Sunday, November 30, 2008

Anyone out there?

I feel nothing. I'm a bag shaped like a robot.
Then I guess no one is going to mind if I take a break for the next week and a half. In the meantime, read this great article about craft.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Night Play List: Music to LARP to

Oh no! "So You Think You Can Dance? Canada" competitor, and recreational LARPer, Izaak Smith was kicked off. Of the two remaining male dancers, Nico Archambault looks more likely to win, unless Canadian viewers lose their mind and choose Miles Faber.

Hip hop has not been particularly strong on the Canadian show and Miles is the weakest popper finalist that I have seen on either the Canadian or American shows. Every time he does his solos, I am transported to talent night in high school. It is lucky for Miles that he actually improves in dance styles other than his supposed specialty.

In ode to the departed LARPer, I present a LARP soundtrack:

"California Love" - Tupac and Dr. Dre
"Da Rockwilder" - Method Man and Redman
"Rhythm Nation" - Janet Jackson
"Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" - Primus
"Champion" - Kanye West
"Wanted Dead or Alive" - Bon Jovi

Thursday, November 27, 2008

One of a Kind Show: 10 days left to go broke

As per tradition, I attended the first day of the One of a Kind Show (OOAK) and this year, I was not disappointed. The organizers featured a wider range of items than last year, an observation that was echoed by other attendees, and only fatigue and an empty wallet stayed my hand.

The OOAK has a reputation for selling pricier items - understandable since the majority of the featured products are not mass produced overseas. Yet, Kyla Francis manages to sell her hand printed glasses and mugs for less than $15 each. The dishwasher safe enamel images of sneakers (see above), cassette tapes and Wii controllers will appeal to the lazy, the immature and the nostalgic.

Amber Mills's ceramic wares are more traditionally styled but stood out from the crowd, none the less. The rich colours and Arabian influenced design first grabbed my attention on the OOAK website then, once I saw them in person, they preyed on my mind throughout my initial walk-thru of the show until I rushed back to Mills's booth. After thinking hard, I picked a variation on the mug seen above. Mills's designs are still on my mind, and if I return to the OOAK before December 7, I may find myself purchasing one of her vases.

Finally, I made my bi-annual trek to the Eve Gravel booth to buy something. This season, I bought the Mushi Mushi dress (seen below). Already, I can imagine wearing the dress at a holiday get-together, during a night out at the pub, lying on a bear skin rug in the middle of a many possibilities. This dress will pay for itself.
One of a Kind Christmas Show and Sale 2008
Thursday, November 27–Sunday, December 7, 2008
Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place, Toronto
Weekdays 11am-10pm, Saturdays 10am-9pm, Sundays 10am-6pm

Monday, November 24, 2008

Art = Money for some

Not Afraid of Love (2000) - Maurizio Cattelan
"Someone once told me that (art) was a very profitable profession, that you could travel a lot and meet a lot of girls. But this is all false; there is no money, no travel, no girls. Only work. I don't really mind it, however. In fact, I can't imagine any other option. There is, at least, a certain amount of respect. This is one profession in which I can be a little bit stupid, and people will say, 'Oh, you are so stupid; thank you, thank you for being so stupid.'"
- Maurizio Cattelan

Maurizio Cattelan was my patron saint during my brief foray into art for his ability to float where reality would usually sink in. This is a man who tried to organize a Caribbean Biennale simply for the sake of providing a vacation for invited artists. Cattelan also tried to raise funds for an art grant whose only requirement was that the recipient cease to exhibit his or her work for the duration of the grant. It was aimed at the group of successful artists who tended to monopolize the international exhibition circuit. When no one claimed the grant, it ended up funding Cattelan's move to New York, but not before Catellan installed a plaque with the donors' names on the wall of the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, without permission. The plaque hung unnoticed by the Academy's administration for a whole year.

I was reminded of Cattelan during the recent splurge on art. It seems that a lot of money gets thrown around where fine art is concerned but only if the artist is dead or one of the usual contemporary art suspects like Damien Hirst. Rather than a philanthropic appreciation for art, it is probably a desperate banking of funds in a dependable source that will appreciate over time. Needless to say, I am against the commercialization of art because it usually benefits the wrong individuals.

During an economic downturn, frivolous spending is usually the first to get cut and if even Damien Hirst is suffering the effects of an ailing economy, then one can only imagine what will happen to lesser known artists.

If the idea of funding Catellan's anti-establishment shenanigans does not appeal to you, I would encourage you to visit the One of a Kind Show (in Toronto, November 27 - December 7, 2008). Pleasing yet practical items are guilt-free purchases especially when you know that the money goes directly to the maker and not to an auction house or an art speculator. During difficult times, it is said that people turn to sources of comfort. Comfort yourself and a local artist by buying some of their work because only the wealthy get rich off of art.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Friday night play list: Mack Daddy

It's only Thursday but what the hell! It's never too early to get ready for Friday night. Plus, no current affair is getting my goat at this time.

