Entries from April 2002

Stupid rock tricks and other sleep deprivation experiments

I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. It's been a long, bleary-eyed four days. I think I've logged over 48 hours in front of the computer from Friday through to today... busy toiling away on a site for work with a rather immovable deadline. Lovely.

pillow.jpg Sleep deprivation is a fascinating state of mind. As Dale Cooper once said, "Sleep deprivation is a one-way ticket to temporary psychosis." I haven't lost my mind yet, but at the very least it's, well... misplaced. It's also a bit scrubbed.

The longest I ever stayed awake was the first of many tours I went on with this crappy band I was in. We did this marathon driving / playing excursion, where we somehow managed to book Edmonton to Vancouver to Calgary to Victoria, and then into the U.S, all on consecutive nights.

Now, if you listened carefully during Canadian georgraphy class (or, heck - if you're Canadian), you'll know that all of those cities are at least 10-12 hours drive from each other. That meant the methodically insane schedule consisted of:

  1. Drive to city very fast. No stops allowed, except for gas. If you had to pee or leave a porcelain deposit and didn't go at the last gas stop, tough luck.
  2. Stare at a city map intently during the drive to find the venue. Hopefully. instead of wasting valuable time driving around the city, one can sleep, and partake of arcane hygiene rituals.
  3. Drink massive, overwhelming amounts of coffee that would kill a normal human being. Musicians aren't normal humans, though; all of the internal organs of a musician are super-sized and ready for anything. That is, all organs except for the brain. Especially those of drummers.. but we won't start in on that.
  4. Try to evade ones cranky, underslept and over-caffeinated companions. Pray for a reprieve from the drummer's unending flatulence. Smoke a lot of cigarettes to mask the smell.
  5. Play a lot of crazy eight countdown. Over and over.
  6. Arrive in the city and promptly spend an hour and a half completely and utterly lost.
  7. Finally find the bar. Hump music equipment up three flights of narrow, treacherous stairs. If you're lucky, you then find out the show is still on. Watch the strippers stream in to prepare for the night's, ahem, pre-show.
  8. Eat dinner. What was normally dinner? Don't even think of going there.
  9. Play a lot of pool, drink more coffee, smoke more cigarettes, wait and wait and wait to play.
  10. Finally. Rock like you've never rocked before.
  11. Load up gear. If you're lucky you then get paid for the show. If you're even luckier the establishment actually pays you in real money and not cheap-ass portables like beer, or insincere flattery.
  12. Drive off to the next city, 12 hours away. It was usually 4am at this point.

On this particular tour I stayed conscious (saying "awake" here would be a rather unforgivable exaggeration) for a grand total of just under 120 hours. I arrived back home, collapsed into bed and slept for 26 hours straight. The problem is that I thought I had only slept for two hours. It took me a long time to get my internal clock back to a semblance of normalcy.

Rock and roll touring glamourous? Feh. Maybe if you're Creed and you have handlers and a tour manager and ridiculous backstage riders to fill your stomach and airplane tickets to fly your pampered ass everywhere. Otherwise, it's fun, but most of the time, to paraphrase Mark Twain, touring is "a good rood trip spoiled."

Goodness, look what being underslept can bring out. That's enough screeching - G' night.

On this day…

Birthday CandlesWell, kiss my grits. It's my birthday today.

For those of you keeping score, I am now 32. In other words, young enough to still make stupid mistakes, and old enough to know better.

I was gearing up to write a rather lengthy entry (boring all who gaze upon it in the process) about birthdays, and how we go through a "tipping point" when things stop being about the start of our lives, and start being about that damp, black hole in the ground... in other words, gearing up to be a total birthday bummer.

Then I thought, you've got lots of years to make miserable on your birthday - don't be a maudlin ass.

Another Photographic History Moment

Man working on SubToday's theme is history, and moments frozen in light and emulsion. First off is a recent discovery: the American National Archives and Records Administration Website. This is a veritable treasure trove of forehead-slapping cool old shit - I mean artifacts - such as the Picturing the Century collection.

There's some astounding photos here, including such historic moments as the Wright Brother's first flight, and the explosion of the USS Shaw during the Pearl Harbor attack. There's also work by bigwigs such as Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and colour work by Danny Lyon. Go now.

dickTractor.jpgThe other photographic link for today is images from the Wisconson Historical Society. It's a smaller and less ambitious collection, but still worth poking through. My favorite? This photo of Richard Nixon riding a tractor. Yeehaw!

