Monday, February 28, 2005

The iPod Journals: What about protected WMA files?

So today at the Sheaf's arts meeting I picked up the newest album from the Kings of Leon, Aha Shake Heartbreak, thinking I would pass it on to Ewan, if he didn't have it, and he could review it since he was a fan of the first one. Of course, I was thinking, I could import the disc into iTunes and keep a copy for myself. What I didn't count on was copy protection.

I popped the disc into my drive and popped up iTunes and began listening. I hadn't heard the Kings of Leon before, but I was pretty sure that the pops, whistles and difficult to hear vocals weren't part of the experience. Placing the disc in the home stereo system confirmed by suspisions. Why the heck wouldn't the disc play in iTunes I wondered? Turns out the album is protected by various encryptions that must be downloaded through Windows Media Player in order to play. My subsequent attempt to import the WMA files into iTunes failed. Turns out the whole Microsoft/Apple battle has resulted in making iTunes incapbable of importing protected WMA files, the kind you get on Napster and other online music stores (Apple's iTunes store uses a Apple licsensed AAC-codex). The result. No foreseeable way for me to get Aha Shake Heartbreak onto my iPod.

However, with a little Googling I discovered a way to beat the whole copy protection thing without complex new programs or codec converters.

1) Import the copy protected WMA files into Windows Media Player and then creat your playlist.

2) Burn a copy of the files to CD. The resulting CD will not retain the original copy protection.

3) Pop the CD back into your drive and import the disc using iTunes like you would a normal CD.

4) Pat yourself on the back. You've just beaten Microsoft and Apple with their own system.

"why I hate Sean Penn and other Oscar business"

So it turns out that I'm not as good at predicting without a Peter Jackson film in the running. The only categories I really stumbled in were the Supporting Actor/Actress ones where I was positive that they would throw something the direction of Sideways (but I'm not too upset because Alexander Payne is still a young man and seems to be growing as a director), and Best Picture; the Academy decided that they weren't going to go the obvious route and pay tribute to the glory days of Hollywood in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator and instead rewarded the kind of film that they made back in the glory days, the low key and powerful Million Dollar Baby.

I know a lot of people (Caitlin and Swambo, Harry Knowles) were upset that Baby won. I can't really say I am. What I am is glad that Clint won for this film and not for Mystic River last year, which was a good but uneven film, and not on the same level that Baby was. The thing that bugged me the most about Mystic River was Sean Penn's acting. His over acting is almost unbearable ("uGHHggh...Is...THAT my THERE?! wahhahagahhh!!"). I almost felt like this time Clint was like, "Well, dammit, I guess I'm going to have to do it myself and show them how it's done." Sean Penn's Oscar for that award was annoying, not only because of his incredibly grating personality and politiking, but because he robbed Bill Murray in the performance of a lifetime.

This is why I hate Sean Penn. For one, apparently he has no sense of humour. When Matt Stone and Trey Parker made fun of him in Team America, Penn felt it neccessary to remind them about how immature they were and how bad Bush is and then basically miss the entire point of their film. Last night he showed how incredibly out of touch with humour (intentional that is; we've gotten many a good joke out of his Mystic River performance) he is. When presenting the award for Best Actress, he first felt it neccessary to point out that Jude Law is a really talented actor even though Chris Rock razzed him in the opening. Note to Sean: I like Jude a lot. He is really talented. And I'm sure Jude know's this. He doesn't need you to defend him, especially from a STAND-UP COMIC. The preposterousness of Penn not being able to let a joke go. I mean, nobody takes it seriously, that's why Chris Rock is saying it. But it's true, Jude was in a lot of movies this past year (six films from Sept. to Dec.). And Chris wasn't mean spirited in it, he was just bugging him. That's what he does. Sean Penn needs to lighten up. They guy is so humourless it really bugs me. Ugh. Why couldn't Chris Rock have made fun of him. That would have been more entertaining.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

For Anyone Who's Interested

Here is the current Top Ten most listened to songs on my iPod right now:

10) Coldplay - "Shiver" from the album Parachutes
9) The Beatles - "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" from the album Help!
8) The Beach Boys - "This Whole World" from the album Sunflower
7) Ryan Adams - "Burning Photographs" from the album Rock N Roll
6) The Bees - "The Start" from the album Free The Bees
5) The Bees - "Chicken Payback"
from the album Free The Bees
4) The Bees - "Horsemen" from the album Free The Bees
3) Ryan Adams - "New York, New York" from the album Gold
2) The Bees - "These Are The Ghosts" from the album Free The Bees
1) The Bees - "Wash In The Rain" from the album Free The Bees

Oscar Predictions 2005

Since the Sheaf, didn't print all of my predictions, and more importantly, didn't print any of my preferences, I thought I'd list the entire bunch for all you movie fans.

