Friday, December 28, 2007

I'm back in Toronto for the night. My last day in Peterborough was spent checking out I Am Legend with the fam and braving my father's 401 driving skills (everyone arrived in one piece).

Tomorrow is the day. I'm catching a plane at 6:15 PM out of Pearson and at 9:55 AM local time on Saturday I'm scheduled to touch down in Berlin. I get to see and touch and feel Andrea after spending four months apart from her. The idea is exhilarating.

It's been almost ten years since I last took a plane. Tonight I sat down and threw a bunch of songs onto my iPod for the trip, ravaging my CD collection for a lot of stuff I haven't heard in awhile. I'm planning to get into Coupland's latest novel on the flight as well, which should last about eight and a half hours not including the one hour stopover in Amsterdam. I booked my seats for the flights and checked in online, printing out my boarding pass. Everything seems to be in order.

In the Fall of 2001 I decided to start putting money away for a European trip. My original plan was to save gradually for three years and take off when I was 25 for a three-month backpacking expedition. I obsessed over websites detailing people's experiences and worked out a schedule of purchases that I'd have to make in order to be properly prepared. I looked into different hostels and tours and kept money in a shoebox. Then, I decided to go back to school.

I didn't think it would take this long for me to finally see Europe, but I'm certainly glad the opportunity has finally presented itself, and that the circumstances are so terrific. I'm not counting on much sleep tonight.

I may not have access to a computer over the next week, but I'll try to get some photos online if I can. Wish me luck and good weather.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Due to the fact that my sister had to work, we had two Christmas mornings (well, one Christmas afternoon). Sarah and Mike came over around ten to exchange presents before heading to Mike's parents' place in Aurora, and when Holly showed up we finished unwrapping. My family was really generous and I ended up with a mess of new DVDs and clothing.

The relatives showed up soon after for Christmas dinner. We played Guitar Hero III for a bit (I suck) and a little Simpsons Clue. I won two bucks off of a scratch ticket my aunt gave me. The dinner was great and knocked me unconscious for a second holiday in a row. I just know that I'm developing a pattern in which I'll be the old-timer at family gatherings who passes out on the couch right after dinner. My nieces and nephews will poke at me with whatever Nerf toys they opened that morning and I'll pretend not to notice.

When everyone had left I put on The Seventh Seal for my folks, not remembering how depressing it was. As per usual I channel surfed until the wee hours before hitting the sack.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Eve was standard fare, that is, nice time spent with family over lots of food and laughter at movies that used to fascinate us as kids. We had our yearly buffet dinner at the Carousel restaurant and everyone got a little camera happy. I'm sure the evidence will pop online somewhere.

Afterwards we came home and popped in Jeannot Szwarc's Santa Claus: The Movie, which stars Dudley Moore as a pun-happy elf and John Lithgow as an overacting tour-de-force. I hadn't seen it in years and it was good times reliving the memories it brought up.

I waited until much later on in the night to put in Scrooge, which plays more effectively as a thriller if it's watched in sync with the appearances of the ghosts. Sims is amazing in the role, of course, but the version really wrings the gothic elements out of the narrative better than any other. My mother always stays up late to take care of the turker for the Christmas Day dinner, and I rewound the ending so that she could see her favorite part (when Scrooge's cockney housekeeper freaks out).

It took me awhile to get to sleep due to all of the sugar and coffee I'd ingested earlier in the evening. All in all, a status quo Christmas Eve, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Today was a bit better, mood-wise. I managed to get a page of my essay done thereby eliminating some of the stress it's been causing. Jimmy Stewart helped. I had a conversation with my folks about what I was planning to do after Toronto (even though I'm not sure, it helps me to weigh my options out loud). I think it also helps me to make it clear to them that if I do decide to follow through with the teaching thing, I'll have to make myself mobile and go where the jobs are. I've always felt a kind of fear that prevents me from straying too far from home for too long, as if it's going to disappoint my parents if I move too far away. That fear will need to be dispelled in time for my own good.

I watched Home Alone on television later on. Tomorrow night is the traditional family dinner at the Carousel restaurant followed by more movie watching. I used to take walks on Christmas Eve, really late at night. Nobody was ever out on the road and everything felt as close to holy as it ever can. I would deliver letters and compilations to mailboxes in other neighborhoods, walking in the middle of the street, trying to find in the silence the part of me that still acknowledged Santa's speeding presence in the air.

I have a memory of one Christmas morning. The sun hadn't yet fully risen and my siblings and I were all wide awake. My dad dressed up as Santa and doled out our gifts, laughing loudly before leaving through the front door and disappearing. Minutes later he showed up and none of us made the connection. My parents stood by the back door in the kitchen claiming they could see Santa taking off from the house and heading into the air. They waved through the window. My siblings and I tried to sneak a look, but they wouldn't let us. Something incredibly magical stayed only slightly out of reach.

You get back on the latest flight to paradise
I found out from a note taped to the door
I think I saw your airplane in the sky tonight
Through my window, lying on the kitchen floor

It's a strange correlation, I know. But it's one I make. Especially when I'll be on a plane in five days.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

It does my heart good that Offbeat Cinema is still on television. It being so close to the holiday, they're running Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Really campy stuff, to say the least.

I haven't been feeling that great over the last couple of days. I'm usually a real Christmas Spirit kind of guy. It's a combination of a few things that have been weighing on me or getting on my nerves. Hopefully I'll be able to snap out of it. A little Jimmy Stewart action should cure what ails me.

I went to Lansdowne Place to finish my Christmas shopping and picked up a nice jewelry box for my mom. The Music World in the mall is going out of business, which is kind of sad because I bought quite a lot of records there when I was younger and have a few memories of hanging out in the store. I also very briefly dated a girl whose mother and stepfather owned the place. They're having a huge sale before they close the doors. Most of the stuff had been picked over but I was able to pick up the complete series of Twitch City for $15.

I watched White Christmas for the first time, which kind of underwhelmed me, but that may be attributed to the aforementioned mood. I dug the performances and the musical routines but it's barely a Christmas movie and the plot is paper-thin. Not Curtiz' best by a mile.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Another eventful day. I did manage to leave the house on a couple of occasions, to pick up Sarah's present (some plum-related Body Shop stuff) and go glow-in-the-dark mini putting with Sarah, Mike, Holly, and Steve. The course was jungle-themed and almost totally vacant, so we took some liberties with how hard we took our shots. Afterwards, we sat for awhile in the nearby Country Style donut shop. The girl behind the counter gave us a bunch of free donuts to take home, as they were about to be tossed.

I want to pick up one more thing for my mom. She deserves something extra.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I decided not to leave the house today. Steve made a fantastic breakfast (at lunchtime) and I spent most of the day on the couch flipping channels. Tomorrow I'll finish my shopping.

I mentioned to my aunt that I was going to pick up a money belt for my trip to Europe. My mom overheard and picked one up for me while she was out shopping. I can't believe I'm leaving in a week's time.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I was sitting next to some guy on the Greyhound on the way here, and this woman behind us sneezed. The guy next to me was so surprised that he let out a tiny shriek. He actually shrieked. I've never heard a guy seriously do that before. After he did it he he rubbed his eyes and muttered "Fuck," probably wishing he could take it back.

The traffic in Peterborough was bad due to the weather and the fact that snowplows have apparently ceased to exist in Southern Ontario. My sister picked me up and drove me back to my parents' place, where I promptly settled into a groove on the couch for some quality time with cable TV. On January 8th, CBC is running a miniseries based on Coupland's jPod novel. Alan Thicke is in it. Okay. I'll have to bug Matt to watch it at his place since I haven't had cable in about half a year.

My folks put up an artificial Christmas tree, marking the end of an era. It does look nice, however. They strung it with new lights that lead less of an assault on the eye and scaled back on the tinsel and icicles. There are few more comforting places on earth than my family's living room at Christmas. The season just doesn't feel as though it's started until I can sit down in that room and soak it in.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I went to campus to hand in my Bibliography assignment to Professor Robins, which went off without a hitch. After dropping off some library books and trying to seek out secondary sources for my last paper (easier said than done), I picked up some Euro currency and went home. Jay had a couple of people over and we watched the Simpsons movie after they made dinner. After that, professional student that I am, I immersed myself in some Legend of Zelda and collected three Triforce pieces before calling it quits.

I do think that I have a good idea for my paper, it's just a matter of doing the work over the holidays and finally writing the thing in the two-day window I have when I get back to Canada.

Tomorrow I'm Peterborough bound. I really should try to get to the terminal early on in the day because holiday traffic is always ridiculous.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I put on the iPod and trekked through the unplowed sidewalks to Future Shop today, where I grabbed some more items on my Christmas shopping list: Evan Almighty for Adam, gift certificates for Mike and Jay. Only a couple more to grab.

I decided to make the shopping strategy for my dad a little self-serving this year. Every year I buy him something that just sits around or gets buried somewhere: box sets, books, etc. It's through no fault of my own - my dad is just one of those people who doesn't really use anything. He'll buy himself items all the time because he gets a deal on them only to store them away somewhere. He has an extensive collection of movies that he never watches. Some of them aren't even open. So this year, I decided to get him a box set of great old films I've never seen: 12 Angry Men, A Bridge Too Far, Judgment at Nuremberg, and Paths of Glory. Lately when I've gone home to visit, my folks and I take to watching old movies to spend time together. Now I can suggest whipping out the box set. It's win-win.

I finished my critical reflection paper for Bibliography, even working in an old entry I'd written in the blog back in October for its second half (so in a way, I got quite the early start on that one). Tomorrow I'll head to campus to hand it in and hopefully grab research material for the one thing I have left to do. I should also investigate grabbing some Euros at Calforex on Bloor.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The weather in Toronto exploded today. There is snow everywhere with plenty of wind spreading it around. I left the house once to pick up some groceries and that was more than enough.

