Monday, December 27, 2010

Kind of a bummer.

I'm in Vancouver airport at the moment, on my way to Seattle. Thank you for the free Wi-fi, YVR — and thanks for catching up to 2005, Pearson Airport, by providing some of your own. I guess the highest landing fees in the world are finally paying for something other than whatever the hell that architectural experiment called Terminal 1 is.

(Pretty, though.)

Anyway, on the way out I watched The Social Network and FUBAR 2 (way to go, Deaner!), and was struck by the following things about the former:
  1. Now I kinda feel like a douche for being on Facebook.
  2. I also feel douchey for having been on it extremely early (probably winter '05-ish, not too long after it came to Queen's).
  3. This was a good movie, all in all.
  4. Blogging is exceptionally narcissistic, and this is a type of thing I try to avoid, as a matter of course.
So... to write or not to write, that is the question. Plenty of these here blogs have fallen by the wayside — I suppose the world can be summarized in 140 characters — and yet, I soldier on here. This thing tells me I've posted right around 1000 times since late 2004 — hey, this blog's been around longer than I've been on Facebook! I oughtta update my status to show... aw, shit, I'm a douche again.* — and I suppose I still find it useful, so I imagine I'll just keep going. I'm sure my readership these days is in the low single-digits. And yet. Soldiering.

You know what's messed up? When you spend five hours in a plane, you really don't know what time it is. I've lost all track of time. I know it's light out here. Is it still 2010?
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* Don't worry, I'm not one of "those people" who would update their status to say "Hey, I just had a $10 ham sandwich and Diet Coke at YVR, and someone's snoring a few seats over in the waiting area! Woo!" Hell, I went a couple of years with a blank status on there. I never have a picture of myself up, but that's mostly so the kiddies don't find me. In conclusion, I'm a douche.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Video of the day.

There are a few things we can learn from the video to 1981's "Caught Up In You" by southern-rockers 38 Special.


They go as follows.
  1. Women who wear shirts open to their navel with no bra underneath are probably just cockteases, but on the other hand they might just invite you back to their hotel room for sex.
  2. Chest hair is awesome.
  3. One drummer is not enough.
  4. Three guitars are just about right.
  5. More bars need red-and-white checkered tablecloths.
Anything else catch your attention, other than the generalized awesomeness of this song?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Evolution.

The conclusion from this article is that, alright, we're making progress, but we have a hell of a long way to go. Don't worry, I'm doing my part.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Yup.

Life is good when...
  • your favourite baseball team re-signs a pretty good player to a pretty reasonable deal
  • you're sipping a Guinness
  • tomorrow's the last day of work for two weeks, and it's gonna be an easy one
  • tomorrow night is the White Cowbell Christmas Cocktacular
  • those next two weeks will be spent galavanting-about and visiting and chilling the fuck out
Yup. Good indeed.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Teenagers say the darndest things.

One of my grade 12s, this morning:

Him:
So I was looking through the store flyers this weekend and I saw a Toys R Us one which had a section in the middle you could take out, which had coupons on it. I couldn't stop laughing. It said, "Pull out and save $600."

Me:
From what I'm told, you'd end up saving way more than $600.

Ah, kids. So wise. (The ones who pull out and save, anyway.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oh, the catchiness.

Last night I did yet another 20-minute set at Everyone's a DJ — fun times, as always.

But, it's funny, you know.

You can spend hours and hours digging up awesome tracks from obscure artists, and that's fine if you're playing them for fellow music nerds. ("Come on, this is a rare outtake of John Lennon singing with Lemmy from Motörhead, backed by Gene Krupa, doing 'You Are The Sunshine Of My Life'! Frank Sinatra was in the corner of the studio doing blow with Richard Pryor!")

But in the end, when you play "Everybody Have Fun Tonight", the crowd fucking loves it, including the Jägermeister Girls who were there giving out swag and samples, who must've been all of 19, in shorty-short skirts.

Also on Catchiness Corner today: "You Get What You Give" by the New Radicals. They had this one hit in 1998, and because frontman Gregg Alexander was sick of publicity and touring, he broke up the band in 1999. Remember the hubbub over the celebrities he called-out in the outro? Turns out that he was curious to see if the media would pay attention to that line, or the one before it which talked about the FDA, health insurance and cloning, and we know how that turned out.

Monday, December 06, 2010

I need a vacation.

...no, I think I pretty much covered everything in the title.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Yet another late night at work.

Yep, 6:30 and I'm still here. I sure do know how to live it up.

Piece of advice, though.

Here's what not to do:
  1. Spend an hour and a half writing a quiz, eventually armwrestling Microsoft Word into submission.
  2. Print it off.
  3. Close the document.
  4. Because you've been at work forever and your judgement is all cloudy and fuzzy, OBLITERATE THE QUIZ FROM YOUR COMPUTER even though you said you'd send a copy to a colleague before you left so she could look it over tonight or first-thing tomorrow morning.
  5. Spend another 45 minutes re-creating the thing from a blank document.
The countdown on the wall suggests 14 more school days until the break.

Please get here, Christmas Holidays. Please. I beg you.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The new Kings of Leon album.

Yeah, I know I've pretty much disowned this band, but in the grand scheme of all things universal, my opinion doesn't really amount to a hill of beans, does it?

At any rate, I figured it'd be worth my time to check out their latest release, Come Around Sundown. I will fully admit that I didn't pay for it. But, to that fact, I will also submit this retort: this band has made me put down good money for two very shitty, very mainstream, exceptionally average albums before this one.

* * * * * * *

Executive summary: Not bad. Not great, but not bad.

Detailed summary:

It's loud, compressed out to maximum volume 99% of the time. Every last bit of sonic room is filled with rhythm guitars, echoes of all sorts, cymbals, harmony vocals, and assorted flotsam and jetsam.

Tracks 1-3 aren't so bad. They're a little more subdued, and the third cut, "Pryo," is almost easy to listen to, except when they decide to get all arena-rock towards the end.

The fourth cut, "Mary," wants to pay homage to 1950s early rock-and-roll, but does so in the loudest possible way, which undercuts the whole effort.

Number five, "The Face," is clearly going to be released as a single. By golly, when did this band turn into shitty late-era U2, anyway?

"Back Down South" contains hints of fiddle, but seriously, the whole thing is dripping with way too much reverb.

Track #10, "Pony Up," sounds like KoL trying to be XTC.

My favourite track of the lot is #11, "Birthday" — not just because the ol' odometer is flipping over in a couple of days, but because it actually has the audacity to be (relatively) quiet, most of the time.

Overall, this album's structure is a lot like Because of the Times: the first half is front-loaded with big, loud stadium-rock numbers; then they sit back, relax a bit, and make tunes that (I presume) the band wants to make, rather than the record company pushing this thing.

Just for fun, I queued-up Aha Shake Heartbreak right after listening to Come Around Sundown, so I could contrast them right beside one another, and WOW. Listen to anything on the last three albums, then listen to "Milk" from ASH, and... holy crap. The earlier stuff sounds like it's being played in your living room with the band trying hard not to disturb the Crazy Cat Lady* downstairs, in comparison to the later stuff which aims to annoy people forty miles away.

Conclusion: The new album isn't bad, per se; the production annoys me more than anything. The song structures are really conventional, which isn't surprising seeing as how they've gone on the record to say they want to appeal to as many fans as possible. I'm glad I didn't buy this record — I'm saving my pennies for the new Bees album, and hopefully Sonic Boom has the vinyl — and I will delete it from my computer forthwith. But, if you let me at the original tapes so I could make it sound the way I wanted... yeah, I think we'd have something to work with here.
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* She's actually been pretty calm these days.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

And now, a very important message.

Gentlemen and gentlewomen, this urgent message is brought to you by a couple of erstwhile Englishmen. Heed their advice, or pay the consequences.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Please just shoot me now.

I've never had a cold be so intensely bad for so long. Normally I get a sore throat for a day or two, have a day of sniffles, a day of chest congestion, and I'm home free. This is DAY FUCKING EIGHT of feeling really shitty, and I've just about had it.

For the past four days I've been hacking like a chain-smoker. On Friday night, when out to dinner with a friend, an admittedly-delicious (and normally rather innocuous) club sandwich triggered a coughing fit of epic proportions. I think the rest of the Kelsey's probably thought I was trying to infect everyone with the bubonic plague or something.

Saturday, the bro came down, we watched a whole lot of Eastbound & Down, ran around town a bit, then hooked up with a couple of friends and headed over to Grossman's. The band was good, the beers were tasty, and we even got to see a bit of high drama: two women bolted from the dance floor, they had words, one poured a drink on the other, who batted the pint glass out of the pourer's hand, and the pourer stormed out the door. Fun! What better way to cap off the evening than with "a plate of BBQ pork" from the Kom Jug, then? (Seriously, that's what Mike/Bob Sacamano ordered, and by-gum, that's what he got.)