Performance by an actor in a leading role

This category is the no-brainer. Jamie Foxx is a truly amazing imitation of Ray Charles, but that’s just it: it’s an imitation. The uncanny resemblance trumps and real acting here, so expect Jamie to take home the gold and Clint to be recognized behind the camera instead of in front. As in most Oscar categories, most means best. Also, it’s a crime that Paul Giamatti wasn’t nominated for “Sideways.” If there were any justice in the world he would win on a “write-in” vote on Sunday night.

Prediction: Jamie Foxx (“Ray”)

Preference: Clint Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby”)

Biggest Snubs: Paul Giamatti (“Sideways”), Jim Carrey (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”)

Performance by an actress in a leading role

A rematch of 1999’s Bening vs. Swank title match, and this fan expects a repeat for Ms. Swank (somehow the boxing metaphor seems apt in this case). The Academy loves roles of this sort and with me predicting that “The Aviator” will win the big one, the Academy will send a few more the way of the “Baby.” Possible upset would be Imelda Staunton (“Vera Drake”), an older actor who has never been recognized, but I think in this case the nod is the award.

Prediction: Hilary Swank (“Million Dollar Baby”)

Preference: Hilary Swank (“Million Dollar Baby”)

Biggest Snub: Uma Thurman (“Kill Bill, Vol. 2”)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

With my prediction that “Sideways” will be shut out in most of the big categories, so this is where the Academy will show the film the love. Thomas Hayden-Church’s Stifler-esque best friend gets the most laughs, and is a comeback performance for a former TV-star (anyone remember “Wings” or “Ned and Stacey”?).

Prediction: Thomas Hayden-Church (“Sideways”)

Preference: Clive Owen (“Closer”)

Biggest Snub: Gary Oldman (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Again, I’m predicting a win for “Sideways” and Virginia Madsen. Her award will be well deserved, but Natalie Portman, who had two great performances this year, each the best part of the films she was in, should get this award. On the bright side, Natalie’s future is wide open and I expect to see her in this category again.

Prediction: Virginia Madsen (“Sideways”)

Preference: Natalie Portman (“Closer”)

Biggest Snub: Natalie Portman (“Garden State”)

Best animated feature of the year

“The Incredibles” should be nominated for Best Picture. There is no competition here, and I don’t really want to talk about it. One wonders what would have happened if this category had not existed. Would “The Incredibles” join “Beauty and the Beast” as the only animated film to be nominated for Best Picture?

Prediction: “The Incredibles”

Preference: “The Incredibles”

Has no business being there: “Shark Tale”

Achievement in directing

Unfortunately Martin Scorsese has never won an Oscar, despite helming some of the greatest films of all time (“Goodfellas”, “Taxi Driver”). This is a tight race and he might take the gold home as a kind of “lifetime achievement prize”, but I think the impression is that “The Aviator” isn’t really Marty’s best film (and is really Leo’s pet project), and so the prize will go to Clint for his best film, “Million Dollar Baby.”

Prediction: Clint Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby”)

Preference: Martin Scorsese (“The Aviator”)

Biggest Snub: Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”)

Best foreign language film of the year

I have seen none of the nominated films here, but I did see some foreign films this year. Inexplicably, Zhang Yimou was completely shut out for both “Hero” and “House of Flying Daggers.” Maybe the Academy was all “Crouching Tiger”-ed out? Anyway, expect “The Sea Inside” to win. Javier Bardem was on the short list for a possible Best Actor nod, and the Academy loves a good sob story.

Prediction: “The Sea Inside”

Preference: “The Sea Inside”

Biggest Snub: “Hero”

Adapted Screenplay

Perhaps one of the strongest categories in the show, this is a tight race between “Sideways” and “Million Dollar Baby.” But because I’m predicting more gold for “Baby”, this one will go to “Sideways” as compensation for Alexander Payne. I guess no one considers a comic book adaptation (“Spider-man 2”) by a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist (Michael Chabon) good enough these days.

Prediction: “Sideways”

Preference: “Before Sunset”

Biggest Snub: “Spider-man 2”

Original Screenplay

Surprisingly difficult category to fill this year, but I’m going to go against Derek and say that this will be “Eternal Sunshine”’s token win. Yes, Kaufman may win again, but this is easily his best script so far and this category is often where the mostly traditional Academy will award offbeat brilliance.

