Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Eva, and The Rest

Yesterday I took a very brief trip to Hamilton to visit my sister and her baby. They decided to call her Eva. I love this name. Its etymology traces back to the essence of living. She is understandably tiny at the moment, and I can't wait to watch her grow up. Didn't get any pictures, sadly, because we didn't have a lot of time or space to work with.

I'm planning on spending half of this coming weekend in Hamilton and the other half here in Guelph. I have my first final (Philosophy) on Monday and I plan to get together with some buds on Sunday afternoon for a study group. In the meantime I'm laboriously forcing out one final Languages of the Media paper about YouTube as a cultural phenomenon and important emerging medium. I should be enjoying this more but I'm feeling kind of burned out on assignments. Just about every day I'm thinking of more things I can't wait to do with my spare time over Christmas.

Pete and I are having conflicting ideas around the projects we want to work on for BeattRock, which is why I haven't been talking about that. Hopefully we reach a decision soon.

I'm sitting in the library right now, but am probably going to have to change location to my room because I'm running low on battery life. It's too bad, I like the library...there's a guy sitting at the table across from me who looks a lot like Vin Diesel. Coolness.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Very Best Early Christmas Present

Oh man, my weekend was so awesome. I guess I didn't do a whole lot, but hey, I had fun. Friday night Pete and I took the same bus back to Hamilton and watched an episode and a half of 24. I couldn't get into it because it was somewhere in the middle of Season 3 and I've only ever seen a couple other random episodes from various points in the time line. It passed the time though. Saturday night we went to see our buddy Luke who we haven't seen since the summer. Despite how insistent I've been about wanting a Wii, playing Gears of War on Luke's XBox 360 really shook up my plans. The game is graphically beautiful, the sound spectacular, and the gameplay is nice although hard to get into quickly. I imagine the learning curve on it is pretty high, and...

I think it's interesting to preserve the authenticity of this post, so I'm not changing what I've written up to this point, except for the title. I was in mid-sentence at the bottom of the previous paragraph and didn't finish it because something far more important came up while I was writing it.

Tonight, my sister Rebecca gave birth to a baby girl who wasn't expected to be born until December 24th. At first I was shocked and concerned but then my mum told me that Rebecca and the baby are fine, both healthy. The baby weighs around 5 pounds. They don't have a name for her as of yet because, well, they weren't expecting her for another month. There is not much else to say about it at this point though; I'm taking an emergency trip into Hamilton tomorrow morning to visit them in the hospital. I hope to take a picture, and if I do I'll certainly post it up. I don't know about everyone else but I for one am very surprised by this, and at the same time very relieved that everything seems to have worked out. I'll update on this soon.

I dedicate this post to two people: my niece who has just entered the world, and to my friend Sarah whose comments on this blog have encouraged me to keep writing many times; she is quite sick, and I'm hoping she feels much better soon.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Breaking a Good Hobbit

I've been following the whole tussle between Newline Cinema and Peter Jackson over the filming of The Hobbit. Basically the whole issue was, they had a disagreement over some of the money that The Fellowship of the Ring raked in. This dispute was still going on until recently, when Newline more or less told Jackson, "Look, we'll let you have it your way, you can have the money IF you sign this contract to film The Hobbit." And Peter Jackson, whose Lord of the Rings films grossed $2.92 billion worldwide and won 17 Oscars, and whose King Kong remake was funded with $20 million upfront and eventually earned well over $600 million, told them where to go. He and his wife decided they didn't want to start making a film with that kind of bias behind it. In a letter posted on, Jackson said,
When you agree to make a film, you’re taking on a massive commitment and you need to be driven by an absolute passion to want to get the story on screen. It’s that passion, and passion alone, that gives the movie its imagination and heart. To us it is not a cold-blooded business decision.
Newline decided they wanted to get started on making The Hobbit right away, so they're now seeking out other directors. One person they're considering is Sam Raimi of Evil Dead and Spiderman fame.

Now don't get me wrong, I love Sam Raimi's work, but anyone besides Peter Jackson directing a Lord of the Rings film is an incredibly upsetting prospect. I, along with a bajillion other fans, am really irked about this. Although, there is a reference in this article stating that this matter is probably not over yet, which is somewhat hopeful.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I'm pretty behind on this story, but the internet's abuzz right now with conversation about this controversial video on YouTube. I'm going to provide the video but I must warn you that it is rather disturbing and profane. But this is something I think people need to see to be aware of the kinds of things that are going on.

