Sunday, April 29, 2007

Pants and Paint: Not Normally Friends (or Behold the Birth of a Hero, Part III)

Hoo, boy, quite the election commercials popping up lately. I'll get to those another time; the election is May 22nd, so these ads obviously won't be disappearing for a while yet.

What could be a more pressing topic of discussion for me than the new batch of I-am-good smilefests and he-is-bad scowlathons? Why, pants, of course! Ha ha! Humour me!

I start at another temp position tomorrow; it's at Investors Group again, so once again there probably isn't a whole lot I'm able to share about the job besides that. Man, it's going be nice to be working again! (I need money pretty badly.)

So this development, plus the general idea of spring cleaning, led me to tear through my closet and once again figure out what I have in my limited wardrobe that A) counts as 'business casual' and B) still fits me.

Pants usually have the hardest time staying alive for me, probably because I always buy the cheapest pants available (no surprise, of course -- I live in Winnipeg), so I never have very many pairs at any time; some shrink in the wash despite their own label instructions, some fall apart from old age, one pair this time around had a giant hole clean through the knee where they caught on a screen door, and this particularly unfortunate pair got splattered with car paint a couple of weeks ago.

Man, I really liked that pair, too. At 6'3'', it's always frustrating to walk into any store and try to find pants; racks from perimeter to perimeter are filled with 28- and 30-length pants, which are effectively shorts to me. And big-and-tall stores, when they do have the 'tall' sizes rather than the 'big' sizes, tend to price their cheapest pants at $65 -- which, after tax, is more than I spent on the bus pass for this upcoming month. (A bus pass that I need so that I can get to work in the first place, mind you, unless I'd rather spend four hours of each day walking to work and back. In my nice pants.)

So when I do find pants long enough, and when I find said pants on sale for lowball prices, I consider it a streak of luck on par with a lottery ticket being struck by lightning. These pants cost me five dollars off a Warehouse One discount rack, which I recall being about thirty or fourty dollars below their original asking price.

And I got paint on them. Because I am a champion.

But I am not easily dissuaded! The paint only ended up on one side, so upon finding them again today I did what anyone else might do; I grabbed the paint I'd hit them with before and turned a ruined pair of pants into a demented artwork experiment.

I stared at the original paint markings for a couple seconds, thought to myself that the biggest one looked a little like a seagull, then ultimately threw paint on 'em until they looked like a crude picture of Manitoba.

That accomplished, the rest of the leg came pretty naturally.

Yes, that reads 'Ghettopeg'; the name popped into my head one day a couple of years ago, and I couldn't think of a reason why it didn't fit, so I've held onto it ever since.

Altering clothing to my own unique designs? That's right -- I'm counterculture! And not just a guy who goes to stubbornly great lengths to continue wearing pants that he got paint on!

These, obviously, will not be the pants I wear to work tomorrow -- I am certain that they are not business casual -- but since I'm becoming increasingly determined about getting out and busking downtown for my own entertainment (and in a future post I'll go on for a bit about the idea), I don't see why I can't get an outfit going. Hell, if I'll be wearing a lucha mask anyway, what's one more article of attire that will throw people off?

A shirt, a mask and now a pair of pants; I swear I did not originally intend for this to be a novelty clothing blog! Not my original plan! Honest!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Platform of Rhetoricals and Hypotheticals (But First, An Extended Leadoff)

I'll be frank with you, in full disclosure: I have no affiliation, loyalties, or particular affection towards any party. I was raised amongst left-wingers, right-wingers, party-shifters, non-voters, and one or two people who may have been anarchosyndicalists.

I have a Double Honours in History and Political Studies; I went into these fields because I found them the most entertaining. (Let's face it -- no Arts degree was going to get me gainful employment, so I may as well have gone with what made me smile most often.) And in the case of Political Studies (known as 'Political Science' in some places -- and instead of 'Poli-Sci', the name shortens out to 'Po-Stud'), I studied it on the grounds that I figured I shouldn't make future political decisions without understanding what was at stake or going on out there.

You can imagine my initial amazement (because I am naive) to learn that many students of Poli-Sci Po-Stud had made up their minds about everything waaaaay before ever taking courses on it; this would indicate that the main thrust of the discipline is the inevitable and potentially fruitless chase for a job with one party or another. In retrospect, if I hadn't already established my loyalties, I was probably wasting my time. (Okay, of course I was wasting my time, it's an Arts degree -- but humour me here!)

Other people may have gleamed from their studies what issues to tackle, which current and former public figures to demonize, which policies to implement or which Prime Ministers were completely balls-out crazy (hint: Mackenzie King) -- but one of the primary lessons I took from my studies was that politics, or at least public politics as we understand them, are aimed less and less at an audience the more that audience understands them.

The world is a different place than it used to be, after all. Most modern political figures get nowhere with the electorate by being pure policy brains, economic wizards, theory mavens; it used to be, back in the day, that we as a public readily accepted these figures as our leaders because we believed they knew better how to steer the ship than we ourselves could. Nowadays, however, ours is a culture of consumers -- and to get anywhere in politics today a candidate must act primarily as a combination of performer and product. Who do you suppose still garners greater esteem and respect from Canadians today: Preston Manning, or Belinda Stronach?

But I'm getting ahead of myself. (The Rhetoricals and Hypotheticals are for later!) What I am building to here with this preamble is that I've not yet decided who I'll vote for in this upcoming provincial election, and that -- as it stands, since the parties are very nearly indistinguishable from each other to the untrained eye anyway -- my vote will go to the party that most perfectly pushes for political power through prolonged public performance. (I am given to brief bouts of alliteration sometimes.)

In short: I know how the campaign game works, I'm here to be entertained, and I want to see blood.

We're almost a week into the campaign for the 2007 Manitoba Provincial Election, and so far it has been... well... how do I put this delicately? It has been cautious, is how I will put it. I don't mean to suggest that the output has been scattershot, poorly constructed and dull on all sides -- but it has been, so that's how it comes out.

There has been a verbal misstep or two, yes, and there have been some outright lies from all three 'major' parties (is to say, the two major parties and the incredibly minor party that somehow gets media coverage), but so far the affair has been amazingly bland and almost disquietingly civil. ("She's a prop!" "That's sexist!" "Oh! I'm sorry." "Oh, uh... okay. Thanks.")

What we know about the three leaders, after six days of campaigning:

-- Gary Doer likes soccer, Canadian football (specifically at Polo Park), pretending to care about health care, and apparently watching Breakfast Television on A-Channel MTN? oh god I feel old now CityTV.

-- Hugh McFadyen likes soccer, tax cuts (on the wrong tax financially but the sexiest tax politically), pretending to care about health care, and... Brandon?

