12:37 PM

masochism as its best

There are two points I'd like to make:

1) it's New Year's Eve and I'm sitting at work for most of the day like a loser while everyone else gets a nice half day. But you know, money is happiness......

2) Played some pick-up volleyball for the first time in a year and a half last night. Every muscle in my body from my calves up to my neck is in varying amounts of pain, and I absolutely love it. I love exercising until my body aches the next day — it validates my workout. Ah, the glorious pain of it all.

9:56 PM

Girly exercises? Nay!

Gilgamesh - "asking why"

In an effort to retain some semblance of physical fitness after a day of blobbing at work and munching on holiday treats Because I'm such a dedicated hard worker who loves a challenge, I've decided to try some different workouts on video.

I used to scoff (wow I scoff a lot) at aerobic videos. If you don't bounce, sweat, grunt, and bang weights around, it can't be hard work. So I decided to try the workout that the contestants from the Biggest Loser have to go through, and I was ready to scoff some more.

Oh, silly silly Jo, so ignorant.

I almost died. That workout is hard! There are no breaks, and it's a constant go go go circuit. The cardio portion was fine, but apparently my strength sucks. Unscoff!

So then, thinking that I should get a breather and a nice big stretch after the killer circuit, I thought I'd try yoga.

Oh, silly silly Jo, so ignorant.

I don't think yoga is suited for me. My mind was bouncing everywhere despite my best efforts to focus on something calm and relaxing, and my eyes refused to stay shut, or even half shut. My muscles were shaking with exhaustion five minutes into the poses. The televised instructor is talking while her body's twisted inhumanly, and she's like "breathe! hold! relax! focus! breathe! calm and centred!" and I'm like "meeting tomorrow, last minute holiday shopping, lunch date, breathe breathe breathe, it's a deep burn!, don't forget to print stuff out and get it signed, okay eff this noise." And I gave up and rolled over to my couch, grabbed a beer and ripped open a bag of Doritos. Okay, by beer, I meant water, and by Doritos, I meant nothing. But I gave up. Clearly, I am not of a calm and focused temperament! Ugh!

Never again will I scoff at these so-called "girly" exercises! Lesson learned, I'm going back to my bouncing, sweating, grunting and weight-banging. Mind out of gutter, people.

And in case I don't do this before the 25th, happy nondenomenational holiday, everyone!

3:52 PM

Mother Nature's bitch slap


-Photo courtesy of the Toronto Star.

Days like today make me so much more excited for my laser eye surgery appointment.

I've got splatters on my glasses and I can barely see because the lenses keep fogging everywhere I go. Glasses FTMFL.

8:20 PM

Yes, I'm really going to whine about shoes

Dir en grey - "ware, yami tote..."

I used to have a limited number of Shoes on rotation: A pair of knockoff Docs, my Casual Shoes, and Running Shoes for the gym. In the summer, I may have thrown in a pair of Flip Flops.

This year alone, I have also thrown Work Boots into the mix, and Work Heels which double up as Formal Shoes (that's right, being the cheap bastard genius that I am, I multipurpose my Shoes).

Now, the Work Boots have soles that are smooth as a baby's bottom. Of course after it snowed yesterday, I had to waddle like a penguin today. Which means I'll be adding Commuting Winter Boots that offer grip in ice and snow to my collection. And Work Boots will stay at work.

Except as you'll recall, I like to multipurpose my footwear. And I like to wear smooth-as-a-baby's-bottom Work Boots around on weekends to clubs and Other Occasions because they're comfortable and look somewhat appropriate.

So I have to either haul Work Boots around with me everyday on the subway in case I need them in the evening, or buy another pair that will replace them for Other Occasions.

I used to laugh at people who had more shoes than fingers. "Pshaw!" I would snort. "What need have I for shoes when I can spend my money on other fun things like accessories! Hah!" And others would shake their heads, waiting for the day it would happen to me, too. And I'd snort at their head shaking, "hah!"

You know, my undergrad program tried to teach us to think outside of consumerism.

Is it possible to not be bogged down by material goods? I have tried so hard to re-jig my work clothes into casual clothes in order to avoid having two wardrobes. Now I've created this weird hybrid where I look like a regular Joe (Jo?) on my off days, and I don't dress business-like enough at work.

I've lost my edge and I'm floundering in a giant pile of footwear.

2:48 PM

Trimming Roses


I still can't believe that after so many years — has it really been seven! — Dir en grey can still reach out and touch me like nobody else can.

Pure audio orgasm.

7:29 PM

corporate drone

Dir en grey - "Inconvenient Ideal"

Without school to pepper work periods, I find life starting to get dull and routine, and I'm trying to find ways to break it up. Jamming with the Family and going to the gym can only do so much. I find that playing the DS is only acceptable in small increments. As much as I'd love to get out there and learn as much as I can, my position as Captain of Team Procrastinators means that I have a healthy dose of Laze in my repertoire.

Also, money does not allow for frivolous learning. Yet. Sports leagues and the one class that I can afford to take also doesn't start until January.

So, in an attempt to curb my spending habits and pick up a new hobby, I've decided that maybe I'll give sewing a try. DIY clothes and all that jazz. It's something I've always wanted to do, but never got around to. Take that, h.Naoto!

Who knew that a sewing machine costs OVER A HUNDRED DOLLARS. wtf.


This little one is the only machine under a hundred dollars, and apparently significantly less on eBay. But it's PINK. Now if someone could tell me whether 41 stitch patterns, 5mm stitch width and 4mm stitch length is a good thing, that would be gold.

So what do other people do for fun around here?

Also, it's finally sinking in that I'll be seeing my boys on Sunday. I'm starting to feel small thrills of anticipation.

9:35 PM

The colours of fall

Dir en grey - "red soil"

Fall is like nature's last hurrah before everything fizzles out and dies. It's like a final desperate attempt at an amazing explosion of colour and beauty before everything turns grey for 4 months.

Doesn't mean I don't forget about the impending frostmush and enjoy what nature has to offer every once in a while though.

Ontario has some beautiful little gems, one of them being Lake Huron. Grand bend boasts one of the best beaches in Canada and the Bruce Peninsula is one of my favourite places, like, ever. Cliffs and the kind of clear blue water you see in the Caribbean = win in my books.

See that? It's a friggin' CAVE that you can climb into and explore!

More of mother nature's tricks up her sleeve

I highly recommend the Niagara escarpment and encourage you all to go before it gets too cold and snowy....oh wait. Never mind.

10:13 AM

Jolie pwns Fox

the Smashing Pumpkins - "the beginning is the end is the beginning"

Angelina Jolie's been keeping it on the down low for a while with her little spawn army, but her resurfacing photos totally kick Megan Fox's case of walking STD's to the curb.

