Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lancing. Not Quietly

L-Boogie [which I've decided is my new name for Lauren, since it's been ten years since the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill came out, and I don't think she's using it] returns again with another episode of Lance Out Loud, previewing this year's football season and reporting on the recent Psychic Expo at the Caboto Club.

And look at that, I actually get a plug for once!

To paraphrase Ice Cube: I started this video shit. And this the muthaf*ckin thanks I get?

Ungrateful heathens. Yet I love them so.

Art!: TADO's 'Lily, The Littlest Cannibal' at Magic Pony, 8.28.08

British duo TADO, a pair of illustrators, artists and character designers from Sheffield invaded Toronto's Magic Pony for their solo show 'Lily, The Littlest Cannibal,' as well as the launch of their 'Cannibal Funfair' toy series produced by Kidrobot, and the giant 'Tulip'.

The show featured every media you could think of from plush toys, to sculpture, to computer illustration, graphite sketching and acrylic paining. In my stupidity, I didn't even take a picture of Mike and Katie, but you'll have to trust they were both very charming and delighted to take a little time doodling for everyone in attendance.

Lots of pics after the jump.

Click here to continue reading this entry.

What came home with me: two prints featuring characters from the show, editions of 20 each.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Rich Are Different, Episode 6235549

There are many things that can be taken as signs of the impending apocalypse: Middle Eastern instability, nuclear rearmament, the climate crisis, the end of the Mayan Calendar....

But I never thought I would see the day when Diddy would have to fly commercial.

Good God, what sort of world are we living in?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The State of the World: Less Interesting When Not Discussing Comics

Surprise to no one, a class action lawsuit against Maple Leaf foods has been filed in Ottawa on behalf of 300 consumers. As of this writing, a dozen deaths have been linked to the bacteria listeriosis, but only half of those directly linked to the strain found at a Maple Leaf plant in Toronto. Company representatives have yet to comment on the lawsuit.

In other meat related news, Windsor police and a grocery store manager chased down an area man who tried to leave a grocery store with half a dozen t-bone steaks shoved down his pants. See, that's the sort of heartwarming crime you only hear about in smaller cities.

Giving you more ammo to defend your Liberal Arts degree to your parents, a report from the Conference Board of Canada says culture added 3.8 per cent to Canada's GDP last year. Or, to put it another way, $46-billion. The report attributes the growth to Web 2.0ish stuff like prosumers and digitial co-creation.

Well, if he's about to accept the nomination, this probably doesn't surprise anyone: three men with alleged connections to white supremacist groups arrested in Denver [site of the Democratic National Convention] with bags full of rifles and a telescopic sight.

Freakishly amazing 11-year-old plays Rush's prog-rock masterpiece YYZ by herself on an organ.

American Idol announces they're adding a fourth judge this season: bringing gender balance to the table, quietly shuffling Paula out or taking away even more time from the contestants? You tell me.

The greatest birthday cake ever [via BoingBoing].

Remember how dismal things felt in the first week of the Olympics? Remember how self satisfied we got in the second, 18 medals later? Is 15th place overall something to be celebrated? Maybe not.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Epic!: Nerdpocalypse Survived

One small portion of the sea as we ascended the escalator at the Metro Convention Centre.

For the first time in at least five years, Lady Trail and I entered the fray this weekend at Toronto's FanExpo. The experience left me feeling overstimulated, somewhat jaded, and with a heavier wallet than I was expecting, to be honest.

Click to continue reading this entry.

Is there anything cuter than a toddler dressed up as Yoda? No. No there isn't.

Now granted, we didn't have as much time at the Expo as we would have liked: friends were in from out of town, and while I am a selfish lout, I don't expect everyone to cater to my every whim all the time. So despite getting everyone up for 7.30 a.m. and out of the house by 9.00, we only put in about three hours at the con, since there were other things people wanted to do. Even Lady Trail admitted when it was all said and done that three hours wasn't enough time to truly take it all in.

Besides that, I was a little disappointed in my inability to find anything I wanted in the retailer area. All I wanted to leave there with was the Ultimate box of FLCL, hopefully the Mike Mignola and/or Frank Miller Black and White Batman statues OR some reasonably priced super articulate Japanese robot figures. Well the statues weren't there, the robots were all steeper than what I wanted to pay, and
FLCL....well, I don't really want to talk about it.

Our friend Mr. Meloche fulfills a dream and gets photographed with MegaMan.

