Thursday, July 29, 2004

A Few Short Attention Span Reviews of Things I've Checked Out Lately
  1. Modest Mouse, Good News for People Who Love Bad News: Some of the very best music coming out of the US this year, Good News is sometimes edgy, sometimes smooth, and always really intelligent, periodically reminding me of the Pixies or Broken Social Scene. They're currently touring through Canada, so catch their live show while you still can. 
  2. The Hives, Tyrannosaurus Hives: The much-anticipated follow-up to 2002's Veni, Vidi, Vicious, The Hives have tweaked their sound a bit on Tyrannosaurus, making it sound fresh without losing the hyperactive, supa-catchy guitar riffs.  It reminds me a bit more of Rocket From the Crypt than their last record; I kinda wished they'd done a bit of experimentation with some horns on some of the tracks.
  3. Keane, Hopes and Fears:  I've had a few MP3's from Keane for the last few months, but I liked them so much I went out to buy the disc.  It's fantastic for those slower, introspective moments of your day, with a smooth, slightly epic quality to their songs (think Coldplay or Travis, but not too hard, because they're far and away their own band).
  4. NAC Orchestra, The Lord of the Rings Symphony:  The core reason why the Lord of the Rings movies have such broad appeal and have had so much success: they represent an awe-inspiring integration of so many art forms, spanning from literature, to visual arts, to theatre and motion pictures, to music.  Each artistic component complements the others seamlessly, but can easily stand on their own, as was the case with this performance (although calling it a symphony might be a bit unrealistic).  The music, as performed by the NAC Orchestra, was excellent, as was the soloist (Hayley Westenra).
  5. The Bourne Supremacy:  With a solid plot and reasonably believable premise and action (for a spy thriller flick, that is), Bourne was partially spoiled by jagged, stomach-churning camera shake and a much smaller role for Franka Potente (soooo hot) than in its predecessor.  I'd wait for video, but it's definitely entertaining.
  6. FAHRENHEIT 9/11:  There's not much more I can say about this film than to just go see it and form your own opinion.  It's thought-provoking, challenging, and biased.  It raises some excellent points and often does so with a humourous spin, although Moore needlessly stepped on some toes along the way.  Personally, I'm really glad I saw it.
  7. Elderscrolls III: Morrowind (Xbox):  Videogame crack.  Avoid this game unless you have a lot of time on your hands.  Fortunately, I have lately, and it's - so - freaking - good.  Morrowind is a fantasy world with swords and armour and spells and lockpicks, where you can go anywhere and do almost anything you want without having to be connected to an online server.  I've put it aside for a few days and now I'm going into withdrawal.  Honestly.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Introducing: Mr. Mike Bluejeans!

This is Mr. Mike Bluejeans.  It's his birthday today.  I think he looks like Jason Mewes.  He disagrees.  YOU be the judge.

Separated at birth?

The funny thing is that I bear a strong resemblence to Kevin Smith.  I'm a lot mouthier than Silent Bob ever was though.  And *ahem* I'm lighter.

Happy birthday, big guy! 

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Confessions of a One-Time Sidewalk Artist

It was the summer of 1994, in between Grade 11 and Grade 12.  And I had tickets to go see Pink Floyd.

Some friends and I were staying at an apartment in Toronto for the concert, an apartment that was owned, believe it or not, by the current Mayor of Ottawa.  It was an experimental trip for me in many ways.  Over the course of the four or five days I was in town, I dyed my hair for the first time (fire-engine red, the brightest stuff we could find at the Shoppers Drug Mart, which turned out to be an effeminate-sounding product called "Zazu" that isn't even made anymore because consumers thought it was too bright), I went to my first licensed club in Ontario (a goth club called "Death in the Underground" or something equally cheese-sinister), and I tried sidewalk art as a means to pay for my dinner.

I didn't really think too much of it at the time.  If the present me was talking to my past me at the time, I'd probably ask myself what I was doing it for.  I mean, I actually know people or have heard close accounts of people who were brought up in the suburban wonderland with a silver spoon in their mouths and their way fully-paid through university -- yet they were on the street panning for change because they thought it was fun.  I'm not a big fan of those people (I usually refer to them with swear words and a heaping helping of scorn).  Sure, I didn't really fit that profile, money was tight for me and my family at that time, but regardless, I had a nice safe place to live and I didn't need to be doing it.  So, mea culpa.

But there was something about it that I really enjoyed when I was doing it.  Maybe it was that show-off side of my personality, which was always deeper when it came to my art.  I spent the whole morning drawing on the pavement in front of the Bay on Bloor at Yonge, and it was nice having people stop by and comment on what we were doing and appreciating it in their own way.  Two of my friends were writing poetry in chalk, another was singing, and all in all, it was a fun way to kill some time before the concert.

