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

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sports Update

It's been a busy couple days, Windsor. With two women leaving the house at different times, it was a chaotic morning. The unexpected revelation that Lady Christina got the job on the spot meant a celebratory lunch, followed by a closing shift I've only just returned from. I promise you will get some actual newsworthy entries in the next few days, when something newsworthy happens.

In the meantime, enjoy Mariah Carey tossing the most awesome opening pitch ever, at a Yomiuri Giants game in Japan.



Enjoy your weekend!

French Vanilla, Butter Pecan, Chocolate Deluxe

While without hearing the music clearly, you can still imagine what it's like to have it blaring through the neighbourhood everyday at 5.27 p.m., everyday.


video

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hiatus. For a few hours, anyway.

No posties tonight, Windsor. Our dear friend the Lady Christina is in town squatting in our house again as she prepares for a job interview in the city tomorrow. As Lady Trail is marking papers in the other room, it comes to me to play hostess, and never let it be said that The Paper Trail was a bad house. She's getting Lime Kool Aid and saltwater toffee all night long, baby!

Enjoy this pointless commercial from Domino's Pizza in Australia.



Again, overstays its welcome by about 45 seconds, but funny nonetheless.

To the morning.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Limited Appeal?

This might be funnier if you played enough Mortal Kombat in the 90s to remember the stupid ass finishing moves they had in the sequels [Babalities!? Friendship?!], but I suspect there's still some humour there for everyone.

Even if it does overstay its welcome by about 90 seconds.

Slooooooooooow

I tried to snag you a video of the best part of my day every day, Windsor, but the forces that be weren't cooperating. We'll try again tomorrow afternoon.

That said, it is slooooow out there today. But I'll try to dig you up something.

It should be noted that Phil Hartman was murdered ten years ago today. Which is sad.

One NYTimes columnist says the key to effective energy policy is to guarantee the gas prices will always be high from this day on.

Everyone's loved talking about how horrible GTA is for allowing Niko to drive drunk, implying that it's easy to get away with and teaching people that performing motor skills intoxicated is easy as pie. Kotaku puts this theory to the test in two combinations: drunk Niko/sober player, and sober Niko/drunk player. Place your bets now!

Now I'm gonna go watch the Wings finish getting slaughtered. Not like I expected a sweep, but come on, man.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Global Culture, and Philosophy of Hip-Hop

Last post on this topic, I swear.

PART THE FIRST
After posting that video of the CL Smooth remix the other day, I started digging around for more work Shin-ski's done, and came upon an amazing vid of him and affiliated crew The Levitatorz rocking the MPCs and attributed to a site called Flight808, a site dedicated spreading the word about hip-hop artists from around the globe.

Yeah, yeah, you think you're already down with the global state: you've got a couple DJ Krush or Roots Manuva discs, you've got it covered. The crew at Flight808 take it further than any blog I've come across so far [I'm sure there out there, but this one got to me first].

We're talking about artists from places like the Netherlands, Uganda and Greenland(?!) as well as underground acts from geographical favourites like France and Mexico. Think for a minute how an artform that developed in one borough of New York City has inspired youth culture across the globe. Hip Hop Teachers have been espousing that fact for years, but to really dig in and here the music that's coming out of these place, it's pretty mind blowing.

[Oh, and I'm really digging on Arts the Beatdoctor at the moment. "The Anthem," specifically.

PART THE SECOND
After I was done my world tour, I sat back and pondered the reach of the music when it occurred to me: if there are MCs from nearly every nation and ethnic background, why do I never hear about gay and lesbian rappers? They have to be out there. And how do they stay true to themselves, practicing an artform that, while recognized as the music of the downtrodden, isn't exactly progressive in its attitudes towards homosexuality?

A couple of Google searches and trips through Wikipedia later I was introduced to the world of homo-hop. From its uneven start with the manufactured rapper Caushun [touted as the first openly gay black MC to get a deal], outed as a fraud in 2007, to the pioneering work of Juba Kalamka and the Deep Dickollective, to the rawer sounds of God-Des & She and Deadlee, these artists are using the language of hip-hop to express themselves despite strong resistance from even the most forward-thinking areas of the community. Doubt it? Hell, even Common, the prime example for conscious rap, was spewing some pretty hateful lyrics until he dropped a song on his 'Electric Circus' album discussing his conflicted feelings when a friend came out to him.

And yeah, some of the music seems like it's going out of its way for explicit shock value, but if Akinyele had women begging to 'Put it in My Mouth' [extremely NSFW!] in 1996, why can't Deadlee tell a guy to 'Suck Muh Gun' today?

Actually, hearing it again now, that Akinyele song is kind of tolerant. In its own filthy, misogynistic way. Huh. Go figure.

At any rate, if hip-hop is all about the realness, respect to those artists who keep it real despite how unpopular it might be.