Look, I know I'm no longer the sort of fanboy who is 'with it' [a contradiction in terms if ever there was one], but you know what? I don't need retailers in ill fitting t-shirts raising their eyebrows at me and telling me my tastes are 'old-school', or scoffing that the show needs to be relicensed, like I should have already known it. Well I did know that, smart guy. God, doesn't anybody bootleg anymore?!

And for the record, that damn box set came out in 2006. Old school my ass, Cyber City Comix. And PS: Anybody who spells it 'comix' should have their asses removed. There, I said it.

Lady Trail isn't convinced the cockpit of an X-Wing is sufficiently equipped to deal with that.

Other thoughts:

--I was shocked by the number of retailers selling trade collections. Sure, I can see using the con to maybe get some tax-free savings on an Absolute Edition hardcover or something, but is anyone going to the con to buy trades you can get anywhere at any time? I thought the Expo was supposed to be a special event, to buy special items?

General Grievous works crowd control.

--Best moment: being stopped in our tracks by the bright lights of a camera crew and some burly gents in 'STAFF' shirts. When the kerfuffle passed, I turned to Lady Trail and said, 'That was Wes Craven.'

--What I found the most surprising, and I will proudly wear the old school label for this one, was the sheer abundance of....stuff, in the hall. Ten years ago, this stuff, this...product, just wasn't as readily available as it is now. My first AnimeNorth, the vendor room was in the main ballroom of the hotel. My only previous time at the FanExpo, it was in the smaller, North Building of the Metro Convention Centre. This year it was in the larger, almost Cobo-sized South Building. After walking through a few aisles, I turned to Lady Trail and told her I needed to sit down for a minute because it was all too much. Back in the day, you couldn't get this shit. I spent $1,000 at my first anime con, armed with a list of titles I had jotted down from a mail order catalogue I got from a place in Iowa [a place which is now an empire in its own right], just scooping up tapes, because I didn't know when I'd have such an opportunity again. Now all you have to do is head down to CinemaOne or HMV.

I guess I knew that the culture had expanded to such a degree, I just wasn't prepared to see it all laid out on display like that.

The Trail, Mr. Meloche and their homie The Dark Lord.

--Storm Troopers have been getting a bad rap for 30 years. They are the nicest people you will ever meet.

Lady Trail and Namor, King of Atlantis. Imperius Rex!

--Having left the con with nary a thing save some prints we bought from a gent in artist alley, I was considering heading back downtown later in the evening for the Silver Snail's Midnight Madness sale. We were dallying on our way there, because we didn't expect any mind blowing sales [having stopped by their booth at the Expo and seen the prices the same as always] and really, would it be that busy? Shouldn't the nerd patrol have gotten their fix at the con?

Famous last words. As we're walking on Queen, we continue to notice people with large bags coming from the direction of the Snail. When we walk in, the store's packed and the lineup is heading up the stairs. Then we peep the sign informing us all back issues are half off, and pretty much everything else in the wall is discounted 40%. Japanese robots here I come.

So an hour and change of waiting in line with 300 other post-Expo nerds in a space the size of my apartment, I walked out with a quartet of decidedly old school robots to battle it out on my mantle. Lady Trail left with a board game called Zombies!!!. You do the math on that one.

Lady Trail fulfills her own dream by getting photographed with Captain Hammer and Dr. Horrible. Double Cool because Captain Hammer started singing shortly after the picture was taken.

And that was about it, Windsor. We easily could have spent the whole day there, and probably only saw about a third of what was on display, but I did get to see Smallville's Lex Luthor and ST:TNG's Cmdr. Data from a distance, as well as loads other cool stuff I didn't get to photograph.

Oh, and I got the box set on eBay. So nyeah, haters.

Thanks for putting up with all this hoopla this week. We'll get back to serious business tomorrow. Well, semi-serious.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Nerd Hype II!: The Trail talks comics

While I'm currently on the outs with comics [well documented in numerous posts on this blog], I can't deny the important place they've held in my life over the years. I originally got roped in buying licensed Marvel comics of popular toy properties like He-Man or Transformers, then one day made the leap into superheroes. I remember the exact comic it was, Amazing Spider-Man #314, the one where Peter and Mary-Jane get kicked out of their fabulous Manhattan apartment and have to move back in with Aunt May.

