Entries from July 2002

We’re Back

After an unexpected switcheroo at the network centre, the BeatnikPad should be back on the air after a couple of hours of downtime. How perturbing.

A message from Oz

The traffic around these parts has been rather elevated these days (as has my ego). This 15 minutes of giddiness is largely due in part to the BeatnikPad being spotlighted over at the Movable Type Web site.

What's Movable Type, you ask? Well, it's a bunch of things, but the most important one these days is that it's the engine that makes this site work. The design is all mine (and don't steal it or I'll send Dom Deluise over to your house to smooch you into a convulsing wreck - kidding, sort of), but the main piece that actually gets the words from my brain onto your screen is Movable Type.

You probably already know all of this. as you're probably already one of the, er, "movies" who's switched over to Movable Type from some other lesser journaling software. If you haven't, do yourself a favour (and this isn't just reciprocal linking) and download it for a test run.

It will change your life, make you more attractive to the opposite sex, clean your washroom, rotate your tires, retype your dissertation for you, drive your annoying mother-in-law to her dentist appointment, teach you how to play pentatonic solos like Yngwie Malmsteem (not to mention help you grow your hair like him), and fill you with a deep sense of bliss and fulfillment.

Well, it will save you from the hell of having your precious blog hosted by some other, much more unreliable service, and it has an astounding range of abilities. That, my friends, is precious. The Movable Type creators - Mena, creative pixelologist and Ben, swank code orchestrator are also swell, helpful people. Send them some of your pizza money.

(I haven't really sent Movable Type enough hosannas lately, which provoked this fawning post. Ttrust me: it deserves it. There's still small, niggling problems, but what software doesn't have a few? Heck, at least it isn't Windows, folks.)

Ordinary Independence

Today was a day just like every other that has gone before it; ordinary, but at the same time, somehow unique and beautiful.

It was a slow start. It always is a slow start, because I am not and never have been a good morning person. I farted around the house (not literally) wasting time, firing up the computer to check e-mail even though I was going to sit in front of my work computer in less than an hour. My morning ritual when I was a full-time freelance was: put on coffee. Feed cats. Check e-mail. Shower. Drink coffee while reading the news section. Old habits die hard.

I dashed out the door at the last possible moment, thinking I'd somehow make the bus in time. I never do, of course. Got to work late and spent a while talking with my friend and co-worker, who just went through the heartbreaking task of having to euthanize his dog.

We spoke about pets, and how strange it is that we as a society understand the necessity of euthanasia w/r/t our pets, but not people. I thought about how cruel it is that we willingly enter into these deeply intimate relationships, fully knowing that we will outlive our companions.

Work was uneventful. All of the other instructors are off on summer vacation, leaving just the people that will be teaching the new program that I'm also a part of. It's very still and serene at work after the chaos of students scrambling to finish final projects. I like it. It's refreshing to be able to finally hear your own thoughts after working in corporate environments more noisy than productive.

Came home, worked a bit on a freelance project, read some more of my book, played with the cats, hung out with Renée - typical after work stuff. A lot more inconsequential stuff occurred, which I won't bore you with (as if this post isn't inconsequential to begin with).

Ordinary days are treasures.

Wishing all of our American friends and visitors a safe, happy, and heat-free Independence Day.

Company Kilns and Kitty Psychology

As promised, I've stopped accepting participants for the Letter Project. Muchas gracias to everyone who signed up and/or linked to the project during the opening phase. I'll be in contact soon with updates and details to those of you who expressed interest.

What have I been up to this week? Work, of course, plus some freelancing. More importantly, however, there's been a return to relaxing and an injection of desperately needed vitality into the anemic social life. It feels great to finally have time to just be, as clichéd as that sounds. I received an e-mail from an old friend who's coming to visit soon. In it, she expressed her eagerness at spending time with people who aren't "baking their hearts in company kilns."

Now that I have been released from the corporate life, I can safely say that I am my own man again. Having the freedom to decide how one's day will unfold is a powerful thing. I am thankful.

Seeing as some of you fancy yourselves to be knowledgable in all things feline, help me with this distressing problem: what to do with a neurotic cat who sometimes decides to turn everyday objects (a futon, a blanket, a boot mat, a section of the floor) into an outlet for his internal angst? (Read: He peed on them.)

(Clarification for those who care: We've gotten him tested for internal glitches and all that came out okay, though he did have a bout of struvit crystals when we first got him four years ago. I'm positive that his erroneous emissions are the result of some Woody Allen-esque neuroses. Is there a cat shrink in the house?)


Sometimes I panic. It doesn't happen often. It's really annoying.

I'll be sitting in class, or at my computer at work, and from out of nowhere an insistent voice will start nipping at me.

Did you forget to put the iron back after you used it? Was it still plugged in? Does the iron have an auto off function? Did you leave the coffee maker? How about the stove? Did you leave that on after making that disaster of an omelet? Is the apartment burning down right this second, destroying not only all of your precious crap, but also all of your neighbour's stuff? Yes, even the stuff of the obnoxious caretakers and the people next door who blast their classic rock at inhuman levels. And your beautiful but illict cats, kept even though it's against the apartment rules - how about them? And all of the other illicit cats in the building, and that parakeet in apartment 6? How about it, you bastard?

Visions of the apartment reduced to rubble flood my mind, with a surly fire chief standing over the charred remains of our papasan chair, shaking his head: "Some goof left his iron on. I see it all too often." The cats gone, my burgeoning collection of Nigerian funk music CD's melted, my favorite "Rolando" shirt a vintage briquette.

I've added "check the stove and iron before leaving" to my morning ritual.

Or your money back!