I did walk home from Matt's place last night, which wasn't that bad, and even nice at some points - stepping into newly fallen snow at 3 o'clock in the morning. It was a fun night in celebration of Adam's 30th birthday spent at a bar called Raq n' Waq on Queen Street for some pool, then over to the Laugh Resort for some stand-up comedy. One of the guys in the group I was hanging with was a comedian and called ahead to do the first set of the night. The headliner was Tim Steeves, a former writer on This Hour Has 22 Minutes and one of the current writers for the Rick Mercer Report. There was a group in the crowd that was part of a guy's bachelor party, and one loud scarf-wearing arse in particular who the comedians ripped on all night. Really funny stuff with four acts in all. After that, a bunch of us headed back to Matt and Kim's apartment for beers and food where we sat around shooting the shit. I'd hung out with most of the people before and they're all older and funny, especially after sipping a little weed. I've learned my lesson about weed and booze, however, and chose not to partake. At the end of the night, Adam, Matt and I faced off with some Mario Party on the Wii until Matt abruptly passed on the couch. I beat the guy senseless with a pillow but he wouldn't wake up. After enough prodding, though, he sent us on our way.

Not being much of a drinker these days, I woke up with a hangover, aggravated in part due to one of the two idiots on this floor who blare techno at full volume at 1 PM when I assume most people are still in bed. Jay ended up sticking around this weekend, so I spent most of the day in my room doing nothing. I downloaded the original Legend of Zelda and played around with it for a bit. And watched the new Dark Knight trailer, which looks AWESOME.

Tomorrow I'll finish my last Bibliography assignment and get over to Future Shop to pick up some more gifts. On Tuesday I'll head to campus to collect some research materials for my African-Canadian essay. I've resolved that I'm heading back to Peterborough on Wednesday at all costs. I needed a deadline in place, if not for my own sake then for everyone who keeps asking for one.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

There are moments, walking drunkenly through fresh drifts of snow, when I acutely feel the past eating me alive.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I got out of bed this morning and put the finishing touches on my final project for Touch of Evil before heading to campus. I made an appointment with Dru to record some commentary audio for a track he's putting together. I met him at Innis and a few girls from the class eventually showed as well.

You know, I don't think I've ever mentioned what the movie is about.

Touch of Evil was screenwritten and directed by Orson Welles in 1958. It stars Charlton Heston as a Mexican narcotics officer named Miguel "Mike" Vargas who has just sent a prominent drug lord from the Grandi family to prison on a trafficking rap. Janet Leigh stars as Suzie, Vargas' new wife. The two are on their honeymoon and are passing through the American bordertown of Los Robles when a car coming from the Mexican side of the border explodes just after exiting customs, killing American industrialist tycoon Rudy Linnekar and a stripper from one of the local joints. Vargas involves himself in the murder investigation which is led by American police captain Hank Quinlan, who is played by Welles. Quinlan, obsessed with his own reputation and the death of his wife at the hands of a "half-breed," is racist against Mexicans and plants evidence to frame a Mexican named Sanchez who is romantically involved with Linnekar's daughter. Vargas figures out that Quinlan is crooked and spends the rest of the movie tying to prove it. Meanwhile, Suzie finds herself terrorized by the Grandi family (including Uncle Joe Grandi, played by Akim Tamiroff), who prominently reside and operate businesses in Los Robles, as a means of gaining revenge on her husband.

It's about as complicated as it sounds. Needless to say, it warrants repeat viewings and is pretty ripe for theoretical discourse, especially given the circumstances of its production and release. But I'll spare those details.

I handed in the webpage on CD, recorded the stuff and made arrangements with Dru and Alicia to see Juno at the Varsity later on. After returning some books at Robarts and sending an email to Professor Columpar about possibly continuing work on the project next semester, I walked to the Cumberland Plaza and did some Christmas shopping to kill time before the movie. I picked up some gift certificates at Indigo for Steve and my Aunt, as well as some CD's for Holly and my mom. That covers about half my list.

Juno is an amazing film, one of those rare combinations of witty writing, exceptional acting and a quirky quality that wins your heart. I quite enjoy films that take a skewed look at a very simple topic while leaving the emotional fabric intact. Ellen Page, by the way, is incredible. This was the third film I've seen her in and I'm constantly blown away by her fierce ability to play characters who are confident yet not at all self-aware - she completely drains all traces of irony out of her roles, and that's what makes her amazing. Her character in Juno uses elaborate dialogue yet delivers it youthfully while at no point paying any attention to how intelligent she is. I wish she'd been in every teen movie ever produced.

It was nice to hang out with folks. After the movie I walked home from Keele station and had dinner while watching The Simpsons before heading online and looking over some old pictures of Mod Clubs gone by. Tomorrow is Adam's 30th birthday party, an affair I'm joining halfway through for dinner, some stand-up comedy, and of course, beer.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The project is done.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

I finished rendering all of the video I need for the project, plus I started filling in information on how and why the edits were executed. Should be able to finish it all off in good time if I don't slack off too much. But I know I will.

I watched The Empire Strikes Back today, which is my favorite Star Wars film. I love Star Wars, but obviously not as much as some folks. After I see one of the movies I always end up online dipping my toe into the massive amounts of information about the Star Wars universe. It's all so meticulously constructed and chronicled and not much of it makes sense to me. I love stumbling across arguments between fans. It's such a welcome break from the kind of bile that people on the imdb boards typically hurl at each other.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thanks to all who commented on the last entry. Thanks for the support and kudos and for just letting me know that you're reading.

I've been editing video all day for my Touch of Evil project, which has take longer than I expected, and I'm still not finished. I did, however, complete some more work on the website. Hopefully over the next couple of days I'll be able to pack it with some nice theoretical research.

Jay and I watched the first episode of the latest season of The Office tonight, which took me back to... September. I'm nostalgic about a period that occurred three months ago.

Kids today getting old too fast
they can’t wait to grow up so they can kiss some ass
They get nostalgic about the last ten years
before the last ten years have passed

- Ben Folds, "Bastard"

To be fair, it was a pretty great week, that one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

On the last day of classes for the fall semester of my Master's degree program, having stayed up all night working on a paper and presentation for subjects in which I never thought I'd find myself involved, something in me switched on.

Over the course of the semester I've been growing more and more apprehensive about my decision to enroll in grad school. I spent half of the time wondering why I bothered with classes at all. It's not that I didn't feel engaged on a certain level with the material. I liked my classes, but consistently felt puzzled as to why I was spending so much time analyzing how a book was made 200 years ago, how tonal combinations indicate an opera character's motivations, what a young boy's experiences in Communist Ethiopia had to do with Canadian identity, and the syntagmatic paradigms of filmic narrative language.

This wasn't what I was expecting. Last fall I sat down in my apartment on O'Connor Street in Ottawa and wrote to organizations and universities about why they should accept me and pay me money to keep studying. I wouldn't set foot in a library for months to come, but I was able to articulate my ambitions based on lingering ideas left over from theses I wrote, arguments that were born from things I felt passionate about in everyday life. Literature. Canadian writing. Film. Multidisciplinary approaches to art and instruction.

Since my first year of University I had my heart and mind set on becoming a professor. It was my plan over the entirety of my undergraduate career, and it was derailed in the year I spent apart from a classroom. I lost the feeling in being away from it. I began to see the potential in other opportunities and even as I accepted U of T's offer and moved to Toronto to continue my education there was a part of me that doubted the direction I had established for myself. Most of the time I engaged only superficially with the material, rarely speaking in class, sharing only brief pleasantries with the people I began seeing on a regular basis because I knew that in a few months time I'd be back in Ottawa, working, doing something else unrelated to the realm of education. In the meantime I would repeatedly stress over what I was actually going to be able to accomplish once I'd achieved my degree and no longer had to think about it. I hadn't fully discounted the idea of going for my PhD, but with my interest in all things academia flagging I didn't see it as something I'd likely pursue in the near future.

This line of thinking led to a disappointment in myself that I didn't immediately recognize - I had decided on some level to abandon what I'd been working so hard at accomplishing for the past few years. My experiences at U of T existed as nothing more than formalities. More than that, they led to a doubt I began to foster in myself about my own abilities, thinking that everyone around me was far more brilliant, more self-assured, and more prepared to see their education through. Without realizing it, I lost faith in myself, and though I've been completing my assignments I haven't been expecting them to garner results that are of any importance to me.

Recently I made the decision to sit down and talk with two people about this problem while I still had the time and my status as one of their students. Last week I talked with George Elliott Clarke about all things CanLit, an opportunity I haven't taken with anyone since I started back at school. Today I sat down with Linda Hutcheon and told her that the Master's program really wasn't what I had been expecting. I told her that I had been a Canadianist and took her course because of the importance of her work in the field. For the first time all semester I was able to hear her talk about CanLit. I asked her about the ramifications of becoming a professor, and whether she had ever experienced doubts. She told me that she'd had doubts right up until she'd actually started the job, and that the job market for professors is going to be very lucrative over the next few years for those who are willing to go where the work takes them.

She assured me that I would get to make the most of my interests at the PhD level. I told her about the declaration of interest and thesis proposal I'd written to get funding for the program, and she told me to bring it in with me after the break so that we could talk about it, outside of the context of a classroom.