On Saturday night, when talking with my brother and friends, we spent some time in a bar with some live music, so I had to get a little shout-y. This is hard on the voice even when I'm not sick — teaching sorta wrecks it a little each day anyway, and loud bars don't help — but when you essentially have to give it 110% for a couple of hours just to be heard, you don't sound too good at the end. Last night when I went to bed, I sounded really croaky; this morning, when I first spoke, I barely had anything there, and that freaked me the hell out. All day I've made a conscious effort not to use my voice (after my brother left), which has been really strange; it turns out that I talk to myself a hell of a lot when I'm alone.

Anyway, today, I swear, I've tried to be productive. Not very hard, mind you, but I did try. I did manage to get the main parts of what I had to get done for tomorrow for this Ministry/ILC writing gig tonight, and tomorrow I just need to fill in some gaps and bundle this off to the bastards. (Why did I sign up for this, anyway? Becoming Education Czar of Ontario isn't going to be a cakewalk, I suppose.) Granted, after banging out the first few bits of it, I got really sleepy and zonked-out for a two-hour nap on the futon here in the spare room, but hey, a fella's gotta do what a fella's gotta do.

...marking? What marking? Oh, you mean the giant pile of it that I didn't touch? Well, there's always tomorrow. Ugh.

(Seems like a common theme, doesn't it?)

Fuck this, I'm tired and sick. I need to sleep. This shit can wait until later.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Here's how my "day off" went.

It's funny, on professional development (PD) days, kids assume we get the day off, too.

Not so, muchachos and muchachas.

Normally we get subjected to guest-speakers and workshops which are mildly-interesting at best, and eye-gougingly boring at worst. But, I got sent a flyer from UofT a few weeks ago which advertised a day-long program for the PD day, put on by the Faculty of Engineering, catered lunch provided. I put the call out to the rest of the department: "Do you want to stick around the school and be put through hell-on-earth, or do you want to go downtown and learn neat stuff and get fed?"

All but one of us signed up for the UofT thing, and I have my doubts about the holdout.

Unfortunately, the day got off to a rousing start just after 5am, when I woke up with possibly the most excruciatingly painful muscle cramp I've ever had in my life, in my left calf. Apparently bananas (and the potassium they contain) help with preventing muscle cramps, but I've had four bananas in the past three days, so fuck you. My calf is still sore as hell.

My cold is at the point where (a.) I'm hacking up bizarre things (e.g. I may or may not have coughed up my gallbladder), (b.) my throat spontaneously gets as dry as the Sahara and I'd better have water at the ready, and (c.) my voice is 90% gone and all breathy and hoarse and wheezy and not sexy in the least, unlike a couple of days ago when it was all low and Barry White-ish (but yet when I tried to sing something really low to try and take advantage of this new vocal range, I found it impossible to control the pitch, so I was all over the place, and thank goodness I live alone).

Apparently my cold also causes run-on sentences.

I'm not used to taking the TTC downtown during the thick of rush hour — the closest I came was a few years ago, when I took a course at UofT which started at 8, so I guess missed the peak busy-ness by getting on the bus at 7:15. I never really thought about the sardine-tin situation on subways south from St Clair at 8:20 on a weekday, but I sure found out about it today. If we're supposed to all be good citizens and taking transit, how on earth can you fit more people on those trains?!

At any rate, once I got down there and all settled-in, the day was actually pretty interesting and fun. A bunch of us made roller coasters using pipe insulation and masking tape, and ours totally worked on the first try (and every subsequent run); lunch was delicious; and we had a really good set of round-table discussions on various issues facing students making the transition from high school to university courses. A fruitful (but slightly physically painful) day, for sure.

I just hope I'm well enough to do a little drinking on Saturday night; the bro is coming down, I'm going to try to get another couple of people together to put together a posse, and grand adventures will be had around town.

Also: TWENTY SCHOOL DAYS UNTIL THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS.

Huzzah.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quasimedical treatment semi-update #2: Sweating it out.

Perspiration: Hoodie, track pants, extra duvet... woke up a little tiny bit moist, but not that "sweaty," really.

Symptoms update: I feel a little better overall, but I have a headache and the cold has now gone down into my chest. The sore throat is mostly gone.

Somewhat baseless hypothesizing: It's hard to say if the change was because of the sweating or my body's natural reaction — colds change anyway — but I don't think a sweat-a-thon would necessarily do any harm. If you think about it, that's what fevers are all about: your body is trying to make life miserable for whatever pathogen has invaded, so if you pile-on the blankets, you're helping out, right?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quasimedical treatment semi-update: Sweating it out.

If you've shared a bed with me — and if you're reading this, chances are you probably have, because I'm a whore — you know that I'm generally quite furnace-like under the covers, and no, I'm not intoning any innuendo there. I generate a lot of heat. Hell, even in the winter, I'll probably only sleep in boxer-briefs, with one cotton sheet up to my neck, and a duvet up to my waist.

So, last night, eager to try the "Sweat Out the Cold" experiment, I donned a shirt and a hoodie, and pulled the duvet all the way up to my face. When I awoke this morning, I found (to my surprise) that I was not drenched in sweat; I was merely a tad warm.

Tonight's plan: shirt, hoodie, track pants, socks, two duvets. If this doesn't turn me into a sopping wet (and hopefully head-cold-free) sweaty guy, I'll be goddamned.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quasimedical treatment preview: Sweat it out.

Around midday Saturday I started feeling not-so-well: headache, hurt all over, sore throat, the usual. Continued on into Sunday, and of course today at work.

A colleague of mine said that her fiancé has a remedy for whenever he gets a cold: before going to bed, he gets all bundled up in a sweater and pants, wraps himself in a comforter, and "sweats it out." She claims that, the next day, he never has a cold — "but I share the bed too, and it's a little gross to have him sweating so much." (For the record, he's a huge beast of a man who's 6'7" and played football in uni; she can't be much more than 5'3" and might, might crack triple-digits on a scale.)

Seeing as how the NyQuil Experiment ended in tingly fingertips and next-day fuzziness, I think I'd be willing to give this one a try. Track-pants and hoodie, here I come.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A worthwhile cause.

If you're looking for a charity to support, there can't be any better cause in this world than the education of girls and women in Afghanistan.

An article in today's Star.

The school itself, with a link to donate quickly and easily online, if that's your thing.

It doesn't take much. Ten bucks helps, and I know you spent at least that amount on fancy pretentious coffee just last week, you jerks.

The Tea Party and history.

You know about the Tea Party deal in the US, I know you do. And, if you're reading this and/or you know me, it's somewhere on the spectrum between "mildly unsettling" and "get the Y2K bunker back up and running if Palin gets the nod in '12".

I've spent some time thinking about this movement, and the one roadblock I keep running into is, "How do conservatives manage to coax people, especially poor people, to vote against their own best interests?" Then again, I suppose "best" is a subjective term, and I have a different view of it than your average Tea Partier — "best" to me means your health care tab is picked up by the country, but to them "best" means "get the government the fuck away from my health care" — and I'd say that I've now thought about this whole idea, just now, more than your average TPer, but that's just a little jab at those wackos. Sorry, folks.

Anyway, this article in today's Star examines the role of the US Constitution (a document I quite like, for the record) in the TP movement.* I think it nicely examines the way some Americans have thought of their country for the past few decades, and how the canonization of the Consitution has worked out.
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* I am aware of the connection between "TP" and a "movement" of a particular, bathroom, sort. I may be somewhat nerdy but, above all else, I am puerile.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An apology.

I'm sorry I haven't been writing much lately. I've been stupidly busy at work, and other stuff just seems to find me on the weekends and evenings too. I'm not sure why this school year seems to be so much busier than previous ones, but it is, and by quite a bit.

But, if it matters to you, I do feel mild pangs of guilt when I flip through my bookmarks, see the one for my blog, and think, "Damn, I really oughtta write something."

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A whirlwind weekend's recap.

As promised (to some), a full recap of my Weekend to Restore Sanity and/or Fear...

Friday: Flying and Driving
  • flew out of the Island airport on Porter
  • super-nice to fly out of, can definitely recommend
  • met the fellows at Newark, picked up the car
  • hit up a Target to buy sensible shoes and water, granola bars
  • rolled into the hotel at about 2am
Saturday: Standing and Walking
  • woke up a little late for a breakfast meet-up
  • met lovely folks on the Metro and on the streets
  • got handed "Team Fear" signs on a corner
  • joined the crowd by 9:30 or 10ish; already tons of folks there
  • read numerous hilarious signs
  • Roots and John Legend came on and played
  • Mythbusters had us doing the wave and jumping in unison to trigger seismometers
  • Stewart and Colbert came out and made some jokes
  • Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam and Ozzy Osbourne battled with "Peace Train" and "Crazy Train" (you can figure out which comedian was behind whom)
  • score was settled with the O'Jays singing "Love Train"
  • correspondents were funny, crowd was polite
  • good time had by all 250,000-ish attendees
  • Metro was packed afterward so we just walked to the bar in Adams Morgan
  • had some beers, then had some burgers, and then more beers
  • tuckered-out and in bed by 10
Sunday: Whole Lotta Jersey
  • encountered stupid traffic jams on way down to DC; determined not to repeat said slow-assed-ness on way back
  • had great breakfast in Maryland; first encounter with scrapple deemed successful
  • saw lots of New Jersey; some is OK, most is an eyesore
  • saw Christine O'Donnell campaign signs in Delaware
  • sat in front of drunk chowderheads on plane ride back
A hell of a weekend, all told. Definitely one for the books.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An album I forgot was great.


