Sunday, January 31, 2010

Exclusive Grammys recap.

Wow, what a night! Want extensive analysis of the Grammys? You've come to the right place! Click "Read More" to see the whole enchilada!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A love life, or a lack thereof.

I realize that the sample-size from which I'm drawing isn't big enough to have a whole lot of statistical validity, but I'll jump to a conclusion anyway.

Everyone I know falls into one of these two categories:
  1. In a great, stable relationship
  2. Perpetually single with no idea why they're there
I think you can probably guess which category to which I belong.

I'd be more concerned for my sanity if so many other people weren't in the same boat in which I find myself — and, it's not just the chaps who find themselves in that situation.

Strange times, indeed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Look, people.

No, I mean that literally.

When you're crossing the street, FUCKING LOOK WHERE YOU'RE GOING, ASSHOLE.

I'm originally from a small town. We didn't have traffic lights (or public transit or chlorinated water). As such, whenever one of us ventured into a big city, we looked where the hell we were going.

I still do it, too. "You can take the boy out of the country," etc.

In the past 15 days here in The Centre Of The Universe, 14 pedestrians are now taking the ol' dirt-nap because they've been hit by cars. And, I gotta say, I'm surprised it's not more.

Everywhere you look, you see an inattentive, too-busy, cellphone-yakking, iPod-blasting, text-messaging, latté-drinking thumbdick plowing down the street, not looking where they're going. Maybe I notice them because I actively try to be as far away from that archetype as possible, but they're all over the place, and now they're getting picked-off by Chryslers.

So, please, I implore all you d-bags out there: look where you're going.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stephen Harper is a douche, but you already knew this.

I'd just like to point out how much of a gigantic d-bag he is.

Today, of course, saw a series of rallies across the country against the latest proroguation of Parliament by our good ol' friend Steve. About 3000 showed up in Ottawa on Parliament Hill; I was at the one today at Yonge-Dundas Square here in Toronto, and I'd say the crowd was somewhere around 4000-5000 strong.

Naturally, not everyone in Canada who thinks the second proroguation of Parliament is a dick-move showed up at these things, so the tens of thousands that participated in a rally had to have been the tip of the iceberg — this, of course, after Steve suggested that nobody really cared about the issue of the torture of Afghan detainees.

So, at a press conference this morning, when someone asked Steve what he thought about the rallies, this is what he said:

The government is extremely occupied these days. Obviously we continue to announce and deliver stimulus programs, stimulus projects across this country. ... At the same time we are planning for the upcoming Parliamentary session. We have a lot of work to do to get ready for that, to plan for our agenda for the year to come and our plans for the Canadian economy for the years to come.

Huh?

You were asked a question about rallies, and you answered with, "Hey, we're busy." You didn't even give the standard Dubya boilerplate response along the lines of, "This is a great country, where people can express their opinion, even if we don't all agree, blah blah blah." You ignored the question entirely, shoved your talking points down our throats again, and moved on.

Oh yes, and don't forget the reason why Steve wanted everything to be put on hold until the heat calms down:
  1. He said Canadian forces in Afghanistan never turned detainees over to people they knew would torture them.
  2. He later said, "Well, alright, we did."
  3. That means he lied.
If you lied to a friend/co-worker/dealer/constituent and got caught in it, you'd want to disappear for a while too, wouldn't you?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's the (second) most wonderful time of the (school) year.

Ah, exams.

Kids hate them, and with good reason — I'm out to fail them. Yep, I'm out to get those little bastards. Teach 'em a lesson, show 'em who's boss, tell 'em that there ain't no room in no town for no two of us, and they're a-payin' me to be there, and not them rotten kids, no way.

I, on the other hand, love this time of year. We get a about a week where we (a.) don't have any classes to teach, (b.) only have to supervise a few exams wherein (c.) all our students are dead-silent and serious, for the most part, and (d.) the marking really isn't that bad, because I don't teach English. Sign me up!

I've enjoyed my classes for the last almost-five months, but it's time to kick them out of the nest and let them fly away. They're far enough along now for them to venture out on their own and deal with the predatory hawks of the real world. No longer will I regurgitate all those "partially-digested worms of knowledge" into their gaping, chirping mouths. And, I will now end this allegory before I start to talk about moulting.

* * * * *

Hey, so, how about that Parliament? Still nothing happening there, I hear. For the best, probably — Steve would probably be yammering on about how the response to the Haiti earthquake is playing right into Obama's hands and winning him kudos in both parts of the Black community: light-skinned and dark skinned.

