Thursday, June 29, 2006

Brightening Up the Corners

CD in Play: Pavement, Terror Twilight.

So one bright spot is that my driver's license is no longer an issue. No, I didn't just find the money, rob someone or go into debt someplace else. No, my Father, Mother, step-father, step-brothers, step-sister, half-sister or long lost, fantastically rich old uncle didn't pay for it. It just simply went away. Okay, my Dad did do something, but he never shelled out a cent on my behalf. It might also explain my distinct lack of "coffee karma" these past couple of weeks.
For x number of years now I have been arguing with ICBC that there was a mistake made on both ends when I went to cancel my insurance. In all my conversations with ICBC they laid the onus of proof on me, but I had no idea how to proove something like that. Even the legal counsel I consulted thought I didn't stand a chance of making any headway with ICBC, other than the small amount of leeway their representatives were prepared to grant.
Anyhow, the debt had been climbing with interest owed and I was looking at around $1900.00 to get my license back. I don't have the details, but my Dad went in and talked to them explaining it was a mistake and that they were being overly stubborn and punative. They said they would review the issue and get back to my Dad with their decision. I didn't know he had done this. I called today to look at haggling down the debt and was told my account had been cleared. No details, no explanations can be given - but I apparently owe nothing. They also forgot to call my Dad, so it was news to him as well.
So many thanks to my Father and to the people at ICBC who seem to have decided to waive the debt. (Although part of me is still waiting for the catch) It is a weight off my debt loaded shoulders. Now, I just need to secure a job up North for $200 a day and pay down/off my student loans.

** All the jobs that I have been considering - even to get further ahaed where I am currently - require me to have a valid driver's license. OFA attendants need to drive. So apparently do people in Customs and Translink. (I find the last one a touch ironic)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

`Appy Burfday to Me

CDs in Play: Mogwai, Happy Songs for Happy People. Super Furry Animals, Guerrilla.

I'd rather be in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Yes, today has been my birthday. I am 36 years old. Born in Vancouver, British Columbia on Saturday the 27th of June 1970 at 10:23am. I have not been looking forward to this birthday. I am now in the upper half of my thirties and still nowhere near where I ever thought I would be in life.
Now when I say nowhere near where I thought I would be, I am not talking about the house, the car and all the material crap so many people use to fill that void knawing and sucking away inside of them. I do mean a family of my own and a career doing something that find fulfilling. Much of that is my own fault - failure to grasp/face reality, failure to follow through or push harder. Some of it has just been beyond me to control. So here I am trying to get ahead but life just sort of sucks at the moment.
I am having a hell of a time getting a place to live. I have to shell out bucks to ICBC in order to get my license back. I need my license in order to push ahead with the things I plan to do. There are other personal things that I am just going to leave out, but I do hate the fact that so many of my friends live so far away from where I am.
So yeah, I am feeling a bit down. Not looking for pity here, just stating a fact.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

10:23am 27 June, 2006

Cd in Play: Wilco, A Ghost is Born.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Night of the Living Baseheads (Fear and Loathing in South Burnaby Chapter 6)

CD in Play: Pond, The Practice of Joy Before Death. Various, OHM: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music 1948-1980

It had been relatively quiet for the past two weeks at work - not uneventful mind you, but quiet. My comment to one tenant was that even zombified drug addicts must head down to the beach to kick back once and while. The weather has been good and the hassles have been few. It was 32˚ yesterday and not really that humid but sticky, which still makes the heat rather unpleasant. It also signaled a return of the local area drug addicts to site en masse.
I kicked out soooo many people from our stairwells - all of it crack and heroin use. Our parkade has six stairwells and they all get used at some point. I walked into one stairwell to find a guy and woman, early 20's, loading up the pipe with little piss white rocks. Next stairwell I find a guy prepping his heroin for smoking. A half hour earlier I found two 16 year olds getting ready to smoke h in one of our loading bays. One of our local scag hags may, unfortunately, be preggers. I am not an advocate of abortion, but in cases like this...
Other than that it was addict after addict wandering through and hassling people for change or attempting to steal from the shops. The Province, our local 30 second read of a rag, ran a story about BC communities under siege. Sounds dramatic and sensational, but it is true. The whole Lower Mainland has changed dramatically for the worst.
The Greater Vancouver Area of 1996 hardly compares to 2006 - it is grittier, dirtier and far more desperate. Part of it has to do with the the BC tourism's propaganda - the pictures of beaches, mountain and tree swept coastlines, Stanley Park, the carefully selected photos showing Vancouver as a clean, laidback metropolitan wonderland. Desperate people looking for something better come here and are sideswiped by an unsympathetic workforce riddled with crap jobs and little upward mobility, smacked down by oppressive rental rates and by an on-going provincial callousness towards our less fortunates.
And BC borns are not exempt from this by any means. We have had a tendency to look at all that "purdy" scenery too and get lost in, forgetting that it is our responsibility as well to try and figure out a way to get our communities cleaned up. Litter is a problem. In 1998, I remember talking with tourists from St. Louis who were so amazed at how clean Vancouver was compared to other places in North America. And it was true, though Vancouver was certainly not as tidy as it had been a decade or even four years previously. Eight years later and I think it is safe to say that we have caught up with the rest of North America. My fellow British Columbians need to face up to a sad fact, paradise is being ruined and it ain't getting better. We watch the litter pile up and say nothing, while tossing another wrapper, another coffee cup and another plastic bag on the ground. Spitting is becoming an epidemic - you can hardly walk around without seeing gooey pools of spittle everywhere. We let developers and our respective governments destroy our communities and living space all so they can line their pockets at our expense. When we do wake up to the fact of what has been going on, we bitch endlessly about how much things have been deteriorated and try to fight off initiatives that might actually help to curtail the situation.
Consecutive Provincial Governments have been shrugging off their responsibilities to amend this deplorable situation ever since the SoCreds hacked away at Mental health services in the 1980's. Many of our addicts and street peoples are in need of of psychological help in the least instances and madatory psychiatric care in the most extreme. Government after government has ignored a very real employment crisis in this province, refusing to acknowledge the very real loss of substantial jobs which have been replaced by disposibal employment at low wages with little to no opportunities or feasible futures.
Anyhow, this come a long way from my night at work, but it troubles me. A night like last night is troubling because it can only get worse from here. It gets worse because there or only half-steps being taken to try and deal with the very real trouble this province is in. People don't care unless (or until) it deals with "I, me, mine". Governments hack away at infrastructure to cut costs, but at the same time we are cutting own throats.
(at certain points of writing this entry, my friend Gavin - who should have been helping his wife to tuck in their kids - was singing and off key rendition of "Bloggin'" to the tune of Bob Marley's "Jammin'".)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Meme Thing