Obviously, Todd McFarlane artwork enamors 12-year-old boys like few other artists can, so from there I was hooked. No real plan to what I was buying, just whatever I could get off the spinner rack. After starting to feel like a cash cow shortly after McFarlane and others formed Image comics, I jumped off the train the first time. I remember the exact moment, too: after X-Ecutioner's Song, the X-Men crossover, ended with absolutely no plot development for the characters. Hell, Scott and Jean weren't even sure Cable was Scott's kid by that point, it was only subtly alluded to. I was done.

It was almost a decade before I got into comics again. The industry had been hit hard once people figured out you couldn't use comics to finance your retirement, and in an attempt to regain some ground, Marvel handed the reigns to young buck Joe Quesada, who was willing to throw everything against a wall to see what stuck. I don't remember the first book to rope me in, but for the next four years I was spending hundreds on comics, cultivating a collection that presently sits between 2,000 - 3,000.

But the money always ruins it in the success brought renewed attention to the characters and pressure to make the comic and movie versions fall in line, as well as restarting the big crossover capital-Event tradition, which was always my most loathed comic book tendency. Before Civil War ended in 2006, I was moving to Kingston and had to cut expenses. Comics were the ones to go.

It'll be strange to go to the Con tomorrow and not spend my day hunting through longboxes. Similar to how record crate-diggers must feel, my love was always in the hunt: drafting my list, hitting shops far and wide looking for what I desperately needed that week. I partly wonder what I'll do all day while I'm there. Then I'll remember there will be Stormtroopers, and I'll get over it.

The Trail's Top Five Comic Loves

5. Solo

Solo was a weird little book that DC was putting out in 2006-2007. The idea was simple: One artist per book, per issue. Sometimes that meant one artist with a series of wriers, sometimes it meant the artist would do everything on the book. At the time of its publication, I only picked up artists I knew, and now regret that decision, since they only did a dozen. If I were still buying comics, these would have been snatched tomorrow, if only to finally own Darwyn Cooke's issue.

4. Grant Morrison
This entry was originally supposed to be just about his run on New X-Men, then I thought, 'what about Doom Patrol/Animal Man/JLA/Arkham Asylum/All-Star Superman'? I think it can be be argued that Morrison is the most important man still making [superhero] comics today. While I haven't kept up on him lately [I was not into his 70's, hairy-chested sex machine take on Batman], he's always been my top creator, so much so that he merits two entries.

3. Preacher
I've been sitting here for years waiting for the HBO series to get off the ground, just so this series will get the widespread recognition it deserves. Angels, cowboys, religious conspiracies, vampires and a guy named Arseface. How can that combination possibly fail?

2. Sandman
Only when you start getting into the 50 something issues do you start to see that either (a) Gaiman had a plan all along,for every character, no matter how minor, or (b) Gaiman's a genius who can tie together every narrative thread with grace and panache, all while creating some of the most beloved characters in the history of comics all the while planting them in the canon of the DCU [just look at his Dream story from the Endless Nights OGN]. If you need me to pick a favourite arc, probably Brief Lives.

1. We3
Three issues. Hardly any dialogue. And it will break your heart. The story of three household pets who are turned into killing machines by the government, then break out in an attempt to find 'home,' even though they have no idea what that might be. Written by the talented Mr. Morrison and reuniting him with artist Frank Quitely, there is nothing about this book that is not perfect, from the pacing to Quitely's genius covers, it is my favourite comic book of all time. And not a cape in sight.

These are the things that will keep me sane as I overhear fanboys arguing over which is more awesome: Final Crisis or Secret Invasion.

And to everyone with lives, I apologize for the previous two entries. Hopefully someone besides Aaron found this worthwhile. ^_^

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nerd Hype!: The Trail talks anime

Two videos in one day? Hell yeah that means I don't update for a minute. Besides, I was on nights, quit your bitching.

Canada's own version of Nerdpocalypse descends upon the Metro Convention Centre this weekend for the Canadian Fan Expo, a behemoth of a Con that combines comics, anime, scifi, horror and gaming all under one roof. Clearly, my tickets have already been purchased and I will be there with bells on this Saturday morning. If I can get my picture taken with Lt. Cmdr. Data, all the better.

That said, I recall saying a couple months ago that I should do a rundown of my most beloved Japanese animated programming. With Nerdmageddon rapidly approaching, and because nothing else online interests me right now [whither Gord?!], I think I'll do it now.