(Whoops, that was Rush Limbaugh.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Scott Ritter, UN weapons inspector in Iraq.

Scott Ritter was the main UN weapons inspector in Iraq. I've mentioned him on here before.

Well, it looks like he can add a new title to his resume: sexual predator.

To quote ECB, "I couldn't even make this up."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I can't swing a sack of doorknobs in this town without meeting a Canadian celebrity.

Yeah, I know, I know... let the jokes fly: "A... Canadian celebrity? We have those?" But hey, it's all relative — we're not talking Brangelinanistonooney or anything, but that's fine by me.

I got a hot tip early this evening from my friend that Kevin McDonald, one of the Kids in the Hall, was going to be doing a set of comedic songs at the Press Club down on Dundas, which could be amongst the smallest (but friendliest) bars in all of Toronto. Said tipster, Christine, is a regular at the bar and knows people who know people.

Tonight, of course, was also the d├ębut of the new KITH mini-series, Death Comes To Town, so you could say they've been in the spotlight lately; last night they were on The Hour. I saw the show tonight, and it was good — it's not full of absurdist 3-minute sketches about the Daves that Bruce McCulloch knows, or 30 Helens agreeing on something. The first episode introduced the characters, laid the foundation for the plot, and was funny along the way to boot.

So, down to the Press Club I went. Before the first musical act, a guitar/drums duo, played a set, not one, but two of the Kids came in the door: McDonald and good friend Dave Foley, who I met a few years ago briefly at a Comedy Network party that ol' buddy Matt and I snuck into. (They were accompanied by two ladies, several years their junior.)

The funny thing is that, aside from a couple of people congratulating them on their new show, practically nobody paid attention to them. I got the sense that most of the people in the place were regulars and, well, couldn't really be bothered to fawn all over arguably two of the most important entertainers our Home on Native Land has ever produced. Anyway, the guitar/drums duo played a set, took a break, and the guitarist came back with Kevin for about seven funny songs; he forgot a few of the lyrics, but was overall pretty successful at getting us to laugh along.

I did manage to chat with Kevin for a couple of minutes at the bar (during the break) about the band The Black Keys and some assorted Detroit rock bands from the late '60s. On the way out I talked with Dave a bit: I told him to thank Bruce, the next time he saw him, for being so weird ("We normally try to get him to stop, to be honest"). I also remarked that I recognized a bit from one of Kevin's songs that harkened back to their original show and a sketch called "Daddy Drank," wherein the father-character said to his son as he tucked him in, "Goodnight son, and remember, I can murder you whie your sleep" ("It's an actual quote from Kevin's dad, which is why it's so funny").

All in all, an evening full of Kids in the Hall — both on TV and sitting six feet away from me. A pretty cool night, I'd say.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Parliament's suspended? No big deal.

The Conservatives are really sticking to the "Gee, you know, the suspension of Parliament isn't such a big deal, why don't you just enjoy the Olympics?" line.

...well, maybe not. As Stevie said today in an interview on the Business News Network:

[A]s soon as Parliament comes back ... the first thing that happens is a vote of confidence and there'll be votes of confidence and election speculation for every single week after that for the rest of the year. That's the kind of instability markets are actually worried about.

That's a queer thing to say, on a lot of levels. (C'mon now, it's a perfectly cromulent use of the word.) The impression I get from this is that, oh gee, god forbid we do anything to upset the Markets — as if markets are some sort of living, breathing, feeling organism that votes and pays taxes and takes out its recycling. God forbid we actually, y'know, have representatives in a Parliament which we not only pay for, but put our trust in, to run our country. That might make the Markets unhappy, and we can't have that.

Stevie's not the only one playing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah on his buttcheeks these days: Tony "I Kinda Look Like A Nerdy Mob Boss" Clement is doing his best Alfred E. Neuman impression lately too:

I know it's a big issue with the Ottawa media elite and some of the elites in our country, but I got to tell you if reaction in my constituency is any indication, I’ve had maybe three dozen emails.

Clement is ripping pages straight out of the playbook of the US Republican party. Someone disagrees with you? They're weird, they're a kooky minority, they're "elite" — they drink expensive coffee, they have more university degrees than you do, and they look down their noses at you, you salt-of-the-earth hero you, who'll be a good little citizen and vote Conservative when Iggy and the Stooges get the stones to bring the House down, won't you, you pwecious wittle voter, you! Coochie-coochie-pander-coo!