I listened to Superunknown by Soundgarden on my way to and from work today. A couple of things jumped out at me.
  1. Start to finish, stem to stern, soup to nuts, this is one fantastic album. There are a couple of tracks I don't like quite as well as some others, but not enough-so to skip past them (Radiohead's The Bends and OK Computer are in this boat, too).
  2. It's heavy; unbelievably heavy in places ("Fourth Of July" comes to mind). It's sludgy and crunchy in spots, just plain-ol' intense in others. But...
  3. ...it has an airiness and melodicity to it (if that's a word). Unlike modern nu-metal-inspired bands — if indeed nu-metal can ever be "inspirational" — this doesn't suffocate under its own weight, nor is it pasteurized and liquefied and electronically compressed to hell like today's stuff (Disturbed, I'm looking at you). There's room for the music to breathe.
  4. I read somewhere that when Soundgarden wrote songs, they never really noticed the odd time meters that fell out — or, in many cases, jumped-ship mid-song — until afterward. But, like every good music nerd, I noticed, and the end result is an album that challenges a new part of your brain: "Oh? You think you got this song pegged? Well, lemme throw this at ya." Magnificent.
This was the first Soundgarden album I bought (probably in about '96ish). I can't remember where I got it, but I remember being so blown away by it, I went back and picked up their previous album, Badmotorfinger, very soon after at the late, great Dr. Disc* on campus at UW. It took me a while to get into the earlier album; it's a little rougher around the edges than Superunknown, but once you acquaint yourself with its surroundings, it's just as satisfying to listen to.

While Soundgarden may have recently reunited, it's still unclear if they're going to record any new music. Alice in Chains got back together (minus Layne Staley for obvious reasons) and recorded a new album, which is absolute shit and sounds like every other band out there. Part of me wants Cornell & Co. not to record a new album, for the same reason I wasn't completely sold on the idea of Clerks 2 right away: if it's bad, it could tarnish the earlier work.

Then again, this album is so good, I'm not sure if it's tarnish-able at all.
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* This was the only place I ever walked into, heard music playing, asked the clerk what the album was, and bought it. The album? Girlfriend by Matthew Sweet, which I still love, because I have a huge thing for power-pop.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Unpleasant Task Deathmatch: Marking vs. Dishes.

The following are activities I enjoy more than either marking stuff or doing my dishes:
  • doing my taxes
  • doing my bookie's taxes
  • doing my bookie (sorry, Rocco)
  • eating dry Life cereal
  • eating drywall
  • shoving assorted moistened appendages into empty light sockets
  • acting as a "human shield"
  • acting in an off-off-Broadway revival of "Yentl" with me in the additionally-gender-crossed lead role
  • dancing the tango in the middle of my street during rush hour
  • watching a Rita Rudner stand-up routine
  • playing bass for Supertramp
  • wearing cufflinks made of radioactive hornets
  • being Rob Ford's mayoral campaign manager
  • being Sarah Thompson's mayoral campaign manager
  • being John Malkovich
  • writing this blog post
  • changing the battery in my smoke detector on the same weekend we change the clocks*
* Fire prevention starts with you. Be safety-wise.

So, in honour of these two activities and my pure hatred for both — and as a way for procrastinating from doing either — I've devised a list of pros and cons for each.

ActivityProsCons
Dishes* can listen to the radio while I'm doing them
* really don't take a lot of time
* after I'm done I can cook cool stuff to eat
* occasionally disgusting stuff baked onto them
* increases incidence of "dishpan hands"
* this shit never really ends, ever
Marking* I get a better knowledge of my students' strengths and weaknesses
* I'm paid to do it
* it's a professional obligation
* it shows how shitty a teacher I am
* there is no more mind-numbingly-repetitive task on the planet
* this shit never really ends, ever

So, there you have it. The winner? Me, for successfully putting off doing both for a good ten minutes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mainstream music is shitty again, surprise, surprise.

At the back of every issue of Rolling Stone magazine is a page showing a few different music charts: lately it's been Billboard's top 40 albums, CMJ's top 10 College Radio albums (this is the only chart I pay attention to), the iTunes top 10 songs, and a chart in the "From the Vault" section, some time ago.

This week's "From the Vault" comes from September 28, 2000. It was a simpler time: extremist nuts hadn't rammed planes into buildings, Clinton was still president, Parliament hadn't been prorogued (twice), and a crackerjack young physics teacher was still pretty wet-behind-the-ears at his new gig. Also, as you can see, shitty music ruled the charts:

#1: Madonna — "Music"
#2: 98 Degrees — "Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)"
#3: Janet — "Doesn't Really Matter"
#4: Destiny's Child — "Jumpin', Jumpin'"
#5: 3 Doors Down — "Kryptonite"
#6: Matchbox Twenty — "Bent"
#7: Sisqó — "Incomplete"
#8: Nelly — "(Hot S**t) Country Grammar"
#9: Christina Aguilera — "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)"
#10: Creed — "With Arms Wide Open"

A few things jump out at me from this chart.
  • I hate every song I know on it.
  • People really liked putting parentheses in song titles.
  • I remember a buddy of mine loving the song "Kryptonite" and thinking that it was boring and plodding and I just couldn't stand the sound of it.
  • Sisqó had a second song? Really?
  • The women on this chart didn't openly and proudly pass themselves off as whores. (More on this later.)
  • Insert your own Creed joke here.
And now, without further ado, here's this week's iTunes top 10 songs (because apparently that's how people buy music these days):

#1: Katy Perry — "Teenage Dream"
#2: Bruno Mars — "Just The Way You Are"
#3: Talo Cruz — "Dynamite"
#4: Eminem — "Love The Way You Lie"
#5: Usher — "DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love"
#6: Enrique Iglesias — "I Like It"
#7: Nelly — "Just A Dream"
#8: Ke$ha — "Take It Off"
#9: Taylor Swift — "Mine"
#10: B.o.B — "Magic"

Observations:
  • I'd heard of 8 of these artists before.
  • Of those eight, I only know of 7 of them because I subscribe to Rolling Stone; the only one whose music I've ever come across on my own was Eminem, and that was a decade ago ("My Name Is").
  • Of the three women on this list, the first hit single for two of them had "I'm either sexually open-minded or outright promiscuous" as a theme (Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" and Ke$ha's "Tik Tok").
  • Nelly's song contains the romantic line, "My lover, my life, my shorty, my wife." I suppose if basketball jerseys can be considered high-fashion, "my shorty" could plausibly be a term of endearment.
  • I spent about ten minutes investigating these songs through YouTube (all with several million hits; I guess they're popular songs, eh?), and there was only one song I didn't truly hate.
  • You thought it was the Taylor Swift one, didn't you? It isn't. Bruno Mars' song was the best of the lot, but that's really not saying much. (Plus, he's dreamy.)
Much like the chart from ten years ago, I would never choose to listen to any of these songs. I would never listen to a radio station that would play them. I do not like them, Sam I am.

In somewhat-related news, I finally got around to listening to Rick Wakeman's The Six Wives of Henry VIII record which I picked up in the summer. Given the liner notes' explanation by the author of the concept of the album...
The album is based around my interpretations of the musical characteristics of the wives of Henry VIII. Although the style may not always be in keeping with their individual history, it is my personal conception of their characters in relation to keyboard instruments."

...I thought it would be way more insufferably pretentious than it actually was. (I mean, look at that album cover!) In fact, it was rather enjoyable. In conclusion, it was the second-best 50 cents I spent all summer (to the two quarters I laid down for a vinyl copy of Steely Dan's Pretzel Logic, which I will put on right after I type this sentence).

(Sometimes I think I was born about 30 years too late.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Medication Report: Generic NyQuil.

Overall result: moderately successful

Synopsis:

The directions on the side of the box suggested that I take one, and if nothing happened that time, the next time I take a dose, take two.

I downed one of the gigantic pills at about 9pm, and sat down to watch the Toronto mayoral debate on CP24, hoping that cold medication would somehow make Rob Ford make sense. (No dice there.)

