Friday, October 31, 2008

Check Your Apples for Razorblades!

We know how it is, Windsor. You want to get a great costume together for Halloween, but in these economically trying times, is it really appropriate to acquire the $200 Heath Ledger Joker outfit? Probably not. Luckily for you, alternatives are available.

Be safe, ghoulies.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The American Presidential Election In Two Minutes and Twenty-Five Seconds

Recently Lady Trail and I came to the conclusion that it's probably better for both of our sanities if on November 4th we do the best we can to avoid any and all coverage of the election. National Novel Writing Month will have recently started so that should keep me busy enough, and the Lady will no doubt be bogged with marking for her classes. Or hell, maybe we'll just see Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

You may ask yourself why we would make such a decision? Well, this is part.

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

Tightening the Strings

Or did you think the university could hike faculty salaries by 16 per cent in the current economic climate and not feel the effects?

To be fair, the resolution of the faculty strike isn't the only thing putting the U on shaky financial ground. The Star reports global market conditions, as well as decreased enrollment numbers could impact the university's deficit, currently projected at $5-million.

Additionally, the current economic crisis has seen the university's endowment fund lose ten per cent of its $60-million value. So, the place isn't making the money it used to, and the money it does have is worth less than it used to. You do the math.

None of this is going to help matters at a school already battered by the faculty strike earlier this year, and a student government plagued by allegations of misconduct.

I wish I could predict for you what this will mean for you and your degree, but I suspect it ain't anything good. What does it say when the best you can hope for is getting out before the shit really hits the fan?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Boo, Yo

For my money, the only thing better than the Lance Out Loud is the Lance Out Loud in a pair of corsets. Good times, that Halloween is.

Thanksgiving With Shatner and Other Stories

This is Henry. You may know him. He sang in some bands called Black Flag and The Rollins Band. He's starred in some movies, written some books and hosts a show on IFC. He visited the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto last night, and we visited him.

Click here to continue reading this post.

When I was sixteen, seventeen tops, I went to a bookstore that used to be on Park St. called Borderline Books. This is back when the Norwich Block was still around and great indie bookstores in the city were plentiful [a moment of silence for South Shore Books. Ask your parents]. And among the hard-left and world literature on the shelves there were a few titles by Henry Rollins. As the grunge and punk resurgence was still in full force back then, I knew the guy's name, knew he had been in Black Flag and knew he did spoken word, but had never seen any of his books before, published on his own imprint. So I snagged a copy of Black Coffee Blues and let it have more of an influence on my young poetry than I should have.

A couple years later I directed my parents to buy me the hardcover of Get In the Van, a collection of Rollins' journals during his time in Black Flag, accompanied by amazing photos of the early-80s hardcore scene in America [if you're in a band, it's required reading]. So I've been a fan of the man for years, yet have never seen him live, despite the incessant touring the man does. So to say I was looking forward to last night would be...inadequate.

Shortly after 8.00 the lights in the theatre dimmed and suddenly the man himself shot onto the stage, no fanfare, no introduction, just an blast of energy through the curtain, and he kept up the pace for a full three hours. Among the topics discussed:

-Spending his first real Thanksgiving dinner with William Shatner and his family, since Henry dislikes holidays on the whole, since they keep him from working.

-Do's and Don'ts for listening to Slayer [Do: Work out. Don't: Shop for groceries. You won't know what happened until the cops are pulling you over to discuss the children lodged under your back bumper].

-Politics, obviously, and the potential future of his country, including his...shall we say intense dislike for Sarah Palin?

The bulk of the evening concerned how he spends most of his time when he's not touring or working: traveling to places most Americans don't get to go to. He talked about being in Islamabad, Pakistan the week Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. He talked about standing in Nelson Mandela's former prison cell in South Africa. He talked about talking to former IRA members in Northern Ireland. He talked about picking up human ribs in the killing fields of Cambodia and his talkative Laotian tour guide [who called him 'Mister Curve' for no real reason].

And he talked about why he travels: to see what's what and walk the streets and talk to people he's just met. And then he goes on tour and tells people what it's really like. So he can tell you that even though anguished Muslims in Pakistan were burning tires in the streets after Bhutto was killed, no one gave paid him any mind, and no one chanted 'Death to America'.

This is the Rollins I find most interesting. To say the man's intense is an understatement, and it's fascinating to see him transform himself into what he says 'punk rock should look like as it hurtles towards fifty.' He's become a sort of punk rock Bono, with a focus on eliminating world hunger, since he sees it as the root of most if not all of the serious challenges in the world.

I won't say it was all sunshine and orange juice; my attention span is so shot I can't keep up most activities for longer than 90 minutes, so three hours of Rollins' travel stories came eerily close to watching your relatives' vacation slides. It also becomes apparent listening to him that even though I may be a fan of his, I doubt he'd be a fan of mine, with my decorated house and my enjoyment of Christmas and appreciation of vacations. It's a little conflicting to laugh at a guy's jokes when you're pretty certain he would hate you.

That notwithstanding, it was amazing to watch him go for the whole three hours with no stopping, no stammering and nary a sip of water to soothe his throat. And he does this every night. It's impossible not to respect that sort of ethic.

Below, a video of the man discussing one of the reasons he thinks the rest of the world hates America [NSFW].

Monday, October 27, 2008


All right, Windsor, I had every intention to write you a full report of how I spent my evening, but I had no idea my evening was going to perform for three hours. And since I have to work at 7.00 am tomorrow, I'm afraid the report will have to wait.

So it goes...

Like Bunnies, I Tell You!

Quick like a bunny, Windsor. Daddy's going to see a show tonight, he'll let you know about it when he gets back.

