THE OFFICIAL BLOG OF THE LANCE, THE UNIVERSITY OF WINDSOR STUDENT NEWSPAPER:
NEWS, REVIEWS AND COMMENTARY, COURTESY OF THE PAPER TRAIL

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Home for the Holidays

One wedding reception.
One trip to Devonshire.
One walk around the 'Burg.
One incorrect bottle of perfume purchased [Coco Chanel, Chanel No. 5, like I'm to know the difference!?].
One Xbox 360 received [thank you, baby].
Three rounds of Assasin's Creed.
One game of Chinese Checkers with Lady's nephews.
Two turkey dinners.
One night of stories on my grandfather's driving habits and the terrors that were Papa Trail and his brothers.
One 4.30 a.m. wake up call.
One 6.00 a.m. train departure, almost missed.
One 11.30 a.m. arrival at home.
One 1.00 - 9.00 shift at work.
One cat mewling upstairs in neighbour's apartment.
One failed attempt to connect to Xbox Live.
One blog entry.

It was a wonderful holiday, Windsor. Just over too quick. We'll try to get things back to normal around here in a couple days, once I recover.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Special Episode

What with all the talk of videogames lately, and the holiday season, I came across a sort of touching synergy of both. No snark, just genuinely moved. It's the holidays, they do it to me every year.

Animal Crossing is tragic.

Heed the message, Windsor. And enjoy your holidays.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Quick like Bunnies

It's our last day in town, Windsor, and I have to work from four until midnight. So, we move fast.

The bankruptcy trustee for the Capitol Theatre, closed since March, has opened the doors and is entertaining bids for performances, despite objections from city administration.

Stephen Harper wishes you a happy holiday and reminds you sternly that harsh economic changes are looming on the horizon, from the fallout of the struggling US economy and from upcoming industry changes designed to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Always cheery, that one.

Come January, I'll finally know what the hell is going on in the world again as The Daily Show and Colbert Report return to air without their writers, joining the rest of the late night talk shows, who will be returning on January 2. Stewart and Colbert return January 7.

Ever wonder why Tiny Tim in 'A Christmas Carol' had that limp and crutch? Now you know. Or at least, you have theories.

Off to shop, Windsor!

Early Christmas Present

Pitchfork reports a new Portishead album is expected this April.

Thank-you, Jesus.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Is this where Wolverine slept?

This is Casa Loma. They filmed portions of X-Men there. It is also where Lady Trail's staff party was held. It featured beautiful decor, maple glazed salmon, some sort of gigantic roast that looked like it came off a Tauntaun, an eight piece band playing uptempo soul favourites and an open bar, complete with all the Stella Artois you could handle.

Life is a-okay sometimes, Windsor.

Unless you're a Jewish law student, in which case you will no longer have classes canceled on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for the first time in 34 years. Bummer.

Oh, and Gord's got his mad-on again, this time over the case of the Mikhail brothers of Leamington being forced to unionize their single employee. Now while I'll happily go along with any union bashing to be found [due to jealousy and a deep seeded longing to suck from a Local's teat], I love the colours Gord paints this particular picture with: that is, Toronto fatcats don't know jack about Windsor. Sayeth Gord, "bureaucrats will never understand the problems of cities like Windsor while cocooning in Toronto office towers...This is clearly an organization desperately in need of contact with the real world."

The jerk in me says, "Of course they know the problems of cities like Windsor, that's why they left." *insert rimshot*. The arrogant in me muses when was the last time Gord rode the Bloor line? Son, it gets no realer.

And clearly the woman thinks we're getting up early tomorrow to finish up various and sundry tasks we need to do before we head back to your ample bosom on Saturday, Windsor. Good night.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Eff My Life

So get this, Windsor. Not only was I going to have to return the Mac I'd been borrowing for the past year when I return home this holiday season [can't be mad, it was never mine to begin with], but I go to turn the thing on this morning, and apparently my using Adobe InDesign caused the thing to shit the bed. I think I know what the problem is, but don't know if I can fix it without wiping the hard drive completely. Either way, the thing won't boot up properly.