-- And Jon Gerrard likes Lake Winnipeg, goofy car-theft deterrent ideas, pretending to care about health care, and promising anything that anyone can think of because you can do that sort of thing when you're never, ever going to be in power.

Go figure that the federal Liberals and Greens are willing to work together, but the Liberals and Greens in Manitoba (who combined still wouldn't be a recognized party by their current numbers, but baby steps here) haven't yet thought to put some deals together. Besides the immediate answer of 'ego', do either of these camps have anything to lose?

Ah, but I get ahead of myself again. Rhetoricals and Hypotheticals! These are the questions that aren't on the minds of the electorate, but should be:

Would you want any of these guys backing you up as the sweeper on your soccer team?

What would be so bloody difficult about building soccer facilities in more than one place?

Where are all of these new nurses supposed to come from? And how do prospective nurses feel knowing that their mandatory union dues will be used for patronizing television advertisements that accomplish little except to irritate hockey fans?

Which city candidate for office, trying hardest to seem 'down-to-earth', would be most likely to stage a photo-op of himself or herself drinking a Slurpee? (And would the Slurpee object to its role as a prop?)

Does the noun 'prop' inherently carry a feminine designation in English, just as certain nouns do in French?

Instead of phantom issues -- like who is or isn't a prop, or who would or wouldn't sell Manitoba Hydro -- couldn't we pay attention to tangible ideas like downtown revitalization, bike paths, aboriginal concerns across the province, or making sure that North End residents aren't dying of unnatural causes by the truckload?

Gary Doer and Vince McMahon: stunt doubles for each other, or seperated at birth?

How the stone hell has nobody taken anybody else to task yet over Spirited Energy?

Can we please get to the cheapshots and personal attacks, already, before everybody falls asleep here?

Questions to remember! If they popped up in press conferences, heads would explode!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Stanley Cup Quarter-Finals Begin Tonight

Hockey! Whee!

My previous predictions had a nice mixture of expected results and desired results, with a couple of completely incorrect ideas thrown in for good measure; I'll admit I was originally blind to what are now the very obvious faults of the Predators and Thrashers. Heck if I didn't get a couple ideas bizarrely correct, though. (I'd predicted at least four overtime periods across five games of Vancouver/Dallas; they had six overtime periods across seven games, albeit in a distribution pattern I wouldn't have expected.)

Some thoughts on the first round:

-- Three game misconducts in five games, including a spearing penalty in an elimination game with the team up 2-1? Yeah, go Nashville! Discipline! Whoo!
-- Ho-lee did the Wild ever stink up their series. As much as I hate the approach, even I would suggest that 'Defence First' should not involve sitting in your own end with the puck when you're down by two goals! I mean, geez! A minute thirty to go with your goaltender pulled, and you sat in your own end with the puck? Turns out that was a bad idea!
-- I'd said previously that I'd never seen an Atlanta Thrashers game; I kind of wish I could go back to those days, back when I could at least pretend that the Thrashers would be any good in the playoffs or any fun to watch.
-- Fourth-line centreman, no points in five games, averaged maybe two or three shots a game tops -- boy, that ten-year, $87-million contract for Alexei Yashin just keeps looking better and better, doesn't it? By damn, that's a steal of a deal!

Ah, I love playoff hockey. It's almost always good for some high-quality fun, the game-losing goats it produces are hilarious, and it brings out the best in our favourite teams unless your favourite teams include Nashville, Atlanta or Minnesota. (And my sympathies to you if they do. Er, did.)

Here's what the Second Round shakes out to:

Eastern Conference

(1) Buffalo Sabres vs. (6) New York Rangers

If I were a New York Rangers fan, I'd hate to be a parent of a small child right now; imagine having to explain to your child why it's okay to root for Sean Avery but not to ever act like him.

I want Buffalo to win this one, I really do. And I know they're going to be in a lot of trouble with this series, not only because the New York Rangers have everything clicking at just the right time but because Presidents' Trophy teams have a storied history of rolling over and dying at just the wrong moment. But hope springs eternal! Buffalo is a better team than the last series let on, and so far in the playoffs even a sleepwalking Sabres team has proven able to overcome a New York squad that has been hot lately.

The Rangers are a better team than the Islanders, of course; on the other hand, the Sabres can't possibly be less challenging than the Thrashers were. Sean Avery is good at what he does, often shutting down the top scorers on other teams; on the other hand, who do you aim for against a team that had eleven different goal-scorers in a five-game series? And can anybody name the Rangers' current top four defencemen without cheating?

They're both very good teams, and this will probably be the best pure hockey of the second round (assuming the mainstream media will clam up about Avery for even a little while; hey guys, Nylander has eight points and Jagr has seven points in four games, maybe they bear mention too); it may be a little slow to start, because Buffalo last played five days ago and New York hasn't played in a week, but I'm expecting some crazy fast offence and miracle saves to show up.

Whoever wins this series is taking the Conference. This is what I think, and this is what I hope. Especially considering the alternatives.

What I'd Want: Buffalo in five.
What I'll Guess: New York in six.

(2) New Jersey Devils vs. (4) Ottawa Senators

God, I hate the New Jersey Devils.

It's going to be quite the shift for the Senators; in the second round they'll be playing the team known for solid defence, whereas in the first round they were playing a team that routinely had both defencemen jump in on the rush. (As it turns out, that wasn't such a hot idea. Go figure!) And obviously the Devils aren't going to be deterred by pure offence alone; Tampa Bay's talent trio of Lecavalier, Richards and St. Louis combined for twenty-three points in their series against New Jersey, and their team lost.

Earlier this week, Dany Heatley made a point of mentioning to the media that the Senators will be more than willing to play boring hockey in order to win. Yes, player mentality is in the right place when it's deemed more important to win than to be entertaining -- but I'm operating on viewer mentality, here, and as somebody who wants to be entertained I expect I'll be skipping this series as often as possible when other games are on.

God, I hate the New Jersey Devils. Bleah.

What I'd Want: Ottawa in four games that aren't even close, and immediately afterwards Martin Brodeur retires to live off his McCain's Delissio Pizza endorsement cheques.
What I'll Guess: New Jersey in five. Damn it.

Western Conference

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (5) San Jose Sharks

Aside from the part where Detroit actually won a game on the road, their series with Calgary went almost exactly the way I'd expected. On the other hand, I got the Sharks/Predators series so wrong, oh man; San Jose blew through Nashville like a sledgehammer through a paper towel, which makes two years in a row and so far is two-thirds of the Nashville Predators' playoff history. (If Winnipeg got the Predators, they'd be the new Jets in more ways than one!)