Convicted murderer Jesse Imeson, whose flight from police had the province panicked last year, was convicted to life in prison with no hope of parole for 25 years. Imeson plead guilty to three counts of second degree murder for his killing of Carlos Rivera, along with Bill and Helene Reiger, a couple in their 70's.

Interesting, and I don't add this for salaciousness, but because I was heretofore unaware of it, but the whole sad affair started when Imeson woke to find Rivera performing oral sex on him, prompting him to commit the first murder. One sad incident launches another.

Elsewhere, another plot to assassinate Barack Obama gets broken up by Tennessee authorities.

Japanese Prime Minister complains he no longer has time to read comics. You and me both, brother.

Something I noticed myself, now that I spend more time on the iTunes music store filling the Jesus box: why are they substituting stars for letters in titles that have naughty lyrics? The Guardian investigates.

Oh and for the gamers, I'm playing Force Unleashed right now, and I want to Force Grip that camera right out of the damn wall and actually give me a proper perspective on the action. And I want Starkiller to jump without a half second lag when I press the button. God of War you are not, sir.

And now, I need to hustle to the CNE. Full post later tonight.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Personal Moment

Do you figure it's a coincidence the Toronto district school board had a PA day the same day High School Musical 3 comes out?

Yeah, I didn't think so. Today was a fun day at work.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

If you're a new or irregular visitor to this blog, only discovering it during the strike [and if you're still here, thank you], you may not know that The Trail is a large supporter of the Copyfight at home and abroad.

Basically, I have a problem with the ways corporations and content owners try to tell you what to do with culture. I get testy when art gets commodified like that. Or maybe I just have a problem when iTunes tells me I can only put a song I paid for on five computers or burned CDs. If I can buy a CD and rip it as many times as I want, screw you for trying to limit how I use the digital equivalent.

See, I'm not always happy with Steve Jobs.

One of the more fascinating and amazing aspects of the copyfight is the art of the remix. Don't think of this just when someone puts a techno beat behind a Britney Spears song. Remixing involves creating something new from something old, however that may be. Of course, content owners have a problem with this, even though most people who remix are amateurs and aren't looking to make any money off the project anyway, they do it just for the sake of creation. So the entertainment industry likes to threaten legal action on anyone who makes something out of copyrighted material.

Do you understand how messed this is? Remember that guy who re-edited footage from The Shining to make it look like an uplifiting family drama? Would never happen. DJ Earworm, one of the best mashup artists I've ever encountered would be sued into oblivion, and would never have made his incredible Radiohead/Kanye masterpiece [among many others]. Remember when sampling first came under fire from the record industry, for taking an original recording and reorganizing or combining it with other recordings to make something brand new? This is not thievery, this is creation. It's like the lumber company who sells me a 2'x4' telling me I can only use it to make toothpicks. Ludicrous.

American academic Lawrence Lessig has discussed issues like this for years, but his recent book is dedicated to this issue specifically [aptly titled 'Remix'], and has joined my 'Book Pile of Epic Height' currently scattered abouts my shelves.

In a serendipitous move, my man D.Bresson sent me the link to a documentary on these issues, by EyeSteelFilm. Seen in the clip include author and blogger Cory Doctorow [a guy who regularly gives away his books online] and Lessig himself. Check it out....

Fight the good fight, Windsor.

Downward is Heavenward

Remember last week when I told you about TVO's current affairs program The Agenda coming to Windsor for a live broadcast? Well, they came and went, and the crew of the Lance Out Loud was there to catch it.

I find the comments made by the lovely [and coordinated] hosts interesting. I met up with my old friend, journalism classmate and former Lance contributor Melissa Pulleyblank, who recently moved up this end of the province, following her dream to get into the head office at McDonald's Canada [don't snicker, she makes an aight salary and gets benefits and stocks]. So how was she enjoying her flight from the Rose City, something she had dreamed about since she was a teenager?

Hates it. Wants to go back in December.

We talked a lot about Windsor yesterday, and I made pretty much the same point that MFA student Justin Langlois makes, encouraging a Windsor that can create a viable and sustainable economy focused on art and culture. My theory, completely uneducated obviously, is that the idea that the Big Three are going to swoop in and decide to start making hybrids in Windsor is optimistic at best and delusional at worst. This is forgetting that Ken Lewenza Sr. is now heading the CAW [and how did that happen, anyway?]. I fear that ship might have sailed for the city, despite the bottomed out real estate. Between the potential GM/Chrysler merger and the current state of the economy that sees companies holding on to all the cash they can get, things are probably headed downward for awhile. But I do think the city can withstand these challenges. I just hope there's people left there to help with build it back up.

Speaking of tightening belts, I see that 'oversight committee' for The Lance finally got up and running, fulfilling one of Justin Teeuwen's administrative dreams [and probably Coffin for that matter]. The UWSA it's purpose is not editorial, more fiscal, to make more transparent how the paper spends its money.

Damn. Nice knowing you, Windsor.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Holy Crap, The World!

Allow me to take a moment from re-ripping my CD collection [is there a more tedious enterprise?] to peek my head at the world outside, Windsor.

I suspect the Lance website has been slow on its update in an effort to shake me from my iTouch euphoria. Well played, comrades.

Locally, and of interest to me, is the news that Lancer football coach Mike Morencie has had some choice words for city councillor [and blogger] Alan Halberstadt after Halberstadt made some posts calling for Morencie's exit after the Lancers were eliminated from playoff contention last weekend in a 40-11 loss against McMaster.

Halberstadt says the Lancer football team should have been able to accomplish more with a top gun like running back Daryl Stephenson, and is embarrassing the university by getting beat in their fancy new, $10-million stadium, which is rarely filled.