On a personal note, big thanks and virtual squeezes to all who wished me a happy birthday via e-mail or on this site. For the record, it was a lovely, relaxing weekend, filled with scrumptious Guatemalan cuisine, good company, and big grins all around. I'm normally pretty carefree about birthdays, but this year's comes with a lot of personal baggage; it's an amazing feeling to be surrounded by so much warmth.

Lately, I've been feeling a lot like this. (mp3, 1.1 mb)

Careening

You know what is one of lifes most exhilirating feelings?

Being on the cusp of a decision that will undoubtedly change your life in a deep and meaningful way. And then stepping off of the platform and making that decision.

I love the feeling you get when you can almost physically feel yourself going past another signpost in your life... and just as you're going by it, you look back on where you've just been and see the long trail of signposts stretching out behind you.

Each one marks a point in time when your life veered of in a new, completely different direction: a move; a breakup; a birth; a death; a conscious decision to change. If you follow them from beginning to end, they form a map which describes the pathway to who you have become.

Linkin

  • More kick-ass Chinese Propoganda posters to gawk at slack-jawed.
  • Season Two of the must-see PhotoShop Tennis has already kicked off on the 5th with some ogle-worthy work by Karen Ingram and Kevin Cornell. Next up, Rinzen vs. Benfal. I'm in heaven.
  • Speaking of competitions, the Iconfactory has opened up public voting for the annual pixelpalooza icon building contest.
  • » The Great Buildings collection is a huge and well-researched resource for, well, great buildings. There's 3D models and photos of some of the world's best structures, as well as discourse on various schools of architectural styles, and the architects themselves. Lovely.

Bizarre Searches, vol. 2


More strange search requests used to arrive here:
  • the search phrase "touching chestnuts methodologic marquis saran", quickly followed by searches for "noisiness tread risked chestnuts whites" and "preimagine dismemberer phlegmy unmanner groundless". Dada-esque search poetry? If you know, Let me know.
  • "women enjoying size visual penis". Er, okay.
  • "can i have sex with the google server please". Ditto.
  • "meet people pee drinking". That's what the Web is all about: connecting strange people all over the world.
  • "shitty Website". Tada!


And to the person (or persons) who ended up on this site searching for anything related to "gory WTC photos" or "gross September 11th photos": go fuck yourself. Thanks.

Yann Tiersen: L’Absente

L'Absente CoverLike probably 99.9% of North America, I discovered Yann Tiersen through the movie Le Fabeleux Destin d'Amelié Poulain, which for me handily won the "most uplifting film of 2001" award. After discovering that most of the music on the Amelié soundtrack was from previous Tiersen releases, I purchased two copies of this album, one for me, and one for the friend that first played me the soundtrack.

Tiersen makes very ecclectic music, roaming stylistically all over the music map like a nomadic musical troubadour. Here he touches on such esoteric destinations as the Tindersticks-esque dirge of Bagatelle, the sublime loneliness of unaccompanied piano movements, and the strains of Tiersen seemingly channeling an entire circus in Le Jours d'Avant. Even with this wild mix, the music is consistently listenable, made more so by guest vocal spots by Lisa Germano, and The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon. Very interesting; I'm on the hunt for more.

The Tipping Point

Tipping PointBy: Malcom Gladwell

Gladwell believes that social phenomenon (such as the wild popularity of children's show "Blue's Clues", or the ebb and flow of teenage smoking habits) are affected by something he calls the "Tipping Point".

The tipping point is that one point where a phenomenon tips from being a small. potentially isolated sociological event to becoming a major, widespread happening. Some examples: Hush Puppies went from being a totally lame piece of footwear to becoming a massive, sought-after fashion statement. Sesame Street went from being a small, experimental children's television show to becoming an ingrained part of our childhood experience. All of these things, according to Gladwell, had their own "tipping points".

This is a fairly well written book, with some fascinating insights into a bunch of different events which Gladwell traces to discover each one's particular tipping point. I found the main problem with this book was that Gladwell sometimes over-emphasizes his point with almost too much backing information; he sometimes overwhelms the point he's trying to make and in a few spots drags things out a bit too much.

The interesting thing is, this book has also had its own tipping point. It has become a gigantic bestseller via word of mouth, incredibly savvy marketing, and some well-placed positive reviews. In addition, the term "tipping point" has started to work its way into our daily lexicon. That, more than anything else, is proof that Gladwell is onto something.