This is not a completely horrible thing, most items I had saved on there could be easily reacquired, but the disparate pieces of that novel I was working on last month are on there, and I find the idea of losing them extremely saddening. And just when I was starting to think I'd taken enough time away from it to come at it with fresh eyes. Goddamn.

Point being, we do have another internet-able computer in the house, so I should be able to give you updates, but I am now sharing a computer with an English teacher who is marking term exams. So things could get sketchy, that's all I am saying. I do my best for you, Windsor.

PS: XBox has taken an early lead, but I think of the Kingdom Heartses and Final Fantasies of RPG and arena fighting varieties, and my heart weeps a little. Developing, but decided soon.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Most Important Decision You'll Ever Make

Momentous day today, Windsor. After Global Morning weatherman Bill Coulter commented on this very blog, I thought things couldn't get any better. Until Global Morning traffic hottie Pooja Handa came into the store today. Guess what? She's hotter in person. The circle is complete.

And apparently I ruined Christmas this year, by deducing what Lady Trail was planning to obtain for me this holiday season [even though she practically invited me to do so]. My lovely life partner, the grandest Lady I know, who is diligently making her way through an endless pile of tenth grade term exams as I type this, was planning on getting me a new videogame console, either a PS3 or an XBox 360.

I adore her. She apparently doesn't like me much, as said purchase will ensure I am not seen for at least the next five months. The question now becomes, which system?

Initially I would have said PS3, for the backwards compatibility, but that's been thrown out the window. As far as I can tell, it's really a matter of, 'What do I want to play besdies Grand Theft Auto 4, since I can do that on either, same with Guitar Hero, Assasin's Creed, Smackdown vs. Raw and most third party titles these days. Of course, I am inviting feedback. I am open to both systems, with a slight Sony loyalty, but nothing that can't be overruled by common sense. Things to consider:

1. I don't give half a damn about Halo. Or first person shooters in general, with the possible exception of Bioshock.

2. I am testy about controllers, and while I am willing to try the 360 controller, anyone who doesn't think the Playstation controller is a beautiful work of art is a fail.

3. With investments of this scope, I tend to lean towards the longer lasting choice. The 360 already has a few years under the belt.

4. I am intrigued by online. Explain to me why I should spend money to play over XBox Live?

5. I will only get one, so don't bother telling me to get both.

The Lady and I thank you both for your input.

And if this post seems lacklustre, it's because the interweb is being a pain in my arse tonight. I suspect connectivity issues. I'll try to get y'all some linkage later tonight.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Nuclear Winter

So where were you when Jack Frost kicked us all in the nuts?

Myself, I left the house about 20 minutes earlier than usual for a 9.15, traipsing through the sideways flying snow down to the station, only to discover it didn't even open until 8.55. On a good day, that would still make me late for work. In a snow squall? Yikes. So I finally get a streetcar down to St. Clair West, only to discover the Spadina line had gone haywire and would be delayed for at least three hours. I wander the station looking for a payphone that works, finally finding two at the grocery store next to the station. I call home on one and have the Lady get me the number for work, then call work on the other to find out what they want me to do. Management instructs me to "do what I can," essentially saying there's no heat for calling in sick, but effort would be appreciated.

I inform the Lady of what has transpired, and she tells me she's driving me in. I hang up and go outside to wait for her, listening to music on my iPod and watching people get increasingly irritated at the state of transit. At one point, I heard thunder.

Thunder. In a snowstorm. I decide then and there that the Lady is not driving in that sort of weather and we are going home. When she arrives, she disagrees.

"If you want to be considered after the holidays, you need to show up today. The roads aren't that bad, actually, I'll be fine."

I reluctantly agree, but what else can I do? She's driving. Highlights of the 35 minute commute include the passenger bus that couldn't get out of a snowbank and the pickup truck that somehow managed to move forward six blocks while sideways. Got into work about an hour and a half late and was applauded as a conquering hero.

And how was your Sunday?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Return of the Real

I have no idea who's responsible for it, but The Lance has some holiday viewing for you, in the form of a behind-the-scenes look at local artist Christian Aldo's opening of the new Pellissier Street Gallery.

Putting together a gallery opening can be a stressful affair, and Aldo lets some colorful language fly to express his frustrations, so consider this your NSFW warning.