The story behind this is that a 23 year old persian student named Mostafa Tabatabainejad refused (several times) to show his ID in his school library. (I guess under the grounds that the "random check" wasn't so random and he was being targeted because of his race, he thought.) So he refused to leave the library and the police were called. A confrontation began and they ended up tasering or tasing him (not sure what the correct terminology there is, but the point is they used a taser.) The footage, all shot with a random bystander's camera phone, shows the cops demanding again and again that the man "get up" and when he doesn't, (because, of course, the point of a taser is to incapacitate targets) they take it to him again and again. Several students ask the officers for their badge numbers, and near the end one of them tells an inquiring student to back off "or you'll be tased too."

Here's the footage:

As I said, this upsetting footage has been sparking a lot of conversation about police brutality and the use of stun guns, as well as racism. There is also a rumor circulating now that Tabatabainejad provoked the situation on purpose so he could sue the police. I question, though, how he could know that they would use excessive force. That said, it is likely that he was at least looking for a fight of some kind. Well, he got it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Baby Show and Double Oh

I want to make a post but don't really have anything to say. Life goes on as usual. I'm faced with a pretty easy week. I have no major assignments due this week, and no tests. Next week is, I believe, more or less my last week of real classes. Ok, so I don't actually know at this point, but it might be. I do have a major Languages of the Media assignment due next Thursday though, and that is my primary concern at the moment. I'll talk about it another time when I have more to say about it.

I had a great weekend. Pete and I hopped on a bus Friday night that took us straight to McMaster. We watched Hard Candy during the ride, which I had already seen but still had lurking on my hard drive. I think it's a really good movie. Peter's response was, "it's so messed up." That's pretty accurate. Saturday night, Rockwell and I and Paul went to see Casino Royale. I was apprehensive when I found out that Daniel Craig was the new Bond, because he didn't strike me as being anything like Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan. But that turned out not to be a bad thing, because he brought his own things to the performance which is, in my opinion, one of the best skills an actor can have - especially when it comes to playing a character like Bond. People are calling Casino Royale the best 007 movie in years, and while I'm not enough of a James Bond guru to agree or disagree, I can tell you that it's very, very good. No complaints about the new Bond girl Eva Green either!
After the movie the 3 of us returned to the Rockwell lair and played Poker with almonds as chips.

On Sunday my mom was hosting a baby shower for my sister, Rebecca, whose baby (most likely a girl) is due on Christmas Eve. I told my mum I'd help out, that's what most of my day was spent doing. During the party I was charged with keeping watch over the toddler-aged daughter of one of the ladies at the party. Alexandra is my sister's husband's brother's little girl. I tried to entertain her with Photobooth, and was interested to see if it actually would capture her interest. (Which I thought would be funny because it suggests that people of all ages love to look at themselves.) She made some faces at herself, and I managed to snap a couple good pictures.

During my spare time on the weekend I enjoyed playing some WoW, and made the first real progress on my druid, Bothar, since I started school in September. I've got a big WoW post planned for when he hits 60. Currently, he lies in wait in Thunder Bluff at level 57. The Burning Crusade comes out January 8th, and there is currently a raging debate inside my head over whether I would rather spend money on that or a Wii, or something else entirely.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Fight in Your World, Pay for Ours

The PS3 has been launched. Outside of WalMarts, Bestbuys and Future Shops across North America, people have rioted, gone into labour, been robbed, beaten, injured, stabbed, shot, and killed. It all makes Sony's arrogance seem a little more justified. You can buy one for 600 USD...that is of course before taxes, and with only one controller and no games.

More specific stories are available at, which is my new source for practically everything. It's another website Pete showed me, and I'm now reading the new articles pretty well every day. It's amazing how much drama the video game industry creates in the US alone.
(I'll add it, along with several other resources to my sidebar link collection sometime...eventually...when I feel like it I guess. It's just kind of time-consuming and html is my nemesis.)

Even though it's also on GP, I just have to link to this Foxtrot comic which is such a perfect illustration of the real problem that politicians don't seem to understand: the fact that there is a rating system (in fact, here's their website) that parents are seemingly oblivious to.

Random comment: I also read in Heather Armstrong's blog recently that she was interviewed on CNN...which is pretty cool. I hope I remember to check that out. (Date TBA.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dilemma. Naivety Sucks.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this blog and blogs in general lately. The other day it occurred to me how monumentally naïve I've been. I thought I could have a blog that people would read if it merely talked about things other than myself. But the truth is, people have lives. They're not going to read your blog for news that they could just as easily find on Slashdot or someplace else. And building a successful blog that a lot of people read involves a LOT of work. And it's not as if I couldn't do it, but I don't think I'm prepared to. It also involves sacrifice, because writing what a lot of people would want to read wouldn't necessarily be what I feel like writing about. That's the dilemma. Write about what I feel like and go mostly unheard, or write other stuff and get more feedback. It's a tough call.