The Trail's Top Five Anime Loves

5. Akira
I had the good fortune to catch this again on Teletoon the other night, and damn if it don't still hold up as one impressive piece of work for something that was made 20 years ago. The story of biker gangs and psychic powers in post-WW3 Japan was the initial hook that reeled me in, when a grainy fourth-gen VHS drew me into an obsession with all things Japan and Katsuhiro Otomo in particular. Back in the parents' basement are not only action figures, but an impressive [if incomplete] run of the coloured manga translations Marvel put out on its Epic line in the early 90's. See this before Leonardo DiCaprio ruins it in a couple of years.

4. My Neighbor Totoro
Every true fan needs a Miyazaki piece, and if I have to choose one, I'm picking this one. Two young girls move with their father to rural Japan as their mother recuperates from an unspecified illness [probably tuberculosis]. As they wander the neighbouring forests, they discover the Totoros, furry spirits who live in the trees, and a few of their friends. And that's the plot, for reals. Yet I defy you to watch this movie and not have the most sincerest of smiles cross your face. I'm a cynical sonofabitch, Windsor, and to this day I still want to ride the Catbus.

3. Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still
I imagine you don't develop an interest for this junk if you don't have at least a middling fascination with the idea of giant robots. My particular love has always tended toward the more cartoony designs of a Mazinger-Z or Getter Robo than the technological look of a Gundam or Evangelion. This unapologetically retro show about a new universal energy source and what happens when a terrorist organization causes it to fail combines action, comedy and moral ambiguity far better than a show about a kid piloting a robot with his wristwatch should. And if you've known me online for the past ten years, you'll know this show is where I got one of my screen names from.

2. FLCL aka Fooly Cooly
If I have one mission this weekend, it's to find a complete DVD set of this show, legit or bootleg. People have been writing stories about the perilous journey of adolescence since Dickens. Few people have illustrated it with a young boy being smacked in the head by a girl with a Rickenbacker bass riding a Vespa scooter. And then robots start popping out of his head. Featuring a soundtrack by my all time favourite rock band of any nationality, the pillows, this was probably the last show to truly blow my mind. Seriously, since it looks like the DVDs are out of print at the moment: if you find it, grab it.

1. Cowboy Bebop
I once saw it mentioned that Cowboy Bebop was an 'anime for grown-ups'. That's probably a fair assessment. And that doesn't mean it's filled with tentacles, it means the characters are grown ups, with grown up motivations and repercussions for their actions. An episodic series about a group of misfits who form a bounty hunter crew on the starship Bebop, there is little about this show that isn't perfect. Perfect characters, perfect fight choreography, perfect music [Yoko Kanno's jazz score is worth an entry on its own], and a perfect ending. You can get the whole series in a no-frills boxset for like, $50 these days. I suggest you do.

And for an honourable mention, most of the Bebop crew reunited for the hip-hop samurai throwdown Samurai Champloo, which introduced me to the wonders of Nujabes [the guy whose music annoys you everytime you come here ;)]

So that's it! No Bleach or Naruto here, kids. Just grown folks' stuff.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Droppin Deuces

When it rains, it pours, Windsor. Not only does Lauren return with the latest edition of Lance Out Loud...

EDIT: Lander's a former Torontonian. He currently lives in California. Research, people!

But Mike Evans outdoes himself with a piece on the most famous man never to leave Windsor, Ron Ladoceour. You may know him by a different name.

Brought to you by the letters M, O and P

So I was hemming and hawing in the crowd on Friday night over whether I would actually get on stage when More Or Les, one of the hosts, stops what he's doing and asks me my name. After I tell him, he informs the crowd that I've been in front of the stage all night and know all the words to all the songs [a slight overestimate; I'd put it at 74% of the lyrics to 85% of the songs], so much so that when he forgets the lyrics, he's looking at me to find his place again.

Upon hearing this, Abdominal, the other host, informs me that I better be on the list. While I did sign up, I wasted too much time, and wasn't anywhere near getting on by the time I left at 1.30. At any rate, it was another stellar night. Props to Miss-Elaineous who kicked Yo'Mama by Tha Pharcyde with no lyric sheet, the two cats who drove from Ottawa just to rip Run-DMC's Sucker MCs acapella; but MVP goes to Bailey, who demolished Twinz by Big Pun and Fat Joe like she wrote it herself.

Alas, no videos of last Friday's event, but I thought I'd share this with you, since it was discussed that night. Obviously again, a smidge NSFW.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Amherstburg's Dream Denied

My love of procrastination started early in life, strangely enough. The earliest recorded memory I have of putting something off to the last minute was a speech in sixth grade, circa 1987. With no ideas for my three-to-five minute masterpiece of public speaking, I opted, after some peeved nudging from my parents, to write about the HMS Detroit, the last ship built in Amherstburg's Navy Yard Park, and the subject of what was a furious fundraising drive to raise money to build a full size replica of the ship. I made it to the Stella Maris Elementary finals, but didn't win.

