Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Back From the Largest LCBO I've Ever Seen

Let's get a move on, y'all are delaying my mahem.

I'm not going to weigh on the ethics of the massive culling of double-breasted comorants on Middle Island today, but I do take issue with the sentence that mentions the dead birds will be left on the ground. Good Lord, humanity, if you're gonna shoot the things, at least clean them up.

Elsewhere: Gordon Ramsay explains how to make perfect scrambled eggs. The 'Hell's Kitchen' tyrant has been making the rounds lately to shill his latest book. He was up here at the Eaton Centre while I was waiting in line for GTA. Apparently it was madness. And gents, I'm not going to say this will for sure impress a girl brought home from the bar the next morning, but it ain't going to hurt.

A while ago I bemoaned a Toronto blogger who tore down, page by page, a new magazine entry into the nerd/dork/otaku market. I couldn't understand where he found the time. Clay Shirky, author of the hot book 'Here Comes Everybody', tells me how. It has something to do with gin. And sitcoms.

Hitchcock was right!

Slate puts the argument over GTAs sex and violence into perspective. In short: it's not gratuitous, because you can feel the toll it takes on Niko's soul. Deep man, and the sort of narrative not found in many videogames.

Speaking of which, I'm diving back in.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rocking from Dukes to Bohan

The Lance refuses to take the summer off! My man Mike Evans takes you behind the scenes of the UWindsor student production of 'Pandora'.

Rumour has it the next planned video could be my favourite of all time.

Still too early in the game to write about it definitively. So far, glorious. Coolest random thing so far was when I stole what turned out to be a hybrid [must have been a hybrid: it looked like a cool hatchback and went about 40 with the gas floored] and the original owner reached for the door and hung on as I sped away, getting dragged for a block and a half before getting thrown and ragdolling onto the sidewalk. Awesome.

Round Two

The Government: 2
The Trail: -$1,222
GTA: wins

Nice to see the crowd tonight so civilized, even after the clock passed 12.05 and the doors still hadn't opened. Though if the dick behind me with the vocabulary limited to 'fucking,' 'mother,' and 'fucker,' hadn't shut his mouth I would have snapped. God bless noise reducing headphones.

That said, I'm too damn tired to play it. So right now, all I know is the transit system is larger than Toronto's. I'll get back to you after tomorrow's session.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Bitter with the Sweet

On the one hand, in a scant 14 hours I'll be lined up outside the Yorkdale EB Games to pick up that thing I may have mentioned once or twice. Midnight release, and all. I'll try to snap some video, provided the crowd in attendance is a nerdy crowd and not a thug/mook crowd.

On the other, before I do that I need to swing by the local discount public accountant and file my taxes. Not saying I'm an expert, but I'm guesstimating they will tell me I owe the government about $1,500. Thank you for not taking off any taxes this year, Lance!

Throw in a closing shift at work today and that doesn't leave me with a lot of time to give you what you need, Windsor. And not to get all 'Hogtown is the centre o the universe' on you, but I don't know what happened this weekend that would come close to the sheer horror of the TTC walking off the job with an hour's notice on a Friday night. We were at a friend's house downtown for a Guitar Hero party [important note: we never go anywhere at night, unless it's around the corner to Blockbuster] when someone got a text at 11.30 saying the TTC was back on strike at midnight. Thankfully one of my associates gave us a ride all the way back to our neighbourhood, even though they lived on the other side of the city, but if no one had gotten a text or phone call, we would have wandered off like nothing was wrong.

There's no point in even going into it, it's been well established all over that it was a bullshit move by the union, no one needs me to reiterate it.

Anyhoo, just wanted you to know why today's content might be a little light, owing to my busy schedule. That said, I'm off to get my reaming by the government. I'll be sure to update you later with our annual Rick Mercer video on the subject.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Last Word: Perfection?

IGN seems to think so.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Crushed Under Hype

I think all of Windsor should know that on the day of Grand Theft Auto IV's glorious release, I will be working a closing shift. So this means I will pick up the game [preordered earlier this month] and leave it in my man purse until 11.30ish that night. Thankfully I'm off the next two days, but I'm supposed to go to some club night for a coworker's birthday, robbing me of more valuable gaming time.

Honestly, do people not understand? Safe to say, Tuesday night I'll be seeing the sun come up.

So what's the hype machine have for us today? Well, lots. I won't bore you with all of it [you can hear the radios of passing cars!! jazz and chillout radio stations!!] but for now, I'll just content myself to share with you a video I had missed on the site, an advert for the Steinway Gardens drinking establishment.

What to Do All Summer?!?

I just swung by the ol' Save Our Pub Facebook group for the first time in months and noticed two things:

1) Someone mentions the place getting trashed on its last night of operation. Anyone confirm or deny?
2) The eerie silence and lack of self righteousness in the comments. Oh snap, Kenny B. must have gone home for the summer. *ba-dum psssh*

Remixing Piracy

I wonder sometimes, when I go on one of my rants singing the praises of 'free culture,' what some of you make of that, or if you really get what the motivations are. I suspect some among you might think that proponents of free culture are looking for a free for all, a grab bag mentality where anything can be stolen and misrepresented as the work of the thief. This is how the word 'piracy' gets bandied about, which is accurate, albeit misleading. It is piracy [outlaw types go outside the system to obtain what they want] but it is also, as Matt Mason's The Pirate's Dilemma points out, a remix.