Now, I had a feeling she'd say these things. Professor Hutcheon has routinely been a nice woman and great teacher (and I hope this will translate to the pity she takes on the paper I polished off at 6:30 AM). But after I left the office, I had felt that things were different, that I was starting to make my experience at University something personal again. I had started reaffirming my faith in myself. For the first time in months I held the honest opinion that there are real, attainable possibilities in front of me rather than a smattering of vague interests I won't ultimately pursue. I still haven't decided about continuing grad school, but I'm now under the impression that if I ultimately do it won't be out of the desire to retreat to some old pattern of thinking from which I've been disconnected. I'll do it because I've rediscovered that I really want to.

Time will tell. Right now I feel as though I can do anything I set my mind to. I can go anywhere and do anything. It's going to make my next semester so much more rewarding. And when my time in Toronto comes to a close I know I'll have picked my next step carefully and correctly.

As I mentioned, today was the last day of classes. Paul and I knocked our editorial presentation out of the park during a four-hour Bibliography seminar. I spoke up at length in Opera class after a semester of relative silence. My group ended up with a split grade of A/A+ on our presentation. After the meeting with Professor Hutcheon, I returned some books and walked home from Keele station deep in thought.

Updated To-Do List:

Friday, December 14th: Final project - Touch of Evil
Friday, December 21st: Critical reflection paper - Bibliography
Monday, January 7th: Final research paper (max. 14 pages) - African-Canadian Lit

Christmas is only TWO WEEKS away. I need to get to a shopping mall.

Monday, December 10, 2007

This is my first official all-nighter of the school year, and my first in quite some time otherwise. The final word count on my Death in Venice essay is 4780 words, adding up to just over 14 pages in length. I also have my material ready for a Bibliography presentation I have to give in three hours or so (barring the photocopies I have to make at Robarts first).

The shitty part about this is that I'm not going to be home for another 11 hours.

I spent the day working on the essay in chunks, watching box sets and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin is always drunk and violent). At one point I took a nap because I knew I'd be up late.

Pray that coffee is readily available for me today.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

My brain ended up all jazzed after watching The Snowball Effect, a documentary on the making of Clerks and the launch of Kevin Smith's film career (I'm obsessed with the guy, it's true). That documentary makes you think that you can leave the house right this minute and make a film or do whatever other project you're creatively inclined to do. So of course, I end up sitting at my computer, chatting with Peter, thinking about Mike's current job dilemma, wondering what I'm going to focus on when I get back to Ottawa. I tell Peter that I'll be happy if I can get back to the city and find a job that pays me at least $10/hour full-time, leaving me to do what I want on the side. And I want to do a lot.

Here are some ideas that have jogged through my head in the past couple of months (some more developed than others): Organize next Ottawa Art Bazaar. Start a new small press. Assemble a team for a new chapbook publication with a unifying theme. Turn into an online zine featuring columns on Ottawa art, recruiting columnists from volunteer pool of journalism students at Carleton. Interview and profile artists for Ottawa art wiki. Re-learn French. Take a college certificate course. Apply for PhD programs.

I keep forgetting I have this ESSAY to finish for Monday. I'm about 1800 words in with 2425 to go. I'm writing it fairly quickly; I've just been taking huge breaks in between finished arguments to watch The Chipmunk Adventure, Simpsons episodes and the aforementioned documentary.

Tomorrow, though, will be The Day Before. My favorite day to work on papers. It's been awhile since I've seen one.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I met with Paul at the Kelly Library cafe and we discussed our presentation, which should be no big whoop. Apparently he had spent last year teaching in Germany and really wants to go back to the hamlet in the north part of the country where he was living. I went to Robarts afterward to grab some material on Visconti when I ran into Jonathan Abresch, a guy I went to Carleton with who migrated to Toronto for the same reason I did. It was only the first time I'd seen him on campus since the very beginning of the semester, so we chatted for a bit.

After picking up Professor Hutcheon book on adaptation at the University bookstore, I went home and fell asleep in front of some Simpsons episodes. After I woke up I watched I Shot Andy Warhol, which was the basis for one of the first essays I wrote at University over five years ago. Lili Taylor and Jared Harris are both really good in it. Hell, so is Stephen Dorff. I get a kick out of all things Warhol anyhow.

I broke down my Death in Venice essay into word counts for each section. I find it helps me write with more consistency at greater lengths when I know exactly where to stop and start arguments. I'm 553 words into a 4225 word paper. It shouldn't be too difficult. The trickiest part is going to be sourcing the opera-related material. I still don't even have a copy of the damned libretto.

But I do have peanut butter cups.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I'm elevating laziness to new, heretofore unreachable plateaus. I spent a good portion of the day on the couch watching episode six of The War, Punch-Drunk Love (which I hadn't seen in awhile but still have a strong affection for), episodes of Seinfeld and The Simpsons. I DID manage to come up with a few notes for the Bibliography presentation I'm making on Red Badge of Courage with this guy Paul on Monday. I'm meeting with him tomorrow to shoot the shit about what we're going to talk about in class. We only have five minutes each to talk, so I have the thing pretty much halfway written anyhow.

I bought a package of mini powdered donuts. I'm going to try very hard to never buy them again.

Tomorrow: essay.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Welcome to post #100. I think I hear trumpets blaring.

Today I watched the Visconti film version of Death in Venice, which looks great and has an interesting take on certain scenes that should work well with arguments in my paper.

After the film I went downtown for my meeting with the man, George Elliott Clarke. We sat in the bar of the Intercontinental Hotel and talked about the course before moving onto all things Ottawa. He spent five years living there and makes a visit at least once a month for various reasons. He said that it's a city that's very closed off from other Canadian cities and operates differently with respect to its arts. I asked him what he thought of the arts in Ottawa, and he told me the following anecdote:

In 1989 a sculpture of two children sitting on a bench was dropped off out front of the Library and Archives Canada building by its artist, Lea Vivot. The bench sculpture stayed in front of the building for a year before someone in the government realized that it hadn't been given official permission to be there. So, Vivot was forced to remove it. In 1994, it was replaced by a casting with inscriptions of various people across Canada (including Clarke) related to the importance of reading.

Now, that's Clarke's version of the story, but Vivot definitely said this in an Ottawa Citizen interview: "The building needed something and I don't feel that artists have the time to go through the bureaucratic approach. In the same amount of time that it would take to go through all this (bureaucracy) I can cast another sculpture and enhance another space."

That word "bureaucracy" is one that Clarke kept using when describing the state of the arts in Ottawa. I don't know much about bureaucracy. I've always had a difficult time figuring out how a dominating political climate can affect a city's artistic output. But the anecdote he used points towards the idea that the art that doesn't receive any kind of direct government support to place it into public consciousness is ignored entirely at a federal level. Artists are left to fend for themselves after the offices and galleries shut down for the day.

Now, perhaps that's not so bad for a community - finding a little wherewithal. But this leads to Clarke's second point. In the artistic sphere, Canada is markedly different from the United States; whereas the States operate as a republic that encourages the growth of populist art, Canada still operates under monarchical influence that encourages a gravity towards classical forms. That's why the country has no Bob Dylan.

Canadian literature resides solely in the academic realm. Clarke's concerns seem to lie in revisiting our own literature (mentioning specifically MacLennan and Raddall) rather than in continuing to develop old themes and structures belonging to European nations. He wishes that our literature could find its way out of the forests and into the cities. He sees Quebec as the only part of the country that's producing art with a unique voice because it holds so fast to French-Canadian identity.

Most significantly, I think, is his observation that Canada is hierarchical in nature and prone to memory loss, and this goes beyond the ideas he brought forward regarding African-Canadians in his class. Clarke is worried that people (as a populous, not as academics) are already starting to forget Mordecai Richler, to forget Irving Layton, all the way back to the relevance of Canada's earliest authors. The Canadian attitude has always been to wipe the slate clean and start over in a search for something new, yet they can never seem to cut this invisible umbilical cord from England. Until the populous decides to build from its own recent history, Canada will remain an idea in a university in search of practical fulfillment.

We talked for an hour and a half. I got him to sign a couple of books before I shook his hand and left. I'm not sure I agree with everything he said, but I know I could have sat there for a lot longer sharing ideas with him. I don't get to share as many ideas as I used to. That part of it felt good.

When I got home I watched Die Hard to officially kick off my Christmas season. Tomorrow I should start getting at that Opera paper (though I still have 4 whole days).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Jay hung a picture of a kitten sitting beside a saxophone in the bathroom. Hmm.

Today was a pretty good one, lack of sleep aside. I powered through a Starbucks coffee as I waited for the final Touch of Evil class to start - I'm pretty much always the first to arrive because of my travel schedule. I got the laptop set up, and it didn't stutter at all during my presentation on my final project. It couldn't have gone better. I apologized for not filling the full 13 minutes I was allotted, but I was assured that it was okay. I think Professor Columpar really digs the idea because it conforms so closely to what she intended for the course as a whole. I got some feedback about putting the site live, which I'd like to do despite the trouble I'd probably get into with Universal (they wouldn't take kindly to me chopping up the movie like that for a non-paying audience to see).

After class I had lunch with Tony and Eileen. I'll miss that about the semester. They're my outlets for getting out concerns about my potential academic career, plus we're all pretty well-versed in movies.

I set up shop in the EJ Pratt library for awhile to send out some emails and grab some material for an essay. I emailed Professor Hutcheon about meeting with her, which I'm going to do after class next week. After that I attended the final African-Canadian Literature class. We watched a film called Another Planet, apparently the first movie to be directed and written by an African-Canadian woman. I received feedback on my Oni presentation, along with a split grade of A-/A. I'm supposed to meet with Professor Clarke tomorrow, but I'm waiting on a final confirmation.

I ran into a couple of other folks from film class in the Bay Street subway station, Drew and Alicia, and ended up talking with Alicia for a bit since we were both heading the same way. After I got back I made dinner and watched Minority Report.