After about 45 minutes, I didn't really feel anything except a bit of numbness in my fingertips, but I didn't really connect that with the NyQuil. I wasn't being hit with a wave of drowsiness or anything, so at about 10 I decided I'd take another, and hit the sack soon after.

At about 2am, there was a pretty magnificent thunderstorm raging outside, which woke me up. I felt pretty darn good — no sniffling, no congestion, no coughing — but again, my fingertips (and now my fingers and parts of my hands) felt all numb and tingly. But, when I closed my eyes again, I started seeing stuff which looked kinda freaky — there was a cloud or something that was coming at me, and somehow crumpling up or some shit — so I had to open my eyes for a minute.

To (fake-) NyQuil's credit, I did end up sleeping a full night. The problem is, I felt really weird until about 2pm. I'd walk down the hall and my head wouldn't feel connected to my feet. I think the best word to describe it would be "fuzzy."

Granted, sometimes I like feeling fuzzy. Hell, getting fuzzy is sometimes the point of a whole Saturday night, isn't it? But when I'm at work and need to be sharp as a tack for those little rug-rats, fuzzy ain't what I'm looking for. Strangely enough, I haven't felt any major cold symptoms all day and evening.

Conclusion: Maybe only the one pill next time.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Medication Preview: Generic NyQuil.

Name: Rexall Nighttime Cold & Flu
Format: liquid-filled capsules
Colour: green (D&C yellow #10, FD&C blue #1)

Medicinal ingredients:
  • Dextromethorphan hydrobromide (15 mg)
  • Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride (30 mg)
  • Doxylamine succinate (6.25 mg)
  • Acetaminophen (325 mg)

Pussying-out factor: 4.6/5

Yeah, I have a cold. And yeah, I'm becoming a pussy in my thirties: hotels and not hostels, flying and not driving, California Condor eggs and not chicken eggs. (They really do make the best omelettes. C'mon over sometime, I'll make you one.) And so, I will decide to revel in my pussitude by, for the first time, taking the generic equivalent of NyQuil to knock my ass out sometime around 9pm tonight.

Tomorrow I'll let you know how it went. I'll be sure to leave the heavy-machinery-operating until then... sorry if I had an appointment with you tonight to drive your combine to bring in some of the corn. Give my secretary, Doris, a call to reschedule.

Monday, September 20, 2010

OK, listen up, you assholes.

This one's directed at people in the 416.

ROB
FORD
IS A
COCK


I could list dozens of reasons (here's one of the latest) why this guy is a gigantic douche... and yet, he seems to be far, far ahead of anyone else in the polls for the Toronto mayoral race.

You know what, 416? Go ahead. I dare you, go ahead and make Rob Ford the mayor. He'll rip out streetcar lines and shit-can Transit City, get drunk and scream at people at Leafs games (again), cut services out the yin-yang, insinuate (again) that Asains "work like dogs," and contract-out and sell off anything that isn't tied down.

You thought Mike Harris was bad? At least Mike Harris didn't outwardly act like a xenophobic bully. Rob Ford wears his asshole-ish-ness on his sleeve.

Mark my words: he will ruin this city.

* * * * * * *

Heather Mallick's piece in the Star gets somewhere close to the point, but I think she misses the big one: nobody else in this race has done anything. "Furious" George Smitherman? Rocco "I just kicked my own campaign in the balls with a stupid 'Goodfellas'-themed spot" Rossi? Joe "Pants" Pantalone? Sarah "Vague answers are my calling card" Thompson? Puh-leeeze.

Tell me one non-ridiculous thing that each of them has said. Go ahead, tell me.

You can't, can you?

That's because, just like Michael Ignatieff, these people are all up against a giant boob of a politician and are too (a.) chickenshit, (b.) inept, (c.) oblivious or (d.) all of the above TO FUCKING DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.

I just hope the Democrats who face Tea Party candidates aren't this way in the midterm elections this fall. (But I imagine they probably will be.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Douchebag Club Report: C Lounge.

If you know me — and, if you're reading this, chances are you do — you'll know that my tastes in drinking establishments lean strongly towards the proletarian. My favourite bar in all of Toronto is Sneaky Dee's (main floor; upstairs is for concerts, even though the acoustics are terrible), a place which openly encourages graffiti, and I must say I've left my mark there.

A friend of mine, and a friend of hers, celebrated their birthdays last night. I'm always up for a good round of drinking, so the plan was for a bunch of us to assemble at the friend's friend's condo building's party room and pre-drink, before heading out to a club "to be named later." Midweek this past week, an email went out to the partygoers: the club would be the C Lounge. Go ahead, peruse its website.

I was strongly considering not even going. I mean, people that go to places like that are a hell of a lot prettier than I am, and you just know the music is going to be this bland, stupid, electronic-y stuff that one might expect at a low-budget fashion show. (This is pure conjecture, as I've never been to a fashion show of any budget categorization.) The result: right on all counts.

Granted, it's pretty fun to eyeball nubile twentysomethings wearing their Saturday Night Best; I just wish I'd worn my glasses. I was none too pleased, however, at the fact that, because it's TIFF season, the normal $10 cover was doubled to TWENTY GOD DAMN DOLLARS JUST TO GET IN THE DOOR. I'm no cheapskate by any means; I'm just offended on principle. Does this cover charge keep the rabble out? Most people can scrape together twenty dollars, rabble included. The benefit of being with my friend's group is that we were guest-listed beforehand, which means we got to skip the line, which runs a very close second to cover charges in terms of things that piss me off about douchey clubs.

The place is very nice inside, don't get me wrong. The main (indoor) part has a good, long main bar, and service was very prompt; there was a second satellite bar indoors that, I imagine, had a slightly more limited selection. White couches were everwhere, but hardly anyone was sitting on them, and a couple of us wondered if they were saved for VIPs, and we sure as hell weren't VIPs, so we just continued standing. Outdoors, there's another bar, more couches, and the pool you see on their website, which is maybe two feet deep; it's interesting to see, for sure.

A rye and coke cost me eight dollars plus tip. A bit outrageous, but honestly, I was expecting double-digits, so this wasn't so bad. For comparison, the average beer in a bar in Reykjavik ran about 700 kroner, which was about $6.50 this summer; in Stockholm in 2001, I remember paying the equivalent of $8 for a pint (but Sweden has crazy-high booze tax on regular-strength beer).

I split from the C Lounge at around 1 so I could catch a subway back home. As I left, I pulled my iPod out of my pocket, shoved the earphones in, pushed play, and a song by Humble Pie brought a huge grin to my face: it was a perfect antidote to the electro-club nonsense I'd been subjected to for the previous hour or two.

All in all, not a bad night. Pretty girls, somewhat-expensive drinks (but the pre-drinking was free, so it evened-out), and a delicious pepperoni slice from Mamma's Pizza on the way home. Not too shabby an evening.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tired is the new black.

Alright, so, we've been back at this "teaching" thing for a week now.

Every damn day I'm in there extra early (8-ish), and I think the only day I've left before 5:30 was on Friday, when a good chunk of the staff hit up a pub near the school. And, all day, I'm running around doing stuff for other people (and occasionally myself). Consequently, when I get home, all I can think about is sleep.

Shit, laundry beckons. Hol' on.

. . .

Some bastard scooped me on the dryer. C'mon, man, it's after 10, that shit should be free.

Anyway.

Like a fool, though, I'm thinking of applying for a side-gig wherein I'll write material for the Ministry of Education so that kids can take the Earth & Space Science course online (I'm teaching it now and like it a lot). Stepping-stones to world domination, that's the way I see it.

I decided to give up being the union rep at my school this year. I wear a lot of hats at that place already, so I thought I'd step back on this one; besides, someone else was pretty keen to do it, so why the hell not? I'll still be a go-to guy for some stuff, and will likely be the vice-rep... but it'll be nice not to have to be the main person for everyone's concerns. "Gee, that sounds like something you should take to John." Oooooh, I like the ring of that.

However... I'm still going to this union retreat thing on the weekend of October 1-3 — which is the same night (again) as Nuit Blanche. A couple of years ago, I bailed on the union thing early so I could go to the All Night Art Thing; seeing as how I've already resolved to not go to Spring Training in Florida this upcoming March Break so I can go to the stupid annual union meeting (pro: free booze and hotel room; con: 8:30am financial report the morning after clocks shift ahead), I figure they owe me. I'm skippin' out after Saturday dinner, and that's that.

* * * * * * *

I'm sorry this is so disjointed. I feel terrible if I don't write every so often, but for the past week my life has been "eat, work, sleep" — except for this past weekend where I headed to London to visit an old pal who lives in Brooklyn these days, and Sunday night where our baseball team advanced to the semifinals of the division above the one we played in last year, which is pretty darn good for our rag-tag group. I had a couple of nice hits, played some decent D, and had a lovely time (although I still hurt, which is sad).

Friday, September 10, 2010

Brain is mush.

Week one down.

About 38 to go.

Friday night, 10pm.