I thought of starting another blog to maintain alongside of this one, but it would be more professional and on a particular topic. The thing is, I haven't thought of a suitable topic yet that I would enjoy talking about and that other people would also want to read. So if I think of something, maybe I'll do that...if not, then maybe not. We'll see. For the moment I'll just continue on with what I've been doing.

Not looking forward to my Sociology midterm tomorrow. I think it will be easier than the last one though, and I'll be better prepared. Speaking of being prepared, I ran out of money on my meal plan today. I'm going to find out tomorrow how to get more credit; I probably have to bring them a personal check. If that's the case I'll be eating as little as possible for the rest of the week...gotta save my cash for more important things, like this. (4 days 'til release.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A WoW Survey

I filled out this survey on the World of Warcraft General Forum today. I'm posting it up because I think it asks some important questions. At the end of this month I have to submit a culminating paper for Languages of the Media about a cultural phenomenon. I'd like to talk about MMOs, and specifically my own experience with World of Warcraft. On the message board I invited the guy doing the survey to contact me by email to discuss the topic a bit. I hope he does. Anyway, here's the survey... (Brace yourself, it's long.)

Real life age, sex/gender, profession (optional)
18, M, currently unemployed (undergrad student)

Name, sex, class and professions of your main character
Bothar, male tauren druid. skinning and herbalism

Do you have any alts? If so what are they?
Too many.
Renfrew - 44 dwarf rogue
Exodus - 35 NE druid
Flaumag - 17 orc shaman
Ripclod - 37 orc warrior
and dozens more, mostly under level 20

How many hours a week do you play MMO's? What types of things keep you from playing as long as you want?
It varries, sometimes for 9 or 12 hours and sometimes not at all. School, family, and friends take priority, always.

Why do you play World of Warcraft? What is your favorite thing about World of Warcraft? What you dislike about World of Warcraft?
Because it's addictive. My favorite thing is the interaction among people. I dislike what it can do to people when they take it too seriously.

How did you hear about World of Warcraft?
Through a friend.

How long have you played MMO's? Have you played any MMO's other than WoW? What is your favorite MMO? Why?
WoW's my first MMO, but I would like to try new ones when they come out.

Do you play strictly on the Alliance or the Horde? Do you feel any affinity for one group over the other? Why?
Nope. I have very fond memories of playing on both sides in my early days.

What types of server do you prefer? Why?
PVP and RP-PVP. Because I love competition with others, and from time to time I like letting my inner geek flourish.

How important is the virtual community to you?
Quite. I love the community. I think it plays a big role in what keeps drawing me back to this game.

Do you consider yourself a member of the gamer "fandom?" If so, what do you believe gamer culture consists of?
This is your important question, right? I'm certainly not as hardcore as some people, but I do try to keep up with what's going on. Your second question is a little vague, but I think the culture consists of some interesting reflections of non-virtual hegemonic values.

Have you purchased any WoW merchandise? What have you purchased? Have you read the WoW books and/or manga? What do you think of them?
Yeah, I bought a shirt once. It was too small.

Have you seen any MMO fan works (i.e. fan art, fan videos, fan comics etc.)? If so, which are your favorites? Why?
Of course. Hard to choose/recall a favorite, but the Illegal Danish series is great because it's hilarious, and I also like PVP videos. Good ones.

Have you created any MMO fan work? If so, what?
No, but I'd totally make a PVP vid if I had more than 512 megs of RAM and could run Fraps.

How important is lore to you? Why?
Fairly important....I like the story, and it's fun to get immersed in it sometimes, especially when you're creating a character in your mind.

Has playing MMO's lead to any disagreements with people in your real life?
Oh yes. Nothing too serious though.

Do you think there are any gender or racial issues evident in WoW? If so, what are they?
Like I said, anything like this that exists in game is a relfection of what real life can be like. Some people truly hate the other faction for instance, or strongly believe that there are very few real-life females playing the game, and so on.

Additional Questions:

How do you feel about the stigma certain games (such as WoW) have recieved because of player addiction?
I think it's a legitimate problem that merits investigation, but I don't think anyone should be jumping to conclusions and boycotting a game or MMOs in general before more research is done.

What's your opinion on alternate economies (i.e. gold farming, ebay accounts etc.)?
I think anything like that that affects the essential components of gameplay should always be subject to the rules of the developer, in this case Blizzard.