You may have noticed in the last series, or across the year, that Detroit's offensive strategy is to shoot from absolutely anywhere on the ice on the grounds that something has to make it in; you might laugh at that, because it is pretty funny to watch, but it certainly helped them beat Calgary. Calgary's strategy was to never ever shoot the puck unless the goalie was like three feet out of position, and then apparently to devolve into a gang of moron thugs when things went badly.

Both of these teams have some depth, but San Jose seems to have more genuinely dangerous offensive threats; a few years from now we're all probably going to look back and be amazed at what a stacked team San Jose had. And while we're looking back, we won't be amazed that Detroit rolled over and died an ignominiously early death in the playoffs despite an amazing season -- because, really, what else is new?

What I'd Want: San Jose in five.
What I'll Guess: San Jose in six, despite the Red Wings averaging thirty-five shots per game.

(2) Anaheim Ducks vs. (3) Vancouver Canucks

Okay, local media, you can shut up about the multiple Manitoba Moose connections to the series. We get it; there are a lot of them. It's nice to know that Winnipeg can have NHL-caliber talent roll through the city despite our complete inability to afford an NHL team ever again. Thank you. Moving on.

The Canucks/Stars series was surprisingly entertaining (at least, more entertaining than I'd expected), but Anaheim is still more fun to watch than the Canucks are. Also, the Ducks have Teemu Selanne (and Randy Carlyle!) and Vancouver doesn't. So I'm pulling for Anaheim, though I suspect Vancouver will have the edge through sheer Luongo hijinks alone.

If both Vancouver and Detroit make it to the Conference Finals, can you imagine the heat Todd Bertuzzi would draw in GM Place? And how quickly would Jacques Martin be sacked once the Miami media got into the Florida Panthers' connections to the series?

What I'd Want: Anaheim in seven high-scoring back-and-forth thrill-ride games.
What I'll Guess: Vancouver in six, and next year Roberto Luongo has a profile shot of Cain Marko painted onto his helmet.

NHL playoff hockey! It's what's for dinner!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Recent News Roundup: "Oh (Bleep), Yeah," He Agreed

I got an acoustic guitar for my birthday! Whooooooooooo! That's the biggest news for me, of late -- but there's no shortage of big news for anybody else who's been keeping an eye out around Winnipeg in the last day or two.

The provincial election was finally called yesterday evening by Premier Gary Doer; it's going to be hard-fought and messy and dirty and ugly, which is another way of saying it should be spectacular entertainment. It's vitally important from a strategic standpoint that each party get off to as good a start as possible -- and that's why, by the end of today, all three party leaders will have made their way out to Brandon. I'm not making this up; this is actually what is happening. Now you know where the real power lies in Manitoba!

Also yesterday, scant hours before the provincial election news, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in town to formally announce Ottawa's support for the Human Rights Museum proposal via federal delegation and funding; not bad for only his third official visit to Manitoba, and I don't see his eventual fourth visit here topping his third one unless he learns how to cure cancer by glaring at it.

Meanwhile, the old Metropolitan Theatre finally found a buyer earlier this week in the Canad Inns chain; all indications are that they intend to convert the historic landmark into a... rock and roll-themed restaurant? Seriously? Am I reading that correctly?

CentreVenture CEO Ross McGowan said the new owners plan to use it as a restaurant. There are also reports the development will capitalize on Winnipeg's rock 'n' roll history.

Am I honestly the only one who can't see this ending well? We left the Metropolitan Theatre vacant for two decades, holding out for just the right proposal from just the right group, so that it could ultimately be turned into a demon hybrid of an unlicensed Hard Rock Cafe knockoff and an Aalto's?

And who, besides the top suits at Canad Inns Corporation, will get to decide what comprises the musical history of Winnipeg? Will a panel of experts from around the city gather to determine which underappreciated legends of the scene rank highest, breaking into shouting matches over whether Thursdays in the bar will be Propagandhi night or Venetian Snares night? Or does the proposed connection to Winnipeg's rock and roll history mean the house playlist will be nine songs deep, and six of them will involve Randy Bachman?

It won't be used for promoting new Winnipeg talent, I can tell you that; CentreVenture's sale clause was that the new establishment cannot compete with any of the existing downtown venues, which is another way of saying don't expect any actual live music.

And this is to be a major downtown destination. Oh, boy. Here's hoping I'll be pleasantly surprised. (And don't get me started on the state of downtown, even with the new -- cough -- destinations. That's another post in itself.)

There was one more news item I found interesting today, but first I want to frame it with a bit of background.

In the April 11th edition of the Manitoban, Jenelle Petrinchuk wrote about the dangers of quoting everyday people about important issues. See also the original post on Nick Martin's blog.

To sum up -- Winnipeg Free Press writer Nick Martin quoted individual students, unaffiliated with any organizations as spokespersons, regarding the latest budget and the continuation of the tuition freeze. Spokesperson Liz Carlyle of the Canadian Federation of Students saw this as a dishonest circumvention of the CFS platform for media-slanting purposes and took umbrage. Harsh words were exchanged and a furor was raised and the question was posed of which people can be allowed to speak for what groups and blah blah dick etcetera.

I initially considered the idea that the CFS had just maybe overreacted, a little; what could be the harm in allowing the individual man-on-the-street voice of the public to be heard?

Which brings us to today's Winnipeg Free Press, specifically the coverage of the legalization rally at the Legislature yesterday. Be sure to read it in full, noting the quoting of everyday people and individual students.

Atkinson thought the crowd was maybe "200 people... .300... (giggle)... 400... ," then he just kind of looked and looked.

Parent reckoned it was more like a few thousand.

Atkinson looked again. "Oh (bleep), yeah," he agreed. Atkinson was asked how much he had smoked.

"I don't even know," he said after a pause to gather his thoughts.

And note that the author of this particular piece -- hands up in the air, everybody who guessed it -- turns out to be, sure enough, Nick Martin.

What to make of this? On the one hand, this article is a grossly unflattering representation of the 'average' position supporting the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana; on the other hand, it is funny. So I am understandably torn.

Is the everyman-quoting tomfoolery approach a subtle Free Press injoke, an overt raspberry towards the CFS, or a cheerful coincidence? You decide, gentle reader! Let your individual opinions on today's issues ring clear and true; I'll be over here in the meantime, plugging away at the steel strings until my fingers get used to playing them again.

God, I love the spring!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Today is My Birthday

I'm twenty-three. It's rather uninspiring.

I'm unemployed (again -- stupid term positions could at least have enough work to last the full term), my love life continues to resemble a viking funeral (which is nobody's fault but my own, admittedly; when on-again-off-again unemployed, first priority is trying to raise enough scratch to not die), I'm down one longtime friend and one family member from this time last year (but one or more of these is not my fault), and all I've found since getting my degree last May is that my degree is stank useless. My biggest accomplishment to date is, well, that degree.