Christian's been a fixture on the local art scene since before you cared about such things, and he's still here. So give him the respect he deserves and check out the exhibit, running until January 1, 2008.

And to my colleagues who put the piece together, nice job.

Do Comics Get a Pass?

As we've established in the past, The Trail is a bit of a comics nerd, but quit that biz as a cost saving measure when he moved to Kingston last year. Working at the bookstore now, I get caught up on a number of the quote-unquote "big" releases when they come out, because I can read them on my breaks, notably Adrian Tomine's Shortcomings and Alex Robinson's Tricked.

Tomine's piece was fine for what it was, even if I found none of the characters likable [which I suspect was the point] and he's a skilled artist, but I don't need to spend $25 on something I can read in my half hour lunch break. No harm no foul.

Robinson's book made me actually angry, for a few reasons, not the least of which was the hype that surrounded it. At the turn of the century Robinson put out Box Office Poison, a critically acclaimed longform comic about a group of friends getting their shit together in New York. Yawnsville, right? But Robinson actually told a decent story, which was more than partly a love letter to what he thought comics should be, something I supported and agreed with. Times have changed.

You know what I can't stand in books? References to fake music. I've never found any piece of literature that effectively described music that didn't already exist. It's what ruined Jonathan Lethem's novel You Don't Love Me Yet [a book I desperately wanted to like] and it's what ultimately destroys my care factor for Tricked, his much hyped follow up to BOP. No mistakes, Robinson can tell a great story, but he has this weakness for creating multiple narratives that collide at the end, which always means that some narratives work better than others. Phoebe and her father was great, Caprice's bad choices in love was meh, and Ray's musical block and his obsessed fan was puke. I don't want to read 47 pages of some psycho talking to me about how the second album from some band who never existed is better than the lead singer's current output. Do not care, can't relate. And since Ray's story is the one that drives home the narrative's conflict, this meaningless chatter is the one I have to spend time with, when I'd rather read more about Phoebe and her family. And the autograph forger? Why was he even there? He bides his time in the weakest story so he can jump in front of a bullet at the end. Lame.

As I was setting the book back on the shelf the other day, I was reading the plaudits on the back cover, hailing Robinson's genius and calling the book one of the best of that year. Really? And I remembered similar feelings I had in 2004, when I bought a book called Blankets by Craig Thompson. Blankets was hailed far and wide as a work of genius and the doorstop of a book shot Thompson into the elite class of graphic novelists. And I was utterly underwhelmed, because after I finished the book one lazy Sunday afternoon I was left with the feeling that it was a story I had heard before. Just another memoirish book about young love and finding some universal truth as you enter adulthood. Zzzz.

After a lot of thought, I realized the bulk of the praise for Blankets, indeed the bulk of the praise for Tricked, had more to do with the medium that it was told in. Most readers seemed willing to ignore whatever weaknesses or cliches were in the story in favour of praising the art and panel composition. In Tricked, all we have is another ensemble piece of a bunch of people in New York having conversations the likes of which we've been seeing in film for the last 20 years. But Robinson drew, inked and lettered the book himself, so the story gets looked at with a fresh eye.

But should it? If a familiar, indeed cliched story gets told in a different medium, should those weak, hackneyed narrative devices be ignored? Do comics get a pass?

This is by no means a total indictment of 'alt-comics' [anything not in tights]. I read a good portion of Chris Ware's latest edition of Acme Novelty Library and it was one of the best things I've read this year. But it told a new story! Imagine that. Is that really so much to ask?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Shortest Movie Corner Ever

I Am Legend = I Am Mediocre.

Batman Trailer = A++

Thursday, December 13, 2007

GordWatch: Hail, Nero!

Gord had been disappointing me lately, with his bland little columns on council and the symphony, but give him time, Windsor, he never lets you down for long, and today's confuzzled clusterf*ck of a column is a stark reminder of that.

To start, he talks about a former Windsorite who moved to Toronto [haven't we all?] who returned home for a visit and mused over wings at Rock Bottom [name dropping is how Gord keeps it real. Or how he gets his meals for free, you make the call] that despite rumours of its demise, Windsor's actually thriving! Sayeth the man:

Think about the spending power that's still here, I told my dinner companion. Think of all those folks still earning in excess of $34 an hour, at least until that next round of Big Three negotiations. Think how many people have fat Christmas bonuses burning holes in their jeans. And think how many newly minted pensioners have hit the streets with $80,000 retirement incentives and $30,000 car allowances putting a little more ho-ho-ho in the festive season.