Two Thoughts on the New Weezer Video

By now you've surely all seen this:



And yes, it is full of win, but it is worth noting and questioning,

1. Barenaked Ladies already did something similar last year.

2. It seems kind of....easy for a Weezer video. I mean, 'Buddy Holly' was a classic and the Muppet Show on 'Gone Keep Fishin' was sublime. But first the Playboy Mansion on 'Beverly Hills' and now this. Just seems kind of obvious. Although, I choose to by going such a route, Weezer are actually making a statement on the growing and unfortunate irrelevance of the music video, since the so-called music video channels no longer play them, leaving us no choice but to scurry onto the Internet to view them, the very place where these cameos found their 15 seconds.

Whoa, multitextual!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Completely Unnecessary

Milan Kundera's short novel Ignorance concerns Josef and Irena, who return to Prague once Communism falls after twenty years in Sweden and Paris respectively. From the fifth page, the author lays out his themes in no uncertain terms:
The Greek word for "return" is nostos. Algos means "suffering." So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return...In each language these words have a different semantic nuance. Often they mean only the sadness caused by the impossibility of returning to one's country: a longing for country, for home.
Yeah, I get that. Not like having to flee from the Commies is anywhere near leaving Windsor by choice, but a lot of the experiences of Irena and Josef in the book echo the experience of the Rose City expatriate, I think, even though we never leave the province, let alone the country. But I think the minute you get further from home than you could travel in a day, the perspective changes.

Maybe put it this way: when we lived in Kingston, I think we felt closer to Windsor than we do now, because we didn't really know anybody, the whole time we were there, so we were still very much enmeshed in the lives of the people we left behind. Now, in Toronto [which already has such a stigma attached to it for Windsorites], we have friends of our own, our life feels like our own, separate from what we were in Windsor. And the people we left behind don't really care about our lives in Toronto, or to fill us in on what we missed. It's as though I get punished for not being there. Old friends play down the new people they hang out with now, because if I had stayed, I'd already know. And they don't care about the people I know now, since they're just abstract ideas, they'll never exist. The old things I used to care about no longer matter, because the old community left them behind while I stayed static worrying about them.

Windsor as a whole has always seemed downright gleeful in shutting out those who left it behind, a scorned lover dealing in facts, not interested in excuses. It leads to the sense that the prodigal in question is being tolerated, without extraneous welcome.

I imagine this doesn't make any sense. I don't even really know what it is I'm trying to get at. I think the sadness that I've grown accustomed to whenever I return home has less to do with the sorry state of the economy or downtown culture, and more to do with the fact that sometime in the last eighteen months I lost ownership of the place I considered mine more than anywhere else on earth, and the schism between who I was and who I've become widens everyday. I imagine some people call that living.

At any rate, read the book. It's fun times, and it's short; you can blow through it in a weekend.

Stuck in 1994, Not Coming Back

Things I miss about hip-hop.

  1. Rappers who could dance. This was mandatory back in the day, even Run-DMC were known to bust out a few moves here and there. Hell, the Beasties still exhibit intricate footwork, the three of them working the stage in a sort of upright Moebius strip. At the very least, if you didn't dance yourself, you had a pair of dancers in your crew to break it down while you rocked the mic. For my money, though, no one could touch Big Daddy Kane. That man could rap and dance his ass off with no hype man.

  2. Fat Rappers. The Fat Boys. Chubb Rock. The Overweight Lover MC Heavy D. Fat Joe. The Notorious. B.I.G. Big Pun. You need to understand, as a chubby boy growing up, rappers were the only people on TV who looked like me. And they got girls, too! Usually because they had to know how to dance [see #1.]. They inspire me still: half of them are dead now, which gets me to drag my ass to the gym. Some days.

  3. Duos. Or at the very least, groups that had their own DJs. Eric B. & Rakim, Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Gang Starr [Guru and Premier]. I love the idea of the DJ producing all the beats, who knows his MC inside and out and can play to his strengths better than anyone else.
In a world of ripped, tattooed solo artists spending millions of dollars for another Timbaland/Neptunes/Kanye beat [not hating, but they don't work for everyone], I long for a day when the goal was to make the head bob, not to sell downloads on iTunes. Maybe one day....haha! Sorry, I thought I could keep a straight face on that one.

The dream lives on though, you just have to follow it to the other side of the planet [more on that in a future post, with an interesting spin]. To that end: A 2007 track from the now Pete Rock-less CL Smooth, remixed by the Japanese producer Shin-ski of Martiangang, featuring the sickest piano sample I've heard since Nujabes. Enjoy.

Friday, May 23, 2008

This and That, Late at Night

Nice to see sanity prevailed in the case of the guy who sued Culligan for mental distress because he found a dead fly in his water. After originally winning over $300,000 in damages, and having it taken away on appeal, he took it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, only to be smacked down and in the hole for over half a million dollars. Dude says he has no regrets, he did it on principle. Hope principle feeds his family.