Prediction: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

Preference: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

Biggest Snub: “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”

Best motion picture of the year

I’m going to say this is a two-way race that is almost too close to call, but since I think the Best Director award will go to Clint, I’m going to call this one for “The Aviator.” There is a pattern to the Academy’s madness, alternating a Picture/Director split with a Picture/Director match. Last year was Jackson’s time to shine, so this year they go back to the split. In the end, “The Aviator” is the safe choice for Academy members.

Prediction: “The Aviator”

Preference: “Sideways”

Biggest Snub: “Spider-man 2”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

Thursday, February 24, 2005

One-man Star Wars at the Broadway Theatre

Went to go see the One-man Star Wars show at Broadway tonight. It was ostensibly to write a review for the Sheaf (thus I told the woman at the door and recieved free entry). It was quite enjoyable. He seems to really enjoy himself, and the audience was good too, laughing at the right moments and getting a good number of the in-jokes. He covered all of the original Star Wars Trilogy in just over an hour. He had a good number of jabs at some of the absurdities of the trilogy, including Chewie's lack of medal in A New Hope, and Obi-Wan's chronic lying. All-in-all it is a solid performance.

I liked it, but the thing that keeps me from raving about it is the disturbing thought in the back of my head the entire time that I could do the same thing, probably with minimal practice. I became even more disturbed at myself for noticing when he did a couple musical bits wrong and mispronounced "Toche Station." I am such a geek. Also, a disturbing lack of Ewoks in his Return of the Jedi bit.

Afterwards he talked a bit about how people should keep doing the creative things that they do, how he's going to be performing at the Star Wars Celebration this spring, and how he met Ian McKellen at one of his One-man Lord of the Rings shows. He seems like a pretty decent guy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I worked tonight. Really boring. A few questions.

Mall "muzak" is horrendous. Does anyone really need to hear a Kenny G rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"? Does anyone actually like Kenny G for that matter?

The weird guy who I always see on campus collecting bottles in the evening was at the mall. He was apparently pretending to be blind. I wonder if he realizes that I recognize him? I wonder what his real story is?

There was a head on collision at the corner of Preston and College on the way home. Of course everyone slows down to see it. I wonder if cell phones have helped to reduce car accident casualties, as emergency response teams can get there faster? Or do the additional accidents caused cell phones cancel that out?

I want to see this movie badly

Here's the trailer for Oldboy, the Korean revenge film that Quentin Tarantino thought was the best film of the year, and won the Grand Prix (second place) prize at Cannes this past spring. It's finally getting a North American release this year and I cannot wait. Apparently it's like Kill Bill meets Fight Club.

Hotel Rwanda

I wanted to go to see a movie tonight, because a) I have no parent to tell me "you shouldn't, it's a school night" and b) because it's cheap night. I had been leaning toward Constantine (I know, I know, but it's based on an Alan Moore comic and looks intriguing enough), but finally decided that Hotel Rwanda would only be a Pacific another week or so, and that it was more important. I think I made a good choice.

Hotel Rwanda is one of the most affecting films of the year. I really don't know what to say about it. We all know about the horrific events that occurred in Rwanda in 1994, and I don't really know what else to say about it. It's the kind of thing that you can debate and talk about all night. How horrific genocide and hatred is. How frightening to see your family and neighbors hacked apart with machetes. How frusterating it must have been for the UN commanding officer (in real life Canadian Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire; in the film a fictional colonel played by Nick Nolte) to have to sit by and be able to do nothing. Really this is one of the great shames of the Western world and our failure to do anything to stop the bloodshed until over a million Hutus were dead.

But the real challenge for a filmmaker is how to tell the story on a scale and level that we can identify with. As Stalin is credited with saying, "A single life is a tragedy, a million is a statistic" or something to that effect. Director Terry George, with help from the real life Paul Rusesebagina, manages to tell a story of ordinary courage, real ingenuity, anchored with the love of a man for his wife and children. It's a story on a scale that makes the characters matter to us, without losing track of the larger significance.

Don Cheadle is excellent as Paul Rusesbagina. His Oscar nomination is well deserved. Also, I enjoyed the soundtrack. I really like African choir music, and the credits song by Wyclef Jean is good too.

I guess that's another more minor thing that bugs me after watching the film. How can anyone actually walk out of the theatre and say that Ray was a better film? I just don't understand. This is a film that needs to be seen for the content, but appreciated for the fine manner in which it is told. All in all, a fine film.

Monday, February 21, 2005

What with my recent excitement about A Scanner Darkly, and Luke's ruminations after Donnie Darko, he posted this link (for those who don't read Luke's blog on a regular basis - and you really should) to the Phillip K. Dick essay entitled, "How To Build A Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later." This is the essay that was referred to in Waking Life, wherein Dick explains why he believes he is living in the first century AD in Judea. Yep. Read it. It's a mind trip.