I adore this woman. She knows how to make an entrance. She doesn't even have to try to ooze sexy womanly allure. Love love love. This is not the face of a frumpy matronly woman. Dude, this woman flies planes and rides motorcycles. Her wild child past just adds to her appeal. C'mon, knife play? Blood vials of devotion? Fox has nothing on her. Also, even in her days of awesome psychoness, my girl never had the smell of blowjobs all around her.

Enter Megan Fox who has done, what, one movie? And the world is enflamed by her? AND calling her the next Angelina Jolie? Yeah yeah, I get that she's got a few years to catch up to the Jolie, but ugh, trashy trashy trashy. Granted, she's a good-looking gal, but she just screams ickiness. So she's gotten down with the vag, she sports badass tattoos and she's all about the promiscuity and dirty fun times. Been there, done that. She brings nothing new to the table. Who knows, maybe in a few years there will be something more appealing about her. Not now.

Megan Fox = trying too hard + wannabe Angelina + VD in a can = epic fail.

Happy thanksgiving everyone! Be thankful that it's a beautiful day in October reaching the mid-20's which just so happens to fall on a stat holiday. It's a sign. Spend it outside instead of on the computer blogging about useless things like celebrity gossip.

PS. get your ass out and vote tomorrow.

6:10 PM

Farewell, Crapmobile, hello Blueberry


Dir en grey - "Undecided"

Mine. All mine. Well, it will be once I'm done paying it off. The important thing is that it's sitting in the garage and I have the keys.

Get your grubby paws off my seats.

3:51 PM

Journalism IS a cheap parlour trick

Big-time reporter Rosie DiManno writes for the Toronto Star:

Going "undercover" to tell a story is just about the laziest form of reporting existent. The conceit is that a reporter masquerading as a citizen sign-up – or homeless person or religious cultist or domestic – can better grasp the matter by providing a first-person in-those-shoes account. But this is shortcut journalism and intrinsically dishonest.

I say dishonest not because of the core misrepresentation – duplicity is a common tactic in reporting, if only by posing as a sympathetic audience – but because a story thus told becomes more about the narrator and less about the subject. Why bother asking the relevant questions or doing the time-consuming research when the reporter can just "see for himself"?


Well, Ms. DiManno, if that is your real name, I disagree.

The failure in her argument is that journalists who go undercover are trying to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. That is, how will you really know what it's like to be handicapped if you don't see what it's like yourself? How will you know what it's like to live on the streets? The so-called news item then becomes a narrative of your time...except you know that at the end of the day, you can get up and walk away from a wheelchair, or you can go home to your family, and therefore, you'll never really get what it's like, to truly understand. It's lazy journalism because you should just invest the time to do all the necessary research and make all the necessary phone calls, right?

I don't think so.

Undercover reporting is more than just writing about yourself. How do you understand the complexities of a political camp or the mafia underworld if you don't ally yourself directly with the sources? Do you really think that you'll get more insight by talking to a twitchy, mysterious "informant"? And is it really that easy to lead a double life? Rosie, you're underestimating the complexities of it, I think.

And as much as we'd all like to believe, there is no such thing as impartial journalism or an absolute truth.

You can always read the full article yourselves and decide. On the plus side, whether or not Rosie was trying to be offensive or not, she did incite debate and make me think, so good on you, Rosie D.

The Star also threw out an article in yesterday's paper with an interview with a fellow who believes homework should be banned. My head almost exploded with the insanity, but that's a story for another time.

11:08 AM

Toshiya, sweetie, what did you do to your hair?!

Dir en grey performed Glass Skin live. On Japanese television. Gasp, they still remember that they have a fanbase there? Not as cringe-worthy as I thought it would be. But remember when Toshiya used to look good?
Well peep this, yo. (Warning: eyes may burn)

Double you. Tee. Eff. At least Shinya still drums like a champ.

And for all the Dir en grey fans who want to bitch about how I should care about the music and not how the band looks, um.....lick my left nut. I've probably stuck with them longer than all your prepubescent pubic hairs combined.

Honestly, the song's okay, but I know what the boys are capable of, and this just isn't it.

Also, I just spent an inordinate amount of money (like, largest sum EVAR by far), and I'm feeling grumpy because of how depleted my bank account is going to be for the next few years. How is it that the older I get, the more money I make, the more money I spend? I hate having to borrow from the Bank of Mom and Dad.

3:15 PM

It's a slow day and I've probably spent most of it stalking you on facebook or blogger

How is it only 3:15 right now?!

*bang head on desk*

9:51 AM

the future of learning

It's time for Jo to go back to school. I always swore to myself that I'd keep learning even after graduating - gotta keep the old noggin sharp, you know.

My dilemma now lies in which courses to take, and whether to take them for personal interest or career purposes. Not that I'm not interested in the career-focused classes, I'm just more interested in learning more about, say, cooking and Japanese than I am about perfecting interview techniques. I have this problem of stumbling around, sounding extremely awkward when I have to ask uncomfortable questions. And then I fail at persisting in finding those answers when people don't give me what I want.

I need to take courses because I don't have the motivation and/or discipline to do it on my own. And sometimes, you need an instructor to give you some guidance. Books just don't do it for me.

So here are my options! what say you, fellow reader(s)?

  • Photography seminar - $200 (1 wknd)
  • Cooking seminar - $150 (1 day)
  • Japanese - $300 (full term)
  • Mandarin - $300 (full term)
  • Web design - $500 (full term)
  • Interview skills - $500 (full term)
The cooking seminar may seem foolish, but keep in mind that I had to rely on others to cook for me all through my schooling career with the exception of 2nd year when I ate instant noodles everyday. Yes, I can even fail at making Kraft Dinner. True story.

10:53 PM

"Let's play some hockey"

Trey Songz ft. Plies - "Can't help but wait"

Dir en grey's new PV was released earlier this week for the "Glass Skin" single. Disappointing? Not anymore. Bland? yes. Awful music video? As expected. I dunno, you people should give it a go and see what you think. And that is all the mention that Dir en grey deserves for this song on this post.

More importantly, local indie band Speed of Service has written a tune in a bid to be the next Hockey Night in Canada theme. It's a catchy jingle!

What makes it better than the rest? For one, there's a theme running through the whole thing. It's catchy and memorable, something which the other contestants didn't seem to pick up on. Also, for running a scant minute and some, I think there's a great rockin' vibe that brings the listener through all the necessary stages for some serious pumped-upness.

The downfall? I'm personally not a fan of the lyrics. I think the whole thing would've been better purely instrumental, but again, the vocals seems to be unique to Speed of Service. Who knows, it could be the shot in the arm to set them apart!

If you care about the intro for your Saturday night, take a second to vote.

Alaskan pictures (the ones not on Facebook!) will be posted as soon as I get a few minutes to sit down and sift through them all. The trip was everything I thought it would be and more. The best part? Being 100% myself for such a prolonged period of time. I never realized how often I wear the corporate face, or the friendship face, or the family face. I think I was born to be antisocial.

