Friday, May 2, 2008

Well, this is it, I suppose. Pretty much just have to shut down and pack up the computer. It didn't take too long to pack. I'm not leaving with too much more than what I came here with.

Note to self: don't go out drinking the night before moving again, no matter how good of an idea it seems. And if I do, stay away from red wine. It was good seeing Matt one last time anyway. We had dinner at Mackenzie's, a sports bar near his place. I had the chicken fingers.

I walked home up Keele Street. It was pouring rain and I played a game of duck and cover between the bus stop shelters. I must have looked suspicious. After awhile I stopped minding the rain and just walked. Near my place a couple were having an argument, the woman screaming at the man as he walked away.

I've really missed my girlfriend.

I'm starting a new journal tomorrow once I'm back in Ottawa. I'll post the address here.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Today is my last full day in Toronto, which, to be honest, doesn't feel as much like a city I used to visit for field trips. You spend enough time in a city and you become used to the idea that its structures and streets and parks and whatnot don't really go anywhere. And while I've been provided with some memories that will last me a lifetime, I've long since gotten used to that feeling that Toronto usually puts in me, that combination of melancholy and nostalgia and excitement and pure happiness that runs through me all at once as one experience triggers every other experience I've had here simultaneously. The city has become new to me in the way that it's become familiar.

Yesterday I handed in my essay, wandered around Value Village, came home and crashed. I woke up at sunset and went to the grocery store with the air that it would be my last trip, realizing afterwards that I'll probably have to go back to nab a box or two to pack tonight. I picked up copies of Diner and Monty Python's And Now For Something Completely Different that were on sale, plus the essentials for the 36 hours one has left to spend in a place: Pop Tarts, soup, and peanut butter chocolate granola bars. I watched Diner and tried to understand that for the first time in months I didn't have to think about school work.

Tonight I'm getting together with Matt to have a beer and say so long for the time being. I'll have to spend the greater part of the day packing, but first I have to take back the rest of my library books and pay my fines, otherwise I'm pretty sure U of T will fail me out of spite.

Last night I ordered one of the new iMacs from Future Shop. I should have it next week. It's the newest computer I've ever purchased and it's effing pretty:

Ooo. Ahh.

I'm off. Tomorrow will be my last entry.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

To blog or pass out. So many options.

Anyone can write a good paper if they write it from the inside out. You start with a few arguments. They don't have to be related. Then you write a sentence or two that draws connections between the arguments. Connections are a lot easier to make than the average person might think, especially if you have an abstract imagination and sound convinced enough. Then you write an introductory paragraph stating that each section of arguments links together somehow. Then you write a conclusion saying, to an effect, "told you so." Voila. Instant A-.

They give Master's degrees to jokers like me. I'm assuming. We'll see how the marks pan out.

Titles of the main essays and projects I've written this year:

Balancing Acts: Comparing Storytelling Media Across Representations of Death in Venice

Memo-rizing Touch of Evil: The Execution and Effect of Orson Welles’ Intentions

Embodying Africadia: Representations of the Female Body in the Works of Oni the Haitian Sensation and Afua Cooper

Avant-Garde Webslinging: Electronic Literature and the User

Man Without a Past: Douglas Coupland in Canada

Re-visioning Convention: African American Representation and the World War II Film

An End, A Beginning, A Middle: Temporal Rupture in Morrison’s Beloved, Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, and Kelly’s Donnie Darko

I'm done University again. Think I'll pass out now.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Up at 8:30, or what I'd define as an ungodly hour. Yesterday I asked for a one-day extension on my paper. I finished my arguments for Donnie Darko and wrote 13 annotations. I'm starting to think I might pull this off.

A friend of mine on Facebook posted a great note about words and phrases us grad students are relieved to no longer have to use now that classes are coming to an end. Here's my list:

- Epistemology
- Ethnocentric/graphic
- Hermeneutics
- Interesting
- Neologism
- Ontological
- Pragmatic
- Sociocultural

I know "interesting" may seem out of place on that list, but it's been a long year of people overusing that word, myself included. I can't count the number of sentences I've heard prefaced with "It's interesting that..." Saying something is interesting only goes to show that there's something you want to say about a subject but are too unfocused to actually say it. Those sentences usually end with a loss in train of thought, or the words, "Sorry, I'm rambling." Again, I'm as guilty as anyone else in perpetuating its use.

The Touch of Evil screening at Innis Town Hall was fun. Brought back some memories of last semester. Is it possible to have nostalgia for something that happened four or five months ago? Anyway, it was good to see Dru one last time before we both shoved off. It's interesting that the commentary he recorded for the film was the impetus for the reunion, yet he showed up midway through the screening because he was playing along with a Dark Knight public viral marketing campaign that let him see the new trailer. Sorry, I'm rambling.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I'm 3263/5000 words into the essay, which is fine - that's really only a couple more hours of writing. I still haven't started the bibliography. I have to put more of a focus on that today and churn it out. Throwing another kink into the plan is a screening of Touch of Evil that I should attend tonight, because people from the class are getting together. I might be able to do it.

I watched and wrote on Donnie Darko last night, and I could have written the entire paper on that film alone. I've seen it many times before, but I've never done a close reading of it. It's do damned intricately woven by parts that seem unrelated to one another but actually help explain how and why things are happening.

Okay. Transit's running again, so I'm off.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I wrote just over 1500 words of the paper last night, but I wasn't able to crack the bibliography. I split the arguments up between Beloved and Waiting for Godot. Hopefully I'll have both sections finished by the end of the day. That seems unlikely, however, since I'm in need of secondary sources at the library and still can't get to campus. Apparently the strike is set to end by the end of the day, so at least I'll have Monday and most of Tuesday.

That's it, really. Back to work.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The TTC union went on strike at midnight last night out of nowhere, and transit isn't expected to start running again until Monday at the earliest, so that kind of fucks up my plans of heading to campus this weekend. Had to happen the last weekend I'm in town, and while I'm working on the last essay I have to write. The next three days are going to be intense. 5000 words and a 40 item annotated bibliography.

Today's goal: 1500 words on Beloved. 10 items annotated.


Buck 65 was his usual rad self. Cadence Weapon and Skratch Bastid were both good too. I met up with Ren and his lady friend Rachel and we had dinner before the show. The Danforth Music Hall is a strange venue. It's really not designed for a show like that. Not enough standing room. But we were up front anyhow.

I had lunch with Amanda yesterday. The goodbyes have started. Looking forward to some hellos.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I really need to buy new underwear. I mean really, it's getting ridiculous.

Last night I went to bed at around 2 with a page or so left to write in my essay, but my mind was racing, so I got up and just finished the damn thing: "Re-visioning Convention: African American Representation and the World War II Film." I still couldn't fall asleep until 5 or so, so I'm tired this morning. I had a pretty great idea for a new art project that I'd like to work on once I'm back in Ottawa. It would take some coordination, but I think it would be really neat.

It's going to be a bit of a long day, as I'm heading to campus to hand in the paper, having lunch with Amanda, and then meeting up with Ren to see Buck 65. Pretty much makes today a write-off for working on my last paper.

One more paper. Right now it sounds good. I'm sure I'll be driven nuts by the time it's done. Should make the few remaining updates on this site entertaining.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I am apparently more concerned with organizing a party taking place two weeks from now than I am with writing an essay that's due tomorrow, the reason being one is much more fun than the other.

Anyhow, I'm getting this puppy done today. I need six pages to hit the minimum, though I'd like to get eight. I'll be shoving off to the library soon. Yesterday I watched Stalag 17 and Hart's War and tried to come up with possible comparisons. It's difficult commenting how how race is used to change a narrative. In a way, though, I feel by writing a paper like this it takes me out of a sentamentalist approach to the subject matter. I can't write a paper on race that just screams "Prejudice is unfair!" over and over in a variety of ways. I have to take a step back and analyze how prejudice is affecting the film from a structural standpoint. That's hard to do, but I'll give it a shot.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I got about eight pages of my Race and Cinema essay written yesterday, if you count the images I added, which I will to make myself feel better. Today I'm going to watch Stalag 17 and Hart's War and take notes for the second part. Two more days. I guess it's doable, though I have to say it isn't really provoking my interest.

I found out that I received an A on my Avant-Garde conference paper, which was worth 55% of the course. That puts me in pretty damn good standing. It's stuff like that that makes me think, "PhD? No problem!" But we'll see how everything else lines up.

I did my taxes the other day. Getting a giant return. For a moment it said that I owed money, but then I remembered I hadn't included my tuition. I'm going to be okay money-wise for awhile. I just wish I knew where it's going to come from once it starts running out.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Well, I've had my morning "Will I find a job?" freak-out and I'm ready to get back to working on papers. Yesterday I watched Twelve O'Clock High and The Tuskegee Airmen back to back and took a bunch of notes. Hopefully I'll get eight pages written today.

It's hard to believe that I'll be in Ottawa in a week and a half. As slowly as January and February passed, March and April have whizzed right by.

I got a bunch more writing done last night. I think I'm worming my way back into a groove.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Coupland paper is done. I now have four days to write my Race and Cinema paper, and eight to write my Tragedy paper. Two more papers to go.

I watched a few episodes of Flight of the Conchords yesterday, plus The Snowball Effect, which is one of the more creativity-inspiring documentaries I've seen. It's nice to have films to watch that give a little creative boost. I got some more writing done.

Lame entry, I know. All I can think about is handing that paper in, so I'd better go do it and move on.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I wrote another eight pages of my Coupland paper yesterday, so I've hit the minimum length. Everything else I add now is gravy. I'll come up with a couple of additional points to make, ensure that all of my sources are accurate, put together a bibliography and that will be it.