But I guess what validated the small collection of loose change that people donated (or stole, depending on who you talk to) was that in a way, we were doing something for it, it was kind of a twisted service.  We made the sidewalk pretty, and they sent us some loonies to show their appreciation. And hey, we got a nice meal out of it when we were running low on funds.

Oh yeah, and Pink Floyd?  Still, a decade later, one of the most memorable concerts I have ever been to.  I was so lucky to have been there.  I expect that some of the people who were there have a completely different, chemically-altered memory of the show, however.

So consider this an introduction to a link to some of the most amazing sidewalk art I have ever seen.  There's no doubt in my mind that this guy deserves to eat for free every time he puts chalk to pavement.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

This Falls Into the "Wish I Was There" Category....

Peggy's Cove, NS.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Crib Sheet for Conversations Between High-Tech Consultants

All social conversations at your high-tech consulting company MUST follow the following pre-approved conversation process.  Please choose one option from each group.


  1. "Hello, I don't think we've met.  My name is (insert name here)."
  2. "Hello, haven't seen you in a while!  (awkward pause)  How are things?"

Establishing history:

  1. "Aren't you working on the (insert project name here)?"
  2. "Aren't you on the (insert floor # here)?"
  3. "Still on the bench?"
  4. "Hey, whatever happened to (insert name of laid-off colleague here)?" 

Placing you in context:

  1. "Gee, that (insert project or team name here) sure is great, you must be excited!"
  2. "That's too bad.  Times are tough, but everyone needs billable work.  They don't pay you to sit on the bench forever!"
  3. "Poor (guy/gal), hope (he/she) finds work soon." 

Small talk:

  1. (Ramble ad nauseam about software, hardware, or what we can do with the software or hardware).
  2. (Ramble ad nauseam about the new business climate and good 'ol [insert name of colleague here] who just got laid-off).
  3. (Ramble ad nauseam about the potential hockey strike).


  1. "Well, good seeing you!  Take care!"
  2. "Well, I've got my CV out there, maybe I'll be leaving (insert company name here) soon.  Best of luck to you!"
  3. "My life has no meaning.  Well, off to catch my bus to (insert Kanata/Orleans/other suburb here)!"
  4. "Must find beer."

Maximum tolerable elapsed time: 3 minutes.  Repeat, as required, as determined by size of group.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

'Bout Time

Hey everyone, thought I'd finally get up some of my favourite non-touristy pics from my trip to Washington this past spring (seems like a good time, considering it doesn't look like a vacation is going to be in the cards this summer...may as well re-live past trips). Enjoy!

Psychadelic anti-air-rage tunnel, complete with soothing new-age music. Detroit airport.

Sky, metal, and concrete. Detroit airport.

An example of early-American phallic architecture. Alexandria, VA.

Cuuuuube! Washington, DC.

Flowers! Gadzooks! Washington, DC.

Trust me, it was amazing seeing flowers at the time with my winter-addled eyes. Washington DC.

Part of the Vietnam Memorial, Washington DC.

Tara and a friend. Washington, DC.

Are we Crisp & Juicy enough? Can we park here? Alexandria, VA.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Grab Bag


Things have started to become a little more settled. I'm living with my mother right now (read: I'm back to being 14 again), but things there have been going great. Although all my earthly possessions are stacked in the garage (which I've recently discovered is full of bees), my mom's been spoiling me lots and I'm pretty comfortable. I've slowly started to amass the vast amount of housewares that I need to replace, and so far I've been getting some pretty great deals on some pretty great stuff. But I tell you, I've never read so many newspaper flyers in my life. If I see one more Leons ad, I'm gonna puke.

Canada Day! Canada Day was spent in decent Ottawa-fashion, involving beer, party-hopping, BBQs, and fireworks. Well, we saw the top 10% of the fireworks, to be more precise. From where we were, they were obscured by houses and trees, but the top bits we could see sure were purdy. I never did make it downtown-downtown, though (except when I got off the bus to walk to my buddy's house earlier that day).

I have a new art project. The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. are having a logo design contest, which I'm planning to take a stab at. Winning something like that would be *huge* for setting up a potential career in art, and the $25K prize ain't too shabby either. Now I just have to design the sucker. So what does Vancouver mean to you? My mom's big suggestion was to design a logo with a canoe, a totem pole, a beaver, two hockey sticks, and an artichoke (don't ask) in it. Something tells me that might be a little busy, though. Any suggestions are welcome, if you've got any.

And there have been a few updates to the LIST. As Matt already mentioned on his blog, my Hayden-esque Canada Day care package arrived safely in Scotland (#49). I can also say that I'm not watching re-runs anymore (#82). I should have said at the time that The Simpsons were exempt from that, of course.

There's still some big stuff coming up ahead. A few long-distance friends are coming into town to visit this summer, there's a cottage party in my future, and of course, the big move to the new apartment will be happening in August. And maybe, just maybe, I might be able to squeeze in a vacation somewhere in there.

Agggghhh! Bees!