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"

  • 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


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.


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.


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.