I hung out with Mike and Sonja at Whelan's Gate for a bit last night. I hadn't seen them in forever. It was good to catch up. I'm more into the idea of keeping in touch with old friends recently. A few months ago I paid Mike a large sum of money that I've owed him for awhile, and it was nice not to have to think about that while we spent time together. Not that he was ever remotely a jerk about it. Money between friends is just one of those ills I hate dealing with.

Lately I'm becoming increasingly aware of my relationship with the Internet and popular culture in general and the kind of effect these things are having on me as a person. I'm reaching a sort of understanding that I've needed to reach in order to feel better about getting older. The actions that I take have consequences, they're just not always the consequences that are dictated to me by the information I encounter day to day. How to put it into words? Communications media creates an idealistic, virtual world that champions the average as being fantastic. The real-life consequence is that I begin to see life as incredibly, unbearably average INSTEAD OF fantastic.

I've thought about maybe giving up the Internet game, but it still doesn't strike me as the right decision. Just because I turn off my computer doesn't mean the rest of the world stops cruising. Then again, maybe I really am just a victim of this fear of not being plugged in.

You know, I haven't had cable television or listened to the radio for almost a year and it's been awesome. Every time I'm informed about some new trend I've never heard of, I feel... amused. Is this the way our parents felt when they fell out of the youth demographic? Information dieting is fantastic. Trims the fat off the soul.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I got a text from Andrea this morning. While I was lazily snoozing in bed she climbed the CN Tower steps in 34:34. That's my girl. Take THAT, global warming.

I wrote ten pages of the Coupland paper yesterday at Pratt and returned an armload of library books. Hopefully I'll get another ten or so done today so that I can wrap it up tomorrow. I'm putting a fair bit of information into it but I have to manage the flow a bit better. It's not like another paper in that it's more like a story than a series of arguments. Plot developments, not points.

Last night I watched Speed 2: Cruise Control for the first time. What an astoundingly ridiculous piece of crap film. It was painful to sit through. I kept yelling at the TV to be less stupid. Sandra Bullock is just one of those actresses that steps on my last nerve.

Friday, April 18, 2008

So it looks like a transit strike is immanent, which would really put a kink into library work. I don't know how I'd get to campus. I suppose I might have to ask Jay to drop me off at insanely early times before he heads to work. But hopefully things will get resolved and it won't come to that.

I finished transcribing the Coupland interview. I'm heading to campus today to write at least the bulk of it. As much research as I need to pull in for it, it's also heavily narrativized, so it should be fun to write. I sent him a few of the pictures I took and he responded with a nice email saying he hoped to see me many more times in the future.

I need to track down a copy of Twelve O'Clock High for my Race and Cinema essay. I'm abandoning the structure I had in place for it and doing two sets of comparisons, one on Twelve O'Clock High and The Tuskegee Airmen, the other on Stalag 17 and Hart's War. I'm going to take a look at the generic changes that occur in a WWII film when a plot concerning race is grafted on to the narrative.

I got some more writing done last night. I don't want to jinx it, but hopefully this marks the start of a new routine.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I got through an hour of the interview yesterday in about 5-6 hours. I'm hoping to have it fully transcribed by the end of the day. Tomorrow I'll start making daily trips to campus so that I can study and start putting in some real essay time. I should portion out the work I do each day the way I did with the papers I had to write last week. Thank goodness classes are over.

I got some writing done last night. I felt the need to before I went to bed. It's encouraging. I'm trying to have more faith in my ideas and explore them a bit more. I don't know what will come of it, but the main thing is I'm getting it done.

Here's a bit of advice from the man:

Scenes just tend to burn themselves out. The art scene here in Vancouver was fantastic until the year before Expo, and then Expo came in and hired everyone up. And what happens, and this is true for any art form but really for writing and visual art, is the moment you get a day job to pay for the weekends, you never go back. No one ever goes back. Ever. It’s kind of like this decision. I saw that really young, and I really made a vow to stick with it. And I learned that by the time you’re 30, if you’re still doing what you’re doing, two things happen, maybe three: All your competition falls away. Suddenly, you’re doing it, and there’s no more competition. You submit something and great, you’re in. That’s because if you’re doing it at 30 people realize you’ve stuck with it and that you’re committed to it. And the people who weren’t committed to it have fallen off. They’re now doing corporate brochures or working on whatever, the Bingo newsletter. That’s the magic year. Stick to it until 30. You’ve got two more years to go.

This was part of a response to a question about art communities. I didn't even tell him I was a writer.

I'm excited for Ottawa.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Transcribing interviews takes a long time. I put most of the Baxter interview into text, or at least the relevant parts. Coupland is going to take forever, especially given how low his voice is. It's probably going to drive me loony. I did write about a page and a quarter of the final profile, so at least that's underway.

I stressed a bit about finding a job last night. Just have to keep at it once I'm free and clear. I know I'll end up with SOMETHING, I'd just like it to pay fairly well and provide me with some useful experience.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Back in Ontario. It's hard to believe one can cross the country in a day and still have a few hours to relax after the fact. I had a connecting flight back this time at Winnipeg. WestJet was an okay airline. It was reasonably priced and got me were I was going. But I still resent having to buy a sandwich on a plane if I'm hungry. But hey, when you're in a plane you feel like the king of the world, in a position to demand all sorts of luxuries bestowed upon you. Make with the slippers and sceptres!

I bought a bunch of crap food after I returned to ease back into life. I still haven't unpacked. The next couple of weeks are going to be busy. Let me break down the list:

Monday, April 21st - Biography paper due (18-25 pages)
Friday, April 25th - Race and Cinema paper due (15-20 pages)
Tuesday, April 29th - Tragedy paper and annotated bibliography due (5000 words, 40 items)

It's going to take me hours to transcribe the interview footage I collected this weekend. I'll try and get a portion of it done today.

I posted trip photos on my Facebook account. Check 'em out.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Douglas Coupland's front door looks like part of the outside wall to his house. He seemed genuinely surprised I wasn't able to find it.

In the morning I left the hostel and took a bus across the Lions Gate Bridge. It spit me out right in front of the Staples at Capilano Road and Marine Drive, the store in which The Gum Thief is largely set. I took a picture of the store, went inside, and bought a notebook and pen. Then I went to a nearby Denny's for breakfast. After the meal I walked down Marine Drive to the Park Royal mall and killed some time reading City of Glass before getting on the bus that would take me most of the way to Coupland's house. I got off a bit earlier than needed and walked the few remaining blocks up the mountain on which his house sits, buried in foliage at the end of a cul-de-sac. An oversized plastic Windex bottle in the window gave the place away instantly.

He made some coffee and gave me a tour of the place, showing me where he writes and works on his visual work. The place was a mishmash of stuff that he's worked on over the years, chaotically scattered on floors, bookcases and tabletops. He recently bought the house behind his with plans to turn it into a gallery space and guest house, and he showed me how it was being gutted, and how he had discovered a spot in the kitchen that had become his favorite place to sit and read. He showed me projects he was working on, and gave me clover from the garden that had fallen into overgrowth due to his gardener becoming pregnant and having to take time off.

We talked for about two and a half hours despite the effects of a cold he was enduring. I asked him most of the questions I had come armed with, but the conversation would often take new paths into areas I was just generally curious about. He told me a couple of things off the record, adding on one occasion that he'd never told what he was telling me to an interviewer before. I gave him a bottle of wine I'd brought. He had to leave at 5:30 to attend a retirement party for his father, so he gave me a ride back to Marine Drive where he stopped off for another bottle at a shop ("Now I only have to buy one!"). He walked me to the bus and told me to let him know when I'd be in Vancouver next so that I could check out the new house after it's finished. I told him I'd send him some pictures of the trip. We shook hands. He pointed out my Amsterdam shoulder bag, equating it with me telling him about my trip to Europe earlier.

I got back on a bus, dizzy after it all. I got off at Park Royal and walked back to the hostel - over the Lions Gate Bridge, around Stanley Park and into downtown. The bridge was extraordinarily high and it took some getting used to. I took a ton of pictures.

Crossing that bridge back into the city with the North Shore mountains at my back was one of the most significant moments I've experienced in my life thus far. This whole day has made me feel as though I've been reborn. I need to channel that feeling into something brand new.

I've got a new pen, and a new notebook. That's all I need.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Today was the first day I've been able to walk around outside without a coat in months.

To begin at the beginning: I caught the 44 bus to UBC, which is a bit of a haul from downtown Vancouver. On the bus I listened to people talk about this and that. It was strange hearing Seattle come up in conversations as a location to travel to like Toronto or Montreal. When I got to the UBC campus there was a huge party happening outdoors. Booths were setup, games were being played. There was also a stage set up for a show that was happening in the evening, and Stars came on to soundcheck a few songs. I walked around a bit and took some pictures. I was having a coffee when two people, one dressed like a penis and one like a vagina, passed by giving out free condoms. Then two MORE people passed, one dressed up like Pac-man and the other like a ghost, chasing each other.

Unfortunately I couldn't catch up with them afterwards as I had an interview to attend to. Gisele Baxter and I talked for over half an hour about Coupland, Canadian literature, Gothic literature, modern technology, and the future of the novel. She was excited to talk and I got some great material from her that should help out with my Biography paper. After the interview I walked around campus for a bit before I hopped a bus back downtown.

After dropping some stuff back at the hostel, I went for a stroll up Bute Street to the harbour and took loads of pictures. Vancouver is beautiful. Even downtown has tranquil and removed sections that appear out of nowhere. Its sidestreets travel either down or uphill, providing vistas to horizons that beg to be discovered. There are flowers EVERYWHERE. Heading north leads to a sublime view of the North Shore mountains and the cargo ships and seaplanes coming and going from the city. I walked back and had dinner at a nearby restaurant called Characters, which was a tad expensive but serves a ton of food for the price. I ate chicken souvlaki while also devouring Coupland's book on Terry Fox. I swung by a 7-11 for some chocolate and returned to the hostel exhausted, finishing the book and passing out at the late hour of 9 PM (12 AM EST).

