Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Nochnoi Dozor, My Grahzny Sodding Veshches

CD in Play: Takako Minekawa, Roomic Cube

Saw Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor) on Monday, courtesy of a free pass for two. Apparently the film doesn't open for a while yet, so a review would be considered to be a faux paux at this point. However I feel like saying a few things. Interesting film stylistically, if a bit lacklustre as far as story goes. Wikipedia has an entry on how the film differs from the book, though the writer's neutrality on the film vs. the book is pretty clear. In many ways this is a better film than Underworld, a convoluted mess of a film that failed even to satisfy the extremely low expectations I went in with. Underworld, was typical Hollywood flash fare - all sizzle and no steak.
Night Watch is a lot of flash and it feels like they were trying to cram 6 television episodes into a film about five minutes shy of two hours, but it was much more satisfying than its American counterpart. But I came out kind of liking Night Watch, despite its flaws and rather crammed and rushed feel. One thing I hope the studio here decides to keep are the subtitles. Aside from that fact that I enjoy listening to Russian being spoken, the subtitles are the most imaginative I have come across.
The subtitles are not merely there so non-Russian speakers can follow the film, they have become part of the style and effect of the film. They bleed and dissolve, move when needed to, get bumped and knocked around, fade out and fade in - and none of this distracts you from the film. In fact, I kept thinking that Russian audiences - with whom the film was unbelievably popular - were unlucky not share the same experience.
The director, Timur Bekmambetov has apparently stated he does not like or is not comfortable with magic. The may well lead one to wonder why he would take on the project, but Bekmambetov does avoid a particular pratfall of his American peers. Americans of late just can't seem to accept making supernatural stories without trying to explain them away scientifically. Magic and the magical and spiritual aspects of vampires, shape-shifters, ghosts can all be catagorized, classified and explained away by science. (or at least science fiction) Underworld is one such film, Blade is another. Bekmambetov may not be comfortable with magic but he allows it just to be, and maybe that is for the best.
Anyhow, it isn't a bad film and I would recommend seeing it, even it is just because of the novelty of seeing a popular Russian film. Discerning critics, curmudgeons and Russophobes might hate the film, but the rest of us should be capable of just enjoying it for what it is. I may pick up the fisrt novel at some point, as I assume it has been translated in to English.
Oh! The give away at after the film yeilded one of the best advanced screening giveaways I have ever seen - a wind-up toy of one of the film's most memorable creepy crawlies.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Conspiracy of Cartographers

CD in Play: Mike and Rich, Expert Knob Twiddlers.

Thanks again to my friend, the ever cheeky Trent V.E. He added to my links and added the clustrmap I was unable to add myself without screwing up my whole blog. Let's see, Thoth is in Taiwan, Trent is up in Dawson/T.R... the blip in the Atlantic has to be my friend Glen in Bermuda. I have no idea who is looking at my blog in the deep south of the US of A, or who might be looking at this blog in Ibiza. (well, roughly the same position as Ibiza) But browsers should feel free to post comments, especially - though not exclusively - if they are friends of mine.

In Memorium

Funny how a thing can stick with you. It is the 22nd aniversary of my step-dad's death. I forget birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, even the dates of death of my Grandparents - but not this. George Gibney died on the morning of 27 February, 1984. He had Hodgkin's Disease, but treatments for that variety of cancer were not as reliable as they are now. It was a slow death. Anyhow, it is something I remember. Usually I try to book the day off if possible, but I start training for a new job tomorrow, so that is impossible this year. I have rum at home so I will pick up a tin of coke after work, mix and toast a drink to him. (rum and coke was his favourite)
He was a good man and miss him very much. He would have been 71 this year.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Homeless on the Range

