Friday, February 27, 2009

Religion / Religoff

If I had to turn to a religion, it would be Buddhism. It seems to be the only one that is concerned with how things are (or aren't), rather than how we wish they were.

Oh and I'm happy to see that the atheist bus campaign has started in Toronto. I'm less happy, though not surprised, that a lot of people have a problem with it. Up until now, there have been countless church signs and ads for various forms of Christianity plastered all over the place. They explicitly attack other beliefs systems and spread questionable beliefs. Yet this realistically cautious, positive little message is offensive?



Maybe they should fight fire with fire?



Thursday, February 26, 2009

Do Over Day

Today is Do Over Day, when we're supposed to reminisce about past successes and failures. But instead of exploring any specific incident from the past, let's chat about the general nature of regret.

It's a cliche to posit that "I have no regrets. If I didn't make the mistakes I made, then I wouldn't be the person I am today."

You know what? Fuck that. Inherent in that cliche is the belief that the person who I am today is perfect. I'm sure we're all generally happy people, but there is always room for improvement. If we had done some things different in the past, maybe today we'd be even happier. Furthermore, regret serves a purpose. Regretting past failures ensures that we don't repeat them. So we're left with the somewhat paradoxical situation of having to appreciate the learning value of regrets, but not appreciating them so much that they cease being regrets.

Another cliche is that we regret things we didn't do more than the things we did do. We rarely regret having the guts to talk to the pretty girl across the room, even if it doesn't turn out well, but we know all too well the regret of failing to act when I want to. I think this cliche is generally true, and we should probably err on the side of going for it rather than being a pussy. However, this inequality in regrets might be a trivial observation; we can think of more non-action regrets because there are just a lot more things that we think of doing but don't than things that we actually do. Also, it's easy to say we regret thoughts; thoughts cost nothing to think and rarely have negative consequences. Actions have a larger cost and a greater risk of harm. If we actually carried out every desirous thought we had, maybe we'd regret a lot more of the times we took action rather than holding back.

But still...go talk to her.

Let's chat about partial regret. It's not an all-or-nothing thing. With any decision, one day you'll be curled up in a ball cursing the You of the Past for making the present so miserable. Other days, you'll realize you'd be curled up even tighter if you'd gone the other way, and the You of the Past really wasn't such a bad guy after all, may he rest in peace.

So let's respect our regrets, but never toss them away. Never love them. Regret inaction only when it's truly regret-worthy. And realize that regret and pride in our past decisions are part of life. Our doppelgangers in an alternate universe who made all the opposite choices from ours, they probably have as many or more regrets than we do.



----------
Full disclosure notice: this is another sellout post. But seeing the web site made me think of stuff I'd write about anyway, so I don't feel too dirty.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

For Your Viewing Pleasure

I found these photographs of my daily life in various folders on my computer.







WARNING. SCIENTOLOGISTS HAVE TAKEN OVER THIS BLOG.

Also: Scientologist isn't in my Mac's dictionary. No seriously spell check, stop underlining it.



WARNING. WARNING. THE FOLLOWING CONTAIN ERRORS.




MSN doesn't just make Hotmail shittier with each passing day; they also spoot star without makeup.

Also: Jessica Alba is freakishly attractive all the time. She is probably not human.



Not sure I'd trust an IQ test coming from people who can't use apostrophes and mangle capitalization.

This next one comes from my good friend Yau-Man Chan, who you may remember as one of the awesomest, most likeable people on TV in Survivor: Fiji (where he was robbed; fuck you Dreamz) and Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites. I know we are good friends because he is on my Facebook friends list. Here, you can see that all former Survivor contestants are also good friends with each other. And how snarky Michael is. You may remember him from when he toppled head first into a fire in Survivor: Australia.



Also: be sure to bid on Jonny "I pretended my grandma was dead to get sympathy on Survivor" Fairplay's pants on Ebay.