This morning I woke up and had breakfast with Heidi at a Denny's two blocks away. She was in town for a job interview which apparently went very well. We talked for an hour or so over breakfast and parted ways. I decided to visit the Museum of Anthropology, which meant that I had to return to the UBC campus. I caught the 4 because the 44 doesn't run on the weekend. Once I was on campus I asked the bus driver for some directions, and he told me that I was lucky I was asking him because he bikes around the area just to provide answers to questions like mine. He also told me to walk AROUND the museum before I enter to check out the carvings. A man sitting on a bench by the bus door corroborated the advice, so off I went.

It was a gorgeous day with the sun full in the sky. Campus was alive and beautiful, with rows of cherry blossom trees adorning the occasional sidewalk. I've never breathed air like there is here; when you breathe, you breathe air that's coming down out of the mountains, in from the sea, and filtered through the city's greenery.

The view around the museum was fantastic, with mountain ranges stretching along the coast. The carvings turned out to be a recreation, in part by 20th century Haida artist Bill Reid, of a Haida mausoleum and burial ground with enormous totem poles and door/wall posts. The museum contained more of the like plus drawers and drawers full of artifacts from countries all over the world. I found out what Haida, Salish, Tsimshian, and Kwakiutl totem poles signify: the creatures carved into them are characters from the stories produced by the family who displays them. Only the family has the license to tell their own stories and impart their significance. Totem poles are indications of identity and place.

I left the museum and bussed back downtown to take off for Stanley Park. My intention was to cut the park into an 'S' shape, making my way up to Lions Gate Bridge. I had a bit of trouble finding a path that cut through the causeway and had to double back, but I'm glad I did, because it gave me an opportunity to see Beaver Lake. It was peaceful, covered with water lilies and silence. A group of young people sat nearby listening to their friend play guitar.

I continued towards a destination I'd been looking forward to seeing - the hollowed-out tree. Coupland has a story about how his car was stolen by teenagers and parked in the tree while he was out of town. His mother phoned him and asked him if he did it as an artistic gesture. Approaching it I noticed it had been surround by 7-foot-high blue fencing, so access to it directly was impossible. As I was taking it in a car pulled up and an older woman and middle aged man got out. She wanted a picture of the tree. We both got pictures by snapping them over the fence. I took two before my camera battery died. As they were leaving I overhead the man say that the city is tearing it down. I asked him why, and he said it was becoming a safety hazard - the top of the tree was visibly held in place by cables and slats. The tree was just too old to keep acting as a tourist attraction. I said it was too bad, and he said, "Yeah. Time takes everything away eventually." I wrote those words down on my map. A limousine pulled up and some kids dressed for a formal got out. They had wanted their pictures taken with the tree. The driver snapped them lined up with their backs to the fence, and everyone climbed back in the car and took off.

I decided I'd better call it a day as I was getting tired and the sun was starting to go down. I had one more point of interest - cherry popsicles. In his entry on Stanley Park, Coupland talks about how nice it is to walk the perimeter and grab a cherry popsicle at Lost Lagoon when all is said and done. I found a sign pointing the way. I walked through the forest, running into only the occasional person. At the end of a trail called Lovers Walk I found a view with an infinite expanse of water like the one I'd seen on Long Island five years ago, where the sea and the sky meet almost indiscernably.

I found a concession stand, ordered a cherry popsicle, and went to sit at Ferguson Point. When I was eating a plane flew by with a marriage proposal on a banner attached. I watched people playing on the beach far down below and tried to figure out which of the houses on the North Shore belonged to Coupland. Satisfied, I kept walking down the western coastline of the park. The number of people grew the closer I got to the downtown area. People sat on the beach and on massive stones on the shoreline and walked their dogs and biked and rollerbladed. All in front of an astounding view. I've never seen anything quite like it.

My last point of the day: breaking my refusal to eat fish. Sushi seems to be the meal of choice in this town because it comes in so fresh. I looked up some restaurants in the area and settled on Urban Sushi at Hornby and Dunsmuir. When I got to the restaurant it was closed, so I wandered around looking for a substitute. I finally chose Tsunami Sushi on Robson. They sat me at a bar in front of a little river on which boats of food passed by. You could take stuff at will, but since I've only eaten sushi twice in my life before I ordered off the menu with a list of food Coupland recommended in City of Glass and ate while reading Life After God. Reading Coupland in this city makes me feel like a total tourist. It was all delicious. I had to spy on the people next to me to figure out how to mix the wasabi and soy sauce, and my first attempt made my eyeballs pop out, but I got the hang of it.

I've spent a fair bit of money on meals, but it's been worth it. I mean, my diet typically consists of cereal, soup and bread, so it's nice to eat differently for a change. Tomorrow I'm heading north through Stanley Park and over the Lions Gate Bridge to North Van. I have one more attraction in particular that I want to check out: the Staples at which Coupland set his last novel. From there it's interview time.

I have a lot to talk with him about. More than I thought, given the experiences I've had in the last couple of days. I'm back at the hostel now and as exhausted as I was yesterday, if not more so. Time to hit the sack.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm in Vancouver. I'm very tired. That's what happens when you have to leave the house in the middle of the night to catch a bus to the airport to make a 7 AM flight. The hour and a half or so of sleep I did get was thanks to the two seats next to me being empty. I'm not usually one to stretch out on public transit, but I think I would have passed out on the people next to me had the seats been taken.

First impressions of Vancouver:

- It's very fucking green. Unbelievably, extraordinarily green. It's as though urban planners cleared just enough space in a forest for buildings and roads. What's left takes the form of giant elderly trees and millions of hedges cut into tidy, oblique shapes.
- Bus announcements of upcoming stops are preceded by a Windows error chime.
- The streets run up and down hills, the way that I remember Kamloops working. Riding up and down hills is an odd sensation and doubly odd once you realize why it's odd - the non-flatness of things feels off.
- There sure is a lot of water everywhere. It's kind of surrounded by water as the Fraser river cuts the lower part of the city in half before flowing out around Vancouver Island and west into the Pacific. I'll be seeing a lot more of the water as I'm heading out to UBC, Stanley Park, and the North Shore while I'm here.

The hostel is just south of the gayborhood here. Plenty of restaurants and shops around. I'm meeting Gisele Baxter in about two and a half hours so I'd better figure out where the hell I'm going. I actually got on a bus going in the wrong direction when I made the transfer from the airport bus, but it only carried me one stop before I realized what happened. Navigating is a piece of cake once you realize where you're not supposed to go.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

So, mentioning Steph in yesterday's post prompted me to go back to old LJ entries to remind myself of what actually happened between us a little over three years ago. And then I started flipping through the calendar and remembering things I'd forgotten. When I read that stuff it sure feels as though I've grown up. But it's like me to say that. Not only that, it's like me to point out that I'd say it's like me to say that. I really liked icing those old entries with a bit of self-awareness in the form of an "Oh well, in a few years I'll have this figured out and laugh at myself" kind of comment. So at least I did have a bit of faith in myself.

I'm not sure how much I'll be updating this weekend. I might bring my laptop, but if I don't I'll try to get on the hostel computer. I need to do a bunch of research today and buy some batteries. I also should really transcribe my Hutcheon interview so that I can clear it off the recorder.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Things are getting hectic, and updating keeps slipping my mind. But classes are DONE. I'm three papers and a bibliography away from my Master's degree. Which is still a hell of a lot. But it will all be over with in three weeks.

The last of the Avant-Garde conference went down today, and actually went over in time, making me 20 minutes late for Race and Cinema. But we had our last class at Bar Mercurio, so things were a bit looser than usual. We sat around bashing the film Crash for a couple of hours before filling out course evaluations. Now THAT was an interesting task to perform after a pint. It felt unnatural.

I had some McDonald's on the way home. I'll probably just chill out for the rest of the night. Last night I slept for a long time and had some really weird dreams about Steph and being in an air crash. Which is not a great dream to have before you get on a plane. But I'm sure it doesn't literally indicate that my plane will crash. It's probably just quite metaphoric for what became of mine and Steph's friendship.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I'm in between classes dropping my laptop back off at the apartment. I just delivered my Avant-Garde conference paper and it went okay, though I rambled a bit during the question period as per usual. That class is over with, Tragedy is done. Biography and Race and Cinema are soon to follow. I have to print out my bio paper and head back to campus. No rest for the weary.

Literally. No rest. I was up late working on the paper and had three hours of sleep total. And I couldn't have a coffee this morning because my stomach was still wonky from the pizza. I should plan meals like that better.

Onward ho.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Almost forgot to update today. I haven't done a lot of work today, and the day has gone by fast. I just ordered a pizza and I need to press myself on that last presentation. Five more pages. Yesterday I finished my biography presentation at Pratt, so barring some last minute editing it's pretty well good to go. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

I was up kind of late thinking about things, the future, what have you. Something inside me is going to break eventually, and soon. I can feel it. And I'm looking forward to it happening. I'm going to leave behind all this childish worry, apply myself and find happiness. It's just a matter of time.

Last week Tim mentioned a prof he used to have whose only comments about a presentation he had made had to do with his hair and clothes. He was joking around, but this morning I decided to shave and get a haircut. I'd been planning it for awhile, anyhow. I wanted to look different, and now I do, and I feel a bit better about my last few weeks. 26 days, apparently. Start the clock.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I have a meeting with Gisele Baxter on Friday at the UBC campus, which means I'll be heading to the hostel after I get off the plane and getting right back on a bus. Last night I read an article Baxter wrote a little over a year ago for UBC Reports, in which she talks about modern communication and privacy. If you're anything like me, you read the word "privacy" and switch off because, hey, you're not doing anything wrong, right? And the powers that be probably don't notice you. You blend in nice and inconspicuously, to the point where you don't worry about what people find out about you. Check this out:

E-mail has become so common that I wonder what the collected correspondence of notables will resemble by the end of this century. Social networking systems such as LiveJournal or MySpace enable easy development of interactive multimedia sites to be shared with existing friends and promoted to attract new ones. A cellphone now allows you to chat while text-messaging while checking email while taking a picture while listening to downloaded music. Especially but not only among young people this is changing the nature, even the syntax of communication, and challenging notions of privacy.