I still maintain Mason's book has a bit of a brochure feel [it could have been a couple magazine articles and gotten all the points across; after 150 pages it starts to feel like the point gets beleaguered], he devotes an entire chapter to how the idea of the remix has permeated more aspects of art and culture than you think. From Jamaican record producers putting instrumental b-sides on their singles so the sound system MCs could work the crowd more easily, to the 12-inch extended disco mix, to Kool Herc setting up two copies of the same record so he could just play the breaks the crowd liked, remixing has always been a part of reggae and hip-hop, but Mason points out that even Paul McCartney admitted he once nicked a bassline from an old Chuck Berry tune for an early Beatles song. Is anyone upset that he did?

Fast forward to now: video games are being modded by fans into successful spin-offs like Counter-Strike and long running Machinima series like Red vs. Blue and clothing designers like Nigo of A Bathing Ape are remixing Nike's Air Force Ones by replacing the swoosh with a star, outfitting them with garish colours and selling limited runs at $300 a pair. Is the iPod anything more than a remixed portable transistor radio? Same concept [portable music on demand] updated with current technology.

Remixing is not piracy. Yes, there is some yoinking of intellectual property, but the goal is to use the original as a tool to create something new. What was James Brown doing in the late '70s before hip-hop started sampling him? Where would rock music have gone if Paul McCartney hadn't nicked the occasional Chuck Berry bassline? Now throw in graffiti and culture jamming, and public spaces are even being remixed. Blogs like this one remix information on a daily basis, pulling content from a myriad of sources and spitting them back to you in bite sized chunks, all the while increasing awareness of the source material.

Hopefully the growing popularity of the Creative Commons License [think 'some rights reserved' instead of all] will give people more opportunity take old ideas and build them into something new. I think culture's more exciting that way.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Learn to Swim and Eat Rocks

I thought it was important to take a moment to reflect on what yesterday's Earth Day meant to all of us.

Mandatory NSFW warning: contains language. Some of it naughty.

Thank you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Gift From Amy

Ganking this from someone off my Facebook: a video of neuroanatomist [one who knows a lot about brains] Jill Bolte Taylor discussing what her stroke was like.

The speech is from last month's Technology, Entertainment and Design Conference. Being in the field she's in, Dr. Taylor was able to discern what was happening to her and observe it with a scientists perspective inside her own brain.

Eight years later Dr. Taylor recovered and delivered this speech on how the hemispheres in our brains communicate, and what happens when one of them shuts down.

It's a hell of a speech, and even though the touchy-feely 'at one with the universe' stuff seems a little hokey, one lets it slide when one realizes this actually happened to her. Go watch it. Feel better about what your mind can do.


You know if there's one thing Gord loves, it's filling his shill cup full of Haterade and going after the U of W with all the zealous, average joe rage we've come to expect from him, but it's hard to fault him for this one.

As much respect as I have for Ross Paul, for all the good he's done and all the hard work he's put in for this university, there's really no way to justify getting over $600,000 over the next two years to go on sabbatical [though I wouldn't say his term was 'pleasant', Gordo. If I had to listen to you blather on about me everytime you felt slighted, I'd petition for hazard pay].

That said, the lack of acceptable rationale from the university admin, aside from assuring critics that such golden parachutes are normal in situations like these, will not sit well. If Ross does come back to teach after two years [hate all you want, the man could burn a trail out of that place for anywhere he wants, but he's staying. That says something], how is that going to sit with his other coworkers on the faculty? How are they going to feel as they run themselves ragged to contend with the next influx of budget cuts that will surely go their way, as their enrollment continues to rise? Will they resent the new boy in the department with the wad of hundreds in his wallet? If not, they're better human beings than me.

The whole thing sucks because it really is a bit of black eye on what has been an otherwise positive term, despite what anyone cares to say about engineering buildings or rising tuition costs.

So you get a pass this time, Gord. Though for such an insider, you could have dug up some original quotes.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Frigging Mondays

Is there anything slower than a Monday? I mean damn, people!

But there is some stuff. PETA's offering a cool million to the first researchers to develop competitively priced fake meat by 2012. This is interesting because the last chapter in the book I'm reading was talking about the need for a switch to 'prize based funding' for cheap third party drugs. Screw patents, screw the mega-pharma's, we'll give you $10 million to the first team to cure AIDS. PETA's running with the idea, to the ire of some members of the organization.

Jessica Rabbit gets 'untooned'. Results...inconclusive.

On the eve of the PA primary, the liberal demigod himself Michael Moore hath pointed his sacred finger and selected....Obama. Shocking, I know.

And my new favourite excuse to buy more books: they lower your heating costs!


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Letter to a Young Rose City Expat

It was during a cursory skim of the Facebook feed that I saw your status: 'M--- is going out tonight! Excited to move to TORONTO!!!'

And I thought, 'Oh Christ, another one? That's all this city needs.'

Don't take it personally. I've always greeted people who flee Windsor with a skeptical eye. Imagine my surprise to discover I've become one.

You don't need me to remind you of the ambivalent history between our cities. There are two types of people in Windsor: you either want to get out, or you resent those that do. When you make return visits, to say people treat you like a prodigal is kind. If you go back, they'll welcome you back, but they'll never forget your betrayal. And once you get here, you may discover that the old orders don't apply. You always were a bit of a scenester, M---. I worry you'll be disappointed once you realize the hierarchy has been inverted and this city does not give a damn about you.