CDs in Play: King Crimson, Starless and Bible Black

And to start the entry off with a trademarkedly me beginning...
As anyone who knows me knows, I do not like it hot. The downtown coffee shop I was at today was horrifically hot. Even the tiny little japanese waifs had to ask if the heat could turned down, which the staff said they were unable to do. There was only one thing for it, I went outside to have a seat and drink my coffee. Sitting outside is something I enjoy but it does have its annoyances.
Smokers are one such annoyance. I have no sympathy for their "plight". For years people like me (and I am prone to bronchitis) were forced to suck in their destructive habit against our wills in public spaces such as restuarants, clubs and bars. With public awareness on the increase about the hazards of smoking, the tide has turned against them and they have been forced outside. Frankly, I am eager for the day to arrive when they aren't able to smoke anywhere but in their own homes. Aww... who am I kidding? I look forward to the day when cigarettes are outlawed altogether.
Homeless people are another annoyance. (and often they ask me for cigarettes) I feel bad saying that, because not everyone on the street is there because they are lazy. Many of them have serious problems, need a hand-up - to be reminded that it is possible to get back up. It is the rude ones that get to me, like one guy today about forty five years old. He walks up to me abruptly and recites the following in an angry monotone voice:
"Sorry man, I'm unemploy..."
"Ah, fuck!"
He carries on to the next table.
"Excusemecouldyoupleasespareadollarso... Ah Fuck!"
Moves to the next table and is instantly waved off.
"Ah Fu..."
There were other variations of that over the next 40 minutes, some rude others just kind of sad. Vancouver really has become the playground for Canada's richest and poorest citizens. One guy came hobbling up with a pathetic look on his face, hand out and moaning. I shook my head and this shark-like look comes over his face as he quickly scans for someone he can put the touch to. Just as I am finishing my coffee, another homeless man came shuffling up to me. He was probably in his late 60's, maybe early 70's.
"Excuse me sir, do you know the poet Dylan Thomas?"
"Yes I do."
'What's that poem of his? Um... Do Not Go Gently... Into That... Into That... uh... Into That Bad Day?"
"Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night."
"You do know him!"
"Yup, he's a favourite of mine. Particularly
The Force That Through The Green Fuse Drives The Flower."
"Somebody stole my bicycle."
From there we had a not too short coversation about Thomas, Gerard Manley Hopkins and W.B. Yeats - with the occasional non-sequitor thrown in for good measure. He didn't want money, coffee, cigarettes or a new bicycle, he just wanted to talk poetry for a bit.
No real point to this, just a nice change of pace from the norm.

Friday, February 24, 2006


CD in Play: Isis, Panoptic

Isis will be here on the 1st of April at Richards on Richards. It will $13.00 for advance tickets and is an early show, ending at 10pm whereby all the show patrons will be shoved out of the club as fast as can be so the dance club patrons - who like to buy a lot of booze while sleazing up to one another - can get in. The only other shows they have slated for Canada will be in Montreal and Toronto, so my friends elsewhere in the country get the shaft as usual.
As I pointed out to one friend, you can hear some samples (and a few complete tracks) at their website, just click the band name on CD in Play. About the dance patrons comment above. Once, while waiting outside Richard's before a show, I was talking to the club doormen. Dance patrons may spend more on drinks, but they prefer the show patrons - less prone to violence than the dance patrons.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Other Random Thoughts from the Void

CDs in Play: godspeed you! black emporer, YANQUI U.X.O. Iggy Pop, Lust For Life. Stereolab, Dots and Loops.

Being Green Made Easier With the Help of a Few Greenbacks

Ah... objects of childhood affections never die even when they are being whored out to Corporate America. Ford is using Kermit the Frog to promote their new hybrid using the tagline, "It's easy being green". Never mind how long it actually took Ford to actually go green in the first place...
Usually this sort of thing would be mildly off-putting, to say the least, but there is something about that frog that just pacifies me in a way nothing else can. If Kermit were PM, I might never complain about politics again. Sad isn't it?

gybe! A Long Ignored Album

For reasons that I am not going to get into, I have had a hard time listening to godspeed since my time in Montreal. Lets just say, idealists like myself are far too open to disappointments. Elijah bought YANQUI U.X.O and played it for me, since I had reservations about ever listening the band again. It was beautiful and moving with the usual spectacular packaging. I bought the disc. I listened to it for a while and then shuffled it off somewhere.
I rediscovered the CD going through my things. Still beautiful, though in many ways it is just as overblown as some of the prog bands they may deny listening to. Worth checking out though, along with the previous album Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven.
Click the different asterisks for reviews of YANQUI U.X.O: * * * * * *

Dave Chappelle's Block Party, Nochnoy Dozor

I saw an advanced screening of Dave Chappelle's Block Party today. If you have no idea who Dave Chappelle is then I urge you to run, RUN to the local video shop and rent season two of his acclaimed, and now seemingly defunct show for Comedy Central. Season two is much better than season one - featuring the famous Rick James sketch, (as recounted by Charlie Murphy, Eddy's older brother) the music sketch and the revenge of Wayne Brady episode.

I was reminded of documentaries Wattstax from 1972 (which PBS has aired a couple of times) and, to a lesser extent, Festival Express from 1970. Block Party is about an event and is not a comic/stand-up film per se, though there are is definitely humour throughout. I read online that someone was expecting Chappelle to perform skits - if that is what you want, you will be deeply saddened. Michel Gondry directs this affair, though don't go expecting anything like his ground breaking videos for Björk or his feature film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. (one of my favourite films in the last ten years) He films it straight up, documentary style.