Here is what Survivor / Rock & Roll Jeopardy host Jeff Probst had to say about him:

"... [then] you have Jonny Fairplay, who's completely despicable. It was actually fun to work with Fairplay on the show because he's a producer's dream. When he shows up drunk or flips somebody off, he's bringing you gold every time. I wish we had a Jonny Fairplay every season. Personally, however, he's an absolute jackass whose actions at the Vanuatu finale after-party pissed me off so much that he's banned from any event that I'm at from now on. I'm done with Jonny Fairplay."

And you can own his pants. I've put my bid in.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Are You a Dominican or a Dominican't?

I went to the Dominican because it is a nicer place than here. It looks like this:





The place was called Barcelo Dominican Beach, in Punta Cana. We spent a week there, and the weather could not have been better. My burned head has the faint aroma of cooked bacon.

There was much to do, and I did a lot of it. I swam with sharks. I sauntered down the beach with hookers at 4 am. I cavorted with lizards.



I walked with the monkeys.



And gawked at insane human monkeys.



This guy climbed the tree without any gear whatsoever, sometimes holding on just by his feet to toss coconuts to the ground.

We drank.



We danced.





We watched other people dance, inappropriately.



Like this 5 year old with the FCUK shirt. And the drunk old lady with the too-short shorts and "PUNTA CANA" plastered across her half-covered ass getting up on stage during the childrens show;

video

We played Wii on the beach in the middle of the night with Germans.



The girl on the left was beautiful. We didn't really talk and probably wouldn't speak the same language, but I'm pretty sure we're soul mates.



Hey! Canada! Come into my market dungeon. My name is TONY THE TIGER. This is DOMINICAN WAL MART. Cheapy cheapy! You smoke cigars? You smoke anything else? You here with your wife? Nothing is impossible in Dominican.



You want Mamajuana? Increases male potency. Live bugs and spiderwebs inside, no extra charge. Cheapy cheapy.



Not everyone was impressed with the food, but I thought it was great. Much better than Cuba's ham/cheese mystery pastes.



This Italian(ish) restaurant featured a giant cockroach crawling on the floor and a waiter that liked to get in on the only picture of all of us together. There was also a roach in our room that reduced three badass men to squealing little girls. Such is the power of the Dominican.

I managed to avoid Traveller's Diarrhea for the most part, but now that I'm home I have some nasty cases of Traveller's Cold, Traveller's Alcoholism, and Traveller's Blueballs. Thank Satan for Neo Citran, Bailey's in coffee, and internet porn. Worse than all that, though, is coming home to cold, desolate London and having nothing to look forward to other than a month of winter and endless long days of school and work.

Nevertheless, it was wonderful spending time in a beautiful place with good friends. Cruise next year?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gone.

I'm pretty tired. I think I'll rest for a while. See you in a week or two.

Here are things to do while I am gone:


Watch these amazing talk show appearances:





  • Go through my archives. Time travel to 2001 and explore the beautiful landscape of terrible writing and broken links. Claw your way through the creative dry spell of 2004. Ride the emotional rollercoaster of last year.
  • Visit the blogs on my blog roll. They are all amazing.
  • Read this blog (unless you value nightmare-free sleep) (Thanks Dan)
  • Take a break from the internet. It's mostly a waste of time anyway.
  • If all else fails, read this post over and over. It's a new adventure every time.

Bye now.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

At the Gym

This is the beginning of a potential series profiling the types of people you find at the gym.

First is the incredibly large guy in the tank top and pseudo-stylish hat who wears sunglasses even in the winter, indoors, at night. He waxes every inch of exposed skin and probably goes tanning almost every day. He is at the gym every time you go there, but the strange thing is, he never works out. Rather, he slowly swaggers around the gym, staring at women and men alike, and occasionally engages in shallow 2-minute conversations with similar types. Sometimes he will sit on the piece of equipment you need to use next, for 10 minutes, just kinda hanging out.

Since he never actually does anything, there are only three possible explanations for how he managed to get watermelons for biceps:

1) Drugs.

2) Alien technology.