Reflections on the Bachelor Life, Pt. I

Today is the first day of my three months of living without my parents.

One of the first things to consider is food and food preparation. I general I like to eat well. Anton probably even more so. When we were in Fairmont we ate at the "Black Forest" restaurant, a rather nice, upscale German restaurant. I began with a tomato bisque for starters. Then I had the wiener schnitzel and schpatzlé for the main entrée and half-caraf of Chilean cabernet for a wine. I finished it with a cappuccino. Not a bad meal by any standard. But not something that one can make on a weekly basis.

There is a natural inclination when one is living on one's own to tend toward the cheap and fast. Tonight I eschewed my normal distaste for hot dogs and cooked some up beause I felt the need for some facsimile of meat in my meal. Also a pot of pasta and a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup makes for a decent dinner. Call it the "Kraft aesthetic."

However, Anton likes to cook, and I do as well to a lesser extent. When one has the time to cook it can be a form of entertainment; Ask anyone who was on our spring break trip. With a fully furnished kitchen, meal preparation became the focal point of the day. Not only did we save money, but we were treated to steak one night, and tacos another.

Another effect of cooking and the bachelor life is what I call a tendency to wastefulness. For example, I feel that because I have a dishwasher, why not just fill it up once a day and run it? For that matter, since it's all the same amount of work, why not use 2 spoons when one will suffice? Bread's a little stale? Into the garbage.

The importance of eating cannot be overlooked. But when you're suddenly forced to cook for oneself on a regular basis (something this spoiled young man never had to deal with), standards are likely to slip.

Hunter S. Thompson 1937-2005

I just read an obit that Hunter S. Thompson (best known today as the writer of Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas and as the inspiration for Duke in Doonesbury comic strip) has died. All of you may take that news for what it's worth, but I for one will remember the passing of one of the truly original writers of the 20th century.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

A couple of cool movie trailers I saw today, for those of you who are into this sort of thing.

Firstly, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which looks encouraging to me. My friend Luke commented that elements of the film looked "cheap", to which I felt encouragement because I always felt that Douglas Adam's books deserved that somewhat cheesy "Python-esque" treatment. All in all, I'm looking forward to it.

And even more interesting is the first full trailer for Richard Linklater's Phillip K. Dick adaptation, A Scanner Darkly. Man, this animation is leagues ahead of Waking Life, and the whole story seems really cool. What is it with Keanu and mind-trippy sci-fi works anyway?

Donnie Darko: Director's Cut

Donnie Darko is one of those movies that I would term a modern "cult classic."

It barely made any money at the box office (probably, in part, due to the fact that it debuted the weekend after the 9/11 attacks when movies were low on most people's lists of priorities), and scarcely registered on anyone's radar of "important" films for a good long time. I remember seeing the poster for the film (featuring the frightening yet enigmatic image of Frank the bunny) and wanting to see the film. Then I saw the trailer and wanted to see it more. The fact that Saskatoon does not get that many small independent films meant that I had to wait for it's video debut to see the film (which I distinctly remember watching in a double bill with Training Day). I was impressed with the film for the most part. The story was engaging, full of humour, mystery and a sense of dread that worked well within the framework of the film. However, challenge me at the time to explain to you what exactly happened in the film would have been beyond me. That, I felt, was part of the problem and part of the appeal of the film. The open-endedness of the film meant that it could be about whatever you wanted it to be about (sexual exploration, time travel, mental illness), but it was hard to really decide whether there was anything substantial to the story at all.

That is both the appeal and downside to the new Director's Cut which I purchased the other day and watched tonight. The film makes a lot more sense now. Apparently director Richard Kelly wasn't completely happy with the way the film was being interpreted and set about making a cut that made his intentions slightly more clear and the film has a more easily explainable and reasonable flow to it. It seems that this article at has things pretty much right (and is some pretty interesting reading on its own). All in all, I'm glad I bought the Director's Cut, which is a solid half-hour longer and fits well with my own interpretations of the film. However, for those who found part of the fun was making up your own outrageous interpretations (not that Kelly's film is any less mind-boggling), this version might take away some of the fun.