The musical performances are solid with an assortment of hip-hop and modern R&B artists being backed by a solid house band with an occasionally shifting roster over the course of the day. Artists include Dead Prez, Kanye West, The Roots, Mos Def, Erykah Baduh and Jill Scott among others. The big surprise was that the Fugees reformed just to play this show. Lauren Hill had been scheduled to play the show solo, but her label (Columbia) would not allow any of her solo catalogue to appear in the film. Dumb move and more proof that the record labels don't actually care about the music and do not have their artists best interests at heart. So the Fugees reunited to play, which I understand was a hell freezing over sort of thing.

Even more surprising, was that I didn't mind the performances. Not a huge hip-hop/modern R&B fan, I like what I like but keep an open mind. I respect artists like the guys in Dead Prez, The Roots, Baduh, Scott, Wycliffe-Jean and Mos Def, but their music is not the first, second or third thing I think to put in over the course of a day. I have seen hip-hop done live and mostly it has left non-plused. The music is often canned and canned music is just a sore spot with me. But the band was really tight and the rappers and singers were dead on.

If you are a fan of the music, definitely check it out. Chappelle fans who don't like the music... if you are a curmudgeon or expecting a big screen version of Chappelle Show or his stand-up act - avoid the film, you won't be happy. I liked it however and am glad I saw it.

This Monday I will most likely be going to see a Russian, super-natural action flick called Night Watch . (Nochnoy Dozor) Pretty much sounds like a Russian take on a horrible Hollywood film, Underworld, but I am willing to give it a chance. It is the top grossing Russian film of all time, so it will be interesting to see for that reason alone. Usually, as my pal Pete has pointed out, we get the more artful and arthouse films from Russia - Russian Arc, Tarkovsky films, the odd classic Soviet era film, etc - but never do we get to see what everyday Russian cinema is like. Anyhow, the plot sounds better than Underworld's and it will also be interesting to see Moscow's cityscape amd St. Petersburg's subways.

Our Porcupine of a Prime Minister

Well, I was determined to allow Stephen Harper a certain benefit of the doubt - it is one of my major flaws. After his victory speech, given the fact he only won a minority and given all the doom-saying after election night, I figured he deserved at least that. The benefit of the doubt has now been retracted and the opinions I had of him before he won the election have been confirmed.

His appointments of Fortier and Emerson alone have earned my scorn, but now he has sacked his communications director two weeks into his term. I don't know why he sacked his Comm. Dir, but Mr. Harper should perhaps evaluate his personal style and choices if he is upset about the negative press he has been garnering. His last campaign did a good job of covering up his previously catcus-like persona.

He should also recognise his hipocrisy in calling for an elected Senate and then appointing an unelected citizen and personal friend (Michael Fortier) to the Senate in order to make said friend an unelected official capable of assuming the duties of the Minister of Public Works. Public Works is a major portfolio, responsible for handling and dispersing billions dollars - do want someone who is unelected and unaccountable to the electorate in a postion like that?

I said it before, but how can anyone how supported Harper coming up from the old Reform/Alliance Party see this as the same party they threw their support behind back in 1987 on up? Harper is showing himself to be as smug, as arrogant and dismissive as Chretien or Mulroney had ever been. Harper's cabinet appointments have largely been perfectly in-step with the old Conservative and Liberal styles - so what is the point?

I am not conservative, but there were ideas the Reform Party brought to the table that I thought were worth trying - such as Senate reform, ethical reform, greater electorate participation and accountability for MPs. I found a link to one of Harper's speeches from 1997 when he was working as a lobbyist. Click here ***

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Het Afschuwelijke, Vreselijke Leven van luie Blogger

Current attire: Shorts, old black military sweater I have since about 1998.

Current Song Stuck in My Head: "Success" from Iggy Pop's 1977 album, Lust for Life. Great album. The Sales brothers were/are an unbelievably good rhythm section. Despite what the Wikipedia link says about this album, David Bowie's influence can be heard all over Lust for Life.

Current DVD: Kolchak, the Night Stalker. I borrowed this set from Elijah. It was a television series from 1974 that lasted one season and starred Darren McGavin. Chris Carter has cited it as primary influence on The X-Files. There was an attempted remake last year but it only lasted 10 episodes.

Current desires: I really need a studio to paint in and a job to afford the materials. I feel like half a person - less than half.