9:31 AM

and the geek shall inherit the earth

People consider it such an insult to be called a geek or a nerd. It's the antithesis to being cool. If you're a nerd, you are automatically "not cool" and then shunned from the rest of "cool society". Well, I beg to differ. Being a geek IS the new cool.

Gone are the days where the Screeches and the Urkels were the laughingstock of shows. Instead, meatheads like AC Slater are just, well, meatheads.

people went apeshit for this guy.

I say this because there has been an overwhelming leak of geekitude into mainstream society, and people eat it right up. iPods, comics and video games turned movies, fantasy series (cough Harry Potter). These are the things that - for lack of a better word - cool people own, cool people read, cool people pay money to experience. And who creates them? Software developers, computer wizards, comic aficionados, the very people that were laughed at for dying their underwear red.

And the marketers, the researchers who package these products to tantalize our taste buds, even they must either be geek or empathize with the geek lifestyle in order to make something as dorky as a caped crusader break all sorts of records.

So here's to the geek, the ones who determine the cool trends. It's the era of the cool geek.

Also, is anyone interested in seeing Dir en grey at the Kool Haus in November? How can you say no to these abs - I mean guys?

Also, I'm off to Alaska and other west coast goodness for a few weeks.

4:27 PM

Tying the knot

I have been tying shoelaces for the last 20+ years. And only this past weekend did I realize that I have been tying them wrong.

Sure, I've done the "over, under, inside, out, that's what shoe-tying's all about", but little did I know that my little crooked bow could lie perfectly parallel with the rest of the string, and the knot wouldn't come undone as easily. Seriously.

WHAT IS THIS MADNESS.

I think I need to go back to velcro. This is what a graduate degree spawns.

Ironically, I recently made a joke about how I don't know how to tie laces. Oh, the irony.

10:17 AM

the Dark Knight: a tale of epic proportions


I was a little wary of watching the Dark Knight. With so much hype around the film and Heath Ledger, I figured that it was just an overreaction to a highly anticipated summer blockbuster. Oh, and the crowds. Gawd, the loud, gaggling crowds on opening day would make me want to tear off a limb and beat people with it.

The entire sold out theatre was pin-drop quiet throughout the whole movie. And boy was the hype, the lineup, the wait, the $10.....TOTALLY WORTH IT.

I will avoid spoilers here, but be aware that all the media coverage around this movie will not lessen your enjoyment. It surpassed all expectations. In fact, Christian Bale (the fine, superb actor that he is) was overshadowed by other characters.

Heath Ledger isn't getting all the rave reviews because he's dead. He's taken a character that was never really seen as a serious villain and turned him into one of the darkest, most twisted criminal minds ever, delivering chaos for the pure joy of it. The walk, the talk, right down to the small mannerisms and smacking of the lips, he's made the Joker a villain to really fear.

The movie goes at a nice clip--not too fast, and not too slow. The action keeps on coming in a way that keeps you piqued and not pooped at the end with parts of oohing and aahing in between. Two and a half hours feels like nothing.

The Dark Knight isn't just another superhero movie. It has transcended superheroism. It's a movie that has pulled away from the Batman franchise and stands magnificently tall on its own, raising the bar of what comics to movies can be.

I can't decide on whether I want Christopher Nolan to make another Batman. It will be incredibly hard to try to top this one.

3:28 PM

Facebook Frippery

I know that I haven't been part of Facebook long enough to really complain about "back in the day"...but back when I joined, it wasn't nearly this annoying!

I hate waiting for pages to load because they have twenty thousand applications that nobody really looks at. Do I really care that you've been kissed? Or petted? Or that in a cartoon universe you'd be Spongeboob (not a typo)?

Even sillier is the need to add friends. Just to look popular. Hey check me out, I have 300 friends (honestly I don't even have that many on F to the B). If I don't even talk to you on msn, I probably don't care about the fact that in an alternate universe, you'd be the fat guy from Heroes either.

Honestly, the intentions of Facebook started off right. There are some people that I've reconnected with. But in all actuality, if we barely talked in high school and we parted ways 7 years ago and haven't made contact since, chances are that I won't really care what's going on with you anyways. And vice versa! The Facebook page is just a wall of drama-rama that doesn't concern me.

The only reason why Facebook is still useful is because people create events on there that are easier to keep up with. Oh, and the pictures. Oh, and the wide network of people on there willing to go on the record for an interview.

Oh, and because I get a perverse sense of holier-than-thou when I see my old elementary school friends who used to laugh at me and know that I'm doing better than them now.

11:26 PM

Jo Ninja, B.A, M.A.

Shazaam, bitches!
And yeah, that's a fucking katana!

10:49 AM

You know what really grinds my gears?

muzak: D'espairsray - "Brilliant"

I've got an offer for a job and it's everything that I want to do. I have some power, a little freedom, and I feel the thrill of the excitement of facing a new challenge. Whether it tanks or not, it will look fantastic on my CV, and and if it does well, shoot, it's just going to drag me right up there with it.

But....

I'll be taking a significant pay cut from what I'm making now. With the very real possibility of no benefits.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't go into journalism for the money. If I have to live without dental cleanings and birth control pills, I suppose now is a better time than any. But for them to ask me "well, how much do you love journalism?" is just annoying and inappropriate. I enjoy journalism. Not enough to starve for it.

It's so annoying when I have friends who are able to move into brand new condos that they purchased with their own money. Or buy new cars that they actually enjoy driving. Or go on vacations two or three times a year.

I like journalism. I want to continue doing it for a while. I don't want to be 30 years old and living at home with my mother calling me every night asking me when I'm coming back. I want to buy a car that won't make me flinch every time I turn the key in the ignition. And I'd like to go somewhere longer than a three-day road trip.

So yeah, I love journalism, but it's so unfair to ask me how much I love it when I have to put my life on hold while my friends fly ahead and leave me eating their dust.

10:54 AM

Battle of the beasts

muzak: Ellegarden - "salamander"

I don't proclaim to be a huge animal lover. But some of them just look so goddamn fierce that they command respect. I wouldn't want to tangle with any of these mofos.

BUT...

There must be other animals that would. So here's the question. If these 4-legged monsters were pitted against each other, who would win?

Contestant 1: the hippo
I dunno....it's ridiculously ugly, fat, slow, and dumb looking. But once it opens its mouth, it could probably swallow me whole. Points granted for being deceptively mellow, points deducted for...well, just because. I like Contestant Two better.

Contestant 2: the rhinoWho doesn't think the rhino is badass? Look at it. It's got a HORN. Full points given.

Winner: Rhino.

Contestant 3: the lion
The lion has this reputation of being the King of the Jungle. And Disney has done a remarkable job of packing that image neatly into my head. I love lions. If I had to be reincarnated as any land-bound animal, it would be the lion. But you know who looks more badass?

