Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Red Mullets

I was wondering why I've been struggling keep just out from under the edge of a crushing depression lately. Then I realized that I lost a 7 year old cat at Christmas, who I still really miss (Roger The Kitten is adorable and lively and chronicly affectionate and attention-seeking, but I don't know if he'll grow up to have that spark of intellect and casual "just hanging out" thing Syd had going on) and Joel is off doing his own stuff so I don't have him to hang out with on weekends, my sister is having her second kid and I'm unlikely to ever father a single one, my father has prostate cancer and is pondering what treatment to pursue, all of my closest friends are seen less and less often anywhere I am, and are more and more into their kids and Friends-With-Kids, and we don't really connect much at all when we see each other, not in the sense of having deep conversations or sharing anything much, anyway.

I have a giant stack of words-and-lyrics for my guitar book (of songs I could cover of other people). The latest print-outs for that are odd to play in sequence. For a few evenings, I've been getting on the guitar, and playing for an hour, kinda half Nirvana songs, half Elvis Presley, with some Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond and Guns 'N Roses tossed in. It's quite an odd mix of eras and esthetics. Good, though. That stuff is a big part of my roots.

I watched Pump Up The Volume tonight for the first time in years. I always kinda fondly remembered that movie, in terms of its attacking the well-meaning, heads-in-sand adults who can't deal with kids whose outlook on the world is that it is messed up. It was a bit sad to watch it and see how dated it's looking. Also, to see half of the fashions coming back in, and the other half definitely not. So, huge hoop earrings, bangs or flippy bobs, leggings and black and white clothes with lots of tacky bracelets and accessories on girls, but not the high-waisted jeans. The "Varsity" and preppy look on guys, but not Seth Green with a huge red mullet.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

In The Swing

My life has fallen into an odd pattern of going off to school half-asleep, then coming home with a case of marking, to crash on the futon while an episode of something or other is playing, napping for anywhere from one to four hours, then getting up and retooling and reworking and otherwise making the assignments and presentations I will be giving the next day something I can get behind, updating my webpage to reflect assignments, and generally not doing enough marking.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Thursday Night

So, I taught my classes, and two friends came home from work with me and a third joined us. We played video games and played music. G played Tetris, Bubble Bobble and Pole Position on my arcade cabinet, and also emulations of Super Mario. J and T played a competitive game of Blades of Steel on my NES system, and then Goldeneye was put into my new N64 and Jay (who is good) played the rest of us. 
    G and T had to be taught how to play it, so J enjoyed hunting them (us, really) down. Then the keyboard, guitars and tambourine came out and we all sang and played music and drank Lakeport Honey Lager and ate a big pizza. 
    Then we went to an open stage and rocked out. I did "Sweet Caroline" again and got the whole bar singing it, particularly the "bah, bah BAAH!" part that echoes my singing "sweet Caro-line!" It was all pretty cool.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Total Eclipse of the Moon

The plan is that tomorrow some teachers will hang out at my unprecedentedly untidy apartment ("a full house's worth of stuff stacked in a tiny apartment") and play some music and retro video games before going to an open stage to perform. 
    When I came home, instead of napping, I did some tidying. It's not like I can ever make it look neat here, but I did throw out a bunch of stuff. Also, it is "Pink Day" at school tomorrow. Some kid was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school in Nova Scotia, so the majority of the kids all started wearing pink to take a stand against this. We're supposed to wear pink. I don't own any. I went to Wal-mart, and asked a girl who I taught to help me find a non-girly woman's t-shirt in hot pink that would fit me. There were no pink guy's clothing, and no girl's clothing big enough for a man to wear, that didn't have a scooped neck and so on. I picked up a purplish shirt, planning to bleach it. 
     So, I cleaned, and I bleached shirts. I bleached the purplish and it was getting kinda cool, but I took a red shirt and bleached the hell out of it to see what I'd get. What I got was a light-orange shirt. Then, for fun, I splashe undiluted bleach across a black t-shirt. I got a black shirt an an orange spatter that looks like nebulae in space. 
     Then I went to the open stage (tomorrow night is a different one in a different town). I sang some new songs I'm just learning ("Thirteen" as covered by Johnny Cash, "I Will Wait For You" by The Northern Pikes and ones I already know but haven't been playing, to whit "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond, and "Heaven Can Wait" by Meat Loaf.) 
     The moon was being eclipsed by the earth tonight, so on the drive there, on dark highway through evergreen forests, I watched the eclipse happen through the moon roof in my car. I didn't hit any deer or anything. 
    When I came out of the pub after playing, that "It's a bit cold, so there is no moisture, and everything is completely silent and the slightest sound echoes" thing was happening in the main street of that little town. It's only about -20C (-4F) which isn't very cold, but cold enough to make everything snap, crackle and pop a bit more than usual. The stillness that creates is quite something.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Wet Sunday