It's the first thing this city reminds you of: how small you really are. Stand on the subway and look at the people around you, outside on the sidewalks as you zip by--they all have lives, friends and families, completely separate from you, and we're all smashed in on top of each other, never knowing even the names of the people around us.

Not that this truth doesn't exist in Windsor, but that city is small enough that you see familiar faces more often. I don't know how anyone can feel like Toronto is their city. Windsor felt mine, even Kingston felt mine, for knowing five people by name. It's been eight months, and Toronto doesn't feel mine. It may never. I've discovered that the best you can do is forge a connection with your neighbourhood: discover the small town in the urban expanse. Accept it with all its flaws, everything it gives you and everything it lacks. Don't get caught up in trendiness, you'll find that current moves too quickly up here. If you live north of Bloor, you're not less of a person.

As I write this, I'm sipping coffee on my front porch. It's dusk, Nicole's seated in the other adirondack chair scribbling notes into a teacher's copy of MacBeth. JackJack's in the front window, uncomfortably confused by this new situation. The neighbours walk past with their dogs. No traffic, no chatter, just the whooping of the birds and the occasional ding of a streetcar bell in the distance. It is not the cosmopolitan Queen West experience, it is not the filthy bohemia of Kensington, it's not the highbrow artsiness of the Annex. It is quiet, and boring, and perfect.

But I doubt you want that, M---. You'll want the party to keep going, which is fine, you're young. But don't expect anything from this place. It has no time for you, or anyone else, only its own mythology. The sooner you realize that, the better you'll be.

It's funny, at that Richard Florida event a couple weeks ago, which at times narrowly avoided degrading into a Toronto love-in, and older gentleman in the crowd prefaced his question by saying, 'You know, everyone says Toronto is such a welcoming city, I don't believe that for a moment. Toronto's not a welcoming city, it's just a city that doesn't turn anyone away.'


Friday, April 18, 2008

A Post on Subjects Well Beyond the Scope of this Blog

In the final years before I hit the road, life in the Trail household [Papa, Mama and Paper, that is] were strained throughout, and not just because I was a directionless 26-year-old living at home.

The tensions mainly stemmed from me not approving of certain ways in which Mama Trail chose to live her life, which she has persisted in to this day, and which I still don't understand or really like, but I do my best to ignore them because that's just part of appreciating your parents as people and not just your parents which is a topic for further discussion another time.


During one of the numerous shouting matches we had as we banged heads over boundaries and personal space, she made a comment to the effect of, "I raised you, I did my job, I want to get on with my life." While one could make an argument that this implies checking out of the parental relationship [which I did], what we're interested in here is the implication that Mama Trail altered her lifestyle for the duration of my rearing, and once I was a grown up, she felt it was time to return to who she was before she had a kid. You know, like most people usually do.

But in today's modern times people are less interested in that. Nowadays it feels like parents want to treat their kids like billboards for their own good taste, putting their three year olds in DKNY for kids and slapping band stickers on the car seat. They want to continue living their lives in the fashion they did before they had children, and this is causing some heated clashes up here in the Tee Dot.

Toronto Life has a cover story this month on what they're dubbing 'The Stroller Mafia vs The City,' the idea being the very one mentioned above. Hipster parents are attempting to live their lives in the same way they did before the children were born, live in the same areas, go to the same shops, with kids in tow. I find this problematic.

It's not the actual offspring that I take issue with, kids will be kids and they're gonna act a a goddamn fool sometimes, in restaurants, on the streetcar, in church, wherever. I have a problem with parents' attitudes, and the industries they support, like the one that decided a stroller must now be the size of a Lincoln Navigator. And these moms, carting their kids along on babywhips on dubs, will plow right through anything in their path, because they think they're entitled to do so, and if I don't move, or heaven forbid, get nicked by one of these fools, I'm endangering the precious spawn and become worse than Hitler.

This is the sort of thing they're dealing with downtown here. The Hipster parents are plowing along, taking up the entire width of the sidewalk, impeding the flow of patrons to the sandwich shop counter, making it impossible to move through the aisles of the bookstore. Should a local business post a sign requesting the titanic kidcarts are left on the street....well, nothing mobilizes faster than a mother's group. The TL story mentions one restaurant that is still being boycotted by the hipster mom set for posting a sign stating they only had space for one stroller. One poster quoted from a blog comment mused how had the business made the same request about wheelchairs there'd be hell to pay.

Because they're so the same thing. Good Lord. You want to come down on the business for being inaccessible to the wheelchair-bound, by all means. But to compare the lives of those people to your momentary inconvenience is appalling.

What I don't understand is, when did people start refusing to accept that once you have children, your life has changed, and you need to make adjustments because of it? One mother interviewed in that piece talks of her difficulties shopping at a trendy furniture store on Queen West for lamps. Her kid started knocking stuff over, so the sales clerk asked her to leave. She defiantly states the store has lost her business and that she found similar lamps at Home Sense. And for less money.

I would argue, she should have gone there in the first place. Maybe it's just me, but I envision when I have kids and I need lamps, I will size up the situation as such.

(a)Trendy store cannot accommodate kids. Do not go to trendy store.
(b)Home Sense is not trendy, but has wide aisles and is easier to navigate with children. Go to Home Sense.
(c)I must be trendy. Have someone watch kid, go downtown to buy lamps.

