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.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I have Douglas Coupland's email address. It's surprisingly plain and straightforward. I googled it and it isn't posted anywhere on the Internet. I've been informed that he'd be interested in talking to me after Professor Sullivan pitched the PhD thesis angle. Now it's a matter of drafting a formal letter that I can send to him and his agent to hopefully set up a time and mode of interview.

No wonder I can't sleep.

My analysis on Knud Rasmussen is due at 6 PM today and I still have to watch the bloody film. It's a scene analysis, though, which typically writes quickly. I just have to make sure I put more of me in it. That's my new strategy for the semester. No more summaries. Me me me. You want my opinion, you've got it.

To work.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tired. Coffee.

Last night Andrea and I talked on the phone and I found out that there are twelve weeks left until May begins, which means that my stay in Toronto is essentially two-thirds of the way complete. Not that I'm counting.

I found out that the Ontario Arts Council will not be giving me any money to fund any art shows this summer. I was disappointed but also a bit relieved to hear it. As much work as I put into that grant application, I don't feel as committed to the project as I used to. Time away from Ottawa is changing some of my attitudes. Maybe things will snap back into place when I return. In any event I'm trying very hard to learn to be honest with myself about what I want in all facets of life. There are still three months of experience and consideration to be had before my time here is up.

Of course, big life events such as discovering I won't be funded drive me to do things like put resumes together, so I revived my account at monster.ca. I'm going to throw myself full force into a job hunt once school is over with and I won't stop until I grab something that pays well. God knows I'll have spent enough time in school.

I watched Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which wasn't as murky or complicated as I remember. Davy Jones is a great character and I still go nuts for the ending. The first time I saw the movie I used a pass I'd won from the staff Oscar competition at 3-Way Street. It was one of the few times I've sat in the very back of a theatre.

The new chair is a vast improvement. I wish I could spend the day sleeping in it. To work...

Monday, February 4, 2008

I ordered a new desk chair from Staples, and they should be delivering it today. I just remembered that I didn't give them a buzzer number for the apartment. Jason is in the electronic directory, but I'm not. I don't even know what the buzzer number is. Hopefully the delivery guy isn't too simple and can find his way in.

Yesterday I watched Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. I love the series. I've seen the first film a handful of times, but I haven't seen either of the sequels since theatres, so I'm going to try and get to them over the next few days. I have to write a response for Tragedy tonight and finally watch The Journals of Knud Rasmussen. I have it on my computer but I don't have enough hard drive space to unpack the rar files, so I'll have to watch it compressed, which means that I'll have to keep turning on the subtitles every 39 seconds. Maybe I'll wait until Jay gets home and see if he can burn the movie to a disc.

I ordered an external hard drive from Future Shop. 320 gigs. Hopefully I won't have that problem again.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I'm hungover this morning (afternoon). I spent the evening at Matt's apartment and Whelan's Irish pub drinking my face off, playing Wii and just generally having a good time before walking home.

I'm trying to download a movie called The Journals of Knud Rasmussen because I need to analyze a scene of it for Race and Cinema. It's at 98.8%. I hope it doesn't foul up in any way because I really don't want to go searching for it. I know the Blockbuster on St. Clair doesn't have it thanks to the clueless employee I talked to on the phone yesterday. He didn't even ask me how to spell "Knud."

I messed around a bit with MadTracker yesterday and wrote a bit of a song using piano and drum samples. I feel more comfortable using trackers than other software because I'm more used to how it operates. Hopefully I'll give it greater attention. I'd really like to mix and master a song right on my computer, but it takes some figuring out.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

It's Groundhog Day. Depending on whether you believe Wiarton Willie or Punxsutawny Phil, you can take your pick of when winter's history. I wonder how global warming will impact Groundhog Day. Shadow. Shadow. Shadow. It's enough to make me switch to canvas shopping bags.

I did watch Groundhog Day yesterday. A fantastic film that always makes me laugh. My favorite exchange:

Rita: What should we drink to?
Phil: To the groundhog!
Rita: I always drink to world peace.
(NEXT DAY)
Rita: What should we drink to?
Phil: I like to say a prayer and drink to world peace.
Rita: ...to world peace.
Phil: To world peace. *pause* Amen.

I finished Achebe's book and also read Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. Here's a great depiction of the latter by Charles Fran├žois Jalabert:


I finished my Avant-Garde readings on Dada. What blows me away is the movement's foray into nihilism, particularly Francis Picabia. Richter lets off lines like this about him: "In spite of the fanatical, truly desperate battle that he waged against art, in spite of the theoretical anathemas he hurled at art, he never escaped from it." He also talks about condemning the "life-impulse" that forces artists to create. I don't BUY artistic nihilism. If the creative force within you is so strong that you HAVE to create in spite of your desire not to, the entire concept of nihilism can't apply to your output. Who the hell in their complete freedom of expression hates art so much that they feel as though they have to create against their will? It's complete bullshit. If you're a nihilist, don't create. All you're doing by creating is saying that you wish you weren't creating, and that's the most pretentious state of being possible.

Yesterday was Kim's birthday, and she and Matt are having a bunch of people over tonight after a pub stop. I have to pick up beer.

Friday, February 1, 2008

No way I'm going outside today. It's funny, just last night I was thinking, "this sure has been a dry winter." I should stop thinking.

Yesterday I read about two-third's of Chinua Achebe's "Thing Falls Apart" and I'll finish it up today on the comfort of the couch. I watched some X-Files and the Obama/Clinton debate on CNN.com. I love being able to watch stuff like that on my computer. I may not ever order cable television again. Why should I when I can watch certain shows online and buy DVD collections of the show I really want? No reason, that's why.

I need a new computer chair. The one I took from Andrea has been okay but it's getting a weird bump on the seat that makes it uncomfortable to sit on. With three months to go in Toronto (officially!) I want to make sure my money stays healthy. At the same time, I want to make sure my butt follows suit.