Anyway, the point is that the whole thing stinks to high heaven. And, please, folks, let's not forget the whole reason Stevie hit the pause-button again:

THE CONSERVATIVES LIED
ABOUT KNOWING THAT WE
TURNED AFGHAN DETAINEES
OVER TO PEOPLE WE KNEW
WOULD TORTURE THEM

...which is kind of a big deal around here. But, instead of facing the music like an honourable Parliamentarian, Stevie turned and ran, like the pussy he is.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Neato neuropsych experiments, and TD Canada Trust can lick my scroat.

Today I helped out my old pal Eve (who really isn't all that old, to be honest) on an experiment she's doing in the midst of her Ph.D. studies, on the science-y side of neuropsychology, and it was kinda neat.

She and her assistant strapped this harness-like thing on my head (after measuring every possible dimension of my skull so it'd fit precisely), fastened it in place using about three dozen bobby-pins (marking the first time I've ever had them in my hair, or anywhere on me), and plugged in these combination infrared lights and sensors. The idea is that you shine light in through the scalp and the skull, and you can literally see where the blood is flowing around down there, which is MRI-ish without, y'know, having your head stuck in a giant magnet.

I answered a whole bunch of questions about analogies and the like, and at the end we took a look at how certain parts of my brain lit up like a Christmas tree when I had to think really hard (and some of them were really quite hard to come up with). I get the impression that this area of research is just getting off the ground, and if I can help to advance this techology in some little way, that's pretty cool.

* * *

For the second time in a year and a half, I got a call from the TD Canada Trust robot telling me, in its own Stephen Hawking-ish kind of way, "Please visit your local branch to get this sorted out." Does this happen this often to anyone else? I can't help but think that I'm either (a.) just extremely unlucky, or (b.) doing something wrong with my debit card. It's not like I'm going around town and spray-painting my PIN on random walls or anything. And yet, twice in 18 months, this is happened.

Seriously, how often has this happened to you, if ever?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Hot Trend Watch.

HOT TREND #1:
PROROGUING

Have something icky you have to, like, totally deal with but, like, totally don't want to?

Just PROROGUE it! All the cool kids are proroguing these days, like this one below!


Have a math test tomorrow?
"Sorry, Mrs. Stumblebum, I choose to PROROGUE my math test for three months instead of having to deal with it in a responsible way."
COOOOOLLLLL BEEEEEEANSSSS!!!!

Colonoscopy time? Nope, PROROGUING time!
"Doctor Jellyfingers, I think I'm just going to put this off for three months. I sure hope I don't die in the meantime of intestinal cancer like J's grandma did in 1991."
AWESSSSOMMMMMMME!!!!

Turn prisoners over to people you knew would torture them, lie about it, finally fess up, and don't want to face the music in the House? Just PROROGUE it, baby!
"Hi, I'm Stephen Harper. I'm a douche. See you in March, assholes."
CONSERVATIVE PAAAARRRRRTY TIIIME!!!!

So, remember, the hot thing to do this year is to just totally put your shit off until the shit calms down, then everyone will forget about all the shit you did and how shitty it was, and then you get a majority in the House.

I love you, Steve. So does The Economist.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Boz Scaggs, Celebrity Death Pools and Commuting Via TTC.

I heard this song this morning, and was never really sure of the artist or title of the song; t's amazing what you can find when you Google a snippet of lyrics. Listen to it and tell me that's not catchy as hell. I dare you.

* * *

I moderate a Celebrity Death Pool: you pick 25 celebrities who you think might kick the bucket in 2010, and you get one point for every year they are away from 100 when they die. If I haven't already bugged you through Facebook (there's a group on there; it makes it easier if everyone's in one place), send your list to thecelebritydeathpool (at) gmail (dot) com by midnight on February 1. No money involved, but also no morals to be found. It's a perfect match.

* * *

Yesterday morning, I met a bunch of students downtown at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) for a half-day field trip; I took the TTC (subway and bus) out to the ol' schoolhouse for the afternoon, and came back home on GO and TTC (which was a royal mess due to "signal problems," which may well be code for "a jumper on the tracks"). I bring this up because my commute is normally by car; in eight years of teaching, I've only ever taken the TTC twice.

