Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Lights Go Down on the Shining Path

In 2005 I started this blog. Trent suggested I start it. I was unemployed - again - frustrated, angry and more than a bit isolated. Friends had moved on and away, got married, had kids and started new lives that just didn't involve me. No car, no license, no social life. And I was angry, very angry with little means to express myself. Thus, the Shining Path was started.
It has been hit and miss as a blog goes, inconsistent in terms of theme, outlook, quantity and quality. A few things killed my enthusiasm for this little adventure: lack of time, periodic exhaustion, Chinese porn spammers, the little jerk-off who kept posting up about pot and God, redundancy of my posts and the fact that I am just not quite the same guy who first posted in 2005.
So this is the final post for me. I may start another blog at some point, (when I do I will post a link here) but the curtain and lights are coming down on this one. Thanks for reading and the best of luck to you all.

Well except the little asswipe and the Chinese spammers - piss off.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Home and Travel

I am currently in the courtyard area of the motel I am staying at with my Dad in Naramata, BC with my laptop. The crickets are chirping, the frogs are croaking and the Sun has completely set. People are milling around outside and one guy has his laptop on and is listening to Neil Young songs via YouTube. ("Needle and the Damage Done" as I type) The room is too hot but my Dad is relaxing on the bed. On Monday we travelled up to the Kootneys and stayed in Ainsworth, visiting Kalso, Riondel (my Aunt Muriel and her husband) and Nelson (my friend Graham and my Grandmother's grave) on Tuesday and motored over to the Okanagon to hit wine country (Naramata) today.
I arrived back in BC on the evening of the 5th. Always good to visit home, but would I really want to come back here to live? Vancouver is very crowed and congested, and all the construction going just hammers that point home. The people have changed as well. I'm not talking the immigration population here - I mean the attitude. It seems snobbier than when I left, more superficial, more superior. I ran into a woman I knew on the 6th just after meeting with Peter Chattaway and we talked about it. She agreed with me and added that people are becoming pretty unfriendly.
I suppose that it is a good thing that the Lower Mainland of BC isn't so appealing to me any more (aside from my family and friends who live there) as the "BC" in BC could probably stand for "budget cuts", which will keep me from working in my field here. Still, I am feeling a bit restless in Saskatoon these days. I like the city and moving there has helped me find a job I am good at and... well "like" is the wrong word, but find interesting seems appropriate. But I need something more, something different. I have been looking into the UK as the NHS actually offers me some better options in my area. Still, it is far away from home, family and good friends.
If I could get something else going I think I may have found the three spots in BC that I could consider living in. I like Nelson. It is a small city with a well preserved sense of history. It has some big city perks, like a transit system, co-op organic grocery, decent pubs and restaurants. I also liked Kaslo, much smaller with that same sense of history. I have always liked that part of the Kootneys and could see myself living there. I like the lake and the rapidly shifting weather fronts. The hippies might irritate me though...
Then there is Naramata. I have never really considered living in the Okanagon, but then my exposure has mostly been Kelowna and Vernon. My Dad calls Naramata the "Provence" of Canada and I think agree. (unlike my Dad, I have never been to Provence) It is wine country and it is beautiful. I like the life I see here and could see myself settling quite nicely, provided I could get work.
I dunno. My paternal Grandfather was despised by his wife's step family. He had traveled extensively (not by choice) when he and his family left Eastern Europe for Canada and the referred to him as "the Gypsy". (being farmers they could immigrate to Canada freely) My Grandfather eventually set down roots, however. Somehow, I am still feeling rootless. Saskatoon does not feel like home and home is no longer quite so homely. I have been through this before, I know, but the question for me is: when does it end?

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Flying Lizards Money USA 12"

An ode to our crass society that never really gets old.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Rush Revisited

CDs in Play: Rush, Permanent Waves. Mastodon, Crack the Skye. The Cheese Pickles, Mr. O'Riley's Magic Cellar.