We may actually have come to fear privacy as too much like loneliness. YouTube is full of webcam-recorded confessions that before would have been consigned to a diary kept safely hidden. Do we dare to say something without at least the chance of an audience? With all the instantaneous communication at our disposal, have we come to dread not having a lengthy "friend list?” And what does this contact amount to: conversation in the traditional sense, or snippets of information and links to homemade videos and reports of celebrity transgressions?

Now, I bolded that one line because I've never looked at privacy that way before, and it makes perfect sense to me to think of it as a kind of loneliness. Everyday we experience unknown people becoming known in exchange for their privacy. A person creates a confessional video blog one day and it's viewed by thousands of people the next because of some meme within it that the general population identifies with. That person becomes known to the world. Meanwhile, others witness this and due to the frequency with which it happens grow to expect that it will happen to them. "Privacy," therefore, becomes indicative of being unrecognizable to the world, and loneliness sets in. Most people are still generally just another face in a sea of faces, of course, but the way the Internet works makes us think otherwise.

I found out another interesting piece of information yesterday. If you want to book Kevin Smith for a Q&A appearance, you'd best be prepared to have in excess of $60,000 to pay for it.

I spent a few hours in Pratt library yesterday hitting my quota of pages for next week's biography presentation. It's coming along rather nicely. I'll get another four pages done today and that should about finish it up.

When I got home I watched the James Cameron commentary track for Titanic. I don't know why I'm getting such a huge kick out of that movie lately. It has been one of my favorites for years. It makes me want to work in the movie-making industry, and that's all I need - another path to choose from.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I suppose I'm not as hungover as I could be, given the amount I drank last night. I reached my goal for my biography presentation yesterday (research and one page written), so I was able to attend the Eels show guilt-free. The show was spectacular, as was spending time with Ren, Matt and Kirsten. E played a really stripped back set with one other member (The Chet!) which included Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor. One more life goal accomplished. The show opened with a documentary film about E trying to learn more about his father Hugh Everett, who invented parallel universe theory. The way that quantum mechanics is explained in the film is rudimentary but incredibly fascinating. A great show overall.

We ended up at the bar I went to a couple of weeks ago with the film crew, and I still can't remember the name of it. Afterwards Matt and I headed back to his place and watched A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 3 while drinking tequila he picked up in Mexico. When the movie was over I stumbled home to the sound of chirping birds.

It looks like I'll be interviewing Professor Gisele Baxter from UBC on my trip next weekend. She's one of the few professors I've found who teach Coupland as part of a University syllabus. I'm looking forward to meeting her, given that her interest in turn-of-the-millennium literature thematics is really similar to an interest I've had for awhile in turn-of-the-millennium film.

Four more pages to write today. Better get to it.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Andrea advised my to assign workloads and schedules to each day this weekend so that I could get my papers written, and I thought it was a good idea. I aimed for three pages yesterday on my Avant-Garde paper and ended up with two and a bit (with some good stuff, I might add), but at least that's something. Today I'm going to start researching my paper on postmodern biography and get one page written. Then I'm going to be serenaded by Eels and hang out with Matt, Ren and Kirsten.

Jay came home sick earlier than usual yesterday, and he's taken the day off from work. It was apparently gorgeous outside yesterday. I got an impression of the weather when I went grocery shopping. It's going to be awhile before I can go outside more regularly, but my trip to Vancouver should give me a fix until papers are done with.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I got most of my Tragedy readings out of the way yesterday (unprecedentedly) so that I could focus on the presentation and paper I'm writing this weekend. As excited as I was to get out of bed at 9:30, I ended up falling asleep on the couch around 2. I may as well accept the fact that I'm most awake after noon and I should adjust my work schedule accordingly until I actually have a job that requires me to get out of bed earlier.

Race and Cinema was fine. I'm moving to Ottawa in exactly one month.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Up early today and ready to work. I have a lot of it to do over the next week, so I need to take advantage of the time that I have, especially since I'm seeing the Eels play on Friday night. My film reading is done and I'm downloading Far From Heaven.

Classes were fine yesterday. I really enjoy Tragedy once the discussion gets going. Quayson's an excellent prof. I can tell he's an excellent prof because I respect him even though my marks aren't as high as they could be. THAT'S the sign of being taught by someone worthwhile. And being taught, actually sat down and instructed, at this level, is rarer a thing than I had hoped for at this level. Learning from someone else is what keeps me interested in school.

I had a long lunch with Amanda after Avant-Garde. She's a great person to talk with. In Biography there were two pigeons sitting on the windowsill of the room throughout the entire class, trying to avoid the wind. I walked home from Keele Station, watched the Daily Show, talked with Andrea for a bit (whom I'm still in love with a year after I first said it out loud) and got to bed at a reasonable hour.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April is here. Finally. March felt shorter than February, so at least things are picking up speed.

Coupland sent me his home address, and I'm officially meeting with him on Sunday the 13th. From now until then I'm going to have to put some worthy questions together. This weekend I have a conference paper and a presentation to work on, so it will have to come after I finish those. I was up late working on a Tragedy response because even though I had tons of time to do it during the day outside of reading the essays, I apparently can't write until my back is against the wall. I'm the kind of student who shouldn't be cornered.

Monday, March 31, 2008

I slept in late today. Yesterday I hit campus for awhile and browsed some electronic literature websites, and I think I'm going to shift the focus of my avant-garde paper a bit to discuss how the "reader" of a text is transformed into a "user," or a reader-author hybrid. I discovered some really strange art websites, of which there really is no shortage.

I couldn't stay at the library, so I went to Tim Hortons and then walked home from Keele Station. I love those walks. They give my thoughts room to roam around. I thought a lot about what lies in store in Ottawa. I'm trying to remind myself that nothing lies ahead of me but possibility, but I have to put first things first. Four more papers and one more presentation. Then I can start figuring out where life is going to take me next.

I found a live stream of Wrestlemania, so I was able to catch about three hours of it, only having to put up with a slight delay in audio and announcers who sounded like Darth Vader. Ric Flair had his last match and I was happy to see it live. I stayed up late looking at photos and thinking. Today I have to read a couple of essays and write a response paper.

Tomorrow is the first day of April. The beginning of the end!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I did nothing yesterday but run people over in True Crime: New York City and watch X-Files, so I'm going to have to hit the books today. I need a title for my Avant-Garde paper by Tuesday's class. I did look up a few titles for my Biography presentation, so I'm going to head to the library to check them out.

I stayed up really late watching the Cast & Crew commentary track for Titanic. It astounds me how much work went into that film. How in the world does an effort that enormous come together? I've always been really curious about the film industry. A thousand people somehow gather and put out a film. Set designers somehow erect elaborate sets to achieve desired visual effects. And then they talk about it as though it's no big deal. Maybe the details are over a lay-person's, but I'd love a ground-up look at how these things are achieved.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

This is my 200th post. Another landmark flies by (albeit a small one).

Andrea ended up crashing at my place last night after the Hills after-show, deciding to take an early morning bus instead of a late night bus that would have gotten her back to London in time for work. Hooray for rationalizations! It did mean, however, that I had to get up at 7 AM. I think back to the sleep schedule I had at the beginning of the semester, compare it to now and laugh when I remember that I thought I might be able to keep it up. Given the freedom I'm a night owl. There's no way around it.

Last night I read Without A Name by Yvonne Vera, a story about a woman traveling to Herare during the Rhodesian Bush War in Zimbabwe, for Tragedy class. It's beautifully written and incredibly sad. Today I'll do a little Coupland research and start looking up texts for my biography presentation.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Last night I read Dictee by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha for Avant-Garde and talked to Jaime for a bit online. She just broke up with her boyfriend. They'd been together for seven years and had been living together. Now she wants to see the world.

Andrea went to Ottawa for Kristin Anne's birthday party because she's a powerhouse. She called me at 2:30 in the morning for directions. Today she was in town for an MTV Hills special, and we chilled at Coffee Time while she told me stories from last night's festivities. Afterwards we met up with Joy (the Scorpio) and had lunch at Burgundy's. I've known Joy for about eight years online and I hadn't met her until today. That's definitely a personal record.

My earphones crapped out so I stopped by Future Shop for new ones. Ren messaged me and said he's picked up tickets to see Buck 65 at the end of April. I checked out some library books and walked home from Keele Station. Now I'm wondering what I'm going to write about tomorrow morning. I suppose the night is still young.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Yesterday took a neat turn. I went to class feeling kind of depressed and didn't say much of anything during the lecture. At the end of class Paul invited everyone out for dinner with the film crew, but I was intent on getting home and waiting out the rest of the day. I went to Robarts to see if Subway was still open, but it had just closed, so I went to catch the subway home.

I'd say I'm an adventurous guy, but sometimes I have these moments of hesitation that I end up giving myself a hard time over later. Heading to the station I thought about how good it would be to go out for a beer and relax and talk with someone. While I was waiting for the train, Dru and Andrea (from the film class I took last semester) came up behind me and reiterated Paul's invitation, so I went along. Another Ethiopian restaurant on Bloor near Ossington called Queen of Sheeba. It was mostly the same group that went out for Dru's birthday - graduate film students Sarah, Paul, Sal, and Alicia, plus Tony. After eating six of us walked to a bar at Dundas and Ossington and got wrecked. It was fun sitting around, talking shit and letting loose. Tony gave me a lift home at the end of the night and I told him and Sarah that they'd made my day.