This is the dog that caused us all to worry so much this morning after she fell off the chair. She seemed to have hurt herself and I was concerned that she had hit her head. I was really worried. Isn't it funny how attached we can become to a dog? Or maybe not. Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 19, 2005

One Final Thought Before Bed

I know, I'm really making up for lost time here, but:

The worst thing about going away on vacation is that as wonderful as your time away is, you always wonder what everyone at home is doing and the fun they're having without you. And then you wonder "Do they even realize I'm gone?" "Am I important in their lives?" Ah, yes, I can be quite paranoid sometimes when I want to be. And in a couple days I'll probably wish I was back at Fairmont...

A Couple of Belated Valentine's Movie Comments

Well, of coure me and Anton couldn't possibly go on vacation without taking a handful of DVDs with us. And when it's late in the evening and there's nothing else to do, and you're a wee bit sore from skiing, you throw in the movies that your friends haven't seen.

Since this trip took place partly around Valentine's Day (which I incidently find a distasteful day, not so much because of what it represents, but rather the bad memories which it brings up; ask me sometime) we ended up watching a couple of rather appropriate movies.

1) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - This was my third viewing, and I must say the film gets better and better with each viewing. Jim Carrey is outstanding, as is all of the supporting cast. And the film is packed with such detail that I never noticed on the first two times through. This will become an all time favourite for sure.

2) Eyes Wide Shut - One of the most misunderstood, and unfairly maligned films of all time, this was Stanley Kubrick's final film, and a fitting end to his career. The man draws remarkable performances out of both Tom Cruise and my girl Nicole Kidman. If you doubt they can act, watch the bedroom confession scene and tell me that again to my face. Kubrick's camera work is beautiful and surreal; perfectly appropriate for a film that is about the painful (and bizzare) aspects of something so beautiful (love and sex).

It's also a film that leaves you haunted, not really knowing what you've just seen and what it all means, but knowing that there is something profound that has been said. It also gets better with each viewing, allowing me to pick up on some undercurrents and make sense of some of the more confusing aspects of the plot. If you haven't seent it, or if you have and want to chat about it, let me know. You should see this film. And you should talk about it afterwards.

What Book Are You?

You're Watership Down!

by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're
actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their
assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they
build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd
be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

I'm Back!

As I just said. I'm back. Arrived back around 11 pm (it's around 9-10 hours in the car with stops in Canmore and Drumheller).

1) The iPod was a resounding sucess on the trip. Everyone enjoyed the "Shuffle" ("You're listening to radio Anders). They say iPod's have personality and mine seems to have an affinity for David Holmes and Abbey Road.

2) The weather was amazing. Strangely there was almost no snow in the Columbia valley. But the ski hill was still "ski-able", so that was nice.

3) Large quantities of alchohol were consumed on the trip.

4) The word of the week was "serendipidous"; the week began with me finding a TY beanie baby hidden behind the TV in the villa. He was a horse named "Lightning". He became the mascot. Also, at Fairmont Ski Hill, we carried kegs of beer up from the basement and then got free beer from the bartender lady, so that was super. "Serendipidous" seems appropriate.

In the end it was a blast. Bighorn Mountain Sheep are cool and I feel out of contact with my reality.

Now to go read up on a weeks worth of blogs.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Somewhat good feeling

As Joel commented last night, I was extremely tired. It's been a busy week of almost non-stop activity. But now all the assignments are in; all the applications are submitted (for now); paperwork has been done.

I went to the passport office this morning to process my passport information. For those who want to know why I need a passport, it is because I am going to Rome in May. I've never been to Italy, so it should be great (Ewan, you've been to Rome, right? Fill us in brother). The reason I got this stuff done so early is that my mom said that if I did it this week, she'd pay the $87 fee. Good reason to get it done I think.

Anyway; the passport office. Often my experience with government offices is that they are slow, inefficient, and frusterating. Strangely my experience this morning was not like that at all. The doorman at the federal building was well mannered and directed us to the office on the fourth floor; the wait was brief, less than 3 min; and the girl who processed the info was friendly and efficient. We were out in 15 min. It's a somewhat good feeling to know that at least parts of our massive bureaucracy work somewhat well. It gives me a modicum of hope for our society.

The trip tomorrow neccesitated that I purchase some accessories for my iPod. I was dreading this because I don't really want to waste a lot of money, but the Griffin iTrip seems like the kind of thing that I will get a lot of use out of. Then I decided that on a 8 hour car trip, I needed a power source for my iPod. So I picked up the Griffen iPod Car Adaptor, which just plugs into a lighter and then charges the iPod or just plays it straight off of that. Sounded good to me. So now I'm all set for providing the musical accompaniment for the trip. The good news was that both the iTrip and Car Adaptor were $10 cheaper at the campus computer store than they were at Future Shop. That gave me a somewhat good feeling. Even if it still came to $75 for both.