This was also my first moment of feeling like a misunderstood genius. Ah well.

Anyway, 21 years after I hustled that speech together, the dream is dead: a steel hull, the only progress project managers ever made, has been sold at a bargain basement price to an organization in Rhode Island.

The project cost the town millions of dollars, from both fundraisers, taxpayers and federal grants. Oh, my hometown. Clusterf*ck, thy name is Amherstburg.

And someone tell Garnet Fox before he speaks to the press again that 'horrendously' is not usually paired with the word, 'good'. I swear.

Sorry for the small town gossip, Windsor. But with the UWSA still on hiatus, I need to get my fill of incompetent politicians elsewhere. HA! Oh, I'm a kidder, Windsor. *arches eyebrow*

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Links, Accompanied With Adjectives

Scary: Chinese blogger escorted by authorities out of Beijing on a false technicality keeps the world privy to his state of mind via a Twitter feed.

Boring: Remember our Prime Minister? Yeah, I don't think about him much either. American politics is so much sexier. Anyhoo, he's been yipping on the east coast lately about having to 'make judgement[s]' regarding what he feels is a stalled parliamentary process. The equally-unsexy Liberals keep threatening to defeat the parliament, which leads some newspaper writers to speculate that Harper will try to bring them to the punch, risking his current government to earn a stronger mandate from the Canadian public.

Amusing: It's a nice Photoshop job, and I like the idea of the suggested plot, but that title's got to go. There's only one story you tell with that title. Don't eff around unless you plan on doing it.

Exciting: Dunny Series 5. Happy times for my glass cases.

Word not available: Brooke Hogan criticizes Paris Hilton for political ignorance. Brooke Hogan?!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A State of The World That Got Out of Hand

The amusing and growing public relations fiasco at the Beijing games continues, with Canwest News Service reporting the previously reported faked fireworks and lip syncing child at the opening ceremonies, as well as journalists being tailed by authorities, notebooks confiscated, and armored cars near the media tent. Basically, everything people worried might happen when the Games were announced.

It sucks, because such controversy detracts from the performances these athletes have dedicated their lives to.

In campus news, The Lance's favourite whipping post of years past, Ms. Amanda Gellman has announced she's stepping down from her position as VP University Advancement

'University Advancement' basically means 'fundraising' and Gellman's middling performance in that regard over the years brought her no end of scorn in the student press, notably under my tenure as news editor. Hey, we found it comedic that the university built a stadium well beyond what it had the funds for, then had to play catch-up in the following months, because they needed the stadium built for the Junior Pan-Am Games. A hosting gig contingent on the construction of a new stadium. Dizzy yet?

Anyway, best of luck to Gellman in her future endeavours. Lord knows there's always positions in the public sector for the connected to settle into, despite previous performance. Doubt me? Why is her performance not mentioned in either new Prez Wildeman's statement, or the article? Mayhaps cause there ain't much to say.

The problem with web journalism: An issue in the comics/video game/nerdly pursuits media has been the destructively symbiotic relationship between the media and the subjects they cover. A site like Newsarama or IGN needs Marvel Comics or Ubisoft to provide them with exclusives to keep people coming to the site, it's not like either entity has reporters pounding the pavement or digging through garbage to find them. Traffic = dollars, and websites need dollars. Desperately. So the companies get coverage for their next title, and the website gets traffic.

But say made up company Nonesoft has been treating programmers poorly as they approach the launch date of their new first person shooter 'GunFister'. Say a coder on the title was slapped by a Nonesoft manager when he asked to take a day off to spend with his wife and newborn, a week before the final build was to be submitted. The humiliation caused the coder to resign, and now he wants to go public. Hell of a story, right?

Here's the thing: if IGN has plentiful banner ads hyping 'GunFister', they may not run the story. More likely, they'll sit on it til it breaks in the mainstream media, so as not to risk losing valuable revenue.

I'm making all of this up and in no way mean to suggest anything about IGN, but these scenarios have [allegedly] played out before. The moral is: it's just plain bad for reputation when the media relies on the subject it's supposed to be covering for content, but it's the only way most online media, especially of the entertaining variety, can think to do business. But it's asking for trouble.