The marks are starting to come in, and the verdict so far is positive. Knock on wood.

Updated To-Do List:

Monday, December 10th: Final research paper (max. 15 pages) - Opera
Monday, December 10th: Editorial exercise - Bibliography
Friday, December 14th: Final project - Touch of Evil
Friday, December 21st: Critical reflection paper - Bibliography
Monday, January 7th: Final research paper (max. 14 pages) - African-Canadian Lit

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Opera presentation is in the can. The presentation itself went pretty well and got some nice compliments afterwards. I felt that I crashed a bit during the Q&A period when I messed up the chronology of the release of the film adaptation vs. the writing of the opera, doubly embarassing since I'm supposed to be writing on the film for my paper (a dead giveaway that I haven't started researching the damn thing). Still, I was able to interject on some other points. Nice to have it over with.

I took a nap after getting home and woke up at 10 to work on my presentation for the Touch of Evil Project, which I knocked out by 4 AM before hitting the sack.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The chief design for my Touch of Evil final project is done, with the first two video clips in place. It actually looks pretty much like I'd envisioned. Tomorrow night I'll come up with some stuff to say about it for the presentation on Tuesday. You can literally, if you time it correctly, play both versions of the opening sequence at the same time, side by side with each other.

There is snow everywhere. I found out that my brother was ALSO in a car accident the other night when a truck hit the cab he was in. He's okay but kind of banged up. My family shouldn't leave the house for the rest of the winter. I'm looking forward to getting home for Christmas. It's just about time to break out some Christmas movies. It's a Wonderful Life, Scrooge, Die Hard...

God, I should be more careful about visiting old journals to double check on information. I always get pulled in and end up reading for an hour. I really used to be a pretty emotionally distraught guy, it would seem. I'm glad I've kept this blog up. Even at only a little over three months and almost 100 entries, it's been the diary I've been the most consistent at keeping, and the tone is certainly worlds different.

Looking back, it seems clear that I was deeply upset that I wasn't in love. I've had a bunch of relationships over the past ten years or so, but no matter how frequently I was with someone I would always eventually fall under the impression that I was going to be alone. This coincided with my creative side kicking at me, and all I wanted to do was write out the insecurities that kept me awake at night. I wrote more than anyone else I knew, and sometimes that made the isolation even harder to deal with. I wanted my words to stab at people's hearts and minds. I wanted them to break apart formalities and structures that I felt kept me at a distance from other people. What I perceived as bare honesty was my only weapon against being ignored and forgotten by everyone. And if my words didn't provoke a response, I felt that I was unsuccessful at being alive.

Dramatic, I know, but that's the way it was. I can be hot-headed and rash. Sometimes I think back to the period when Andrea and I started dating, and I mark it as one of the early stages in which I experienced great, positive changes in my personality. It was around the time I moved to Centretown. I had a group of friends I enjoyed hanging out with, going to the bars to drink and dance. I was able to live and not really worry too much about the future, because I knew I'd get around to it eventually. Towards the end it felt as if things were starting to fall apart. I'm hoping that when I get back, I'll be able to rediscover all of those things that made me fall for the city, in whatever new contexts they might present themselves.

More to say on that point, but I'm tired. Tomorrow the long-gestating Opera presentation finally sees delivery. I'm nervous, but I'll be glad to see it go.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The snow is really coming down outside. Welcome to December. I picked up Christmas present number one today, for Andrea. My only concern is getting it overseas without damaging it.

The Opera gang and I rehearsed today. The evidence:

I think we're more or less ready for Monday. It should be pretty funny. Unfortunately, I won't really get to SEE it, because I'm in it.

After the rehearsal I caught Before the Devil Knows You're Dead at the Varsity. The flick starts out promising but lost me in its efforts around the halfway point before its unsatisfying conclusion. No one in the film is all that likable, which would be fine if they were at least vile in a compelling way, but they aren't. Besides that, it's really the kind of thriller that's been done before both structurally and thematically, without leaving even a hint of why it should exist in the first place. I've seen a couple of Lumet's Pacino movies, which I liked, but this one felt too dreary, too obvious and too driven by its form.

When I woke up this morning my air mattress had deflated, but I couldn't find any punctures. I tried re-inflating it but it wouldn't work, so I broke out my other air mattress and filled it. Then I figured out what I was doing wrong with the other mattress, so now I have the two mattress piled on top of each other. It's double the bed. I don't know why I didn't think of doing this before.

I ate dinner, watched Dogma and uploaded some pictures. Tomorrow I have to really get a crack at that design for my Touch of Evil presentation.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I'm still a bit mad about a situation Andrea was put in today. She's okay but she feels even farther away when I can't be there to look out for her when she needs it.

Bibliography went down in the PIMS (Pontifical Institute for Medieval Studies) library this morning. As usual, a bunch of material was passed around for examination. I asked Professor Robins about what he considers to be the Holy Grail of undiscovered material, and he said it was signature copies of Chaucer and Shakespeare texts. The most rare book he's ever gone in search of is a notebook belonging to Leonardo da Vinci, which he discovered is locked in a vault in a French bank four stories underground and has only ever been removed twice - once to be put on display as part of an exhibit, and once to make facsimile copies for research. Needless to say, he couldn't get at it, but it gives you an idea of how far research can take you depending on what you study.

After class I signed out a copy of Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage for an assignment along with a couple of DVD's from the Kelly library (the fourth library to which I now owe a return of material). I went around the campus and took some pictures. When I got home I watched Ingmar Bergman's Winter Light, a film about a pastor who loses his faith in God. It has this AMAZING scene in which Ingrid Thulin delivers this nearly 5-minute single-take monologue about loving a religious man in spite of her own atheism. Here's a still:

Great stuff. Bergman has to be my favorite filmmaker.

I also signed out Blade Runner, which I've never seen. I took a nap and then popped it in but the DVD was too damaged to play, so I watched episode five of The War instead. Tomorrow is the dress rehearsal for my Death in Venice presentation. Hopefully I'll be able to take some pictures and finally post some visual proof of my actual everyday life in Toronto (shots of me vegging out on the couch aside).

Holly was in a car accident, but she's okay. She is, however, a bit pissed that the Examiner reported it as damage done to the bridge on which she spun out. Can't say I blame her.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I crawled out of bed after noon and watched The Deer Hunter, which is widely considered a classic, though I found it pretty average and even overlong. De Niro and Christopher Walken play a couple of friend who leave their jobs as steel workers to fight in Vietnam, where they're confronted with completely horrific circumstances that ensure the loss of their old lives. It has incredibly intense, powerful moments, but they don't resonate correctly throughout the last third of the movie. I think it's because that while the characters are given a chance to develop, we don't find out that much about them aside from the fact that they start out relatively sane and are then pushed to lose (or make desparate attempts to hold on to) their sanity. I much preferred Platoon as far as 'Nam movies go, though I will admit that I have yet to see Apocalypse Now.

I went to Adam's and got ahold of the footage I'll need for my final Touch of Evil project. Thank goodness. I walked to his apartment and back, so I definitely fulfilled my exercise quotient of the day. It's getting colder outside and I've been less inclined to walk home lately. After I got back, I finished off a Bibliography assignment. It feels as though this semester has been over for a week, but the actual schedule hasn't caught up with it.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I met with the Opera folks for the presentation table-read today. The material should go over well on Monday. I'm looking forward to having it done and out of the way. Tomorrow night I'm going to Adam's place to try transferring my Touch of Evil VHS to some kind of digital format that I can use for my presentation. I hope it works. At this point, I'm kind of counting on it to work.

I watched the Republican YouTube debate while throwing some vegetarian chili together. A couple of them seem like all right people but I had to shake my head at certain outlooks they bring to the table. In the audience was a retired gay officer who serve din the army for years, and the candidates actually had the nerve to feed him the lines "Thank you for your service, but," essentially, your lifestyle is immoral and damaging to the notion of America's military unit.

Fuck, America has it so astoundingly backwards sometimes that it cripples common sense. There are segments in The War devoted to how Japanese and African-Americans were treated during the Second World War, condemning America's use of detainment camps and troop segregation, yet people still believe that homosexuals can't serve as if it's a lesser breed of discrimination. They don't fit the profile. What, exactly, isn't completely fascist about that outlook? How is it any different from the principles behind a regime? Thousands of coalition force members have been killed in the last few years, not to mention the untold civilian casualties, and the American military insists on barring a solider based on sexual orientation? That's a pretty messed up rationale. God forbid democracy is brought to Iraq on the backs of homosexuals.

Anyway. Computer's still running slow, and I've downloaded yet ANOTHER virus scanner (which apparently wants me to register for its use. No chance). Guh.
Nothing like a little Facebook profile trolling to pass the time. I'm trying to grab the rest of Ken Andrews' solo album off the net, as well as some Of Montreal. My computer is still running a little slow and stuttering despite defragging it a couple of times and running virus scanners to knock out malware. Hopefully it will stay the course well enough to get me through my presentation in Touch of Evil next week.

I had that class today. The title of my presentation is going to be "Memo-rizing Touch of Evil: The Execution and Effect of Orson Welles' Intentions." I signed a book of Walter Murch (who was responsible for the re-edit) and Michael Ondaatje (who just pulled off yet another GG win for the amazing Divisadero) interviews out from the Innis library, which bring the total number of libraries to which I owe books to three. Innis isn't really much of a library, though. It's two floor of stacks along a single wall. Really, it barely warrants the staircase leading to its "computer lab" of two terminals. Innis is a strange building.