Anyway, I don't know how much I'll be updating my blog for the next week. It's going to be a busy night and then we leave tomorrow morning, so if I don't see you people: Cheers! Have a great break. And keep up the blogging!

"Need a little time to wake up, wake up. What's the story morning glory?" - Oasis, "Morning Glory"

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Yay for The Bees!

I'm super excited because Jessica lent me her copy of Free The Bees! It will likely be the soundtrack of my break.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

"Hotel Chelsea Nights"

We all know that many of us in the blogger world are big fans of Ryan Adams. Anyway, I just wanted to let people know that I love "Hotel Chelsea Nights", the last track on Love Is Hell. I don't know what it is that makes me love the song so much; the tortured lyrics, the reverb that makes it feel like you're in some smokey bar in New York listening to it live, maybe even the very name (which makes me want to be a tortured artist living at the Chelsea Hotel, maybe if I don't get into grad studies I'll try that). I don't know. All I know is that it might be my favourite song on the album, which in turn is one of my favourites of 2004.

In other news, I remembered something else that was a highlight of last night at Winston's. The huge Stella Artois banner which read:

I would rather die of thirst than drink from the cup of mediocrity.

I thought it was awesome, and I asked the bartender if I could get it off them. He told me that I should contact the rep for the company and see if he'd sell it to me. I just might...

Oh, yeah: Don't forget the fur.

If anyone wants to know about what it was like to draw the cadavers; it was kinda weird. The body was all dry and skinned, and kind of looked like a mummy. Also there were various arms and legs too. I could definitely have been a series of props in a horror movie, and that was how I approached it. I didn't really get grossed out by it, but I have to say that it kind of disturbed me to think about how these "things" used to be people who walked around and stuff.

That aside, it was interesting to get a look inside the body and see how the muscles and tendons work. As Gullen pointed out on the last post, I felt like Leonardo DiVinci.

Success, Failure and Corpses

Well, the EU "Mardi Gras" party at Winston's was one of those part-success/part-dissapointment things. Not nearly enough people showed up for us to be able to pay for the whole keg (which runs $150), so unfortunately we had to pay for the rest out of EU funds and took a loss. That's the dissapointment.

The success part was that those who did show up had (as far as I could tell) a good time and good conversation. John Lennon and The Bees. Attractions to Jena Malone and Scarlett Johanssen. Bob Dylan and how Joel's shoes protect against "Satan." The Ziegler Twins schooled me and "Phelps" at pool (or billiards) and a creepy old man hit on Cara while she was trying to enjoy a cigarette (made me glad I'm a guy); Late night dining at Olympia and trying to explain to a taxi driver where Mulcaster Crescent is. Like I said, it was a success.


Now I'm off to a special art "field trip" to health sciences to draw cadavers (you know, dead people!). It might be kinda weird, but it's a rare opportunity and will add a lot to understand anatomy in figure drawing. I'm kinda equal parts anticipating and dreading it. The figure drawing that we've been working on for the last few weeks has been great, however. I'm loving art class.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Do the iPod shuffle!

Once you get a significant number of songs onto your iPod (bear with me, it's a new toy and I will be talking about it a lot), the "Shuffle" function acts almost like a mini radio station, but with some really far ranging options (e.g. Jazz, Bluegrass, Hip Hop/R&B). Here's the last six songs I heard on my iPod:

"I'm Just A Killer For Your Love" - Blur
"Batman Theme Reprise" - Danny Elfman
"Venus De Milo" - Miles Davis
"Keep On The Sunny Side" - The Whites
"Tape You" - N*E*R*D
"The Phantom of the Opera" - Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman

Echoing Ewan's Praise for The Bees

One of the great things about having the new computer is that I can finally share in all the cool stuff that my friends are into. Ewan sent me a couple of tracks by The Bees (he's raved about them before on his blog, and he's not exagerrating; this is great stuff!). Ewan is always ahead of the curve in music. He told me about The Bees back before Christmas, and they were only just mentioned in the most recent issue of Rolling Stone. Definitely reminiscent of The Beatles, I let Anton (the most obsessive Beatles fan I know) and he agreed that I should download the album Free The Bees off of, since the album isn't available yet in N. America. The two tracks that got me hooked were "Horsemen" and "Wash In The Rain". I definitely recommmend tracking this down.
I'm going to see later tonight if I can figure out how to create a music link to one of the tracks for you guys to download a part of the song. But I also really recommend buying music (Caitlin will be happy to hear that I still want to have the physical album).