Also of note is the speculation from Guelph reporter Greg Layson posted his own blog alleging Athletics Director Gord Grace could be taking over the head coach position next season [Morencie is less than halfway through a four-year contract].

I'll refrain from commenting on whether Morencie should stay or go [I like him, but have no idea if he's been an effective coach or not], I am a little disappointed that Halberstadt has ducked the invitation to engage Morencie directly in discussion. It doesn't exactly help the impression that some have about bloggers as nothing more than reclusive misanthropes lobbing irritated missives at people bigger than them. It's unfortunate, I generally like Halberstadt, and am pleased that he's embraced newfangled technologies like his blog in a town not known for embracing future trends that much.


Tokyo broom shop hasn't had a customer since 1972.

Oh, I can't help myself: New York magazine analyzes the "final undoing of Sarah Palin." Still not enough for me to believe Obama can win.

Related, for all my white people: David Sedaris discusses undecided voters. In the New Yorker. Stream that on NPR and the caucasian trifecta is officially in play.

Quickest way to ice your chances of sex on Halloween: Amazing Transformers costume.

And, for my man D.Bresson, Extreme Championship Wrestling play-by-play man Joey Styles calls figure skating.

Composed on the Jesus Box

Well, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it isn't tedious trying to type on the touch keypad, but I'd be lying if I said the idea of blogging everywhere I went wasn't appealing. Being able to draft ok the subway alone could shoot my productivity through the roof.

So I stand by what I said the other day: it's not without its flaws, but I'm willing to endure them while the novelty is still so high.

I still won't be paying the five bucks for the full version of the application that lets me make posts, though. Cheap as free, suckas!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reviewed: W.

As mentioned yesterday, Sunday was my birthday and I had the pleasure of spending it in its entirety with Lady Trail, something that happens with less frequency during the school year [not complaining, it just is what it is], and we concluded it by seeing...W.

Odd choice for a birthday viewing? Not as odd as the year I saw From Hell. Now that was a life affirmer.

I don't know that I have anything to add to the discourse on the film that hasn't already been said. It seems to be a rather polarizing film, which is what obviously what Stone was going for. I will say this though: I was surprised how sympathetic the film was to him.

To explain, the promotional materials for the film all make it seem like you'll spend two hours pointing at the oaf muck up the country. Not surprisingly, these matters are rarely so clear. Put it like this, my first words out of the theatre to Lady Trail were, "Poor little fool." The movie doesn't portray Bush as some sort of clown, it paints him as a deeply flawed man who doesn't always exercise the best judgment, a condition exacerbated by the people he surrounded himself with, namely Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.

Also worth note is the lack of intrigue present in the film. This isn't like JFK or Nixon where Stone presented a healthy dose of speculation in the film. With the litany of books and reports on both sides that have trailed the Bush administration, most of the inflammatory scenes in the movie have been well documented by multiple sources, like his history of alcoholism and the lack of reliable intelligence before the Iraq invasion. It sort of leaves you wondering why you spent two hours watching things you already know about, if you've followed these things or have been an avid Daily Show watcher.

Finally, the acting must be commended, even if the actors don't always succeed. Thandie Newton is startingly good as Condoleeza Rice, but by the film's third act it almost seems like parody. Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney nails the glowering menace of the VP, delivering a speech supporting the Iraq invasion that left me shaking my head in sadness that people running a country, let alone the most powerful one in the world, could think in such a fashion.

But the star is Josh Brolin, and he continues putting together a hell of an acting resume. His Bush is confident, delusional, contradictory, charismatic, infuriating, and a man who refuses to be easily categorized. I don't know if I can recommend seeing it in a theatre, but it's definitely worth a rental just to see his performance.

You might think you already know everything about the man, you may have already written your book on him. W. shows that, to borrow a phrase, you might think you know, but you have no idea.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Reviewed! The Trail vs. The Jesus Box

It's certainly no secret that The Trail has been on the nuts of Mr. Jobs a few times in his life, Windsor. In fact, if you were to trace back my computing history, you find its genesis in games of 'Carmen Sandiego' on the Apple IIc when I was seven or eight, so the love was deep. Spending three years on Macs pretty well exclusively only heightened the love, as did the purchase of my first iPod, a device I mocked upon its initial release, then caved to trend pressure and quickly could not imagine life without it.

But times change, Windsor. I had to relinquish the Macs I had been using, reverting back to Windows XP. My iPod, Ol'Weezy, was on her last legs, and I found myself listening to the same 20 of her 2,000 songs every day on the subway, just to keep her battery going for more than 24 hours. I was, I thought, embracing a life without the next big thing. Until I woke up yesterday morning and found Lady Trail had purchased me a 16GB iPod Touch for my birthday [which was yesterday. Jerks].

As you can see, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Look, I knew the thing would be cool. I knew there would be the tactile pleasure in sliding around the touch screen, like some infant banging on the tray of his high chair. But I didn't have the slightest inkling of all the things this little box of magic could do.

It should be stated, if there any strikes against the thing, it's almost that it's too fancy, or that it does so much, when you can't do something, it sticks out even more. The coolest features are of course dependent on WiFi connectivity, so if there's no network around, the bells and whistles are pretty much fudged: No email, no Facebook, no iTunes purchasing, no web browsing. But when you can get online, it's like the heavens opened up. The screen is so sharp it's better than most monitors I've had. Lady Trail and I watched a couple movie trailers, and they loaded on the iPod faster than they loaded on her laptop. Ridonkulous.

The main complaint about mobile Safari [Apple's web browser] remains the same: No Flash animation. You have no idea how entrenched Flash has become in website construction until you have to go without it. Case in point: I surfed to this blog last night, and neither the Twitter box or the music player loaded. YouTube works fine, but that seems to be the only one. I just tried surfing to Homestar Runner just now, and not even the title screen would load. Bummer, that.