Tired as fucking hell.

Bed soon.

......oooooooh, bed. Bed good.

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm bed.

Blaraa faamaranalam. Spronk? Glorp hurp durp.

It's called "Fuck You Yankee Bluejeans" or some shit like that.

. . .

...whoa, time for bed. Bye.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The kids are alright.

We've had two days together, my new classes and I.

Things that jump out at me:

1. Grade Nine students are really quiet.
They're in a new pond, and they know they're the littlest fishes around. Also, a lot of them don't know each other, because they've all just come from different elementary schools. Add this all up, and they're really, really nervous right now. This honeymoon will be over within a couple of weeks, but it's kinda nice while it lasts.

2. This gig physically hurts.
I know I'm not in the greatest shape of anyone who's ever walked the Earth; this is no secret. But today a colleague asked a couple of us, "So, last night, did you guys feel sore? Because I did" — so it wasn't just me. Both yesterday and today, when I got home from work, it felt like I'd been beaten by someone wielding a two-by-four.

3. There's a lot of stuff to do.
My co-department-head's mom is battling health issues, so I've had to pick up a bit of what she normally does in the day-to-day running of the department. I wish I could be the stereotypical teacher: in at 9, out at 3:15, skipping and singing tra-la-la all the way to the bank. But being a bit of a MacGyver means there's always tons of stuff to fix/rebuild/assemble/clean, and because I generally like being a handyman, I get distracted pretty easily. As such, I'll look up at the clock and it'll be quarter to 6 and I'll think, "Well, crap, I still have stuff to put together for my classes tomorrow."

4. Mornings aren't so bad.
I've vowed to go to bed earlier this year than in years past... and this time I mean it. The past two nights I've checked-out right around midnight, which has made getting up at 6:25 a lot easier than if I got to bed at 1 or 1:30, which was what I was doing in the spring. I just hope I can keep this up; I've always been a night owl, but that doesn't really help me in my current gig.

Alright, I've got homework, so I should attend to that. Maybe if I have enough time before midnight, I'll watch The Big Lebowski. I got a hankerin' for that flick.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

I learned all I ever need to know about Islam on 9/11.

I realize that, a few days ago, I posted a link on here to an article at The Onion which featured a guy who said, "I learned all that really matters about the Muslim faith on 9/11."

Now, I figured this was just another zinger thought-up by the geniuses over there at that satirical publication; they sure are good at creating them. However, at the latest Dipshit Convention in the US — first, the Insane Clown Posse's Gathering of the Juggalos, and then Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally, which you've probably heard about...

Along "truth is stranger than fiction" lines, then, consider this: in the video below which contains interview snippets with some of the attendees at Beck's rally, a near-perfect copy of the satirical line quoted above is stated by a fellow who looks oddly like someone I think I know. (If you can't stomach the whole thing, skip to the 9:05 mark, where the snippet containing the magic line starts.)

(Also, this video seems to be a really high bandwidth or something; it tripped my Mac G4 up a bit. You've been warned.)


Well, there you have it: comedy writes itself, when you're dealing with conservatives.

Here's the thing, though. A lot of these people seem (to me, anyway) like otherwise-nice, regular folks. They look like people I'd encounter at a family reunion, if I ever went to any; hell, the thirtysomethings look like people I could've gone to high school with.

The question is, where do you start with these people? Part of me wishes the tie-clad interviewer would've just come back at the red-shirt-wearing folks with a direct quote from Beck when he said Barack Obama was racist, or pressed the lady in the chair more about the news item which apparently said you couldn't pray at the Lincoln Memorial anymore. (If you've ever been there, which I have, any policy like that would be absurdly hard to enforce. And, if someone actually passed a law like that, don't you think it would've been the biggest thing on the news since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill?)

I think a line that Stephen Colbert often quoted during the early years of his show fits pretty well here: "The facts may change, but my opinions won't." That sounds like someone who learned all he ever needed to learn about 1.6 billion people who are just as heterogeneous as Christianity's 2.2 billion adherents in the span of a few minutes almost nine years ago.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Satire rules.

sat·ire (noun) \ˈsa-ˌtī(-ə)r\

1: a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
2: trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly


I'm a firm believer in the power of satire. If you want to skewer someone's idiotic beliefs, there's no better way than to satirize the hell out of them. Canadian humour leans towards this much more strongly than American humour typically does; we had the Air Farce for decades on radio and TV, This Hour Has 22 Minutes (and, before it, the "original," This Hour Has Seven Days), its predecessor CODCO, Rick Mercer's various projects, and a host of others in both English and French. You can probably trace this back through to British humour (remember Spitting Image?), which has a satirical bent to it, too; the Daily Show and Colbert Report are relatively recent (and welcome) additions to the American comedy scene.

One publication that does satire about as well as anyone is The Onion. A lot of their pieces are purely absurdist, but they also include articles which make a very deliberate point, very satirically... like this article. It's hilarious, and it makes a point very emphatically. Well done.

In completely unrelated news, our school board's Director of Education is putting us through this on Wednesday afternoon. I give it a 50-50 shot that it's at least a half-hour late in starting, and a 1-in-100 shot that, because of various problems, it won't even start and we'll have to go home. Up until just now I didn't realize that was the Director himself in the middle of those four kids. High-larious.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oh, that Glenn Beck.

You know he's nuttier than a tractor-trailer full of fruitcakes. This much has been clear for years, so I won't bother to tell you that.

If you hadn't heard, Mr. Beck was planning a rally for today, August 28, at the Lincoln Memorial. This is also the anniversary of Martin Luther King giving his "I Have A Dream" speech — apparently unbeknownst to Beck — and Al Sharpton had already planned for a rally on the same day, in a different part of that whole Lincoln Memorial/Reflecting Pool complex dealie they've got going on down there.

As you might expect, Beck didn't cancel or move or postpone his to-do. Nope, giving in is un-American, and if there's one thing Beck doesn't want to be, it's un-American. He can be — and often is — a buffoon, a racist, a misogynist, a moron, a religious zealot, a fearmonger, a liar, and a history-distorter, amongst other things. But don't you dare call him un-UhMURRicun. Beck also called the coincidence of him magically scheduling his rally on the same day as MLK's speech anniversary "divine providence." If there's a God/god/gods, if-and-when you meet Her/Him/Them/them, ask about this one.

Also, as you might expect, Beck didn't disappoint at his rally, in terms of giving unintentionally-hilarious hum-dingers we can feast upon. Dive into these tasty morsels, if you will:


"Something beyond imagination is happening. America today begins to turn back to God."
Turning back? You mean it was a country full of atheists and agnostics all this time?

"Recognize your place to the creator. Realize that he is our king. He is the one who guides and directs our life and protects us."
Two things. One, you declared independence of a king over 200 years ago. Two, the oh-so-precious Founding Fathers — rich slave-owners, the lot of 'em — weren't too heavy on the Christian thing.

"I ask, not only if you would pray on your knees, but pray on your knees but with your door open for your children to see."
Just be sure to close the door so they don't watch you fuckin'. That might scar a kid for life... so I'm told.

"Go to church. Restore America with peace."
This was what a Beck-rally-attender shouted at the Sharpton rally. Yes, a rally led by The Reverend Al Sharpton was told to go to church. That is, very literally, "preaching to the choir."

There were others, I'm sure. I had better things to do today than to watch it live on TV: namely, I had to do anything else which didn't involve me inserting my penis into a burlap sack of broken glass.

(No offence intended, if you're into that sort of thing.)

Y'know, I hope Sarah Palin wins the Republican nomination for President in 2012. I really do.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I'm writing, get off my back already, MOM.

We've hit the end of summer, and yeah, things have been mostly uneventful around here. However, if you're looking for a little inspiration (or a way to kill a few minutes/hours of your time), I can recommend a few things.

1. Dr. Steve Brule

You know how local-yokel TV stations on their noon newscasts sometimes have special segments with reporters that exclusively do fluff-pieces for filler? There's a sketch comedy show called Tim and Eric, Awesome Show, Great Job! (a funny show on its own) that featured an inept reporter, Dr. Steve Brule, played by John C Reilly, that eventually spun off into its own show, Check It Out!, with Dr. Steve Brule. Some original clips from "Tim and Eric" are here, and some clips from the spinoff show are here.

2. The Mighty Boosh

It's a BBC show which focuses on the exploits of two characters, Howard Moon and Vince Noir, who are... uh... well, in the first series they're zookeepers, in the second they're just wacky guys, and in the third they're struggling musicians. There's a gorilla and a shaman involved, and to describe the rest would be pointless. It's not Aqua Teen absurd, but it's gone down that road a ways.

3. Putting a little uppercut into my swing

I came across this during a baseball game we played on Tuesday night. I've been trying to finesse the ball here and there, with mixed results, all season. So, I stepped into the (right-handed) batter's box and decided to swing a little harder and with a bit of an uppercut, and whadda ya know, I hit a double to left-centre. I think that's what I've been missing lately... sure, it's nice to poke a seeing-eye single through a hole to drive in a run, but it also feels really bitchin' to hit a ball a long way.