After class I went for sushi with Eileen and Tony and talked a bit about grad school. I'm starting to think that I should talk with some of my professors about continuing my studies. I think my slipping confidence in academia is influenced by the fact that I'm not really studying anything that echoes the grad proposal I was submitting to universities and organizations a year ago. I thought I'd be knee-deep in positioning Coupland in a natinal canon by now; instead, the closest I'm coming to a Canadian text all year is the story of a young man's role in a Communist war in Ethiopia. Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying African-Canadian Literature, but it's only a small fraction of where my research interests lie. The ironic thing is I've got two people who are incredibly renowned for their work in the field of Canadian studies, and one of them is teaching me about European Opera and speaking a language of music that I can't comprehend.

The other, of course, is George Elliott Clarke, who presented on his own work today and read some of the poetry in Execution Poems, which was great to see. Clarke is a great poet, there's no doubt about it. I'm not sure if he's a great professor. I don't feel as though the ideas I brought to the table, when I felt brave enough to bring them, were given the kind of feedback I receive in other classes. Clarke is a great man, a nice guy, and a passionate speaker. I learned a lot from the texts, but I felt that there was so much more to get at in the course. I still don't feel as if I can tie Africadian studies into a more general, overarching Canadian context as effectively as I may have wanted to. I wanted to learn as much about Canada as I did about African-Canadians, and I felt that the course didn't achieve that. But the blame for that rests equally on my shoulders. I've always found that courses are in large part what you make them, and I hung on for the ride too often.

I have the class evaluations sitting on my bed because the drop-off office was closed when I went by. I'll drop them off before I meet with the Opera folks for the table-read tomorrow. After I got home I watched episode four of The War, which detailed the events of D-Day, the Allied invasion of France and coverage of the brutal battles with the Japanese on the Mariana Islands which contained some of the most violent footage in the series so far. Hearing the veterans talk about the war is a really emotional experience that fully enriches the documentary. Keith David also does a great job narrating.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I stayed up late last night reading Kevin Smith's account of Jason Mewes' battle with drug addiction in My Boring Ass Life. In addition to being an interesting analysis of how drugs can affect a person's personality and decisions, it's a well-written and fascinating account of what a friendship can put you through. I couldn't put it down.

Opera class had a special-guest, a German theatre director who had some absorbing things to say about how he puts together a production, his likes and dislikes about opera. At one point he made a dramatic gesture and whacked Professor Hutcheon in the face. She had to leave class to tend to her left eye's contact lens. It's hard to recover gracefully from a thing like that.

After class I went to the Varsity to check out Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. I had about an hour to kill, so I browsed a bit at Indigo in the Manulife Centre and ended up breaking the cherry on my Starbucks gift card while reading a paper. I went back to the theatre and noticed that the 6:30 showtime was for the VIP screening - about $15 for a nicer theatre. I didn't really want to pay that much, and the regular showing wasn't for another hour, so I decided to head home.

I listened to Jimmy Eat World's Chase This Light on the way, and though it's more of the same from the group I really dig it by first impression, especially the songs "Always Be" and "Dizzy." After I got home I finished off the Scrubs box set, watched some Mission Hill, and put on Ghost World.

Ghost World is a movie that changes with every viewing as I get older. When I first saw it in theatres back in 2001, it spoke very directly about my initial post-high school years, trying to work out how to be an adult when a part of you is unable. I watched it all the time once I procured it on DVD, falling in love with its acerbic wit and condemnation of what passes for normalcy in a prescribed society. But as I get older, I find myself armed with an increasing tendency to watch it from the perspective of an adult who has already, for better or worse, battled through a lot of the problems Enid and Rebecca face. Seymour becomes less and less of a character whose oddities I can appreciate - he's someone who makes every decision with a weak heart, putting too much trust in the familiar. Enid calls him her hero, but he's things she'll never be: uncreative, unsure, buried in obscurity. Enid is otherworldly, curious despite being angst-ridden, hyper-individualistic. I find her to be one of the rare creatures in movies for whom I have what closely resembles a genuine affection.

It makes my chest heavy, that movie. It ends so poetically, the way it fades out on a view of the impossible road to a possible place the lonely and estranged might belong, indicating that possibility is an end in itself.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I watched Michael Bay's Transformers today for the first time, and was a little non-plussed about it until the last 20 minutes or so. Bay's movies are so easy to spot, containing, as they do: shallow characters, soundtracks packed with infinite trumpets, and of course, people running in slow motion toward the camera. I was watching the film and said to Jay: "you can tell this is a Michael Bay film. All it needs is people running in slow motion." And sure enough, ten minutes later, the last piece of the formula was in place.

Now, I wasn't the biggest fan of Transformers when I was a kid (I actually found the cartoon rather dull). But it was still really cool that they tapped Peter Cullen for the voice of Optimus Prime, and there were some equally cool throwbacks to the era. That said, for the love of god, I want to see transforming robots beating the hell out of each other, not endless scenes cushioned with lame dialogue attempting to bring humanity to characters in a movie about transforming robots. You know what they should have done? They should have done the first half of the movie on Cybertron, and the second half on Earth, dropping all of the inane human backstories. Maybe they'll smarten up for the inevitable sequel.

I also watched Dr. Strangelove with Jay, and worked a bit on my Opera presentation using Google Docs. My group has been using the document manager to hash out a script that we can table-read on Wednesday. So far it's coming together fairly well.

Updated To-Do List:

Friday, November 30th: Bibliographical description exercise - Bibliography
Monday, December 3rd: Presentation on Death in Venice - Opera
Tuesday, December 4th: Presentation on final project - Touch of Evil
Monday, December 10th: Final research paper (max. 15 pages) - Opera
Monday, December 10th: Editorial exercise - Bibliography
Monday, December 10th: Critical reflection paper - Bibliography
Friday, December 14th: Final project - Touch of Evil
Monday, January 7th: Final research paper (max. 14 pages) - African-Canadian Lit

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Today I found out that I didn't get that government position in the policy leader program, whatever that is. After yesterday's obsession with after-school career plans it made me panic and do superficial searches for jobs, browse college programs and think about taking French courses. After awhile I calmed down a bit. My brain is so fucking active sometimes it makes me dizzy. I want to do everything all the time, and while that can be a good thing for creative output, it can also frighten me into not doing anything or doing things poorly.

One thing at a time. School is my priority now. I have, however, decided not to apply for a CCA grant for Ottawa Art Bazaar funding. I don't think my "organization" qualifies anyway, since calling it an artist collective would be a stretch and would require me to seek out detailed member profiles from at least three people (at most the "collective" consists of two - myself and Kat). We're just not grown up enough to count yet.

My goal right now is to get my Master's degree. After that, I'll move back to Ottawa and figure out what I'm getting myself into. I might not stay in the city depending on the kind of work I find or what I become involved in. I do know there are a few things I want to accomplish artistically there, along with people I want to work with and get to know better.

I spent the day in front of the TV. I did write a poem, however, and I think I'm coming to realize why I more or less stopped writing after I finished my undergraduate degree: I don't spend as much time with writers. People who write inspire me to write. The story I wrote last month was prompted only by requests from Cameron and Peter. I need that sort of direction to sustain my output. Otherwise, I grow bored of my ideas and think that they're too dull or meaningless to write out. I need someone there to DEMAND meaning from me, either directly or by virtue of their own work.
I woke up this morning to a package from Amazon sitting on the counter. In my sleepy daze I'd forgotten what I ordered, but it was a gift from Andrea: copies of Paris, je t'aime and Flight of the Conchords Season One. Incredibly generous of her, since I know she can't afford it, and sweet of her because they're a film and show we watched together. I love her.

I brought my camera to campus, but the battery is dead. I was still using the batteries that came with it, so I'll have to find a nice rechargeable or something stronger, especially before I leave for Europe. Class was interesting in that we sat around for most of it talking about the PhD program.

I realized something, sitting there, listening to everyone's questions and comments - I'm not in the headspace I was in while I was doing my undergrad. For those four years I was intent on seeing my education straight through to my doctorate and then going on to teach at the University level. Then I took a year off and forgot what school was like, always thinking that the passion I'd felt for it would return once I went back. I still enjoy school, but my passion to teach isn't what it used to be. Professor Robins gave this advice: do it because you love it. If you don't love it, don't do it, because you'll be spending years doing it.

The thing is, I'm not sure if I love it. I still enjoy going to school, learning, hitting the books. But I've fallen under the impression that I have to admit something crucial to myself - I don't want to play the game of academia. If I wanted to make a success at being a professor, I would have to leave myself completely open to travel anywhere, to start a frequency of publications, to make contacts on conferencing circuits... and I can't guarantee that I'll want to do any of that in five years. The only reason I want to remain in the academic system is to keep learning. And if I really want to do that, if it's really that important to me, I'll do it on my own time. I'm just someone who really craves structure, I suppose. I like being assigned work, completing it, and being told that I did a good job. I'm a total nerd that way. A browner, as the kids in elementary school used to say.

Plus, it keeps me out of the real world. It's not that bad having an organization throw a bunch of money at you to go away to school and study without worrying about work. I'd like to do my PhD eventually, but at my own leisure. I'll be 30 soon. I want more of a prolonged taste of a career than I've had thus far, to find a job that keeps me living pretty well, that will allow me to pay off my loans and save a bit while providing a structure that won't drive me nuts.

Work has always been something I've felt coming at me like a charging weapon out of the darkness. If I prepare myself enough for the blow, I might be able to grab it and use it to my advantage; if I don't, it will kill me. I want to work and enjoy my life. I'm not really a bohemian character in the least. Give me some convention and I'll defend its attacks on my soul in other ways.