So as long as you're like, 60+ and worked for the Big Three, aces! If you're -30, pack your bags, kids!

Surprisingly, Gord doesn't fail to realize this, summing up the aforementioned point, as well as acknowledging the thunbering beast known as China chasing down the North American auto market. Yet he offers no comment on it. Is that not his job, as the "provocative city columnist?" He merely mentions that Windsorites have their wallets open this holiday season, despite the ticking clock that continues to count down on its stable industrial economy. Is this really the time for subtlety, Gord? You've never had a problem shooting your mouth off before, why the light touch now? An early present for your readership? They don't deserve it. The times they are a'changing, and it's your job as a flipping journalist to make sure people realize it.

For tuning up his fiddle while Rome burns around him, Gord gets a perfunctory three heads,
out of five.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Untitled [How Does it Feel?]

Sometimes, the internet sucks, and there's nothing worth writing about and the only things you want to write about are the irritants of Christmas shopping that you can't bring up because people I shop for read this blog and every attempt to fill the space reeks of epic failure, and all you can do is post a video of some guy getting beaned in the nuts by a pitching machine.



At this blog, quality is always job 1.

Not The State of The World, But Not Not

The Harper government continues to establish itself as tough on the environment, with PM Stephen Harper assuring us there's no danger in restarting the nuclear facility at Chalk Lake, despite warnings from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and environment minister John Baird walking out of a meeting with delegates and activists at the climate summit in Bali.

Saddening: Fantasy author Terry Pratchett diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's.

Merriam-Webster selects the 2007 word of the year. w00t!

Regret the Error gives you 2007's best media corrections.

And lastly for today, since methinks the day is ripe for the Pizza Hut Lunch Buffet, enjoy the madcap, bloodsoaked madness of Machine Girl. Do you need me to tell you its not safe for work? It has decapitations, lost limbs and a drill bra. You've been warned.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Half Man, Half Amazing

When we first moved in here, we were told by both the landlady and his fiance that our upstairs neighbour was an opera singer, professional, but he rarely practiced at home, so there was no need to worry about the noise.

"Even if he did," I said, "why would we care? Free culture!"

Silly, silly me. Not to say it's horrible to endure, or that he does it all day long, but between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., it's pretty nonstop.

Things topping the list of 'Items I Want to Talk About'

1. The loss of Upfront Magazine and The Avalon Front, and what it means for the state of culture in Windsor. Preview: I'm broken hearted about one, couldn't care less about the other. Place your bets on which is which.

2. This 'Golden Compass v. God' controversy.

3. The Trail's 'Best of 07's' on everything from books, to wrestlers, to online phenomena.

But for now, enjoy this mashup of Transformers and 300 that put a smile on my face on this dreary Tuesday morn.

It's Late, Here's the State

Bah, so I'm late. You'll deal. You obviously see the timestamp and how late it is, so we're quick like bunnies.
  • Council decides after hours clubs can continue to operate. Good news for those itching for nudity at 4.00 a.m. Maybe itching isn't the best choice of word, but you get my meaning.

  • Also nice to see some crazypants was wandering around brandishing a shotgun a couple blocks from my parents' house.

  • Accused serial killer Robert Pickton found guilty of six counts of second degree murder. In keeping with my original pledge regarding this story, that's all I have to say on it.

  • Despite perceived controversy, Greenpeace embraces Mr. Splashy Pants. You may as well sign their petition while you're over there. I mean, it is the point of the whole thing.

  • The bill that would give the Canadian recording industry the right to sue all our asses has been tabled. For the moment.

  • Writer's strike best thing to happen to David Letterman's ratings since he moved to CBS in the 90s.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Time is Here



















For the last week I've been developing a serious problem with my neighbours. Everytime the Lady and I come back from an outing, I bemoan the fact that none of our neighbours seem interested in putting up Christmas lights, and those that do put them up limit their displays to one batch of lights on a pitiful looking tree in their front yard. Whither the inflatable Santas? Our upstairs housemates told us someone around the corner had an actual stuffed deer they mounted on their roof! Where is he? I want the Griswold house, dammit!