I present my play list for getting in the mood for love; that's over 15 minutes of foreplay accompaniment, which should be more than enough, especially if you have a bottle of champagne nearby. You're welcome.

"Astounded" - Bran Van 3000 featuring Curtis Mayfield
"Sensual Seduction" - Snoop Dogg
"Sex on Fire" - Kings of Leon
"I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" - White Stripes
"Make It Wit Chu" - Queens of the Stone Age
"All I Want is You" - U2

Monday, November 17, 2008

There will always be TV

My career is safe for now (sob).
A friend recently revealed his plans for a drastic career change because his job is sucking his will to live, and I instantly became enamoured with the idea of doing something crazy with my future, too. My last foray into career insanity lasted five years and could be equated to working in a foreign country even though I never left Toronto; it was fun and unusual but ultimately contributed very little to my hirability.

This latest yearning for professional suicide stems from an information blitz in the media promoting paramedics as a viable career choice for people in mid-career. Like Homer's Clown College, this idea has festered in my mind for months until I became convinced that becoming a paramedic was perfect for me. Poor Joe was supportive as usual, but fortunately for both of us, my more ruthless friend, Jessica convinced me to give up my paramedic dreams by the time Joe came back from a curling game. It turns out that the solution is to find myself an absorbing hobby since no sane person gives up a job with a healthy environment, good pay, and little stress simply for the sake of boredom.
However, I can continue to live my paramedic dreams through Davis Bloom (played by Sam Witwer), the paramedic who will soon become Doomsday on "Smallville". If Witwer's resemblance to Starkiller from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is uncanny, that is because the Sith apprentice was modelled after him and appropriated his voice. Add to this the fact that Witwer has appeared in "Battlestar Galactica" and was inspired to act by an encounter with Wil Wheaton and you have a good contender for biggest fanboy actor on TV.

Geeks are also being represented on TV by "So You Think You Can Dance Canada" competitor, Izaak Smith. The hip hop and ballet dancer is a LARPer who was first introduced to the viewing audience in full medieval armour, waving a padded sword. Izaak has repeatedly been on the verge of elimination and yet, he has outlasted his technically superior dance partner and is currently in the Top 8. Joe and I will continue to cheer for the LARPer in the hope that he will eventually break out the medieval armour for one of his solo routines.

In the absence of an unholy LARP dance union, the best part of "So You Think You Can Dance Canada" by far is judge, Jean-Marc Genereux. His pervy mannerisms and original outbursts, like labelling select competitors "V.I.D. - Very Insane Dancers" make the show.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday night play list

Do kids exchange 'mix tapes' with their boyfriends or girlfriends nowadays? I still have the mix tapes that my ex-boyfriend gave me in high school and I remember sitting alone in the dark on a Friday night, listening to music, and getting angst-ridden.

Sadly, music is no longer the soundtrack of my life. This growing detachment from music seems to be symptomatic of getting older, unless you are a music enthusiast who actively searches for the latest bands. I do try to keep up with new music, if only so I don't become one of those people who complains that "music ain't what it used to be." More importantly, I want to be able to get nostalgic about this time of my life when I listen to songs from 2008, 15 years later.

In the meantime, I'd like to offer up my Friday night mix tape; an ode to my lonely teenage self. You'll notice that the songs all come from a certain time frame though I would ask you to refrain from doing the math out of kindness.

"Fade Into You" - Mazzy Star
"All I Want" - Toad the Wet Sprocket
"Fell On Black Days" - Soundgarden
"Hurt" - Nine Inch Nails
"Last Goodbye" - Jeff Buckley
"Soma" - Smashing Pumpkins

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Insert Hollywood here

It has been reported that Hollywood is set to remake the 2003 Korean hit film, Old Boy. More specifically, Will Smith and Steven Spielberg are in talks to star and direct, respectively.

Many fans of the original film are reacting with horror, but I think only good things can come of this collaboration. Will Smith single-handedly carried the only parts of I Am Legend that were worth watching and his repeat preference for sci-fi and fantasy projects betrays a fanboy core. Now, with a remake of Old Boy, Smith will permanently commit to celluloid his association with violent self-mutilation and incest.

As for Spielberg, if the director chooses to have Smith eat a live octopus and saw off his own tongue, he will fulfil the promise that the heart transplant scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom only hinted at.

There is a chance that Smith and Spielberg will turn this movie into a straightforward revenge action film. If that does happen, it will be the perfect catalyst for Old Boy fans to attack both actor and director with hammers then make out with their siblings in the aisles of their local multiplex. Smith and Spielberg will, undoubtedly, appreciate the cinematic references.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Despite appearances, I care

Let me just state for the record that I support the Royal Canadian Legion's poppy campaign. I want to show ex-service people that I am grateful that they were "in the shit" so that I do not have to be. I also want to assist them financially in their old age.

The problem is: I cannot find a poppy vendor. Maybe all those WWI and WWII vets are no longer hardy enough to stand around for long periods of time in the cold, trying to get passerbys to contribute a few coins. Or maybe retailers are not cooperating or even supportive of the campaign. Whatever the reason, I now look like an apathetic jerk and I have contributed nothing.

