Miniblog: Jersey Shore

The second season of Jersey Shore premiered last night. 

 

Jersey Shore has two types of fan.  The first type identifies with the cast mates, and envies them of their lifestyle, which is mostly gym, tanning and laundry.  It’s about looking good, clubbing and hooking up.  The cast are of Italian descent, and the guys have reclaimed the term Guido, which was orignally racist, but now describes the partying lifestyle they live.  The girls are Guidettes, women who hope to snag themselves a Guido.  

The other type of fan can’t believe that these people exist.  There’s a level of … idiocy that’s often displayed.  Most of the cast is incredibly self-obsessed, certain that everything in the world revolves around them.  When they speak, similes and metaphors often die painful, terrible deaths.  The words that come out of their mouths shouldn’t be uttered in private, let alone on national TV.  They are a strange group of barely functioning pseudo-adults, who have taken the right to live their own lives, but generally have no understanding of responsiblity. 

And watching them is amazing.  You can’t believe the shit they say, do and think. 

It’s not even a secret guilty pleasure.  When you tell someone you watch Jersey Shore, if they watch it too, you both wait a moment to see if someone expresses glee at their clubbing adventures.  If they see something positive, you know you’re dealing with someone too dumb to catch your contempt. 

I think my secret shame with Jersey Shore is a bit deeper.  Some of the cast a mere parodies of humanity (Snookie,the Situation, Angelina).  Others have the potential to be functioning members of society, and just seem to be taking some time to get all the stupid out of their system.  The most normal is Vinnie. 

or "The Normal One"

 

Vinnie thinks and acts like a person.  You’re rarely laughing at him, and when you are, he is too.  He’s self-aware.  He’s the first to notice when things become ridiculous, and gets the least screen time because he’s the least spectacular.  The man is educated, and for all intensive purposes, should be the person I like most and identify with on the show. 

My secret shame is I really get Ronnie: 

 

First of all, I do not and never will look like that.  His arms are the size of my torso.  He’s a powerful man.  But he’s also insightful.  Right from the start, he knows not to get into his roommates business without a good reason.  He understands how the people around him think.  He’s smart like Vinnie, but he gets involved in everything that happens around him. 

He also keeps putting up with ridiculous behaviour from a cute girl.  Honestly, he’s too smart for Sammie, whom he dated in the first season, and she makes ridiculous demands and ultimatums on him, and he does his best by her, often to his determine. 

Then there was the time some guy kept beaking off to him, so he ran back six blocks, and dropped the guy with one punch.  It was awesome, up until the point where he spent a night in jail.  He understood every consequence of what he did.  He knows you can’t go around punching people. 

But when he does it it’s so awesome. 

That’s my secret shame.  Ronnie, from Jersey Shore, is a guy I understand, and like.  And that kind of makes me feel dirty. 

But don’t tell him and his beefy arms about the dirty feeling part.

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An Informative Guide on How to Climb the Corporate Ladder

Some might say its unethical to promote work done by your friends as an impartial view. I’m certain literary critics are friends with authors and that Ebert probably eats with Spielberg and Bruckheimer. So you can go talk to them about integrity. Besides, I’m being upfront about the fact that I’m friends with Gavin Williams.  

I'll steal his promotional images to promote his play

  

That doesn’t change the fact that his An Informative Guide on How to Climb the Corporate Ladder is a great play. In 2007 it won the Calgary Regional One Act Play Festival.  And the Alberta One Act Play Festival.  That means someone more impartial than me liked it best of all the other one acts. When I saw it at Loose Moose, there was a featurette attached called “The Receptionist” Lindsay Mullan performed physical comedy for about 10 minutes, alone on the stage with a single word of clearly audible dialogue. She was fascinating, bouncing around with unbounded energy, and every time I was certain there was nothing more that could be done with a strange and lonely receptionist, I was both wrong and entertained.Once Lindsay’s piece ended, the main play took to the stage. Gavin wrote, co-directed, and played to protagonist in “An Informative Guide on How to Climb the Corporate Ladder” so I feel very comfortable calling it his. It follows how one is hired, disillusioned, and stays with a terrible job in a huge company, tempered with Gavin’s caustic wit.

