Saturday, September 30, 2006

Got Plans? Got Plans!

No, not the Death Cab for Cutie album. Although it is quite good.

It's Saturday night and I'm in Hamilton, backed by the earnest reasoning that I'd be able to get some good work done. Catch up on some of my exciting reading before midterms that are prowling in a dark corner somewhere two weeks ahead of me. My parents were kind enough to come and pick up both Rockwell and me and deal with us in our exhausted, partially hung-over state. Now that I'm caught up on sleep and in some fresh clothes though, I'm doing a lot of thinking and getting pretty excited about some of the plans Rockwell and I have been formulating over the past few days.

As I said in the last post, during the summer we had some aspirations to make some media projects, like a short film or possibly a podcast. That didn't even come close to happening. Probably due to the annual lack of motivation that comes all wrapped up in the package of those lazy hazy crazy days of summer. The weather's getting cooler though, and it's snapped us to our senses. Although no project is officially in the works yet, we're playing around with several ideas and trying to decide what we want to focus on. What is currently under construction is a website and blog for our production company, tentatively called BeatRock Productions. (For obvious reasons. Peter wants to throw in an extra T to honour my name and make it more interesting, but we're still at odds over this. One of many troubles to come, no doubt.) The web stuff will all be posted here once we get it up and running.

This seems like an opportune time for another announcement. Rockwell and I don't know how long-term this series of projects is going to be, but its most immediate practical purpose is to serve as a portfolio that will be put to good use in looking for work and with school applications. Yes, school applications. The fact is we have similar long-term plans that both involve leaving Guelph for greener pastures after this year. Peter's planning on applying to either Concordia (in Montreal) or OCAD, where he was already accepted after graduating high school. As for myself, I currently have my heart set on transferring to York University for my second year.

So the painfully obvious question is: why? Here's a question I expect I'll hear a lot: what's the matter with Guelph? And here's the answer I'll always give: nothing is wrong with Guelph. My plans are what they are because of what is right about York. I actually have Katelin's uncle to thank for putting the seed in my head when he told me York is an ideal school for pursuing a career in Media. A month ago I had no idea whether I wanted to pursue social sciences or media as my "big thing". That's why I chose the courses I did, the key one being Languages of the Media. My prof for that class, Mark Lipton, has made an impressive career for himself out of his sheer love of popular culture.

The important thing is: I'm taking 5 courses this semester, 3 of which fall under the category of Social Sciences and 2 of which would probably be classified as...Entertainment. It's become pretty clear to me already which area interests me more. Part of it isn't even thinking as far ahead as a career, but just the notion of taking enough psychology courses to major in it is a little scary.

Anyhow, I've done enough aimless writing for tonight. I should get back to my Media reading. (James Monaco - How to Read a Film...a book I love. And hate.)

Aside: I'm really liking the sounds of The New Pornographers right now. I only had a few tracks for a while but tonight I downloaded about 20 more of their songs. I've also started listening to some Death Cab again. I went through a stage last fall/winter where they were about all I'd listen to so I got a bit sick of them, but they really do have a nice sound. I mentioned 'em at the start of this entry because they've been keeping me company throughout the writing of it. They're also playing in Toronto in a month. Maybe I'll go if I can find somebody who wants to tag along.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Lights, Camera...

In my spare time, (I swear it's spare, really!) I've been figuring out how to use iMovie HD. Posted here for your enjoyment is my first attempt at some sort of video blog-cast thingy. I may take this the summer Rockwell and I were flirting with the idea of creating a little podcast of our own...something along the lines of Ask a Ninja. Then again, this may just be a one time thing. But it's a lot of fun, so I hope it isn't. Please keep in mind this is the first time I've ever done any kind of video editing. Also, the part where I come on and talk is in a sepia tone because it helped hide the fact that I was kinda tired and messy and probably gross-looking. (It was late at night.) Oh, and please note: the part where I talk is a little quiet 'cause I was trying not to wake up the people in the next room. So, turn the volume up at that part.

Sooo without further ado:

Edit: Video removed for being bad.

Monday, September 25, 2006

What would I do without...

Dave's becoming Greg. says: (11:13:44 AM)
send me that email you awful fishbean
Rockwell says: (11:14:01 AM)
i did you flapping snortcat
Rockwell says: (11:14:09 AM)
just now

Breaking story: I just ate my last french vanilla pudding. Man those are good. And now I'm going to read about Socrates for Philosophy tomorrow. Maybe I'll get corrupted.

