Thursday, November 27, 2008

Unofficial: Popping My Cherry

This isn't part of the official countdown, Windsor [since I've put it on hold due to my illness this week], but I couldn't resist, for the first time, jumping in on the latest 'discussion' on the collapsing auto industry over at the Star's website, at an apparently frequent poster who's made a name for himself, not in the best regard:

"I usually refrain from getting directly involved in these discussions, but I'm really hoping that 'Guido' is a phantom. I need to believe that my car was built by someone who knows the difference between a 'concession' and a 'concussion.' Possibly he's suffered too many of the latter.

It's not even like I [completely] disagree with him, but man, you're not doing your cause any favours."

Oh blue collar Windsor, I suspect I'll miss you the most.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Prince of Persia + Sigur Ros = Awesome

You know kids, if you're gonna take entries for the Opinion section, you should probably alter the headlines. Since they make no sense removed from context. But who am I to question?

In recent days, you may have seen a commercial for a game called for Prince of Persia. It has amazing music. This is the full version.

The song is called 'Saeglopur' by Sigur Ros. From the album Takk. You're welcome. Bed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ten to Go!

Last night's Stephen Colbert Christmas Special may have been a bizarre and uneven affair, but it did provide us with what could be John Legend's most brilliant musical moment. What better way to accent your nog than with.....nutmeg.

One Down, Eleven to Go

Kanye West's new album 808s and Heartbreak dropped today, debuting his new...I don't know what style. After a couple cursory browses of the album, I don't think it's a stretch to say I think the best thing about the album is the cover art, by graf-legend/toy designer/fine artist KAWS.

I certainly understand the emotional timbre of the album. Ending his relationship with his fiance, as well as the tragic accidental death of his mother guaranteed West would be in a bad mood when it came time to release an album. But the approach he's taken, while not without promise [I'm thinking here of album opener 'Say You Will' and to a lesser extent current single 'Heartless'. But Yeezy can express his dismay that people consider Auto-Tune wack all he wants, that don't change the fact that it's wack. Or worse, overdone. T-Pain and Akon done milked that heifer for all she's got.

But I understand, he needs to do this, it's just his way. He's not the sort of artist to suffer privately, and hip-hop isn't the sort of musical culture that would allow him the luxury to do so even if he wanted to.

Some critics have apparently been comparing 808s and Heartbreak to fellow Chicagoan and frequent collaborator Common's much-maligned 2002 experimental album 'Electric Circus'. I'm more interested to see if West follows Com's subsequent career path: after 'Electric Circus', he released his certified classic, 'Be'.

So I'm still with you, Kanye. I just hope you come back to us, sooner than later.


I also found an interesting article in the latest issue of SPIN [with MIA on the cover] ponduring the death of sampling in hip-hop, in light of Kanye's latest album, which features only original electronic compositions.

Contrast that with 'Graduation', which featured samples from Elton John, Steely Dan and Michael Jackson among others, and made for a much more engaging album, I found.

From the moment block party DJs figured out how to take two copies of the same record to extend the breaks the crowds were interested in dancing to, the sampling and reinterpretation of preexisting music has been at the core of hip-hop. Everyone knows 'Rapper's Delight' is just the bassline of 'Good Times' by Chic for six minutes. Doesn't make it any less awesome.

But as hip-hop increased in popularity, people started paying attention and lawyers started getting involved. Move to the present day with the culture of vinyl crate diggers and every obscure one hit wonder in the world Googling themselves, and you have an environment where every sample has to be 'cleared', or gotten permission for. According to SPIN's article, for a top tier sample from someone like James Brown or George Clinton, you're looking at $20,000 minimum, as well as royalties.

So when someone like Soulja Boy comes out, of course he's gonna take a Casio sample and do it all himself. And when he's successful, the big boys are going to wonder why they're opening their wallets when they could save the money by doing it themselves.

Is this for the best? Probably not. I know I'm an old-school head, but can anyone really argue that a sample free song like Mims' 'This is Why I'm Hot' is a better song that Wu-Tang's Gladys Knight-sampling, 'Can It All Be So Simple?' Umm, no. But this is where we find ourselves, and there are still producers out there carrying the torch like Pete Rock, the RZA, or up and comers like 88-Keys [who's first single 'Stay Up [Viagara]' features a hot-fire verse from Mr. West that soothes me to believing everything will be okay].