After class I went to the walk-in clinic by my apartment to have my cough checked out, but I was told the doctor wasn't in. I filled out a form and went back at around 4, which is apparently when everyone else was told to come back, because I ended up waiting for a good hour. I hadn't seen a doctor in years. He was a nice guy, took my blood pressure, checked my ears and throat, listened to my back and chest with a stethoscope and told me I had acute bronchitis. He prescribed me azithromycin and told me to come back if it isn't gone in five days. Here's to hoping, because I'm forgetting what it's like to breathe normally.

I watched a lot of Seinfeld and Mission Hill, plus episode three of The War. Andrea signed on and between her drunkenness and my anxiety, bronchitis and WWII atrocity headspace we had a stupid exchange of words. Time to sleep in search of tomorrow.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

My diary-keeping schedule is a bit bananas. I ended up going to sleep last night before midnight because I was so wiped from staying up until 5 AM the previous night. The last entry was written sometime yesterday afternoon, but backlogged to get me back on schedule, but then... whatever. Today I've got two entries in one.

I met with the Death in Venice folks yesterday, who I'm liking more and more, and we started putting our script together for the presentation. I've never "scripted" a presentation before. Nor have I ever donned costumes, wigs and moustaches to talk about Greek gods and psychology. Next weekend is our "dress rehearsal;" I'll have to bring my camera so that I can get across some idea of what we've been working at all semester.

Yesterday I received Visconti's film version of Death in Venice in the mail from Amazon, which I'm going to analyze for my paper. It was accompanied by a box set of Mission Hill episodes. I hadn't seen that show in a few years. I watched the first four episodes and it really took me back. I'd almost forgotten how wickedly funny it is. It's great to be able to keep parts of your life with you by having a movie or show at your disposal to call up memories.

I listened to SModcast and hit the sack early, as I said. This morning I woke up and headed to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book library, hellbent on finishing a bibliographical description assignment for tomorrow. I called up a 2nd edition copy of The Monk by Matthew Lewis dated from 1796 and spent four hours writing about its physical makeup. I found the process insanely interesting, even though I hate reading about it on my own time - it was different to actually have the book in front of me, trying to unlock its mysteries. The hands-on aspect to the assignment really appealed to me. After I finished, I logged on to a computer at Robarts and started typing up my research, when I read an email indicating that the assignment due date has been moved to NEXT Friday, so I'll be able to take a second look at the text before I finish it once and for all. Aces.

After the library I went over to the Varsity to meet Ren, and we chatted for a bit before seeing No Country For Old Men, the new Coen brothers movie. I may not be going to the movies as much as I'd like, but the last few films I've seen in Toronto have all been amazing, including this one. If you're a fan of Fargo, it will impress the hell out of you. I actually thought it was BETTER than Fargo. Javier Bardem plays the most chilling killer I've seen in a movie in years. And Josh Brolin is going to be a full-fledged movie star very, very soon. It's enjoyable as an action flick but also has a more subtle narrative level playing around with ideas of fate, expectations, war, border politics and issues of identity. I wanted to see it again right away after it was over to pay more attention to the subtext.

Now I'm home. My computer's chugging a little, so I'd better back up my files just in case it bites the dust. My next computer is going to be a Mac, as sacrilegious as that sounds.

It snowed today.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I hit the library right after film class to work on my Death in Venice research and finally found a great location to work. There's a desk against a corner window on the 13th floor that essentially makes a nook out of the area by the windowsill. The desk wall blocks out traffic noise, and there's a great view to clear my head. I sat for awhile studying Nietzsche and Freud and taking notes before heading downstairs to start typing, and knocked out a page before heading to African-Canadian Lit.

My presentation on Oni went fine, and was the last of the year. Ama Ede was a guest in the class. I've met Ama a handful of times. He used to be the writer-in-residence at Carleton, and before class started we sat around gossiping about Ottawa, which I will take any opportunity to do. He's a good guy and gave a reading of his material after class.

I still had about five pages of Death in Venice research to write, but I was feeling tired so I went home and napped for an hour and a half. I've been having a prolonged series of late nights over the last while, and I figured that as long as I'm inevitably going to stay up until at least 3 AM, I might as well work while I'm doing it. After the nap I ended up picking away at talking points until around 5 before finally hitting the sack.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I skipped yet another Opera class to finish my Oni presentation, which I did and sent out to the masses in hard copy form just before 4 PM. As of 6 PM tomorrow I won't have to worry about it... until I have to reference back to it for my essay.

Andrea and I talked online for a bit today, and she was in a rambunctious mood that made me cheery. I watched some Seinfeld and another episode of The War during which I fell asleep (not for lack of its continued excellence). I managed to polish off half of tomorrow's film class readings, which constitute the last batch of the semester.

I'm starting to tune back into the feeling of relief that comes from finishing work. Oh yeah. That's the stuff.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I wrote up to page 7 for my Oni presentation... over 2000 words. One more point/poem analysis and a conclusion should wrap things up. I'll get it done before I head to Opera class tomorrow. It's been tricky going because I haven't written an essay in about a year and a half and I'm trying to stay in a certain realm of racial sensitivity that doesn't typically milk concerns in my writing style.

Needless to say, lots of Seinfeld today to help me procrastinate appropriately.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Apparently Kyler and Black Hill have parted ways. Still not sure of the particulars.

Today I discovered that I can't spend longer than 3 hours in the library doing research without losing my mind. I've let myself get out of mental shape. However, I did get my core research for the Oni presentation finished, and I even wrote the first page. Tomorrow I'll write the other seven.

I supplemented my day with a lot of Scrubs and Seinfeld, and ordered my first pizza since moving here.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Touch of Evil torrent finally ended its seemingly endless download and... it's in Spanish. Hah. Plus, it's the Murch re-edit version, so it's no good to me on two counts. I'll have to try transferring my VHS copy at Adam's.

I watch a lot of Scrubs and Seinfeld today, plus the flick Contact, stills of which I posted on film_stills. In other film news, Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks have been cast for Kevin Smith's next movie, Zack & Miri Make a Porno. I had just been watching Banks on Scrubs; she played a girl accidentally knocked up by Zach Braff. There's a connection here to be made involving Seth Rogen, Knocked Up, and two guys with variations on the name Zack, but I'm too tired to make it.

Bibliography was kind of neat today, as we had some hands on training on completing bibliographical descriptions of old texts (how they were folded and bound, their measurements, etc.). I'll need the training for an assignment that's due in the class next week. Tomorrow, though, I'm powerhousing through my Oni presentation. I'm going to get all my research done and most of my paper written. I promised Brooke I'd send here a copy before the weekend is out.

Finally got my Eurail pass from FedEx today. One more step towards Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands!

Friday, November 16, 2007

I made it out to Future Shop and exchanged the camera my parents gave me for my birthday for a few DVDs and box sets, including Ken Burns' The War, a 15+ hour documentary on the Second World War. I watched the first disc tonight and it's phenomenal. I had no idea how essentially weak the United States military was when they decided to retaliate on the Japanese for the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They only had about 175,000 troops in place, and it was the draft that brought in the millions they had to train quickly for combat. The first two and half hours of the documentary focuses on battles with the Japanese in the Philippines and the first offensive attack by the Americans mounted at Guadalcanal. Burns uses a lot of old footage and dramatic photographs coupled with modern interviews of surviving members of the military reflecting back on the events. You can see in some of the people interviewed that something inside had been switched off during the war and never switched on again.

I also watched a documentary on the poetry scene in Ottawa, which included recitations and interviews with a few people I know or have met. I forget who says it, but at one point a gentleman says that one has to be willing to approach poets with an open mind, to let themselves be willing for just a moment or two to let in the expression put forward by these people in order to ascertain the value in what they're doing. To be completely honest, I can't shake the feeling that a lot of poets are flakes. On some level, all artists are outcasts looking for an outlet of expression that doesn't exactly match that of anyone else, making their entire life an effort to deviate from a perceived norm in order to exist uniquely. We live under a pioneer mentality, after all.

I see beauty in that. It takes courage. People like George Elliott Clarke, Max Middle, Oni, John Akpata, Melissa Upfold, Stephen Brockwell, Danielle Gregoire and Greg Frankson are all talented people who are also all adorably flaky. They're abnormal miscreants with the souls of angels. Sometimes, admittedly, when I watch a poet, I simply don't GET what they're trying to do. They talk too long or too loud about shit that doesn't interest me. They behave in a smarmy way and act as if a microphone upgrades them to some position in a divine intelligentsia. But the people with a good head for what they do are obvious.

All that said, I'm really absolutely fascinated with anyone who can express themselves outside of a conversation about the weather. You speak to me in tongues or choose to ignore words with the letter u for some arbitrary reason, you'll peak my interest for a few seconds. I'll approach you with an open mind. But for the love of Christ, say something. All true artists are really fucking lonely people in one way or another. How we express that, how we come to terms with it, is what raises us above the pain of it most of the time. It's the creation of our own self-worth in the absence of that which is given to us by others.

Maybe. Just a thought.

I did absolutely no work today.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I went to the seminar on the Synergies project, which is basically a government funded organization that is striving to publish Canadian journals and conferences via its different online systems (it has not yet received its funding). The idea is that it works in coordination with a bunch of Universities across the country in order to keep the systems updated. One fellow was quite adamant about stressing the point that the systems should be bilingual. He honestly wouldn't stop talking about it. In any event, the project is run out of the University's libraries, and I may ask them if I can be of any help in digitizing older documents for web presentation.

I met with the Opera kids and we talked about our presentation, which is shaping up to be something quite neat. When you boil it down, we'll each be talking for about 15 minutes, and that will require about 6 or 7 pages of written material (double-spaced). A piece of cake given how much there is to talk about. I'm to have the research done for next Wednesday.

