Things That Make Me Say “Damn” part 1


TV: The Office

I originally got turned on to this short-lived BBC series via Lana and her frequent declarations of love. With its combination of office politics, strange human behaviour, and cubicle humour, it seemed like a natural. It helps too that Renée has a deep, undying love of British humour, a love which I generally share, though I’ve never understood her appreciation for Kevin Turvey Investigates.

The first episode was funny, but didn’t bowl me over, but by the second episode it was obvious that this was destined to become a home crowd favourite. How could you not love exchanges like this:

Gareth: What ones (catch phrases) are yours that I use?
David: Same shit, different day, that’s mine. Exsqueeze me, instead of excuse me.
Tim: Wank you very much.
David: Yeah, I invented that.

This is possibly the first show I’ve ever watched where I cannot stand watching more than one episode at a time. This is even though we have the entire first season on DVD, and each episode is only 30 minutes, which practically invites devouring the entire season in one sitting.

But no. This is mainly due to the infuriating personalities of the Wernham Hogg crew, who simultaneously make me laugh so hard it hurts, and frustrate me because they are so… infuriatingly evocative. This is really the show’s strength: the ability to be both shit-your-pants hilarious, and at the same time maddening beyond belief as it reminds you of past office horrors. Damn good.

cinema display

Geek: Apple 20-inch Cinema Display

This is now the best monitor I have ever used. It’s huge and bright, with great colour fidelity and clarity. With my educational discount this was the same price that I paid two and a half years ago for my previous display (the aforementioned 17-inch studio display), which shows you how much prices have tumbled.

What truly impressed me, however, was Apple’s customer service. I ordered this display online at the Apple Store at 6pm on a Wednesday, opting for the free ground delivery which the site estimated would take “8-12 business days”.

The next day I checked my order to see if it was in the system, and the monitor was already in Winnipeg. Apple had sent my order on the over-night plane from the U.S., and it was sitting at the FedEx depot waiting to go through customs. By Friday morning, approximately 36 hours after I placed my order, I had received my display. Again, and I can’t stress this enough: this was ordered after standard office hours using the free shipping option. Very cool.


Film: Les Triplettes de Belleville

This movie is just great. It’s totally inventive, original, and very funny, with amazing character design and a look that is both nostalgic and forward-looking. I’m especially impressed by the fact that the film has almost no dialogue whatsoever - everything is communicated through facial expression and sound, but very little words.

The opening sequence alone is worth the price of admission, and even though the ending is a bit draggy, I left the theatre feeling like I had just experienced something unique and brilliant. For those of you who believe that watching a foreign film means The Full Monty, don’t be scared off by the apparently inscrutable quality of this film. It’s surreal, strange, and unusual, but still manages somehow to be accessible.

Best response heard on leaving the movie: “That was amazing, but too French.” Check out the trailer, and the official web site.


Music: Tascam US-122

I’m a big geek, but when it comes to music I tend to be more of an analog kind of guy. Much of my past recording experience revolving around 1-inch tape, analog mixing boards, and the lost art of mic placement. Steve Albini, man!

I’ve slowly been changing this amish attitude towards computers and music, helped along by a growing appreciation for DJ culture and sampling. To kick off my new-found digital music interest, I went out this weekend shopping for a way to get all of my beloved traditional instruments (guitar, bass, piano, accordian - woohoo!) into the computer. Enter the Tascam US-122.

It’s relatively cheap, has lots of ways to get sound in and out (2 XLRs, 1/4-inch line-ins, phantom power, stereo in / outs, direct monitoring), and from my limited experimentation it has great sound. It’s also solidly built and seems to work well under Mac OS 10.3.2, which is definitely good.

My big complaint is the software bundle it comes with. In the box is Cubasis (which only runs in OS 9) and Tascam GigaStudio (which only runs in Windows). There’s no software included that runs under OS 10, which really sucks. I guess that just means I’ll have to start learning about the different editing platforms out there, though I’m leaning more and more towards Cubase - everyone I’ve spoken to says it’s great.

I considered buying the Protools Mbox setup, which was quite a bit more expensive, but comes with a kick-ass bundle, but was dissuaded by the closed-nature of Protools, plus the fact that this interest in digital recording could end up being another one of my short-lived hobbies. No sense pumping a ton of money into something that I lose interest in in about six months…

But, yeah. The Tascam unit is great. I got mine for around $250, which isn’t too bad compared to the other possibilities. The M-Audio USB MobilePre was the other contender, but wasn’t in stock, plus doesn’t support MIDI, which I don’t use yet. You never know; I could be the next Beck; a Chinese Howard Jones-in-waiting, but with cooler hair.

So you may start seeing some MP3s of my sonic experiments with digital recording appear on this site. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

ISSN 1499-7894
Recent Posts
Contact Archives Web Love Writing Photos FAQs Home