In some forums I've frequented, younger players are looked down upon. Do you believe this is the case with WoW?
Sometimes, but not as a rule. It depends on the individual. Isolated incidents don't represent dominant beliefs of this community.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Thanks but no thanks!

My blog has officially been graced with the consistent unwanted presence of nasty evil spam. Seriously, ew. You people can't see it because I'm using this setting where I get to moderate every comment that comes in and have to approve it before it gets published. So the spam just all gets rejected. But it's still so annoying, mostly because before I realized what it was I was totally thrilled that I had 5 comments in my inbox. Scoundrels.

Oh, and something I forgot to mention in my previous post: Rockwell and I didn't do any filming on the weekend because he forgot the camera in Guelph. Yeah, I was mad at first, but then I forgave him. It's cool. I finally got ahold of a tripod, (did I mention that already? Whatever, my dad actually had one kicking around - woot!) and we're hoping to do some shooting during the week.

Internets, abound!

I've got a smattering of things to write about tonight. Lately I've been trying to enrich my internet experience by bolstering my repertoire of sites that I check almost compulsively on a daily basis. (I mean, I respect Mark Zuckerberg and all, but there's something about Facebook that's just starting to make me sick.)

When I come to Hamilton on the weekends I really enjoy watching G4 Tech TV - especially Call for Help with Leo Laporte. Featured on this show, apart from the all-knowing Leo, is my new hero: Amber MacArthur. Well, not my hero exactly...but let's just say I envy her career.

I applied for membership at this site called ReviewMe. The way it works is bloggers will list themselves in a directory organized by sections ranging from Technology to Babies. Then advertisers can pick a blogger from the selection and pay them to write a review for their product. So if your blog gets a lot of pageviews and you're linked to on other pages, you're worth more to an advertiser because more people will see the review. I think this is a brilliant idea. Talk about a good way to earn some extra cash! The only requirement is that you basically have a really top-notch blog that a lot of people read. Anyway, my blog got rejected right away for not meeting the minimum criteria. That's why I'm trying hard to make a transiton from totally personal stuff like "what a bad day I had", to stuff that is actually of use to other people.

More noteworthy blogs:
Paul Stamatiou's Tech Blog. This guy got scholarship money for his blog. He does a good job of keeping on top of stuff that's happening on the internet and other technological developments.
Indexed. I personally think this guy is a genius of sorts. There's not much I can say to explain this, you have to check it out for yourself.
dooce. This is one I've actually known about for quite awhile but haven't ever mentioned. Heather "dooce" Armstrong is a lady from Utah whose blog is so popular that it supports her family. It's not really about anything besides her own issues, but if nothing else she's a terrific writer and takes really excellent pictures.

And two more websites I must mention...(sorry this is all random and disorganized)
Fandalism is basically YouTube...except for music! You can upload music and then put it on your webpage or whatever you need to do. I haven't looked at this in a lot of detail yet, so that's really all I know.
And lastly: BoingBoing. This site is awesome. They describe themselves as "a directory of wonderful things". It provides a steady stream of news items or internet-items that range from being funny to just downright weird.

Ok, I'm done. I think. I'm sorry this entry has so many links in it, I know it can be annoying to read articles where every other word wants to take you somewhere else. But it's just all so interesting!

Led Zeppelin's making me very happy lately, especially Ten Years Gone and The Rain Song. My weekend was spent playing some WoW, hanging out/playing pool with Peter and Paul, and surfing the web, of course. Tomorrow it's back to the daily grind. I basically live to write papers - at least most of them aren't completely awful topics. In fact, most of them are pretty interesting, so I can't complain.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Writely So

Here are some of the interesting websites I've stumbled across lately.

JobLoft is the best site I've seen so far for helping you find a job. It's easier to use than Monster, and you don't even have to sign up to get something out of it.

Aside: What's discouraging, though, is that just about every job posted on there lists as its first requirement past experience in retail or sales or what have you. How're you supposed to get experience, then, if you aren't born with it or something? Arg.

Moving on, this might be the most interesting thing I found. Writely is yet another Google thing that lets you store documents online. (Your use your Google account, so it's all free of course.) You can also have other people make suggestions and collaborate on your project, if you want. It autosaves every 10 seconds. And yeah, you can basically edit your documents from anywhere and all you need is a browser. This could be extremely useful to me - the hard part will be getting in the habbit of using it.