Contestant 4: the tiger
Even caged, the tiger looks like it's about to bite my face off. If I was a lion and woke up to this thing looking at me, I'd immediately realize the fuckedness of my situation.

Winner: This one's a toss-up. What can I say? I love my felines.

Yes, this post has no point other than to show off neat animals.

6:50 PM

No sir, I am not staring at your crotch

So with my work hours being pretty steady 9-5, I'm taking the good ol' TTC at pretty peak times. The subway culture is completely different during rush hour and it's all a new experience to me.

To begin with, since parking at the subway station is needed, I bought a Metropass for the first time. The intimidation level of using one of these things is a five-star level. So peep this, yo: People are rushing through the turnstiles while you fumble wildly with the card trying to figure out which side the stripe is on, and which direction it should be facing, and then your bag gets caught in the turn and your heels fall off and then everyone just points and stares and laughs while the world spins wildly out of control! Aaaaah!!!!!

Then there's the actual subway ride. I luck out and usually grab a seat since I'm at the beginning of the line. But the train gets packed pretty quickly. Subway riders, riddle me this: where do you look when you're surrounded by people?

No matter where I try to put my eyes, they'll end up on someone's face, crotch, boobs, leg, toes. And you know, it's rude to stare. I can't see through everyone to look at ads, so I end up rolling my eyes wildly until I finally land on some nondescript hand. Then I analyze every crack, pore and hangnail on that hand. And then I feel creepy.

So again, I ask, where do you focus?

7:56 PM

Buffy!

I'm in the process of re-watching all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and lemme just say, five to eleven years later, the show still kicks ass. Was Spike always this hot?

ps. I just got my new driver's license in the mail. Three weeks without any form of government-issued photo ID in my wallet made me feel so nekkid. But this new version of the license in all its monochromosity is just fugly as sin.

pps. Got me a job downtown around the Eaton Centre. If anyone's in and around the area and feels like buying me lunch, I'm always available :)

1:12 PM

To all my beloved J-schoolers feeling as overwhelmed as me:


Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.

It's opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!

You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don' t
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don't.
Because, sometimes, they won't.

I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.

And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So...
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

-O, the Places You'll Go
Dr. Seuss

11:30 AM

hide memmorial summit parte deux

-Thanks, Nat!

Forget the no name Saturday lineup. Holy stacked Sunday, Batman! Mucc, D'espairsRay and the Big Three all for only 14,800 yen!? That's a crazy deal.

Personal restrictions stop me from making it :( but if anyone's going, I want to hear about it. And 'cause the Yosh is sure to have overpriced recordings, posters, and other paraphernelia, I'll be sure to snag a DVD or something. Or, I'll watch it on YouTube, 'cause I'm cool and cheap like that.

6:11 PM

coming out of the closet

muzak: Kanye West - "champion"

I wear granny panties. That's right. And I'm not ashamed of it.

It all began this past weekend when I did a load of laundry and mistakenly left a nice cottony white pair in the dryer. I'm not going to lie, I owned up to it. And any girl that tells you she never wears granny panties is a liar, I say, a liar!

I have an assortment of colourful undergarments ranging from the sexy lace barely-there to the cartoonish/striped/polkadot low-rises to the wedgie-inducing boyshorts. And yes, even the big butt-embracing underwear.

Before you jump to conclusions, which I'm sure you've already done, you jerk, granny panties are ridiculously comfortable. Dudes, let's see you wear a thong every day. For those blah days, or the days on the rag, the grans are convenient. And, I've found, the quality is longer lasting than other cute underwear.

So fellas, there you have it. I bet even the sexiest of the sex goddesses has a pair in her repertoire. It's the same as having a simple white cotton t-shirt in your closet. And if people can wear Uggs, Crocs, and other odious trend-du-jours in public, then girls shouldn't be given flack for wearing the equivalent of men's briefs under their jeans where nobody can see them.

1:11 AM

Arts & Entertainment - Cartoons a living reality

In a room inside a section of a building within the heart of a city, a world of living cartoons thrives. Schoolgirls with bubblegum pink hair talk to ninjas with gravity-defiant hair. Lolitas sit to eat lunch with psychotic geniuses. To these characters, life is about animation.

“My name is Shelly Gray, and I’m dressed as Sheena Fujibayashi from Tales of Symphonia,” says one girl with a bow tied around her waste long enough to reach the ground. Her entire ensemble was handmade by friends.

Gray’s not the only one willing to spend months of her time and hundreds of dollars on custom-made costumes. The Metro Toronto Convention Centre was home to the annual AnimeCon hosted by FanExpo on March 15-16. Thousands of fans gathered in full costume, paying homage to their favourite Japanese cartoon character.

The convention is a place for fans of Japanese animation, more commonly known as anime, to come together to share their common interest. This year, more than 3,000 guests checked in, up a thousand from last year, said James Armstrong, organizer of the show.

“Anime has always kind of grown in popularity,” he said. “They haven’t had that backslide. It’s always going up or staying the same.” Shows always get popular and lose steam and another one is right behind it ready to create another wave of fandom, Armstrong said.

Not sure what anime is? Get out of your own bubble and take a look at YTV’s programming where much of the weeknights and entire Fridays are devoted to dubbed cartoons imported from Japan. Look for the shows that look more aesthetically pleasing. Exaggerated features like big eyes, elongated limbs, and elaborate shading give the characters a more visually pleasing appeal than the simplistic crudity of Spongebob, Homer Simpson, or Peter Griffin.

The audience’s voracious appetite for anime almost rivals Trekkies and Star Wars fans. “It’s similar,” said Armstrong. “The fans probably have more in common with Trekkies than they realize. Since they’re both into different material, they’ll probably never admit to something like that, but yeah, I see similarities there.”

“It’s just something to do,” said Amanda Rihal, a vendor at the convention. “The cartoons here in North America just didn’t appeal to me. They seemed really dumbed down.”

The fluffiness of North American cartoons has made cartoons seem suitable for 5-year-olds. Many North American shows are centred around school life and popularity, while imported shows range from high school kids taking on the role of the Grim Reaper to futuristic alternate universes. The plots are extremely complex and characters are highly developed as they battle personal dilemmas and giant robots.

The diversity and fresh plot ideas are what draws the large crowds. “The TV exposure’s bringing younger kids in, but I’m also seeing a lot of the older people getting into the newer things,” said Jody who was selling comics at the convention for the fifth year. “It’s a market that was never tapped. Part of the problem comic books has had is it has never geared itself towards women. And that’s one thing Japanese comics really have.”

The comics, inked in the same visually pleasing style as anime and known as manga, beg for readership through the pages, and it works. Characters drawn with large eyes and the ideal physique draw readers in, with a plot that often complements a cartoon series.