After a weeklong disappearnace, Gord makes his triumphant return to continue his bipolar relationship with Windsor's image. More than happy to wail in agony whenever local MPPs/Dalton McGuinty/Stephen Harper/the DRIC/the local blogging community/clouds shaped like guillotines leave the city hung out to dry, nothing gets his civic pride a'brewin than when the Toronto Star comes to town to inform the rest of the province about the woes of the Rose City. Henderson seems to have a 'Family Business' attitude regarding the city's image, where it's okay to complain to each other about the dire straits, but damn it, you don't do it in front of outsiders.

Man, but that TorStar story seems a little bleak for bleak's sake, complete with super sensational story of an auto worker who killed himself when he couldn't get a job. Textbook definition of that old journo adage, 'if it bleeds, it leads.' Suicide makes good business, people.

In other local messes, nice and relaxing to see an area woman's been arrested after police discovered her living with a corpse so long it doesn't even look like human remains anymore. Is it just me, or has local crime really started to swing for the fences in the last couple years.

And thus concludes our rare all-local post. Come the morning, perhaps a discussion of nostalgia and memory as it pertains to Milan Kundera's short novel Ignorance. Or maybe not. It depends when I wake up.

Night!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Continuing Horror at the State of Pop Music

While I can't say for sure which was released first, alls I know is a few months back I heard a new Kylie Minogue single:



Then I watched 2007's American Idol winner Jordin Sparks sing this on the finale last night:



You people aren't even trying anymore, are you?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Requiem



















Mustachioed and trying out for Gladys Knight's new Pips: The Paper Trail, D'Arcy Bresson and 'Hollywood' Glenn Evans. NASH 68, Toronto, 2006.

I didn't see his last issue, so I don't know if there was any fanfare for D'Arcy Bresson's departure as Editor-in-Chief of The Lance. He doesn't usually go in for that sort of thing, so I doubt it. Guess I'll do it.

I first met Bresson in 2004. I was interning at The Lance, just another scab volunteer from St. Clair who had always had a sweet spot for the UofW paper since my undergrad days [it was biweekly then, if you can believe it]. Bresson had by that point already been a large, if not total factor in taking The Lance from a biweekly broadsheet to a weekly tabloid with more colour, content and controversy. All without an increase in student fees, I believe. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong about that.

That was a banner year for him. It was the year the infamous 'We Pay Your Tuition!' ads for Cheetah's ran on the back page, enticing students to peel and earn money for school, sparking a controversy on editorial responsibility and advertising that haunted him for the rest of his tenure as EiC, not like it ever bothered him. The controversy got his shit-eating grin plastered on local, national and international news outlets [think CNN and MTV], and raised awareness of our little paper to unimaginable levels, for a year or two at least. It was around that time that I was introduced. He was already sort of a legend in my class, being heralded for his accomplishments and writing skills by the Journalism faculty at the College, where he graduated from before getting a BA in Comm Studies at Windsor.

When I first met him, I had the typical reaction one has when meeting him: I couldn't really stand the guy. D'Arcy always gives the impression that he's judging you. It's not his fault, he's usually just mulling over what you said, or your suggestion, sizing you up, but it can be disconcerting if you don't know him. The team that year, News Editor Ashley Dunn, Arts Editor Dina Masotti, Sports Editor Julie Sobowale and Bresson was a tight crew, a crew I found myself abruptly tossed into when Dunn suggested I applied for the News Editor gig she would be leaving, a gig I was hired on for and stayed at for two years, before I left Windsor and he generously offered me the Online Editor position.

As News Editor, I essentially found myself thrust into position as his right hand man at the paper. While probably the least read section, news carried the most prestige and dealt with the most volatile issues, so we were constantly popping in to each other's offices to brief each other, briefings that quickly turned into shooting the shit, which is where our friendship was born. A mutual love of WWE, geeky movies, Japan and Macintosh Computers eventually put us in a sort of synchronicity regarding where we wanted the paper to go, what we wanted it to evolve into. D'Arcy already felt we'd taken the print edition as far as it could go; he wanted to branch it out into other forms.

If were to wager, I'd bet that the 2005-2007 years were his favourites. Those were the years we implemented:
  • The Lance Podcast [audio]: roughly 15 or so episodes, updated every Thursday, providing supplemental news coverage and commentary.
  • The Lance Blog 1.0: A traditional, all-text blog for the editorial staff that, to be fair, never really got off the ground.
  • The Lance Blog 2.0: What you're reading now, updated twice daily for almost two years now, combined with
  • The Lance YouTube Channel: 35 videos and counting since 2006.
Bear in mind, while we were tossing all these little innovations together the five of us on staff were all working at least one other job and/or taking full course loads.

Meanwhile, D'Arcy continued playing his part as the most hated man on campus, taking the fall for every complaint about libel and bias allegations, the amount of ads, and our occasional gleeful nose thumbing at those in power and the conventions of polite behaviour [most of which was my doing]. People sometimes asked me if I ever wanted to be EiC, and I laughed in their faces everytime. I'm clearly not the sort who's built for civilized discussion when someone's calling me a douchebag and shitting all over my hard work. Nevermind balancing a chequebook.