CD in Play: Värttinä, Ilmatar.

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn on page 18 and find line 4. “As time passed, the Prophet started giving Islam its own unique religious customs.” (Early Islam from the Time-Life Great Ages of Man series)
2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What can you reach? A chair, a desk, three Doctor Who DVDs plus the DVDs for Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Miller's Crossing, Sonic Youth, Sly and Robbie's Superthruster and Donnie Darko. Also Early Islam, St. Basil the Great: On the Holy Spirit and Elementary Differential Equations and Boundary Value Problems.
3. What is the last thing you watched on TV? Something on the Discovery Channel about the Straight of Juan de Fuca.
4. Without looking, guess what time it is? 9:45 pm
5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time? 9:47 pm
6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear? The fridge and the dryer.
7. When did you last step outside? 6:20 pm roughly.
8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at? My feet.
9. What are you wearing? Blue shorts and black t-shirt.
10. Did you dream last night? Yes.
11. When did you last laugh? About 10 minutes ago.
12. What is on the walls of the room you are in? Paint and shadows.
13. Seen anything weird lately? Not really
14. What do you think of this quiz? Could be better, could be worse.
15. What is the last film you saw? Probably that Japanese remake of Cyrano de Bergerac.
16. If you became a multimillionaire overnight, what would you buy? A plane ticket out of this country.
17. Tell me something about you that I dunno. Gavin and Maria's son collects money for the poor. He's six.
18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do? Crush capitalism.
19. Do you like to dance? Yeah, but there is no one in my life to go dancing with.
20. George Bush.#43. Crush capitalism.
21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her? Bronwyn, Eleanor or Eila.
22. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him? Declan, Eamon or Kjetil.
23. Would you ever consider living abroad? Every single day.
24. What do you want GOD to say to you when you reach the pearly gates? Relax, you made it.
25. Five (5) people who must also do this meme in their journal. Betty, Thoth, that person from Iceland, that person from Finland and one o' my pals from either England or Montreal. Hell, anyone from anywhere.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


CD's in Play: David Bowie, The Man Who Sold the World.

Man, finding a place to live in this town is a chore. Overpriced is an understatement. Living in Vancouver makes sense. I don't have a car, I could easily get a transfer to a site there, it's where I go to hang out when I have the opportunity, food is actually cheaper and I would only have to get a 1 Zone pass for transit. Still, rent is out of control so my options have been limited. There are certain areas I refuse to consider living in, such as Strathcona, (too close to the Downtown East Side, Hastings and Main) because they are either too inconvenient for transit or just kind of dicey.
Then there are the people whom I have contacted. In every email I state my name, sex and occupation, yet I have been met be surprise or uneasiness at almost every turn. Note to women looking for house/roommates - if you aren't looking for a guy then bloody well state so in the add. I figured I had a real shot at one place in the Mount Pleasant area. A husband and wife had a space for rent $350, furnished and all inclusive except for the phone. I show up and it gets cold very quickly. I showered, I shaved and put on clean clothes, smiled... what more can a guy do?
Anyhow, Vancouver and the surrounding area has to get serious soon about tackling the issue of affordable housing. Yeah, it's a city surrounded by beauty - but beauty ain't the only factor in livability. With affordable housing we could get people off the streets and in doors. That would probably go a long way to cleaning up the city in terms of the growing litter problem. And people who work in this city, help it function, run efficiently, drive its economy deserve a place tnear where they work that is affordable and livable.
One place I could have a shot is little better than prison. It is a small, small room with no storage capacity. The living room is tiny and also occupied. No room to move around in and tightly packed in and confined is not my idea of livability. Some people would say that I have no options - people like me have to make the best of things and suck it up. True enough given the situation, but that does not mean that things have to remain this way and I firmly believe the can't. Something must be done.
So now I have to consider my options. Gavin and Maria don't seem opposed to letting me stay here for the time being as they pack up to move in August. My company doesn't have sites across Canada so I only have a few options outside of the GVRD. I may look at my hometown of Port Coquitlam or I may try for North Burnaby. Given that I want to be up North working at a remote site by the end of Septembre all this hardly seems worth it.
Photos taken from Wikipedia entry on Vancouver. Photos byThom Quine and Vera. Despite the rather beautiful quality of these photos, Vancouver has always had its highly underpublished ugly side which is becoming larger and uglier. See Wikipedia's entry for the Downtown Eastside.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Series of Open Letters

CD's in Play: Mudhoney, Piece of Cake and My Brother the Cow.