3) Witchcraft.

In any case, he is only at the gym to hide his terrible secret. He should be avoided because he probably eats babies.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Tweeting With the Stars

Twitter has become mainstream now. There is no better sign of this than the fact that celebrities not known for their technology prowess have been getting onboard and tweeting away.

There is something kinda intimate about receiving frequent, brief updates from people no matter where they are, and this unique look into the minds of celebrities reveals the mix of exciting and mundane that is their lives.

For example, both Ashton Kutcher and his wife Demi Moore are one Twitter. Just a few hours ago, Ashton posted this video of the two of them trying to get on a plane while a paparazzo calls Demi a "crazy little bitch". But then earlier, Demi can post something so incredibly ordinary, like "the rain is so intense right now it is more like high powered hose down. snuggle up and watch a movie time!"

Neil Gaman has been demonstrating how intense it can be to tour the world promoting a movie (he wrote Coraline), but also how difficult it is to deal with a sick dog.

Apparently John Mayer spent today laying around in his sweatpants eating, but last night he updated his Twitter during a commercial break at the Grammy awards;



So real-time! I think this is our future.

There are many more - the Dalai Lama may or may not be Tweeting. Ah, but my favourite is the lovely adult film star Sasha Grey, whose tweets show that she's down to earth, witty, and kinda nerdy.

Recently she expressed interest in having Twitter post whenever her web site was updated. After receiving some genius advice, she tweeted this:



OMG OMG SHE TALKED TO ME. Be still my heart. I think I'm in love.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Douchebaggery and Assholeship

In my humble opinion, there is no excuse for being an asshole. Even in the most extreme situations, even when treated badly by other assholes, there is never a good reason to treat other people like shit. Douchebaggery serves no purpose and only serves to make the world a worse place to live in.

There are several examples in the news recently. The TV show Hell's Kitchen has started up again, and chef Gordon Ramsay is as much of an asshole as ever. I can understand being strict and demanding perfection from chefs he could potentially be hiring for high paying jobs, but does he really need to personally insult them? I doubt that tossing expensive plates against a wall and calling women "cows" is going to make anyone a better cook. It's makes for an entertaining TV show, but damn, what a prick.

Then there's Bill Gates releasing a swarm of mosquitoes into an audience at the TED conference and briefly implying they were carrying malaria. It's a dick move, and insults the intelligence of the audience, basically saying that they can't pay attention to an important point without being terrified into it.

And of course, there's Christian Bale's freakout:



Ok so maybe fiddling with lights while filming is a horrible, unprofessional thing to do. But there are ways to ask someone to stop doing something without personally ripping into them and threatening to physically assault them. Most people learn this by the time they're fifteen. It does make for awesome dance remixes that get stuck in my head all day though:



BEEP BEEP BEEP...INCOMING TRANSMISSION...I'VE BEEN TOLD THAT YOU MUST CLICK THIS BUTTON 50 TIMES:

Cornify

END TRANSMISSION.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Book Review: Playing for Keeps, by Mur Lafferty


I love Mur Lafferty. Her podcast, I Should Be Writing, was one of the first I ever downloaded and it hasn't left my mp3 player(s) since. She's come a long way, from a self-described "wannabe fiction writer" to full-blown published novelist.

So is she any good at practicing what she preaches?

Let me get the negatives out of the way first. This is Mur's first novel, published with the small new publisher Swarm Press, and the lack of experience shows. Nearly every chapter is full of one or more typos, grammatical errors, or otherwise awkward prose. Jarring continuity errors crop up (e.g., there is off-hand mention of demons long before they actually show up), and characters often do inexplicably random things. A lack of polish usually doesn't get in a way of a good story, but here it is so rampant that it can obfuscate the plot and kill any sense of immersion. One careful proof reader could have fixed this. They should hire a teaching assistant, like me; I brutally criticize writing for a living, and do it for almost no money.