Simple enough, but I was glad to get a second chance at turning my attitude around. The funny thing is that more than one person last night mentioned that they didn't like Wednesdays. I'm completely in that camp. Something about Wednesday gets to me. But yesterday proved an exception to the rule.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Richard Widmark just passed away at the old age of 93. I just saw him in Judgement at Nuremberg a few weeks ago. A couple of years ago I analyzed a scene in How the West Was Won that featured Widmark for a paper on Thomas King's Green Grass, Running Water. A great actor.

I just read an article by Mary Ann Doane called Dark Continents about race and gender representations in Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life, which I watched earlier today. She concentrates on the value of perspective and the visibility/invisibility of individuals in the film, making the claim that her arguments aren't finished until they are taken up by, most notably, black women. This is truly where academia is poised today, it seems. Matt just sent me a look at the new English course requirements at Carleton, which now include two credits in "South Asian, African, Aboriginal, Caribbean, American, and other literatures." Multiplicity of perspective.

I will say that I'm really enjoying the African and African-American texts I've been exposed to so far this semester. I get a little bogged in the theory sometimes, but I'm trying to make sense of it. I still feel funny that 95% of the students taking these classes are white. I think a little more diversity in experience would help the discussions.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'm skipping Tragedy and Avant-Garde today. I couldn't track down a reading for the former and thought that rather than sit there with no opinion I'd do everyone a favour and not attend. Nor am I all that interested in sitting around discussing McCaffery. I'm in the middle of another one of my artistic crises and University has been feeling antagonistic to my creativity (though there would probably be another reason if I weren't going to school - ie. too busy living). I haven't missed a class in either all semester anyway, so the way I see it I was due.

I am going to Sullivan's class tonight, however, because I really dug her MacEwen bio. I found out that I pass MacEwen's childhood home pretty much every time I leave the house: it used to stand where the Keele Street subway tunnel stands now, on a hill on the northwest corner of Keele and Bloor. I find that incredibly neat. I can't say that I really identify with MacEwen's interests - she learned Arabic and Greek out of pure fascination and wrote fiction about Egyptian myths - but the poetry I've read of hers in the bio is often quite good. I have to hand it to Sullivan because it seems like a difficult account of a person to write. I wouldn't know the first thing about making MacEwen's life conceivable for a general audience, but she pulls it off.

My artistic crisis. As usual, I can't write. However, yesterday I was considering whether or not it might be time for me to experiment with something else. I've been toying around a bit with graphic art lately, just a little poke here and there. I've never considered myself much of a visual artist. I'm definitely not someone who can sit down with paint and create something amazing on an easel. But I know my way around a computer, so we'll see.

Sometimes I think that feeling you can't go any further means you have to go back and check to see if there's something you've missed along the way, to find that key to unlock the next logical progression of yourself. It can exist at any point in the past: a decision you made in childhood, an unfinished conversation from last year. It can remind you of an important truth about yourself that you may have forgotten. I think I'm on to something with that, since I'm always afraid that I'm forgetting new experiences. I have to investigate things that I've never been able to fully leave behind to see what they've become, if that makes any sense.

Last night I had a strange dream. I was in the backseat of a car holding a baby for a really long time. I don't think I've held a baby since I was a young kid.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm going a little stir crazy being in the apartment so much this weekend. I have to return a library book today, so I'll be rejoining the land of the living, however briefly. I made it about halfway through the MacEwen biography, wrote my McCaffrey response (which ended up being a comparison of Perloff and Susan Sontag's ideas of interpretation) and watched my first Fassbinder film, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, which I'm looking at this week in Race and Cinema. What makes that film so interesting is the back story behind it. The male lead was Fassbinder's lover for a period and ended up hanging himself in prison after stabbing three people.

I went to the grocery store yesterday, but it was closed, so I ordered pizza. Jay went home for Easter and to my family's for dinner. My parents packed up some food for me, which was really thoughtful, and now I don't have to shop for a few days. When he came back I was knee-deep in playing True Crime: Streets of LA on the PS2. It's fun to run over and shoot people. I tried playing Final Fantasy XII but there was too much storyline and not enough actual gameplay.

I also talked with Rachael for a bit, which was nice, because we haven't talked in months. Today I'll be reading more about MacEwen. I'm liking it a lot more than Sullivan's last biography. She's more inclined to involve the process of writing about a subject, and I find that the most interesting part.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I watched Sideways last night for the first time since theatres and I'd forgotten how funny it was. It has a great trailer, too, which uses "No Rain" by Blind Melon perfectly. That song was on a life soundtrack I put together a few years back.

More work to do. I read Ibsen's Hedda Gabler and Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire yesterday (I'd read the latter before, it's incredibly rich material). I also started reading Sullivan's biography on Gwendolyn MacEwen. She used to live on Keele Street. When I read a biography I wonder what I'm going to be when I grow up. I also think about writing very specific things to detail my soul's poetry for a researcher to find after I've passed on. I think too much about the end result and not enough about the process. One can be foolish with their capabilities that way.

Sometimes I think I'm just too damned normal to accomplish anything interesting. I know that's the wrong way to look at things. I'm still trying to learn how to be grateful for being adjusted.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I spent a good chunk of yesterday sleeping either in my bed or on the couch. In between naps I tackled Avant-Garde readings on concrete poetry and work by Steve McCaffery. Perloff maintains that McCaffery's style is a response to the way poetry and advertising overlaps. Truth be told I find a lot of it ridiculous.

I just took an online test to figure out what kind of "thinker" I am, and it describes me as visual, but only just barely over auditory. That makes perfect sense. I'm really in the middle between the two (and not kinesthetic at all). I can never accept something that purely makes visual sense, nor can I rely solely on how I process things with my hearing. When I read stuff by McCaffery, I can't process it entirely with my eyes because even though I understand the idea of concrete poetry, the layout doesn't make sense to me, so I have to read it out loud.

Speaking of my hearing, my left ear has been clouded over for the past few days, but it finally popped back into place last night. I'm going to see a doctor if it keeps acting up.

I watched Back to the Future Part II, which is really a messed up movie and plays with chronology in ingenious ways - Zemeckis still thinks it's the craziest movie he ever made. Today: Ibsen and Tennessee Williams.

Friday, March 21, 2008

My time with Andrea over the last few days served as a little break, of sorts, reminding me that I am capable of more than research and classes. These days I'm worrying a lot about how well I perform at school. School has never felt more like work and when I get that feeling I want to quit because I no longer find it fulfilling. I'm pretty hard on myself. Three more weeks of classes to go. I need to get this work done and over with and push it out of my life for awhile.

Time with Andrea feels like life. Our anniversary is coming up and I've never been more sure of anyone's love for me. That may sound as though I have a million insecurities, which I more than likely do, but it's true and I say it with a full heart. And it's good to have faith in a sure thing. I've always wanted to be with someone I can count on, and I can count on her.

She also has the tendency to make my life exciting. I have experiences I probably wouldn't have had if I hadn't known her. Like yesterday, for instance. Andrea loves and watches MTV, so she got tickets to see The Raveonettes on MTV Live. I hate MTV but hey, cool band, so we went, and it was awesome. It made me feel a bit younger. In fact, just walking around with her, checking out places in Toronto I haven't yet seen, made me feel the way I used to feel about the city. I've forced Toronto into becoming repetitive for the good of my degree, forgetting about how magical a place it can be. I like it here. If the circumstances were right, I wouldn't mind living here for a longer period of time. Being with Andrea is definitely a right circumstance.

We had breakfast at the hotel and went to see Breakfast at Tiffany's at the Bloor Cinema before having dinner at the James Joyce Irish Pub. The next day we ate at Tortilla Flats and did the MTV thing. Movies watched: Paris je t'aime, Dogma, Tommy Boy, a dash of 24 Hour Party People. Great conversations. Great silences. Great food. Great sex. Great real life.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Yesterday was a busy day, as I had to deliver the two presentations on Hejinian and Coupland, both of which involved the use of my laptop and speakers, which I had to drag around all day. I'm glad to have them done, I'm just hoping I did an all right job on them.

I'm taking today off to spend time with Andrea. We're currently lying in bed at a Holiday Inn on Lombard Street. She's asleep and looks peaceful and beautiful. We had dinner at C'est What and walked around in the rain.

It's been a long day and I can't sleep.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Two presentations to do tomorrow. As usual, I've left the bulk of the writing until the last minute. But I feel as though I did more research on Hejinian than was needed, so I just need to put it into a format that flows nicely. I'm thinking about seven pages. The Coupland presentation won't take me long to do up since the biography presentations have been quite informal (mostly talking rather than reading from paper).

Thankfully, Andrea is coming into town tomorrow for a couple of days. It will be a nice break from things. We're staying in a hotel tomorrow night. In an actual bed. I'm excited.

I spent a few hours in Robarts researching yesterday, then came home and vegged out in front of the computer. I wanted to get to bed a bit early but something in my brain goes nuts at around midnight and I can't pull myself away from looking up information online. As hard as it is for me to remember things I learn, I can't stop filling my head with new stuff, mostly trivia that I'm curious about. Decades from now folks are going to find me dead in front of my computer looking up the names of the guys in Salmonblaster.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Almost forgot to update today. Matt and I went out and got drunk at Whelan's Gate last night and then went back to his place and watched The Host, a Korean monster flick that came out a year or two ago. It blew me away even though I couldn't really tell you what transpired. Matt is truly a friend I can connect with. We're never short on conversation and though our lives have taken different paths since college we still look at the world in a similar way.