I find it interesting that hip-hop gives us yet another example of the benefits of remixing and sampling that I've gone on about here for ages.

Now I'ma go find that Girl Talk album everyone's on about.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dead Man Walking

Since I'm still on the payroll, let's have a look at what's shaking in the tubes, shall we?

Locally, the man who cut the ears off his dog last year has found himself in a similar predicament behind bars. Rony Salman was serving time for robbery in Windsor when he had part of his ear chewed off by another inmate. I wish I could say I was sorry.

See kids, prison justice is just as effective as the judicial system.

Man sues author of popular book at my work, claiming he is in fact, not a douchebag.

The 25 most important stories to receive next to no coverage in the mainstream media. Doing my part for the birkenstock set.

And in some amazing news for all my Knights who say 'Ni', the gents of Monty Python have decided to throw damn near everything in their vaults on YouTube. Because you've all been doing it anyway and frankly, you suck at it.

And now, I have zombies to kill. Go buy Left4Dead.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Though to be fair, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't getting a little tired, Windsor...

We're #8! We're #8!

I was shopping for groceries on the weekend when I saw Maclean's on the impulse rack. Since you're never far from my thoughts, Windsor, I couldn't resist checking up on you and hearkened back to my days as a fast moving News Editor, getting Sunday night emails from public affairs with embargoed info that actually made me feel like I was a for-real journalist, before the glamour of professional blogging came along.

I haven't crunched all the data yet, I'll leave that to my esteemed colleagues at the mothership, but even at a glance, it was a pleasant surprise to see UWindsor out of the double digits of comprehensive universities. I come from a time when the entire ranking fallout season was dedicated to positive spin on the school's pitiful performance. This year, it would seem the university's efforts have not gone unnoticed.

Of course, we still take a drubbing in the reputation survey, and the current upward momentum is in response to initiatives started three years ago [according to a stats prof I heard speak back in the day concerning the rankings].

Lord help me, Windsor, but I just can't help from being an optimist, and with the medical school completed and the engineering building on the way, it's not unthinkable to think that this upward movement is a trend that could continue.

I would also suggest to Gord Henderson and all the other down-nose-lookers that condemn the university community as the out of touch ivory tower dwellers who continuously turn their backs on the city, that an improved performance in Maclean's benefits the city as well as the school, and when we put ourselves a couple slots above a school like York, we're turning heads that heretofore weren't even considering us. Self-improvement starts at home, n'est-ce pas?

Somebody tell me if the university is still 'withdrawn' from the rankings? That was an Uncle Ross initiative back in the day, I'm wondering if Wildeman has carried it over?

But the monkey on the back of our fine school continues to be the matter of reputation, and the lovely ladies [including D'Arcy] of the Lance Out Loud look at what you think of the subject.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Ponderous Day on the Internet

Yes. Yes they do. Found outside the Canadian Opera Company at Queen and University.

I spent the day trying on hats. What did the rest of the world do?

The Globe wonders why Apple can't do more to track stolen iPods and iPhones?

Wired wonders why Mirror's Edge will make you vomit? [answer: proprioception].

Gizmodo wonders why, with the digital signal conversion coming to televisions next year, television manufacturers have such pisspoor recycling initiatives?

BoingBoing wonders if Obama will continue the failed 'war on drugs', given his past support of medicinal marijuana?

The Trail wonders if there's a better way to waste time than this?

Oh right, it's called Left 4 Dead and Wall-E on DVD. Both of which to be purchased tomorrow. Making it officially the best Tuesday ever.

Another One Bites the Dust

The crumbled remains of what was once Patrick O'Ryan's. Not news, but still sad on a Sunday. Photo courtesy my man Hollywood.

In these current trying economic times, am I the only one who finds it odd they're building a bank there.

You know who they need to talk to? The owner of Shanfield-Myers. Or, as you may know it, 'That weird china shop you pass on the way to Shwarma Kingdom'. That place has survived for decades, and I defy you to find one person who has ever bought anything there.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Something Like the State of the World

Interesting day in politics on both sides as the border as Michael Ignatieff makes a return to the Liberal Leadership picture announcing his intention to pursue the top seat again.