Open Love/Lust Letter to a Stranger

Dear sort-of nerdy, large bossomed woman with glasses in the tight, tight pink sweater, old leather jacket with the faux-fur collar, bell-bottoms and blue and white sneakers,

I saw you at the bus stop today and haven't stopped thinking about you all day. Kind of creepy, maybe, but it should also be flattering. Shouldn't it? Anyhow I just wanted to tell you to ditch that creep you were with. I don't know who he is but I am sure you could do better. Run away with me and let's make strange, mutant babies together. We will have nothing to regret unless we stop to think about it.

Magnus Skallagrimsson

Open Hate Letter to a Smoker

Dear Dirtbag,

I really wanted to kick the crap out of today, you pathetic piece of refuse. It was dumping rain and the bus shelter was abnormally narrow. We all packed in to stay dry and you just had to satisfy the urge. Yes you lit up in a bus stop of crowded people and indiscriminately blew your smoke everywhere. You don't know how close my self-control came to buckling under completely. You don't know how close you came to having that cigarrette butted out in your face. You don't know how much I wanted to grab you and through out into the pouring rain where you forced the rest of us who were too damned polite to say anything. I remember your face asshole and you will not get off so lightly next time.

Magnus Skallagrimsson

Open Letter of Disgust to South Burnaby Drug Addicts

Dear Homeless Junkie,

It must be difficult being bounced around from place to place, I do understand this. It can't be a great existance to have the cops and security watching and hassling you at every turn, rousting you from your sleeping places, keeping you from finding sustanence in the trash cans and dumpsters. But really, isn't all this your choice? I could be wrong, but I am willing wager that no one forced a needle into your arm. I would be right in assuming that you made the decision to hardcore into junk? If that is the case, then it's your fault you are in this mess. With all due respect may I suggest you give yourself a kick in the ass and move on.
I am not unsympathetic. I'm not one of these right-wing, social darwinist dicks that fill the ranks of our unbeloved the provincial Liberal or new federal Conservative parties. I believe and support programmes aimed at helping people like you get off the street, get off drugs and get back on top. I don't mind my tax dollars going into these programmes - a civilized society shows and acts on its concern for members who have fallem off the map, so to speak. Still, it is up to you to pick yourself up. No one can give you self-respect except yourself.
Tired of getting the bum's rush? Stop being a bum. Tired of being a pariah? Try taking a bath. You are obviously a handsome man underneath all those scabs and all that filth, why not capitalise on that? That said, best of luck and stay away from my place of work.

Magnus Skallagrimsson.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Crime Films

CDs in Play: Henry Mancini, Experiment in Terror (soundtrack). The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street.

I like crime films, it is a genre of I get a lot of enjoyment out of. I decided to post a list of my favourite films in the genre, and these 10 films represent my opinion on some of the best crime films that have been put out there. It's in no particular order because I have a hard time quanifying things that specifically, thus this list should not be considered a ranking list

10 Crime Flicks I think People Should see
**In No Particular Order**

1. The Limey (1999)/ Get Carter (1971)
2. The French Connection (1971)
3. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
4. The Killing (1956)
5. Narc (2002)
6. Point Blank (1967)
7. Bullit (1968)
8. Fresh (1994)
9. The Third Man (1949)
10. Insomnia (1997) - in Norwegian and Swedish

There are other films I could have included, but most were made within the last 14 years. Pulp Fiction, Resevoir Dogs, Out of Sight and LA Confidential were wildly popular films. The Maltese Falcon is sort of a cornerstone of film making, but it is an "old" movie and people have this tendency to stay away from films on that basis alone. I wanted my list to cover wider ground chronologically and internationally as much as possible. I not sure whether or not I count the Cohen Brother's Miller's Crossing (1990) as a crime film or, more specifically, as a mob film. It is a favourite of mine, one of those films I can watch repeatedly. However, I put mob films in an entirely different category to the straight up crime film. Hard to compare films like Goodfellas and The Godfather (Parts I and II) to the likes of Get Carter and Narc.

Possible Spoilers Alert. In an attempt to fascilitate discussion but not ruin any of the films for those who have not seen them, I will set up the following: spoilers are in the black spaces between *Spoilers* *Spoilers*. Just highlight the black space and read. *Spoilers* What possible spoilers could I write here? There are no spoilers here so why are you highlighting this? *Spoilers*

The Limey/Get Carter

The Limey by director Steven Soderberg and writer Lemm Dobbs is essentially a remake of Get Carter from 19971, directed by Mike Hodges and starring Maichael Caine. Both films are about a criminal who learns of the death of a family member under seemingly innocent circumstances, (an alcohol related car accident) but don't believe the official version so they head out to investigate for themselves. The direction that each films' main characters take and the ends that they come to are completely different.
Soderberg and Dobb's film is the more adventurous of the two, drawing on a visual style heavily inspired by the surealism of French New Wave Cinema. *Spoilers* In fact, the disjointed presentation of The Limey is an attempt by Soderberg to represent the way memory works, since the film is told in flashback. Memory skips around, refuses to stick to the strict rules of narrative. We remember things out of sequence, memory overlaps itself and the film tries to represent that. *Spoilers* Solid performances from Terrance Stamp, Luis Guzmán, Peter Fonda, Leslie Ann Warren, Barry Newman, Ameilia Heinle, Nicky Katt and William Lucking. Commentaries are worth checking out on the DVD.
I never bothered to watch the Sylvester Stallone remake of Get Carter, but from what little I have seen on television it doesn't seem worth checking out. Mike Hodges' film starring Michael Caine is a very dark study in character. Jack Carter, unlike The Limey's Wilson, is a despicable man who is keenly aware of how despicable he is. The film came out at a time when realism in casting was in vogue in Britain - in other words, there are no beautiful people in the film at all, aside from Britt Ekland.