Which is what Ain't It Cool News has learned this week, after a negative review of The Clone Wars animated film was removed at the request of LucasArts. The lesson: if you want to stay in the loop, play nice, or get shut out.

Good thing I work on hearsay. That's never in short supply, and you end up owing nothing. ^_~

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dear Internet,

I know I said you were bad. Sometimes you are, and you let me down and leave me hanging for material. But sometimes you give me this, and I can never stay mad at you.

Full of win.

The State of the World

While I haven't seen much of the Olympics [read: next to nothing], I did see a portion of the opening ceremonies featuring the cutest little girl I'd ever seen, in a red party dress with pigtailed hair, singing some song about the glory of the homeland or something. It was adorable.

Turns out it was faked. The child that actually sang the song was slightly less cute. Also, some fireworks were digitally inserted. Oh, China. They seem to be having a bugger of a time controlling every aspect of a production this large.

As well, Canada hasn't even scored a piddly bronze yet. Probably because Canadian Olympians have to recycle beer cans to finance their training, a reality Bob Duff discusses in today's Star.

In 1969 a 14-year-old kid snuck into John Lennon's Toronto hotel room with a reel-to-reel and interviewed him. It sounded like this.

Sprouting offspring =/= happiness.

A new breed of fetish porn is born: Contacts that make your eyes look all anime like.

Lifehacker gives us the app I've been waiting my life for: Freedom, which will disable your wireless and ethernet connections for up to six hours, so you can't get distracted when you're supposed to be working [currently Mac only].

And that's all the internet seems to have for me today. Bad internet, no biscuit!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wherever You May Roam

The lovely Brianna Gare [who I had the pleasure of meeting during one of my whirlwind trips home so I have the experience to say that] makes her triumphant return to The Lance, offering you information that will hopefully assist you when deciding where to park your ass this academic year.

Curious to see those privately owned facilities springing up in the area. Hell, I might need to crash there myself the next time I'm in town.

The State of the World

Would you believe The Lady and I heard nothing about the explosions that rocked north Toronto early Sunday morning? All we knew was that the 401 was blocked off, from at least Avenue to Dufferin, with no alternate routes posted, thank you OPP.

And believe me, nothing makes already dumb drivers dumber than when something unexpected snarls up their plans. Jeeeez.

Back at home, Kwame's defense team insists his unauthorized jaunt to Windsor [and Niagra Falls. And New York] was perfectly proper, and not something the Detroit mayor should have been tossed in jail for. His defense team seems to be taking a, 'you didn't say he could cross the border, but you didn't say he could NOT cross the border,' approach.

Equally amusing is the comment thread on stories like these, with Windsorites chiding the Star for covering this in the first place.

This just in: Bush doesn't see America as having problems. Le sigh. It will be interesting to see how history judges this man. Related: I'm sure Bob Costas just got his name put on some sort of list.

Scientists discover the gene that causes some of us to giggle during 'The Exorcist.'

Franz Kafka: LOVED pornography.

First Bernie Mac, now Chef: Isaac Hayes dead at 65.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

He Still Ain't Scared of You

Needless to say, this video is not safe for work. Neither was my reaction when Lady Trail told me the news.

Rest in Peace, Mac.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Family Reunited. So Why am I Here?

Example of a Bird/Amphibian Hybrid by Nicholas Di Genova, one of the many reasons why I dragged myself out to his book launch after work last night. Well, that and I had some toys to pick up. ^_~

So yeah, I had to tear myself away from a recently returned Lady Trail to throw something on here, so I hope you appreciate it. You'd appreciate it more if I knew exactly what it was I intended to throw.

Thankfully my colleagues at the mothership dropped their new issue this week, so if you haven't perused it yet, get the scoop on the tumbleweeds still blowing through the Pub, the city's growing interest in wheelchair sports and an exclusive interview with a true Don, 'Weird' Al Yankovic.

As a man who grew up listening to 'Stuck in a Closet With Vanna White' and still quotes 'UHF' when the occasion demands, I highly recommend you read what the man has to say about everything from where his place might be on the web, to new innovations in digital accordions. Nice piece, Lindsay.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Internet Loves Daft Punk Today. That Makes Today Awesome.

Apparently while I was at the art opening [which was damn cool, if more of a book launch than an exhibit. Probably the reason it's only showing for like, two and a half weeks. But Nick was super nice, and thanks for hooking up my boy] the internet decided it was going to be boring. Ah well, our amazing week couldn't last forever, Windsor.