I still haven't found anything that came even close to resembling an actual career, I've still never had the brief financial security needed to start or join a band (and Uptown no longer has musician classifieds, so that's one outlet down), I don't have anywhere near the money to go back to school, and to date my writing is... well, you're reading it.

I suppose it's not all bad; I finally willed myself to stop biting my nails over the past year, there's a roof over my head, and I... have... a cat? Yes! I have a cat. I think we've been over that, though.

What I'm getting at is that things could be better. A man has to have a plan! And since I am determined to have a better time being twenty-three than I did being twenty-two, my plan is no further away from fruition then the acquisition of a decent-sounding acoustic guitar and enough money to get a busker's licence from the city. (However much those are.)

I'm serious! If you're downtown this summer, you hear a Matthew Sweet song and you turn to see a six-foot-three guy in a luchador mask singing and playing guitar on the street -- then my plan will have succeeded. And hopefully you will throw me some of your change, because making money one handful of coins at a time would still be better than I'm doing right now. And if anybody tells me that Manitoba is full of quality jobs for young people, I can threaten to El Kabong my guitar over their head. now hooooooooold on thar

If there's one thing that downtown Winnipeg is in increasingly desperate need of, it's culture -- noteworthy items of interest that don't involve working or mugging people. Something for people to talk about around the water cooler, guess-what-I-saw-today, or at least something that'll make them do doubletakes on the way to work. Obviously I can't singlehandedly make Winnipeg a dramatically better place -- because only people with money are allowed to do that, and they very rarely want to (else pedestrians would be crossing Portage and Main right now) -- but every little bit here and there helps, right? Right! New York has its Naked Cowboy, Toronto has its Zanta, and Winnipeg can have its insert stage name here for overeducated lucha-masked song-slinging loudmouth.

(At the very least, I'd have my own profile on Weirdos of Winnipeg -- and considering the elite company I'd be keeping, why, who could say no to such an honour?)

This is a better and better idea the longer I think about it, which should show you how inept I am at long-term planning!

But anyway.

Cibo Matto - Birthday Cake [buy | official site]

Ivor Cutler - I'm Happy [buy | dedication site]

The Boys - Soda Pressing [buy | official site]

Happy Birthday, me! Happy Wednesday, everybody else!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Son of the Rhetoricals and Hypotheticals

Of all the areas to take heavy water damage in Selkirk's flooding -- the boat museum?

If Belinda Stronach died tomorrow, what would her obituary recall as the defining accomplishment of her political career?

If Canada wins seventy medals at the 2010 Winter Olympics but gets fifth place in Men's Hockey, will popular opinion treat the Vancouver Games as a success or a failure?

If there is to be another Kurt Vonnegut, would he or she mind showing up any time soon?

Will a new character in fiction carry on for Kurt Vonnegut the same way that Kilgore Trout carried on for Theodore Sturgeon or Uncle Duke carried on for Hunter Thompson? If so, who would be the most likely candidate to write him?

Which of the following do you think Winnipeg is best known for across Canada: rampant street crime, the Esplanade Riel, or losing the Winnipeg Jets eleven years ago?

How badly off is a city that can barely afford to finance and maintain its parks?

Questions to contemplate!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Long Music Post With a Hockey Leadoff

Could I be more straightforward with my post title? I don't think so!

The Canucks/Stars game went until 2:40 in the morning -- and I watched the entire thing, all seven periods of it. So I don't think I'll be making it to that Rotary Career Symposium thing tomorrow -- is to say, rather, this morning. Especially now that I've been up the rest of the night and I'm about to start babbling about music I like.

But first things first -- hell of a game, that one. Man. Both goalies played like sieves in the early going -- especially Turco, because this is Playoff Turco we are talking about here -- but once they got going, they went forever. Especially Luongo; what did he face, seventy-five shots? And he won!

My favourite player of the night, by far, was Vancouver's Jeff Gowan; I don't think I've even heard of the guy before tonight, but right through to the end of the game (near the end of quadruple overtime) he was flying around and crushing the defencemen at top speed until they cracked.

Yes, it was quite a game. The other games were interesting, too -- especially in Nashville, poor Nashville, because that one was a thriller and a nailbiter and a heartbreaker all in one. A good night for hockey!

After all that hockey I poked around to see what the other television stations were up to and saw MuchMusic play a Tokyo Police Club video (on MuchMegaHits, no less, indicating that they're getting some major support from their label), which completely blew me away and leads me to my next topic. Between this, Ane Brun and Ron Sexsmith being used in Ford ads, and everybody and their mother loving Priestess all of a sudden, I'm beginning to wonder if the mainstream and I are accidentally reconciling. Not to sound like too much of a music geek (although, I am, so I can understand how I would sound like one), but where the hell were all these people when I wouldn't shut up about Priestess fourteen months ago?

Not that I'm complaining! Not even close -- because oh, man, is it good to know other people are actually listening to the same stuff I've been listening to! As far as I'm concerned, the less chance of people staring at me blankly when I talk about music I like, the better. And gods help any poor mainstream-fed kid who would try to look through my iPod, right now, because his head would explode.

I guess what I'm getting at here is that obviously my tastes are excellent. (Not to toot my own horn, but I'm awesome.) So, since you might well run into this stuff later anyway, here's some more new music that should be brought to your attention:

The Procession - Don't Hesitate [official site -- damn album only seems to be available in Britain so far]

Beauty. I love it. My heart grew three sizes the day I first heard this song, and if I had harmonies like these backing up everything that came out of my mouth I would never stop talking. (The smartalecks out there might contend that this wouldn't be much of a change, to which I would retort by crossing my arms and sticking my tongue out like I'm five years old.)

If you've ever heard anybody complain that they just don't write songs the way they used to, you should smack them pass this along to them at the earliest opportunity. Hell, pass this along to everybody at the earliest opportunity -- and throw in the brilliantly executed music video while you're at it, if you can.

Yes, the song and the video are both from this year. If you had told me it was possible to pull these marvels off this accurately in our modern day and age, I wouldn't have believed it; I still barely believe it, and I've both heard and watched this song hundreds of times by now. The Pipettes pull off much the same idea, but their output is subject to overproduction at times; if you're familiar with them and you've listened carefully to 'Pull Shapes' or 'We Are the Pipettes', you know what I'm talking about. Not so here, however; I can't find fault with this song or its video at all, except that I would have wanted it to be at least a minute longer because I am completely greedy.

The internet spoils us rotten sometimes, it really does.

