

You finally made me buy one of your stinkin' iPods.

Believe me, I hemmed-and-hawed about it for a good long while — months, probably — and I debated the merits of one brand of MP3 player against another.

My old player, this little crappy 512 MB one I got a couple of years ago, is frustratingly awkward to use, especially for podcasts — when you power the thing off and eventually turn it back on again, it goes back to the start of the track you were listening to. This would be no big deal if you were listening to an album of fairly short songs, but for an hour-long podcast, when you were 53 minutes into it when you reached your destination, that means you've gotta scan the thing forward through most of the track until you pick up where you left off last time (and here's hoping you actually remember where you left off last time).

So, yeah. There we go. A 4GB silver Nano, currently sitting on my coffee table, containing three podcasts (CBC Radio 3's R3-30 and the Radio 3 Podcast, as well as KEXP's Music That Matters), is evidence that, on very rare occasions, I go with "the vast unwashed masses" in the area of electronic doohickery.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Move over, Ellen Page.

At various points in recent history, I have proclaimed assorted women to be the next Mrs. JTL:

1. Oga Nwobosi

Weather Network personality, future mother to our caramel-coloured (and possibly -flavoured) children, lanky Vancouverite. Any woman who knows the difference between a cold front and an Alberta Clipper scores highly in my books. However, all good things must come to an end, as my infatuation over Ms. Nwobosi was traded-in for...

2. Ellen Page

It took me a while to find an image of Ms. Page that didn't make her look like she was eleven, lest you might think I'm some sort of pedophile (which is somewhat frowned-upon in my line of work, even moreso than it is in society in general). Granted, here she looks like she could be Miley Cyrus' younger cousin, but hey, she and I could get married today without her parents' consent.

Now, while Ellen Page's razor-sharp wit and Cheshire-cat smile certainly do appeal to a fellow, try these criteria on for size:
  • tall, leggy blonde
  • experience in war zones
  • incredibly sexy accent
  • occasional casual profanity
If you guessed CBS News' Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan, you are most certainly correct. She was on the Daily Show last night, and while Wikipedia currently suggests she's married to a British professional basketball player, (a.) those Brits are wankers anyway, and (b.) I can change Wikipedia to show she's actually my wife. Long live open-source knowledge!

Alas, Ellen, it was a fun ride while it lasted, but I guess I was looking all along for a girl who's spent a good percentage of the past few years dodging gunfire in places like Baghdad. What have you done? Played make-believe for money, far as I can tell. And that doesn't make you a woman; that makes you a fiction-whore.

So, world, I give you Lara Logan, Future Mrs. JTL (June 2008 edition):

I figure it'll be four months, tops, before Lara moves into my place. Maybe five if the Iraq insurgency gets freaky again.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

You should just shoot me with a fucking gun, over and over again, between the hours of 7 and 8 pm.

Tim Russert died on Friday. Good guy, good reporter. Beloved by all (but nobody had him in our Celebrity Death Pool '08).

Over the weekend, there were tributes aplenty, and Brokaw headed up a round-table on Meet The Press with the chair at the desk empty behind him on Sunday. Class.

Monday was the first "real" day after Russert bit it, so then, ostensibly, the "real" tributes to Little Russ (son of Big Russ, natch) were a-flowin'.

Today is Tuesday. It has now been four days since Russert's death. Note this for later.

* * * * * * * * *

Many years ago, before I started really paying attention to stuff, my buddy Dave expressed extreme hatred for People magazine and shows like Entertainment Tonight. I hadn't really thought too much about media like that, because (a.) I was a dumb, naive little shit, and (b.) well, there was really only one show like ET around; sure, there was Inside Edition and A Current Affair, but back in the early '90s they really just aspired to be knockoffs of things like 20/20 (which is itself a knockoff of 60 Minutes, right down to the numbers in the title).

(Incidentally, I consider 60 Minutes a very high-quality news program, perhaps the best put out by any mainstream media outlet. The stories are frank and honest, and there's some really gutsy reporting going on.)