The real star of the whole endeavour, though, has nothing to do with Apple. It has to do with everyone else who makes stuff for it: The App Store.

I have gone App insane, Windsor. It is all I can do to limit myself to free ones. Already I have downloaded pool, a blockbuster/Arkanoid style game, a marble madness maze game, an app that makes my iPod sound like a Lightsaber and plays the Imperial March. And these are all the free ones! And they're not all stupid! Take Urban Spoon: You input your location [down to the neighbourhood if you choose] along with how much you want to spend, shake the iPod [it has motion sensors for cute little tricks like this] and boom! A suggestion on where to go to dinner. A couple clicks gets you reviews of the place, even the menu if available. For us, who half the time end up eating at a chain because we always end up in unfamiliar parts of town and don't know where to go, this is a killer app. Combine it with the built in Maps feature the iPod has, and I can get directions straight there. BUT: There's no copy and paste, so I have to manually go back and forth between the address of the restaurant and the Maps function as I punch it in with the graphical keyboard my fingers are a little too pudgy for. See what I mean about noticing what it won't do?

If anything, the thing I've noticed the most so far is that the Touch performs most poorly at the thing that's supposed to be its primary function: play music.

This could just be me being averse to change, it could just be me being so familiar with Ol'Weezy ThirdGen that I haven't fully gotten used to browsing for music on the Touch's interface. The CoverFlow feature which allows you to flip through album covers to find your music is pretty, but probably redundant. I just find that half the time I can't find songs in CoverFlow, since it searches albums, and half the time my songs don't have albums listed in that field on iTunes. I also have a short attention span, and the constant clicking of the display on and off to fast forward I find irritating, and I wish there was an easier, more hands-free way, but this could probably be accomplished by picking up a $20 headphone remote, which I may have to look for tomorrow. It's the accessories that kill you.

Don't let any of this lead you to believe that I don't consider this device anything less than incredible. Even in the middle of a field with no WiFi for miles, you can use it for more than you could ever do with an iPod Classic. It will never be the BlackBerry killer I suspect some at Apple want it to be [the keyboard is far too cumbersome, the nimble fingers of today's businessman require an actual tactile keyboard, I'd imagine], but for Mr. Casual like me, it's beyond amazing: I can take notes, plan my appointments with the calendar, get weather updates, stock quotes [if I cared], and read Gord Henderson wherever I am.

If you're in it just for music and video, you should probably stick with the classic and the format you're used to. But if you're itching for the bells and whistles, there is no reason not to rush the hell out of your home and get one of these.

Well played, Jobs, and thanks to Lady Trail for an amazing birthday. I suspect she only bought it for me to keep me occupied at night when she's marking.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Late Night Culture

I know nothing [NOTHING] about ballet, or dance in general. But I know that anyone who can do ballet with one arm, or one leg, could take those kids on So You Think You Can Dance to the woodshed for fun.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Bit o'This and That

The ladies of the Lance Out Loud hit you up again with your obligatory election update, as well as the increase in Indians enrolling in classes to lose their accents and sound more American.

And can I just say, as much as I enjoy mucking through American politics, I am so relieved that the debates are over. The McCain smirk was staring to give me the night terrors.

And in a brief gaming note, I see the PS3 port of Bioshock has this little goodie tacked onto the end of it.

The funny thing is, Lady Trail will be more excited for this than I am.

A Nooner

Morning, Windsor. Just a quick note to alert you to a pretty cool opportunity coming up this weekend.

The Agenda, Steve Paikin's current events program on TVO will be broadcasting from the Art Gallery of Windsor this coming Monday night, using content gathered from an 'AgendaCamp' held there the day before.

"Using blogs, video, photographs and an interactive wiki, participants will be able to propose and lead discussions."

The focus is on the manufacturing economy [surprise, given the location], but it's a rare chance for the city to receive some greater media attention in a format other than ringing the city's funeral bell.

For info on the camp, visit, for tickets to the show taping, visit

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Well, was anyone really surprised how that played out? The Federal Election is in the books and once again, the new boss is same as the old boss. Harper used his victory address to trot out a new economic plan to minimize damage from the current economic hardship. Elsewhere, Stephane Dion's leadership of the Liberals could be on the chopping block, after the party failed to recoup any significant ground from 2006, and took the lowest percentage of the popular vote since Confederation [yowch].

Oh, and the Greens still didn't get a seat. Le meh.

On the home front, congrats are in order to criminology student Chris Stephens, who was the only player to pick all the weekend's NFL winners and longshots, netting him a cool $573,000 on a $10 SportSelect ticket. No more OSAP for that boy.

As well, don't forget to pick up the new issue of The Lance, with a feature story on Finger Eleven, who are playing on your campus on October 20. Tickets are still available, $20 for students, $25 for the public.

Me, I'm just counting the days for new Kanye. Entertainment Weekly heard it this week, and got to look at naked ladies in the process.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cat v. Toothbrush: FIGHT!

I don't think you people realize how hard it is to limit myself to one cat-related post a day [LOLCats don't count]. As I glance over at my own pair of felines tearing each other apart in the bedroom right now [it's my own fault, I got them hopped up on turkey leftovers] I am reminded again of what a....unique kind of joy cat ownership provides one.

Case in point:

If you haven't voted yet, just frigging do it already.

Feeling the Itis

Hoping your turkey enjoyment was everything you wanted it to be, Windsor.