However, there seems to be a fascination with Daft Punk today. First there's this photo of them being taken hostage by Storm Troopers. Then there's the growing need to decode the songs they sample on their records.

Me, I've always been fascinated by how samples are reused in the first place, so it's not really going to break my heart to know 'Crescendolls' or 'Digital Love' was lifted basically note for note from other songs. Does any of this change the fact that 'Discovery' is possibly the best full length house record ever made? No, no it does not.

In tribute, watch Interstella 555, the band's video for the entire album, done by Japanese anime pioneer Leiji Matsumoto. Awesomeness.

The Balancing Act

Gonna be stepping out for an art show this evening, Windsor. Would have made a great photo piece if the woman hadn't taken the camera with her to Vegas.

I kid, I kid, she felt bad when she realized the show was this week.

Anyhoo, I'll be back with something later tonight. In the meantime, read about Kwame's current stint in jail. Super awesome.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Two unrelated pop culture items of varying length

1. Longtime readers of this blog [aka the Lance EiC and Lady Trail's Dad] will remember that one of the best things I enjoyed about Kingston was Classic Video, the greatest video store I've ever been in. The selection of current and classic, domestic and foreign was topnotch, and the 3 movie/7 days/5 bucks rental on old movies has yet to be topped anywhere.

Trying to find a suitable replacement here in Toronto has been a bit of a chore. I want to love Suspect, one staff member who's likely long gone [since the branch burned down] was beyond kind and helpful when I was in the city looking for Kiyoshi Kurosawa movies in 2005, but it's near impossible to find anything now; the staff's too busy being cool and it's kind of dirty. Nothing else in our neighbourhood came close, until we stumbled upon a shop hidden away at Yonge and Eglinton called Filmfest DVD. While it's your typical run of the mill snooty movie joint, it won my membership for having the one disc I've been itching after for years and haven't seen, ever: Fireworks.

Fireworks is a movie written/directed/edited/starring 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano. If you remember him from anywhere it's from playing the teacher in 'Battle Royale' or maybe being overdubbed as one of the hosts of MXC on Spike. Before he became hailed as a serious cross-genre director with pieces like the samurai musical remake of the Zatoichi franchise, he made violent cop dramas that won acclaim at home and abroad, and Fireworks is considered the best.

I rarely give movies repeat viewings, but I've already watched this movie two times. I may watch scenes again before returning it. Essentially a sort of Charles Bronson movie without the contrivances, Fireworks is the story of a man prone to explosive violence who will lash out viciously to protect what he loves. When a criminal cripples his partner and kills another officer, Kitano's character Det. Nishi not only shoots the man in the head, he nudges the dead man's face to the clean side and empties his gun into the corpse. Yeah, intense. Yet the movie moves at such a serene pace. Characters rarely talk unless they have to, and the sublime soundtrack by Joe Hisaishi [who scored most of Hayao Miyazaki's anime films] only adds to the peaceful melancholy, making it all the more jarring when Nishi slugs a man who disrepsects the former cop's wife, then repeatedly kicks him into the surf.

Just a great, great movie, worth the hype associated with it, and worth your rental should you ever find it.

ps: I see that Park Street Video [at Park/Pelissier] is apparently still in business. This makes me very happy, and you should get some culture and give them your business as soon as possible.

2. Okay. I know. You saw the Watchmen trailer, you see it says 'ACCLAIMED GRAPHIC NOVEL' and you want to read it. I don't blame you. However. I see you come in for it. You ask me where it is. I give you one of the six remaining copies we have at the moment. And, at the risk of being judgmental, I know you won't appreciate it. You'll make fun of Dr. Manhattan's wang and fall for Rorschach's gimmicks, but you will never understand the depth of the book because you didn't come of age in the time it's depicting [albeit amplified in an alternate reality]. When I was a kid I was always terrified that the Russians were going to nuke us without even knowing what the hell that meant. It was the time of rearmament, and most people I knew, or could sort of understand at that age were scared. A lot. Because I lived in a small town filled with stupid people and irrational fear spreads there like mold. That sense of paranoia, of the doomsday clock, of thinking, 'oh goddam, what if it happens this time?' is one of the many reasons that makes Watchmen so amazing, but you will not understand that.

In short, Watchmen is too good for you. If you want Alan Moore, read The Killing Joke. Or better yet, grab his collected DC stories, you get The Killing Joke and a bunch of other stories. Just lay off the Watchmen. You won't like it.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Record Week So Far

I know yesterday I said Guido Beach was the greatest Internet video ever, but the webs be having a banner week, Windsor, because I think this might be as good if not better.