Rush was one of the bands for me all through Junior High and High School. I listened to them obsessively, over and over as I tend to do with music I like. I spent time trying to learn songs like "Witch Hunt", "Jacob's Ladder", "The Trees" and "Natural Science" - which irked my guitar teachers, who wanted me to learn "Tom Sawyer" and "Closer to the Heart" like all their other students. I even tried to learn the 18 minute long "Hemispheres" and the 20 minute "2112". Stop laughing at me.
Rush was a part of my identity growing up. Back in the day, you could get clobbered for listening to the wrong music. Seriously! I don't know what it is like now, but metal heads would try and pound the crap out of guys who didn't conform. Moving into Junior High from Grade 7, I liked some of the bands that would earn a kid a pounding. The Police were considered to be a "girl band" and the only good thing about them was Stewart Copeland, to the minds of metal heads. I also liked U2. No one knew who they were, but once they saw the cover to October threats of beatings would ensue.
My step brothers had introduced me to Black Sabbath. (via 8 track, I believe) I liked it, but my Mum and Step Dad were attending a Charismatic church at the time so Black Sabbath was considered evil. The same went for so many bands that I liked. I might switch churches but the attitude was very much the same. Try as I might, there just wasn't much in the way of "Christian Rock" that I liked, aside from Daniel Amos. Even U2 were considered dodgy by some Christians.
I liked Rush when I first heard them around the time Signals came out. "New World Man" was played often on radio and I liked the song. Rush were the perfect band for a guy in my situation: metal heads, more often than not, liked Rush or at least didn't mind them and church people usually had no clue who they were. If they did and have concerns, it was pretty easy to quiet their objections by showing them lyrics or explaining the concepts.
Aside from that, I was obsessed with Rush's music. I saw them on the Grace Under Pressure and Power Windows tours. As a kid on the outside of things for the most part, Rush were an outsider's band and offered a sense of belonging in a weird sort of way. But then the album Hold Your Fire came along. I have never been able to listen that album without falling asleep. It was a disappointment. Presto in 1991 was a dramatic improvement, but Roll the Bones was another let down for me - although the concert was very good. My interest in Rush began to wane and I slowly stopped listening to their music altogether sometime around 1994 when Counterparts came out.
Periodically, my friend Greg would try to get me back into them. My friend's Doug and Lionel also tried to get me to rekindle the flame, but it just wasn't happening. I switched my cable provider from Shaw to Sask Tel recently, and I have access to their movie component, Front Row. One of the films they are showing is the recent documentary, Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage. I missed it at a limited engagement at one of the local theatres, but when I saw the poster it piqued my curiosity. Watching it reawakened good feelings, good memories and that sense of the connection I once had to their music.
I am prone to nostalgia, it is true, but this has allowed me to rediscover a band that once meant quite a bit to me. It's not a bad thing really. Sometimes we need to go back to go forward.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Vuvusela Blues

So a lot was made of the vuvusela, a plastic horn that South African have made part of their soccer experience, leading up to the FIFA Wold Cup in South Africa. At first it was viewed as a curiosity, amusing. At one point, there was even speculation that it could catch on out side South Africa: apparently that will not be the case.
Foreign fans, players, coaches and press are complaining about the ever present sound of the vuvusela. According to the CBC report I just saw, Frances captain is blaming the vuvusela for his team's lacklustre performance at the World Cup. Many foreigners are calling for a ban. Happily, FIFA is not bowing to this sort of pressure.
From what I gather, the vuvusela is as much a part of South African soccer as white towels were at Vancouver Canucks games, or the wave was in North American stadiums, or "You'll Never Walk Alone" is at Liverpool FC games. It is an international tournament being hosted in a country with its own customs and traditions. Time to stop being the Ugly Westerners and learn to cope with other peoples' customs. No one is getting hurt so just deal with it.
As for players having a hard time dealing with the noise - give me a break. Noise from the stands, catcalls, cheers, shouting, etc are a part of sport - you learn to get past it or a t least deal with it. If players can't get past the drone from the stands then maybe they aren't ready for the world professional - let alone amateur - sport. And if it came down to obscene catcalls or the vuvusela, I'll take that annoying plastic horn anyday.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Phylum Miscellanea Again

CDs in Play: #1 Record/Radio City, Big Star. Girls! Girls! Girls!, Elvis Costello. Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigates Witch Cults of the Radio Age.

Renter's Hell

Just over a year and a half ago I moved into my bachelor suite in Saskatoon, SK. I currently pay $550.00 a month for a fairly spacious suite with high ceilings and old plumbing. It was built back in the 1930's and it has character. I like my apartment. Last year a new management company took over this building and four others. They announced at the end of January that they would be raising rents come 1 August, 2010. I expected this and was prepared to take the hit. I figured they would be asking $600.00 for my suite, but I was wrong. For a six month lease they are asking for $850 a month, $774 a month for a year's lease. a woman with a suite half the size of mine is being asked to pay $825 for 6 months and $750 a month for a year.
This is Saskatoon. Don't know it? Search it out on a map. Look it up on line. The rents being asked in this city are nowhere near worth what is being asked. I like Saskatoon, it is a nice city - but it is being priced well outside of its league. So I am hunting for a new place. Sadly it won't be as convenient as my current one is. I may have a lead on a basement suite that is being renovated. Apparently, the owners of the suite aren't even looking to make money of the place, which is good news for since...