I would love you to give you a proper state of the world, but it seems most of said state is concerned with the ongoing economic armageddon, of which I have only a limited understanding of [though apparently Europe figured out how to fix it]. Still, the bulk of what I'm hearing is this: it was a long time in the making, and it will be a long time getting out of it. So tighten your belts, graduates, and enjoy spending the next 15 years of your lives getting out of debt.

Other, than that, it's Election Day!

See the exclamation point? That was me trying to work up enthusiasm for Canadian politics. That said, the aforementioned economic crisis has been a game changer for this election, forcing the party leaders to alter their plans considerably. Some predict that if Harper gets the big chair again, his cabinet will be significantly shuffled again. If the Liberals don't hold onto as many seats as they had when the campaign started, his spot as party Leader could be threatened. So it wouldn't be all bad if Harper gets reelected. Polls suggest we'll get the same Parliamentary makeup we had when this thing started, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get off your ass in the democratic process.

I'll be doing it to renew my complainer's rights, which for a sassbag like me is of paramount importance.

Down south Bush signs a law toughening penalties for movie and music piracy at a federal level. Sure to reverberate up here in the coming months.

A St. Louis radio station encourages arson by shifting to 24/7 Christmas music. Now. In October. Before Halloween.

Peeing on yourself is always a good way to distract the police officer who has pulled you over.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Radio Silence

Hot god damn, sorry about that Windsor. Apparently it took me a little longer to get back into the post-strike swing than I was expecting. Busy times up here, as I worked a closer on Thursday night, then hit up Hip Hop Karaoke with Lady Trail [making our onstage debut to Grand Puba's 1995 track 'I Like It']. Saturday night we checked out Lucinda Williams at Massey Hall [The Lady's a fan], then tomorrow we're having an Orphan's Thanksgiving at one of my coworkers.

I imagine most of you are happy to be seeing the family this weekend, but irritated to have your studies interrupted again so soon after they recommenced.

Enjoy your weekend, Windsor. I'll be reminding you of our upcoming election shortly, but for now, enjoy Lance Multimedia Editor Mike Evans' latest offerings for you, as he prepares for the Windsor 48-Hour Flick Fest.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Back to School, Back to School....

Hate reading? The Lance Out Loud crew is here to help you get caught on the strike aftermath.

It is also worth noting that the current issue has an article on the influence of Zapp and Roger. Which makes absolutely no sense to me but I'm glad to see it. Everyone read Wax Poetics!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Quick Shots: Nick and Norah's Infinte Playlist

This is a Kat Dennings. I find her hot as hell. I can say that, because she is legal. I know this, because I wiki'd her. 2008-1986 = 22, suckas.

Since moving to this city last year, my supporting cast has become markedly more diverse: I now boast friends of different religious and sexual backgrounds, ensuring I can make insensitive comments about most demographics, because I have at least one friend in said demographic.

Yet most of these friends are limited to dee-effing it at work, so when my lesbian Amy asked me if I wanted to go see Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist after work, I was a little surprised. After accounting for the whereabouts of everyone she would have asked instead of me, and because it was right after my shift at a movie theatre across the hall and Lady Trail would be out at her sign language class, I agreed. Thoughts, which go mildly spoilerish:

--Clearly, I am not this film's demographic. This is not to say I didn't enjoy it, but it's clearly not meant for me. Every generation, every segment of youth culture at a given time requires its 'movie where kids like them stay out all night doing nothing.' Back in my day, it was probably 'Dazed and Confused'. For the dumb kids of this generation, it was 'Superbad'. For the indie kids rocking the neon frame sunglasses and the scarves in the summer, it's Nick and Norah. It's a love letter for music nerds, and I can appreciate that, since once upon a time I used to be one. My issue might be with the type of music showcased.

--NY indie rock reigns supreme in this movie, and as a genre, it's music I have little patience for, and only recently gained some insight as to why that might be. I was flipping through the annual Da Capo anthology of music writing for this year, and read a rebuttal to a column by New Yorker critic Sasha Frere-Jones on the problems with indie rock. Topping the list: it has no soul. Read: it's not black enough. I'll leave Frere-Jones' column for you, but as expected it generated a sufficient level of ire in the music press upon its publication. One of the responses was from Slate's Carl Wilson, the piece collected in the Da Capo book. Wilson argues that Frere-Jones' problem isn't just the lack of musical miscegenation, it's an issue of class; indie rock isn't just the music of white kids, '...more blatantly upper-middle class and liberal-arts-college-based, and less self-aware or politicized about it.'

Wilson adds this makes the music less body-centric, more 'bookish and nerdy'. And as a drummer who listens to hip-hop 77 per cent of the time, that just doesn't click with me. Many arguments were had with coworkers the month we were playing Vampire Weekend regarding the danceability of it. Take a wager what side of the debate I stood on.

The characters in Nick and Norah love this stuff. They want plaintive guitar strumming and nonsensical, vaguely romantic lyrics. When something resembling hip-hop does take the stage, it's courtesy of a white guy in a Liberace jacket, to the dismay of everyone in attendance. Cool for them, but it ain't my bag. Well, !!!'s cool. I dig them. And Lady Trail plays the new TV On the Radio in the house, which is cool. But both those bands are familiar with groove.

--There's a really random plot point about orgasms that comes 3/4 through the movie out of nowhere, and doesn't really reach a worthy conclusion. While initially confused at its inclusion, I then remembered the movie was based on a teen novel, which made perfect sense.

--Where's Fluffy is the worst f*cking name for a band I have ever heard. Ever in life. The Dickaches, though, that's quality.

But it's a cute little movie, a fine enough distraction, and if you can still stand Michael Cera playing Michael Cera, you'll love it.

Monday, October 06, 2008

If My Traffic's Fallen By Half, It Must Be The State of the World

Wow. Look at those hit counts drop. You ungrateful wretches must be back in class. No more time for poor ol' Paper Trail and his daily efforts.