Current book: Just finished re-reading Lloyd Alexander's The Book of Three. First read this when I was six years old and loved the book back then. I still carry a torch for the series of books based around the adventures of a certain Assistant Pig Keeper, talkative redhaired sorceress, furry what's-its, hapless bard and irate dwarf. Disney holds the rights to all of these books and has no intention of doing anything with them - I hope they never change their mind. Disney made a rather wretched cartoon based on The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron. (from which it received its title) As stated many times elsewhere in my blog, so much of what I loved in childhood has been butchered and mangled that I hope these books never get molested again.

Current thing I am looking forward to: Having dinner on Friday with my friend Del and his wife Krista. I knew Del from university. He lives in the Yukon and I haven't seen him in years. This will be the first time I have ever met his wife or his daughter.

Current refreshment: Japanese green tea

Current favourite vegetable: Fennel. I grilled it and then stir fried it last night and had it in a salad this evening. Delicious.

Current ideas: Been working on a couple of possible articles I could publish. One is based on my diatribes about sports and the other is based on my relationship with my baseball bat - a piece I wrote for my blog back in June 2005. Also been roughing out a few story ideas (fiction) that have been kicking around for a while.

Current Complaint: Alta Vista's Babel Fish needs a broader selection of languages to translate into.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Many Thanks

Many thanks are in order to my friend Trent. I am completely inept when it comes to computers. I had wanted to change the look of my blog and add some links, but needed someone else to do it. I badgered Trent since he knows html, etc. Trent, you are a prince among princes. My thanks.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


CD in Play: Pelican, The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw.

Gambling, Sports and the Great One

As you may already know, I don't give a damn about a professional sports. The NHL strike caused me no discomfort at all. Odd though, I really hoping Wayne Gretzky was not involved. I know, I know... how could his wife bet $500,000 without him knowing about it or approving it? I don't know, but just something really bugs me about it. Gretzky always seemed like a decent guy, above this kind of crap.
It doesn't really matter to me, but I do find it odd that it actually bugs me like this. As for the Great One going to Turin, no sweat off my brow or the nations. I ran into the football fan from my other "Randomness" post at the same coffee shop again. He was no ranting on about the whole sting operation coming to light as a way of keeping Gretzky from going to Turin and hampering Team Canada. Hmmm... (roll eyes, ready Scottish brouge, sip coffee)

David Emerson and Harper's Convenient Lapse of Ethics

Remember Harper's victory speech? Remember Harper's rhetoric over the past few years leading up to his long sought after victory? Remember the Who's classic song "Won't Get Fooled Again"? If you don't they had the classic line that goes like this: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. I have been saying it all the while, that Harper would prove to be just like everyone else who takes the reigns - nothing ever changes.
If you have been living in a cave for the past while, David Emerson had been in Paul Martin's cabinet as the Minister of Industry. He was scathing in his criticisms of Stephen Harper, but Harper offers him a cabinet position and - oh, well, Harper isn't the same man he was years ago. Considering just how vehement Emerson was in his campaign, one has to wonder about this abrupt about-face.
Harper's cabinet choices have been criticised by people right across the country, including the Anglo and Francophone media in Quebec who are disappointed by Harper's pandering. Five cabinet positions went to Quebec, a disproportionate amount with one of those appaointments being filled by an unelected official. For a man set on changing the way Ottawa does business, he certainly seems set to go about with business as usual.
Consider this, 80% of Emerson's constituents voted again the Conservative party in favour of the Liberals by a narrow margin over the NDP. Those numbers express the preferences of the riding. Most people went into this election knowing that Harper had more than a good chance of taking a minority - Paul Martin's inept and often comic campaigning was almost a stamp of guarantee. The writing was on the wall, the i's just needed to be dotted, the t's crossed and the sentence punctuated. So really, if Emerson's constituency had wanted to have a voice in government - a shot at a cabinet post - wouldn't they have sent Emerson packing on election day in favour of the pre-existing Conservative candidate?
A Canadian Press story on Yahoo quotes Emerson from an interview on Friday as saying, ""No, I'm not going to quit... we've got at least three, perhaps more, members of Parliament who have crossed the floor or opted to sit as an independent," he said. "Frankly, my circumstances are not any different than those. As, and when, Parliament changes the rules to apply to all members of Parliament, I will abide by those rules." But, Mr. Emerson, you're circumstances are eminently different than those independent MPs you mentioned. You see, they are independent, they have less power (although it is granted that independents have more power to broker with in a minority situation) and less voice than you would have had had you remained a Liberal. They are independent, and the way I see it is that you crossed the floor for a good job and a better pay cheque. You crossed the for you, not for the good of your constituents.
But let this be a lesson to people about the dangers of strategic voting. I have read a number of stories where people from Emerson's riding had considered voting NDP, but decided to vote Liberal in order to keep the Conservatives out of office.
This also has to stick in the craw of anyone who had come into this new Conservative Party from the Reform/Alliance Party. Anyone who went Reform because they were sick of the corruption within the Conservative party has to be wondering what it was all for. Harper's cabinet appointments flies in the face of his personal promises for ethical reform and betrays some of the very principles that gave birth to the Reform Party in the first place.
The Reform was born out of frustration felt by people, mainly Westerners, who were tired of the cronyism in pork barrel policies of Brian Mulroney's Conservatives. A big part of the Reform's campaign in 1993 was to "Clean the Plaque out of Ottawa" - they handed out dental floss with that very slogan on it. A friend of mine commented to me that he would be very interested to see if this causes another split. If this new Conservative government fails to be any different than the party it sought to replace - which seem sto be the case - will old time Reformers split off and try again? Or have they become complacent> Have the become forgetful of what it was they set out to try and do in the first place? Will they stand for their principles or settle for any old conservative-ish port in a storm?