The BeatnikPad Money Back Guarantee

I, Neil Lee, being of righteous bluster and tangetial majesty, solemnly do swear that:

i) There will be no posts herein which mention the words "journalism", "blogging", and "the future of online writing" (or such babbleclop) in the context of the Web. That is, except for this one.

ii) There will be no speaking of myself in the third person, or utilizing the royal "we". At least, not very much.

iii) There will be no posts whatsoever which tells you, in no uncertain terms, "what abba member am I?", or "what Rat Pack member am I?" or "what disposable razor am I?", or even "what boreal lichen or mold am I?". I know that no one cares: not even me.

iv) If I ever post my "Blogger code", may I be whipped repeatedly with a large portrait of Jimmy Walker while wearing a rather gothic-looking pair of lederhosen. I mean, that's only one step away from telling everyone what my dexterity, strength, hit points, and charisma scores are. And that's frightening.

v) Posts about Star Trek (Next Generation or otherwise) are strictly prohibited. End of story. (Posts making fun of William Shatner are allowed, though.)

vi) I reserve the right to post images of my cats or any other animal I choose, as long as I balance it with an image elsewhere of something that kicks ass.

vii) Coming soon: more crankiness! More perturbed punditry! More riboflavin! Same great taste.

Your satisfaction guaranteed, or your money back. Every penny. On that you have my word.

So take off all your clothes

Quick little tidbits today, because every second this computer is on warms up an already baking apartment. +44 today with the humidity factored in (not like anyone not in Winnipeg cares).

  1. This prediction is proof that meteorologists are behind one of the biggest scams ever.
  2. Remote-throwing event of the week: Channel surfing by the MTV 2002 Movie Awards, and being treated to the horror of Pearl Harbor not only being nominated and winning for "Best Action Sequence", but also the vomitus-inducing acceptance speech by hack director Michael Bay. (Said in a pure "I'm too cool for this fucking award" LA accent, and I'm paraphrasing, but only just):
    Thanks to MTV, this is where I got my start, thanks to the cast and crew, blah blah blah, and the 3000 people who lost their lives. See ya.
    What he meant to say was, "Thanks to the 3000 people who lost their lives - we couldn't have done it without you." I say: WTF?

    (Sad prediction): In three years, there will be some hot shot, talentless director giving an acceptance speech for a terrible, overwrought, in horrifically bad taste movie about 9/11. And I will take my TV and toss it out the window.

  3. Did I mention it's hot?
  4. I once was obsessed with spinach. Now it's asparagus. What's wrong with me?
  5. Nominee for bad summer wear decision: I saw a rather, er, robust woman standing in Osborne Village today wearing a pair of shorts which had the following words silkscreened on her ass: Art Classique.

After life

afterLife.jpgGood lord, if you want to see a movie that is not only achingly beautiful, but also thought-provoking, soulful, and almost balletic in its execution, get your butt off of the couch and rent After Life (called "Wandafuru raifu", or "Wonderful Life" in its native Japan).

I haven't seen a movie this good in a very long time. Wow.

The story follows one week in a "way station somewhere between Heaven and Earth". The recently deceased are given three days to choose one memory from their life (and one memory only) to relive. They're assisted in this evaluation of their life by caseworkers, who slowly help coax out the memory by asking questions, retrieving "video tapes" of the person's life, etc. Once the memory has been chosen, it is recreated and filmed, and then the person moves on to "Heaven" to relive the memory forever.

The movie raises some very deep questions. How can a person summarize an entire lifetime in one memory? What would that memory be for you? What defines our happiness, and how does one reconcile a life of regret?

Because I've watched a ton of movies (from being a short-lived movie reviewer, and also because I worked as a movie rental clerk for quite a while), it's quite hard for me to be emotionally moved by a film - especially the sledgehammer subtlety of movies out of the Hollywood system. One just gets used to sensing the buildup that comes with scenes that could inspire a teary response.

This movie moved me, and moved me deeply. Do yourself a huge favour and rent this one. It's the best thing I've seen in a very, very long time.

Incredibly intimate, personal, and possibly impossible to answer, but if you had to choose one memory to relive for the rest of your life, could you?


Almost two years ago, while I was living hundreds of miles away, my grandmother fell down the stairs.

It was a freakish accident. She had been vaccuuming the entryway in her home and somehow had gotten tangled up in the electrical cord. At least, that's what I think happened. I don't believe she remembers the events of that day at all. Ever since then, she hasn't been the same.

» Housecleaning continues...


Updates will probably be scarce over the next week or so. I'm taking off for a bit of a vacation to Montreal (again) and won't be back around this neck of the woods until the first weekend of August.

I'll eat some bagels and mispronounce some French for you. While I'm away, check out the web love area for some compelling linkage... and keep smiling. Thanks for reading.

(Edit: Okay, I updated the web love area, just to make it worth your while. Well, maybe.)

Heat and Plastic Surgery

Salut from Montreal! I'm hanging out in the McGill University bookstore to escape the heat and mugginess - it's sweltering out there. Still, this city is so amazing. There's so much stuff going on it's almost overwhelming.

Here's a strange note I found saved on the desktop of this computer. Very strange:

To all the winners of the F.R.C.S © title:

1. Congratulations. You should be very proud of yourselves.

2. I will be happy to mail you the notes of the next year facial plastic course to help you with your American exam. If you are interested, E-mail me your address.

3. Also, I will appreciate it if you take only 5 minutes of your time to write down, very quickly, the questions on facial plastic surgery that you remember from your written or oral exam. This will help me to help future residents like yourselves.

(Stupid computer! It only has Internet Explorer 4 installed!)

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