 The cast was perfect. All three members slipped in and out of the various roles assigned to them with ease. You never needed to guess who they were at any give point, as their demeanour and body language suited each role so completely.

The set was simple and functional, as this is very much a one act festival piece. Everything was basic and multifunctional, so it was easy to set up and strike the set.

The eerie part of the play is how well it predicts life with a corporation. It touches on every annoying aspect of that world, every justification you make to stay, every frustration that makes it nearly intolerable, and every shred of futile hope which paralyzes you into inaction. Kodie ended up with the exact same terrible shame as I did for making every one of the mistakes hi lighted in the play. We were entertained the whole way through, and harrowed when we really thought about the content of the piece. Basically, if you watch this play, you will want to quit your job.

 Of course, afterwards, when I told Gavin that, he told me the real message was “Joey, kill yourself.” That explains why he looked directly at me several times throughout and whispered those words, but I guess I missed the real message.

***********************************************************************************************

If you missed the show here in Calgary, you’re not out of luck!  Gavin’s taking it to the Edmonton Fringe Festival.  It’s the coolest theatre event in Alberta.  For more shameless plugs/shows I would definately see, check out Happy Whackin’ Jim McCrackin. You’ll here more about this play from me next week.

Body Worlds

During Leonard’s Visit we decided to go to Body Worlds.  If you’re unfamiliar, let me explain a little more about this exhibit.

 

Dr. Gunther von Hagens invented the process of plastination in 1979.  Basically, it’s a way to preserve flesh by sealing it permanently in plastic.  It doesn’t rot or smell, it just lasts forever.  In 1995, an exhibit showcasing this technique, called Body Worlds, opened in Tokyo, and there are several travelling exhibits showcasing the technology and using it to teach anatomy.

In Calgary, it’s at the TELUS World of Science until September 6th.

Leonard, Tall and I went one Sunday afternoon.  Admission is a bit steep, at $30 per head, plus an additional $5 if you want to see the educational film and an extra charge if you want the headphone guide.  I didn’t get the headphones, and I’m pretty sure I’m not missing out there.  If it wasn’t for the relatively unique nature of the exhibit, I probably wouldn’t have paid that much.  There are very few similar shows, and I’ve got some concerns with those that I’ll get into in a moment.

Most of the displays show individual plasticinated organs or systems, such as lungs, hearts, or the nervous system.  There are also cross sections of people.  They tend to show healthy individuals, and contrast those to the effects of obesity or tumours.

Plastination leaves behind a hard replica, which is in all ways indistinguishable from a plastic model.  If you don’t remind yourself that these are the real deal, it starts to become boring.  You almost need to focus on the grotesque, or be really into science.

When I was a kid, I was really into dinosaurs.  Stettler isn’t far from Drumheller, which has the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

Okay, I'm still into dinosaurs...

  By the time I was five, I understood the displays weren’t real dinosaur bones.  Those were too special to leave out.  The bones you walk by are plaster casts of the real things.  It never diminished my enjoyment, or learning, or wonderment of dinosaurs.

Body Worlds, for the most part, could have just been plastic models and it would have been the same for me.

What I really enjoyed was the full body plastinoids.

These were bodies which had their skin removed, and were then posed to show how muscles work together, or how organs interact.  They were unique, and fascinating, and the worth the price of admission.

The $5 film was not.  It was a C Grade documentary that had little education value if you were over ten years old, and even less to do with Body Worlds.  As in nothing to do with it.  It was just tacked on, and should be avoided.

The most interesting thing to me was the consent form.  The biggest controversy I have heard around the exhibit is about the consent of the subjects.  I know a similar show, Our Body, was shut down in France when the consent or source of the bodies could not be produced.  The bodies in this exhibit appear to have come from executed Chinese prisoners.  While Body Worlds has faced similar criticism, their website contains very specific information of both the accusations against them, and how they were erroneous and defended in court when necessary.

S2 saw a Body World Exhibit in New York, and was disturbed by the foetuses included.  When I reached this section of the exhibit, I read very carefully to determine the source of these specimens.  They were donations from older medical collections from universities and all predated the 1920s.  While this makes consent even more of a question, the age of the specimens makes it rather difficult to do anything about it.