2. The French Connection

Still stands as a classic to this day. Based on real events, the French Connection is often considered to be the protype of the cop buddy flick. However, the relationship between Det. Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman playing a role based on Det. Eddie Egan) and Buddy "Cloudy" Russo (Roy Scheider as Det. Sonny Grosso) is anything but Hollywood's version. This film couldn't be made by Hollywood today, too dark. The fact that it is too dark is reason enough to see it, but it is an excellent film besides.

3. The Maltese Falcon

Kasper Gutman: "You're a close-mouthed man?"
Sam Spade: "Nah, I like to talk."
Kasper Gutman: "Better and better. I distrust a close-mouthed man. He generally picks the wrong time to talk and says the wrong things. Talking's something you can't do judiciously, unless you keep in practice. [sits back] Now, sir. We'll talk, if you like. I'll tell you right out, I am a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk."

It is sad that so many people have a phobia of black and white movies these days, they are missing out. John Houston's masterpiece is still as good today as it was back in 1941. Sure, dialogue and delivery are a little different than what is produced today, but you have genuine icons on the screen. Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre have no modern counterparts. These people has style and, more importantly, substance.
The Maltese Falcon is classic Film Noir and there is no way my list could have any credibility without it. You have probably heard the name Sam Spade kicked around on film and television and maybe you know why. If you don't, you need to see this film.

4. The Killing

Also in B&W, is The Killing from director Stanley Kubrick. (2001, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining) Been a while since I have seen this one, but it is another examlpe of classic Film Noir. This isn't done in the definitive Kubrick style, it's very much a studio film, but it bears Kubrick's imprint destinctly. Someone said to me once that criminals are losers who go on perpetuating their loses, and The Killing portrays this beautifully. Anyone who goes on about Tarrantino's genius but has not seen this film should hang their heads in shame.

5. Narc

Narc was an independent film shot in Toronto, which was subbing in for Detroit. Director Joe Carnahan has stated openly that he was inspired by William Friedkin and his masterpiece The French Connection, and it shows. Ray Liotta (as Henry Oak) and Jason Patrick ( as Nick Tellis) team up to solve the mystery of the death surrounding Michael Calvess, Oak's former partner. A first class, realistic tour through the slimy underbelly of the drug world. The film is streetlevel all the way, therefore it is also gritty and very dark.
I think it is worth pointing out, that the depiction of the junkies, dealers and low-lifes are very accurate - right down to the gangsta wanna-be white boy. I see these type of people on the job almost everyday.

6. Point Blank

Not to be confused with Grosse Point Blank, a late 90's romantic comedy about a hit man trying to win back his high school sweetheart. Point Blank was adapted from a novel entitled The Hunter by Donald E. Westlake, which was also adapted by Brian Helgeland as Payback in 1999. To be honest, I actually like Payback better than Point Blank overall. Mel Gibson is essentially doing a riff on Lee Marvin's performance, which is the weakest part, but the rest of the cast are great. Gregg Henry's double-crossing associate is much better than John Vernon's double-crossing friend. Maria Bello may be playing the stereotypical hooker with a heart of gold, but she does it well and makes the part her own. Besides, I never liked Angie Dickinson.
So why did I pick Point Blank over Payback? It is the original and it has Lee Marvin. Cold, calculating and unrelentling, Marvin's Walker beats out Gibson's Porter hands down. Point Blank is dated in so many respects, dated in a way that the older films on my list are not. Point Blank's polt-line is also much more complex than Payback's, straight-forward tale of revenge. *Spoilers* The criminal organization in Point Blank is much more nebulous and competent than the one in Payback. We learn that over the course of the film that Walker has been manipulated by one ranking boss in the syndicate to get rid of his internal competition. Walker also never gets his money. When he leaves the scene nothing is resolved, Walker never gets his money.*Spoilers* Carol O'Connor (best known as Archie Bunker) is great in the film, a good match for Marvin's hard-ass act.

7. Bullit

Probably the best film that Steve McQueen ever made, in my opinion. City politics, police politics and ambition all collide to make one honest cop trying to do his job very, very difficult. McQueen's closed mouth Lt. Frank Bullit doesn't need to say much to get his point across, something Quentin Tarrantino knock-offs could have taken note of. When Bullit does speak the audience listens. In one instance, McQueen uses an common expletive, but says it with so much force that it truly carries the intended moral authority.
Solid performances from Simon Oakland, Norman Fell, Robert Vaughn and Carl Reindel. Bullit has my favourite car chase on film, by the way. Most people point to The French Connection for its car chase, and I can understand why. However, Bullit's car chase is a car lover's car chase between classic muscle cars the Ford Mustang and the Dodge Charger. (Futurama riffed on this chase in the episode with Beck) Bullit's car chase was probably also done is such a way to minimise the potential dangers to the general public, unlike The French Connections.