I also bring this up because of the inherently social nature of commuting on public transit; a couple of things struck while I was jammed in a subway car during the afternoon rush.
  • You can have an absolutely packed subway car which is 100% silent; zero people talk. Is it this way in other places, or is Toronto just inherently unfriendly when it comes to strangers interacting? I realize it was a particularly stressful commute, but hey, misery loves company, and when you have company, you can make small talk.
  • This is going to sound weird, but it could very well be a good way to meet people (like the gorgeous redhead with the stunning green eyes who got off at Eglinton like I did, and hell, I don't even normally go for redheads, because if we had kids I'm sure they'd be translucent). The way I commute now, I spend a total of about 55 minutes a day alone in my car, and I'm already pretty familiar with myself.
Taking the TTC and GO now and again is kind of a neat way to change things up, and I'm considering doing that once in a while if I'm feeling particularly enterprising (and if I feel like getting up ridiculously early). I just hope there aren't any jumpers.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

A holiday wrap-up.

Seeing as how it's colder than Dick Cheney's heart out there, wrapping up might be a good idea. Also a good idea: "wrapping it up," u know wat i mean, ya rite.

As I sit on my couch, listening to the tail-end of Little Steven's Underground Garage, occasionally eyeing my bag containing all my holiday marking that has been curiously untouched since I sat it down two weeks ago (and feeling curiously un-guilty about it), I can't help but conclude that this has been a pretty good, if improvised, holiday season.

The Beginning: Assorted Debauchery

White Cowbell, tons of booze, and sloth out the wazoo — but we've already discussed this.

The Middle: Family Commitments

As I've been told, and as I am slowly coming 'round to realize, my family is freakishly normal. We don't fight, we don't hold decades-long grudges, we don't throw around racist epithets at the dinner table — whoops, two out of three ain't bad. My niece is cute, natch, and it's amazing to see her more grown-up than ever. My uncle also reprised his Santa Claus role at our family's Christmas Eve get-together, to the astonishment of the two little ones who still believe The Lie.

The End: Travel Clusterfucks Somewhat Averted

Iceland didn't work because of a d-bag in a plane over Detroit, but I did manage to crash ECB's party in Chicago instead. Some highlights:
  • finding a kickass parking spot in a neighbourhood notoriously tough for them
  • finding a kickass new radio station, WXRT
  • enjoying the Field Museum and its gigantic collections of, well, everything
  • experiencing the countdown on TV from New York at a time which was not midnight for me in the location where I was at the time
  • eating the second-best ginger snaps I've ever tasted (sorry, grandma's come out ahead by a nose because, hey, she was my grandma)
  • watching six, possibly seven, hours of a Twilight Zone marathon on TV and developing a slightly twisted mancrush on the late Rod Serling
  • having a truly superb slice of Detroit-style thin-crust pizza at Supino Pizzeria, in the Eastern Market, on the way back through to Toronto*
(My local classic rock radio station is playing "Lay It On The Line" by Triumph at the moment. Just thought I should throw that in there.)

In conclusion, I haven't felt this well-rested and relaxed in a long time. The fall brought with it a whole crapload of extra work which I really wasn't expecting, especially with one course in particular which was new to me (and practically new to the school) — I'm actually thinking of buying them thank-you cards for sticking it out to the end — but things get a hell of a lot more manageable from here on out. To wit:
  • 3 weeks left in first semester
  • 1 week for first-semester exams and turnaround
  • 2 weeks in second semester, then a 3-day weekend with a PD day glued onto it
  • 4-ish weeks, then March Break
  • 2-ish weeks, then a 4-day weekend for Easter
  • 5-ish weeks, then a 3-day weekend for Victoria Day
  • 3-ish weeks until exams, then summer holidays
Sure beats the hell out of this past fall, which was four months of tough-sloggin' with exactly one day off in the middle. Add to that my more manageable teaching workload (amongst my classes I have two sections of the same course, which I also taught in first semester, which cuts the work down considerably) and, who knows, I'll actually have time to get around to do more hands-on department-head stuff.

Good times, they are a-comin'.
_____________________
* This was seriously some stupendous pizza. I'm generally a fan of thick, doughy crusts (and, naturally, Chicago-style deep dish), but the slice I got from these guys was fabulous, even though it had probably been sitting around for a while. The crust underneath the pizza was extremely thin but crisp, and the edge-crust was crisp but yet not dry-as-cork. This is quite close to Comerica Park, and I'll be sure to check this place out either before or after the next game I take in there.