D'Arcy is that sort. At least once a week when I was there he'd have to deal with someone who thought, with no experience, they could do a better job than him. And D'Arcy would sit and listen to their arguments, charm them, and politely point out that they didn't have the faintest idea what they hell they were talking about, without them ever realizing they were getting pwn3d.

Normally at times like this, one says 'I could never pick one moment,' that I'll always remember. But in this case that's not true; I know exactly what that moment is: the day he heard me cursing all the crap that came through the fax machine and told me to write a piece about it. That piece, 'Skipping Down the Paper Trail' morphed into a weekly editorial, something I'd always wanted, which then became the little microcosmic media empire you see before you. I'm not so immodest to credit him with the gimmick's endurance or success, but he deserves total credit for the initial idea.

While I knew the day would come, and while I have every confidence Ryan Rogers will do a fine job in his stead, I'll miss the sound of techno pulsing through his office, the way he peppers his conversations with occasional salacious details from his past you'd never expect [he's domesticated now, but the man could party like a rockstar], the way he's white and says 'Ciao' when he hangs up the phone. I'll miss my friend.

D'Arcy, you should always remain proud of what you've accomplished during your time at The Lance. Thank you for the opportunities.

Love him or hate him, raise your glasses, people.

Hipsterism, or, A Few Words About Scott Pilgrim



Yes, ultimately this will be another sour grapes post about comics.

So I read the Torontoist blog every couple of days just to keep up on what a group of a dozen bespectacled clickety clackers think I should find interesting in this city. And apparently, I should find the announcement of the Scott Pilgrim film terribly exciting.

Based on the as-yet-incomplete graphic novel series by Canadian comic artist Bryan Lee O'Malley, the comic follows the exploits of one Scott Pilgrim, bassist for indie band Sex Bob-omb, and his quest to defeat the seven evil ex-boyfriends of his dreamgirl Ramona Flowers, so she'll be his girlfriend. A mashup of kung-fu, hipster satire and video games, the book's become a sort of 'gateway indie comic', due in no small part for the brilliant decision by O'Malley and his publisher Oni Press to print the book in the small, 'tankubon' format used by North American manga publishers. Trust me, it gets a lot more traffic in the manga section than it would in graphic novels.

The film will be directed by Edgar Wright [Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz] and star everyone's new favourite lump of awkwardness Michael Cera. The latest announcement came last week that Mary Elizabeth Winstead(?) will be playing Ramona.

And this is the point where you're expecting me to hate. Meh, not really. It's a given that Wright+Cera will be magical, it's more the source material I have a hard time warming up to.

I read the first two volumes of the series, and have spent a sizable chunk of time with the third to know what happens. I feel O'Malley's artwork has improved in leaps in bounds, since he first horrified me doing interiors on the second Hopeless Savages mini. Not his fault, though, his style was just so different from Christine Norrie [<3] and Chynna Clugston [TLA], it was a pretty drastic shift.

But overall, [welcome back to this recurring theme] I just don't think Scott Pilgrim is worthy of the hype and fanaticism it seems to generate in people. The influences it so clearly wears on its sleeves are such a grab bag [who besides the most anal 8-bit fanboy even knows what the band's name is a riff on?], but I think mostly, as a blue collar W/Essex hick, I can't get next to anything that's such a blatant Toronto lovefest without a healthy level of skepticism. Like, OMG, they're going for food at Sneaky Dee's! They're having a battle to the death at the Toronto Reference Library/Honest Ed's/Horseshoe Tavern! Hogtowners get to look for their house, and Americans get to gaze in awe at the wonder of Shoppers Drug Mart.

None of this is to say the book is bad, it's actually pretty good, and Pilgrim's a likable protagonist, even if I find his devotion to Ramona shallow and mind-boggling. I just don't think it deserves to be held up as some classic piece of high art that the Toronto artsy crowd wants me to. But with three more volumes to go, who knows?

I suppose this means I have to turn in my hipster card? All right, you can have it. Hmm....I can't seem to find it. I mean, I had one in the first place, right? Guys...?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Pinnacle

You know, people do dumb shit on the internet all the time, but a dude who can get IcyHot on his genitals, drink hot sauce extract, get kicked in the balls, pepper sprayed, shot with paintball guns and tasered? That's special, people.


ps: The Trail predicts the winner of 2008's American Idol.....David Archuleta.



















Now hand me a vomit bucket.

Good Ga'damn, It's The State of the World

Hope you all enjoyed your weekend.

If you're not on campus, look for the new issue of The Lance in finer establishments throughout the city. We're monthly for the summer, but still your best source for what's going on around campus, including the full scoop on the vandalism at the now closed Basment Pub, the growing difficulties with being a green campus, and work favourite Chelsea Handler's new book, among other things.

When you grab your copy of The Lance, you'll see a stroy on this weekend's Detroit Electronic Music Festival, Movement '08. Get further details at the event's MySpace.

Google Street View: home of the raw and uncut.

Oil billionaire Boone Pickens offers you some more comforting thoughts on the state of oil supply and demand.