And I think of home, and my father climbing his rickety ladder, in a pair of jeans and that blue plaid flannel jacket he always wears for winter outdoor jobs, the same one I used to wear when I was in high school and it was the style, despit it being too small for me. And I think of him stretching to pin the lights along the eavestrough, and I wonder who he's doing it for, since I'm not there, and my mom couldn't care less, and the thought of him under a cold and grey Amherstburg sky hanging his tasteful display of lights alone almost crushes me to tears, because I was too self absorbed to help him when I was still at home, and he wouldn't have accepted even if I'd offered, because that's just the kind of man my father is, and I find myself counting the days until I get home for Christmas, even if it's only for a few days. Because as trite as it sounds, once you reach a certain age, Windsor, you really can't keep taking things for granted the way you used to.

Working 12-8 today. News will come this evening, whenever I'm bored with wrestling.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Science Proves It!














Damn, it really does feel good to be a gangster. How do we know this?

























Because it's on the internet! Duh! This message brought to you by Jamphat.com and Sean Bonner, respectively. In conclusion:





















Best post ever. If anyone asks, I was presenting a survey of popular memes in cyberculture. That sounds academic, right?

Festive!



















So Lindsey informs me the ol'print dinosaur's gone on hiatus til January, means I can basically do whatever I want until then. Who's going to stop me? YOU? I didn't think so.

Anyway, I'm about to go spend the next hour or so writing Christmas cards, which the Lady has sternly encouraged me to do in order to ensure they can be sent out in time. If you think you deserve one, and would like to make sure you do, email me. I will gladly spend the 47 cents on one of my beloved six readers.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Quick Hit: Commemorative DVD Release

So apparently Lady Trail is upset that the only mention I made of Snoop Dogg's latest video was a brief mention last week hailing its awesomeness.

"I can't believe you haven't posted it yet."
"I mentioned it last week."
"But you didn't actually put it on the blog."
"Why would I do that?"
"Because people are lazy!"

She's probably right about that. So behold, the amazing awful/awesomeness of Snoop Dogg's 'Sensual Seduction.'



And as an added bonus, when I mentioned how I loved it because it reminded me of The New dance Show on Channel 62 back in the '90s, I was talking about this:



Ahh yes, Windsor. 6.00 p.m., Thursday night, my dad getting home from work, supper on the table shortly thereafter. The New Dance Show. It feels like home.

Not quite the state of the world, not quite a waste of time

Now Wednesday is typically the day when a new volume of the mothership goes online. A quick jaunt over to pastthepages.ca reveals that either Lindsey's being really lazy, or my print compatriots might be done for the semester, which strikes me as odd, since I thought there was always one print edition in December. There was in my day, I'll tell you that.

And I know you're asking the same question you asked last December: Trail, will you still be with us to delight and entertain during this stressful exam-filled month? Of course I will, babies. Look forward to me continuing to keep an eye on things at your beloved institution and city, while reserving a moment now and then to take the piss at Gord Henderson. At least, until the 23rd or so, when I will be sans ordinateur until just before the new year.

Remember, children: you can only live on the goodwill of others for so long. Moving on, since nothing happened in Windsor today:

  • In light of the upcoming reunion show, Slate looks at how Led Zeppelin ruined themselves by writing Stairway to Heaven, and reminds you why Zep are awesome in the first place.

  • If you know me at all, Windsor, you know I hate whales. I think they're important to our ecology and should be protected and respected, I just have no intention of doing that myself. I think they're ugly, and more than a little terrifying. So you know I must find a story worthwhile if it's on whales. Currently, Greenpeace is holding a survey to name a humpback they've adopted. Choices range from Anahi [Persion for 'immortal'] to Veikko [Finnish for 'brother']. Currently leading in the polls?

    Mr. Splashy Pants
    .

    Now oddly, Greenpeace seems to have extended til the 7th, due to "popular demand". Some are taking this as an opportunity to defeat Mr. Splashy Pants in the voting. I would never suggest that anyone who reads this blog ensure that Mr. Splashy Pants is the victorious moniker. But if that's something you wanted to do, you can vote here.