I stumbled home quite late and slept. Earlier in the day I had spent a few hours researching Lyn Hejinian, and I have to head back to campus to keep it up. I really like her writing and I can identify with her thought process, which is a bit of a relief, because you never know what kind of philosophies and approaches you'll come across when you're studying the avant-garde. Not that it hasn't all been interesting so far.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

My motivation hit a brick wall yesterday. I watched a couple of Coupland interviews and took some notes, but did little else. I made a batch of vegetarian chili, watched Speed and stayed up late watching David Cross stand-up videos on YouTube.

I have to get on the workhorse today. I'm meeting Matt at 7 for drinks, so I should try to get a healthy bit of work done, because I know I'm not going to be feeling it tomorrow.

Friday, March 14, 2008

I went out last night with some folks from the Cinema Studies program for Dru's birthday. I knew a few of them superficially from classes we'd taken. The night was okay though I was in a pretty shy mood. At the very end of the night I had this weird altercation with someone in my Race and Cinema class. I was leaving the bar and she pulled me aside and apologized for being assholes. I didn't know what she meant, but she was referring back to a presentation I gave at the beginning of the semester. She and this other guy pressed me with follow-up questions about Althusser that I didn't really know how to answer, and she had heard that I was angry about it.

First of all, I wasn't the one who brought it up - someone else made the observation that they seemed to be giving me a hard time of it. I also find it kind of weird that she found out. The class is comprised of a group of English students and a group of Film students, each of them close-knit, so I suppose one of the Film students heard the comments and passed them along. I don't even really remember what was said. So I pretended I had no idea what she was talking about, and that I didn't think they were assholes. Which I don't, really. It takes a lot for a person to become an asshole in my books. I might have been annoyed at the time, given that it was my first presentation of the semester and I wanted it to go well, but questions are part of any course.

I suppose I'm explaining it here because I only know these people in the context of a classroom. I haven't made what I would consider to be any good friends during my run at U of T and I find it a bit upsetting that people would think I could harbour grudges against them.

It was a pretty okay night. Dru seemed happy. Tony came out too, who is always fun to talk to, and I'm now about 95% certain he's gay. Taking the Olivia Newton John pieces in "Summer Nights" at a karaoke bar is a pretty solid confirmation.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Only four more weeks of classes to go.

I'm holding back on writing something. I just don't feel up to it, or that I can fully make sense of it. But I'll try later.

Yesterday I received the latest issue of In/Words in the mail. The gang did a really great job on it. I re-read a piece I submitted back in September and cringed at a few moments. There are always things you'd go back and change if you had the opportunity.

I picked up copies of Stalag 17 and Speed/Speed 2 at HMV. The first is for an essay and the second is for lazy Sunday afternoons.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

There are a few things wrong with my body, health-wise, keeping me from being in tip top condition, and at a certain point in your life you wonder if these things are going to stick around forever. Being young and healthy most of the time means you can't imagine a day when you won't be able to run. I don't run a lot now, but I love the idea that I can if I want to. I'm also at the point now where people around my age, especially women, get a little "run-happy" and start training and hitting the gym and running marathons and such. I don't think I'll ever run a marathon, but I do like using my legs. I use them daily. I love walking. It's something I'd like to do forever.

I have lost weight, which is nice. After dieting a bit I'm down to 175 pounds. I've never tried to lose weight before. Hell, up until a few weeks ago I'd weighed myself probably 3 times in the last ten years. It's kind of a strange feeling seeing proof of the control you can have over your own body beyond haircuts and tattoos and such.

Yesterday I found out there will be no Tragedy class next week, which frees me up for the two presentations I have to do in Avant-Garde and Biography. Nonetheless, it's going to be a busy weekend.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I taped an interview with Linda Hutcheon yesterday on the subjects of Canadian literature and interdiscursive approaches to academia, and it went fine, but I didn't turn off the recorder properly and ended up recording about 7 hours of my day with it running in my shirt pocket. It can't be that interesting. After the interview I went to Robarts and watched Spike Lee's Bamboozled with a pair of headphones on (a bizarre movie - I admire Spike Lee but his style is really all over the place and I'm not sure he's all that convincing in what he's trying to say). So I'm sure that the file is comprised of a lot of muffled library noise coupled with occasional chuckles.

After discovering that I had already finished my readings, I went to see Starting Out in the Evening at the Bloor Cinema, which I had been looking forward to seeing for weeks. Overall, pretty good with a few moments of greatness. Coincidentally, Lauran Ambrose plays a grad student writing an MA thesis on a writer she idolizes. She spends most of the movie looking like a deer caught in headlights.

After the film I walked home from Keele station and spent the rest of the night not doing much of anything. I finished City of Glass and I'm about halfway through the first Souvenir of Canada book. There's a passage in City of Glass taken from Polaroids from the Dead (one of the few Coupland books I haven't read) about the Lions Gate Bridge that is amazing stuff. I'm going to have to pick that one up.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I finished Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness yesterday. Both weren't really much better than I remember them being, to be honest. I find Conrad's writing style blasé and Golding's is too abstract for a modernist text (I was kind of surprised by his use of the word "niggers" in the second-last chapter, given that the version I read in high school probably used the word "savages"). Salih's book was the best of the three.

My Race and Cinema prospectus is done. I tested out my digital recorder and it's good to go. I now have to come up with some questions for Linda Hutcheon to give it a test run.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

It snowed HARD in the city yesterday. said there were so many car accidents as a result that police had to stop responding to the sites and advised people to get a tow and head to special drop-in centres. I spent a good portion of the day tromping around campus, trying to make sense of the white blur everywhere.

I finished Salih's book, which I read in the short term loan section of Robarts, listening to the winds howl against the building. It was quiet and nice. I went to L'Espresso for a bit and chilled out reading City of Glass. They didn't have any coffee brewed, so I had an Americano. I had to ask what it was because I'm pretty coffee-illiterate. It's essentially espresso and hot water and it tastes like coffee if you stir it like mad.

I also bought my plane ticket to Vancouver, so I suppose this means I'm officially going. Today I'm going to finish Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness. I also have to return a cell phone I found to a guy on campus. It's amazing I found it considering it was a white phone dropped into an infinite landscape of snow.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I still think that Terry Lee Hale's "Dead is Dead" is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.

I got a lot of work done on preliminary research for my Race and Cinema essay, and I should be able to hand in the prospectus this week (a week early). It will be nice not having to worry about it when Andrea's in town. And it actually seems like it will be an interesting essay to write - I'm going to look at representations of African-Americans in WWII on film, so I'll be looking at old propaganda films and then examining the gap between the war and narrativized accounts of how they were actually treated.

I bought a bunch of Coupland books I didn't have previously: Souvenir of Canada, Terry, and City of Glass, which I've been reading obsessively to get an idea of what to expect in Vancouver. I ran across a video online of Coupland giving what he announced as the last reading he'll ever give back in October (it's right here). At the end of the clip he says, "That part of my life is over." It makes me wonder what part of his life he views as beginning.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Vancouver trip is looking more and more settled - I'm planning it for April 11th - 14th. After doing some research about East Vancouver and the state of the Main and Hastings area, I've booked a room in a hostel in West Vancouver. There were three HI hostels to choose from. I picked the one that doesn't apparently vibrate with the music in the neighboring clubs. It's close to transit, anyway.

I picked up a digital recorder at Future Shop yesterday, as well as a new air mattress. I got rid of the bedframe because I think it was causing the punctures, so now I'm sleeping on the floor, but at least I'm not waking up bent backwards over a bar.

I'm hitting campus today to start researching my Race and Cinema essay and hopefully to get some other reading done. Yesterday I read Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems and John Ashbery's The Tennis Court Oath for Avant-Garde. This weekend I'll be looking at Heart of Darkness and Lord of the Flies for the first time since high school, along with Salih's Season of Migration to the North, if I can find it. Thank goodness the Tragedy responses are staving off for a couple of weeks.

Andrea is visiting soon. We're going to see The Raveonettes. I just downloaded their new record and it's good stuff if a bit repetitive.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I woke up at 7 this morning, which is kind of neat, though I'll probably need a nap sooner than later. I'm hitting Canadian Tire for a new mattress today, and I'm also picking up a digital recorder to use for my Biography interviews. I'm going to ask Linda Hutcheon for one, as well as perhaps a prof at Carleton who has put Coupland on his syllabus in the past. I've heard from Coupland a couple of times since the first email and we're trying to hammer out the specifics of time and place for the interview.

I've been getting some good marks lately, which of course makes my opinion about the future feel like a yo-yo upswing. I really need to get to work on the papers and presentations I have to do, especially considering that I may be heading to Vancouver for one of the few remaining weekends I have.

Yesterday I sent a cheque to Ash for the room I'm subletting over the summer in Ottawa. Everything seems pretty official at this point. Less than two months to go.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Fucking bullshit piece of crap mattress. My back is killing me. Like the first mattress that deflated I can't find a puncture in this one, so I guess this means I'll have to buy a new one. And I'll have to do it before I'm no longer able to walk.

Blah blah class, blah blah Jazz Singer, blah blah aching back.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

If the stabbing pain in my back is any indication, it looks as though I've punctured another air mattress. Vying for space in the still-inflated portions of a surface is not the most comfortable way to start a day. The worst part is that I won't have time to fix it/buy a new one today. I'm pondering sleeping on the floor.

My laptop is back online. I'm thinking seriously about picking up a desktop iMac. Nice ones come fairly cheap and are usually accompanied by glowing reviews of their performance. I think Kat has one so I'm going to ask her what she thinks.

My mom was going through x-rays of her shoulder injury for her hearing (which is today) and noticed one that indicated a spot on her lung. She had new ones taken a few days ago and got the results back yesterday - negative, thankfully. It was just an area of scarring from a previous bout of pneumonia.

Monday, March 3, 2008

I'm back in Toronto with a couple of essays to read and a short paper to write for the weekly Tragedy onslaught. Hopefully I'll be able to get my computer back online today.