Today I was determined to mix some songs. Instead I napped, watched an ungodly amount of comedy (the episodes of Never Mind the Buzzcocks with Noel Fielding filling in for Bill Bailey, and standup by Jimmy Carr and Dara O'Briain, which I heartily recommend, if you like not being offended by offensive stuff) and fought off a strong urge to drive back into the city to get a controller so I could play my Nintendo 64. N64 controllers are basicly junk people will give your for free from their basements, so driving into the city and paying $20 for a brand new one didn't appeal. Eventually I got very tempted and restless, and it started to freeze rain (like "it started to rain" except the rain was freezing like the candy shell on an M&M over everything it hit). When driving down the incline of my parking lot, my car slid down the bottom half of it sideways. Hitting the gas a bit pulled it under control a bit, in a way that braking certainly didn't.

I drove to the grocery store and got groceries, as that needed to be done, and it always makes me feel good to not have an empty cupboard. Intending to watch the new Knight Rider, having a great deal of trouble believing it won't be the most embarassing thing on television since, well, Knight Rider 2000, made in the early 90s, casting our imaginations far ahead to the distant future of the year 2000, in which police would chase criminals in 1992 Chevy Berettas, while a failed Pontiac design of a red, algae powered stupid car with chips missing because they were inplanted in the head of a girl ,went around Seattle not being able to count.

Troy MSNed that he is watching the Knight Rider movie on some cable channel from a different time zone, and that it's not as bad as we expected. Like a lot of people, I want to see what it's like to have Val Kilmer doing the voice of the talking car. Kilmer is always amusing. Joel hopes there are Wendy's commercials, or at least a product placement shot with Hasselhoff eating a Wendy's burger with his shirt off.

Meanwhile I am caught firmly between cabin fever from doing nothing, and really not wanting to do anything.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Consuming Passion

Joel was busy, so I was going to have to hang out with myself again for the whole long weekend, and I got stubborn. "I am not going to lie on the couch all weekend watching Never Mind The Buzzcocks. No, I am going to concoct a reason to go into the city." (Never Mind The... really got through to me the new trend in gameshows. American ones are "how much will you humiliate yourself for money?" and British ones are "we'll pretend to play, but it is totally uncool to be seen to be trying to win, and we will devote most of our time being clever and humiliating everyone else, but it is totally uncool to be seen to be TRYING to be clever etc.") 
     I was MSNing with Troy about wanting to go on a fruitless mission to find Blades of Steel, the latest NES game that has been missed by people visiting who wanted to play it. Rave reviews about it by people who hate sports games, so I wanted it. Troy's wife is away, and he wanted to go look at games but had kind of promised not to buy more stuff, so he said he could lead me in the right direction for ME to spend my money. 
     We went to a game store and I got Blades of Steel and two Star Wars N64 games my friends and I used to play back in the day, even though I don't have an N64. Then we went to two different Value Village stores. Truly giant thrift shops. I got an N64 with a power cable but no controllers, and Troy fished the AV cables for it out of a bin of junk, and stole a little "memory card" door off the N64 beside it (which was missing its power cable) to replace the one missing from mine. 
    Then, as the gentle strains of Huey Lewis rang throughout the store, I tried on used men's sport jackets. Some were magnificently, appallingly 80s, with overwide padded shoulders, short waists, novel buttons and collars and so on. Troy tried to dare me into odd choices for teaching school in (light purple fuzzy, checkerboard, and avocado green) and saved me from a lovely suede-looking one that had a minor cigarette burn on it. 
     I ended up leaving with a grey corduroy one and the N64. We ate in the foodcourt of a mall, looking for N64 controllers fruitlessly. A "we sell rude t-shirts, penis-shaped pens and rock and roll clocks, mints and clock radios" store was going out of business and everything was half off. I broke my "trying not to buy t-shirts that say anything on them" and bought two black ones with white distressed lettering on them. 
    One says "I'm not paid enough to be nice to you" (for Fridays at school) and "Your Favorite Band Sucks" for everyday casual wear. The cool t-shirts with Nintendo etc stuff on them were all sold apart from the size smalls. Being a teacher, I did not buy the "I Only Go To School For The Girls" one.

Friday, 15 February 2008

I See Punctuation and Spelling mistakes everywhere, and they don't even know they're mistakes...