Also, I downloaded my first song off of iTunes Music Store this morning. I downloaded the U2 track "Fast Cars", which is exclusive to the UK version of How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. I understand that they may have wanted to keep the US version shorter, but it's a solid track that would have made a great single. Strangely the title of the album comes from this track, which is strange that it's a UK exclusive. Oh, well. My iPod version of the album is now complete.

"I have told you life's a worry and it's true." - The Bees, "Horsemen"

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Poker, Cat Stevens, and Paradise Lost

I won again at poker tonight; quite handily. Ended up with $35. That makes me the big winner in both of our past games. Me thinks I want to find another game sometime and find out if it's just when I play with my friends, or if I've actually gained some skills. I feel like I have, but I'm not sure.


Again, one of the pleasures of "ripping" all these CDs onto iTunes is discovering your favourite tracks all over again. I was just finishing with the Rushmore Soundtrack, and I really love "Here Comes My Baby" by Cat Stevens. It's just one of those near perfect pop songs.


Also, I bought Shaun of the Dead finally. There was this awesome deal at Future Shop where I got both Shaun and Dawn of the Dead for $22.99. $27.99 for just Shaun of the Dead, or....get both for $5 less? I think it's a scam to just make sure that I can't walk out of that place without spending money. The ironic thing is that I was there to pay a bill.


Oh, and tomorrow (or today I guess) is the Paradise Lost reading. I'm going to be going, and then ducking out to work for a few hours and then popping back in before supper. I'm actually really looking forward to it, because it seems like one of those things that would never happen if it wasn't put on by the English department. Me and Anton were trying to figure out how long it would take to do an oral reading of The Lord of the Rings. I think that would be a task and half. Probably longer than watching all three of Peter Jackson's films. Also, whoever participates has to sing the songs, not just read them.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Un long dimanche de fiançailles

Even though it was a really snowy night (but I think I'm a pretty good inclement-weather-driver) we braved the elements to go to Broadway and saw A Very Long Engagment, the new film from Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie, Alien Ressurection). It was a pleasant film that probably deserved its Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography. It looked really nice and the performances were good. As Anton put it afterwards, it's kind of like a French version of Cold Mountain set in World War I. And I liked it.

However, the one thought that I took away from the film was that I really should learn to speak French. Especially if I'm going to live in Montreal next year. Not that I couldn't get by without it, but I would feel stupid to live there and not at least attempt to learn the language. I should brush up on my German too. Then I could be "tri-lingual."

I was really surprised in the movie that Jodie Foster had a fairly significant role in the film and she did it entirely in French. I was impressed. If Jodie can do it, so can I.

Friday, February 04, 2005

"Absolute Power"

DC's Superman/Batman has been a mixed bag for most of the run. Jeph Loeb is a gifted writer who loves the "big epic stuff" and has given Marvel a bunch of shit lately for forgetting about the wonder and fantasy element of comic books and basically just writing a bunch of talking heads. Loeb, in my opinion, does a good job of balancing character and cool superhero stuff (check out "Hush," which was the best Batman story I've read in years or his Batman miniseries, The Long Halloween). He's good. Unfortunately the last Superman/Batman story arc was kinda weak.

But he's redeemed himself on this current arc. I don't understand why nobody is talking about the "Absolute Power" story!? This is superhero fantasy at its best. The basic plot is that some group (who I will not spoil) has changed history, by killing the Kent's and taking orphan Bruce Wayne, and raised Superman and Batman to become the dictators of the world. Of course, Supes and Batman figure out that something is wrong (with a little help from some old friends) and then race through different realities trying to undo what has been done.

I know it probably sounds really corny and convoluted, but it's a brilliant story for a number of reasons.

Firstly, Loeb has finally made the idea of a "Superman/Batman" comic worthwhile, rather than just seeming like a forced teaming of the two greatest heroes of all time. It explores the importance each character plays in their world and also the friendship dynamic between the two characters in a way that hasn't really been looked at yet.

Secondly, Loeb understands that epic feel doesn't have to come at the cost of keeping us from caring about the characters. There is a scene in the third issue of the series that is as good as anything that has been in any comic this year, the much vaunted "Identity Crisis" included. It delves to the heart of Batman's character and what makes him tick.

Finally, Carlos Pacheco's art is outstanding. His rendentions completely avoid the "Image" look, but at the same time looking incredibly "clean" and "stylish." His rendition of Superman harken's back to the classic 40s renditions of the character, while not looking rediculous. On top of that his faces have an expressiveness and each character looks distinct. I never really admired him before, but his work here is top notch.

Check it out if you can.