Meh, I can't complain, it was a fun vacation for me. Though horrifying in the sense that it revealed just how much time is spent on this thing. I may have to eliminate nap time. So what's new out there?

Obviously, you're in class right now, so you know the strike is over, and your main concern has shifted to how you will make up for the last class time. While finer details will be left up to individual faculty, the Star reports the fall break will be eliminated, and the semester has been extended to December 12.

Since when do you get a fall break?

How any of this will affect your confidence in the education you receive, that's up to you, Windsor.

On the election front [ours for a change] the leaders are getting on the economy train that's keeping your parents up at night. Dion's taking claim for being the first one to panic, while criticizing the Harpatron 3000 for ignoring the crisis in its early stages and now doing what the Liberals were calling for in the first place.

For his part, Harper is giving an interview with the Business News Network as we speak, though sources say the Tory platform won't be undergoing any major alterations in light of the current economic situation.

As I write this on a laptop running XP, we learn that the little OS is proving harder to get rid of than Microsoft would probably like.

South of the border, as I continue to promote my liberal agenda, Rolling Stone runs a story for next week's issue on the fiction of John McCain's depiction as a 'maverick,' and some dickhole teacher in Florida tells his seventh graders that CHANGE stands for 'Come Help A Ni**er Get Elected.'

This is why I will never believe with confidence that Obama can win.

The dumbest list of great books I've ever seen.

Ninety-two year old pulls gun on paramedics to decline treatment. That's one way to do it.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Now that you're going back to class I can finally start posting stupid videos again. Like this one, designed to give you a laugh before you head in to yell at your profs and sort out what the rest of your term will look like.

The best thing since Al Pacino Checks His Bank Balance.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Day 16 - update 31

The University of Windsor has released this statement:
The University of Windsor announces that it has reached a tentative agreement with faculty and librarians that would end the current work stoppage. Classes will resume Monday. The agreement must still be ratified by members of the Windsor University Faculty Association and approved by the University’s Board of Governors.
All classes are to resume on Monday.

The UWSA is already in meetings trying to offer some advice on behalf of students for the back to work protocol that is being developed at this time. 
You can send them your thoughts, advice and input that you feel should be considered for the BTW protocol at

Rumours [from some UWSA highers-up, and an attendee from the WUFA rally this afternoon] have it that WUFA president Brian E. Brown is very excited with the tentative agreement. So things are looking up. 

Day 16 - update 30

Well, an offer is out there, and ratification is next:

All of your lobbying and petitioning for everyone to get back to the table can now be directed toward people who can actually vote to pass the ratification. Sitting in at the president's office isn't going to help the WUFA vote in favour of the contract, but perhaps sitting at their ratification meeting (location TBA) could.

Besides that, the agreement is reported to have been reached at around 11 p.m. last night.

As WUFA says:
WUFA's Negotiating Team reached a tentative agreement with the University Administration @11PM on Thursday, October 2nd. In accordance with the WUFA Constitution, the Executive is meeting @10AM on Friday Oct. 3rd, to be followed by Council @3PM to consider the terms of the proposed agreement. There will be a ratification meeting on Saturday @noon for all members of the bargaining unit at a location to be announced. The terms of the proposed agreement will be announced at that time. A ratification vote will follow. All members are encouraged to attend. There is no provision for advance polls or absentee ballots.
The language coming from WUFA president, Brian E. Brown, isn't particularly warming, though.
Asked how well the deal addresses WUFA's demands, Brown replied: "At the moment, I'd rather not comment on that."

"We'll have to wait and see what the executive has to say about it, and also council and the membership as a whole. We have to follow our constitution."

- Windsor Star

But tentative agreement or not, a rally in support of WUFA, organized by WUFA, will be held today at noon outside of Chrysler Tower.

So you know where your profs will be, now you can go visit and see if your assignments are due.

Day 16: Update 29

What did I tell you?

Rogers will for certain have further details later today.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Strike Aside: When the Blame Comes

Explanation - I Demand One Demotivational Poster

So I been thinking, Windsor. On Wednesday it was reported that the admin and WUFA were headed back to the bargaining table, yet classes were still canceled for the remainder of the week. Couple that with Rogers mentioning that even if a deal was reached it would take at least 48 hours for the union to ratify it. Perhaps I'm being optimistic, but I wouldn't be terribly surprised if [THIS IS PURE CONJECTURE!] you're all back in classes by Wednesday at the latest.

But let's not pat ourselves on the back just yet, Windsor. There's no denying this whole fiasco has been one of the more epic clusterf*cks to visit the university in some time, possibly in the entire time I've been keeping an eye on it. And it's going to do some damage on a couple levels.

1. University vs. Students
The most recent concern on most of your minds is what happens to your money, and by now most of you probably know the answer: you ain't getting it back. The University is guaranteeing you will get your full semester; you're still getting what you paid for, just not when you expected it. At least that's what they told psychology student Katrina Fotopoulos when she tried to withdraw for the year. Is it bullshit reasoning? Of course, but you expected that, it's bureaucracy!

I don't doubt that the University will go to the ends of the earth to provide the extra resources to give you the means to make up the time lost. But that's just it: you've still gotta make it up. For some of you, that's just a pain in the ass, for others it's time where you would otherwise be working, making money to pay for your education, time that you now have to take off from your job. In either case, how likely is it you'll be holding a grudge against someone, either faculty or admin? It certainly won't help that reputation, campus morale issue they trot out from time to time.