The trio is based out of Los Angeles, sporting members both originally from America and Britain; the rest of their output is aces, too, from what I've heard of it, but this song is definitely the standout of the crop. This might well be my favourite song of 2007, and we're only a third of the way in -- but I still feel pretty confident saying that, because it's going to take quite the feat to topple this tune. If this song doesn't make you feel like everything is right in the world, I don't know what can.

The Aggrolites - Funky Fire [buy | official site]

Dirty Reggae, baby!

Like the Procession above, the Aggrolites are a revival-tinged band from Los Angeles; also like the Procession, it's initially difficult to believe you're listening to something that was released within the past year. (That'll be a post for another time; I'm a sucker for authentic-sounding music with origins you couldn't guess properly if your life depended on it.) Those are where the similarities end, though -- because where the Procession is a three-piece pure pop band, the Aggrolites are a five-piece reggae throwback explosion. Every time I hear anything by these guys I half expect a case of beer to materialize somewhere in the immediate area, because it would be both suitably awesome and thematically appropriate. This is not heavy-set, deep-thought music; this is party music, through and through, and bless them for it.

The album as a whole does get a little repetitive after a while -- because it is a long album, clocking in at over sixty-six (!!) minutes -- but that's the nature of the beast, and aside from my afrobeat collection (more on that another time) I can think of no better music to lead us into the upcoming summer. Unless it's cold all summer, as it sometimes is, in which case I intend to listen to The Pursuit of Happiness a lot and do a bunch of complaining. (The smartalecks out there might again note that this is nothing new, but... okay, I don't have anything to rebuke that at all.)

Yes, the song is supposed to cut out like that; on the album it leads right into the next song, and for the purposes of this post it'll lead right into:

Inward Eye - Disaster (SXSW 2007 Promo Version) [band myspace -- at some point they really should put out an album, and their official site seems to have disappeared entirely]

Okay, okay, I'm probably not telling you anything new on this one; if you've encountered them at all, you already like Inward Eye by now. (Or you haven't seen them yet but you tell people you like them to pretend you're cool, you scenester.) But if you haven't encountered the local brother act trio yet, then by damn, get on it! If you're looking to start paying attention to the local music scene -- and you really should, you know -- I can't think of more easily accessible and palatable fare to begin with. (Except for the New Meanies, of course, but I'm saving my deep and longstanding New Meanies love for its own post one day.) The civic bandwagon is three miles wide for Inward Eye by now, and justifiably so, so you'll have plenty of company.

From the looks of things, their next Winnipeg gig will be May 7th at the Walker (call it the 'Burton Cummings Theatre for the Performing Arts' to my face and I swear you run the risk of being headbutted); looks like they're opening for Finger Eleven, which is a definite step down from opening for the Who but admittedly a step up from when they were opening for Urge Overkill. (And I say this as somebody who likes Urge Overkill; hell, I was at that show!)

As for this song specifically -- I've heard three different recorded versions of this song so far, and this version I'm posting here is by far my favourite. (I can't in good conscience recommend the rough mix they have on their MySpace; the extraneous vocal reverb effects on that one bug the living piss out of me. It is not a decision I would have made, to put it another way.) The pre-chorus always strikes me as being uncomfortably similar to No Doubt's 'It's My Life' (remember back in the day when Gwen Stefani seemed tolerable?), mostly because the bassline apes it something fierce -- but this is a minor point, and I am more than willing to overlook it in favour of rocking out. Rock and roll!

Alabama Thunderpussy - Words of the Dying Man [buy | official site | buy on vinyl (!)]

Speaking of which. Go figure -- Richmond, Virginia fucking rocks! Yee-ahh!

If you like Priestess, and apparently you do, then I see no reason why you won't like Alabama Thunderpussy. They aren't quite as good as Priestess at what they do, which is rock hard in the grand tradition of rocking hard, but I certainly like 'em better than Wolfmother. (If The Darkness is the closest you can come to joining this line of conversation, I insist that you are slightly behind.)

This song just roars out of the starting gate, doesn't it? My oh my. The testosterone in your body just fires itself up from the three second mark onwards, especially for anybody who knows and loves a good cowbell part when they hear it. This isn't a mere genre exercise; this is working the genre as hard as it possibly can without tearing ligaments, which is just what the long-considered-dead 'hard rock' approach needs to keep it from seizing up and collapsing. Rock and roooooll--

Delays - Valentine [buy | official site]

What. What. I saw that look.

The transition from the last song to this one threw you off, a little? Admittedly, it's quite the departure from there to here; the previous song was a balls-to-the-wall heavy metal assault, and this -- however you might initially try to describe it, and good luck trying -- is not.

Well, maybe you can't appreciate this song, mister lookie-me-I'm-macho-rocker-guy, but I'm comfortable enough in my masculinity to gleefully relish this europop purebred synthbeast. It's even produced by Trevor Horn, which is how you know it has been produced properly.

If a karaoke bar had this song, I would sing it. I would! And if you think it's weird that a dude would sing along with this song, think again -- because that's a dude singing the song in the first place. Yes, seriously. Despite the Ray of Light-era Madonna mental imagery you may have come up with on first listen, Delays are actually an indie new-wave band of four guys from Southampton, England.

Nothing wrong with well-crafted pop from time to time, I say! This is a song that would probably get old very fast if the mainstream machine dug its dirty hooks into it (see: LCD Soundsystem, 'Satisfaction'), but as long as it keeps out of cellphone commercials I'm sure it will remain well appreciated in my heart.

By comparison, here's a song about which I'm genuinely angry that the media doesn't play constantly:

Lucero - I Can Get Us Out of Here Tonight [buy | official site]

If you were following music blogs online at all last year, chances are good you've heard this song already; it was huge amongst the online set, and for obvious very good reasons. The problem is, I don't know anybody else in real life who follows music blogs. In actual physical day-to-day life I only know seven other people who have ever heard this song, and that is because I was the one who played it for all seven of them.

Seven people have heard this. Counting myself, eight. And that is absolutely criminal.

Everything about this song is absolute perfection to me -- the arrangement, the performance, the production; the whisky-soaked desperation of the vocals and guitar, the driving fury of the backing bass and drums, the epic-scale hopeful eagerness of the piano line, everything. This song is no less than the second coming of Springsteen, which is impressive on its own merits and doubly impressive because Springsteen isn't dead yet.

This song will never get old, never wear out its welcome, both because it will never get its chance to and because it simply never could. In a perfect world this would be one of the songs that defines our generation, loved and cherished by folk the world over and appreciated decades from now as a classic example of anthemic brilliance. In the real world? Less than ten people I have ever met have heard this song, fewer still could name the band, and drizzling shit like the Black Eyed Peas are what this current era of music will be remembered for.