I've been into the school for the past four days, so my holidays are essentially over. What I've found, though, is that it takes a few days to really get my head back into the game; Monday and Tuesday I went in for the afternoon and basically got squat done. Today, though, I had more focus and actually accomplished quite a bit, in terms of organizing stuff for the department.

Holidays are fun and all, but being productive is a good feeling too.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hard-hitting journalism.

Look, I know that the news headlines on the main portal page for Yahoo — the one I'm sent to after I check my junk-email account there — isn't exactly written by Woodward and Bernstein. It's not meant to replace Newsweek, or the Financial Times, or even Big-Breasted Midget Monthly (which, contrary to what its title might suggest, contained a detailed and incisive analysis of the new American financial reform bill in last month's issue, and I highly recommend you find a copy).

But, I have to say, this sort of headline doesn't really give me a lot of hope for the future:

McCain calls Snooki 'beautiful'

That's US Senator John McCain (R-AZ), former Republican candidate for President of the United States, self-proclaimed "maverick," and terrible Air Force pilot... and Snooki, from the MTV "reality" show Jersey Shore.

I don't know much about the show, other than it may well be, to greased-up ginos, what The Beachcombers was to flannel-clad Canadian lumberjacks. And, after looking at a couple of pictures of Snooki (born Nicole Polizzi)... well, despite having fairly insane hair, makeup an inch thick and usually a ridiculous look on her face, yeah, I suppose she's decent-enough-looking. (And, from all the evidence I've seen, she could very well appear in next month's Big-Breasted Midget Monthly — I swear to you I didn't know she had (a.) giant cans and was (b.) vertically challenged when I started writing this. But it sure worked out that way, didn't it?)

Senator McCain knows a thing or two about beautiful women: the record is pretty clear on this.

His first wife, Carol Shepp, was a looker; when John was over in 'Nam, getting shot down and imprisoned, Carol wrote him letters all the time, despite getting in a horrendous car accident which left her several inches shorter, and her convalescence (through no fault of her own) caused her to gain some weight.

So, when Johnny came marching home (eventually) and found she wasn't a model anymore, he first cheated on her, then dumped her for Cindy Hensley — younger, taller, prettier, and coincidentally the heiress to a huge beer-distribution fortune. (Ross Perot — yes, that one — works into this story somehow too, but I'm too lazy to look it up.) Carol, for the record, and perplexingly, still loves John a ton and wishes him all the best.

All I'm saying is, if John McCain dumps his wife for Snooki, you heard it here first.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Vacation recap.

One of the reasons it's been a while since I've written is because it feels like I've given a vacation recap to everyone already. But, in case you managed to slip through the cracks, or — gasp! — you're a stranger reading this, I guess I haven't managed to recap it for you.

Iceland
  • nice and cool, but rained a little every day
  • small, quiet, quaint, just my size/style/pace
  • otherworldly scenery out in the country
  • the people have a quirky sense of humour
  • we ate this and this and this (whoops... actually this)
Glasgow
  • alright, I was there less than 24 hours
  • King Tut's is a great place to see several bands
  • bars with numbered tables are strange, but it works
Dublin
  • nice and cool, but it rained a little every day
  • lots of tourists, but they weren't too annoying
  • Gaelic Football is an awesome sport
  • tourists don't quite take over, but they get close
Galway
  • nice and cool, but it rained a little every day
  • the eponymous Bay is absolutely beautiful
  • a bit touristy, but not really annoyingly so
  • next time I'm going out to see the Cliffs of Moher
Brooklyn
  • effin' HOTTER than an effin' MOFO
  • you can spend $43 on a single beer in Park Slope
  • the pizza's pretty good, to be honest
So, that's about it. Out of the 15 days I was gone, I consumed alcohol on 14 of them. Now that's a vacation, folks.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Over here in the Motherland.

...or is it?

I'm writing from an Internet cafe here in Dublin. This is my second day here, and I've done a hell of a lot of walking. I spent a day in Glasgow before coming here, and before Glasgow, four days in Reykjavik with the one-and-only Matt.

I'll do a bit more of a recap later, but here are some highlights:
  • the women in Reykjavik are stunning
  • the women in Glasgow are not
  • the women in Dublin are... meh
  • geysers are cool
  • Iceland loves to drink until the morning
  • there are a lot of great bands in Scotland
  • it's easier to understand someone from Dublin than it is someone from Glasgow, by far
  • the Book of Kells is pretty neat
  • stopping over in Copenhagen airport on the way from Reykjavik to Glasgow, I have concluded that Danish is the most ridiculous language ever invented
That's about it. Pictures will be posted when I get back, somewhere. You'll find 'em, I'm sure.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm off for a bit.

I figure in about a half-hour I should probably catch a bus to the subway to the bus to the airport.

If I don't write for a while, it's because I'm on one of two rocks in the North Atlantic which feature very pale people. My kind of people.

And the thermometer hardly ever touches 20°C. My kind of temperatures.

Don't worry, I'll take lots of pictures.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Here is my rant against cell phones.

If you know me, and you probably do, I hate these things. I've also been promising (threatening?) to put together a coherent diatribe summarizing my thoughts on this subject.

So, here it is.

1. A lot of people are annoying when they use them.

The subway, the grocery store, walking down the street, standing in line at the VD clinic — people use these things everywhere. I suppose that's what they're for, really... but if you're talking, we can all hear you. Most of the time, it goes like this:

OKAY, YOU WANT THE SHREDDED CHEESE? ... THE SHRED— ... SHREDDED CHEESE. YOU WANT THE SHREDDED CHEESE? ... YEAH, ALRIGHT. HOW MUCH? ... HOW MUCH OF THE SHREDDED— ... YEAH, HOW MUCH? ... I DON'T KNOW, THE TWO HUNDRED GRAM BAG? ... THINK THAT'S ENOUGH? ... IS THAT ENOUGH? ... I DON'T KNOW, IS THAT ENOUGH?

...and so on. Studies have now shown that we find these half-conversations so annoying because our brains are apparently wired-up to pay special attention to stuff like that. Or something. I don't know, I was talking and texting and sipping a Starbucks pretentioccino or some shit when I was driving and listening to the CBC when this story came on.

As for texting, I always find it funny (terrible?) when two people are out to dinner with each other at a nice restaurant, and both people are looking down, typety-typing away on their little doohickeys. Do you seriously need to send that text message right now?

2. Do you seriously need to text/talk right now?

You probably don't.

Really.

You don't.

Seriously, that shit can wait.

There are exceptions, of course, and this is the argument I always hear:

What if you're driving down the 401 and it's the middle of nowhere and your car breaks down and a rapist is following you?

I've driven more miles on the 401 than any sane person should ever be subjected to. Fortunately, my cars have been mostly reliable (exception: The Deathcar towards the end of its stay with me), so this hasn't been a problem. But, I'll play tiddly-winks with your straw-man.

For years, people have had cars break down on the 401. And for years, people managed to (mostly) not get raped by the side of the road, or while walking to the next exit to get some sort of help. Why are things so much different today?

If I'm a long-haul trucker, I'll get one.

That's a promise.

3. It'll turn you into a douche.

Well, it might. Here's what I mean.

Once upon a time, before supposed continual contact between people, you told a person, "Hey, I'll meet you at the corner of Jarvis and Wellesley at 10" — and, because neither of you lived near the corner in Toronto where one would mostly likely acquire the services of a prostitute, it'd take a little time to get there.

So, let's say you were to meet at 10. If it takes half an hour to get there, that means you leave at 9:30, and after then you can't be reached. You're supposed to be at Jarvis and Wellesley at 10, and if you're late, that means the punctual one is going to have to make small-talk with the hookers for however long your ass is late.

But, here's how things appear to have gone.

Since people can call each other anytime, that has given quite a few of you carte-blanche to be late. Really, why would you bother being on time? Everyone has a cell phone, so if you're late, you call the other person because you can, and then hey, everyone's fine-and-dandy and you get your hookers and you go have your fun.

However, I've seen what effect this has on teenagers, and it's not good. Not good at all.

They have cell phones, because overprotective mommy and daddy want to make sure their little Billy/Susie/Parminder isn't getting strangled in some alley, which likely won't happen. But, of course, they use them for everything (including texting in class — you know how much I must love that, eh?), and they get in the habit of being late for each other.

...which means they get in the habit for being late for class. It's amazing, how many exchanges I have along these lines:

Me: You're late.
Kid: No I'm not.
Me: What time is it?
Kid: 10:28.
Me: Class started at 10:25.
Kid: That's only three minutes.
Me: Were you here when the bell rang?
Kid: C'mon, I'm not really late.