2. University vs. City
The relationship between this university and its host city is becoming increasingly fascinating as the years go on. Sometimes, the school gets hailed as a beacon of progress, moving the city forward into the future; other times it's the ivory tower populated with intellectual elites [that means you too, students, make no mistake] that have no concern for the regular people and don't want any.

I first started thinking about the public perception of this dispute when I went looking online to see if the esteemed Star editorial cartoonist Mike Graston had bothered to weigh in on it. And he sure did, back on September 26, summing up an opinion I suspect is shared by more people on the streets than WUFA would care to admit [a quick glance at the more outspoken, if grammatically worrisome, comments on the Star's website would suggest the same].

Don't forget people are still irritated that Uncle Ross opted not to build the new engineering downtown [a decision I still agree with]; now that they're being asked to sympathize with profs still making $539 a week in strike pay [I don't think anyone on the picket's missing any meals] while they're kids are left dangling in the wind. Not a recipe for goodwill on either side.

I am in no way saying that I've gone all anti-WUFA. My personal distaste for unions in these economically precarious time notwithstanding, there's been too much shadowy talk of issues left out of the admin's public negotiating for me to believe it was all about money. I've spoken with Brian Brown in past years, he's stand up and I am sure did not take putting a strike vote to the membership lightly; whatever was left out of that full page newspaper ad must have been important.

But the fact remains, the past three weeks have been a disaster for this university, and while I have all the faith that student apathy will run its course and put this hardship out of your minds by the time you're writing midterms [whenever that might be] I fear the public damage done to the institution will be much harder to shake.

Check back, when we know something, you'll know it.

Day 15 - update 28

I found an old copy of The Lance from the last faculty strike in 1982. Here's what came of it last time:

November 18, 1982
Make-up classes up to each faculty
by Kevin Rollason

Professors at the University of Windsor must find some way to make up classes during the strike. This can be in the form of extra classes, foregoing breaks, or several other ways recommended by the Deans of each of the faculties, said Dr. Cassano, vice-president academic.

Cassano said that he had "asked the Deans to monitor the professors," to see if they were making up classes. He admitted though, that the university had left the idea of make up classes "pretty well to the instructor."

Dr. Jerome Brown, Dean of Arts, felt that "it is a matter of commitment." He went on to point out that it was in the contract that the faculty association signed, that the faculty would not be paid for the week lost because of the strike. Instead, he said, they "would be paid for making up classes."

Brown pointed out that already many classes had been made up. Classes would not be made up in five minute spots but "in recognizable blocks."

Dr. Walter Romanow, Dean of Social Science, said that he called a meeting of the professors in his faculty immediately "to try and figure out strategies for different ways of making up classes." They had to do this, he said, in order to accommodate different classes which consist of lectures, seminars, and the like.

Romanow felt that "all classes and labs have been made up for will be made up by the end of the semester."

One of the fears of the Deans, Romanow said, was the danger of hurting students' performances in school through the make-up procedure. But, as far as he knows, "no student has been disadvantaged."

Cassano said that he expected all of the Deans to meet with the professors and send their make-up plans to him. He said that there are different procedures for every faculty at the university.

Brown gave several examples of how the Faculty of Arts is making up classes. One example is with evening courses. They can be made up by adding half an hour to the class four times if it is a two hour course, or by holding a separate class on another day, by agreement with the students.

The memorandum Brown sent out to each of his Faculty Members concludes by saying that they must follow the "guidelines with liberality and fairness, but especially in such a way as to ensure that students receive the tuition for which they have paid and which is necessary for the integrity of the course and the discipline."

Brown further commented that any student who feels their professor, in the Faculty of Arts, is lax in his make-up classes, or didn't make up a class, they should contact him. He stressed that it was "part and parcel of the agreement" the teachers signed.

Click here to read 'Terms of strike settlement revealed at meeting' - Oct. 7, 1982

Terms of strike settlement revealed at meeting
October 7, 1982

by Paula Lovquist

On Friday, October 1, 1982, the Board of Governors held a closed meeting during which they ratified a new one-year agreement with the University's Faculty Association. The pact, which was ratified Thursday by the Faculty Association, provides for two alternate monetary proposals.

The Lance spoke with John Dempster, chief negotiator for the Board of Governors who provided us with the following information.

The first proposal provides for a total of 13.8 per cent increase in the monetary package. It includes a 10.25 per cent salary scale increase in two stages, retroactive to July 1, 1982plus a $1,150 professional development increment.

PTR, or progression through the ranks, is a term used for the progression of the faculty members up the professional rank ladder, via which they are justified of earning a higher salary.

The Board of Governors and the Faculty Association agreed to join together in an application to the Ontario inflation Restraint Board to have the Faculty Association exempted from Ontario's new Compensation Restraint Act for the 1982-83 contract. The 13.8 per cent settlement is comparable to the settlements reached by other universities for 1982-83.

In the event that the above proposal is not accepted by the Inflation Restraint Board, the new contract provides for a second monetary package which includes a nine per cent increase over 1982-83.

Other agreements in the contract include:

- an increase of sabbatical leave expenses. They will rise from 75 per cent to 80 per cent.

- a retirement fund of $150,000 is to be created which will be distributed within the next three months to currently retired Faculyt members and their beneficiaries who are qualified to receive it.

- another fund of $50,000 will also be set up for anomolies, for which faculty members may apply if they fell justified.

- a further agreement, which came after some struggle, dealt with one of the faculty's "principles." The faculty decided that if a member was assigned to teach a course for a semester and then discovered that this section was empty, and therefore cancelled, he should still be compensated for it even though he was not teaching. The Board of Governors disagreed, and ultimately, the two groups agreed that if such events were to happen, the professor would be assigned to another duty for which he would receive equal compensation

- The professors also insisted that any member who teaches more than four courses per semester be considered to have a full-time appointment. The Board agreed and it was entered into the contract.