Rule Britannia?

Since my rents is being jacked up and the cost of living in Saskatoon is matching other larger cities in Canada, why the hell wouldn't I just move elsewhere? I could move back to Vancouver. I could try Toronto. Edmonton? Calgary? Ottawa? All these places offer more in the way of amenities and diversions than Saskatoon for their costs of living. I don't have any heavy financial investment here. I am not high up on the seniority list at work. I am not involved with anyone. No kids, etc. So what really would keep me here? If I am going to get shafted on rent, why not do it some place that has more to offer in the way of experiences?
One difficulty in moving around Canada is that it is much harder to find a job in my area. Canadian Health Care doesn't place a high priority on Pathology, even less for autopsies. It is seen as a drain on the budget. I have been told that autopsies are just no longer as necessary as they once were. There isn't much more we can learn I have been told. I don't buy that. Pathology is exceedingly important for diagnosis and treatment and medical autopsies are not only of great importance for teaching residents, nurses and technologists - they help keep the system accountable. I believe in my work and am looking at moving to a place where it is still valued and performed with regularity: The United Kingdom.
Yes, it is more expensive than Canada and I have heard the arguments from others about why I would never want to live there. However, I think I can decide that for myself when I get there. I am not interested in London or the South East, I would add. I have been keeping an eye on the National Health Service's job postings and job pops up with astonishing regularity. (unlike the boards for the assorted Canadian Health regions I have looked at) I am able to move there to look for work without a job offer, but I plan to have a job offer in hand. All I need to do is find a cheap place to live and save up.
So when will this happen? I haven't a clue but my goal is to try and move sometime between the end of 2011 and the end of 2012. If you know me and wish to contribute to getting me out of the country - I wouldn't complain...

RIP Alex Chilton

Alex Chilton, a man who could very well have been America's best answer to John Lennon, passed away from a heart attack. Chilton had first come to people's attention as the lead singer of the Box Tops, scoring a number one hit with the group at age 16 with "The Letter" in 1967. I am most familiar with Chilton's work in Big Star. Songs like "Thirteen" and "The Ballad of El Goodo" and "Back of a Car" should have solidified Chilton's status as a talent, but it didn't happen. He battled alcoholism, homelessness and adversity. Chilton's status a music icon was eventually set in alternative music circles, having influenced bands and artists like R.E.M., Wilco, Teenage Fanclub, Matthew Sweet and The Replacements.
This week I have heard quite a few people around town listening to Big Star in shops so I wanted to say something in my blog. Chilton's death also spurred me on to check out his former bandmate, Chris Bell, who was killed in a car accident in 1978. I discovered this song, "I am the Cosmos", and have ordered the album of the same name.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Um Hello, I Have a Blog

CD in Play: #1 Record/Radio City, Big Star.

I know, I know... it has been a while. Well, I haven't had much to say and when I have had something I have been a bit "touchy" so I found it best not to say anything. Also, those spamy bastards from China posting links to dating sites and sex sties on my blog put a damper on my desire to blog, period. So I decided to eliminate comments from new posts and enable moderation for back posts. Cocksuckers. No, not you - those spamy bastards for China. I have this image of poor Chinese people chained to cubicles forced to spam hapless blogs while a floor walker paces back and forth occasionally hitting them with a riding crop. I wonder what Chairman Mao would think of the end result of his experiments?
Anyhow, I will be posting more later but felt I should post this now. If you know me please feel free to contact me and drop me a line on a post, include friends if desired.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I gots me de binary blues...

Hello, sorry to have been so delinquent with my blogging. A few things at play here, not the least of which is that I have been having computer troubles -and those popped up right when I had something to say. That should be rectified soon enough, but until then no blogging. The keyboards here at work suck and I am also loathe to use themextensively for personal stuff. In the mean time I am sure that our scumbag Capitalist spammers from China will have lots of useless comments to try and redirect you over to some sex dating service site, so enjoy!!!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Phylum Miscellanea

CDs in Play: The Who, Live at Leeds. Morphine, The Night.