(Plus, my goal in life is to be as curmudgeonly as Andy Rooney, minus of course most of the eyebrow-bushiness.)

Nowadays, though, every goddamn channel (save for Newsworld and maybe that freaky Italian channel) shows a program like Entertainment Tonight for a solid hour between 7 and 8 on weeknights. Shit, Global even puts on this thing called ET Canada for the second half-hour which, according to my sources, shows the shitty stuff that regular ET cuts, and not even particularly Canadian stuff. Also, did you know Rick the Temp hosts it? And, that his real name isn't Rick the Temp, but something much more Italian?

Anyway. I'm eventually getting to a point.

* * * * * * * * *

Tonight on one of the "entertainment news" shows (a oxymoron if I ever heard one), one of the big stories was the following. Now, you're gonna want to hold on to something and/or grab a vomit bag, because this one's a doozy. Also, like watching someone play notes from the boîte diabolique, I saw this on mute because my brain couldn't quite deal with both sound and video at the same time.

The "scoop":

The show had a story showing
how other shows had tribute pieces
to Tim Russert.

Clips from the NBC Nightly News and other places were gleefully played, no doubt with sombre piano music in the background, showing correspondents in various locales and the graphic "Remembering Russert" at the bottom of the screen, likely with some sort of inane narration overtop by the likes of Deborah Norville.

Please, for the love of Chuck Norris, someone just shoot me in the eyeballs and eardrums.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I'm finally getting around to reading Howard Zinn's very excellent Passionate Declarations: Essays on War and Justice. Every single piece in it so far has been stupefyingly good, and I'm kicking myself for not diving into this book sooner.

The third essay in the collection, "Violence and Human Nature," spends the bulk of its time examining how, throughout history, the idea of humans being an innately war-making group is not only complete bunk, but has been used countless times to justify a bloody conflict. At the end, he turns it around and looks at humans' propensity for kindness — propelled forward by our power to imagine a better world for ourselves — which often wins out but never makes the headlines.

I felt compelled to reproduce the anecdote Zinn includes at the end of his essay. I don't think I need to explain anything here.

* * * * * * * * *

Anyone who has participated in a social movement has seen the power of idealism to move people toward self-sacrifice and cooperation. I think of Sam Block, a young black Mississippian, very thin and with very bad eyes, taking black people to register to vote in the murderous atmosphere of Greenwood, Mississippi, in the early 1960s. Block was accosted by a sheriff (another civil rights worker, listening, recorded their conversation):

SHERIFF: Nigger, where you from?
BLOCK: I'm a native of Mississippi.
SHERIFF: I know all the niggers here.
BLOCK: Do you know any colored people?
(The sheriff spat at him.)
SHERIFF: I'll give you till tomorrow to get out of here.
BLOCK: If you don't want to see me here, you better pack up and leave, because I'll be here.

History, so diligent at recording disasters, is largely silent on the enormous number of courageous acts by individuals challenging authority and defying death.

The question of history, its use and abuse, deserves a discussion of its own.

* * * * * * * * *

Friday, June 13, 2008

Six down, some more to go.

How many more? I'm not sure.

Today was the last day of classes for the kiddies, which has me tickled quite pink (i.e., pinker than my normal pasty-ass Nordic/Celtic hue). Next week they write their exams, I mark 'em, I fill out their report card stuff, spend the next few days cleaning up stuff and preparing for September, and... well... two months of sleeping in, watching baseball games in exotic locations, heading off to Saskatoon for a few days, and doing a whole bunch of generalized goofing-off.

I know what you might be thinking:

Hey, jerkface! Nice gig you got there, with your two months off every summer. I wish I had two months off every summer, two weeks at Christmas, and a week in March!

A four-pronged retort usually accompanies observations such as this.
  1. If you do your job right, you're thoroughly burnt-out by the end of classes in mid-June. You're supposed to give your all for your kids; most of my colleagues do, and we're pretty out-of-gas by the time exams roll around.
  2. Besides, what are you going to do, keep the kids in school 12 months a year? I don't see that happening anytime soon.
  3. Our holidays always coincide with when the kids are off. This means we can only travel during peak periods, when everything is double the price. And no, we can't just "take a week in November" — it just doesn't work that way.
  4. If teaching is such a sweet, cushy gig with kickass holidays and a comfy pension, you are much more than welcome to join our ranks.