- The Board of Governors and the Faculty Association also agreed to set up a committee which will investigate and make recommendations on all of these concerns and others. This committee will consist of three members of the Board of Governors and three members of the faculty association.

Overall the ideal of "civility" was maintained and both sides appear to be satisfied with the eventual results. The only question remaining is: how long will it last?

That both the Board and the Faculty Association would be willing to risk the academic life of so many people is rather frightening.

John H. McGiveny, Chairperson of the Board, in his statement to the Board of Governors said, "It is a sad commentary on our maturity and our creativity and our commitment to the students and to the community, that we are unable to settle our differences without jeopardizing the education of those who represent the justification for our existence."

It is too bad they did not think of that sooner.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Day 14 - update 27

WUFA strike update:

Dr. Alan Wildeman met the public at town hall, and a podcast is now available. By clicking on this link, you'll have at least an hour of the debate available. I've been listening for a while, and it's about half way over. 

If you couldn't make it, and you've got the time/interest to listen to Wildeman field questions/attacks from the community.

If that link isn't working, you can find it hosted at

Props to everyone who asked questions - they didn't pull any punches. 

Day 14 - update 26

The most important WUFA strike update yet:

Wednesday morning, October 1, 2008
Negotiators back at bargaining table: Greg Long, the provincially-appointed mediator in the collective bargaining negotiations between the University of Windsor and the Windsor University Faculty Association, released the following statement last night:

"Subsequent to the parties having reviewed their respective positions with the mediator, the mediator has today called the parties back to the bargaining table and negotiations are ongoing."


The Windsor Star continues its coverage of the latest developments, most of which revolve around the students at the University of Windsor these days. In 'Students grill Wildeman,' Don Lajoie reports that some students still aren't getting the answers they wanted even after meeting with the administration.

In the last two days, University of Windsor president Dr. Alan Wildeman has met with student leaders and students at large to address their questions regarding the strike and how it will impact their studies this semester.

Some of the questions haven't been answered, and I'll try and clarify some of the material.

Please click here for more answers.
"My big concern is what happens to tuition and we didn't get answers. We've already missed (two) weeks and we won't get that time back. I've paid for something I'm not getting."
Lisa Hill, a third-year criminology student 
Short answer: you're not getting your money back. 

Long answer: Both the faculty and the administration are saying two things that should answer this question for you. First, they continuously quote that no Ontario university has ever lost a semester to a strike. The second is, they will make sure that you receive the full value for your semester and get you the credits you deserve. To disambiguate, this means they're not giving you back your money - because you will, in the end, get what you paid for. You're just not getting it as scheduled. 

"[T]here have been no talks between the administration and the Windsor University Faculty Association (WUFA) for two weeks. She said that if extra classes are tacked on at the end of the year, she'd be in financial trouble."

"I came from Toronto. I know 10 people who came for this. We all signed an eight-month lease. Now we might be spending money for rent, food and gas we didn't budget for. I'm supposed to have a classroom placement in two weeks and haven't learned anything. It's a stupid waste of time. Why is he talking to us?"

- Anony-source, first year education

I think the question here is: will the semester be extended? This question is being asked in many forms, including: will we go to school on weekends? Will we go to school during the counselling week? Will we go to school late into December? Will we go to school in January (extended semester)? etc.

Short answer: They don't know.

Long answer: A back-to-work protocol will have to be established, and in it, professors and their deans will design the adjusted curriculum. It is very realistic that each of your classes and labs will have their syllabi changed. That being said, each professor will have to restrategize how they intend to provide the instruction required for their course. This is all contingent upon how much time is lost, and that is a question that can't be answered yet. 

Simply, until they know how much time they have to make up for, they cannot establish an answer to this question. 
Some people are asking why, if both sides want to return to the bargaining table, are they not at the table? 
Short answer: the mediator hasn't brought them back to the table yet.

Long answer: The two sides aren't actually phoning one another to say that they're ready to return to the negotiations, but rather the appointed mediator, Greg Long from the Ministry of Labour, meets with each side to evaluate whether he believes bringing them back to the table is worthwhile. He reviews proposals, counter-proposals and the wishes of each side and then decides whether or not they are close enough to a deal that they should resume negotiations. To this point, Long has said:
The mediator may call the parties back to bargaining if there is, in his assessment, a reasonable prospect for a resolution of the dispute. The mediator will have no further public comment on negotiations at this time.
So, you can see that this is the process through which they must negotiate. Hopefully this is more clear - I think we were all a bit put off when we were being told by both sides that they were trying to get back to the table, but weren't going back. Well, this explains the situation a bit better.
Are my assignments due when we go back to class?
Short answer: If classes are cancelled, then the assignments are cancelled.

Long answer: You ought to be working on your assignments during the strike, but it is not due until after the strike is over. Be prepared for that. The deans are going to work to minimize the impact on students in their first days back to class. So, technically, yes - all assignments should be due, but it would be an awfully inflexible professor who would collect them. Deadlines and due dates will be considered during the development of the back-to-work protocol, which cannot be done until a conditional agreement is met. [Edit 1 p.m.]
How long after a conditional agreement is reached will classes be back on? 
Short answer: At the very least, 48 hours. Probably longer.

Long answer: There is a 48-hour period after a deal is reached in principle that the striking body will take to have its membership ratify the results. This is the union's way to approve of the contract. Negotiators have to take an agreement from the negotiating table and then pitch it to the members, who then vote on whether they will agree to work under those circumstances or not. During that ratification period would be when the back-to-work protocol (and answers to many of these questions) will be hammered out. So, it would take at least 48 hours after a deal is met in principle.