Perfectly professional looking websites ready by tens of thousands of people (not just some private person's tappings, like this blog) are being written by people with, apparently, no editors. Check this out, regarding the Wonder Woman movie:  

The part of Wonder Women has not been decided. So until there is a face to the name, I will have to continue using imaginary faces when I fantasize about Wonder Women capturing me and tying me up with her lasso of truth. What are your thoughts on a directors knowledge of the subjects in their movies? And who would you like to see darning the tight, low cut, reveling and saucy costume of the worlds most famous female crime fighter? 

That's horrible. They consistently write "Wonder Women" every single time they type it throughout the rest of the article, even when the proposed director of the film is quoted by cut-and-paste, and gets it right. I'm not really sure how hot it would be to see "Wonder Women" darning her costume, either.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Outer Space

"Received" Civics course material has a traditional "Outer Space" assignment where kids pretend they are marooned on the moon and have to delegate responsibility, prioritize, decide who is in charge and who does what and what's important and so on. I thought it was too easy, kinda dumb and random. People stranded on the moon arguing over who got the chocolate, but no concerns about things like air. So, while brushing my teeth this morning and hating on it, I suddenly thought "human rights, ethical dillemas, military vs. politicians, how to deal with terrorism, freedoms vs. responsiblities, survival, martial law, space...Battlestar Frackin' Galactica, man!" (the 2003 new one)

Now my idea is this: the kids have to pair up, decide who's Roslyn and who is Adama (one focused on protecting people's rights, and the other on saving lives and stopping enemy threats, even if it means stepping on human rights) and debate on paper or tape or video, in character a series of issues, such as:

In the fleet, there is a prison ship which was transporting 200 prisoners to a penal colony when the twelve planets got nuked. Should any or all of these prisoners be kept locked up, taking up air, food and water, or should they be set free and put to work, “spaced” (pushed out an airlock into hard vacuum) or what?

A Cylon agent lights part of the Galactica on fire. Adama’s advisors suggest a plan to vent the oxygen from that part of the ship into space, putting out the fire before the entire ship is destroyed. 40 men and women are trapped in there and will fly out into space if this is done. What should be done?

The human race will die out unless a lot of babies are born soon. One of Roslyn’s advisers suggests that she outlaw abortions. What should be done?

Adama discovers a Cylon agent named “Roger” serving in the Galactica’s crew. Roger is refusing to tell them the details of what sounds like an imminent Cylon attack. He may also be making the whole thing up. Adama’s advisers advise torture. Roslyn’s advise “spacing” Roger. What should be done?

They have to:

Agree as to what the problem is exactly (sometimes this will be quite easy)
Discuss what all the various options are
State a position as to what should be done, Roslyn resisting human rights issues, and Adama military ones.
Explain (give an argument) as to why this decision was made and not the other one(s)

And yes, I'm a'gonna use the papercutter to cut the corners off the handouts. I'm just that big a geek. Man I wish I'd had me for a teacher!

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Solitary Weekend

So it's another "I don't get paid until next Friday" weekend. I did a whole lot of napping and watching stuff on TV. I watched three (British, six episode) seasons of The Mighty Boosh, for example, having not seen any episodes before, sir. Boosh is a quarter Flight of the Conchords, and three quarters Peewee's Playhouse. Stuff like that has the curious effect of tempting me simultaneously to give up on music, because they can make silly music that is so good, so easily; and also to make music, but be a bit more relaxed about it.

The plan was to go into the city on Saturday with Joel, but he stayed up all night and slept all day until it was too late to go in and expect to get any shopping done. Today, I went in and got replacement shoelaces for my dress shoes (friction and salt stains from winter broke one), some interesting groceries, a 2008 calendar (Battlestar Galactica), a used DVD set of Season One of Millenium (it was cheap and I used to watch it all the time ten years ago) and the first Buffy Season Eight trade paperback.

I found a link from author Neil Gaiman's blog to a blog just for posting photos of misuses of quotation marks. My favourite I've ever seen personally was a sign on a restaurant kitchen door which read "Employees" Only.

I did some thinking about what it would be like to be a hermit, to have endless time without anything interrupting your thoughts, and what sort of thinking you'd do. I thought about how I am alone most of the time, including Friday afternoon until Monday morning, and how my thoughts and demeanor are no doubt more hermit-like than most, and how difficult that makes it for me to connect to others.

I managed not to watch any SuperBowl (football is the gheyest ghame evar) and am trying to see some House. Maybe once they're all done talking about their feelings about the football, they'll show me something I actually give a freckled rat's anus about.