8. Fresh

A crime film that has been criminally overlooked since its release in 1994. Boaz Yakin did his own streetlevel film about a drug courier trying to do what is best for his family. Often lumped in with films like New Jack City, Fresh lacks the glorification of the "gansta" lifestyle as well as the requisite hip-hop soundtrack.
Starring Sean Nelson, the highly underrated and under-used Giancarlo Esposito and N'Bushe Wright in incredibly naturalistic and touching performances. Samuel L. Jackson also stars as Fresh's hard-assed, embittered chess playing father. In fact chess provides the overall motif for the film. See it. Honestly, if you only pick one film from this list pick either The Limey or Fresh.

9. The Third Man

Harry Lime: "Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly."

The BFI ranked this as the greatest British film of all time, and it was the only non-American film on the AFI's top 100. Graham Greene wrote the screen play and it stars Joseph Cotton, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, and Bernard Lee. (the original "M" from the James Bond series) Wilfred Hyde-White also turns in an appearance, leading one to conclude that he was always an old man. The above quote was written by Welles himself, which led one Swiss national to complain that the Swiss did not invent the cuckoo clock.

10. Insomnia

Norwegian Director Erik Skjoldbjærg created a variant on Film Noir that depends on light rather than darkness to set the tone. Perhaps it could have been called Film Blanc? Stellan Skarsgaard is Jonas Engström, a disgraced Swedish cop working in north Norway. He is driven by his ego. When a tragic mistake happens, Engström works sleeplessly to cover it up rather than admit to what he has done.
In Film Noir, the protagonist or anti-hero often woks to uncover the truth from a shadowy, oblique world where the truth fights to remain hidden. In Skjoldbjærg's film, our anti-hero works hard to keep the truth from coming to light. But in a landscape where the sun never sets, that proves to be a formidable task.
I have yet to make it through the remake by Christopher Nolan. (sleep and life have conspired to prevent me from seeing it) Truthfully, I thought a remake so soon after the original was a little shallow, but I am willing to give it a chance. Peter Chattaway tells me that the films main characters are quite different from one another, at least their motivations are.

Skytrain Cops

CD in Play: Mudhoney, Piece of Cake. (not the 2003 rerelease. Perhaps a trade in is in order?)

People in the Greater Vancouver Area (also known as GVRD) made a big to-do about Skytrain Police getting the right to carry firearms. I was mildly uncomfortable with the notion but understood the reasoning behind the move. (this happened before I had even considered taking another security job again) I have heard people from poverty rights groups and cop watch dog groups talk about how they have to put an end to this, even get rid of Skytrain Cops altogether. However, and this may come as a shock to some, I applaud them in the job they are doing.
Time and again they have assisted us on site when a problem has arisen and they were just passing by on their way to grab a coffee. Domestic distputes settled, potentially violent encounters diffused, drug dealers sent packing - all courtesy of the Skytrain Police, who have been very calm and professional in all these situations.
They also share information with us that we really need to know about - stuff that the RCMP's rather secretive culutre dictates we don't need to know for our own good. Our knowledge about certain drug dealers, theives and general trouble makers has improved and we are better able to monitor and safeguard the site.
The GVRD has been getting worse over the years and does not seem to be getting better. It's sad we need armed cops on Skytrain, but they are needed and that is a reality here. A recent Vancouver Sun article claimed that the BC RCMP are short at least 400 officers and many major crimes go uninvestigated. I'm not a cop and don't want to be one. I don't have the training they do and am not qualified to assume thier type of duties. However, we can aid them in many ways. Skytrain cops seem to aware of this fact, thus they are good to us.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Abbra Cadaver

CD in Play: DJ Cheb i Sabbah, Shri Durga. Tabla Beat Science, Tala Matrix.


I have some old games that I would love to play - Alpha Centari, X-Com, Doom II, Civ II, etc. Of course, these games are quite dated now and will not play on an XP system. I also have some educational software that I would love to be able to run again. What's a guy to do? Get an emulator.
However, not being the trusting sort I don't want downoad the programme from the on-line universe. I decided to hit a game shop today and inquire if someone was making a commercial emulator that would allow me to run my old software. First thing out of the girl's mouth was, "I'm not allowed to talk about it." Huh?
The girl stated she was not allowed to talk about or suggest emulators, direct me to websites where emulators were availible for download, etc. I asked why emulator's were illegal and was there such a thing as a legal emulator. She didn't answer the latter part, but she stated that emulator's were considered to be piracy.
Piracy? So it is illegal for me to download a programme that will allow me to use old, previously paid for programmes? How does that make sense?

The Absurd Apparatus

So the contraptions used by Wiley E. Coyote, Wallace, Spy vs. Spy and the game Mousetrap are all the oddball offspring of the cartoons of Rube Goldberg - known as Rube Goldberg Machines.

Above is a Rube Goldberg device from one of his cartoons. (I pulled this from The apparatus is thus explained:

"Rube Goldberg mistakes a lot of broken glass for bath salts and when they pull him out of the tub he mumbles an idea for dodging bill collectors
As Tailor (A) fits customer (B) and calls out measurements, college boy (C) mistakes them for football signals and makes a flying tackle at clothing dummy (D). Dummy bumps head against paddle (E) causing it to pull hook (F) and throw bottle (G) on end of folding hat rack (H) which spreads and pushes head of cabbage (I) into net (J). Weight of cabbage pulls cord (K) causing shears (L) to cut string (M). Bag of sand (N) drops on scale (O) and pushes broom (P) against pail of whitewash (Q) which upsets all over you causing you to look like a marble statue and making it impossible for you to be recognized by bill collectors. Don't worry about posing as any particular historical statue because bill collectors don't know much about art."