In Adendum - For anyone considering Harper as being justified vis-a-vis a tit-for-tat for brison, Stronach or Grewal, consider well what you are suggesting. That sort of pettiness, is that really something we want to see in a national leader? Should we not expect better behaviour from or leaders? If not, then maybe you need to consider what your real objections to past PMs such as Briam Mulroney or Jean Chretien really were. Both men were very similar to my mind- similar policies, similar avarice, similar penchants for payback. Both men could be exceedingly spiteful. (Mulroney had Clyde Wells, Chretien had Martin) If Harper, as some people have stated, is just getting payback then how different could anyone expect him to be from the others who have preceeded him?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Old Album (and a concert) in Retrospect

CDs in Play and on Review: Metallica, ...And Justice for All.

I have a mission, to listen to at least 75% of all the albums I own. Whether they be in vinyl, CD or cassette formats I intend to do it. No small feat, but I bought them so I should make use of them. There are other better reasons of course - what do I see in these albums now.
One such album is Metallica's ... And Justice For All.
During High School and just after I was a huge Metallica fan. This was Metallica before they released their eponymous fifth album, the so-called "Black Album". For that album they brought in Bob Rock. Bob Rock has always been, to my mind, the master of schlock. He was fine for acts like David Lee Roth, Cher and The Cult, who depended on varying amounts of schlock in order to propel their career. But this was Metallica. The band that defined what good metal was and spawned a number of imitators. This was the band that blew away The Cult on the Damaged Justice tour in May 1989.
Two weeks before the show my friend Elijah and I met the guitarist from the Cult, Billy Duffy, at the now defunct Warehouse Records on Granville Street. He was amiable enough, willing to talk to us and whomever else was around. (which wasn't much, we were the only actual customers in the store) My friend Graham had met The Cult's lead singer, Ian Astbury, and thought he was an out and out prick - tonnes of attitude. Duffy had attitude but was, as I said before, amiable enough. That amiablity ended when the subject of their upcoming tour with Metallica came up. Suddenly he turned bitter and was on about Metallica being nobody and how "the Cult has the following in Canada, they should be opening for us!"
After that it was cheap shots at The Who, who were mounting their reunion tour for an orchestrated Tommy. The "Everybody's Broke but Townsend Tour" I believe he called it. To be fair, he was right about The Who. I saw the show: the sound was horrible and it was overblown and excessive. (not in a great Rock'n'Roll kind of way either) Still, The Cult owe a lot to the likes of The Who, so a bit more respect was in order. Just look at the cover of their album, Sonic Temple: Duffy strikes a Townsend patented pose. The day after the Damaged Justice show, Province reviewer, Tom Harrison's review headline read "Metallica is, The Cult is a Wannabe". The Cult's show was a predictable and by the numbers rock show - Astbury even dry-humped the stage à la Iggy Pop and Jim Morrison. Metallica was just simply better and there was no doubt about who the headliner should have been.
One of the great things about Metallica was that they didn't receive a lot of industry support or regular air play. Local station CFOX seemed reluctant to even advertise the Damaged Justice tour as a Metallica tour. The adds they ran for the show focused soley on The Cult and their DJ's at the time were very vocal about their support of The Cult and not Metallica. Still, ...And Justice for All sold millions of copies in a very short span of time (within 2-3 days of its release, I believe) by word of mouth alone. The band hadn't even made a music video up until they released ...Justice, so they didn't get any exposure from the likes of MTV either. Their first video was "One", a depressing seven minute and twenty-four second opus based on Dalton Trumbo's anti-war novel and film, Johnny Got His Gun. (using clips from the film throughout the video. It was actually considered to be groundbreaking at the time) Much Music in Canada, once a progressive entity, gave it quite a bit of airplay, MTV did not as I understand it. Metallica may be one of the last real DIY success stories in music.