Mystery of the disappearing blogs

Okay.

WhereohWhere First, Leslie Harpold's mind-blowingly good "writing experiment" Hoopla disappears completely from the Web. Chalk it up to the complete idiocy of Network Solutions - they apparently sold the domain to another person by accident (!). And now that person, as far as I can tell, has refused to give it back.

Now, it seems that Alison Headley's smartly-written journal bluishorange has also pulled a vanishing act. Repeated domain lookups have proved fruitless, but at least from the WHOIS it seems she still owns it (thank goodness). I've noticed, however, that the whois puts her domain as expired Feb. 12th of this year - could she have forgotten to pay for the renewal? Yikes.

Conspiracy, or rampant stupidity (on the part of registrars, not the bloggers)? Or are my ISPs domain name servers just totally oblivious?

Update: Dean Allen's Textism has some of the skinny on the hoopla.com hoopla: here, and then an update here. There's a rather large and ongoing MetaFilter thread that Leslie has been contributing to. And Cory at BoingBoing says, "Let's put NetSol to death.". Hear hear. I am very angry.

x-change

(A bit of a caveat: this entry talks a lot about Canadian stuff that may be of little or no interest to some of the BeatnikPad's international visitors. Apologies.)

I watched the second half of a rather fascinating documentary this weekend on the CBC. The CBC's documentary program Rough Cuts broadcast "X-Change", which followed the experiences of two young men who "trade places".

The Poutinecatch (for there always is one) is that one of the men is a young, brash Albertan, who from what I could tell was a fairly heavy right-winger, and deeply anglophone and not ashamed of it. The other was a hardcore separatist from Montreal, Quebec, who speaks both officlal languages but believes that Anglo Canada is "suffocating his culture"; he believes Quebec should vote "Oui" and separate from Canada. The Albertan went to Montreal for a couple of weeks, the Quebecker to Alberta.

It made for some really interesting dynamics as the two men got used to their new environments, while at the same time attempted to assert their own polarized viewpoints. The Quebecker seemed to be a genuinely friendly guy, who repeated said, "It's not like I / we hate Canadians: we just want to protect our culture. Assimilation into an English culture is killing our language, and putting our unique culture into jeopardy."

The backbacon guy from Alberta, on the other hand, was too young, not very well-informed, and just too damn arrogant. He opens the show with the quote, "I speak English. I live in an English country. I figure [in Montreal] that'll be good enough." His friends weren't very sympathetic, either: "Fuck them," one said during an interview at a party, "no one cares about them right now, anyway."

Another telling scene from the other perspective was when the Albertan was speaking English to an older woman while in a very pro-French Montreal neighbourhood. A man screams out at the woman en français, "Stop speaking that fucking language in my neighbourhood!"

Now, I may be a bit biased because I do have a bit of an obsession not only with French, but with all languages... but I'm completely lost on why some Canadians fight the concept of bilingualism tooth and nail. Why is it such a huge deal to learn another language? The last time I checked we were still claiming to be a bilingual country, and to have two official languages; why hasn't the government made a bigger attempt to encourage both languages throughout the country?

I do believe that French (and all world languages, to some extent) is faced with a challenge to remain "pure" in an increasingly Anglicized world - I noted with some irony that even the separatist's French was peppered with Anglicisms - but I don't believe Quebec should leave Canada, and I have some issues with the sometimes seemingly racist overtones of the separatist movement. Still, I'm totally perplexed and digusted by the reverse: a country that only playacts at being bilingual, but which provides little or no acceptance and education in both of the official languages.

Thoughts?

Careening, part two

(Welcome, Wander-Lust readers! And muchas gracias to Daphne at Phoxxe.com for the blush-worthy feature.)

I gave my notice at work today.

Now, you may, or may not have noticed a distinct lack of entries about my working life here. There's a really good reason for that. You see, two weeks after I started working at my present job, I was blogging something about Winnipeg and pickup trucks. Or was it perogi? Or the preponderance of baseball-cap wearing, massively homophobic men, and the relationship between male-pattern baldness and said caps? Something stupid like that. In the process of this, I made a somewhat snarky remark about salespeople.

» Careening, part two continues...