Peter showed me this. Kirupa is a site with an archive of tutorials for Flash and Photoshop. The tutorials are good for somebody like me just starting out and trying to learn actionscript. (Yeah, Pete was good enough to lend me his Studio 8 disc, so I got finally got Flash, Dreamweaver and Fireworks.) At the end of a tutorial it lets you download the formula for what it just explained how to do, so all you have to do is paste it into your Flash project. Then you can edit the details as you see fit. I've been too busy this week to start poking around with it much, but I hope to this weekend.

Man, I love the internet. Anyway, last night I hopped on a bus up to Toronto to see a production of The Caretaker at Soulpepper theatre. We're studying it in Theatre, so my whole class went to check it out. I loved it, it was fantastic. I think it was my first Theatre in the Round experience, and they did some really crazy stuff with set design and lighting that made it a pretty unique experience. The closest seats to the stage were a foot or so away from it, and I was in the second row. So you were so close to the actors you could easily reach out and touch them if you were so inclined. (If you did, and you were in my class, my prof would of course eat you alive later.) I'm eventually going to have to write a paper about the set design for that production, and I'm feeling good about it because I already know pretty much exactly what I want to say.

Today I've got a couple more things to wrap up and then I should be in for a nice, free weekend. I'm planning on heading into Hamilton yet again and hopefully this time getting some shooting done for BeatRock's first project, which we've neglected for far too long in our school-induced sleep-deprived stupor. I have a sudden craving for a hot dog, but all I have in the fridge are pears.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Full House Turned Technoramble

Not much to say, but I feel like making an entry. Last week was very busy. This week's going to be moderate. I have to work on a paper this afternoon for Philosophy. It's due tomorrow. The weekend was uninteresting although very relaxing. I didn't really go out, just relaxed, which I think is what I needed. I've gotta shift back into working mode for the week though.

The house where I'm staying is fuller than ever. My land lady's family is having a small crisis, her dad's in the hospital or whatever, and so a lot of her family are living here in the house. Currently we now have: the land lady, her son, her daughter, two other students: Jason and Mike, the land lady's mother, the land lady's sister, four dogs, and seven or so cats. (I don't actually know how many there are exactly...they mostly stay in the kitchen where I never go.) I keep to myself and stay out of the way. The new puppy, (they still haven't named her) is a pee machine. Every part of the house outside my bedroom door smells like urine all the time, which is annoying, but I think this disorganization is fairly temporary. I paid my rent a week late, just today, and to make up for it I paid her for this month and December in advance. She was happy.

On the newsfront: Final Fantasy XII is out. From what I've seen it looks like they're pushing the PS2's graphics engine to its full potential. (From the looks of it: not much of a graphical improvement since the abomination that was X-2.) I can't decide if I want to play this game or not. I should probably save my money for a next-gen the Wii. I don't know, right now I'm actually feeling more inclined to buy a new desktop computer with the money I'll eventually, hopefully be making when I...eventually, hopefully get a job. Yes.

If I get a new computer, I hope it's a Mac. I think it's safe to say that I've officially been converted into an Apple person. I love my Mac, I really do. I can't imagine going back to Windows full-time. It's a functional OS, but it just doesn't have the ability to make you go, "Wow, this is so cool!" every single time you turn your computer on. Not in my experience anyway. Though, Microsoft's new OS, Windows Vista, is coming out before too long and it's supposed to be a lot like OS X as far as the UI and features go. We'll see how things turn out, but so far the only 2 real downsides to using a Mac are its incompatibility with games, and the horrible, lacking version of MSN Messenger we have to use. Not that it matters much though; new Macs come with dual-processors now anyway and can run a Windows OS if need be, no problemo.

Speaking of which, somebody really needs to bring a new instant messenger into mainstream use. I find it a little disconcerting that I've been using the same old software since the 7th grade to connect with people. I guess the public need for new instant messangers has been subdued by the advent of text messaging - a phenomenon I totally missed, and never really saw the appeal of. The only cell phone I ever owned was in my cherished posession until I left it the pocket of my khakis and it journeyed with them through the washing cycle. Incidentally, I have a cell with me in Guelph - an old Nokia from the pre-text message/camera/mp3-era. It's scuffed and dirty, and has this idiotic feature where you have to press a series of numbers in order to unlock the keys to use the phone - including turning it off. When the phone and I were first acquainted, this was a major point of contention. But now we have an agreement - I never turn it on except for when I'm using it. That's it. Good agreement. Hence my need for a new instant messanger. I haven't gotten into Skype yet, but I'm thinking that's the future.

And for some reason, I keep getting (and falling prey to) the urge to listen to Goodbye Horses by Q Lazzarus. It's that creepo song from Silence of the Lambs where Buffalo Bill does his unforgettable Mr. Dressup-Gone-Horribly-Wrong gig.