So after winning the King of the Ring and setting himself for a nice to push to be a major player in on RAW, William Regal's dumb ass flunks the wellness policy, again. How dumb do you have to be? And will the company be as forgiving when he comes back this time?

New Scientist reports 16 per cent of American science teachers are creationists. Yikes.

ps: You know how you read those stories about people getting sued for downloading or using music in a video, etc? Pretty scary, right? Until you remember, 'oh yeah, I live in Canada! Those rules don't apply!' Want to keep it that way? Start writing letters. More on this as it develops.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Jordan's Coworkers Meet The Paper Trail

In which I have a Trail-like outburst in the staff room with a coworker* who is a bit of a radical feminist.

Paper Trail: I think I'm going to devote my remaining days to solving the Mayer Paradox(TM).
Co-Worker: Which is?
PT: I'm trying to figure out how a guy who is so obscenely funny, so willing to take the piss out of himself, can make music so awful?
CW: Oh, I know, like that song that says all women have to be mothers?
PT: Zuh?
CW: You know, the one that says fathers be good to your daughters so they can become mothers.
PT: First of all, I'm pretty sure it says 'girls become lovers, who turn into mothers,' and it says girls, not all girls.
CW: Whatever, it's a bullshit song that tells women they only have one option in their lives.
PT: No, it says that some girls choose that path. I know I'm a country-fried hick and all, but last I checked you needed to be a girl to be a mother.
CW: It's anti-feminism.
PT: I f*cking hate feminism.
CW: You're girlfriend's a feminist, she'd agree with me.
PT: Actually, she'd probably think you were on the batshit express to Crazytown, too.
Second Coworker, half paying attention: Did you just say you hate feminism?!
PT: Sure did!
SCW: We're gonna fight later.
PT: OMG, it's the sound of [name withheld] picking another argument no one wants to hear.

Despite being right, I still apologized.

*as James Frey has a new book out, I feel compelled to point out this may or may not have happened in the way described.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's Actually 1.12 a.m. on Friday

But the timestamp won't tell you that. Quick and dirty, Mama Trail's in town on a visit.

Y'hear that? It's the sound of Gord firing up his word processor over news that the UofW will be hitting up the feds for cash to build the engineering building. We know Gord, if it had been built downtown, this never would have happened, bladifriggingblah.

Dust off that 'Skateboarding is not a crime!' t-shirt you bought from West49 in '99. One problem: it is a crime in New Brunswick, and a 25-year-old is going to jail for it after refusing to pay a ticket for violating bylaw 5-9, prohibiting the use of skateboards on Fredericton city streets.

The 'Art of Manliness' [*scoff*] gives you 100 books every man should read. Apparently every man should read a lot of books by white men, minus Mary Shelley, Christine de Pisan and Malcolm X. And two books by Jon Krakauer?! Are you shitting me?

My man Yahtzee over at Escapist Magazine turns his Zero Punctuation sights on the behemoth that is GTA. I don't want to join the chorus of people who claim he hates just for the sake of hating, but when the worst you can say is it's too realistic and gives you too many things to do, you might be playing contrarian a little too hard. Get a three-star wanted level and we'll see how hard it is to shake the cops.



Sleeping on the couch tonight!

Yowza

Whoa, sorry for the buzzkill, Windsor. Here, have a dumb video.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

An Uncomfortable Discussion

She was beautiful; they usually are. Pouty lips, head-to-toe in black, her hair mapping a sharp line down both sides of her face. Twenty-four, maybe, reading The God Delusion. I wasn't surprised.

Every day at work I seem to notice more bombs being fired in the war surrounding the 'new' atheism, a war sparked by writers like Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris but escalated by the 2006 publication of Dawkins' fiery tome. The Christians, from Lee Strobel to Antony Flew [himself a former atheist], were quick to respond, and the back and forth has gone on for more than two years now.

For all the hip dismissal of religion and faith, no subject continues to work people up as quickly. To this day, the article I wrote for this blog that gets the most traffic is a story on the Dominion Christian Centre in Hamilton. Two of years of blogging [more or less] twice daily, how many entries is that? And that one piece is the one people talked about the most. Maybe it's just our location, but the two subjects I get asked about the most are dictionaries and bible studies.

I, for one, have never been able to saddle up to the ideas of the 'new' atheists, who despite their claims to the contrary, seem more concerned with reveling in the reaction they get than having any sort of discussion [Hitchens]. I admit I'm a closet theist, the inevitable hangover brought on by 20 years of a Catholic upbringing, but I feel no need to argue on the subject. Maybe it's the long buried Irish in me, but I feel no need to argue on matters of religion, any religion. I don't get why some novelists spend their whole careers writing about being Jewish, I don't understand the need for the 'Left Behind' series and I don't see the need to gleefully rip apart a person's belief system on the auspices of science.