I walked home from Keele station and ate while watching Scrubs (I'm becoming addicted). I was also in the mood for some 90's caliber, pre-9/11 action movie goodness, so I popped in Arlington Road, a movie my sister gave me a few years ago but that I hadn't seen since theatres. It was about as good as I recall, which is, to say, not very. It proceeds at a decent dramatic clip until about the last 30-45 minutes, when the movie dips further and further into the implausible. It was as if the filmmakers' only concern was to build to a chase scene in which they could bury the fact that they had no idea how to wrap up the narrative. Still, it was kind of interesting watching a movie about terrorism in America only a couple of years prior to the hijackings.

I ordered a copy of Visconti's Death in Venice for my essay. Tomorrow I'm hitting up Future Shop and hopefully starting work on my Oni presentation.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I boarded the bus for class this morning but traffic on Keele Street was completely gridlocked. We sat for nearly an hour and had only moved a couple of blocks. I know there was construction work going on, and that must have been coupled with an accident or fire (a fire truck did speed by, sirens blaring). At one point the driver of a Go bus behind us approached the driver of our bus about his mirror, prompting our driver to put the bus in park and GET OUT to check it out. That's when I decided to hike it home.

I took a nap during which FedEx showed up with what I'm assuming is my Eurail pass. What are the chances they'll come back tomorrow before 11 AM? I have a feeling I'll be asking Jay for a lift to their offices. The remainder of my university bursary appeared in the mail a bit later.

I did return to campus later on for African-Canadian Lit. We watched a film called Rude, which had an involving story and was great in that Canadian production kind of way. Afterwards I tried doing some research on Death in Venice at Robarts, but I couldn't concentrate, so I headed home after about 45 minutes. I used to be able to get a lot of work done at the library at Carleton, but I find Robarts a kind of tricky place to study. The desks are always too open to traffic, and the cleaning staff often decides to buffer the floor with this loud machine right in the middle of the day. I need to find a better study hole.

I walked home from Keele station, poked a bit at some more stuff on Thomas Mann and watched a few episodes of Scrubs (I really dig Zach Braff). Tomorrow I'm meeting with the Death in Venice group for a bit. Before that I'm attending a seminar on making Canadian journals available for online research. More on that after I find out exactly what it entails.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

To-Due List:

Tuesday, November 20th: Presentation on Ghettostocracy - African-Canadian Lit
Friday, November 23rd: Bibliographical description exercise - Bibliography
Tuesday, November 27th: Presentation on final project - Touch of Evil
Friday, November 30th: CCA grant proposal
Monday, December 3rd: Presentation on Death in Venice - Opera
Monday, December 10th: Final research paper (max. 15 pages) - Opera
Monday, December 10th: Editorial exercise - Bibliography
Monday, December 10th: Critical reflection paper - Bibliography
Friday, December 14th: Final project - Touch of Evil
Monday, January 7th: Final research paper (max. 14 pages) - African-Canadian Lit

It makes me feel a bit better laying it all out like that. I've been feeling a little overwhelmed tonight.

After Opera class I walked home from Keele station and watched a making-of featurette on The Sound of Music while eating dinner. I almost finished my film readings, taking a break to crack open Scrubs Season 6. Lots of material on castration anxiety, fetishistic scopophilia and the female lack (in the readings, not on Scrubs). Tomorrow I'll be working on all things Thomas Mann.

I'm missing Ottawa today. Winter is coming. I love those deep winter nights when the sky is pitch black and the streets are lit up with lamps reflecting off freshly fallen snow. The world is enveloped in near silence as no one is out braving the roads. You breathe in and the air is so cold it forms a taste in the back of your throat and hurls itself down into your lungs. You take a step and the ground tightens. The feeling overcomes you that miles away there is something running in your direction, but it will never catch up, and you will never look it in the eye. There is only the quiet and the clouds that exit your mouth and hang for a moment before disappearing completely.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I watched a bit of a sermon on television this morning given by Joel Osten, who my dad is apparently into nowadays. Televangelists have always interested me in a perverse way, ever since I researched some for an essay I wrote on Chaucer's Pardoner. This pastor Osten's church is an old arena in Houston that draws over 40,000 people a week. Barbara Walters called him one of the ten most interesting people of last year, between Jolie/Pitt and Jay-Z. I read a couple of news articles on him, and apparently his deal is that he doesn't talk about sin or the afterlife really at all. He describes himself as more of a motivational speaker, and though he does quote the Bible and such during his sermons, it's to illustrate the point that God wants us to be happy on earth. A lot of other preachers deride Osten, calling his sermons "Christian Lite" because he doesn't mention eternal life in Christ and the possibility of damnation.

I like that positivity vibe, but TV preachers make me uneasy. It's obvious this guy is rich and out to sell books and what have you. The whole idea of God equalling financial abundance reeks of Christian capitalist propaganda. Whether or not Osten really believes what he's saying is up to anyone. It does make me wonder about the thinness of that line between living positively and living religiously. There might be a lot of people out there who have adopted regimens to give them the mental, emotional and spritual strength to get through each day. Is that really any different from a recognized faith?

I think a lot of folks just want to be told that everything's going to be okay. If you're fortunate enough, your parents are there to reassure you for those first few years. After that some of us have to pay for that reassurance.

I watched some of the Ottawa Remembrance Day footage on CBC and it made me homesick. I also watched The Sound of Music (MAN I love that flick) and had dinner before getting on a bus for Toronto. I despise taking the bus. Nothing makes me testier than waiting with a crowd to board a bus, city or otherwise. I give the glare of death to people who cut in line or shift to get closer to the curb. In Peterborough it's even worse because the lineups are never clear and the terminal never makes announcements about where and when to board. Honestly, it's one of the very few things that gets me really pissed off - the lack of order and courtesy in a bus queue. I really should be driving a car.

On my return I did a few readings and sent in some presentation info to Professor Columpar for the class blog. Tomorrow I have Opera class, in which I've lost a lot of interest in general. I have a feeling I'll be logging a lot of hours in the library over the next little while.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My birthday is officially over (at 5 days it's pretty well stretched to the limit). I had dinner with the family tonight, opened some cards and presents, ate some cake and ice cream. My family always gets me gifts even when all I'm good for the rest of the year is a phonecall or email. I should change that. The gift that was going to make me "friggen crap" turned out to be a camera, and I unfortunately purchased a camera recently, so I'm returning it to Future Shop and going on a bit of a spree. Sarah and Mike gave me a copy of Douglas Coupland's The Gum Thief (I'll be reading that on the plane to Berlin). Holly gave me a copy of The Sound of Music, and Adam gave me the sixth season of Scrubs. Aunt Nancy picked me up a Starbucks card - THAT I'll use on campus, for sure.

I put on Touch of Evil after dinner and tried to explain to my folks a bit of what I'm doing at university. My mom really digs Orson Welles and said that she's had Citizen Kane in her head ever since she watched it last night. Watching old movies has become sort of a new thing for my parents and I. It's nice to be able to share a pastime with them.

I picked up a Eurail pass online with a little help from Brenda Thorne. We'll be detouring through Brussels and Amsterdam while I'm overseas. It's been a lazy weekend overall and I haven't done any readings. I'm heading back to Toronto tomorrow after I get my cough checked out by a doctor in town. After I'm back my semester is really going to shift into its last phase. The end is in sight. I have work to do.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Today I used a printing press to press text into a quarto. Tristan seemed pissed about the trouble he had with the assignment, and Eileen seemed pissed that he was pissed, but if I cared any less about any of that trouble I'd fall asleep out of sheer boredom.

"Keep a positive attitude," my old man says, "or negativity will consume you." Good advice, that. My dad told me some old stories about being a kid and spending time on his great-grandfather's farm. He really does have an incredible way of describing things.

snow apples
earth beaten red
and pure, white,
the taste of one
after the

Oni got back to me with answers already and even suggested she attend a lecture. This has the potential to be the greatest presentation I've ever done.

I watched Citizen Kane with my folks and sister, none of whom knew what Rosebud referred to. What a rare treat that was. Tomorrow I'll be blowing out candles and scarfing down cake.

Friday, November 9, 2007

As I briefly mentioned rather drunkenly in last night's post, I went to C'est What with Adam, Ren and Matt, ate the shepherd's pie, had four pints and shot some pool. A fine night out with some fine folks. Matt and Ren are probably the two people in my life that I can most naturally and freely converse with, and hanging out with them together is always twice the good time. I called my mother when I got home, as she'd left a message on my machine, and an email that said:

"I hope you had a great birthday. My thoughts and all my love are yours. WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE YOUR PRESENT!!!!!!! YOU WILL FRIGGEN CRAP!!"

Must be some gift. I hope it's a new pair of pants.

I'm heading home for the weekend tomorrow after class. I finished my annotation work and gave it to Tristan, who put himself in charge of getting everything assembled, but he sent out an email late in the evening sounding very stressed out over losing internet access, having to travel to campus and work on a seminar at the same time. He sounded pissed because Eileen didn't hand over her annotations until pretty late in the day. We'll see what shit goes down tomorrow.

I watched a movie I'd been curious about for awhile entitled Picnic at Hanging Rock, which was apparently a huge hit for Australia in the 1970's. Spoiler Alert: It's about these students of an all-girl school who go on a field trip of sorts to the forests around a formerly active volcano called Hanging Rock. Four of the girls explore the mountain. Only one of them comes back, and one of the supervising teachers goes missing. A week later, one of the girls is found but has no memory of what happened. The movie is famous for two things: it's incredibly atmospheric and surrealistically creepy, and there is no resolution to the narrative's events. I quite enjoyed the first 3/4 of the film, and I was willing to accept that I wouldn't find out what happened to the girls. But what is a narrative supposed to do if it can't close itself? It's left to simply hang there, passing time until an end is finally imposed upon it. And that's a feeling not incredibly akin to quality. Still, I think I'd like to watch it again, because I get the impression there's a level to the film that I don't think one can grasp in a single sitting.