If you download anything from anywhere today, download this. I am absolutely adamant about this. This is important to me. I'll... I'll be your friend? I don't know -- how do people convince other people to do things over the internet? I've just now concluded that I'm pretty bad at it.

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I like music. Just in case you hadn't noticed! Sometimes I can be vague about these things.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The NHL Playoffs Begin Tonight

It's spring again, and you know what that means -- hockey! Some people associate hockey with winter, what with the part about it being a game you play on ice, but pah I say. Pah! Spring is when hockey starts mattering across the country more so than usual, because it is Stanley Cup Playoffs time and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are good times.

My loyalty priorities are a bit different than the ones you usually encounter; I like the Canadian teams as much as the next Cup-starved Canadian fan (as long as we aren't talking about some Leafs fan here, because diehard Leafs fans are seasonal depression factories), but my affections have a well-established hierarchy.

I automatically root for the team I find more entertaining (and I measure my entertainment value in how often they hit and how fast they skate, because I am a simple man with simple pleasures); if both teams are equally entertaining (or if neither team is), I root for the one with more old Winnipeg Jets on it; if both teams have an equal number of former Jet players (which is usually zero), I root for whichever team has more players I really like on it; if all of the above fails, that's when I finally say 'screw it' and root for the Canadian team. Go Canada!

The NHL Playoffs begin tonight, and here are the matchups we (and by 'we' I mean you, because you probably don't work evenings) have to look forward to in the first round:

Western Conference

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Calgary Flames

Let's not mince words -- Calgary are only in the playoffs because Colorado missed one overtime point somewhere this year. (And let's all just admit it: Detroit and Colorado in the first round would have been awesome.) On the other hand, the last few seasons of Detroit hockey have demonstrated that all the regular season points in the world don't make a team any good in the playoffs. So this is kind of tricky. Detroit are considered the heavy favourites here, but they're always considered heavy favourites and very rarely does that actually work out.

I like both teams, but I'm siding with Calgary because constant checking makes me smile really wide. Yes, Detroit has former Winnipeg Jet Kris Draper, so I'm partially going against my mindset on this one -- but, c'mon, the Jets sold Draper to Detroit for a dollar. (No, I'm not making that up. That actually happened.) Ergo I'm willing to make an exception on this one, and so I will. Calgary is most likely going to lose, because they win away games about as often as Ed Belfour goes to bars without getting into trouble, but I'm rooting for them anyway.

What I'd Want: Calgary in six.
What I'll Guess: Detroit in seven.

(2) Anaheim Mighty Ducks vs. (7) Minnesota North StWild

Minnesota are boring as all hell to watch and I hope Anaheim crushes them like ants.

There's more to it than that, but not really a whole lot more. Anaheim plays entertaining, fast-paced hockey and sports former Jet Teemu Selanne on their roster; Minnesota is relentlessly boring and their logo looks like the early design stages of a scratch-and-win ticket.

What I'd Want: Anaheim in four.
What I'll Guess: Anaheim in six.

(3) Vancouver Canucks vs. (6) Dallas North Stwait dammit no Stars

Dig the wacky seeding shakedown: the third seed has 105 regular season points and the sixth seed has 107 points. The division structure is just goofy like that.

Expect to hear the words "goaltenders' battle" trotted out roughly a million times in the television coverage, which is a special code phrase to tip you off that the entire series will have maybe nine goals tops between the two teams combined. I sure hope you like "defensive hockey"! Har har!

So much as I'm rooting for anybody (I don't anticipate a thrill ride of a series), I'm rooting for Dallas in this one. Dallas has Stu Barnes on their squad -- yes, Stu Barnes is still playing -- and, truthfully? I haven't cared about Vancouver at all since they let Anson Carter leave, because Anson Carter is one of my favourite players.

And we're Winnipeg, god damn it; our Jets used to hate their Canucks with a passion, in the grand spirit of friendly competition and rivalry between equals, and it says a lot about the reputational decline of our city that people now consider us lucky to hold a complacent role as Vancouver's farm system. Giving up the pretense of being a successful city and instead accepting second-class status to support an actual successful city? Why, that's Spirited Energy!

We can't have nice things.

What I'd Want: Dallas in six -- and hilarity at the airport when a Nordiques fan with a long memory, working as a customs agent, prevents Eric Lindros from crossing the border by speaking to him only in French.
What I'll Guess: Vancouver in five, with at least two of these games going into double overtime because Turco doesn't have the luxury of shootouts in the playoffs and it seems to take fifty or sixty shots per night just to get Luongo out of position.

(4) Nashville Predators vs. (5) San Jose Sharks

Not much to say here; this'll be a fun series, if we get to see any of it. I'm going to root for Nashville because San Jose won this series last year, and because I like Peter Forsberg better than I like Joe Thornton. Get 'em, Forsberg!

What I'd Want: Nashville in seven.
What I'll Guess: Nashville in seven.

Eastern Conference

(1) Buffalo Sabres vs. (8) New York Islanders

I'm rooting for the Buffalo Sabres to win the Stanley Cup this year, because they have Teppo Numminen and the other teams don't. Teppo Numminen is one of my all-time favourite players; how many current NHL players, or NHL players ever, can say they have their own theme song? Hmm? That's what I thought!

If you thought Buffalo had playoff injury woes last year, having lost almost every defencemen by the end of their run, consider this: if goaltender Ryan Miller gets injured, their playoff hopes will hinge on... Ty Conklin. Yes, that Ty Conklin.

So if Buffalo doesn't win the Stanley Cup this year, I'm blaming Ty Conklin. And I'm blaming that stupid new logo Buffalo introduced this year, because that logo sucks and I hate it. It's the San Diego Chargers logo with horns! Whose idea was this? What, honestly, what was so wrong with the original logo? Their original logo was freaking awesome! It had a buffalo, it had sabres -- they're the Buffalo Sabres! This is not rocket science! Aargh!

What I'd Want: Buffalo in four, with Brian Campbell obliterating Alexei Yashin in Game 1 for his second playoff-highlight hit-of-the-year in a row.
What I'll Guess: Buffalo in five. Because, c'mon, it's the Islanders.

(2) New Jersey Devils vs. (7) Tampa Bay Lightning

God, I hate the New Jersey Devils. I don't think I've never met anybody who enjoys watching the New Jersey Devils; I don't think I would want to meet anybody who could enjoy the New Jersey Devils. Except of course for those brief bursts, back in the day, when the game would stop so Scott Stevens could hit somebody -- but these were five-second spurts of interest amidst sixty minutes of silence and inertia. And Scott Stevens retired three years ago!

I was really rooting for a Rangers/Devils showdown in the first round, because that's really the only time I'm interested in either team -- and a Rangers/Devils showdown in the later rounds would mean both teams have to advance first, and that would just mean way too many games of boring hockey clogging the airwaves.