My inability to purchase a poppy pin is a roadblock to the more consistent problem that I have encountered with the poppy pins over the years. In the past, when poppy pins were more plentiful in supply, I found myself buying 3-4 pins before November 11 had even arrived. The pins are designed to be lost; with its sleek, straight pin, the poppy attaches itself to your jacket until your bag strap hits it or you move your arms horizontally or a strong gust of wind hits you in the chest. I understand that this is a production cost issue and, frankly, easily lost poppy pins do increase donations, but seeing poppy pins litter the city streets seems wasteful.

Solutions that have been suggested to me in the past include securing the poppy with my own safety pin, or picking one up off the ground or reusing one purchased the previous year. However, none of these solutions address the financial contribution that is part of the motivation behind the poppy campaign.

The Royal Canadian Legion should team up with the Royal Canadian Mint, which already produces a Remembrance Day commemorative coin, to produce a more durable metal poppy pin. These metal pins can be sold for $5 or more thus guaranteeing that they cover the donations that would have been made over a 2-3 year span with the more flimsy poppy pins. A different design can be released each year so that the pins become something that can be purchased annually by collectors.

I'll continue searching around for poppy pin vendors but with less than 24 hours to go before November 11, the Royal Canadian Legion may have to settle for my good intentions.

Speaking of the Royal Canadian Mint reminds me of a few additional gripes. The Mint used to produce some elegant coins; for instance, the series celebrating Canada's 1967 Centennial. Nowadays, we get gaudily painted metal like the Remembrance Day coin, the Pink Ribbon Campaign coin, or convoluted messes like that 25 cent coin design with a child's drawing on it.

Their advertising campaign for the Remembrance Day coins is no smarter than the product. The ad is meant to remind viewers of the horrors of the battlefield but, instead, it comes across as a trailer for a first person shooter like Call of Duty. See for yourself below and just try to stop yourself from instant messaging "PWNED".

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Welcome back to Earth

There are undoubtedly far more passionate and eloquent writers about the significance of Barack Obama's win last night than me. Rather than try to wax poetic about this momentous event, I wonder, in point form:
  • Where will all those Republicans who did not want to live in Obama's socialist nightmare go? Surrounded by socialists and communists to the north and brown people eager to steal jobs to the south, where do they turn?
  • Will Americans be treated better when they travel abroad? With the popularity of Obama in Europe, Africa and Japan, will Americans be patted on the back for a good job instead of the usual demand for an apology?
  • Will this reconnection with the rest of the world be followed by a more cosmopolitan mindset in Washington?

Roughly four years ago, I referred to Obama as America's best chance for a Black president in the next 20 years. In recent months, my pessimism gave way to careless optimism as I took for granted that Obama would defeat McCain after he won the Democratic nomination since I considered Hillary Clinton a more challenging opponent. It does make me a little emotional to think of all the stars that had to align for this result to come about.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

World Wide Web of Men

The few unfortunate websurfers who stumble upon my blog may find themselves wondering if I am a man or woman in order to determine if their sexual attraction is warranted. Well, wonder no more! The GenderAnalyzer claims to be able to determine if a blog is written by a man or a woman. And the answer is: I'm all man. And all the blogs listed under my 'Links' sidebar are also written by men. Hooray for sausages.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Out of sight, out of touch

With mere days before the U.S. election, I finally decided to see Michael Moore's latest film, Slacker Uprising, which has been available as a free download since September in a purported bid to get Americans to vote on November 4, 2008.

Watching Slacker Uprising was a cringe worthy experience. For 90 relentless minutes, Moore presents himself as the saviour of the Democratic party in the run up to the 2004 election. While swatting annoyingly stereotypical right wing protesters, Moore and his self-congratulatory celebrity friends demonize George W. Bush without actually endorsing John Kerry. In the end, the 2004 American election proved that Democratic voters will not vote for a weak candidate simply because Michael Moore tells them that he is the lesser of two evils.

Moore's attempt to remain relevant made me wonder what was up with Ralph Nader in 2008. The independent candidate was once blamed for splitting the Democratic vote and causing Al Gore to lose the presidency. Now, his press conferences barely register in the media.

There has been much discussion in the mainstream media about how Barack Obama represents hope for African Americans but not so much about how he has transformed the attitude of the Democratic Party. It must be a refreshing feeling for American Democrats to support a mainstream candidate wholeheartedly and not just out of fear of the alternative.

Even if Obama loses his bid for the presidency on November 4, a changing of the guard has taken place within the Democratic party.

By the way, has John McCain given up already? His appearance on Saturday Night Live came across as the good natured joking of a man who has admitted defeat. He had no objection to the jabs made at his running mate's premature presidential ambitions, and his self-conscious reference to the "Sad Grandpa" strategy did not preclude his actual use of it during his appearance. This was about as unfortunate as Hillary Clinton's loss to Obama in the Democratic nomination; a sense of opportunity wasted.