I have no intention of ever reading Dawkins's book, so colour me illiberal if you wish, but I did flip through the preface of the paperback edition, where the author argues he isn't preaching to the choir; subtle religion is okay but there's too little of it; he's more tolerant than the religion he skewers, etc. It felt like a teenager posturing as hyper-rational in the face of a hysterical mother. But I can still give Dawkins some credit. He's written extensively on evolution, and some of his issues with organized religion are no different than my own. Trust me, I have as much love for militant, homphobic, intolerant Christians as I do for their atheist counterparts.

But here's the thing: I was under the impression that the whole function of science [the importance of which Dawkins and his ilk hold paramount] was to search for answers to the things we don't know. Which is the same reason a lot of people tell me they go to Church.

Put another way: In Yann Martel's novel The Life of Pi, the title character, who is a practicing Christian, Muslim and Jew, survives a shipwreck and a horrifying ordeal on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, before finally hitting land in Mexico. At the novel's conclusion [SPOILER ALERT!] the Japanese owners of the ship he was on demand to know what happened and find his story too fantastic. So Pi tells them another story, a story where he watched his mother get killed and eaten by a French cook who was also in the lifeboat with them, before Pi killed and ate the cook. At the end of this story, Pi tells them bluntly that in either case, they will know no more than they did before. They will never know what happened to their ship. So which story would they rather believe?

At this point in time, no one knows what happens when we finally kick off [because that's really what this whole dialogue centers on]; faith paints a fantastical world of clouds and harps, science leaves more questions than it answers. If anyone can tell me they are perfectly content to live their lives believing that when it's over we cease to be, our consciousness dissipates to nowhere, they're a better man than me. I choose a different story.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

For Lindsey, Who Has Likely Already Seen It

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this. I'm all for them trying to make a little paper on the nostalgia circuit, if it keeps Jordan Knight off the Surreal Life for a few years, but do they really need to be jumping around with the choreography? I worry for their knees.



No, I will not tell you how I found this footage.

Sit Your Ass Down, Mom!

You know what we're in now, Windsor? Do you know what time it is?

Slushie weather.

That magical point in the late spring when a liter of crushed ice and sugar syrup actually cools and refreshes, instead of mocking you with its frigidity, as in the blazing core of summer.

It's a beautiful thing, friends.

You may also be wondering why [or thankful for] the lack of WWE updates lately. Simple fact is, there's nothing going on to entice me away from two hours of prime gaming time. Last night we probably spent as much time watching the hockey game [go Wings!] as we did RAW. Do I need to spend two hours of my life watching William Regal shut the lights off on people? Methinks no. Good to see Jeff Hardy back, though, and actually kindasorta admitting why he was gone in the first place. Now stop flunking your wellness tests, idiot!

And on a rare American Idol note, am I the only one who's been completely underwhelmed with the crew this year? The only one who moved me at all was Carly(!) and after her unceremonious dumping three weeks ago, there hasn't been much reason to tune in. It's been nauseatingly obvious who the producers want El Davidos in the finals, so yay democracy for everyone. Syeshsa goes home tomorrow, and I look forward to Archuleta the Monchichi squinting through three hours of my life next week.

Elsewhere...

A Flickr set compares actual New York City to GTA's Liberty City. Uncanny! Why haven't I found the UN Building yet?

The latest trend in media fearmongering? The rising costs of food. Related: farmers still screwed.

The new 90210 remake releases a cast photo, proving how progressive the show will be with the inclusion of one black kid. Prediction: two seasons of hotness, followed by three more of diminishing returns, just like every other show in this mould.

LeBron James puts his mama in her place during a playoff game with the Celtics.

Monday, May 12, 2008

When Search = Nil, A Dumb Video

Oh, Picnicface. Always there when I need you.



Pegasus! Pegasus!

Some Reviews, Some Politico Speak, Some Flotsam

Am I ready to weigh in, finally? After just under two weeks with the game, am I ready to tell you it's everything everyone says it is?

Yeah, basically. Look, you can hear all the reasons why the GTA4 is amazing [clever mission design; a smaller yet living city to run amok in; a story that isn't all irony and stereotypes] on a million other sites. I don't know that I really have anything I could add. On the negative: the targeting still gets wonky at inconvenient moments; it's damn near impossible to clear anything higher than a three star wanted level; and even the likable characters are pretty reprehensible in their own way. Is any of that enough to dull the thrill of rocketing into Times Square so fast the scenery blurs and firing a speed bike off that stunt jump? Or of flying a helicopter through Manhattan at night, with the skyscrapers lit up like Christmas trees, only to bail out into a gorgeous ragdoll freefall into the Hudson River? No, no it is not. If you've ever played a GTA, you need to get your hands on it, period. This is a system-selling game.

Took a break from the carnage to see Iron Man on Saturday. It too, is what everyone says it is, and I dare say I might rank it second only to Batman Begins in my hierarchy of superhero movies. I definitely liked it better than any of the Spider-Man movies [no slight to Raimi and co., but Downey Jr. is just so damn charismatic!].

Lady Trail asked me if I still maintain that Iron Man is filler until The Dark Knight comes out. Yeah, I do. For me, anyway. I think Nolan's film will be too dark and depressing for those who enjoyed the fun and freewheeling heroics of Iron Man, but that's what you go to a Batman film for.