“Manga’s starting to sneak into the comic book industry,” said Armstrong. Anime fans have begun to gravitate towards the comics, and the publishers love it even though the typical superhero has foundered. The surge of popularity for Japanese artwork is like a second coming after the death of Superman. “Probably in a few years, the anime/comic connection is going to be a real relationship.”

The popularity has even spawned the American version of anime (which was once supposed to be influenced by American animation, ironically). Avatar: the Last Airbender emulates the anime style with artful scenery and anime-style drawing.

Meanwhile, American cartoons like South Park and Family Guy have made gags and parodies with characters speaking in poorly dubbed English, or adding the words “ha-HA!” to the end of every sentence.

Knowing the fickle nature of television-watching audiences, it’s hard to really predict the road that anime will go down. Reality television is doing well too, but you don’t see conventions celebrating their greatness. And what reality show’s fans would be willing to sew their own costume to look like their favourite pop star du jour?

“The name’s Pierre, and I’m dressed up as an akatsuki ninja from Naruto,” says a guy wearing long robes and a rice hat. He’s been into anime for almost 10 years, and he doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.

“There are so many reasons why people are drawn into anime. It could even be video games or manga. There’re so many categories, but basically, it’s all anime.”

8:26 AM

Nobody ever believes me when I tell them computers hate me

muzak: ATB - "9am till I come"

Two crucial weeks to go before the finish of my schooling career and my laptop dies.

I'll be getting a loaner, but it's just not the same using a foreign computer. My folders are all in the wrong place. The bookmarks aren't mine. The hidden pr0n isn't from my personal selection. The scandalous sex pictures aren't of me. The keyboard grooves don't fit my fingers.

I don't know if it's the idea that--after being a student for my entire life--I'm suddenly faced with the idea of no grades ever again. Or maybe it's the loss of my baby, my laptop; but I feel so lost and forlorn and...confused. I've been wandering my room for the last day or so searching for my missing limb.

7:32 PM

hide memorial summit

muzak: Enchanter - "love song"

Thanks to Sanspo.com for this:

平成10年に急死し、5月2日に10周忌を迎えるX JAPANのギタリスト、hideさん(本名松本秀人、享年33)の追悼イベントが同月3、 4日に東京都調布市の味の素スタジアムで行われることが20日、分かった。X JAPANによる初の追悼公演で、メンバー全員が参加。さらにLUNA  SEA、Dir en greyら約20組が集結し、10万人を動員する。

 死して10年、10万人もの人々が、hideさんの魂を慕って集う一大式典が行われる。

 X JAPANの関係者によると、hideさんの実弟、松本裕士さんの主催でYOSHIKIがプロデュース。hideさんの命日である5月2日に続く3、4日に東京・味の素スタジアムで開催し、2日間で約10万人を動員する。

 タイトルは「hide memorial summit」。“サミット”の名にふさわしくX JAPANのメンバー全員のほか、LUNA SEA、Dir en grey、T.M.Revolutionらビッグネームが続々参集。2日間で延べ約20組が競演する。

--------

Roughly translated:

Ten years after the death of hide, Yoshiki has finally grown the balls to have a memorial summit in his hide's honour. The absoloutely crazybone event will be a 2-day bonanza, with Luna Sea and Dir en grey and about 20 artists in total.

X Japan. Luna Sea. Dir en grey. *twitch*

After I finished having a seizure, I decided that I should take my Asia trip this year. And be in Tokyo around May 3 and 4. I don't care if this is just another one of Yoshiki's cash grabs, the lineup is what's important here. The lineup!

As a side note: why 10 years after hide's death? According to Babelfish: "But the mental damage of YOSHIKI is large flame failure." I wish Yosh would stop hiding behind this lame excuse for his repeated bombs in the last 10 years. Large flame failure, indeed.

In any case, who cares. X Japan. Luna Sea. Dir en grey. How much do you think tickets will be? And who wants to go?

*twitch*

5:28 PM

wedding confusion

muzak: 10 years - "the Autumn Effect"

My dear friend's getting married in less than a month.

I am feeling stress. I've never had to take care of giftings on my own before. Does anyone have any idea how registries and showers work? And proper wedding etiquette? Monies?

Gaaaaahhhhh...

How is it possible that I'm feeling more stressed about this than the fact that I'm graduating in less than a month and as of yet, am still an unemployed bum? Who wants to get on my good side and hook me up with a job at CBC or 680 news, or any of the CanWest or CTVglobemedia conglomerates?

Or a job flipping burgers...

On that note, Wes Borland (formerly of Limp Bizkit) is stepping in to play the axe for X Japan's live!? What is this madness!?

3:49 PM

Teenagers on fire, live!

muzak: Siam Shade - "Keikoku"

One of our projects last term involved building a website that would take a more in-depth look at a broader social issue.

My group chose to look into the phenomenon of teenagers setting themselves on fire for kicks. The activity didn't become public until a 14-year-old kid got seriously burned in school last September. Suddenly, fire officials, big corporations, and other teens were speaking out about their experiences with playing with fire, and what should be done to prevent it.

Wanna learn more? Check out our new media project from Fall 2007: TEENAGERS ON FIRE
Or read my contribution to the set of articles: the Axe Effect
I was also in charge of photography and graphic design.

3:00 PM

self-indulgence

muzak: Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova - "Falling slowly"

I made a foray into the world of amateur modeling this past weekend to pimp out my friend's fashionistic creations. Prancing around Queen St. wearing nothing but a kimono in March weather was kinda cold. But sorta fun.

So here I am helping Jess pimp out her clothing line, fRuit*D*dIEnamite (holy arbitrary capitalization!). Oh, who am I kidding, I'm pimping myself out at the same time. It tickles my feminine senses to have pictures of myself where I don't look like a complete bum.

All clothing except jeans are by Jess

Can't forget the makeup and hair done by Sofie
-thanks, Ksenija!

I think I'm the most cheerful goth evar. Check out the crazy giant bow stuck on my ass! I love it so much, I'm smiling in every picture!

P.S. did anyone notice the new musical rotation on the sidebar?

10:07 PM

h.naoto goes international

muzak: Alanis Morisette - "uninvited"

The same company that brought you this and this has finally opened its Japanese doors to the rest of the world.

Thanks, Tokyo Street Report!

H.Naoto was my first love for Japanese fashion. Unfortunately, their previous closed door policy to foreign markets and unwarranted high prices put a damper on my enthusiasm.

I don't know when they launched the English site, but it's ugly as sin.

Still, I'm glad that they're making an effort to become more accessible. Now if they'd just slash their prices as happily as they slash their clothing...

5:12 PM

springing forward

muzak: Gazette - "Silly god disco"

Am I missing something? When did changing the clocks become such a big deal?

