February 28, 2006

Veni Vidi Vancouver

Well, I just put my stats midterm to bed, and have also accomplished about three bajillion improv-related errands already today, so I think I've earned myself a little time to gush about the West Coast.

In a lot of ways, Vancouver reminded me of Toronto, a sprawling mess of suburbs snaking out from a glitzy, glassy downtown core. I found my St Clair among the Value Villages and ethnic enclaves of Hastings Street, and my Bloor West Village in the gentrified yuppie-ville of Commercial Drive.

But, in a lot of other ways, and, importantly, a lot of good ways, Vancouver is gloriously unique. For a start, there's not that $£*&@!!! tower penetrating (yes, penetrating) the skyline— which is just a giant relief, because the views around town are breathtaking. Everywhere you go you're either on a mountain or looking at a mountain, and the net result is that you often find yourself gazing off at wispy clouds swimming between snowy peaks, or at the mass of buildings downtown crushing each other to get into the sunset first.

Vancouver is also in a spot that would be a temperate rainforest if not for all the civilization, and is thus exactly as someone in one my classes described it when I told them I'd be going there: lush. My first day I took an extended stroll through Stanley Park, and was mesmerised by the glimmers of sun floating through the mossy leaves of the redwoods. Then I sat in English Bay and watched the freighters nestling in the warm Pacific, and really did wish that it would never end.

Oh, and the best part of all? A Starbucks on every corner— of course.

That's all for now, but still to come in future updates:


February 27, 2006

I'll Quebecking You

Holla, peeps, I be back in blogtown...

Sadly, I have a midterm tomorrow for which I have yet to start studying, so I will refrain from discussing my trip to Vancouver, for now, except to transcribe this conversation I heard on the radio on the way to the airport this morning. Bear in mind the entire exchange was carried out in cheerful, hyperbolic radio presenter voice:

DJ One: Everyone is touched by cancer.
DJ Two: Yes, everybody has to deal with cancer at some point in their lives. Who doesn't know someone who's had a friend or family member with cancer?
DJ One: Two of my immediate family members are dealing with cancer.
DJ Two: It's very prevalent. How many people get cancer now? Is it one in three?
DJ One: One in three, yeah, I think so. You're in a room with four people, one of them is going to get cancer.
DJ Two: I'm going to get cancer. I can feel it.

Remarkably, Mournful Morning with 'Big' Jake and 'Sunshine' Sally remains one of Vancouver's most popular radio shows among commuters.

February 24, 2006

Conversations With Greatness LXVIII

This is actually oddly appropriate considering I'm in Vancouver-- where Marx probably would have to get a job at Starbucks.

February 17, 2006

Conversations With Greatness LXVII

February 16, 2006

I'll BCing You

As some of you know, I am spending my spring break in Vancouver this year. I am super-excited, because although I am, by most standards, an international rockstar jet-setter and all-round citizen of the world, I have never been to the West coast and furthermore have not been on vacation to somewhere I've never been before for almost two years (when I went to Lithuania in the summer of 2004).

Even more exciting, I am flying to Vancouver on flight number 187, which has inspired me to do some jokes before my ten day hiatus.

187 flights to Vancouver walk into a bar, and the bartender says, "We don't serve your kind here." The flights ask, "Why not?" And the bartender replies, "We just don't, okay! Now take off!"

187 flights to Vancouver walk into a bar, and the bartender says, "We don't serve your kind here." The flights ask, "Why not?" And the bartender replies, "I think it's plain to see."

187 flights to Vancouver try to walk into a bar, but the bouncer stops them at the door and says, "Whoa, whoa, can I see your boarding passes, please?"

187 overnight flights to Vancouver walk into a bar, and the bartender says, "We don't serve your kind here." The flights say, "Well, do you know somewhere else we could go instead?" And the bartender replies, "Try Vol de Nuit."

187 hungover flights to Vancouver walk into a bar, and the bartender says, "Wow, you look pretty rough. You must need the air of the dog that bit you."


There will be Conversations With Greatness on Fridays, as usual, while I'm gone— but I suspect I will otherwise be fairly quiet. Find something productive to do with your time, instead.

February 14, 2006

You're Meant To Do It With Your Car?

From Netscape Love: 8 Ways for Singles to Beat the Valentine's Day Blues

"So you don't have a date for Valentine's Day? No worries. February 14th is nothing but another way for card companies to rake in more money. But we have a feeling that when the clock strikes 6pm, and you're sitting in your apartment, alone, knowing this won't make you feel much better."

The creepy thing is, I did actually read this while sitting in my apartment alone at 6pm, and, they were right! It didn't make me feel any better. But then, the only reason I was feeling bad was my tenacious cold, and I don't think that's really what they meant.

Anyway, seven of the eight suggestions are fairly innocuous: go to the movies, go to a bar, go clubbing, that sort of thing. But, for your pleasure, I present suggestion number six in its entirety:

"Plan an auto erotic night. You don't need someone else to physically gratify yourself. Afterwards, you won't have to talk or share a cigarette."