This "I'm late, but I'm not late" paradigm has only really popped up in about the last three years, when kids really started getting into cell phones. Is this a coincidence? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't — but I think you know what side of the argument I fall on.

That's enough of a rant for now, I think. There are likely other reasons, but none of them come to mind presently. That being said, I give it about three years and I'll probably crack and get one.

And I blame you.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Census time.

Well, it's not time for the census now, but it will be next year.

I've heard rumblings about Steve and the Cons wanting to change parts of the census, and I thought, "Big whoop, who cares?"

Turns out that (a.) I was a moron to think it didn't matter, and (b.) the proposed change is a great deal bigger than Steve would have you believe.

Read for yourself...
  1. Haroon Siddiqui's article in the Star — he and I don't normally see eye-to-eye on stuff, but on this one he's right on target
  2. Matt Blair's summary and views of his own — he puts it pretty well, so why waste space on the Internet duplicating it?
Jesus, I hate the Conservatives. Can we PLEASE have a Lib-NDP coalition to unseat these fucks?

And now, for something completely different.

Like whom do you write?

I wanted the title of this post to be Who do you write like?, but given this post's emphasis on writing style, I felt that dangling a participle in the title would have been a cardinal sin.

At any rate, there's a site called I Write Like, and it will analyze a sample of your writing and compare it to some famous authors' work. (Tip of the hat: Peter Lynn.) So, naturally, I got curious.

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about Detroit. That was a fairly typical passage, I thought, so I plugged it into I Write Like and it compared that to the work of HP Lovecraft. I'd heard the name before, but didn't know much about him; I don't usually read fiction. But, his Wikipedia entry suggests something bizarre:

Lovecraft's guiding literary principle was what he termed "cosmicism" or "cosmic horror", the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity.

So, you reason and you go crazy — or get close. Fantastic.

I dialed the clock back to 2006, and this post about all the free time I had over the Christmas holidays. IWL said I wrote like Raymond Chandler on this one; again, turning to Wikipedia suggests another kooky fellow:

Critics and writers from W. H. Auden to Evelyn Waugh to Ian Fleming, greatly admired Chandler's prose. In a radio discussion with Chandler, Fleming said that the former offered “some of the finest dialogue written in any prose today.” Although his swift-moving, hardboiled style was inspired mostly by Dashiell Hammett, his sharp and lyrical similes are original: "The muzzle of the Luger looked like the mouth of the Second Street tunnel;" "He had a heart as big as one of Mae West's hips;" "Dead men are heavier than broken hearts;" "I went back to the seasteps and moved down them as cautiously as a cat on a wet floor."

Finally, my first post ever, in those crazy days of 2004 was analyzed to be akin to something that Stephen King would write. That's pretty flattering, but a little creepy at the same time.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Drivin', drivin', drivin'.

So much for relaxing a lot on the summer holidays.

Canada Day, chill with a few beers. The next day, head down to Sarnia-ish for a day with the fam, then the next three in Detroit/Toledo for four baseball games. Come back to Toronto, melt for a day, then mom/dad/bro/niece come up for a thorough exploration of the Science Centre. Melt for another day, then sing "Go All The Way" by Raspberries for karaoke (only in honour of a birthday; I gotta keep these pipes a secret!). Next day, drive back down to Detroit for another game, hang with the fam this morning and afternoon, come back almost all the way to Toronto, play two baseball games, then come back the rest of the way, then fire up my computer so I can tell you all about it.

At said karaoke — which I never usually attend, but hey, it was for a birthday — I had a strange experience by meeting someone who has apparently been reading this thing for the past year and half. I mean, it's very flattering to have someone think your writing is interesting (really?) enough to follow it for any length of time, it really is. The strange part, though, is meeting someone for the first time who already knows things about you — physics teacher, fan of the Tigers, superb in the sack, all that jazz — but you don't really know anything about them in return (other than they're a friend of your friend).

Has this ever happened to you? Lemme tell ya, it's weeeeeeird at first. But hey, you get over it. (Hi, Claire!)

(I think that was your name.)

(I'm so terrible at remembering things like names.)

At any rate, I'm hoping this week is going to be a hell of a lot lazier. Sloth, I welcome thee.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Summer, I hate you.

Today at the baseball game the temperature got up to 92°F which is over 33°C not even factoring in the humidity and it was sunny but luckily I was in the shade most of the game but it was still so goddamn hot and sticky and jesus aitch christ the game was so long I mean I love baseball but seriously almost four god damn hours what is this Yankees-Red Sox and it just hasn't let up and now it's past midnight and in Toronto it's still 28°C but with the humidity it's thirty eight effing degrees and my poor little window air conditioner can only do so much and STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT GOD DAMN IT.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Some observations about Detroit.

I'm in Detroit in the middle of a 3-day, 4-game baseball binge (which is different from BInge, a.k.a. Brandon Inge, oh god, I'm loopy from all the hot dogs and Star Spangled Banner renditions). A bunch of folks that post on Bless You Boys (a.k.a. BYB) have met up for a game or two (or four, depending on how much time we have), hence the get-together and the baseball-overdose.

I've never actually stayed in Detroit — a couple of us from BYB are staying at a hotel right downtown, about a 10-minute walk from Comerica Park — because a baseball game is only about a 90-minute drive away from my parents' place, so why stay the night? This means that I haven't really seen a lot of how Detroit works in the evening, what nightlife is like, and so on. So, here's what I have so far.

Downtown Detroit is not scary.

The place gets a bad rap; somewhat deservedly so, I suppose. And I will admit, there are some places outside the downtown that I really don't care to see, much less walk around after dark. But, after having walked around downtown last night and tonight, and seeing a good part of it (Greektown, Bricktown, the stretch of Woodward from Campus Martius up to the Fox Theatre), not once did I feel unsafe. I'd do it again, for sure.

Detroit is not that confusing to get around.

Granted, a few streets do a loopy thing around a couple of parks (Grand Circus is one of them), but, by-and-large, with a few exceptions, everything's on a pretty regular grid pattern. I can remember my dad saying when I was little, "You really don't want to get lost in downtown Detroit," but I think that was probably just a bit of naive, latent, small-town-infused racism which is pretty common (but is far from malicious, trust me).

Americans sure love their fireworks.

Three of us made the trip from Detroit to Toledo to catch the Mud Hens play an evening game. On the way back north after watching Toledo shit the bed* and lose 6-0 to Columbus, we were driving north on I-75 between about 10pm and 11pm, and HOLY CRAP FIREWORKS EVERYWHERE. At one point we counted seven different, separate displays of fireworks that we could see at the same time. I don't get it.
* This is my new favourite turn-of-phrase.

Downtown Detroit needs people and businesses.

The architecture is fantastic. The storefronts are ready, waiting, and look great. The sidewalks are wide and well-kept. Parking is ample and relatively cheap. Apparently there's going to be an LRT going straight down Woodward, with constuction set to begin in 2013. All this place needs are businesses and people... but you won't put a business where there's no people, and people won't come if there aren't any businesses.

This morning in the hotel's elevator a lady asked me, "So, where do people go to shop downtown? Where's the shopping district?" I thought for a second and said, "Um, I guess you could go to Greektown, I suppose" — because there really isn't a "shopping district," per se. If someone asked me about Toronto, I'd tell them to go to the Eaton Centre, Yorkville, Queen West, Leslieville, Bloor West, Leaside, Corso Italia... then again, I'm not entirely familiar with this place, so maybe I shat the bed on this one.

Detroit is full of Black people.

This one is a little more involved, and requires a longer reflection.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A most excellent musical obsession.

Normally, I don't fall this hard for songs (with the exception of this one), but this pair of ridiculously awesome power-pop songs from the early '70s just has me absolutely HOOKED.


The band is Raspberries, from Cleveland. The lead singer (at least in this part of the band's history) is one Eric Carmen, who you probably know if you were alive in the late '80s and you either (a.) were a girl, (b.) knew a girl, or (c.) just really liked movies that had characters creepily nicknamed "Baby":


Ooooooooh, such '80s production! "GET ME MORE REVERB ON THAT SNARE!!!"

Tell ya what... sometime in the near future, I should do a lyrics-deconstruction for "Hungry Eyes." I hope it turns out as weird as Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" — especially since Jennifer Grey's character in the movie, Frances "Baby" Houseman, was listed at the ripe old age of 17.

UPDATE: I watched the rest of the second video for the first time in a long time, and had TOTALLY FORGOTTEN about the ridiculous "saxophone solo." Just watch it, ok?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summertime (essentially), and the livin' is easy (for the most part).

At about 4:30 pm, on my way out to the parking lot, I looked around a bit to make sure nobody saw me (the place was pretty empty, but you never know), thought a bit about the logistics of the manoeuvre, as I had never really attempted it before... and I jumped up and clicked my heels together (as best as one can while wearing sandals).

Exams? Done.

Marks? Submitted.