Every radio station that I flipped to today (all of 2!) was making reminders to push the clocks ahead by an hour this weekend. Fair enough, this is all happening earlier than we're used to -- I'm sure that despite all the reminders, some poor sap will show up for work an hour late on Monday.

But there are actually tips out there on how to adjust to one hour's loss of sleep time! Among them: exercise well, sleep an hour earlier, don't operate heavy machinery the next day and eat dinner an hour earlier to help your body adjust.

Going a little overboard much? It's not like we're suddenly swapping day for night and the whole universe is going out of control. It's an hour's sleep. I'm sure everyone has nights where they get 10 hours, and nights with only 5. Suck it up.

Seriously, am I missing something about the incredibly detrimental effects of losing an hour's sleep? If I shouldn't be operating heavy machinery, I don't think I should go to my Monday morning class either. I always get a nasty case of the Mondays, I'm sure it'll be amplified tenfold with the loss of one hour of my day.

You know what really throws me off? This ridiculous amount of snow we're getting when we're supposed to be moving into better weather times. I guess this is what I get for flipping Jack Frost the bird.

5:09 PM

On this day in 1923...Time Magazine published its first issue

Muzak: Dir en grey - "Yurameki"

I can't even pretend to be young and say that I'm in my early 20's anymore. It's so disheartening!

Despite my despair at reaching another year of physical decline, and despite being in class all day and having group meetings all evening, this is probably the best birthday I've had in years. It more than makes up for last year's debacle.

You guys are the ones that make everything worth it. And Facebook too, for being the reminder.

Now check out a piece of the booty I got. And wipe that drool from your keyboard.

Vivienne Westwood just steals my heart.

7:08 PM

fire next to the reverb

muzak: the Cranberries - "dreams"

I'm sure most people in Toronto have heard about the fire that did some serious damage on Queen St. West last week. So a friend and I popped by last Friday to do some shopping and also to take a look at the destruction, because we're curious onlookers like that.

Cameras of all shapes and sizes were out in full force. Anything ranging from photojournalists with lenses the size of my head to passersby with dinky little cell phone cameras, everyone wanted their own version of the icy wreckage.

So of course, Jo wanted a piece of that action. I couldn't help it, my inner child was staring in wide-eyed awe at the wanton destruction.
Along the way, I wandered into the coolest little store called Outer Layer. Amazing finds at average prices, it's similar to the quirky stuff you'd find in Propaganda on Bloor St. I can't believe I'd never found it before! So I ended up acquiring a wallet that I really don't need.

In my defense, it's really cute! Really!

9:23 AM

Cookie Monster on National Public Radio

Muzak: Jordin Sparks ft. Chris Brown - "No air"

Cookie Monster is easily the coolest character on Sesame Street. So naturally, I was thrilled and a little surprised to see him interviewed on NPR.



Since when did C to the M become articulate enough for radio!? Wasn't he speaking in garbled tongue 20 years ago? Now he talks about opthamology, and he enjoys....broccoli. O_o

The interview seems awkward at times, like the host doesn't really believe in the character. The Cooks retains enough of his simplicity to still be adorable (the shape of Bert's head would look good on the dollar bill!). But the questions are all close-ended and aren't geared to Cookie Monster at all, they're just random Q's.

Cookie Monster = great interview subject, but I think the host dropped the ball on this one.

11:51 PM

love me, love me not

Remember back in junior high school when guys would pick a girl they thought was cute and buy them a flower? The girl would giggle, accept, the two would be in blissful coupledom for a week or two before things cooled off, and the two would amicably split up and move on to the next person.

Nice, simple, no real feelings.

When did things get so messy and complicated? It's such a fine line to walk now.

10:45 PM

cupid's musical arrows

CBCnews.ca released a list of all-time heart-wrenching love songs for the masses. They're mostly old songs, circa 1940-1979. The newer releases are unknown to me and I figure they're from indie bands because, you know, listening to indie artists makes you automatically cool. I can just see the writer putting on his beret and tinted shades as he strokes his goatee. In the sterile walls of his cubicle.

Well, CBC, I beg to differ.

For the young people out there who don't remember the Tiananmen Square massacre, but do remember when Michael Jackson was still black, here's my list of top 10 cupid inspired tunes.

  • Bon Jovi - Always : absolutely classic. Sure it's creepy and stalkerish, but if you ignore all the obsessive undertones, the song is a work of art.
  • Celine Dion - My Heart Will Go On : call me cliche and a teeny bopper. Eleven years later, this song still makes me picture doomed lovers sinking and I'm all "noooo, Leo!".
  • Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You : how could this not be included? I get chills listening. Whitney's gargantuan windpipes and finely tuned vocal chords make for goosebumpy goodness. And I'm told it's played at almost every wedding. Surefire love song right there.
  • Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody : I heard this one before I saw Ghost. I loved it the first time I heard it, and I still do. The various remakes don't even come close to doing it justice.
  • Mariah Carey & BoyzIImen - One Sweet Day : this duet was made for the pages. The simple fact that Mariah can overpower four dudes is amazing. The two artists actually complement and push each other to higher harmonial ground rather than compete with one another. The result? One of the best duets evar.
  • X Japan - Forever Love : my ode to J-rock. To me, X still reigns as one of the founding fathers of visual rock. Although the song is instrumentally simple, Toshi's testicless vocals make for some tear-jerking music.
  • Berlin - Take My Breath Away : What would a love song list be without the Top Gun theme? Jessica Simpson needs to GTFO. Terri Nunn's breathy vocals and energy-charged presence more than make up for Simpson's vapid use of see-thru camis and self-carressing.
  • Davy Jones - Your Personal Penguin : A dear friend sent this song to me last year. I usually don't like cheesy kid songs. But this one was different. It was just so heartwarming and simple. Like having hot chocolate and sitting by the fire after making a snowman. It takes me back to my days of Robert Munsch and Shel Silverstein. But in song form.
  • Tattle Tale - Glass Vase Cello Case : The lyrics definitely aren't a selling point to this song, but who can say no to acoustic guitars and violins? A crazy climax ensues in the middle with its whirlwind ferocity before settling back into its original theme.
  • Destiny's Child - Emotion : Okay, maybe this is the antithesis of a love song, but for once, Destiny's Child was able to knock me off my feet. The motown-style harmony and completely relatable lyrics makes me want to curl up into a ball and cry. Props to them.
I was tempted to throw in Dir en grey's Namamekishiki et al. unplugged version for the same reason as Destiny's Child, but decided that it was just too far off base. So dir gets an honourable mention instead.

Happy manufactured holiday, all! The point is to spend it with someone you love. I spent the evening having a delicious Valentine's dinner with my dad.

3:11 PM

I am not a dog lover...

...but if I ever got a dog, it would be a pug. And it would have to look like this. How much more doleful and stupid could it look? Who could say no to this face?

Thanks, Toronto Star!