South of the border, the Obama transition team has started leaking names of potential cabinet members to gauge approval. The marquee possibility: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Ever wonder where Apple gets its sleek design ideas from? 1960s designs from appliance maker Braun is probably not the first place you think of.

George W. Bush: Phoning it in til January.

Is it legit? Who knows, but it could become your new favourite blog: The View From 90. Years old, that is.

Salon exposes the positive side to Bush's legacy: Vladamir Putin talked out of hanging the President of Georgia when told it's something Bush would do.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Love Robots Now. They'll Go Easier on You When They Rise Up

A quick look at November 2007 indicates I post a lot more stupid videos this year than I did last year. Though to be fair, I also wrote a lot more about what happened to me on the subway or what was happening in the wrestling industry. So maybe it balances out.

At any rate, there's no way I can't post this for everyone's enjoyment. The Wall-E DVD comes out next week, and if you recall, it's the movie my inner eight-year-old has been waiting for the last 20 years or so.

As is tradition, the folks at Pixar have included an original short for the DVD release, focusing on the little robot shown getting locked out of the ship about 2/3 through the movie. His name is Burn-E.

Watch it now, since it could be gone by the time I get home from work tonight. And before anyone sends me a cease and desist, I fully intend to buy the DVD next week anyway, mousers.

EDIT: Wow. It literally got taken down as I was posting the entry. Go Lawyers!

So much for that idea.

As a substitute: An AP video discussing if Shep Fairey's Obama image has crossed him over from street artist to iconic imagemaker.


Some days, Windsor, the blank box is harder to face than others. This is one of them.

These are the days you get a senior choir singing Eminem.

Honestly, it's like the anti-Hip Hop Karaoke.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Shot at Greatness

I'ma enter. And I'MA WIN! Just you wait and see. And when I do, I am so out of here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Well, to update you on my iTunes fiasco, the folks at Apple gave me back my downloaded song files with no questions asked, even though they misdiagnosed my problem, thinking it was a result of the auto-sync that is the default option for iPod updating, suggesting I manage my music files manually. One problem: I already do that, so I still have no explanation for why this happened in the first place.

So they gave me what I wanted, but never solved the problem. Win? At any rate, if I had to suggest anything to you, Windsor, it would probably be to just buy songs on your home computer. The iPod Touch/iPhone WiFi options are cool, but if my problems are a regular occurrence, it's definitely more trouble than it's worth. Wait til you get home.

As it plays in the background, I ask myself why I never encountered Top Chef before this night?


The Yes Men print fake copies of the New York Times announcing the end of the Iraq War, and get them to the streets.

Don't have a cat? Thinking of getting one? Experience the terror we deal with on a daily basis.

Those allegations about Sarah Palin not knowing Africa was a continent? Apparently a prank, aimed at exposing the shoddiness of bloggers. I'd feel bad, but since I first learned of it via FoxNews...yeah, not so much. Now why does the guy in the picture keep his clothes in a milk crate?

Oh my Lord: half naked World of Warcraft cosplay. See it now, fans, you'll all be underground again once Lich King hits.

Lich King? Litch King? Am I spelling that right? You people are ridiculous.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Your newspaper. In full 3D

As L-Boogie says, ever wonder what 24 million dollars gets you? A pretty sweet building, actually.

Though if I may be a fatalist for a moment, all you guitar playing, fax machine brandishing activist types: I've been around the block a time or two, and I've seen a couple rodeos. And I feel I can say with certainty that besides death and taxes, nothing is more guaranteed than increases in tuition. As long as schools in Canada can still feel like a bargain compared to American schools, there will never be a move to lower tuition. You had your freeze for a couple years, that's about the best you will ever be able to hope for.

Yes, yes, I know it's important to be heard, but at what point do you acknowledge that all shouting in a windstorm is earning you is a sore throat?

See, this is why they want to take away my Liberal card.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Trails Discuss Animals

Regarding the following:

Lady Trail says, "That's animal cruelty! They're not supposed to be on ice and they're not supposed to be playing! That's not so amazing [video poster] Iwantjustice1! They look like they have sadness in their bellies."