Becoming Greg

So I've decided that I'm going to audition for...some kind of theatrical production at the university. I actually know nothing about what I'm auditioning for, but the email I got (I'm on the mailing list thanks to Theatre Studies, yay) just says to have a monologue prepared and to expect a 10-minute audition that may or may not include cold reading and improv. After a quick perusal of Monologue Archive I found a funny, modern monologue that I thought would work pretty well. It's a little speech by a character named Greg, from a play called ETA: Phoenix, by Nick Zagone. The monologue's pretty funny. Enjoy:

GREG: I said what are your intentions Johnny? I know. You come here to Phoenix to sell me your frames, maybe fit in some 'gars and golf. But intentions… The fact of the matter is John our father's taught us well. Price. Margins. Inventory. The power of a handshake. Live to close. Close to live. "Never make them buy a product, you make them buy-- an opportunity." You have one. Ten Grand is a fair deal. But what exactly. Are. Your. Intentions. [Greg is about to putt, but stops short.] Hey, it all comes down to intentions. Intentions Johnny. Yours. Mine. The worlds? The fact of the matter is I'm glad you came John. Very. We've always been close. Two men each carrying out their respected father's wishes. That's more than just business acquaintances. That's a connection. Sorry about the old man by the way. Damn shame. But enough business. The fact of the matter is your trip to Phoenix couldn't have come at a better time. Heather and I just parted ways. Not much to tell. It all comes back to intentions John! Heather was always a bit self-conscious. Preoccupied with her looks. Always a great body. A very "hot" body. But for whose intentions? The fact of the matter is Johnny-- somewhere she crossed the line. I mean--She wasn't well. Psychologically. Between you and me? All she'd eat? Carrots. Carrots! Raw carrots John. That's all she was eating. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Swear to God. Carrots. Even if we went out to eat, she'd throw down the menu and pull out a carrot. I didn't have a wife. I had a rabbit. But that's not all. It got worse. Listen I don't know if you know what happens when all your diet consists of is carrots, especially in sun like this… the fact of the matter is Johnny: Heather turned orange. My wife. Her skin. My wife was orange. The carrots and the melanin or the keratin and this climate…? I don't know Johnny, but when you come home and there's something orange sitting on your couch watching Oprah and eating a carrot, and you can't get to your beer in the refrigerator because it's filled top to bottom with carrots, and everywhere you go you're seeing carrots… the fact of the matter is Johnny and I'm trying like hell to quit saying "the fact of the matter is," but the fact of the matter is-- it gives you pause. What were her intentions John? What were her intentions for turning orange? Were they hers at all? Were they mine? Yours? The world's? The questions are confounding. But we must believe in our answers. [Greg finally putts. He misses.] Goddamned son of a bitch! [He breaks his putter.] Bastards! [A pause] Tell you what. I'm gonna take an eleven. [He picks up his ball.] The next hole has a ball washer! [He exits.]

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Theatre Blues

My current Theatre assignment is slaying me. It's due Friday. We are asked to do research on the particulars of the Theatre program at York University and the Drama Program at Queen's, and then write a comparative essay. That includes the usual tangents such as, what kind of implications does that have...what conclusions can we cetera.

Relevance to the course? I don't know. Don't even ask, I don't want to think about it.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Y'arr, M8-E.

My pirate name is:

Bloody Davy Rackham

Every pirate lives for something different. For some, it's the open sea. For others (the masochists), it's the food. For you, it's definitely the fighting. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sing Me Spanish Techno

I've made a new friend in iPhoto! Here are some of the photos I've taken to indulge myself, complete with various (blatantly amateurish) effects! (The cat is Casper. He hangs around outside my room a lot and I tried to take a picture of him sleeping but my laptop's fan woke him if he looks groggy that's why. He's usually a pretty affectionate cat but is also a huge pain...sheds like it's going out of style. Anyway...)

Not much to say today, really - the fact that it's Monday basically speaks for itself. I couldn't think of a good title for this post so I named it after one of many new tracks I've been enjoying in the past week. Sing Me Spanish Techno is a not-so-popular song of The New Pornographers'. Here's a brief little rundown of some of the other stuff I've been listening to lately:

The New Pornographers
Snow Patrol
Zero 7
The Shins!