Perhaps this is another reason to hand in my liberal card, but I don't consider it alienation of anyone's rights to suggest that one's life needs to change in order to raise your kids properly. I don't want to change my life yet, so I ain'ts got none. When I do, I fully accept I may have to move to the burbs, eat out at Montana's, attend less book readings, buy a minivan [which we will listen to A Tribe Called Quest in. Some things are non-negotiable]. I will accept that I have entered a new phase of my life, one I wanted to enter, and hopefully will not try to shoehorn the one I left onto the one I'm in.

Though, such country bumpkinsims might be why Toronto and I will never fully get along.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

" is the backwards ballcap of the internet."

Since I think you've all heard me rant on about the impending awesomeness of GTA4 enough [article in the Daily Telegraph here, and the related article which tells us, among other things, that Ricky Gervais will be performing at the Liberty City Comedy Club ingame], enjoy the following math.

Irritating laughing girl + treadmill = pWn4g3

More Rambling about Books

Oh shut up, you're in finals, you prefer lighter fare.

Currently reading Matt Mason's The Pirate's Dilemma, a pleasant if flimsy little social history on how piracy has shaped the biggest movements in recent cultural history. It's been fleshing out a lot of things I was already superficially aware of [the creation of Sealand, how The Pirate Bay continues to operate, etc], but if you're already immersed in this sort of talk on a regular basis, there's not much there for you. But if the emerging world of free culture is new to you, it's a fun, light primer on how we got here, and what the future might bring us.

Downloading sneakers to 3D printers? Interesting....

You may notice that Mason's book was not in that photo of my reading stack I took the other week. I have no regrets. Plus, there are hardcovers by Cory Doctorow and Jose Saramago in the bargain bin. How am I to fight that, Windsor?

Aside: if I hadn't mentioned it yet, Alice LaPlante's 'The Making of a Story' is officially the greatest book on creative writing I've ever read. It's like the expanded director's cut of Prose's 'Reading Like a Writer,' giving you pointers and then giving you the full text of stories that do it well, so you get a kickass short story anthology as well as a guide from someone who's taught creative writing at Stanford for years. It's the last book I'll be buying on the subject. Time to get to it.

In other news, I know I spend a lot of time here bemoaning the state of the publishing industry [note I said the publishing industry, not the book retail industry, Big Brother], but when you see what people buy....ack.

Take Kevin Trudeau for example. The man has been indicted for fraud, larceny, misrepresentation, and on and on. But the guy can self-publish his books on the natural cures 'they' don't want you to know about, washing his hands of his own products with a disclaimer telling you, 'the man doesn't want you to know about these miraculous cures! I've seen the results! But I'm not a doctor, so if you take them unsupervised, it's your own damn fault.'

But by God, they sell! Trudeau knows if there's one great way to make money, it's to prey on people's fears, and there's few things people are more afraid of than death. So bust out the snake oil.

Nevermind the cult of Oprah. I swear, Windsor, you have no idea the power this woman wields. If she mentions a single book on her show, even in passing, we will sell at least 60 copies. On a Monday morning. With inclement weather. And everything she shills is a variation on the Law of Attraction hooey, that argues if you think happy thoughts, you'll get whatever you want. And who doesn't want whatever they want?!

This isn't even taking the manga fans into account.

I know someone in my line of work shouldn't complain about the people who buy the product, or about the product itself, since one Eckhart Tolle blockbuster can finance Penguin's entire fiction line the next year, but it's so disheartening. I should be happy to see literacy in action, but Good Lord sometimes I want to smack these people with a copy of Pynchon. Not because I like him, because 'Gravity's Rainbow' is heavy.

Recommend me some books, Windsor!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Butt Naked With Glitter and a Beeper

While I appreciate the complaints over the new server uniforms at the casino [soon to be Caesar's], this quote gave me pause:
"The skirt is really, really short. The top is very low-cut. It looks more like a tennis skirt with slits in the front and back where you have to wear panties underneath. So, if you have to wear panties underneath you know it's too short."
Umm...if you have to wear panties, it's too short? Sooo, I suppose if the skirt is an acceptable length, it's bareback time?

I like the way you think, Casino Windsor employees!

I missed this when it originally ran, but back in March the NYTimes ran a profile of Al Jafee. You don't know his name, but if you're a boy, you probably know his work.

Jaffee is the man behind the MAD Magazine fold-in, the last page prank that poses a question you can only learn the answer to by folding the page in on itself. Jaffee, now 87, has drawn every fold-in since 1964, and while he uses a computer now for typographical concerns, he paints the rest by hand, and is as on the ball now as he ever was, maybe more so.

I know I'm not the only dude who left a stack of MADs in a drawer back at his Dad's garage with the back covers creased, so respect to the man who made me feel realize laughter was so much better when it felt illicit.

And now, terror!

In 1999 Nicholas White, a Business Week employee, decided to head downstairs for a smoke. He ended up trapped in the elevator for 41 hours. The New Yorker gives you a time lapse video of his entire ordeal.

Finally, one I meant to use last week, since it brought Lady Trail such happiness, but here it is now: the incredible Erykah Badu, letting all the young ladies know how to make it in the music business.

This and That

Look people, I know I've been a tad outspoken on what I think of Qu Li, the puppy beating U of W student. And I know a lot of you are upset as well, but please, the brighter among you, take a moment to realize that just because the phone book says 'Li Q' doesn't necessarily mean it's the same person, and you're not only upsetting some innocent people, you're making the city look bad as a whole. Knock it off.

Also worth noting in today's Star, Marty Gervais has another column about a Windsor boxer. Gervais does lots of things well, but writing about boxing is a particular strong suit. Check it out.