...And Justice For All was the beginning of the end for an era of metal. It came out at a time when hair metal bands - like Poison or Motley Crüe - were riding high but was shortly replaced by bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Ministry. Metallica blew the doors open for a much harder and heavier undercurrent though, and thrash bands from all over came out of the woodwork. I would also say that Metallica opened the doors for hardcore punk/skatepunk bands like Bad Brains and Suicidal Tendencies to build a broader audience. (punk and metal were tightly segregated communities at the time)
Listening to album after such a long time away from it reminds me that ...Justice is a dense album of complicated arrangements, difficult time signatures and lengthy songs. (only two songs clock in at under six minutes) Criticisms of the album's production - exceedingly dry guitar tone, a clicky sounding bass drum, and no discernable bass lines - have some validity, but I have never been that concerned about fidelity. Rather, I have always found that the dry production underscores the seriousness and mood of the album in a way that the richer production of someone like Bob Rcok couldn't have pulled off. And ...Justice is a serious album: from The environmetally conscious "Blackened", to the unconciously Huxlian world of "Eye ofthe Beholder", the anti-war song "One" to songs about James Hetfield's upbringing. ("Dyer's Eve" and "Harvester of Sorrow") Aside from a love of H.P. Lovecraft's work, the band always avoided the Dungeons and Dragons and bimbos and beer related themes that plauged much of the metal of the 1980's. They were the kind of band that appealed to the angry and intelligent teenager that I was.
When the Black Album came out, I made real attempt to like the album. Like most people I liked "Enter Sandman" when it first came out and even jammed on it from time to time, but it burnt out quicly for me. From there the band's idea were becoming more publicly know, and songs with redneck sentiments - "Don't Tred on Me" - just ended up pushing me entirely away. I found myself unable to listen to Metallica at any length for quite some time. (over a decade in fact) The first time I heard Metallica would have been back in 1986, just after Master of Puppets came out. Odd that just short of 20 years from my first experience with the band, I should get back into their music again.
Sort of long. meandering and a bit off point, but hell... it's my blog. Go get your own.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


CDs in Play: Trans Am, Red Line. Dirty Three, eponymous. Boredoms, Vision Creation Newsun.

The Super Bowl, Sports, Faux Scotsmen and the SoBNQGf

As anyone who knows me knows, I don't care about professional sports in the least. Occasionally I get interested in hockey or some other sport, but it is very short term. I do like World Cup and Olympic level competitions, but that is a whole different thing. It was the Super Bowl on Saturday and I went to a Super Bowl party. Did anyone really watch or care about the game? No, it was an excuse to throw a party. It was a mellow event and I had a good time.
Monday. I am out and about hunting for a job. All day I hear disgruntled Seahawks fans grousing on about the game. To be fair, I was disappointed for Seattle as well. I think of it as a brother city. (LA is officially one of our sister cities - a big whore of a sister if you ask me) Anyhow, I walk into a coffee shop on Commercial and this guy is going on and on about the game. He attempted to drag me into the conversation. Guys like this do not comprehend people like me. Sports is everything to them and they have to drag everyone into their obsession. It happens every year during the hockey season. My way of combating this is to pretend I am not from around here. That means putting on the best and most realistic accent I can do, the Scottish accent.