Feel any smarter? No? Well, I have the idea for this device that will make people smarter. All need is a shotgun, a coffee can, a badger, a bamboo rake, a fedora, a steaming kettle...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Reformation Now!

CD in Play: Broadcast, The Noise Made by People. Mojo Presents... Trash! The Roots of Punk!

Deep Grass Roots

I just watched Democracy Now! online and they were interviewing Democratic Senatorial and Congressional hopefuls who are taking on incumbent Democrats, like Hillary Rodham Clinton, William F. Galvin and Joseph Lieberman. (story link here) Individuals like Jonathan Tasini in New York and Ned Lamont in Connecticut really make me wish we had some grass roots action being taken here.
Stephen Harper is running rough-shod all over this country and where is the opposition? The Liberals claim they are unable to step-up to the plate because o a leadership race. I see no reason why the Bloc and the NDP aren't doing more to keep this government accountable. In fact, what has happened to the Bloc and the NDP? I read on about the goings on on Parlaiment Hill (or least as much as the media are allowed to report on these days) and it almost seems that there are no other parties in play in the Commons. How can this be when Harper only has a minority?
Harper is media-phobic and seems to be taking a page out of George Dubya's book on media relations. To a degree Harper is right, the press doesn't like him or the majority of his party. Central Canadian media (including privately run outlets CTV and Global) have been very biased against the Western based Reform/Alliance, now new Conservative Party in the past. Some of the bias and subsequent abuse was unwarranted, some of it was owing to the party and its individual member's own idiocy and lack of sophistication. The same applies to Mr. Harper, a man who - despite some excellent coaching - still manages to stick his foot in a big pile before putting it his mouth. Apparently Prime Minister Harper likes to blame the media for losing him the last election.
It galls me that Conservative Party members can still stand by this man in all good faith. He has completely undone the party they had hoped to see in power - Preston Manning's Reform Party - and reveted it back to something like the party of Brian Mulroney. (whom the Reformers had sought to replace) His manner of governing is arrogant, autocratic and heavy-handed - just like former Liberal PM, Jean Chretien. Why stick it out with this guy? I guess reform wasn't the real aim, it was just to get some jack-ass from the West (and more specifically Alberta) in the PM's seat.
I am rambling on and about ideas I have run off on in other posts. The time has come for real grass-roots reform in Canadian politics. Like the progressive democrats in the States, it is time for all Canadians to come together and form a concensus about what it is that IS the most important to us. I say we high-jack a party en masse and make it conform to a new image. Openess and accountability. Democratic reform. Fiscal responsibility that is guided by compassion, genuine concern and respect for society. The elimination of regionalism. These are just general starts to ideas I think Canadians can discuss, places to start that all Canadians are concerned about.

Progressive Sci-Fi

I am quite interested in the new season of Dr. Who as the regular readers will know. My apprehension over the new Doctor has waned as I have visited the BBC website for Dr. Who. There is a creepy new species called the Ood, whom I think owe a lot to the Cthulhu mythos. (see the picture) The website is also one of the best sites I have ever visited for a show. Check out the games section of the site. Not all the games work for me. but I think they have done a good job with them. A lot of shows develop kind of lame PC games for the market, but the Beeb have outdone them all (and maybe even themselves) by offering a variety of free games online. The lamest game is Slitheen Surfer. My favourite game is still the first, the Dalek game. The soundtrack for the game is quite cool and your objective includes killing the Doctor.

The Rebirth of Fate

I find it interesting how many people I know and have met that believe in fate, destiny, determinism and yet either do not believe in a personal deity or in a deity at all. I am a theist, yet I do not believe in determinism, predestination, fate, etc. Not to say that I don't think that everything that happens happens at random or unpredictably - obviously that is not the case. However, I refuse to believe that all things that happen happen within a specific frame-work or plan or are undeniably and unalterably determined by a previous course of action. I also refuse to believe that God is some up-tight micro-manager, having nit-pickingly plotted out everyone's life right down to the most microscopic details and minutia.
Life not going as planned? Fate. Met a special someone and it was love at first site? Destiny. Didn't work out with a certain special someone? God's will wasn't behind it. Cancer? Diabetes? Brain tumor? Pre-determined. Fate/determinism is a convenient receptical/dumping ground for all of life's joy and garbage. Most disturbingly, people use determinism/fate as an excuse for apathy or to wallow in the worst aspects of themselves.
We have the ability to go against the grain, to be something different, act against our upbringing and baser impulses. Fate is best left to mythology and story-telling.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Holy Crap

CD and DVDs in Play: Minimalism (assorted composers). Sonic Youth, Corporate Ghost (The Videos: 1990-2002). Stereolab, Oscillons from the Anti-Sun (DVD).