For the snobby designer set, I give you Photoshop DIsasters.

Courtesy of my man Hollywood, the best blog project I've seen in a very long time: Sleeveface.

And just because I'm happy I heard this song used in a recent Cadillac commercial, enjoy the best 90's band you never heard: Hum.

Seriously, Activision? Put this song on GH4.

Tapping Out

Not exactly having a banner week so far, Windsor. I can barely keep my head level to type this. But the show was good, and Lady Trail should be proud of what she accomplished. Though the young teachers among you should learn from tonight's performances: Sometimes, it's just a better idea to not have the high school kids simulate sex offstage. More comfortable for everyone that way.

As I'm collapsing, have a stupid video of a guy dumb enough to check the levels in a fuel tanker with his lighter. Hilarity ensues.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sugar Hiccup

Technical issues prevented your second entry yesterday, Windsor, and tonight I'm checking out a high school drama fest that the Lady directed a piece for. Having worked an opening shift and been up since 5.30 a.m., my focus is on staying awake.

And I should shave. She would appreciate that.

When I return, we'll talk about multiculturalism, or what happens when your dumb ass doesn't know that punching a puppy might be considered....indelicate in some circles [story updated since last night].


Monday, April 14, 2008

Hey Look, The State of The World

Not an illusion!

I really don't care to comment on any University of Windsor student who would beat a four month old puppy so badly it had to be put down, let alone beat it in plain sight of numerous onlookers. Whatever the f*cker gets, it ain't enough.

Also of note on campus today is Uncle Ross's decision to file formal complaints with Windsor Police over the incident at The Basement back in January. Paul also asked the Ontario Civilian Commission of Police Services, an independent review board, to examine the facts of the incident.

Don't trample each other as you race for the lineup, but Health Canada is looking for someone to grow medicinal pot for them.

The kudzu plant: scourge of nature or botanical messiah? The CBC schools you.

This blog's favourite merry prankster, the incomparable Banksy, strikes again in London.

Umm...tell me why Eminem is performing at a celebration for Nelson Mandela?


In a recent column for Entertainment Weekly, Juno screenwriter [and my favourite punching bag] Diablo Cody refers to Vancouver, British Columbia as 'Couv'.

I find that wrong on so, so many levels.

See you after work.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Breaking: The Internet is Effing Nuts

You'd think I'd have learned this after spending as much time on the wired as I do [for your enjoyment, Windsor!!] but between the video game boards, the comic book boards and the anime boards, it becomes rapidly apparent that the internet is filled almost to capacity with people who care with the utmost passion about shit that just does not matter, arguing on both sides.

PO'd the latest Final Fantasy PSP game got a crappy review on X-Play? PASSION AND FURY!
PO'd people question your lone voice of dissent for what has been a universally praised Final Fantasy PSP game? FURY AND PASSION!

Despairing at yipping Naruto fans and their inability to just grow up and fall in love with Miyazaki? WRATH OF AGE!
Tired of the old guard of fandom calling you a Narutard and a n00b? PETULANCE OF YOUTH!

Think the capes and tights crowd is ruining the comics medium? ALL CAPS!
Tired of navel gazing indie types accusing you of infantile and misogynistic power fantasies because you think Death Note is such a deus ex machina piece of crap you couldn't even finish the series AND Chris Ware's artwork gives you headaches? ALL CAPS AND BOLD!

Jesus Christ, I don't understand where you people find the time, and I wish I could summon the energy to get that worked up about....entertainment items?! I barely have enough time to go to work, make dinner, catch up with The Lady, watch an hour or two of TV, read and cough up a couple entires on here, let alone comment on 6,500 message boards and blog posts, or dissect everything I hated about the premier issue of a new magazine by going through each of its 140 pages.

For all the talk of Web 2.0's participatory collaboration, I think one could make a strong argument that it isolates us just as much, and leaves us screaming into a vacuum that Halo's new map pack will be teh r0x0rrZ, FTW!

To the morning.

Exercises in Futility '08

Well, word on the street has estimates for the AGM attendance this afternoon at around 100-120 students at one time, or less than half the required amount to get anything done or make any changes.

I wish I could say I was surprised. But I'm not, and they weren't either. It's how the business there gets done, and it's been the same song for years: they get out of line, whether it's a dress code, or electoral policy, or pointless uberboards for the student paper, or shutting down the pub, and bank on none of you bothering to take them to task on it. So they'll sit and listen to those of you who gave a damn enough to show up and complain [I'm sure his highness at some choice moments, sorry I missed it] because they know it's all for naught. Nothing changes, they head to grad school with a reference letter extolling the virtue and strength of character needed to sit on the exec, and three years from now, you'll have an incoming first year class who'll never know there was a pub there to begin with.

The circle of life continues.

In other news....

In the ongoing push-and-pull surrounding 'who'll buy Yahoo!?', the latest reports suggest the #2 search engine may be getting wooed by TimeWarner/AOL, snubbing Microsoft's repeated attempts to purchase the service and stake a bigger claim in the internet search business. Reprts also state Microsoft might be teaming with [Fox]NewsCorp to make Yahoo! shareholders an offer they can't refuse.

Old school nerd cred: Back when some of y'all were rolling on 20s, I was reading these glorified 'Choose Your Own Adventure' type novels that had a badass with a hood on the covers, required me to choose random numbers from a grid in the back of the book and may or may not have allowed me to pretend I could fight with a bo staff. They were called 'Lone Wolf', a British paper-based RPG. And the wonders of the internets have brought them back from the dusty past.