Winter is Here

One of the things I don't think I totally grasped last winter in Saskatoon is just how much darker it is here that it is in Vancouver. We do get more sunlight throughout the season, but the day arrives later (around a half an hour) and sets earlier. I didn't think that such a slight difference in latitude would make so much of a difference. A coworker from Kenya said it hit her straight away, since the Sun rise and sets at pretty much the same time all year around. (0600-0630 to 1800-1830) It certainly makes one want to take advantage of the day as much as possible. It is currently -30°C.


Well the deniers of Global Warming have the event that they have been wishing for. Scientists from the University of East Anglia have hurt the world far more than they ever helped it. For many, no matter what evidence you can produce about the effects of emissions on the environment will ever reach them now. I am not going to get into it quite yet, but I have ask why it is so important for the deniers to deny the effect that humans are having on the environment? Even beyond the issue of Global Warming there is that pesky and passé little issue of pollution.
Pollution has serious effects on the health and well being of everyone on the planet. It gets into the food chain and into us. It damages terrain and man-made structure. It effects our health in numerous adverse ways. Cutting emissions is cutting down on sources of pollution, how is that a bad thing? Are practices that are adverse to the health and well being of our species worth preserving? Isn't it worth adopting new practices that reduce harm? It may mean a hit to the profit margins of some of those big companies/industries out there, but so what? It isn't like the majority of us actually reap the benefits of those profits ourselves. Nor are we ever likely tom so why not look after our own best interests - our health?


So I was seeing a woman and she broke it off. C'est la vie. But did it have to be the "It's not you, it's me" speech? One day I want to go out with one of those women again and then break it off by saying, "Look, if it is any consolation it's not me, it's you."

Friday, November 20, 2009

"This Could Get Messy"

CD in Play: The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds.

I don't like to blog about things centered around work, it us usually an unwise thing to do. So being as unspecific as I can be I would like to get something off of my chest. I applied for a position at work that I am more than qualified to do. I trained for the job successfully and have worked it on a casual basis. It isn't easy work and it pays less than what most people would expect - however, it is interesting and I actually feel satisfied on the job when I do it. I have only had that feeling on a couple of jobs and they paid significantly less. (bouncer and record store employee)
The posting was up for a week and they are looking over applications. One of the people who trained me was telling me today that there are two people with seniority in the queue ahead of me. He and the other people who trained me also want me to get the job. They like me, I am more than competent, they don't have to spend the next three months training someone new and I am always eager to take their call on evenings they want off. What my former trainer heard from management is that there are two people ahead of me and, "this could get messy."
How could this get messy? There are two reasons we can think of. One reason would be they are planning to hire me anyway, ignoring seniority and getting into a fight with the union over this. The second reason could be because of another applicant.
The position I am applying for was posted six months ago. At that time there were around seven or eight people ahead of me in seniority. The top four dropped out because they didn't realise the pay wasn't what they imagined it to be or they saw what they would be doing and decided it wasn't as cool or "romantic" as they had been led to be by television. The fifth applicant, whom I shall refer to as "Pokey" took the job. It is what he has dreamed of doing and he may have told me that he was born to do this. He is a nice enough guy, but still quite young and not responsible enough for the job. He is also quite slow, hence why I call him "Pokey". (and yes I have witnessed his laggardly manner for myself) It takes him a long time to do most tasks and most complaints stated that he worked far to slowly.
The training is three months. When my three months were up they were quite satisfied with me. When "Pokey's" three months were up he was given another three months. When those three months were up "Pokey" was told that he had not passed his probation and that there were reasons for it - which "Pokey" is told me about himself. I did try to encourage "Pokey" and help him out as best as I could, but I can see why he didn't pass. He refuses to see it and has placed a grieance with the union.
Did "Pokey" apply again? Are the union going to force management to accept him into the position? Or do I have the job and am facing a fight? For my part I think that experience and ability do need to be taken into consideration and weighed against seniority. I understand the necessity of seniority and would say that someone who was as qualified as I am should be hired ahead of me, but not someone from a completely different department even if they meet the same education requirements that I do.
Anyhow, just had to get this off my chest. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In Defense of a Modern "Prisoner"

CD's in Play: The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds. The Flaming Lips, Embryonic.