And speaking of boring hockey clogging the airwaves, hey, guess what game is on Hockey Night in Canada this Saturday.

Uh huh.

God, I hate the New Jersey Devils. I have no particular affection for Tampa Bay, but oh man I hope they kill the Devils dead.

What I'd Want: Tampa Bay in four blowouts, and next year Claude Julien wins a Stanley Cup with whichever team hires him first.
What I'll Guess: New Jersey in five. Damn it.

(3) Atlanta Thrashers vs. (6) New York Rangers

I have never, in my life, ever seen an Atlanta Thrashers game. I keep forgetting the team even exists, and they've been around for eight years now.
But the heck with it, I'm rooting for them anyway. Why not? This is their first year making the playoffs, and I like to root for the newcomers. Everything I've read about them indicates that they're a good solid team, and if I ever actually get to watch one of their games (here's hoping, playoff television schedule makers!) I might find out whether or not they're fun to watch.
So already I like them better than the Rangers. Man, have I ever not cared about the New York Rangers since they traded away Anson Carter since they traded away Cory Cross since Mark Messier retired. But don't feel bad, Rangers! You're easily my favourite New York City sports team!

What I'd Want: Atlanta in six.
What I'll Guess: Atlanta in six.

(4) Ottawa Senators vs. (5) Pittsburgh Penguins

Say what you will about Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Jordan Staal, Daniel Alfredsson, whoever; my favourite player on either team in this series is Georges Laraque.

I'm serious!

Ottawa becomes an exponentially more dangerous playoff team when the Leafs don't make it out of the regular season, so I expect they're going to win this series; I like Ottawa, so that's cool. But I'm still rooting for Pittsburgh, just because I like Pittsburgh that little bit more. And I love that Georges Laraque made it into the playoffs when the Oilers specifically didn't. Suck that, Oilers! Should have known better!

What I'd Want: Pittsburgh in seven fast-paced and exciting games, with Georges Laraque scoring the winning goal in overtime. And while I'm dreaming, I would also like a rocketship that prints money.
What I'll Guess: Ottawa in six, to the great despair of the mainstream media. WE GET IT SPORTSWRITERS YOU GUYS LIKE CROSBY.

The first round of the Playoffs ends, coincidentally, at almost the same time my current employment does -- and, as you'll recall, my current employment runs from four to eight each weekday evening. So I'm not going to get to watch many of these games, and the ones I do get to watch are going to be Devils games because fate is a fickle strumpet when it comes to television schedules. Alas! Alas.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Not Quite A Bird of Paradise

Hello there, gentle reader whom I've been discourteously neglecting! How was your Easter weekend? Really? Wow!

Last I posted here, I was just getting ready to start at a new temp position; over the rest of that week I worked there two days, for a total of seven and a half hours. It had seemed a short enough term of employment when I knew it was to last until about the 20th -- and then, I realized I had completely forgotten to take both Good Friday and Easter Monday into account. There are actually two fewer work days in this arrangement than I had originally envisioned. Whoops! But, ah, well; so it goes.

Also, Saturday saw me miss both the Priestess concert and most of the climactic Leafs/Canadiens game (boy, heck of a game; rendered completely meaningless within the next day, but heck of a game regardless) because of family commitments; this too was kind of a bummer, but again, oh well. It's hard to put up any kind of ill mood when you have a big friendly dog wandering around all night.

So my weekend was best described as one of lost time and missed opportunities; then again, that's pretty much every weekend for me. When disposable income is a vaguely remembered concept of the past, going out and about holds less and less promise.

But I did run into something interesting in the past few days, as it turns out! You never know when you might run into something interesting -- and in some cases, such as this one, you wonder how it hasn't been run over yet.

After leaving work Thursday evening, I set off to the University of Manitoba; at the end of each week some fine folk gather there to play video games (fighting games are my favourite, by far, because I am dangerously violent grr snarl scary), and the call of digital combat lured me out to the ol' alma mater.

I was pulling my very old car into one of the parking lots (and quietly reflecting on how useless my degree has been so far) when my peripheral vision picked up something in the middle of the lot. I initially dismissed it as a garbage bag or something before a mental doubletake reminded me that, no, garbage bags don't have heads -- and that's when it hit me that my car was now parked twenty feet away from a reclining Canada goose.


Okay, yes, seriously.

I got out of the car and spent a couple minutes regarding this, a wild bird sitting picturesque and pristine amidst the parked cars. A couple groups of people walked by, looked at the bird with surprise as they passed, then got into their cars and left; the goose didn't even move. Didn't even humour the engine noises. Just sat.

I don't know all too much about goose behaviour, so I stopped to survey this for a second. Most of what I assume I know about geese is that they A) fly, B) travel in groups, C) don't go out of their way to interact with people and D) wouldn't like cars very much.

Is chilling in the middle of a concrete car lot by their lonesome just something geese like to do, or did the bizarre swings in temperature lately (bizarre objectively, I mean, this sort of thing being normal for a Winnipeg spring) mean this one had just decided to sit down until he had this migration thing figured out? Did this guy run into some pigeons in New York and figure "hey, why don't I move into the city and settle in"?

Follow his line of vision, here--

Oh. Well, that explained it, then; somebody had left the remains of a delicious Kaiser roll lying there. The subzero temperatures had partially hardened the bread, making the scattered pieces a bit of a chore to chew on (especially without teeth) -- but these were perfectly good pieces of bread lying here, by damn, and this dude wasn't going to leave until he had finished them.

That was what I figured, anyway. Until he stood up on his little goose feet and scurried right on up to me, a bit of bread still poking out of one side of his beak.

So we stared at each other for a couple seconds, before he opened his beak and sort of stuck his tongue out at me -- to make a quiet but tangible exhaling noise, a "hhhkkllhhh" that still didn't tell me much of anything.

Do they, uh... do they usually do that? This was my train of thought. If I don't know all too much about goose behaviour, I really don't know much at all about goose behavior specifically as regards people. I had no idea what this guy was up to; I couldn't tell if he wanted me to pet him, or if he was telling me he would eat my children, or if he intended to shake me down for a container of cream cheese, or what.

He must have figured his message wasn't getting through to me, because he decided to sit down right there not three feet away and continue staring at me.

I really wanted to pet him. Doesn't he look like he'd be really soft? I didn't try, of course; I briefly envisioned trying to explain to the nice folks at the hospital how I lost three fingers to a goose in a parking lot, and ultimately I figured the risk outweighed the reward.