That's their advice for beating the Valentine's Day blues? To have a wank?! How will that make you feel any less sad and pathetic when you're sitting in your apartment by yourself at 6pm?!

I'd rather have a cup of tea.

February 10, 2006

Oh, Poor Western Culture, Did You Make a Boo-Boo?

From Netscape News: Prince Harry's Nazi Gaffe Sparked Anti-Semitism

You know what? This is TERRIBLE! It's almost as if Prince Harry should have made more sensitive and responsible use of his freedom of expression, and not worn that Nazi uniform in the first place. Oh, but, wait, no— that would have been a threat to democracy everywhere. My mistake! Carry on with the religious conflicts, chaps!

Conversations With Greatness LXVI

Heh. Irony.

February 09, 2006


Speaking of unfortunate wording, I thought this question on Jeopardy today was especially poorly thought out:

Alex Trebek: June 21st to July 22nd: Why so crabby?
Contestant: What is cancer?

Department of Unfortunate Juxtapositions

During my three-hour, marathon computer lab session this evening, I rather understandably had occasion to nip down to the Leacock men's room. It was littered, as usual, with flyers for upcoming club nights. The particular flyers that were strewn around today were advertising a fundraiser party (Vodka, $100 a bottle until 12:30am!), aimed at collecting money for a charity called China Care, which helps orphaned kids in China.

Aww, that is so sensitive! It's about time we finally started paying China the respect it deserves! Say, where's this event being held, anyway?

...Club Opium. Oh.


February 08, 2006


While doing thesis research, today, and poking around McGill's collection of full-text online publications, I discovered to my intense delight that the McGill University Library provides encrypted access to none other than...

Seventeen magazine! As in, the magazine that teenage girls read to find out how to make boys like them!

"Wait a minute," I thought to myself. "If they have Seventeen, maybe that means they also have..."

COSMO!!!! Every issue from 1996 to the present day, online in full-text glory!

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't enjoy leafing through an issue of Polymer Bulletin, Gut, or Mammal Review every now and then— but I'm glad that my tuition fees are finally being put to good use!


PS. Who thinks I should buy a copy of The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island for $10 from eBay?

February 07, 2006

Department of LOLing

From The Toronto Star: Judge irks court with Super cheerleading

Man, am I glad I started subscribing to the AP RSS feed!

"TACOMA, Wash. . . . As Judge Beverly G. Grant took the bench Friday, she asked everyone in court to say "Go Seahawks." Dissatisfied with the low volume of the response, she told them to try again.

Only then did she hear statements from prosecutors, defence lawyers and relatives of the slain Tino Patricelli, as well as an apology from defendant Steve Keo Teang, before re-sentencing Teang to 13 1/2 years in prison."

After issuing the sentence, Judge Grant proceeded to lift up her robes, revealing a giant seahawk painted on her bosom.

Deputy Prosecutor Sunny Y Ko was unimpressed, saying: "One family is seeing a son go off to prison, and one family is here to find justice for their loved one who was murdered. It's important to them. Do you think they want to root for the Seahawks?" Ko added: "I mean, this is clearly the Steelers' year." He then dropped his pants to reveal a giant steel worker tattooed on his butt.

Grant insists she never meant to offend anyone, and initiated the chant merely as a way to "release tension" in the courtroom. Grant furthermore claims that it is "trite" for anyone to have taken offence at her statement. "Oh, for Pete's sake, what is with all these people taking manslaughter trials seriously, all of a sudden?!" she said. "I certainly don't!"

On a side note, I find the justification for Teang's re-sentencing to be kind of, uh, vacuous. According to the article, he had originally pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 16 years and 4 months in prison. But his family complained that they were not able to attend his initial sentencing because the courtroom had been too small-- so Grant agreed to reconsider the sentence and lessened it to 13 years and 6 months!

What the hell?! Since when does the size of the courtroom have anything to do with the severity of the sentence? If I ever end up going to trial for anything, I am going to insist that my sentencing be carried out in the Houston Astrodome-- by this logic I they will only be able to give me a few weeks.

February 05, 2006

As If You Needed More Evidence...

I was doing some thesis reading this evening (James Roman, From Daytime to Primetime: The History of American Television Programs, if you're interested), and was floored by this unequivocal confirmation of just what a bunch of crapola American television can be:

"Gilligan's Island became one of the most profitable syndicated television programs. There were 98 episodes, 36 black and white and 62 colour. There were also three television movies, Rescue from Gilligan's Island (1978), The Castaways on Gilligan's Island (1979), and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island."

My curiosity piqued, I googled the movie, and became more and more astounded by each piece of trivia that surfaced about it.

"Originally written as a vehicle for the famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, the film was retooled for the Harlem Globetrotters when the cheerleaders were unavailable." (IMDB)

This has to be a joke, right?

"The seven stranded castaways find comical chaos when an insane scientist, his trusty sidekick and the title basketball tricksters, playing robots visit their tropic island nest." (NY Times)

Playing ROBOTS?!?! I'm curious, was that part of the original script for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, or was that part of the 'retool' for the Globetrotters?