I'm wondering if Favreau resurrected his old 'Dinner for Five' show on IFC to commemorate the film. I always loved that show, and a sit down with Favreau, Downey, Paltrow, Bridges and Howard would be downright heavenly to me.

Flipping through the latest issue of Esquire I read the cover story on Barack Obama--well, an Esquire article is always more about the person writing it than the person being written about, but I'll forgive the self indulgence in this case since the argument was valid.

In short, writer Charles P. Pierce doesn't buy into Obama's message of hope and optimism, of America turning things around and reasserting its position as the leader of the free world because he doesn't feel the American people deserve it, because of the complicity they have displayed in the country's politics.
We have not been a great country for a very long time, the cynic believes, and it does us no good to claim otherwise. We are not an honest and decent people in our politics, in the way we deal with one another as a political commonwealth. We will trade away our most precious rights in exchange for a bag of magic charms, and even when we find out that these include the black prison, the waterboard, and the secret microphone, we’ll think we got the better of the deal...

Why would anyone have faith in America, which is not tough but fearful, not smart but stupid, and not shrewd but willing to fall for almost anything as long it comes wrapped in a flag? Why would anyone have faith in Americans? Barack Obama says that he has that faith because of his own life, because he was able to rise to the point where he can be thought of as president of the United States. He is the country’s walking absolution. That’s his reason, the cynic thinks, but it’s not mine. There has to be confession. There has to be penance. Being Barack Obama is not enough. Not damn close to enough.
Those are the highlights, but the whole piece is worth a read. I suspect Mr. Pierce is already getting a boatload of fan mail from the piece, on all sides. But bless him for having the balls to say it.

And, because I love thrilling and terrifying stories of the Japanese mafia, voila!

On a personal note, I would like to point out I have an honest to god Ice Cream Truck that goes through my neighbourhood everyday at 5.00ish, complete with a chimey song, which is not a familiar tune but one I will be happy to sing to you whenever I see you.

This fact gives me joy on a level I can barely explain. No matter how bad your day was, when that music hits off in the distance, you have to laugh. Non-negotiable.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Trail's Late Night Music Club: Whither D'Angelo?

Clearly, it's been a laid back day, which means I worked a close. I'll attempt to get you something of substance before the weekend's out. It is summer, after all.

TO cap off the week, though. A killer performance of late 90's soul man D'Angelo tearing the hell out of 'Chicken Grease,' from his 2000 album Voodoo on the Chris Rock Show. Last I heard him he sung a hook on Common's last album. I'd like to see him come back.



In case you're wondering, 'chicken grease' is a term Prince first coined, used to describe those 16th notes on 9th minor guitar chord. You'll know when it happens. Funky!

The Battle for Summer!

I'm sure Iron Man is a wonderful film, in fact I highly endorse everyone going to see it, but really? It's only time filler until Bats comes back.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Presenting the Trail's Rules for Life

In a rare shift on the first floor of work [that barren wasteland of bestsellers and bargain cookbooks where customers continually ask where the magazines are] I stumbled upon a book from the editors of Esquire magazine entitled The Rules. Allegedly taken from a forgotten leather journal found in the bowels of the magazine's research library, but probably not, the book is a collection of rules a man should adhere to to live and understand the best life possible [Hip asians are the hippest of all ethnicities; the louder the talk, the dumber the guy; and my favourite: When someone says he is "pumped" about something, it usually means he's about to do something stupid]. While most aspects are covered, these are fast and fluid times we live in, so occasionally I will be doing my small, inept part to continue adding to them, debuting tonight.

While technology has improved our lives in many ways, there is no greater abomination progress has foisted upon us than the Bluetooth handsfree headset.

Really. There's no way to wear it and not look like a douche. Or Lt. Uhura. Unless you're performing surgery, flip your goddam phone open.

Somebody Call His Mama

Our man Mike Evans took to the roof of a Windsor apartment building to document Casino Windsor's change into Caesar's Windsor. He may have gotten more than he bargained for.



Has anyone checked for his body?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Are You Not Entertained?

After tortuous weeks of waiting since I first saw it on the release schedule, I got my hands on Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends, a nonfiction collection from McSweeney's, proceeds as always to 826National.

While I only made it through the first of these sixteen 'linked essays on reading and writing,' I am already intrigued and look forward to getting through the rest.

The first portion deals with the paradoxical notion that (i) literature can be entertaining and (ii) entertainment can be literary. Specifically, his concern with the continued segregation of genre fiction the ghettos of mystery, scifi and fantasy, and how that puts a glass ceiling over quality work that never gets a chance to be recognized in a 'real' publication like the New Yorker or the Atlantic Monthly.