I am a big fan of Patrick McGoohan's 1967 cult classic, The Prisoner. In fact, next year it will have been 20 year since I first saw the iconic show on CBC right here in Saskatchewan. (though I was living in the southern part of the province) When the final episode was played I was the only one at the school I was attending watching it and I recall trying to explain what had happened. (I started off as the only one at episode one and the crowds picked up as it progressed until the final episode) Trent and I began quoting it to one another. When I came home to British Columbia I was trying to explain to my friends about this odd, surreal, enigmatic show that had something to say but was less than forthcoming with the message.
It was in 1992 that I introduced the show to my friend Geo and my other friends followed. The Prisoner is the sort of show you can direct anti-television people to and show them that television is capable of producing artistically, socially and culturally worthwhile contributions to society. It remains relevant today, despite the Cold War backdrop. The Prisoner is one of those shows a person would think shouldn't be remade: and yet it has been. Sort of.
When I first heard that a Prisoner mini-series starring Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, The Thin Red Line and The Count of Monte Cristo) and Ian McKellen was being made, I had my reservations. However, I decided to reserve judgement asidefrom asserting that it was really not a show that needed to be remade. Unlike a show such as Battlestar Galactica, I couldn't see how someone could "re-imagine" The Prisoner. The original Battlestar was a bad show so remaking it, or "re-imagining" it actually made for a better series in terms of concept, writing, casting, acting and even the music.
Remaking or "re-imagining" The Prisoner is a trickier proposition. First, you are dealing with a how that is considered a classic of the medium, of science fiction and even spy fiction. The Prisoner wasn't a slapped together program to run between adveristments, it was apersonal work with one direction and one agenda. Regardles of how receive the message of the series, it has one and it tries to force to the viewer to think about it. People discuss it, hash it out, puzzle over it with one another. The original Battlestar Galactica was what it was and that was extremely straight forward. In this respect, writer Brian Gallagher and director Nick Hurran should be commended for tackling a much more ambitious and challenging project.
2009's The Prisoner will not have the staying power of the original, it will be a footnote, a sidebar in the history of the original but that doesn't make it entirely unworthy. It doesn't attempt to readdress the theme of the original the way the original did - to reassert the same conclusion - but seems (to me) to look at what the nature of freedom and imprisonment is under certain circumstances. This new Prisoner is much more concerned with madness itself, rather than madness as a by product of imprisonment, or as a tool to keep ones imprisonment. I won't say much more, you should see it for yourself and come to your own conclusions.
Not that it isn't expected, but the reviews of the new Prisoner neglect to see if it stands on its own merits. I believe it does.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Francis Bacon Paintings

Sunday, October 04, 2009

RIP Pierre Falardeau (1946-2009)

I was to interview M. Falardeau back in 1994 for his film Octobre, a film criticized for it sympathetic treatment of the FLQ. M. Falardeau refused the interview, and rightly so, as I had not been able to view the film at the VIFF. (I had classes that morning and arrived late to the screening) I had wanted to discuss the October Crisis and its legacy in the histories of both English Canada and Quebec, but he was more interested in discussing the film. (again, rightly so) I did have an interesting conversation with Pierre Falardeau about Quebec separatism and the obstacles to independence faced by separatists within the province. It was a conversation I will not soon forget and I feel privileged to have met and conversed with M. Falardeau.
Pierre Falardeau succumbed to cancer after a lengthy battle with the disease on 25 September, 2009.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Caught by Surprise Again

This will be my second Autumn in Saskatoon - my fourth in Saskatchewan - and it has caught me off guard this year just as it did the year previous. My time in Montreal allowed me to see Autumn at its most regal, the rich reds mixed in with the brilliant yellows and oranges. Central Canadian proceeds in its stately way, taking its own time to show off its colours before the end of another season. People embrace the Autumn there in a way I have seen no one else embrace it anywhere in this country.
West Coast Autumns are reluctant affairs. Never so colourful as Central Canada's, Autumn on the West Coast does its best to live in denial until the truth can no longer be denied. Some British Columbians and most of the would-be British Columbians gripe at the end of summer and look at Autumn as an unwelcome visitor. But the ever persistent presence of evergreens helps the various regions within the province maintain is greenery.
Autumns in the southern portion of Saskatchewan is notable for just getting colder. What few trees they have down there tend towards sparsity anyway, and one day they are just simply sparse. The ground is quickly covered over winter becomes the new and familiar reality. Saskatoon has trees, however. In fact the northern portion of the province has far more in the way of greenery.
Autumn arrives and sets up shop quickly while no one is paying attention. Too late for protests, to late for organized dissent, too late for one last day of summer - Autumn has come to do a job and will soon be on its way. Trees that were green and full one day are stripped and near empty two days later. In Spring, the leaves are born reluctantly maybe even grudgingly. Sour from Winter's hold on the landscape, trees are slow to trust the changing of the seasons here. Maybe that is why Autumn needs to work so quickly?
So I am caught by surprise again and probably not for the last time.