Actually, further investigation reveals that this is just a poorly worded sentence (shame on you, NY Times!!); the Globetrotters don't play robots in the sense of portraying them, they play robots in the sense of taking on a team of robots at basketball.

On reflection, I'm not sure which one of those is worse.

The plot is as follows:

"Though the entire bunch of castaways was rescued in one of their two previous TV movies, the Howells have turned the island into a hotel complex and all of the aged sitcomers have returned as co-owners. They still live in those idiotic bamboo huts, sleep in hammocks and fall over each other like nitwits---but now there's Love Boat-style bikinied tourists roaming about, so that Skipper can ogle them... Meanwhile, somewhere over the pacific, The Harlem Globetrotters are in their private plane when Coach Scatman Crothers informs them of an electrical malfunction. Landing in the ocean, they're menaced by the shark in Jaws (they throw basketballs at it and it goes away)...and wind up on Gilligan's Island, practising b-ball with coconuts." (AOL Member's Homepage)

While all this is going on, we also learn that a mad scientist (played by Martin Landau!!!!!) has discovered that the island is home to a valuable new element known as 'Supremium', with which he plans to take over the world. First, though, he needs to get free reign of the island...

"...by scaring off Gilligan and his buddies, but it soon settles to a basketball match between the doctors robots and the aforementioned Globetrotters" (IMDB)

And during said match, we witness the following exchange between Gilligan and Skipper:

"Crowd and Cheerleaders: (fast) G-I-L-L-I-G-A-N!
Gilligan: (to Skipper) Skipper, what are they spelling?
Skipper: Little buddy, they're spelling "Gilligan".
Gilligan: (to himself; after Skipper walks away) Oh, two 'I's." (TV.com)

Man, and I thought Joey was bad!

February 03, 2006

Conversations With Greatness LXV


PS. I ♥ Jack Straw: "There is freedom of speech, we all respect that. But there is not any obligation to insult or to be gratuitously inflammatory. . . . I believe that the republication of these cartoons has been insulting, it has been insensitive, it has been disrespectful and it has been wrong."

You tell 'em, Straw! Hail Britannia!



February 02, 2006

Countless Stupid Ignoramuses

From Netscape News: TV Crime Shows Aiding Real Life Murderers

Apparently, murderers these days are getting smarter. No longer need they rely only on portly Belgians and bridge-playing retirees for their knowledge of forensic police work— now they can get all the helpful, evidence-destroying hints they need from CSI. Or, at least, so says Tammy Klein, senior criminalist for the LAPD, and "other experts".

A man charged in a recent double-homicide in northeast Ohio was a "CSI'' fan and went to great lengths to cover his tracks, according to an affidavit filed by Trumbull County prosecutors.

Jermaine "Maniac'' McKinney, 25, allegedly broke into a house, killed a mother and daughter and used bleach to remove their blood from his hands, prosecutors said.

Do you think he was given that nickname before or after the crime?

"Hey, me and they guys are going for a few beers; you wanna come, Maniac?"
"Oh, no thanks Bob, I'm off to bludgeon a mother and daughter to death."
[Chuckling to himself] "Oh, that Maniac. What a crazy guy."

"He tried to throw some evidence into a lake, including a crowbar used to bludgeon one of the victims. The lake was frozen though and he shouted a profanity when the crowbar remained on the surface, according to the affidavit."

Okay, so, these "more sophisticated" criminals that everyone is so worried about can't even tell the difference between a frozen lake and a not frozen lake?

But, my favourite part of the whole article:

"Klein said most crimes aren't well planned . . . 'For the most part, our killings involve gang bangers who for the most part are pretty stupid,' she said."

"Now," added Klein, "I'm off to impartially evaluate some evidence."

February 01, 2006

France, Germany, Defend Right To Be Jerks

From ABC News: Newspapers Republish Muhammad Caricatures

French quotidienne France Soir today re-ran the series of caricatures of the prophet Muhammad that have recently been causing a global furore, saying:

"The appearance of the 12 drawings in the Danish press provoked emotions in the Muslim world because the representation of Allah and his prophet is forbidden. But because no religious dogma can impose itself on a democratic and secular society, France Soir is publishing the incriminating caricatures."

The editorial added, "The French don't need to respect other cultures and religions... What are they going to do, riot?"

The caricatures include a particularly insulting drawing in which the prophet is depicted wearing a turban shaped like a bomb, which German newspaper Die Welt very sensitively chose to print on their front page, arguing that a "right to blasphemy" is anchored in democratic freedoms. Of course, that bunch of Jew-hating Nazis certainly have no history of radical, fringe ideologies being misconstrued as representative of their culture as a whole, and so are completely unaware of how offensive it can be.

Well, France, Germany, I fucking applaud you for standing up for democracy. At least you had the good sense not to do so by, oh, I don't know, aggravating a global cultural tension that has already cost thousands of lives on both sides? Bravo.