This woman was also startled by the white stuff that falls from the sky every December, and the doppleganger of herself she sees above her bathroom sink. Good Lord.

Pull on your hipwaders. The underbelly's deep.

If you felt the earth rumble sometime last weekend, it was merely the publication of Mattathias Schwartz's piece in the New York Times magazine on Internet trolling.

You roll your eyes, you think this is not news. Everyone knows the internets are filled with dickwads who purposely bait people into confrontation by being willfully obnoxious. These are not the people Schwartz is talking about. He's concerned with a much more sinister brand of muckraker, and you can read the piece for yourself to get the story on them.

One troublesome point, though. For all the 'old media hate' that the troll community spews [Encylcopedia Dramatica depicts it as a rotary telephone receiver getting shoved up someone's ass], why would two of the most notorious practitioners not only agree to be interviewed, but be photographed? Sucking it up to spread the message to a wider audience? But can you still be subversive once everyone's in on the joke?

The article also mentions troll crew Anonymous' recent forays into activism by hacking the Church of Scientology. That experiment is still ongoing.

Also worth noting, and something Jonathan Kay points out in the National Post, is that an article like this could not even be considered without the bankroll of an old media behemoth like the NYTimes. Good journalism is the result of tying up your shoes and getting to the story, which most bloggers [present company included] don't have the resources to do. But with the Times paying your travel expenses, why not fly to Oregon to check out how these people live?

Point being: columnists can be replaced in a heartbeat by anyone with a computer. Reprters, the ones who actually get off their asses, are more difficult to substitute.

Oh. My. God.

This video is so full of epic win, I hesitate to post any other stupid video, since I don't think anything else will top it.

Welcome. To Guido Beach.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Flawlessly Scheduled, It's The State of the World

Lady Trail is supposed to be in Vegas right now drinking her face off, a sort of last hurrah before she comes back here and has to start spending some time planning her classes. Thus far she has already (i) left Toronto and gotten to Milton before realizing she forgot her passport, (ii) had her original flight canceled and (iii) had her replacement flight delayed two hours. So she lost a day of her trip. Consider this an F-You to US Air.

Hopefully your long weekend has been treating you better.

I fully admit I romanticize writers and the lives they lead [since I'm so eager to join them], and am always saddened when I read one of them passes, whether I read their work or not. Such is the case with Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who passed of heart failure at 89. I never read him, but respect his accomplishments and determination, all outlined in his obit in yesterday's Globe.

In your daily dose of sensationalism, reports say Vince Li, the Greyhound bus killer, has been placed on suicide watch in a Winnipeg prison. Li has not spoken since his arrest and refused to see either a lawyer or a doctor. What I find interesting is that the story says Li is currently being clothed in a 'special suicide suit.' What the hell is that supposed to be?

One of the most bizarre things you will realize should you ever move to Toronto [and what gives Windsor a distinct edge over it] is it is likely the first time you will encounter real wealth. Like, Ferrari-driving wealth. Disconnected from reality wealth.
This is something we talk about at work, given the somewhat affluent nature of the clientele at our location. Sometimes you talk to a person who just apparently has no idea where the line is drawn between their house, and in public. So go ahead and break our products and not pay for it. Go ahead and ask me to borrow books like we're a library [which we are not. Libraries are libraries]. Go ahead and continue dismissing my suggestions for your son's book report because 'he's not much of a reader.' It really isn't their fault. They're just stupid rich, and when you get stupid rich, especially [at the risk of generalizing] if you're white stupid rich, you expect the world to conform to the same standards as the microcosm you reside in, and you certainly have no idea how the proverbial other half lives. The Guradian discusses these phenomena.

To be fair, the ad doesn't come with the usual 'I'm Blahdibla and I approve this message' soundbite, but it's still paid for by his electoral committee and posted on his official YouTube channel: the most bizarre and far reaching campaign spot I think I've ever seen, courtesy of John McCain. Seriously, it makes those '3.00 a.m. phone call' ads look like high art.

Save yourself a summer, and instead of reading Atlas Shrugged, read this. And understand the problem with Rand's books is that they willfully ignore step three.

Regret. Illustrated.

And now, the two hour block I had assigned to myself for 'waking up/web surfing/ blogging/breakfast' is almost at an end, so I'm going to take care of that last part and get on with my day. I'll see you later tonight, Windsor.