Paper Trail says, "TURKEY FIGHT!"

Best thing since Giraffe Fight.

Come on, Windsor, I gave you a real post earlier.

Steve Jobs is On Notice

I debated all weekend if what I was steaming to blog about fell under the editorial jurisdiction of this venue.

I fully realize it appears as though I never dedicate any thought to what I slap up here, but I never forget you interweb-savvy kids back home, who not only come here for scoops on what's shaking around your school and city, but for tech news and concerns, as well as ongoing opinion and commentary on the information age we live in.

With that in mind, I thought to myself that since most of you have iPods, and a growing number have iPhones, you might be interested.

You may recall last month I sang the praises of the iPod Touch Lady Trail purchased me for my birthday. I immediately dubbed it 'The Jesus Box' and am still consistently amazed by all it is capable of despite the flaws some quibble over.

That reminds me, wait here while I go check the blog email, since only my personal email is wired to the box.


Cool, youngcrunk09 subscribed to the YouTube channel.

Anyway, one of the big selling points of the iPod Touch and iPhone is the way it integrates with the iTunes music store. By connecting over WiFi, you can browse everything the service has to offer, and if you decide to purchase a song, you tap a couple buttons and the song downloads straight to your iPod for your enjoyment. No ripping CDs, no dragging and dropping, just bam! Done.

It's a wonderful feature, and one I had used a few times for singles and one-hit wonders I was too lazy to track down via more illicit means. But I began to notice that songs I had purchased ended up going missing. They vanished from the iPod and were nowhere to be found. Quizzical.

The first time it happened, I assumed it was because I had tried to drag and drop it from the Pod onto the laptop for Lady Trail. The Digital Rights Management on the file asked me to authorize the transfer and informed me that I would only be able to put it on five laptops or iPods. No surprises there, I was familiar with DRM, I knew what it entailed. But as soon as I unplugged the iPod, the song was gone. But I put the blame on myself and bought it again, to my irritance.

But that's one thing. Having half a dozen songs I bought later vanish for no reason is another one entirely.

Now I have done some searching around, and have learned that many people have had the same issue, and that it to stem from the auto-backup the iPod conducts everytime it plugs in. I had been canceling the backup since use of the laptop is a favour in the first place and I don't want to take up space on the hard drive with multiple copies of the same files being unnecessarily backed up. I've started a correspondence with tech support, but it's still ongoing and hasn't reached aby definitive conclusion.

But even if I get all my songs restored and never have this issue again, I suspect I'll be angry about it every time I want to get a new song.

You've heard me rail against DRM in the past Windsor [dig around in the Kingston Year for some prime rants], and this is exactly the reason why. I paid for this music, I played by the rules and acted like a responsible adult, who supports the artists he enjoys, and I get shafted because of the 'helpful' features that Apple demands you use. If I had my way, I'd never plug the thing into the laptop, but it's the only way to charge the thing, since my wall charger isn't supported with it. Awesome.

And you know what? If I had stolen the music off of peer-to-peer service, I would have none of these headaches. And Windsor, I have said it before but I've never had a better example before: This is why DRM does not work. It punishes people who play by the rules, while people who don't have no problems. I'm not about to say I don't have any songs acquired illicitly, and you know they haven't gone anywhere.

And you know the worst part? In my search for answers, I was rooting around Apple's tech support FAQs, and found the listing for missing files, which had this helpful hint:

Another place to look for wayward music files is in your Recycle Bin (Windows) or the Trash (Mac). Don't ask. Sometimes things happen and files wind up there.

Excuse me? Don't ask?! Kiss my ass, Apple. I shouldn't even have to look around for wayward files in the first place, they should just stay where the hell I put them.

I know these features are meant to assist in functionality but for Chrissakes, it's like a friend volunteering to help you move and burning your house down on accident. Unacceptable.

So be wary, Windsor, and keep an eye on your files at all time. We'll see what tech support has for me later this week. And I guess I'm off to LimeWire to find some replacements that will stand where the hell I put them.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

One of Them, Likes

Someone shit in the urinal at work tonight, Windsor. Understandably, my heart's just not in it.