Fanatic: "Don't you agree? That was a bad call the linesman made! That was total interference! Right?! Don't you agree?! That totally cost Seattle!"
Me: "Ah doew'nt knoe, Ah dinna wahtch thuh game."
F: "You're not into football."
M: "Ai, Ah am. Bit tah meh, ah fitbaw's rruund an' yah keck it dune tha feuld."
Dissapointed he began badgering other people. Another example of this was New Years '98 into '99. I was driving my sort-of-but-not-quite-girlfriend (hereto known as the SoBNQGf) home from a night out downtown. We stopped at a 7-11 where a lonely, drunken Canuck fan was doing what lonely, drunken Canuck fans do best: hassle the clerks and customers. Foolishly I went to pay for my goods where the drunken irritant had set up his one man gauntlet. At this point I would like to thank author Irvine Welsh for teaching what little I know about UK soccer.
Drunken Irritant: "Heeeyyy, let's hear it fur the Canucks! You think they're gunna go all the way!"
Me: "Ah've no clue."
DI: "Waddaya mean ya don't know?! Ain't you a Canucks fan?! You ain't one of them Oilers fans, er Toronto fans are ya?!"
Me: "Ah dinna fallow hock'eh at all, mate."
DI: "Huh."
Me: "Ah dinna fallow hock'eh."
DI: "What?! Yuh don't follow hockey! How come?"
Me: "Well, Ah'm no frum aruund hair."
DI: "Where're you from?"
Me: "Scotland."
DI: "Oh yeah? So whaddaya follow then?"
Me: "Fitbaw."
DI: "Huh?"
Me: "Fitbaw... (stares at me blankly) Soccer!"
DI: "Oh yeah! So who's yer favourite club? Manchester United?"
Me: "Manchester!!!! Fuuk thaat! Man U?! Hibs, mate!
DI: "Hibs?"
Me: "Tha's right fuuking own mate! Edinburgh's own! The Greens! Go you Celts!!!"
(**note of trivia: Edinburgh is also one of Vancouver's Sister Cities)

I excused myself and left with the SoBNQGf, who had a good laugh about the whole thing once we had driven out of the parking lot. In retrospect, if a moment like that wasn't enough to get her to love me, then I suppose nothing would have.

Job Hunting

I have almost given up on Monster.ca. The only people who seem to post job listing in the Lower Mainland are job placement agencies. I want nothing to do with them and it would seem the feeling is mutual. Seriously, Monster's Vancouver listing are almost all from placement agencies, especially Angus One. This is not the case in other parts of the country, where people seem quite content to do some of their own hiring. So many people seem to expect pre-trained employees. One man actually told me he doesn't have the time to train people, he has a business to run. So many people around here say the same thing - so who the hell is doing the training? My Conclusion? Vancouver's employers are some of the laziest in Canada. If I had the money I would be out of here in a snap.
Geosomin - do not retire here. The weather is not worth it. Not that I wouldn't want to see you and J on a more regular basis - but let us all plan to retire somewhere else. Spain anyone?

Televised Crack

Maybe it is shameful to admit an addiction to a television series, but I my ego has taken a beating over the last decade so what's one more thing? Aside from Weapons that Made Britain, a mini-series, there are three shows that I am currently "addicted to: the new Battlestar Galactica, Da Vinci's City Hall and 24.
I was in Montreal and didn't have cable when 24 began. Actually, I had a life so I really didn't stay at home much if it could be helped. I rented the first two seasons on DVD lest year and became hooked from there. Still haven't seen season three and only seen snippets of season four. The character played by Kiefer Sutherland, Jack Bauer, is a likable couter-terrorist agent with few quams about resorting to torture. In many respects the show is the complete opposite of what I am about, but it is so damned addictive. Season five hasn't been that strong but I still dial in to see watch the hours tick down to the season's finale.
The new Battlestar Galactica is vastly superior to the old series. Space, Canada's science fiction channel, ran the old series again last autumn. Sometimes you really can't go home again. The old series is riddled with poor writing, poor stories, poor effects, poor acting and a tonne of reused footage. Some of the episodes are fun, but it just doesn't stand up, imho.
The new series is much darker, much more complex. One thing it does better that alomost any show on the air is document the passage of time. (the exception being 24, but that is 24's whole gimmic) I have been able to jump ahead of most Canadian veiwers and am currently up to episode 15. (Space is only up to episode 5, I think) Shot in Vancouver and featuring a lot of outstanding talent from here - it should be said that my dislike of for the city of my birth always takes a backseat to something worthwhile that has been produced here. The mood, setting, cinematography, character development and story arc beats every sci-fi show that has come before it. Sci-fi for grown-ups.
Da Vinci's City Hall grew out of Da Vinci's Inquest, which was loosely based on former cop, coroner, mayor of Vancouver and now Liberal Senator, Larry Campbell. The show also loosely follows events that have taken place in the city of Vancouver. While we have never had an official, regulated Red Light District, the idea has been kicking around here for well over a decade - maybe even two as far as my memory goes.
The show is a good way for people to cut through the postcard propaganda and tourist board crap about Vancouver and get to know something about the real city, a city in decay. A city that has been decaying for a long time under both the NPA and COPE civic parties, but has and is still in a state of denial about it. Many American shows overplay the danger and corrosion that exists on their streets. (see shows like The Equalizer) DVI/DVCH tends to show the city as it really is and maybe even underplays it to a certain extent.
Anyhow, those are my televised addictions of late.