And he's right. I barely read scifi or fantasy and a lot of that has to do with something as superficial as the cover dress. It took Chabon reminding me of the blue dots with spaceship or magnifying glass to label genre fiction at the library put me off those titles. They looked cheap, second rate, the seventies-era paintings of aliens and interstellar vistas couldn't compel me like a a slick Chip Kidd cover for a Murakami book [aside: to fetch the previous link, I notice Mr. Kidd has designed two designs that have recently caught my eye at work. Design is teh awesome]. When someone like Neil Gaiman punches through the ceiling, the garish paintings are replaced with brightly coloured, stripped down designs meant to fit in with the rest of the books in the 'real' literature section.

And Chabon wonders, what is it about book retailers that makes them think the universe will implode if all the fiction gets tossed together in one giant alphabetical pile, Jane Austen with Isaac Asimov, Oscar Wilde with HG Wells? Customers seem to like the idea, I have at least one per day ask me where Ray Bradbury [for example] is because they can't find him under 'B'. So I have to explain that he gets filed under science fiction, along the back wall.

But the question is this: if Bradbury gets roped off in the ghetto, why not Cormac McCarthy? 'The Road' is an alternate reality take on a dystopian, post-apocalyptic America? What's more scifi than that? The same goes for Kazuo Ishiguro's sublime 'Never Let Me Go,' another tale of alternate reality that has more in common with 'Soylent Green' than 'The Remains of the Day.' Why do they get a pass?

Chabon thinks it has to do with the conventions of genre fiction, the rules prescribed to horror, or fantasy, or mystery, that authors who dedicate their work to the subject utilize. McCarthy and Ishiguro don't follow the rules generally associated with scifi, so they get to stay in the adult pool.

Line blurring of that sort seems to go over better in film, where something like 'Shaun of the Dead' can be a comedy first and horror second, or the work of Tarantino, which is clearly an amalgam of all the director's 'lower' influences approached seriously despite their visceral thrills.

What say you, Windsor? Is 'entertainment' a dirty word in your mind? Do you draw the line in your head between 'low' and 'high' art? And what marks the difference?

In any case, 20 pages in and Mr. Chabon has got me psyched. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Calling In




















Sore throat, stuffy head/ache, overtired, mice. No blog today. Maybe a dumb video later. Computer monitor making me ill. Better luck tomorrow, we hope.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Beaucoup D'Awesome

This will possibly be down in a matter of hours, but until then, enjoy the new Dark Knight trailer that debuted this weekend.



If you want the Indy trailer, find it here.

Vermin Infested

I got frigging mice, Windsor. Can you believe this mess? Came home from work last night to Lady Trail telling me JackJack the Wondercat was parading through the living room with one in his mouth, then got woken up at 4.30 a.m. by her to hear him chasing another squeaky bag of vermin under the bed. UNDER THE BED.

Not impressed.

Trent Reznor continues his joy that comes with the freedom from a major record label. To celebrate, he's giving you a free Nine Inch Nails album called The Slip. Go download your little heart out. If you desperately need an actual disc for your collection, that will be coming in July.

Unlike Reznor's previous cheap as free downloads, the instrumental Ghosts I-IV, The Slip has vocals you can sing along with.

A long, and possibly overly technical article explaining why the Japanese didn't event the iPod.

Thomas Friedman in the NYTimes to America: We are not who we think we are. We are living on borrowed time and borrowed dimes. We still have all the potential for greatness, but only if we get back to work on our country.

The Globe reminds us children, choose your mentors wisely.

Speaking of 'you're not who you think you are,' Ontario's plummeting economy has found a friend in Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams.

Now I'm off to look for mouse bones.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Who Doesn't Allow Embedding Anymore?

I really wanted to embed this video for you to cap off your week, but the host site's kind of a dick about it.

So you'll just have to click the link to enjoy the dreamy transcendent wonder that is the scuba diving cat.

I asked Lady Trail if she thought maybe JackJack the Wondercat would want to partake in such an adventure. She was not amused.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Robert Downey Jr Makes Me Believe

To celebrate the other slice of awesome hitting our lives this week, enjoy this brief clip of the Iron Man Mark III armor being assembled.



Kickass! It opens tomorrow.

In My Magical Balloon

Would you believe I actually went to a club last night, Windsor? An honest to God, Gino filled, oon-sa-oon-sa place? I can't either, but it was a coworkers birthday yesterday, and it snowballed into an outing for like, half the staff so who am I to resist?

Once again, mayhem awaits. Let's go.

US appears to have bombed al-Qaeda targets in Somalia, killing the leader of a Somali Islamist military organization.

Inhabitants of the Greek Island of Lesbos are off to court to stop gay rights organizations from calling themselves lesbians.

So those risque Annie Leibovitz/Miley Cyrus photos are causing quite the stir. I mean, they're pretty tame, until you remember she's 15, then it's just inappropriate. But, as much as Disney's crying foul over one of their underage stars being portrayed in such an overtly sexual manner, their promotions in China may not give them much moral high ground to stand on.

Hillary Clinton shows her subtle gift for diplomacy by stating the US could 'totally obliterate' Iran if it made a move on Israel. Mahmoud is not amused.

Dinner in the Sky: Shenanigans or no? I'm uncertain.