Jeff Healey just died, which is really too bad, because he was hands down one of the greatest guitarists of all time. I thought he would have been a bit older than 41. That means he was only a fresh faced lad of 22 when he appeared in Road House.

I added Zelda from Offbeat Cinema to my myspace friends list, and she responded back with a comment about my profile, giving me a small thrill. I spent most of yesterday reading Othello, plus a bunch of essays on famous artistic couples to get a feel for biographical approaches to subjects. Another weekend in Peterborough comes and goes.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Hi David.

Thank you for your interest and I'm sure we can work out something. I
don't do phone interviews and email interviews feel like the worst
sort of homework assignment so ...we could do something in person.
I'm based out of Vancouver but travel frequently, so things would have
to be scheduled in advance. Life is always busy, so I can't say that
one time is better than another. Your call.
Give me a shout any time at this email address,

So I didn't dream it. Good.

Yesterday I read Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians, a pretty violent and emotional book that seems almost ripped from space and time given its hesitance to identify where and when the events are taking place. I need to plow through Othello today and get some shorter essays read. My parents' shower is being re-grouted so I have to take a bath. Thankfully they have one that shoots jetstreams.

I made it out to Chumleigh's and picked up a copy of Hot Fuzz along with Pure's Feverish and a Matthew Jay single. After dinner I went out for a drink with my siblings at Mexicali Rosa's for some hangout time. My brother told me this huge plan he has to "financially stabilize a country" by the time he's in his 60's. He has some big ideas, which is good for a young guy like him to have. He just needs to apply himself and finally take the step to go to school.

I stayed up late finishing off Coetzee while watching Offbeat Cinema, which was screening The Wild Ride with Jack Nicholson. I finished the book a little after 3:30 and couldn't bring myself to stay up and see how the movie ended, though I imagine there was probably a car crash and hep language.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

I spent the entire bus ride (with two seats to myself) to Peterborough reading The Gum Thief over again, since it's been awhile since I last picked it up. Coupland's writing style is still among my favorites. His latest book admires the idea that people deserve a second look before they can be considered understood or even really seen in the first place. We all remain so relatively invisible to one another, lumped into categories based on our appearances and social positions. Meanwhile there's so much going on inside everyone. It's a fascinating contradiction.

I just emailed him, asking for an interview. I'm already nervous as shit. In any event I have to go with the flow of what comes of it, if for nothing else than for the sake of my mark in Biography.

It snowed heavily in Peterborough. I have a hankering to check out Chumleigh's. We'll see if I can slog my way down there. I do have a fair amount to read this weekend, including work by Coetzee, and a Shakespeare play I had to rescue from the boxes of stuff in my parents' basement. Every time I visit my dad announces his plans for spring cleaning. There are decades worth of junk in this place that would make a nice addition to someone else's junk pile.

Last night my folks and I watched Judgement at Nuremberg with Spencer Tracy and a slew of other stars. Really well directed and didn't drag at all in its three-hour length. There's a fascinating scene in which Marlene Dietrich and Tracy are walking through the streets of Nuremberg and a band of men are singing "Lily Marleen," a song that Dietrich made popular. She lightly sings a couple of bars herself but otherwise translates its meaning into something Tracy can understand. It's a wonderfully scripted scene.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Great Reorganization has come to a halt: my DVD ROM has stopped recognizing CDs. Yesterday I made the brilliant move of restoring my laptop to its factory settings because I read that it might do the trick (it didn't). I backed up my files but for some reason my wireless connection is DOA, so I'm using Jay's computer until he gets back from New York. Freaking technology. I'm going to have to pick up a new laptop when all is said and done, I just know it. And it will be a Mac.

After waiting for Race and Cinema to end I came home, talked to my mother, had some supper, watched some Simpsons and went to bed late. I have that meeting with Quayson today and then it's off to Peterborough.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I had a huge sleep-in today despite the fact that I had some kind of horrific dreams about Andrea being killed (this is what happens when she abandons the Internet). Nightmares aside, I was relieved to get through yesterday even though I had pretty much shut my brain off after Tragedy. I'm meeting with Quayson on Thursday to talk about my thesis proposal.

I had lunch with Amanda, who fills me in weekly on Toronto literary scene gossip. Tim was late for Avant-Garde because he got momentarily trapped in the elevator in the Jackman Humanities building, which is in all honesty the shittiest elevator in terms of speed I've ever ridden in. One waits forever to catch it and then another eternity to get where he's going provided it doesn't stall. The stairwell isn't much of a help either because the doors to certain floors lock up at a certain time. I feel sorry for the English Department. They were kind of crammed into that building due to a fire in their building at King's College Circle last summer. They share it with insurance offices and dentists.

I signed out a book at the John W. Graham Library near Trinity College, finally solving a mystery for myself. A guide took my group to that library on a tour a few days before classes started back in September and said it was the quietest place on campus to study. I couldn't for the life of me remember where it was all year until I had to go there yesterday. It has study lounges with fireplaces.

I walked home from Keele station. Jay got in a few minutes later and announced that he was taking a bus to New York for a few days, so he left shortly after. Then he came back because he missed the bus. He's not here right now, so I'm assuming he finally caught one earlier this morning.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I sure am effing tired. Part of me just wants to head straight home after Tragedy this morning. The work is done. I have a presentation that just might hold together if I sound confident enough. Too bad coffee is out of the question since I elected to eat pizza last night. Damn this aging body of mine.

My mother's having a hernia operation today. I'm going home to see the fam on the weekend.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Yesterday I finished "Paradise" and my thesis proposal for Tragedy. I need to get this presentation done. I just want tomorrow to be over with.

I was able to catch most of the Oscars last night via a stream on some random website. No real big surprises. I was kind of amazed to see Tilda Swinton beat out Amy Ryan, but I haven't seen Michael Clayton yet so I don't know how great she was in the film.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I'm kind of pissed.

Some days I really don't know what I'm doing here. I'm trying to work toward something and it seems to slip out of my grasp on a regular basis. In a couple of months I'll have a degree and it won't have changed me as much as a person the way my undergraduate years did. It all feels like one giant competition to get ahead in academia and will end up being nothing more than two new letters to put on a resume.

I used to scoff at people at University who couldn't spare a minute for social lives. Now I'm one of them. I get up at noon and study, taking breaks to watch an episode of The Simpsons or listen to a few songs here and there in order to turn my mind off for a bit. I go to bed in the wee hours, usually when I'm too tired to keep reading. I don't have a job. This is all I do. It sounds great, and the material typically keeps it from being all bad, but it's isolating and mentally taxing.

The last time I was completely satisfied was when I found myself in Ottawa with my girlfriend. Right now I don't have either of those things. I'm trying to work back to them. It's a slow process, but I'm getting there. And I'd like to think she is, too. Maybe I'm foolish for being so single-minded underneath all of the confusion that I suffer. I feel lost even though I'm positive that on a fundamental level I know exactly where I am. I'm taking a scenic route through literature and essays. Sometimes it's really fucking hard doing it alone. But I'm doing the best I can.

Last night for the first time in forever I wrote some poems. They're mostly about two people. One of them is always in motion while the other keeps perfectly still. And the identity of each often changes.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I read Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" yesterday in chunks and ended up loving it. It's a somewhat difficult play to get into because the first act is comprised of both dialogue and long portions of historical explanations pointedly relating the Salem executions to Communist paranoia. Still, the drama is intense by the end. It should be a great book to discuss. I once had it in my head to vacation to Salem after writing an essay on Hawthorne but it never came about.

In between acts I watched the Obama/Clinton Texas debate and a few episodes of The Simpsons while bringing the Great Reorganization up to L. I have to read Toni Morrison's "Paradise" today so that I can start setting down material for the presentation.

I got my Eels ticket in the mail the other day for their show at the Mod Club on April 4th. T-4's and such are also starting to come in. I'm still waiting on a special edition of In Rainbows that I ordered from W.A.S.T.E. about a month ago.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I'm back in Bloggerland. London was a lot of fun. I arrived on Monday and met Brenda and Belle (in matching pink coats) at the bus terminal. We drove to Cora's to meet Andrea as she was getting off work. After a brief stop at Rogers where I scooped up Season Six of the Simpsons and a copy of Mary Poppins, we went to Andrea's grandparents' place in the boonies and hung out for a bit. Their cat did not like Belle and spent the entirety of the visit under an endtable growling. Afterwards we went back into town and back to Andrea's place. We exchanged Valentine's day gifts - along with a giant heart full of chocolates and a love gorilla, Andrea got me a framed collection of movie stills from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Fountain and The Princess and the Warrior. It's such a unique gift. She knows me so well. We had burritos for dinner and watched Vacancy, a half but not wholly decent thriller with Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale. Then Brenda and Andrea started me on my new addiction to Big Brother, which I'm praying has subsided now that I no longer have cable in the house.

The next day Andrea and I watched Superbad (mostly very funny; I laughed a lot) and went to a diner that she worships where I ordered a peanut butter milkshake off the menu that made my life. We went to feed some ducks and geese that were chilling out by the river with some breads ends that Andrea scored from work. Later on we went out and Andrea introduced me to some of her friends, most of whom I'd seen at one point or another immortalized in Facebook mirror shots. After mowing down on a giant cookie Kristin Anne had baked over a game of Kings, we resumed the game at Jen's apartment before walking to GT's for some British night or other. Andrea and I were quite sauced when all was said and done and ended up taking a cab home from Jen's at around 3.

The next day we lounged around watching Across the Universe (quite brilliant in parts despite a painfully thin plot) and went out to pick up groceries. I bought a copy of Last Days that was on sale for cheap. After dinner we watched Mary Poppins until Andrea got tired about halfway through and went to bed, and I followed after the DVD stopped working shortly afterwards. The next day I watched the rest of the flick on her laptop while she finished her shift at work. We looked at some pictures and went back to feed the birds again. The trip ended with dinner at a Thai restaurant (eating fried wonton noodles stuffed with cream cheese is equivalent to seeing the face of God). Brenda and Andrea dropped me off at the terminal and I was back in Toronto shortly after 10.