I am out of touch with much of what has been going on in the Evangelical world since I stopped attending church with any sort of regularity. It is an alien world to me now, odd and kind of unsettling in a Stepford sort of way. I should warn you that this post is going to ramble somewhat more than usual.
The Evangelical world tries to separate itself in an odd, paranoid way from the "secular" world, while setting up a kind of fun-house mirror image of that same world. Capitalism is the driving force behind the culture that Evangelicals fear. There is a market for sex, violence, etc and the marketplace simply goes where the money is. Evangelicals have embraced Capitalism as an almost sister faith to the Faith, made the two intertwined and inseparable. Sins against the marketplace and sins against capital have almost become tantamount to sins against God.
One of the things that got me thinking about all this again was reading an article on Pete Chattaway's blog on how Sony and an American evangelist, Tim LaHaye, are about to produce an unofficial sequal to Gibson's The Passion called The Ressurection. That in itself didn't interest me overly much, it was the tidbit on how LaHaye responded when another film project he was associated with didn't live up to his expectations. LaHaye is the co-author of the Left Behind series with a guy named Jerry B. Jenkins. (check out the terrible names of the characters in these books) The plot of the series was summed up on Wikipedia as "Taking as its premise the pretribulationist teaching of a Rapture which takes from the earth all believers in Jesus Christ, the story is from the viewpoint of those who are not. The initial group have family or friends that believe, and they experience the event having been "Left Behind"."
The series were turned into films starring über-evangelical actor Kirk Cameron, aka Mike Seaver on the siropy `80's sitcom Growing Pains. The first film in the series was released on DVD first and then in theatres and did poorly in the theatres. My understanding is that Left Behind: The Movie pulled in more money than any other gospel film - excluding The Passion - in box office history. Still, Tim LaHaye was unsatisfied with the results and sued the producers for making low quality films and reaching too few viewers. The film grossed $12.5 million on less than 302 screens in the United States, I am not sure what he expected but I believe his expectations were unrealistic.
LaHaye states that it wasn't about money, it was about the quality of the film. LaHaye's people say that LaHaye is at a point in life where money is not a concern. Still LaHaye's lawyer states that the film wasn't a blockbuster (LaHaye claims the film was promised a $40 million budget and received only $17.4) and failed to achieve its mass-market potential. The goal is the number of souls saved, apparently, and not the greenbacks they shell out to see the film. Still it is had to swallow, especially since some of those "lost souls" could also be seen as lost "dollars".
Documentation apparently supports Cloud Ten and Namesake productions, the target of LaHaye's suit. Marketing rights seem to be a factor as well as Peter LaLonde from Cloud Ten showed in a letter written by LaHaye to a third party stating, "I desperately want this to be a successful movie, but not until we have a signed agreement that they surrender all rights to the children's videos which, as you know, were never intended to be part of our original agreement." (See the Christianity Today article)
To Jerry B. Jenkin's credit, he refused to take part in the suit. I suppose all this would not be an issue if Christianity hadn't been seduced by the marketplace - the values would be different, not so driven by the bottom line. Rather than these books and films being valued for their utilitarian function or shifting the focus away from effecient utility to something more artistic and aesthetic, perhaps Christians could be taken seriously if they actually gave a damn about making good art? I didn't see The Passion, but I will lay odds that Gibson's work will have held to far more serious artistic convictions (in that attempting to produce good art is far more honouring to your God than making mainstream, lowest common denominator crap) than people behind The Ressurection could even consider. I fully believe that The Ressurection is just going to be yet another embaressingly simplistic, unimaginative gospel film.

Anyhow, here are some links connected to LaHaye that I found on his Wikipedia page:

Tom Sine writes a very insightful article in Sojourners into Tim Lahaye and the effect that he and his brand of Evangelicalism are having in America today.

Jeffery Goldberg, writing for Slate, discusses Tim LaHaye and Jerry Falwell in context to the anti-semitism that pervades this extreme portion of Evangelical Christianity. The article is called, I Antichrist?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Zip! Kerpow!!

CD in Play: Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Serenity Now!

Hello, to the faithful few checking out my blog for stuff. Will have more up I promise, just been busy looking for a new place to live and working. Have a piece on the need for political reform in Canada - including Stephen Harper's lot - and a piece on this guy from the states named Tim LaHaye.
Work's been stressfull this week still - in large part to a meth-head who's been causing problems on site. Like most meth-heads he's a small epi-centre of chaos from which bad things erupt. Aside from trying to sell his stolen wares and doing drugs in the washrooms and staircases, he has repeatedly insulted and threatened guards and has now taken a swing at my Assistant Supervisor. (note to idiots - if you swing at the A/S you'd better hit like George Foreman or Joe Louis, `cause he is a tough SOB) There are other allegations, including threats to blow up the mall next door while he was tweaking out in the parking lot.
Sadly, this guy had apparently been a good student in school. But now he's beginning to get the lessions on his face from meth use. Like all these people I hope he is able to be reached at some point and maybe get his act together. Anyhow, he's an asshole now and a real problem for all of us on the job.


Anyone name the Seinfeld episode that's taken from? I am looking for a place. Vancouver is so horrifically expensive I have to look at shared accomodations. Some of these people are nuts. Had a guy in North Van going on about how his roommates are forbidden from using the living room - it is all his - and how we must never use any shelving space other than the one we were designated. Great location, beautiful place, crazy, neurotic idiot who owns it.
Talked to a woman downtown with a place in Bute Street (Peter Chattaway's old neighbourhood before his marriage) and am hoping to hear from her today sometime about whether or not I have the place. Big place, old, great location.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Red Line Adrenaline Crash and Burn (F&LinSB Chapter 5)

CD in Play: Miles Davis, Ascenseur Pour l'Echafaud. Mike and Rich, Expert Knob Twiddlers.

