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.