Ars Technica posts an interesting piece on the extra problems faced by colour blind gamers.

PS: Only three more weeks to GTA4.

Biometrics is the study of finding design ideas in nature. National Geographic presents you a wonderful article on the discipline's development and progression.

And that marks the first time this website has ever [and possibly will ever] link to National Geographic.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Finding my Smile

What an interesting afternoon. I probably won't discuss it with you further, Windsor, but I will say this: never forget that public blogs are um...public. That goes for Facebook, too.

Explains why my traffic was so high, though.

Do I really need to remind you that by the time most of you read this, the UWSA Annual General Meeting is THURSDAY APRIL 10 AT 4.00 PM IN THE CAW COMMONS!!!

I didn't think so. If you've still got any energy left to complain, after the week of Facebook bitching, now would be the time to spit your bile on a captive audience. For real, actually captive. They can't go anywhere.

Another fun class war breaking out on the Star's site over Grace Macaluso's piece on the Harper government's perceived anti-Windsor bias, and CAW Prez Buzz Hargrove's allegation that the Tories would never turn down a plea for cash from Quebec, since they want to make political inroads there.

But the real fun is to be had in the comments again, with union members spitting their bombast and the uber rational white collar types pointing the finger back at the factory workers.

My favourite is the hollow threat from 'Rick W': vowing to clear out Jeff Watson in the next election and never letting a Conservative back in again. Someone should really tell Rick that the Tories gave up the ghost on Windsor-Essex sometime in the 1980s. The loss of one [deep] backbencher in the caucus? Harper's trembling, I'm sure.

Anyway, friends. I'm doing a coworker a solid and going back to open the store tomorrow after closing it tonight, so I'm out. Get to that general meeting, please. You've been bitching for the last month, put it to good use. Not like they don't deserve it.

So in conclusion, enjoy this video of a Cincinnati morning news team celebrating the lack on traffic accidents on a Friday morning by having losing their frigging minds during something called 'Dance Party Friday.'

All my real heads know that one move is not the Roger Rabbit. It is the Cabbage Patch. Represent, represent-sent.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


That Florida post took a long time, and took a lot out of me. So to bed we go, but I shall inform you that my preorder case for Grand Theft Auto 4 is sitting on my desk. So come April 29, you probably won't see me until June. At least. Find me on multiplayer. I'll live blog to you as I run over your lifeless body on a motorcycle.


Who's Your City?

Author and urban geographer Richard Florida with Indigo CEO, Heather Reisman. Remember, when you think books, think Indigo*!

A small and varied crowd gathered at Indigo Bay/Bloor for a chat with urban planner and author Richard Florida, currently a professor at the Rotman School of Management at UofT.

The son of a factory worker with an eighth grade education, Florida has risen to intellectual prominence on the strength of his ideas on the 'creative class', a demographic Florida believes is replacing the traditional working class, something he's argued in his previous two books, "The Rise of the Creative Class" and "The Flight of the Creative Class". Florida's latest work, "Who's Your City?" goes in a slightly different direction, examining what makes a city valuable to different demographics, and what makes a city successful.

The talk was a bit of a meandering affair, moving from his work, to the global economy, to American politics, but started with what Florida considers the creative class to be, something that's been mentioned on this blog before. For Florida, everyone has creative energy that can be tapped and unlocked, something he learned not from artists or designers, but from Japanese factory workers.

"I learned this from watching Toyota," he said, "[workers] told me 'we'll beat the Big 3 because you think [the best] ideas come from the executives. We know they come from the factory floor.' Imagine if we lived in a city where everyone believed that?"

To Florida, the most successful cities are the ones that best embrace the people who fall outside typical quantifiable norms: "Creativity can't be captured in the social categories we impose," he said. "Places that are more tolerant and diverse can unlock the creative energy of the people living there." Such are the sorts of factors that can influence a person's decision on where to live, and whether to move, as 15 million North Americans do every year.

According to Florida, there are three times in your life when you need to take a long hard look at where you live and where you would like to be. The first is when you graduate college, something Florida believes of paramount importance: "I think the decision of where to live after college is far more important than which college to attend." He believes not enough young people consider that if they want to do certain things with their lives, they need to be in certain places. "If you want to work in technology you need to be in Waterloo, if you want to do music, you need to be in a place like Toronto, or Nashville or London," adding that he and his team predicted the musical boom in Montreal a few years ago based on one factor: affordable housing.

Affordable housing is something that weighs heavily on Florida when looking at the next two times to evaluate your place in the world: when it's time to have kids, and when those kids leave the nest. In the former, you obviously want to live somewhere suitable for raising a family, in the latter, you have the freedom to choose again. But he warned that cities function best when citizens choose accordingly.

"I get flack all the time for living in a single family house with a yard," he said, "but I like my single family house with a yard. [People think] I should live in a loft in a trendy neighbourhood. I'd be pretty ridiculous at fifty living in a hipster haven."

He added, "I worry about the Baby Boomers repopulating the good neighbourhoods, putting up expensive condos." When asked by Indigo Prez [and expansive estate owner] Heather Reisman why he worried about it, Florida replied, "I worry about young people being able to afford to live in the places best suited to them."