Time to do something good for myself, like go for a walk. After all DVCH is on at 9pm!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Time and Enthusiasm

Originally uploaded by manintial7.

CD in Play: Metallica, ...And Justice for All.
Picture by manintial7

When I left university, I hadn't just burned out - I crashed and did so from very great heights. And by heights I mean a 3.75 GPA (for which I had put in little effort to acheive) and, of course, a colossal ego. I was wasted, depressed and had become fairly stupid. I found myself unable to read for the longest time. Even the weekend funnies had become a chore. I slipped into an intellectual stupor from which I still find myself emerging. Emerging, however, I am along with my curiousity and a voracious hunger for knowledge.
It has been three years since my brain started to find its "footing" again. Things that interest me are really beginning to interest me again. Part of this is having found a purpose and a direction in life. I want to teach. I am good at it, I care about education and the system needs people like me. One of things that had really driven me was Medival History.
I had studied Medieval History in school and loved it. Mind you, I was interested in the history of warfare, which was quite out of fashion in throughout the `90's. Areas students were encouraged to study were areas like the history of the peasantry and the roles of women in Medieval society. All well and good and most certainly subjects any credible Medieval historian should know... just not my main areas of interest.
Things have changed in this new millenium and the history of warfare is back in favour. The current interest, to the horror of some I am sure, has been spurred on by television shows like "Battlefield Detectives" and "Battle Britain". To be honest, they rekindled my interest in the subject matter again. One in partticular, "Weapons that Made Britain", has helped to seriously revitalise my love of Medieval history and the history of warfare. For those of you who have not seen it, or who lack a television, "Weapons that Made Britain" is a five part mini-series broken down into the following episodes: Sword, Long Bow, Spear, Sheild, Armor. Fight coordinator/weapons trainer Mike Loades carefully examines the developments in Medieval warfare and how they were applied in Britain. Loades typically takes a group of novices and trains them in the handling and tactical use of these weapons, in addition discussing these items within the context of historical events. Fans of action/fantasy cinema should watch this series as it makes clear just how brutal and tiring Medieval warfare was. Just like hockey players these warriors would have had to work in shifts. Medieval Warfare would appear to be anaerobic in nature. It should also dispel another myth, that the European knights and foot soldiers were crudely and less rigorously trained, less skilled than their Asian cousins.

(damned formatting errors that won't be corrected) At anyrate, I am keyed up and excited. I want to run out and read and write papers again. All I need now is a job and a means to pay down my student loans so I can get back to school and get my teaching certificate.

blog, lazy, yada-yada, etc, ad infintum

Current attire: Jeans. white socks, old Soundgarden (and see this link *) t-shirt from the Superunknown tour.

Current mood: Enthusiatic and hopeful, so be surprised.

Current music: Shitmix Deluxe, a mixed CD by Elijah Bak made at my request before I had moved to Montreal. Been obsessing over the Metallica covers of "Breadfan" and "The Prince". Other songs I have been listening to are PJ Harvey's "The Wicked Tongue", Blur's "Music is My Radar", Charles Mingus "The Fables of Faubus", King Missle's "Martin Scorcese" and "Detachable Penis", Fairport Convention's "A Sailor's Life", Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized", (the original) and Elvis Costello's "Beyond Belief". However, it has been "The Prince" that I have been especially obsessing over.

Current interests: See post above. Medieval History and warfare, once more. My camera and of course painting - I just need money and space.

Current book: Warlords, and overview of Medieval warfare and key military figures from Europe like Jan Žižka, Bertrand de Guesclin and Vlad Dracula.

Current irritation: Eczema, a family curse from the Irish side. I avoided the bad teeth only to get bad skin.

Current refreshment: Nothing, though I am dreaming of a taro root smoothie with pearls. *slobber* (so I couldn't find a slobbering link)

Current worry: Weight. My fault, I need to exercise more.

Current ideas: If I get some bakery experience, I caould pick up a job at a logging/mining camp which would allow me to pay down my student loans significantly. I just have to convice a bakery to take me on. Elijah and Miriam both suggested that I take tutoring, which looks as though it will happen. My Dad's girlfriend's thirteen year old daughter is having some difficulties in school, so it is falling to me to tutor her. I also need to look at volunteering at local high schools so i can get some time in with the grade level I want to teach. (Grades 12 and 11)