Life? Returned to me.

Sure, the next few days I have to go in, clean stuff up, plan for next year, haul old equipment to the dumpster, check over textbook lists, and possibly cover for my co-department-head whose mom is battling an illness and do her end-of-year stuff, too.

No matter, though. As long as the ten-month treadmill of classes and marking and classes and marking is stopped, I'm a happy guy.


Thank you, Alice. You are quite right.

Monday, June 21, 2010

This, I didn't need.

I called up my grandpa, who turned 90 today. I congratulated him on the birthday, and he talked about the get-together my family had on the weekend (which I couldn't attend because I was busy playing 7 baseball games in less than 36 hours).

"It's so great to have a family. You oughtta get yourself a pretty young thing to settle down with and start a family of your own. You're getting older, you know."

Great, now the nonagenarians are getting on my case.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

So, SO GOOD.

Heard this played on Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap tonight on the CBC while coming home from Day 1 of our annual June baseball tournament. Thought I'd share it.


Fun piece of trivia...

Q: Who played lead guitar on this track?
A: Ray Parker Jr., who wrote and performed the theme to Ghostbusters.

I know I'm sounding old and curmudgeonly, but... can Lady Gaga hold a candle to this? Really, can she?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Nuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge.

Sure, you may not agree with Ted Nugent's libertarianism, his thorough love for hunting, his brashly outspoken and uncritical support of the Right To Bear Arms (despite coming from a city which has an unbelievably high incidence of gun-related crime), or his omnipresent cowboy hat (these days).

But damn, this fella could play some guitar. That's him with that gorgeous hollow-body Gibson tucked way up under his arm during his time with the Amboy Dukes, and while, no, he's not playing live, hardly anybody did that on TV back when this song was new. And no, the lyrics aren't that interesting (nor do they make much sense), but... as I mentioned before, GEE-TARRRRR. The tone absolutely slays me.


I swear, if I could make a guitar sound like that, I'd totally quit my day job.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

One-sentence random thought #12.

I wish the store up the street which was closest to me sold cool stuff like lap dances and Tostitos Medium salsa; the wrought-iron outdoor-furniture outfit has now been replaced with a business that sells Persian rugs.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Visit Toronto, and the shores of Great Fake Lake.

If you've been anywhere near Toronto for the past few weeks, you wouldn't have been able to escape talk about this whole G20 meeting deal.

A guy on my baseball team is an officer with the Toronto Police, and he says they're going to be on for 13 straight days, 12-hour shifts. Today they started putting up security fencing — three-metre tall chain-link fencing, on top of concrete barriers — and people are going to have to show ID to get in and out of the secure area around the Convention Centre (with a suitable airport-like delay for good measure).

And, most notably, the Phillies-Jays series, which was to feature the return of Roy "Mr. Perfect" Halladay to Toronto, was moved to Philadelphia. The Jays will get home-field advantage and the game will be played under American League rules, but with tens of thousands of people cheering against you, it won't feel like much of a home game for the Jays.

(Not that I care. Go Tigers!)

Now, the thing that has made most peoples' eyes bug-out on this one is the staggering amount it's going to cost for all this stuff: $1.1 billion, at last count.

Yup. That's billion, with a big, fat B.

Nearly all of that ($933 million) is just for security.

For a three-day meeting.

So, obviously, it's a great idea to build a fake Muskoka-area lake inside a big building at the CNE, to the tune of $2 million. I mean, you're already going ten figures, what's a couple mil here and there? Build that lake... for reporters... to apologize for the fact that the G20 had to be moved from Muskoka to the city.

Marvelous.

What's our debt these days again? It's big, right? Yeah, it's big.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

This is what the 27th out of a perfect game looks like.

See?


So, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was one out away from throwing a perfect game. (Despite the fact that there have been two so far this season, there have only been 20 since 1880. This season has been really, really weird for that.)

The 27th batter, Cleveland Indians rookie Jason Donald, hit a ball to the right of Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Galarraga dutifully went over to cover first base to take the throw from Cabrera and step on the bag, which he's doing in the picture above; the ball is safely in his glove.

First-base umpire Jim Joyce called Donald safe.

Perfect game over.

No-hitter over, even.

The record books might show that Armando Galarraga pitched a masterful 9-inning shutout, with one hit allowed, no walks and no hit-batsmen, with no fielding errors behind him. But we all know he really pitched a perfect game: 27 up, 27 down.


It's okay, buddy. We still love you.

______________________________________________
UPDATE: A bit later, after the game...
"I just cost that kid a perfect game," Joyce said. "I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay."

"It was the biggest call of my career," said Joyce, who became a full-time major league umpire in 1989.

Joyce faced a group of hostile Tigers — led by Leyland — between the pitching mound and home plate after the final out and was booed lustily by the crowd of 17,738 as he walked off the field.

"I don't blame them a bit or anything that was said," Joyce said. "I would've said it myself if I had been Galarraga. I would've been the first person in my face, and he never said a word to me."
Still stings, though.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Amusement parks, good and bad music, and religion.

Today we took a bunch of physics and calculus students to Canada's Wonderland to do some experiments on roller coasters, and to generally goof around.

Missions: accomplished.

The kids look forward to this all year — I get the feeling a few people in the past have taken the course solely so they could go on this trip — and everyone had a lot of fun (except the one kid who slept in and missed it; he's the guy who, if you'd have asked me yesterday, "Who do you think would sleep in and miss this trip?", his name would've been amongst the first three to spring to mind).

I don't know who's picking out the background music that's played on speakers located in discrete areas around the park, but I must say it's more obscure than I'd expected and, frankly, better than I'd have expected... such as:
  • The Raspberries — Go All The Way*
    Killer power-pop from the '70s, contemporaries of Big Star; remember the song "Hungry Eyes" from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, by Eric Carmen? He fronted The Raspberries. True story.
    * not the canonical studio track, but this live-from-the-studio cut may even be superior
  • Steely Dan — Josie
    If you know me, and you probably do, you know I totally dig the Dan. So, to hear this played in an amusement park ostensibly aimed at people born in the mid-1990s and beyond, I was beyond tickled-pink (and not just because of the sunburn-in-progress).
  • Cheap Trick — Surrender
    I've never been a huge fan of Cheap Trick, although (a.) they do make some catchy tunes, (b.) they apparently put on a fantastic show, and (c.) they were one of the first bands, if not the first, to obtain the "Big in Japan" label.
(On the flip side, tonight I heard what could be the worst rock song made in the past decade or so. I could describe what I dislike about it, but I have work in the morning. Triumph only has three guys, and they kick fourteen times more ass than these clowns.)

As I was checking students off my list this morning before we departed, I came across a group of three girls clustered together; I recognized two of them, but the third had a bucket-cap pulled down low. She waved at me, and I completely mistook her for another person... because in the nearly-two years I've known her, this is the first time I've seen her without a hijab. She doesn't wear one of those ones where you only see their eyes (although I've taught a couple of girls who did) — but you sure can't see any hair sticking out of it. Shoot, some girls wear ones so loose they fall off now and again, and barely cover any hair even at the best of times.

I asked one of my Muslim friends** about this tonight, and the response was something along the lines of, "Well, she probably knew she wasn't going to see any family members at the park, so she left it off. You'll see it back on tomorrow at school."
** I'm not sure how many I have, but I think it's in the low-single-digits.

I've been thinking about this, and I'm not sure what to take away from it. All I have so far is that, given the choice, she wouldn't wear one, but only wears it because someone will rat her out to her parents if she doesn't — but I could very well be wrong. But, who knows? Maybe she did something over the weekend, in an act of rebellion, and from now on she won't wear anything on her head. We'll see tomorrow.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I got me a new ride.

This blog has been going on for so long, I'm on my third car during its... um... lifespan? Yeah, we'll go with "lifespan," even though it's technically not "alive."

Basically, my new car is exactly like my old car, with the following changes:
  • power windows and side-mirrors
  • power locks with the remote unlocker thingy
  • nicer wheels, with bigger rims (which are now aluminum)
  • a slightly fancier radio into which I can plug my iPod
  • about 89,000 fewer kilometres
  • two fewer annoying rattles (bringing the total down to zero)
What was weird, though, was that I felt guilty for leaving my old car. I sat in it one last time, gathering up the assorted stuff from the glovebox that I wanted to transfer into my new car, and we had what I guess could be called a "moment." It was a damn fine car, and I owned it less than four years... but hey, my brother's sweet-ass employee discount program is going to change this fall, and I wanted to get one of the last of the Pontiacs, so I guess this is how it goes.

And, like an idiot, I left a CD in the old car's player, which I retrieved the following day (Sonic Youth's Murray Street, which is a damn fine album, even if it doesn't contain this song in any way, shape or form).

All in all, though, I'm glad I got a new car. And, to the environment, I say this: Fuck you, I ain't givin' it up for nothin'.