And apparently Mogwai has found its way back onto my master playlist too. Makes for something good to listen to when you need to block out other distractions and concentrate. I'm looking for more stuff like that, if anyone has any reccomendations. I need to remember to use Pandora more often.

On Saturday night when I was in Hamilton I went to see The Last Kiss. I was torn between that and The Illusionist, The Black Dahlia, and The Protector. Dahlia was my first choice because I thought it would lend itself best to my Media assignment due October 5th. But then I read a bunch of bad reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and the second-highest-rated new release was TLK so I went with that. I'm not sure now what I thought of it though. Well-acted? Yeah. Funny? Yeah. I guess it just wasn't very fulfilling - especially not in the way Garden State was. At any rate, I have to write a 1000-word report on it in which I, "with specific reference to film language, critically analyze the most sophisticated, important element of the film and explain how this element leads to the film's popularity." At the moment I have no idea what I'll say, but I'm guessing an answer will present itself once I do the Media reading for this week.

I think the biggest challenge I'm facing right now as far as school goes hasn't got anything to do with the "difficulty" of the content - it's the sheer volume of information that needs to be processed and documented, as well as deciding what info is important and what isn't. Today I read the first 75 pages of my Psychology text, and I can only hope I retained most of the key points. Time-management is going to be tricky too. My copy of Blink has sat neglected beside my printer for about a week because I just haven't made time for pleasure-reading. (If you're reading this Kat - yes, I bought a copy for me too.)

I also got a haircut this weekend, but you can't really tell. That's the way I like it. I bought this icky stuff to put in it, and it looks kinda neat but feels pretty gross. Haven't decided if it's a permanent change yet or not. I need to go wash today's gunk out of my hair so I can re-gunk it tomorrow. It's like a metaphor for life, man.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Microsoft Makes a Play

I just read this interesting article that says Microsoft is releasing an interesting mp3 player called Zune. The author seems to think that the idea is for this thing to compete with Apple's iPod. What it can do that the iPod can't is use WiFi to share tracks with nearby Zune owners. But there are certain limitations, like you can't play a track you got that way more than 3 times per day. It doesn't give a lot of details, like storage capacity or physical size or any of that other stuff that matters, but it sounds like an interesting development to be sure.

Another news item: as everyone knows by now, there was a school shooting at Dawson College in Montreal yesterday. A man in black, identified as Kimveer Gill, began a shooting spree with semi-automatic weapons. An 18 year-old girl was killed and some 19 others are wounded. It's surprising that more people weren't fatally shot, but time will tell what happens to those other people. Anyway, Mr. Gill was eventually fatally gunned down by police. (UPDATE: Witnesses have now said that Mr. Gill actually turned a gun on himself after being shot in the leg by police.) The media has given a great deal of attention to the blog Gill maintained before his violent act. The website emphasized his love of guns and his fascination and enthusiasm regarding Columbine-style shootings. Several articles are available on Google News for more info.

I'm sitting in Guelph's UC as I make this entry, watching people go back and forth while I enjoy my playlist of some of the stuff I've been listening to lately - notably tracks from the Garden State soundtrack. The one I can't get out of my head is "In the Waiting Line" by Zero 7. At 7:00 I have my first Languages of the Media lecture, which is nearly 3 hours long. I'm looking forward to it.

I don't know for sure what my plans for the weekend are yet, but I may be heading home again to get some things done and hang out with Paul. Looking forward to that too.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Conflict in Signs

I just finished making a gargantuan post on my Sociology Notes blog. It's just my notes on the reading I'm supposed to have done for tomorrow. I suppose I could've just read the 17 pages and been done with it, but I'd never be able to retain all that information. So I took notes, and it took me a good 2 hours, at least. Maybe that's not all that long, but it seemed like a long time in the making.

On the one hand I'd like to think that being so conscientious on the very first assignment is a sign of good things to come. On the other hand, the fact that it took me so long is a bit irksome. Maybe it's a sign that I need to learn to take more concise notes. But how's a guy supposed to know what's important and what's not? Granted, some things are obvious - some - but not many. The rest is guesswork, so I just took down pretty well everything. Except for the part about Feminism because they left it to last and I didn't feel like taking note of that. If I figure out I need that info later I know where it is.