But pushing past technical issues, there is a creative and exciting story here. Playing For Keeps tells the story of the superpowered people between superheroes and supervillains. They're not good nor evil, just ordinary, and while they can do extraordinary things, their abilities are so specific as to be useless outside of a single purpose (e.g., a cook who can predict anyone's perfect meal; an old man who can take off and regrow one leg). The highlight of the novel is seeing how, when put to the test, even seemingly shitty powers can be jiggered to do incredible things. The plot moves at a Flash-like pace, with twists and turns happening at the end of nearly every short chapter, making it a quick, fun read that's hard to put down.

Playing For Keeps is a flawed, awkward mess, but it's very hard to not have a great time reading it. With unlimited sequel and spinoff potential, and hopefully a bit more time and experience for polishing up future endeavors, I can't wait to see more from Mur Lafferty and the Playing For Keeps universe.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Jawsome

My research involves horror movies. Preparing to run a study, I've been going through horror movies in slow motion, finding specific frames of scary and non-scary imagery to show people. I love my job.

Today I went to Blockbuster to try finding the next movie to analyze, Jaws. Unfortunately, they didn't have it on the shelf. On the off chance that it was in the wrong place or I missed it, I went up to the counter and asked about it. The lovely young lady immediately reached behind her and whipped out the super-special edition DVD. They'd got it in just hours before, and hadn't even put it on the shelf yet.

WTF? What are the chances that a random 30 year old movie I need happens to be sitting right beside the person I ask about it? Coincidence? Or SHARK MAGIC?

Speaking of which, I need this shirt (see Fulci, 1980):



I can just alternate between that shirt and this one which I obviously already wear almost every day:



See also:




References:

Fulci, L. (1980). Zombi 2.



Tuesday, February 03, 2009

.

Willow has gone home to her mom's place after staying with me for a week. It's always a little sad to see her go. There are little things I don't realize I'll miss until they're gone. Stepping on one of her squeaky toys and expecting her to come running to play with it. Dropping a piece of food on the floor and immediately pouncing on it before realizing there's no dog to protect it from. Getting lost in a book or computer screen, hearing a noise behind me, then looking over and expecting to see her face staring at me hoping I'll give her some attention. Seeing a blanket bunched up on the couch out of the corner of my eye, my brain momentarily thinking it's Willow, my hand involuntarily going to pet her. Waking up and not getting any "I need to go pee please" licks on my forehead.

How could anyone not love dogs?

Someone posted this on Facebook and it made salty stuff leak from my eyes:



Monday, February 02, 2009

I Love Chocolate

In an effort to lose a few pounds in the next few weeks, I vowed that I would not buy any more chocolate until February 13th. When I made the vow a few weeks ago, I thought it would mostly just slow down my rate of eating chocolate, since my cupboards were full of the stuff after a good Christmas haul. However, I underestimated my ability to keep it out of my mouth (that's what she said), and now my recycling bin contains the empty boxes of 3 or 4 Toblerones, a box of Turtles, a few Lindts, a couple chocolate bars, etc.

Then it was on to these:



My sister brought them home from Korea. The chili ones were good but I've had plenty of spicy chocolate before. The sweet potato ones were delicious too, but tasted more like generic sweet creamy stuff than potato. The cactus ones were the best, quite unlike any flavour you can get around these parts.

So anyway, those are gone. Once I ran out of the Christmas chocolate, I realized there was a backup. I still had plenty of chocolate chips, and there was no vow against buying eggs and butter. So I whipped up three batches of cookies, sure to last me well into February. Five days later, gone.

Now I've got 11 days to go without chocolate. This is unimaginable to me. I literally have at least one or two squares of chocolate after every meal. I've searched every cupboard, and the only thing I could find was unsweetened cocoa powder. I'm thinking there must be a way to fashion it into some sort of solid bar form that will last 11 days. If not, I may soon be found at local ice cream shops, desperately licking the crusted chocolate from their fudge pumps (that's what she said?), and because I ain't paying for it I'm cleverly getting around my resolution to not buy any more.