Bloated

I'm starting to wonder just how much information a human being can realistically hold in their noodle. I've suddenly gotten very busy over the last week. Not only am I trying to clear the decks at work before I toddle off to a new job, but now I'm faced with the daunting (yet attainable, I suppose) task of not only relearning Flash, but doing stuff that wasn't possible back when I did know how to use the darn thing...

Ow. My brain is feeling, as my girlfriend would say, "wolfingly full". Any BeatnikPad readers out there Flash experts?

Sigh. This industry waits for no one. I suppose my biggest problem with working on the Web is there's just no end to the amount of stuff to learn. You could literally spend forever trying to keep up with all of the program upgrades, new-fangled Web technologies, emerging delivery mechanisms, and lovely Website designs.

The Web is like Audrey II from that Roger Corman / Steve Martin remake of Little Shop of Horrors: constantly squeaking, "Feed me!", while we dump minutes, hours, and days into its gaping maw by the shovel-full. Methinks I need another vacation.

Patagonia, Afro-beat, and Extraterrestials

This week's roundup contains one from all three categories, just to everyone started:

Book: In Patagonia

Written by: Bruce Chatwin

inPatagonia.jpgThis is no mere travel book, but a poetic exploration of a land sequestered from the bulk of civilization; a land at the end of the world. Bruce Chatiwn's travels in Patagonia are deeply anecdotal and laconic, following an arc of experience so concise many said there was no way he could have actual been to Patagonia; that he had made it all up. Whether this is the case or not, In Patagonia is filled with a sense of detail like a laser beam. It conjures up wistful travel yearnings and delicious imagery.

Music: Talkatif

Performed by: Antibalas

talkatif.jpgAfro-beat music has always been associated closely with the man that invented it, the late Nigerian musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti. More recently, the efforts of his son Femi Kuti has expanding on the original's heady mix of horns, funk, and polyrhythmic energy, but it's Brooklyn's Antibalas which has brought a North American flavour to the genre. A 14-member collective, Antibalas seemlessly incorporates a broad variety of New York sounds (jazz, latin, funk, soul) into the Afro-beat basics of horns, driving backbeats, and infectious rhythms. Dance your ass off, and never look back.

Movie: Man Facing Southeast

(Hombre mirando al sudeste)
Directed by: Eliseo Subiela

manSE.jpgA man appears seemingly out of nowhere in an insane asylum, claiming to be from another planet. Every day he stands, facing southeast to, as he says, receive messages from his home planet. While his psychiatrist doesn't believe a word he says, the man slowly begins to have an effect on him, raising the question: is he telling the truth, or is he truly insane? This is the movie that the Kevin Spacey "let's get Kevin a best-actor Oscar" K-Pax wanted to be (and ripped off remade, to boot). Quietly intelligent, moving, emotional, and thought-provoking entertainment.

Introducing the BeatnikPad weekly roundup

With Oprah saying adieu to her long-running cash cow book club, where's a fella to find a good book these days?

beret!Okay, so I'm being facetious. Still, I love reading, music, and the movies (thus the literary / cinema inspired Website name)... and there's nothing better than word-of-mouth to find out about tidbits of cultural joy. In the interests of hopefully encouraging ya'll to share with me (and others) your latest tasty discovery, I hearby present the first of a series: The Weekly Roundup.

The Weekly Roundup will be a book, a CD, or a movie (or any combination of the three) that either you're enjoying, or recently enjoyed. It goes up every Friday, so if you're interested in participating (either by posting your own choices on your site, or posting them in the comments here), Friday is the day. Know about something delicious (or dastardly)? Share it with the me, and the BeatnikPad's visitors! Check out this week's selections.

P.S. Oh, and if you can think of a better name for this than the "Weekly Roundup" (which sounds more like something the police do when their bored, or something cowboys indulge in for sport) I'd be most appreciative. Feeling pretty uninspired today; as if that wasn't already obvious.

Hoopla returns, Dooce leaves

After a prolonged, unintentional hiatus, Leslie Harpold has returned to the land of Web publishing with a temporary site until her domain hoopla.com is returned to her.

Updated: One returns, and one leaves. Heather Hamilton, the self-proclaimed "whiny bitch", has stopped updating dooce.com.

I'd love to be able to sit here and say that artistic expression and freedom are worth all the damage they have wreaked on the personal relationships I have with family, friends, neighbors and employers, but I cannot and will not. The people in my life just aren't ready for it.