But a twelve-year-old boy playing Mad World on acoustic guitar takes the edge off.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Through the Wire

Or under it, rather.

Speaking of under, under a bus seems to be where the Republican National Committee is throwing Sarah Palin, now with allegations that the infamous $150,000 shopping spree for clothes was about four times what party officials were expecting.

Sigh. I almost think I'll miss her, Windsor.

The New Yorker examines why evangelical teenagers get knocked up with such alarming frequency.

Somehow, I always get suckered into collections from the glory days of the Sega Genesis, and I will now get sucked again when the Mega Drive Ultimate Collection comes out for the 360 next year, because it will finally give me my favourite game of adolescence: Streets of Rage 2. I'm a sucker, Windsor.

And this is apparently all my stolen wireless connection can handle right now. Ain't that a pisser?

Has anyone else noticed that Stewart and Colbert haven't been as funny since Tuesday?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Quick Links

Seriously, I'm going to have so much less to complain about for the next six months or so. Hopefully the UWSA will start their inevitable epic screwups to keep my indignation righteous.

Horrors!: CNN's holograms not holograms!

Not all sunshine and orange juice out there as California voters pass Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage. Appeals have already been filed.

Author Michael Crichton, he of Jurassic Park fame, has died at age 66.

Eff keeping it real, The Onion keeps it right.

Fox News quick to come out with all those 'off the record' concerns about Palin during the campaign.

And just because Lady Trail loves this stuff: tiny horse pwns would-be capturers with ninja-like speed.

A Few Words About Last Night

It was Jon Stewart who told me, of all people. I had been flipping between ABC, CNN and the Comedy Network all night [I blame Lady Trail, I was content to avoid it], with CNN's realtime results map on the laptop screen positioned on the couch armrest. I was too paranoid and distrustful of the numbers to believe them, convinced that it would be closer than it was.

So when Stewart told me at 11.00 that Obama was the next president of the United States, I was stunned. Seeing that he had 297 electoral votes on CNN's website didn't convince me. It wasn't until McCain came out to concede that it hit me. The guy actually won.

I know there are people in my life who expect me to gloat. To cheer. To rub it in. But my values don't lean to the gloating side. I may feel a certain sense of satisfaction at the results, it has nothing to do with the man who won.

I like Obama. A lot, no question. But I didn't want him to win because I thought he was the messiah. Truthfully, I expect more than a few heartbreaking disappointments from his presidency. I don't know how he could not. But I wanted him to win because I needed to continue to believe 'our way works.'

In a campaign that went from civilized to sleazy in record speed, that saw John McCain attacking Obama for tenuous connections to criminals he barely met, and Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin [please exit stage right. Immediately] flippantly mock his professional history in front of a rabid crowd of thousands, I continued to admire how Obama kept his focus on the issues. The most frustrating thing about him this campaign was that he didn't attack McCain more ferociously. It's not like opportunities were in short supply [ie Rolling Stone's vicious takedown of everything McCain positioned himself as]. But Obama stayed on his talking points, refusing to enroll in the Karl Rove school of sleaze and smear that McCain was so compliant to be dragged into.

And I needed to believe that something resembling integrity could be rewarded in American politics. I know I'm not American, but come on, I'm from Windsor. We know better than anyone how the US sets the pace for the rest of the world, at least for a little while longer. I needed to believe that these people, who have given me authors and filmmakers and musicians and philosophers I respect so much, wouldn't fall for the same tricks again.

And they didn't. Instead, they elected the first Black President in American history. Even McCain, who gave the best and classiest speech of his campaign as he ended it, seemed relieved it was over. He really seemed like a man who's ambition got the better of him. I hope he can get back to the guy I liked in 2000.

While I do see the results as a refutation of George Bush's policies [seriously, how does he feel right now?], and a need for 'change', whatever that's really supposed to mean, I would like to believe it was also a statement from the American people that they are fed up and tired by politicians who smear their way into office.

I don't know about you, but there's something refreshing about a politician that people actually seem to give a shit about. I mean, I don't know about you, but I didn't see anybody crying when Bush got re-elected. Not supporters, anyway.