I also watched Fellini's 8 1/2, which was enormously enjoyable even though I couldn't get through it in one piece. Some amazing visual work, really some of the more inventive concepts I've seen, and very self-referential without being arrogant. It's a great movie about directors, and relationships for that matter.

I read Oni's Ghettostocracy and sent off some questions for her perusal. I really have to get started on my final papers and presentations as soon as I get back to Toronto. I applied for a job as a TA for a course in Canadian Short Stories, which would be up my alley and pay well if they find me qualified. I also signed up for a seminar on publishing Canadian journals online; it's taking place at Robarts next Wednesday.

I talked to Andrea yesterday. She's coming home in January. It was a hard decision for her to make. She put together a swell package for me that I received in the mail today, and it contained some great words about simple things she misses about being with me. I miss them, too.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I'm a little drunk thanks to Adam, Ren and Matt, who were gracious enough to cover my dinner and drinks at C'est What. Good guys.

I'm 28. Goodnight!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'm old. Well, older.

The less said about adventures in film semiotics, the better. I finished Notes from the Hyena's Belly, and interestingly enough, it was largely criticized in class. Professor Clarke was trying to think of the name of a Mexican magic realist prose writer whom Mezlekia resembled (it was Laura Esquivel), and a few folks shouted out names. I hazarded a guess with Octavio Paz, who was really the first magic realist writer I ever encountered, and got kind of a weird reaction - laughs, and the assertion that Paz was a poet. I felt kind of silly, until just now, after doing a little research. Paz was definitely Mexican, definitely a magic realist, and definitely a short story writer (I've read "My Life with the Wave") in addition to being a poet. My guess was completely acceptable. And I was feeling disappointed in myself for making it.

Yannick Marshall was a special guest in class today, and he read from the book he just co-authored with Yemi Aganga entitled "Old Friend, We Made This for You." His stuff really blew me away. One of his favorite images seems to be the celestial body, and I asked him why that struck him in particular. He explained that the Toronto skies are grey and imprisoning with pollution in comparison to the night skies of Africa and what he calls in one of his poems "the Diaspora of stars." That's such an amazing way of looking at the night sky, and admitting the power we put in the hands of whatever lingers above our heads. I picked up a copy of his book, which he autographed for me. Very cool.

I walked home from Keele station, made some dinner and watched the Ghostbusters commentary track and the deleted footage on the special edition of Mallrats. Tomorrow I'm meeting with my Bibliography group and going to dinner with some chums for the ol' b-day celebration.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Homework is overrated. At least, that's what I apparently think.

I skipped Opera class today, originally because I wanted to catch a screening of F for Fake, but then I didn't even bother going out at all (I did hit the grocery store for some bread and ice cream cones). I managed to read about 150 pages of Notes from the Hyena's Belly and type up my project proposal for Touch of Evil. I abandoned all hope of finishing the film readings and just decided to sit, listening to the new Buck 65 album, taking swigs of cough syrup every six hours, refilling my water bottle from time to time.

I got a letter in the mail today informing me that I'm receiving a grant under the University of Toronto Advance Planning for Students program; the amount will go towards my tuition and I'll receive a cheque for the remainder. Sure enough, I logged in to ROSI and my tuition has been cleared to a balance of $0.

Having a lot of money worries me. It makes me think I'm doing something very, very wrong. Be that as it may, and that I was more or less raised Protestant and therefore am armed on a subconscious level with their work ethic, I'd better work hard for it. Today was just... well, a bout of general laziness.

Tomorrow I'm 27 for one more day.
I watched Sleepy Hollow today. That film is probably in the top five of films I've built up a hype around seeing for myself, preceded as it was by its amazing teaser trailer. It opens with the impression that a couple and their son are being brutally murdered by a man brandishing an axe before the screen goes black; then, "A Tim Burton Film" lurks forward in smoky text out of the darkness, and Johnny Depp enters the frame, being warned by the people of a town about the legend of the Headless Horseman. If that isn't enough, Christina Ricci makes more than one appearance, and the rest is a montage of Burton-esque goodness before the title burns its way onto the screen: Sleepy Hollow. I LOST it when I first saw the trailer in theatres, as I loved the story of the headless horseman when I was a kid. I was dating Jen at the time, who was a huge Tim Burton fan, and got to see the trailer again with her when she was out visiting. She lost it, too. Here's a random fact: I saw the movie for the first time on November 19, 1999. I remember this, because I'd read in the paper that the numeric abbreviation of the date - 11/19/1999 - would be the last entirely odd-numbered date abbreviation that we'll have until 1/1/3111.

Anyway, the movie is never as good as I remember it. It's GOOD, but it has its flaws. The sets, costumes and art design are all fantastic, and Depp is great, but despite its intended jocular treatment of the situations the screenplay feels too contrived when it isn't trying to be and a lot of the roles feel miscast including Ricci's.

I also watched the commentary for The Wizard of Oz, which was a neat assemblage of old and new interview material and historical factoids. I read some material today including one film article that felt like a complete chore. I've never been interested in semiotics and I'd almost rather hurl myself out of a tree than have another theorist who can't write worth a damn tell me about signifiers while indulging in his own particular neologisms.

Speaking of neologisms and the opaque writings of semioticians, I ran across a nifty word the other day courtesy of J. A. Cuddon, compiler of the Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory:

Verbocrap - "A type of jargon language commonly used by verbocrats, and thus dear to bureaucrats and semi-literate officials of all kinds. It is marked by polysyllabic circumlocutions, crude syntax, faulty grammar and a self-important, orotund tone."

Basically, words written by people who think dizzying readers is the same as impressing them with an argument.

Back to school tomorrow.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

My girlfriend is awesome.

I thought it was way past my bedtime, but the clock has fallen back an hour, so now it's only moderately past my bedtime.

Today I went to the movies. I accidentally bought a ticket for Cronenberg's Eastern Promises and didn't realize it until the title popped up on the screen (I was eased into it a little by the preliminary Telefilm Canada co-production credit). For a minute I thought, "well, okay, I like Cronenberg. Maybe I'll just stay and see it," but five minutes into the film I was presented with bloody vaginal discharge and the most realistic throat-slashing I've ever seen on film. I really wasn't in the mood, especially since I hadn't intended to see THAT film, so I theatre-hopped over to see Gone Baby Gone - Ben Affleck's directorial debut with his brother Casey in the lead. What a fantastic movie. The performances are all top notch, especially Affleck and Amy Ryan, who plays a neglectful Bostonian mother with a mouth like a racist sailor with such centred effect that you'd swear the casting director just picked her up off the street. It's a really intense thriller and one of those great neo-noirs of late that I've been really excited about.

After the flick I grabbed a bagel and coffee and went to Robarts to work on the annotation exercise. My group is looking at the poem "That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the comfort of the Resurrection" by Gerard Manley Hopkins. We have to pick out twenty points for annotation, and I'm looking at extratextual elements. It basically involves researching the etymology of certain terms and expressions via dictionaries, guides and other support materials. After about three hours of research I had picked out seven and decided to call it a night.

I walked home from Keele station and watched some Seinfeld while eating dinner, did laundry, read some more of Notes from the Hyena's Belly, and watched a documentary on the making of Halloween (which primarily features a bunch of people sitting around talking about how great it was to get rich). Think I'll use that extra hour to get some additional sleep.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

I've started taking Cold-FX for this cough, based on a recommendation from Kevin Smith in a diary entry he wrote in My Boring-Ass Life. Apparently it's the cold medicine Canadian swear by. It's a three-day process (9 pills the first day, 6 on the second and 3 on the third), so it's just a matter of popping them and waiting.

Bibliography went down in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library today, an intimidating, dimly-lit, closely-monitored tower that forms the head of the Robarts peacock, where we were given a look at incredibly old books and scrolls. I don't find any of it THAT interesting, but it's unequivocally neat to see anything that's been around for such a long time. I found out that the guys in my group for the annotation exercise both play bass, and one of them plays in the band Malfunktion (it seems as though everyone I've met at U of T is in a band). They were talking equipment and I couldn't even remember what make of bass I own (it's a vintage 'M' series Stagg). Honestly, I've never been interested in that side of playing an instrument. I'm much more concerned with the theatrics of any kind of performance than the specificity of the technical side. Guess that doesn't make me much of a musician. I never claimed to be.

After class I went by Media Commons to find out if I could transfer my VHS copy of Touch of Evil to DVD, and they referred me to the media centre after much hmming and hawing and not agreeing with the principle of what I want to do. Right. I'll figure out a way. I've got a torrent downloading very slowly that may provide me with the footage I need. My goal for my final project is to make comparison clips of the previous cut and the re-edit done by Murch to show exactly what changes were made and how dramatic they are. Could be great if I can pull it off.

When I got home I watched The Truman Show and lounged around being unproductive. I listened to a very good SModcast about Bryan Johnson's chemical imbalance and anxiety - a lot of the stuff he said rang true both of the way I act and the way people I've known have acted. It's beyond interesting to me to hear three intelligent guys sit around talking about that sort of subject matter, especially when one of the guys is Kevin Smith. I know I've mentioned the show before. If you're interested in checking it out, go here.

A date has been set for the new X-Files movie: July 25th of next year. I'm going to line up on Monday.

I started reading "Notes from the Hyena's Belly: An Ethiopian Boyhood" by Nega Mezlekia and I'm about 50 pages in, so I suppose today wasn't completely unproductive. I've made a schedule for myself that stretches into next week and lines up what I want/need to accomplish, starting tomorrow. Here's to hoping I can keep up.