  • Staying all environmental for a moment, Knut, the world's most adorable polar bear cub turned one-year-old today. You will recall that animal activists wanted him killed. No comment, just statement of fact.

  • The war against Christmas kicks off overseas.

  • A cat experiences zero gravity. Where science and animal cruelty meet, comedy emerges.

Sooo so late



















After getting home, quality cuddles with the Lady and a brief glance at my emails, the need to get something on here for the evening is still dangling over my head, and this lovely photo of the St. Clair West station probably ain't gonna cut it.

So why not watch an excitable young boy have his videogame interrupted when the dog starts to hump him? Sounds like gooood watching.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Worldin and Statin

  • Everybody panic!: An analyst with CIBC World Markets says in all of Canada's two dozen largest cities, Windsor's economy is furthest down the shitter. What's exciting? It could get worse! It could already be worse, since the data used in the analysis was from September!

    Looking forward to the spin on this one later tonight.

  • In sports, I thought last night's episode was good overall, thought to be fair I didn't see the Hardy/Snitsky match. Can anyone blame me for that? Thought it was interesting that Kennedy thanked the Razor Ramon impersonator for showing up [an inside reference to Scott Hall no-showing the last TNA PPV]. An acknowledgment that somebody in New York is paying attention? Interesting...

    All in all, everyone took their lumps and nobody looked really bad, except for Kennedy maybe. I like the new flavour Jericho brings to the top of the card, and with the #1 Contender stip tossed into the HHH/Hardy match I'm very interested to see who will pick up that win.

  • Hey kids! Facebook tracks what your doing even when you're not logged in! That technology, it's something else, I tells ya.

  • For all the Comm Studies majors: Noam Chomsky tells us the responsibilities of intellectuals.

  • Interesting: There are nearly as many Canadians with an "unofficial" language as their mother tongue as there are francophones, according to 2006 census data. The data suggests that outside Quebec, French speaking communities are getting continually isolated, while over a million people now report Chinese as their mother tongue.

  • The kill switch, an anti piracy tool in Microsoft Vista that was disabling legally purchased copies [good job], has been dropped. Is there any way to effectively combat piracy, at this point? You tell me.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The World, and Its State

  • I'm thinking this is the same incident that we reported on last month, but The Star has a piece on the poor taste moments going here and there around campus, including racial graffiti and homophobic posters. Campus police is investigating the matter and reps for the U say the perpetrators will be sanctioned by the university.

  • For as much as we talk about America [Florida in particular], I appreciate it when Canada has a good dose of crazy, like this Ontario woman who went on a rampage with a samurai sword. Good show, m'lady!

  • For all the nerds [like me], the viral web game/campaign for next summer's The Dark Knight is taking on Nine Inch Nails-like proportions. Get the scoop on all of it here.

  • Elsewhere: High art prankster Banksy makes a return to Jerusalem; a disappointing case of false advertising; sushi isn't necessarily any better for you than a Big Mac; and Chris Jericho kicks off RAW tonight. You understand why I must go now.

And Then, December

The current reasons why I hate humanity:

Slow walkers. The next person who meanders and dawdles in front of me when I'm trying to get to work better be on crutches, or else they will be.

Mothers. When did moms turn into such assholes? The next mom who tries to plow through me, guess what? I ain't moving! And when your toddler gets whiplash, that's on your ass!

The CDN/US price discrepancy for books. When the dollar's in the shitter, you never ask if you can pay more, do you?

People who can't walk from St. Clair Station to Yonge Street. Instead, they ride past Yonge, stay on the streetcar, and make it stop on the way back. This takes time. This incenses me.

Apps on Facebook. People, I don't want an effing garden, or funwall, or pet, or dirty gifts, or whatever the hell else you want me to play with. Leave me alone, stop cluttering my damn homepage.

People who see there is construction 300 metres from where the lane ends, but insist on trying to merge in the last 15 metres. Lady Trail is already prone to following these people for a few blocks. One day, she's gonna follow your ass home. Then what, chump?

That is all. Consider notice served.