Friday morning

So, I'm sitting in the fishbowl computer lab - I love that term because it's so apt at describing the feeling of sitting in here and seeing all the people walk by; also you can walk by and see if your friends are in the computer lab without being weird and poking your head in the door - and I'm typing this and I'm listening to "Love Is Hell" by Ryan Adams. Man, this iPod thing is working out great. Of course the only problem is that I wasted another two hours last night loading albums onto the thing instead of doing productive work. Actually, it's really ironic because I was reading Huxley's Brave New World while I was doing it and I came across a passage about man being made for the machines, not the other way round. Actually the quote that I thought was the best was this one about the drug soma, by World Controller Mustapha Mond:

"All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol;
none of the defects."


Oh, and the latest in a long history of bad ideas is the news that Disney is planning a live action version of Miyazaki's Kiki's Delivery Service.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Well, it begins...

Another day, and I'm still not done the essay on Brazil (thought I did get more than a page written). Seriously, Prof. Matheson should never have said to me "oh, take whatever extra time you need on this", because that's exactly what I'm doing!

Anyway, the real reason for this exciting late night post is that my dad got his new laptop today, which means that I've been able to start loading up my iPod which has sat on my desk for the last month! It's exciting. I've loaded 10 albums so far (totally 145 tracks) and I've barely used even 5% of the capacity. Which means I should be able to get close to 5000 songs onto this thing by the end. The only bad part is that this is distracting me from so many other valuable things in life. Gah!

Anyway, the first 10 albums I have on my iPod are as follows:

The Beatles - Past Masters, Vol. 1
The Beatles - Past Masters, Vol. 2
The Beasties Boys - Hello Nasty
Music from the Motion Picture Ocean's Twelve
Oasis - Definitely Maybe
U2 - Actung Baby
Gwen Stefani - Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
The Thrills - So Much For The City
Bran Van 3000 - Discosis
Coldplay - Parachutes

Not really a surprise

Yeah, guess who I am. It figures.

You scored as Harry Potter. You can be a little reckless and hot-headed at times, but a more brave and courageous friend would be hard to find.

Harry Potter


Ron Weasley


Sirius Black


Draco Malfoy


Ginny Weasley


Remus Lupin


Hermione Granger


Severus Snape


Albus Dumbledore


Lord Voldemort


Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

"Wow! I can't believe you're not retarded."

So, instead of getting my essay on Brazil done or finishing reading Brave New World, or one of a thousand other activities that I should have infact been working really hard on this evening (and now I'm blogging), I went over to Luke's and watched Garden State.

I had initially (as in about a year ago) been obsessed with the trailer for the film, the one that just shows a series of images and plays the song "Let Go" by Frou Frou; you know the one. The my initial interest faded when I started to hear mixed things about the film. Then I really lost interest because my good friend Ryan said he loved the film. To put a long story short, Ryan and I have very different taste in movies. He didn't like Taxi Driver. That bothered me. Anyway, then I started to hear some good buzz about the film again, but I didn't get my hopes up too much.

I finally watched it and I'll say that it is good. There are some great moments in the film and Zach Braff has a gift for visuals. The film looks great. Natalie Portman and Peter Sarsgaard are excellent (as usual). But it's not a great film (won't make my Top Ten). I guess the film just didn't flow enough. The climax didn't resonate because the film was too scattershot. We're led on all these side stories and when we're brought to moments that shoudl have great significance, they just don't. And while certain moments felt incredibly real, other parts I didn't really "click" with. I'm going to recommend the film and say that for some people this film will totally resonate and for others it might not. And the soundtrack, which is excellent, is almost too much. I found that they were so excited about getting you to listen to some great songs (and I must admit, I do like a lot of the music and might even buy the soundtrack) that it detracted from some of the scenes because all the attention was on the song that was playing and it didn't "gel" with the scene.

I know it sounds like I'm really ragging on it, but I really did like it. I just feel the need to explain to people why I didn't love it (while I find it really hard to explain to people why I loved Sideways). I felt the same way about Napoleon Dynamite. Liked. Not loved. Either way, I'm really excited to see what Zach Braff does next. For a first film, this is a really impressive work. Especially considering he wrote, starred, and directed. It's always easy to be a critic. It's not always easy for a young person to put their heart on film the way he did. So I'm giving him "kudos" for that. Watch it. You might really like it.


Speaking of movies. I convinced my parents to go see Million Dollar Baby this evening. They were already in bed when I got home, so I don't know if they liked it yet. But it's one of those things where I didn't want the movie spoiled for them. There are some pretty surprising (and to some, controversial) items at the end of the movie that are going to be talked about a lot before Oscars. See it now before its too late. I go out of my way not to give any hints as to how the movie ends in my review. Be sure you don't read a review that gives too much away.