Some days are bad for no apparent reason and this yesterday was one of those. I had five different people threaten to kick my head in. First up was "The Preacher", a crazy Jamaican man (and I do mean crazy in a certifiable, double pink slip kind of way) who hates women and open displays of affection, loves amphetamine's and, apparently, Jesus. He's always obnoxious and odd - one day he was handing out twenty dollar bills to people who said they believe in Jesus and he had a stack equaling $500 - but today he was absolutely unhinged.
"The Preacher" was hysterically berating a thriteen year old couple for "committing pre-marital sex" and "sinning against Jesus". When I arrived on the scene he became even worse and I had used the soft approach. I had to physically remove him from site and restrain him so he couldn't follow the two kids. He began waving a cross in front of my face in a manner reminiscent of Dr. Van Helsing in a Hammer Dracula film, convinced I was a Nazi and in league with the devil. He also said I was in league with former Prime Ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, which might mean the same thing when you come down to it. Of course he was going to come back and give me an ass-whooping for God. (I am a very lapsed Christian but I do still hold to the core beliefs, even if I can't bring myself to return to church)
After that I had to deal with really belligerent kids, whose threats don't worry me in the slightest. The last threats of the day were uttered by two scumbags I found drinking outside the hotel bar. I told them they had to return to the bar with the pint they were sharing. They decided to act like hard cases and ignored me eventully giving me the finger. I seized the pint and told them they had to leave. They gave me attitude but were moving off. One attempted to make think he was from England, but his accent was about as phony as it gets. I should mention I had seen them on Skytrain as I was travelling two work and the first thing that popped into my head was, "I really hope they don't come onto my site". *Sigh*
Once outside one of them, affecting his best homeboy impersonation, started to get belligerent calling me "nigga" and challenging me to make him leave. I gave him one warning and he started in on the whole gangsta thing again. I put my hands on him and he freaked, and started to dance around saying "Let's go whiteboy! Come on nigga!" (no exaggeration here) This brought one of our local, real life gangstas running in to help me. Call him C. C is banned from just about everywhere else in town so he is really well behaved on our site. We don't hassle him because his mere presence is enough to keep a lot of undesirables in line or off site all together. (he's also an alright guy) I don't know what he's involved with but I do know he can take care of himself and that he has his own crew.
C stepping up got scumbag No. 2 to settle his friend down and get him off site. Once off site they starting mouthing off and the first guy spat on me. They crossed onto property once C was out of eyeshot and tried to get physical. I tossed them both off and moved in to give one a smack in the gob as he was winding up to deck me. They backed off and threatened to come back and kick the crap out of me. They had stiffed the bar they were in for the bill, but had left a bag full of clothing (scumbag No. 1 was apparently going to the UK) and their ID behind. The bar showed me their ID.
For those of you who don't live in British Columbia, you need to understand that Security Guards in BC are not permitted to carry impact weapons, restraints or pepper spray - to say nothing of fire arms. Back in 1979 two cowboy guards chased a suspect down with replica guns and hand-cuffed him. The papers got a hold of the story and there was some public outrage so the Social Credit Government drafted the PISA Act seriously limiting what guards were able to use, (nothing) wear, etc. Given some of the idiots I have seen on the jon and have worked with, this isn't such a bad thing in some respects. Problem is that times have changed and the world of 1979 was a cake-walk compared to the world of 2006.
My two scumbags did return, but they hit one of our licensed restaurants instead of me. They were using unbelievably nerdy wanna-be cool nick-names and had performed a drink and dash - assualting the manager and the bartender in the process. I shared the ID info with the very interested Skytrain Security and Police and with a mildly disinterested RCMP.
Today was slow, which was good since I am sufferening from the effects of adrenaline burn-out. I did manage to arrest "The Rabbit", my scrounger and thief of opportunity. I wasn't able to scrounge up a rooster suit but it was still satisfactory. He was eating at one of our finer fast-food establishments. I called in the supervisor who banned him for one month, which is really all we can do at this point. The Rabbit was happy, because he can live with one month and he was affraid we were going to kick the crap out of him. I just hope he bathes somewhere between now and July 6.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Out of My Head (F&LinSB Chapter 4)

CD in Play: Tin Machine, Tin Machine II

Many people on the street have mental problems. One young woman on site today clearly had a cognitive disorder comparable to one a friend's little brother suffers from. I am patient with her because she clearly just doesn't register things the same way you or I do. (unless you have a cognative disorder as well. There is someone with whom I have lost all patience.
There is a scrounger/theif of opportunity/general annoyance (who persists in coming onsite despiet repeated bannings. I call him "The Rabbit". He must have a rabbit's foot jammed up his nether regions because I have only been able to catch him once. Something usually tips him off to my presence or something obstructs me from getting to him fast enough. I learned he had been caught in an explosion at one time suffering some brain damage, which placed him on permanent disability.
He seems off, but mainly he is just off-putting. Dirty and extremely cowardly, he panics so much about getting beaten up that it makes me want to oblige him. However, I would rather just make his world a little more surreal and make him paranoid about what he might see and/or encounter when he comes on site.
I was very tired today and was hoping to catch him today. The idea came to me that I should watch for him from the parkade and race to meet him on the ground level. I would pop out from one of the stairwells in a rooster suit saying "Cock-a-doodle-doo! I'm coming for you!" I would then proceed to chace him off site while making ecstatic clucking sounds.
Peter Chattaway's little brother thinks my brain may have partially fused hemisphere's. Perhaps he is right?