Now it's back to the grindstone. I have a presentation to do on Tuesday, plus a short paper and an essay proposal to write. It will be a relief to get through it.

Everything about Andrea fills me entirely with light. She makes me happy.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Off to London today. Yesterday I hit campus to watch Oscar Micheaux's Within Our Gates, the earliest known film written and directed by an African-America, and Scar of Shame, both of which were released by the Smithsonian as part of an African-American historic film collection. I also finished the readings for Avant-Garde on the Harlem Renaissance.

And now, to finish packing. And start.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I'm going to try to get a bit ahead in my readings and such while I have time. Today I'm heading to campus to watch the necessary films for Race and Cinema, the readings for which I finished up yesterday. Then I might wade through future Avant-Garde stuff just to get it out of the way. I want the playing field cleared for the insane amount of Tragedy work I have to do when I get back from London.

Yesterday I want to see There Will Be Blood, which was quite good and has one of the more intense final scenes in any film of recent memory. I'd like to watch that scene on its own just to see how it's constructed. The movie has a lot to do with individualistic ideals vs. communal/family ideals and how the clash of the two can breed misanthropy. It also brings business mentality up against capitalist evangelist mentality to showcase how similar they are. It's a very American movie. Day-Lewis should get the Oscar.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Great Reorganization continues - I'm knee-deep in the G's. Whilst trying to rip my copy of Feeder's Echo Park I could hear it skipping in the drive. I took the CD out and there was a big chunk of the disc about to split off. I'm worried that keeping the CD's so compressed in the binders is going to break them. I'll probably have to take out all the artwork and store it in a separate box. Something to do after the move.

TGR also instilled within me the desire to watch Can't Hardly Wait (I burned the soundtrack last week), so I put it on. I still love that film. The cast is great, especially 24-year-old Seth Green as the wigger. And it's one of those films that featues a plethora of now-popular actors just starting out. I notice someone new every time I watch it.

I finished my Stein readings - including section from Melanctha, Four Saints in Three Acts, and The Gradual Making of the Making of Americans - for the week school starts up again. Today I'm going to catch There Will Be Blood at a matinee and get some film readings done at the library.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sure slept in late today. Andrea and I talked for a bit on the phone last night. We can't help but talk about our plans for the near future. These last few days I've almost forgotten that I still have over two months of school to go, and that I'll be the busiest I've ever been writing what will amount to over a hundred pages of additional material to be graded. But this is the cherished beginning of reading week. It's a time for disillusion.

Yesterday I watched Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End because I didn't have time to finish up the trilogy last week. The sequence of Jack Sparrow in Davy Jones' Locker is one of the weirdest, most oddly inventive sequences in blockbuster history. One gets the sense that Gore Verbinski was getting kind of numb to the swashbuckling and wanted to return to his film school roots armed with millions of dollars in resources. The result is pretty mind-twisting.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day. I'm celebrating it by having no classes for the next twelve days. Though I might get right into some light work just so I don't have to worry about it later. In any event, I can exhale a little. I'm going to see Andrea on Monday. It's going to be a great week.

I was up really late last night talking with Esther and reading old Livejournal entries. I've decided to sit down and chronicle the year I spent living at the Party Flat. The journals I kept are sporadic and I feel as though I'm still carrying some baggage from that time that I need to come to terms with. It won't be anything I'll post online, but I am looking forward to finally setting down some thoughts I've had about that period that have been on my mind since I moved out. I want to use it as an excuse to flex my narrative muscle a bit, since it's kind of been buried under mundane details of assignments and such lately. Quite honestly, though, I'm impressed that I've been so devoted to this blog. I've written in it almost every day since I moved to Toronto. As much as I think my writing has been flagging, it's the most devoted I've ever been to a diary. So much so that I see the year before as a gap that needs to be filled more completely.

I've signed papers for a place in Ottawa come May 1st. I'm moving in with Ash and Ian. Ash's roommate is subletting for the summer, so I'll be able to get myself a foothold to find a job and ultimately my own place come September. I'll save a bit of money in the process, too.

Yesterday I watched Jezebel. Bette Davis was gorgeous and not a bad actress at all. Henry Fonda played a really stiff part and I couldn't get over how young he looked. The film was Warner's Gone With the Wind, but obviously paled in comparison to the production value of that film. Dyer had some interesting things to say about how whiteness is presented in the film while comparing it with Night of the Living Dead thirty years later. It seems like a stretch, but I found the argument compelling.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Class: Have you seen the film version of Beloved?
Quayson: No, I won't watch it, I don't want to see it.
Class: Why not?
Quayson: Oprah.

One more class to go. Unfortunately, it's Race and Cinema and I have neither watched the film nor done any of the readings. Although I have read three out of the four articles in the past (Mulvey's "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" several times), so it could be worse. I have the movie on my computer, so I'll watch it soon - Jezebel, a Warner picture from 1938 with Henry Fonda and Bette Davis. Amazingly, I've never seen a Bette Davis movie.

The discussion of Stein in class yesterday was interesting. There's something about trying to get at the root of intent that turns me on about the avant-garde, starting with the notion that a writer is saying something, anything, and working towards illumination.

I really need a shave.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I need a vacation.

The work is DONE, though I didn't finish Sullivan's book. I just have to print out my annotations. After Wednesday I won't have classes for almost two weeks.

I'll try and update with something a little more interesting soon.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Yesterday I went to the library and gathered material for the bibliography. I packed my shoulderbag to maximum capacity and walked at a slight tilt to the subway, then to Matt's place. We watched Brick and this new show Breaking Bad that he's into, drank some beers, ate some food. Then I walked home and promptly passed out.

I almost forgot to update. Kind of a busy morning as I had to hit the grocery store. When I got back I wrote up my response to Stein and wrote an annotation for the Avant-Garde bibliography. I have 3-4 more to go, plus my Tragedy response. If I can get that stuff done I'll be okay for tomorrow.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I didn't leave the house yesterday, and I felt like I was starting to have a Howard Hughes thing going on. I did manage to finish all of my Tragedy readings ("Beloved" is fantastic. I'm a dope for going this long without reading more Morrison.) and draft my Coupland letter. After I shower and eat I'm heading to Robarts to look up some material on technology and the avant-garde. Then I'm heading to Matt's and we're FINALLY going to watch Brick.

My poor CD burner is having trouble keeping up with all of the activity I'm throwing at it. It's starting to only rip portions of albums before jittering out of commission. I should really go easier on it.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I spent a few hours at the libraries yesterday getting some reading done - Euripedes' "Medea" and Toni Morrison's "Beloved," the latter of which I purchased at the Bob Miller Book Room beforehand. It's the second time I've bought that book (I think my first copy was a victim of the Toronto move). I tried reading it once for an American Literature class in my third year undergrad but only made it through the first chapter. By that time I was rarely finishing material for that class due to time constraints. It's a shame, because the book is very powerful. Morrison writes a bit like Ondaatje, which is certainly a positive thing.

I made it about two-thirds of the way through the book before I went to bed at around 3:30. I think I'm going to focus on getting my Tragedy readings out of the way today and push that annotated bibliography to tomorrow and Monday. Still a lot of work to do. I'm looking forward to Reading Week and visiting Andrea and being alone with her.

I've been offered a room in Ottawa for May 1st - a summer sublet. I'm still trying to figure out how good of an idea it is. Weighing the pros and cons. It certainly would be reminiscent of the first time I moved up there back in 2001.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Last night I had a dream that I was at my family's place, and they were keeping an injured seagull they had found in a thin glass tank filled with water. It looked like it had drowned, so I emptied the tank, picked up the bird and pushed the water out of its body. For a moment its skin turned translucent, so I knew when it was emptied. The bird was still alive. I nursed it back to health slowly. Gradually it turned into a kitten, so I started feeding it soft cat food. By the end of the dream it was healthy and we were best buds.

I spent awhile last night reading Gertrude Stein, who began to make more and more sense to me as the night wore on. I get the feeling that her writing tries incredibly hard to sustain a moment - a point in our lives at which we experience full awareness and feel it burn a place into our memory. Stein is fun to read out loud.

I also started reading Professor Sullivan's biography on Elizabeth Smart, of whom I'm not familiar. It is interesting to read about high class social life in Ottawa during the early part of the 20th century. It's funny to think that society papers wrote extensively about how people dressed for parties. When I move back to Ottawa I'm going to start a paper that details every party I throw - what my friends are wearing, what jokes they tell. Riveting stuff to a mass audience.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Yesterday I met someone who shares all of my musical interests. She doesn't look like much, but she's knowledgeable, organized, and easy to turn on.

Meet Lacie:

"Lacie" is the name of the company that makes the drive as well as the friendly name that pops up whenever her USB cable is connected. That's right - she's completely plug and play. And one day she'll hold my entire music collection. That is, if my CD burner can take it. I doubt it's looking forward to ripping all of that material. I tried to go entirely digital about three years ago and all of that music is currently sitting on the hard drive of a desktop PC that, last time I checked, is suffering severe problems. The process took me a long time. But I miss not having all of my music at my immediate disposal, so I'm starting the trek all over again.

I wrote the scene analysis for The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, which is an excellent film. I had a lot of fun picking it apart. It's been awhile since I've done a scene analysis and it really opens up a whole new way of watching the film. I imagine I could sit down and analyze a film shot-by-shot and come up with literally hundreds of pages of material. That's the beauty of the moving visual image and its relationship with the senses.

I had a much better Wednesday yesterday than what has proven usual lately. Class was stimulating. It snowed really hard, which gave being on campus one of those "last of the population left alive" qualities. Lots of work to do this weekend.