I had the idea that maybe he was distressed, might want some water; he was probably thirsty, especially after the bread, and it couldn't have been easy to find something to drink when everything freezes over. (I don't know why I had this idea, except that the "hhhkkllhhh" sounded particularly dry.) I grabbed a water bottle from my car and poured some into a nearby Tim Hortons cup, to see if he wanted it; he didn't, of course, but I like to think he appreciated the gesture. He hhhkkllhhhed at me again, ignored the water, and walked back to go guard his bread stash again.

So obviously my calling in life is not going to be waterfowl psychology after all. I picked up a few pieces of the bread and tossed them to him, playing a surprisingly cohesive game of catch (he didn't catch any of them, granted, just scooped them off the ground), before I finally went inside and spent the rest of the night being really bad at fighting games.

I wish I'd had some sandwich or something to give him, because I really appreciated this little guy's outlook on life. My mental picture of most birds has always been of more skittish, fearful things -- but this dude was cool as ice the whole time, perfectly unfazed by people or cars or the complete lack of any accompanying geese. It's kind of sad, but this was the highlight of my weekend.

I can't figure out why anybody would ever want to shoot these little guys, aside from the usual fallback explanation that people are horrible. Geese are awesome. If you get the chance to meet one, I totally recommend it.

Stay tuned, gentle readers! Future posts should definitely arrive in shorter intervals!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

You Learn Something New Every Day

When a brand new Shoppers Drug Mart location opens in Winnipeg, it takes exactly fifteen days for panhandlers to appear in front of it.

Today this is what I have learned.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Behold the Amazing Internet: Fred, Alanis and Jack

Man, remember back in the day before the YouTube phenomenon when we all had to watch television? I know! Geez!

(As a prescript: if anybody has any trouble viewing the embedded video files here, let me know. It is not an exact science.)

In our modern world of direct-download audience impatience, we as a culture of consumers can pick and choose exactly what we want to view -- even if what we are viewing is not, specifically, a good idea.

Such as, say, offhand, just as an example, the beloved cartoon icons of our collective childhoods selling us all cigarettes.

God, that's just masterfully insidious, isn't it?

People complain today about the cynically crass commercialization of youth-aimed media, with toy tie-ins and movie deals and the inevitable terrible video games -- but that is because people today are sissies. You hear me, squeamish parents? Sissies! The lot of you!

Make no mistake, there were some pretty awful messages in the cartoons I grew up with (during my fourth year of university I wrote a political studies paper on the overt and covert ideological content of the major animated films of the 1980s; yes, really) -- but at no point in my young life did I see Optimus Prime turn to Bumblebee and blurt out "Winston is the one-filter cigarette that delivers flavour twenty times a pack!"

Although I'm kind of wishing I had, now. That would have been pretty funny.

And if you thought that was the most amusingly bizarre pop-culture monstrocity you were going to see on YouTube today -- ha! Never underestimate the internet in its ability to produce ideas and concepts you would never in your life have expected.

For example: if there were one thing I was never expecting to write, and if there were one thing you were never expecting to read, it would have been "Alanis Morissette has released a full piano ballad cover of the Black Eyed Peas' 'My Humps' with accompanying video".


This is the best thing Alanis Morissette has ever done, and I say this even as a former aficionado of You Can't Do That On Television. (Boy, was that show title decades ahead of its time.) Nobody's been in any hurry to pay attention to Morissette for quite a while now, especially after mainstream overexposure mercilessly murdered Jagged Little Pill (just as it murdered every popular album of the mid 1990s -- you know I'm right).

But if there's one way to rocket into my good books, it's definitely by taking on My Humps. And that video is deadpan perfect, no question. It's no surprise that the former Nickelodeon ensemble player has excellent comedic timing, and as far as I'm concerned the "you don't want no drama" segment launches the video straight into brilliance.

Speaking of brilliant! (I love segues.)

I've been a longtime enthusiast of You Don't Know Jack, the gameshow-inspired videogame series that specifically aims to be both intelligent and hilariously insulting; I have many fond memories of my father, my siblings and I wasting hours and hours each night playing the PlayStation version until we were all convinced everybody else had memorized the questions and we hadn't. These are my fondest memories of time spent in Brandon; that is because it is Brandon. But I digress.

You can imagine what my initial reaction was when I learned that they've been putting out free, brand new 7-question episodes each Monday since the beginning of March. The writing is spot-on as always, the presentation is almost perfect (the flash hangs up a bit in the second episode, especially on my rickety old computer -- but these are free beta versions, so oh well), and Tom Gottlieb reprises his role as voiceover host Cookie -- which is important, as anybody familiar with the two PlayStation versions of YDKJ knows.

Behold the Amazing Internet! Eat it, television! If it weren't for hockey, politics and Jeopardy, you'd be dead to me!

Mercifully, The Workforce Beckons

Through the same placement agency that gave me my last job, I've been hooked up today with some new employment. It was quite the conversation with my contact at the agency when she phoned this afternoon; she was all like "wait you mean nobody's phoned you in like a month" and I was all "uh no actually they haven't" and she was all "oh man whoops" and -- anyway, I'm employed again! Whoo!

It'll be part-time, and it'll be extremely temporary (spanning an estimated thirteen working days), but I'll gladly take it. Point A, I need money -- I like to think this is a good motivation for finding work -- and, point B, after nearly a month of unemployment I am in severe need of some good reasons to get out of the house.

A stretch of several weeks off can do strange things to a man; by this point, my time is not exactly a precious commodity. Besides finding a job, my personal highlights for today were going out to Dairy Queen for a banana split, remembering how to play Leonard Cohen's "Ain't No Cure for Love" on the guitar, and then late in the evening catching a particularly good episode of Babar on television. Babar!

(Remind me some other time to dedicate a whole post to Babar, because god damn. Babar was a lot more enjoyable before I knew anything about the legacies of African colonialism; I'm so glad I studied history and political studies so that I can never be happy about anything ever again.)

(Also -- remind me some other time to learn how to play the Babar theme. Just to mess with people's heads when they can immediately recognize the tune but not immediately place it.)

And just to really hammer home how little I've been up to lately, the more of this guy you start seeing --

-- the more you know you really aren't accomplishing anything productive at all any more.

After one game, for reasons I still haven't figured out, I sat back and for the very first time beheld the colour scheme on this dude.

Between this guy and Babar, what is it with kings and green suits? Where in the world would technicolour vomit be considered a regal arrangement? How cocky is this guy that he can smirk while wearing that combination of colours? Are his bright plumage and shows of confidence intended to attract a mate? If so, are there inherent cultural misunderstandings because he is required to find a queen of a different colour?

Then, finally -- what would happen if I tried to draw him?

(The King of Freecell is a jerk, I have decided.)

I start work at the new job on Wednesday afternoon. That'll be good for me.