This economic divide is something Florida seems to worry about a lot, attributing it to the current political climate in his home country. "People who are doing well are more liberal and forward thinking. People who have been left behind are voting for the past. They're saying, 'if I could only get back to the glory days of the fifties when things were good...' They don't want the changes they see," he said, adding that the backlash you see to globalization isn't limited to the developing world, but in France and the US as well: "It's white, working class anger."

Most interesting for our purposes, a question was asked about Detroit, specifically the strong racial divide there, and how to include and unlock people's creativity when such a divide exists. Florida spoke seriously of the family his wife has there, and how the business class has failed the community: "The real tragedy of Detroit is the business leadership. Anyone who can destroy the Big Three...and you know how they did it? They did it by saying, 'We're not going to do it like the Japanese, we're not going to eat in a common cafeteria, we're not going to give up our parking spaces..." For Florida, inclusion is of tremendous importance, and he believes the way the executive class in the automaker boardrooms ignores the men and women on the plant floor is a major reason for their current troubles.

All in all, it was a fun hour, concluding on an optimistic note with Florida discussing mayors, and how he would like them to have more power, because "mayors are the only politicians who think alike. You put a bunch of them in a room and Republican, Democrat, Liberal, NDP, Green, it doesn't matter. Their priorities are the same." When national leadership is failing you, you elevate the local.

So who are you, Windsor?

Monday, April 07, 2008

A Bear Plays Hockey, The Trails Discuss

In Communist Russia, hockey plays bear!

The Trail: This...I don't know...
Lady Trail: No, I don't like this.
T: This...isn't good.
L: No.
T: Kind of sad.
L: This is not monkey on a motorcycle.
T: No. No it is not.

In Brief

If there's anything more boring that the Windsor Star on a Monday, I have no idea what it is, Windsor. Should have kept that Denial vid til today.

I wonder if there have been any studies done on the quality of family time spent online. Around here, at least half of the time is spent seated back to back on individual computers, sharing stupid videos we find or fun facts learned or new songs heard.

[Speaking of new songs heard, you can hunt down the new Portishead album if you're industrious. I can't recommend you do, since that's illegal. But if you're a criminal who chooses to do so, you'll probably like what you hear.]

Nice to see Gord endorsing union workers lube up and take whatever they can get. He calls it 'growing up'. Others might call it 'selling out the values your organization was founded on,' but hey, at least you can keep eating.

I kid, I kid, I'm actually happy for the Casino workers. I've been saying unions should lube up for years.

Heading to an interview with Richard Florida and Heather Reisman at Bay/Bloor tomorrow night. Should be a good time for any of you interested in the ongoing 'creative class' discussion. I'll report back.

Interesting: Prof says students can't sell notes taken in his classes because it violates his copyright to the lectures. Oh lord.

Oh, and everyday this week I'll be reminding you the UWSA AGM is this Thursday at 4.00 pm in the CAW commons.

My plan is to irritate you into going.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Two Things on a Saturday

I apologize, Windsor, I was in a hurry yesterday. If I had done one more round of blog surfs before I left for work I would have noticed that the New Kids On The Block are reuniting.

This is obviously a major event for some people. But Lindsey, weren't you like....three years old when they were at the top of their game?

I just wonder if they'll do 'Dirty Dawg' on the tour.

In other news, The Lance Multimedia team hooks up with local graf giant Denial to talk about the place of street art in the Rose City.

Before I left Windsor, there was one thing I wanted to remember it by: a custom vinyl toy done up by Denial. Never did get it, but it's good to see him still working his ass off and getting the recognition his skills deserve.

Another nice job, Mike.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Not Sure What It Is, But It's Funky

Sorry about the lack of update yesterday, Windsor. Jut too tired to drag my ass to the computer after work. And with Lady Trail coaching a curling tournament near Kingston this weekend, I'm a little underwhelmed with life in general, content to kill a few hours playing Guitar Hero or Beautiful Katamari before lying in bed until I can't stay awake anymore.

While this bout of isolation isn't nearly as bad as last year's Gollum Watch, it's still not sunshine and orange juice.

Hmmm...Carl Leone gets 18 years in prison for infecting his sexual partners with HIV. The ruling judge said he didn't believe Leone is a high risk to reoffend. For his part, Leone said he deserves all the time he gets, and that he's found Jesus. Hope that convinces his fellow inmates, rumour has it sex offenders have a hard time in jail.

If you want to do something cool for your county neighbours, be sure to vote for Kingsville in this year's CBC Hockeyville contest. Last month Kingsville made it into the top five, becoming the only Ontario town in the competition. The deadline for voting is this Sunday at 11 a.m. You can vote online here or by calling 1-888-843-5604.

You know, some say when you're caught in a lie, one of the best things you can do is just admit it and play it for laughs. I'd be inclined to agree, but perhaps not if running for President of the United States.

While I may not be a Hilary fan, I do stop short of what others have said.

And with that, friends, I'm off to work, to furrow my brow in frustration at people who buy Oprah picks and are in-f*cking-capable of putting a magazine back where they found it.

You know, douches, I'm not even asking you to put it back on the shelf, just put it in the basket provided, for God's sake.

As an aside, last weekend I discovered my new favourite hobby: going to other locations in the Reisman empire and belittling customers who do the same shit I can't talk about when they do it at my store. That old bastard at Bay/Bloor who set a pile of a dozen rags on a display table of world literature didn't look too impressed when I asked him if that's how he does things in his house.

Next time, I'm going to find anybody buying a Kevin Trudeau book and beg them not to buy it, because everytime that hack makes a dollar my soul dies inside.