PS. the dog was just a way to grab your attention and dolefully ask you to listen to CHRW 94.9 at 6pm tonight.

Stream the show from the intarwebz. You might hear someone familiar. Remember, you can't say no to that face, it would just be inhumane.

10:28 PM

Scientific nails

Muzak: Smashing Pumpkins - "disarm"

I'm not gonna lie, I have an absurd obsession with fashion and style.

So peep this, yo: from Lancome, a nail polish called Le Magnetique that uses a magnet to draw the minerals in wet nail polish into a funky pattern. Theoretically, two coats are painted, nails are placed close to a magnet on the bottle, and poof, the magic of science. At $17 a pop, it's pretty pricey, but for someone as inept at nail art as I, this could be a godsend. I can't wait to see what other colours and ideas come out of this. Anyone tried it yet?

In other news, I hate winter with a burning (ha. ha. ha.) passion. Old Man Winter and Jack Frost can lick my left nut right about now. Bring on the warm.

9:48 PM

Journalism in a violent world

Muzak: Creed - "with arms wide open"

Western kicked off the inaugural conference dedicated to journalists dealing with trauma this past weekend. Journalists, scholars, and professionals from the around the world flew in for two days of trauma discussion and prevention. Taxing and rewarding at the same time, I've decided that waking up at 7am is just not human.

Other than the general alcoholic schmoozing that took place, I learned a few things. Among them:

  • Most of the higher-ups in broadcast journalism are white, middle-aged men. Balding is common.
  • Journalists like to talk. A lot. And I mean a lot a lot. Like copious amounts.
  • Questioning Mr. Big Shot about how to take his job from him in the future isn't the best tactic for networking.
  • I have a new respect for journalists who have been to places and had their lives threatened every day for the sake of pleasing the editors.
  • I have the attention span of a 3 year-old.
Does he look familiar?

The panel. One of many.

Future journalists are so badass...

Check out my boobs about to bust out, yo!

10:54 PM

Enterprise story - fall 2007

It was 3 a.m. on a Sunday. Tom Kowalski, 39, climbed to the top of a condominium which was still under construction. The wind was calm, the city lights twinkled below him. From 50 storeys up, he continued to climb onto a construction crane, across the arm, unnoticed.

When he was suspended 400 feet above the city, Kowalski took a moment to survey the view of downtown Toronto sprawled out beneath him. The city sounds were distant, and he was surrounded by nothing but the still air and a sense of calm.

Then he jumped.

“From the corner of your eye, you can just see (the windows) zipping up, up, up. Then you start to hear the wind in your ears, and you start to feel it... And the intersection just explodes. The cars start to grow. It’s incredible.” Kowalski said in a documentary about his experiences.

Kowalski is a base jumper—one of the handful in Toronto. It’s an underground sport, but jumping off of tall fixed objects grew from just over 250 jumpers around the world in 1988 to over 1,200 according to basenumbers.org.

There are even world championships for base jumping.

Kowalski avoids the glitz and glamour of the sport. For him, it’s a unique and spiritual experience. “The space that it puts you mentally, it’s like this nirvana, this high,” he says.

Kowalski has been base jumping since 1994. “The whole thing’s been coming to me since I was a kid,” he says about his desire to freefall. “Guys were playing with their guns and stuff and I just wanted to walk on top of the roof of a building. It was always there.”

The activity recently received some rare and unwanted exposure when three men were arrested in Montreal last month for jumping off a hotel.

There are no laws against base jumping in Toronto, but other legal issues could come up depending on the case, says Const. George Schuurman of the Toronto Police Service. Base jumpers would most likely be charged with trespassing or mischief for sneaking into construction sites or damaging property, he says.

For Kowalski who lives in Toronto, the constant construction of high rise condominiums by the lake provides the platform he needs. “This is my personal experience, and unfortunately I have to use public spaces. If I lived beside a nice cliff, you’d never see me downtown.”

Base jumping consists of four components. The term for base jumping is an acronym for the four platforms that people fall from: building, antenna, span (bridges) and earth (cliffs and waterfalls).

Kowalski’s passion inspired a documentary producer to create a film based on his jumps. Peter Riddihough spent two years following Kowalski and his friends on several jumps around downtown Toronto before producing his film Jump.

“If you’re standing at the bottom of a building and you see someone with a parachute jump off, it looks really frightening,” Riddihough says. “There’s no other time when you’ll actually see somebody plummeting towards the earth.”

He feels television and film have glamourized extreme sports with fast, action-packed scenes cut together in quick succession. In reality, base jumpers spend a lot more time planning, says Riddihough.

Base jumpers take every precaution they can, he says. If the conditions aren’t right, they won’t do the jump. Before jumping, Kowalski keeps track of the weather and scouts the area for security guards, wires, traffic, buildings that could interfere with wind currents, landing spots and backup landing spots.

“You have to do it perfectly,” Riddihough says. “If you make a mistake, the consequences are potentially catastrophic.”

The catastrophic consequences are exactly the reason why Kowalski refuses to jump with someone who has no experience. With base jumping, one second of indecision could mean death.

“It’s a blending of luck and experience,” says Kowalski who gets ready to land as soon as he opens his parachute. “If you snap open, and there’s a car, you’ve got to be able to make the decision—kaboom, you’re flying in the other direction.”

In his 13 years of jumping, he has yet to come close to landing on another person. Kowalski isn’t blind to the risk he takes, but says it’s similar to driving. “You get your licence, you pay for the sticker, you don’t drink, and kaboom, there’s the biggest accident you’ve ever experienced. Tough luck, you know, it happens.”

Still, the positives outweigh the negatives. After 13 years, his body is intact, and he still feels a thrilling rush every time he makes a jump. He admits that he’s had injuries, but adds, “I’ve also been hurt riding my bicycle before, so it’s all part of the game.”

10:48 PM

Michael Moore meets london - June 2007

Lights. Camera. Action!

Upon his arrival to several hundred screaming fans at Masonville Silvercity, Michael Moore took his time getting into the theatre, stopping to talk to media while signing books, guitars, and a poster nominating him for prime minister.

He appeared on the red carpet in jeans and running shoes, patiently answering questions and giving a cheerful fist pump, “Canadians!” to a whooping crowd before disappearing into the theatre.


Moore was in London for the premiere of his new film Sicko on Friday night, and while he may have completed his film which criticizes the American health care system, the Canadian media spent a frenzied day documenting his documentary.

“I wanted this movie to begin where my family began—right here in the London area,” Moore said about his decision to premiere the movie in London. Many scenes from his movie drew Canadian content from the area, he said. He also wanted to see how much attention he could draw from neighbouring cities like Toronto.

Looks like he got his wish. CBC Toronto videographer Joe Fiorino, 35, said the crew arrived at 10:30 a.m. The broadcast would later be sent to Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa CBC stations. London’s A-Channel began setting up satellites and cables by early afternoon.