Sleep well, America. And thank you.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Deeper Underground

So as I'm sure I mentioned before, I'm doing my best to stay with my head in the sand today, trying to avoid the election bludgeoning the 24-hour news channels will be trying to give me, which is odd considering how much time I've devoted to it up to this point [certainly more than I gave the Canadian election, bad Trail bad, I know] but after seeing how the noble intentions of this election campaign collapsed into the business of usual mudslinging and smear tactics, and knowing how well such tactics have worked in the past, I can't even bring myself to be optimistic. So I'm just trying to avoid it as best I can, and hope I hear something I like in the morning.

Though truth be told, I'd be surprised if they really had a decisive conclusion by then.

In gaming, I spent a week with Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on the ol'Xbox, and oh my God, never have I seen a game more determined to get in the way of its own fun than this one.

If you don't follow these things, TFU is a canon story told between episodes III and IV, concerning a secret apprentice Darth Vader mentored to hunt the remaining Jedi across the galaxy. So you do, swinging your lightsaber and using the Force to all sorts of destructive ends from blasting Storm Troopers with lightning to grabbing them from a distance and chucking them off a platform. Sounds amazing right? If only.

The funny thing is, the story never stops being amazing, yet the gameplay never lives up. Targeting is wonky, the camera apparently gets scared of bosses given the way it hides behind trees at inopportune times, and there's a lag in some of the controls which make something as simple as jumping a pain in the ass.

Oddly enough, after I played God of War, I didn't understand what all the fuss was about. Now, after playing games that want to be God of War, I see how they don't live up. TFU wants to combine Luke Skywalker and Kratos, but the controls just aren't that smooth.

This doesn't make it a bad game per se, just a frustrating one. It's totally worth it if you care about Star Wars at all, since it fills some of the ample gaps left by Lucas between the trilogies [and as I said, this is considered official history by the LucasArts Empire [no pun], and there are few things more badass than slapping somebody around with a black lightsaber, but there are significant flaws that keep it in the rent pile.

And as I watch the X-Play Gears of War 2 special as I write this, I wonder: Why does everybody in this game have an effing soul patch?

In conclusion, Bjork discusses her television.

Groovy, man.


The title has nothing to do with the following video, but with a board game we own in the Trail household and have yet to play, because Lady Trail had to have it at the Silver Snail Midnight Madness sale.

But the video is a fine piece of work, too.

It's that time of week again, so be sure to check the mothership for some of the news you need to know. If you want the rest of it, grab the paper, damn! We're not running some sort of charity, here.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Late Night Stuffs

Windsor, I currently have a kitten curled up at my hip as I type this on the living room couch. I can feel the slight tremble of her purring through my jeans as she sleeps. I have determined this is happiness.

See, kittens are appropriate pets. Less appropriate? Monkeys ordered from the backs of comic books in the 1970s.

Staying with the wild kingdom, the best animal photos of the year.

Gender Analyzer thinks this blog is written by a woman. Hurrrm.

Dear God, I just saw an advertisement for Chinese Democracy by Guns n' Roses. November 23! If I lived in America, I would totally make sure I got a free Dr. Pepper.

And the best news I've heard this week [though it's early]: Preacher is still alive as a film project, after HBO ultimately passed on it for being the disgusting, offensive, glorious bastard it is. Go on and Wiki it, then mark your calendars and start the countdown. Hopefully Mendes can get a trilogy out of it.

Monday, Monday

One of my Facebook friends currently has the status, "------ is your worst nightmare: a Republican win followed by a McCain heart attack."

Yeah, that'd sum it up.

Last week I drew notice to a story in the Star about the financial hard times the university could be facing in the wake of the current economic crisis, now the Globe's followed suit, reporting schools across the board could be looking at some difficult decisions regarding how money gets spent.

Also sobering in that article is the sidebar ranking the top endowment funds at Canadian universities: Windsor has $60-million. Twentieth ranked New Brunswick was $147-million. We won't even talk about UofT.

That's the reality of what the school's competing with. And the more I think about it, the more fatalistic I become.

So I throw up a video of a Japanese 'rhino escape drill' video from a Japanese Zoo. When there are rhinos tearing up Sunset, you'll thank me.