Enjoy the weekend, Windsor.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Pile

The reason I'm forbidden from buying any more books, and the answer to those incessant 'What are you reading?' questions. The Ajee Dunny was a gift.

So that's it. As of today, we are officially done for the year, in a 'covering the campus on a weekly basis' manner. After next week's Arts Edition we go monthly til September, which ought to make some people breathe a little easier.

Except me. I'm always here, children. Watching you. Fear not.

Speaking of that Arts Edition, you still have time to get your submissions in if you'd like to be included, so all you poets, photographers, artists and writers of fiction and erotica, email your
stuff to

Boo Hoo, Only 748 Drinking Options Left

So, when history looks back upon the administration of UWSA President William Ma, what will be noted most highly?

--The police riot at the Pub in January?
--The disastro-f*ck that was the General Election?
--The closing of the student pub?

In the interest of fairness, you can't blame Will personally for all of these, but the fact that they all happened under his watch leaves a pretty damning impression. Lucky for him, when people see the 'Served as UWSA President' bullet point on a resume, nobody calls to follow up on the job they did [and trust me, Will ain't the only one thanking God for that one].

If you really want to watch this pub car crash unfold, join the Facebook group dedicated to saving it [and skim through the arguments for and against], and muffle your gasps of surprise that Kenny B. shows up during every other post. The man's like a hummingbird, I swear, I just don't know where he finds the time.

Much to my shock and horror, I find that his highness and I continue to agree on much of the core argument to close the doors, at least long enough to take a long hard look at the state of things down there. As nice as it is to have the place, it costs money to operate, and it has not been generating enough of it for some time. So the UWSA gives Uniwin [the Pub] a $50K loan every year that never gets paid back. On what planet does this continue to make sense from a business perspective?

People are bemoaning the closing as one more example of the clown shoes that is life at the UofW. "Oh, now we don't even have a student Pub!" they wail, which begs the question of if they'll even miss it. Methinks no.

Pubs are expensive to run, and four tables of multiple students nibbling on one order of nachos isn't going to keep the lights on. The people who eat there the most are the UWSA exec. Why? Because they eat for free, a perk I've reaped the benefit of on more than a few occasions, I admit [full disclosure].

Don't get it twisted, Windsor, you are not owed a student pub. Despite what the college comedies of your youth may have suggested to you, a place to split pitchers at 11 a.m. is not guaranteed you in the UWSA constitution. It was a privilege dependent on successful fiscal management, which for reasons that are your own to speculate on, never happened.

Whether or not you get your Pub back may very well depend on how you want to have it: as a business or a service. As a business, things roll on the way they always have, and maybe with some dramatic restructuring at the management level [like giving someone with more business acumen than running the high school tuck shop a vote on the BoD] one day before you graduate it'll reopen for two days a week.

As a service, the Pub does become something you are owed, something you're promised, because you'll be paying for it. So is your student pub worth enough to you to pay say, an extra $20 a year in tuition? Your call, Windsor, but don't be surprised when money hurting groups all over campus start showing up with their hands out.

I'd like to clarify that my support for closing the Pub has nothing to do with Codling. We at The Lance have had philosophical differences with Jay over the years, but I've always considered him a fine gentleman whose hands have been tied by the current organizational structure of the business he's supposed to be running.

Off topic, I'm pleasantly surprised to see the ire aimed at UWSA GM Dale Coffin. For years, Coffin's acted as what we affectionately refer to around here as the student svengali, advising the executive since before some of you got to campus. Make no mistake, executives come and go, sometimes there are years of history surrounding any given issue; who do you think puts it all in perspective for them? Whose bias is it filtered through? The D-Man. It's a heartwarming development to see the word's gotten out.

Once again [and you'll be hearing this ad nauseum til it happens] but you can voice your concerns, and maybe even reverse some decisions on this and a number of other issues at the UWSA AGM, April 10, 2008 @ 4.00 pm in the CAW Commons.

Put up or shut up, kids.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Conversation

"So, you know I never make any suggestions regarding what you put on the blog, right?" said Lady Trail.
"Well, I'm calling in my freebie."
"I don't recall saying you had a freebie."
"I'm calling it in anyway."
"Okay. So what is it you're demanding."
"Post the motorcycle monkey."
"I don't know that everyone will appreciate the motorcycle monkey."
"He checks for traffic."
"I know, but--"
"He. Checks. For. Traffic."
"All right, all right."

So, because Lady Trail demanded it, the motorcycle monkey.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about the Pub closing down.

The State of the World: Now Fortified with 40% More Rickrolls

Props to the folks at Blogger for totally suckering me in with a Rickroll this morning. I forgot what day it was.

Uncle Ross is going out on top as the highest paid civil servant in the city, raking in a salary of $329,706. But, it is worth noting, as the article does, that when compared to the salary of someone like McMaster Prez Peter George who raked in $504K, it's at the lower end of the scale.

Superior Court rules that if your daughter keeps sneaking off to hang with her drug dealing boyfriend, go ahead and grab her by the shirt and toss her into your truck: perfectly legal.

Apparently you need to be on your guard today: Rickrolling is actually running rampant across the interwebs. And yes, is doing the same thing. Funny stuff.

Apparently copyright holders can succeed where legions of angry Muslims cannot.

Think Geek finally tends to all those who have been left behind by the digital revolution.

Ten stories that could be April Fool's Pranks, but aren't.