CTV also sent representatives from Toronto to the opening of the highly anticipated documentary which shines a favourable light on Canadian health care. Richard Crouse, 44, film critic of Canada AM, praised the movie, saying “after I saw the movie yesterday, I walked out and kissed the ground, happy to be a Canadian.”

Not all feedback has been in praise of Moore’s documentary, but he’s brushed all negativity aside. “Is there a lot of negative press?” He said. “I’m sorry if there is, but really, I’ve received nothing but positive stuff here,” said Moore. He received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival in France earlier in the month, according to CBC news reports.

He certainly got a warm welcome on Friday. Kevin Tuck, 16, arrived at 1 p.m. with his friends, armed with acoustic guitars. They’d been planning to write a song for Moore, but it just didn’t happen, Tuck said. They were joined by other fans and curious on-lookers by 2 p.m. and the parking lot was filled by six.

Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best was first to arrive, followed by Shirley Douglas, actress and daughter of Tommy Douglas who is known for fathering the Canadian health care system. “I’d say we need enormous improvements in the Canadian health care system, but I do not want it to become what the American health care system has become,” said Douglas. “I’m willing to fight very hard to see that it doesn’t. I think this film will help.”

When asked what she thought of about the American health care system, Douglas promptly replied, “Profit, and inability to get into the hospital without money.”

Moore, also known for his documentaries Bowling for Columbine and Farenheit 9/11, was tight-lipped about his next film idea. “I’m facing prosecution from the United States for what I did in making this movie,” he said referring to the 9/11 workers he brought into Cuba for health care. “I don’t think they’ll stop coming after me any time soon, and I’d rather not reveal to them who I’m going after next.”

When asked if Moore would become a Canadian citizen anytime soon, he responded, “no, but you’re all welcome to come to my country. We have wonderful immigration policies.”


10:38 PM

Enterprise story - summer 2007

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

His mother died when he was a teenager, and he didn’t have any say in what happened to her body. The burial plot cost tens of thousands of dollars, and the casket was another several thousand. He paid it all off—eventually. But that wasn’t the hard part.


What really haunted him was the idea of his mother decomposing. “I don’t know what’s freakier, rotting or being preserved till the metal decays and then rotting.” Shawn Chow, now 23, of Toronto said.

“Cremation has a more comfortable feel for me,” Chow said. “Once you were whole, and then you’re not.”

While not everyone may share Chow’s sentiments, alternatives to the traditional burial are becoming increasingly popular.

The decision to burn bodily remains in Canada grew to 56 per cent in 2005 from 40 per cent in 1995, according to Statistics Canada. “Some people just don’t feel comfortable being buried,” said Bill Webb, 47, funeral director of London’s Needham Funeral Service. “Cremation is just a faster way of returning to your basic element,” said Webb.

But the basic element may not be enough anymore.

A few funeral services now offer even more options after cremation. Instead of sitting on a mantelpiece, Aunt Mabel can now literally go out with a bang with an elaborate fireworks display.

After cremation, funeral directors put the ashes into specially made fireworks which are then blown into the atmosphere, says the website for Angel’s Flight, one of the only North American based companies which provides this service. The cost sits at about $5,000 but Angel’s Flight says that the fireworks are a way to celebrate a loved one’s life rather than mourn a death.

For those who are wary of being fired into the sky, memorial diamonds can also be created from cremains, giving new meaning to the term family jewels.

LifeGem is a company based in the US, but with a global reach, including partners in Toronto, according to its website.

The company’s website explains the process as extracting carbon from ashes before putting the extracts under high heat and pressure to create a diamond. The cheapest diamond starts from just under $3,000, but some feel that the results are well worth the extra money. “I felt as if my mother's life essence was contained within the diamond,” wrote Laura Andreini on the LifeGem website.

Others find the concept difficult to grasp. “The human diamond seems weird,” Chow said. “(It) would just be a reminder to me that someone isn’t here anymore.”

These two options are man-made said Webb, and many people find that the concepts go against their values of ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and returning to nature. But, he said, there is always a possibility that they may become trendy, although he has yet to see the human diamond.

There are a number of reasons alternatives to the traditional burial are rising in popularity, Webb said. One factor is space. Shortage of land is quickly becoming an issue for many overpopulated countries. “Mount Pleasant Cemetery was in the country when it was founded,” Webb said of one of Toronto’s cemeteries which now spans through two busy city blocks. “It’s absolutely massive, and they’ve run out of space.”

In London, blocks of land outside of the city limits have already been purchased for burial use, but Webb noted that if the population trend continues to grow as it is, space will also run out.

On top of the lack of land, pricing is also a big factor. The minimum for a traditional funeral costs $3,000, but Webb said caskets alone can go into the hundreds of thousands.

People also often want to spend more lavishly on the deceased, said Chris Burris, a professor of the psychology of death and dying at the University of Waterloo, adding that the average North American funeral costs about $7,000.

Burris also said that health concerns and “sacred space” put constraints around local planning and compound the problem of graveyard roominess.

In order to combat the space problem, there are advocates for “green” burials, said Burris who has also published a study on the relation of oneself to death spaces. A green burial involves the minimum amount of preparation, and burial is typically in a forest with or without a marker, Burris said. “(They) have the least negative impact on the environment, not adding to greenhouse gases like cremation does.” The body decomposes and there isn’t a giant coffin taking up room or slowing down the process.

Green burials are on the rise in popularity, but while many people enjoy the idea of going green in an eco-friendly world, traditional, cultural, and religious norms make the green burial seem a little too simplistic.

Chow said he still feels disappointed that his extended family took over his mother’s funeral, but he’s learned not to let it get to him. “(The burial) was mainly for them,” he said. “I’ve never needed physical things to get me over something. I have my memories and that’s all I’ll ever need.”



10:32 PM

older, balder, fatter, but not really wiser

muzak: Kagrra - "irodori no sanka"

Why did I start this blog to leave the other one alone? Times change, people change. Xanga was just getting too juvenile. I didn't have the heart to update it and the more I looked at it, the more I felt like i just outgrew the thing. I'd spent so long building my xangan character that writing like a normal human being seemed out of place.

I don't plan on updating frequently. If nothing else, I just need a place to archive clippings, what few of them there are, so that I don't have to feel paranoid about having my hard drive with me all the time.

So there's my obligatory christening post.

Now for something a little more journalistic, I present some actual published headlines of 2007. The world needs copy editors, those unsung heroes!

-Something went wrong in jet crash, expert says
-Miners refuse to work after death
-War dims hope for peace
-If strike isn't settled quickly, it may last a while
-Cold wave linked to temperatures
-Typhoon rips through cemetery; hundreds dead

And my favourite:
-
Is there a ring of debris around Uranus?

-thanks Suman!