On a more personal note, I feel I've adjusted well to my new life here. ("New life", haha, so dramatic. But hey, it's kind of true.) My schedule this week isn't quite the way it's going to be for the rest of the semester, but it's close. My music is still in dissaray, but I'm going to remedy that with a nice, big playlist compilation very soon. Also, I bought a Donnie Darko poster today. It's pretty big, and it cost me fifteen dollars from the UC today. The posters will be gone tomorrow, alas. They had some really good deals.

I should get around to posting photographs of my room and such, for those who are interested. I'll do that soon, I promise.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

And So On

This entry will have to be short because I need to go to bed in good time. My first class, a Theatre Studies lecture, is tomorrow...erm, this morning at 11:30. My ears feel like they're on fire right now because I've been walking around out in the cool night for a few hours with Rockwell.

Before I lose interest I want to mention a really great movie I got around to watching last night: Garden State. It's a film created by the multi-talented Zach Braff, a reflection more or less of himself. One critic's review asserted that this was a movie that could not have been made by anyone other than Braff; it's extremely personal and sentimental. It feels like something that somebody poured their heart and soul into.

I love this movie for several reasons. The most dominant reason has to do with the way it hit on ideas that I've been turning over in my head all week ever since I moved out of my parents' house. It was very easy to relate to, which automatically bonds you with the main characters. The most endearing character, and probably the most charming feature of the movie as a whole is Natalie Portman's character, Sam. I love the original Star Wars movies, (I have an Empire Strikes Back poster on my wall) but, as is the case with many fans, Lucas's prequel trilogy does little more than make me cringe. Naturally I developed a bad impression of Portman, failing to recognize just how hindered she was by Lucas's attrocious script-writing. (And for the record, although it was nowhere near as bad as Star Wars, her performance in V for Vendetta didn't do a lot for me either.) In Garden State, on the other hand, Natalie Portman portrays what I feel I can say is one of the most charming characters I've ever seen on screen. I even caught myself thinking, "Now there's the perfect girl," which is very odd considering one of the most important facts about her character is that she is quite flawed. This point in itself raises a slew of questions about whether or not something that's considered "perfect" is even very desirable, but I'm not going to get into that now.
Another great thing about Garden State is the soundtrack - in fact, that's probably what it's best-known for. I called Zach Braff multi-talented due to the fact that he wrote the script, directed it and starred in it as well as handpicking the hip alternative-style melodies (by groups such as the Shins and Frou Frou) that make this film just that much more enjoyable.

I could go on and on about it all night. The point is: see it. It's great.

Some other films I've seen recently and liked:
The Producers - risque...debaucherous...and side-splitting.
Match Point - a Woody Allen flick...good entertainment with an unpredictable ending that catches you off-guard

I also rented Red Eye and V for Vendetta this past week. They were good, but nothing really special - and mostly everyone's seen them.

Anyhow, I've been in a funk for a few days but I've come out of it now and I'm pumped to start classes today. Change is weird and stressful, but life goes on, thank goodness.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dogs, Cats, and Kids

Guelph. This is my new reality. I've been living here for, let's see...about 4 days now. The cable guy just showed up today around noon to set hook up internet and cable TV for me.

I had all these ideas about what I was going to write in this first entry, but my muse isn't feeling that ambitious now. I'll just try to cover the basics. I'm supposed to be having a wonderful, amazing time up here this first week, what with there being no classes and literally hundreds of "fun" events planned over at the campus. The truth is, it's just average. For the first couple of days I think I was pretty swept up in my new environment, but when you live about a 45-minute walk away from campus it's not as easy to make friends as everyone says. At the moment I'm actually looking forward to classes starting - one thing I've known about myself for a long time but frequently forget is that I thrive on a structured, predictable life-style.

My new home has its ups and downs. As I said it's farther away from the campus than I'd like it to be, but the bus is free for students and getting there that way only takes maybe 20-25 minutes. My room is a good size in comparison to Rockwell's residence dorm, but it's also a spawning ground for cat hair. The people I'm living with have a lot of pets: 3 dogs, and 6 or 7 cats. One of the cats is too smart for my own good. He knows how to open doors and close them again. I woke up on the first morning with this big fluffy thing sleeping on my head. Myself, my clothes, and most of my posessions have become permanantly infused with his hair.
The dogs barked at me a lot at first, but they're getting used to me. My landlady Jeannette also runs a daycare centre out of her basement. When I leave my room for something I often hear the sounds of mewling children coming from below, but I'm used to that now too. It's not a big deal.

I'm sure I'll write some more later, but Rockwell just dropped by and we're going out to get food.