    ...what's that? Not so crazy about being locked in rooms with two dozen crazed teenagers 180 times a year, and having homework most nights of your professional career? Then I suggest you re-think your witty quip.
That being said, I really do feel like teaching is among the most fulfilling jobs a person could ever have. Since September, I've become part of the lives of over a hundred interesting, quirky, frustrating, amazing, inspirational young people, and they've become an integral part of mine, too. The classic perspective of teaching being primarily a one-way street — transmit the knowledge from your brain to theirs, sit down and shut up, "write this down in your copybooks" — could not be further from the truth. I've learned so much from students over the years, it pretty much boggles my mind sometimes... and, coming from such a small, relatively isolated part of rural southwestern Ontario, believe me, I had a lot to learn.

At any rate, less gushing and more drinking. Bottoms-up! I survived another one.

ADDENDUM: This is extremely interesting. Link courtesy of frequent site-contributor ECB.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

This Sunday has rocked the casbah.

In chronological order:

1. The Greatest Pizza In The World (Non-Deep-Dish Category)

Beamsville, Ontario is a quaint town in Niagara Region, between Hamilton and St. Catharines. My buddy Matt's mom lives there, and I've visited him there a few times (thanks for letting me crash on your downstairs couch).

On one such visit, Matt and I headed uptown to grab a slice of pizza. Little did I know that MY LIFE WOULD CHANGE THAT DAY, with a visit to Your Neighbourhood Pizza Company (5008 King Street, Beamsville, 905-563-8777). Their pizza is a perfect mix of toppings: not too much, not too little, of anything you happen to get on it. The crust is magnificent, with just an extra hint of crispiness on the bottom which most other pies don't quite get right. It certainly doesn't blow you away, but at the end you can only conclude that, "Holy fuck, that was some fucking perfect pizza."

I came back to Toronto from St. Catharines today, and made sure to stop off there. If you're in the area, stop by for a slice. Be sure to tell them that "pasty idiot moron guy with the thing and the black car" sent you.

2. We Won A Game

Our slo-pitch team is usually extremely overmatched in its games. Not so tonight, in our second game in amongst the lightning and the raindrops and the flying ants... we actually won one, 10-7. I played third base, which I like because it's a great mix of reflexes, positioning and reading the batter — and it's always fun to gun a throw across the diamond to first to nail the runner by a half-step. Oh, and it's far less running than the outfield; can't say that doesn't factor into it, too.

3. Air Conditioners Ahoy

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and seeing as how my apartment turned into a goddamn sauna over the weekend (as it has the past two summers for five straight months), I finally wrestled my newly-acquired window air conditioner into a window.

I sure hope it's not going to fall... I don't think it is, but hey, gravity's a tricky bitch sometimes.

Anyway, here I sit in my living room, with my Frigidaire 5200 BTU beauty (with a remote!) pointing at me, and... you could not imagine how awesome this is, for someone who truly despises the oppressive heat Toronto can throw at a man. This is better than a car filled with diamonds and blowjobs, it really is.

Friday, June 06, 2008

It's coming, I swear.

My long-anticipated, much-talked-about (seriously, the people at People have been calling five times a day) treatise regarding the impact of communications technology on our modern society will hit the newsstands, the tabloids, the New England Journal of Medicine and the walls of the bathrooms downstairs at Sneaky Dee's... very soon.

To whet your appetite: the word "encroachment" has captivated me for the last couple of days, and it seems really appropriate for this topic.

Stay tuned. Or, at the very least, stay in school.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Help me out here.

I was supposed to do something tomorrow evening, but I totally forget what it is. I know, MOM, I should've written it down. But hey, I'm lazy like that.

Could someone please refresh my memory? Thanksabunch, JTL.