I believe that there are some things that are better left unsaid. Still, I admired her for letting it all hang out for all to see. Hope her absence isn't for too long.

Retching in their general direction / being selfish

1. Walking into the living room as Renée was channel-surfing.

2. Thinking that some hapless studio technician had accidentally put in a soap opera tape instead of ER.

3. Realizing that no, this was another one of those goddamn reality TV shows.

4. Throwing the remote at the TV while screaming fuckyoufuckyoufuckyou loudly and most insistently as we barrelled headlong in the handbasket of hell, accompanied by the foul nihilism of The Bachelor.

5. Stomping out, bellowing angrily as the television filled the living room with desperate eyes, egomaniacal male swagger, and the sounds of a once hallowed institution whimpering as it is kicked to the curb yet again.


Okay, so now I'm going to be selfish for a moment.

The chair that my ass currently sits on needs to be replaced. It's an okay looking wooden kitchen chair, with a rather smushed pillow placed on it in a useless attempt at increasing its comfort level. It causes great pain to me when I sit in front of it and work all day. Chinese people aren't know for their big, cushiony bottoms, you know.

What I want is the chair I used to sit in when I worked at Sympatico-Lycos. You got it, my butt used to grace the contours of the Mercedes of office furniture, an Aeron chair. And I want one.

Of The Chaircourse, I've got Aeron chair fantasies, but live in a crappy, hard wooden chair reality. A guy I work with gave me an idea, though. He used to work for one of the gigantic monsters of the dot-com world, and he told me that when they did slash and burn layoffs, they just packed truckloads of office furniture and computer equipment and threw it all away. Dumped it at the dump. He got a 22" studio display for something like 400 bucks, the bastard.

So, I'm thinking that there's gotta be some way I can take advantage of the probably high number of orphaned Aeron chairs out there. But, being in Canada I'm sure there's not as plentiful a-pickin's as in the U.S. Anyone want to help me realize my dream and help me find, er, affordable housing?

I sit a size "B". My butt will thank you profusely.

All American Ads, and a magazine

This week's Weekly roundup (again, I really have to think of a more Beatnik-esque name; I feel like such a hick when I say "roundup") is split over two of my sites, more for proper categorization than anything. I'm funny that way.

50sAds.jpg

Book: All-American Ads: 50's

Edited by Jim Heinmann

This gi-normous tome (which weighs more than the Winnipeg yellow pages - I checked) clocks in at over 920 pages, contains over 1400 illustrations, and contains exactly what you would expect: ads. It contains pages and pages of gloriously nostalgic and entertaining fluff from the Atomic Age. I'm nearly swooning with the halcyon-ness of it all...

Lovingly assembled and digitally mastered, the pages of this book harken back to the days when cigarettes were still good for you and your sense of social well-being... when Pomade hair creme was still the doo-styling assistant of choice for discerning men, and when cars were cast from nothing but the stoutest American steel. This is the real deal, folks. If you love old stuff (as I admittedly do) or if you just looking for inspiration or a trip down ad-memory lane, pick this baby up. (With both hands - we wouldn't want you to hurt yourself). German art book wunderkinds Taschen do it again, and for a reasonable price, too. (Don't forget to check out the companion book of the series, All-American Ads: 40's.)

Magazine: Dynamic Graphics

Magazine's Web site: http://www.dgusa.com/dgm/

If you're at all interested in print and / or Web design and layout, you owe it to yourself and your career to check this magazine out. Head over to my freelance business site (under heavy resdesign at the moment) to the reBlog if this kind of thing tickles your fancy.

Erfurt

It's incredible to watch and terrible to behold just how deep a horror one broken person can inflict on a nation. Speechless.

Vacation ideas wanted

Alrighty, folks: I've got 18 lovely, blissful days off between jobs, starting May 3rd. I don't think I'm going to make it out to Spain (even though I REALLY WANT TO) because of that great old thing known as the Great Canadian Airline Monopoly.

Last year at this time I went to France and Spain and my return flight cost $550.

I've checked a bunch of ticket costs, and the cheapest flight I could fine to Paris was $1200.

As I type these sad, bitter words, Rufus Wainwright is musing softly about Barcelona:

Got to get away from here, I think I know which hemisphere
Crazy me don't think there's pain in Barcelona.

So, I ask you, my friends: where should I go that's not terribly expensive, and a pleasant, relaxing place to wash work out of my hair?


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