Other controversies surround whether or not the exhibit is morally decent or in good taste, usually from religious figures or politicians.  I really don’t believe that this is a question, considering the consent form.  It is really in-depth.  Those wishing to donate need to be 18.  They need to indicate they understood some considered this more of an artistic exhibit than a scientific one.  Donors had the option to be seen only by medical and biology students at accredited institutions, or to be seen by the general public.  They chose whether or not exhibit visitors had permission to touch their remains.  They chose if they wanted to be full body plastinoids, or displayed in pieces.  Finally, the form stated the family could override your choice to donate and to ensure they were aware of your terminal wishes.

Based on this form, the individuals and families were fully aware of what happens when you donate to Dr. von Hagens.  If a church or a politician doesn’t agree, they don’t have to see the show, but they shouldn’t be shutting it down based on the fact that they wouldn’t donate.

I hesitate to recommend the show.  If you’re interested in the science or art of it, because it’s both, then you really should see it.  However, if you think you’ll be offended, you probably will, and you’re better saving your thirty dollars.  It’s not a life changing experience, just an interesting way to spend an afternoon.

Miniblog: Shyamalan’s Gift

Some of you may remember that I’m pissed at M. Night Shyamalan, for taking something beautiful and shitting all over it.  I’ve been afraid to say it too publically, but there’s a chance something good would come of it.

See, in spite of the fact that Shyamalan did his best to destroy everything great about The Last Airbender, according to Wikipedia, the film made $70.5 million on its opening four-day weekend.  I assume this was mostly Airbender fans like me, who needed to know how badly he hurt Aang, and M. Night Shyamalan fans who are still waiting for his early brilliance to resurge.

And if there’s one thing that speaks to studio executives, its big piles of money.  In spite of the fact that no one likes this movie, there’s a market for it.  Which means there’s a market for other, related media.  On July 21st, it was announced that the cartoon would get a spin-off series.

The Legend of Korra

This show, titled The Legend of Korra, will take place 70 years after the cartoon.  It’s designed to attract a larger female audience, and is being made by the original creators. 

And M. Night Shyamalan isn’t involved, at least not as far as I can tell.

So, it looks like by accidentally, despite doing a terrible job of his adaptation, Shyamalan managed to make a bunch of money, and so I get new Avatar. 

Michael Bay, don’t you feel like you owe me something now?

Cause I do.

Miniblog: Inception

Amos might be a bit of a movie snob.  He doesn’t think D.E.B.S. is a good movie.  Sure, the box art doesn’t lead you to expect much:

Is this porn?

And sure, it might look like porn.  In fact, the first time I watched it, about 5 minutes in, I was disappointed that it wasn’t.  But then it turned out to be good, and everyone but Amos agrees.

Amos is the sort of individual who can tell you who won what Oscar in which year.  Off the top of his head.  Movie snob…

When he was excited about Inception, I was worried.  Maybe the movie was too much for my pop culture riddled brain.  But then again, it looks so cool:

YES!

If you haven’t seen a trailer for this movie, go watch one.  Trust me, it won’t give away anything.  The basic concept of the movie is hard to explain in a trailer, so you won’t end up spoiling the best parts.

Basically, the film is about people who steal from dreams using some kind of briefcase macguffin they never really explain, but for once they’re planting an idea instead of taking one.  There’s more to it, and all the ideas are pretty solid, as long as you accept that for this movie, you can go into other people’s dreams.  As it goes on, it get’s cooler and cooler.  Leonardo Dicaprio is the lead, and characterwise is probably the least interesting, but his plot makes up for his dullness.

The kid from Third Rock From the Sun (you’d have to ask Amos his name) does a great job.

But castwise, my favourite part was Ellen Page playing an adult:

Not a minor!

That is a beautiful woman, and even though she’s of age in say, Juno, there’s still a level of creepy when you’re attracted to her and she’s pretending to be 16.  So, as a college student, I don’t need to feel bad about the fact that she’s hot.

But the strength of this movie lies in the plot and its perfect execution.  The ideas are really interesting, and they show them in a visually stunning manner.  I don’t want to give this movie away.  You have to see it.  Imagine the Matrix was actually deep, or if Donnie Darko had zero gravity kung fu fights.

Go see this movie.

Leonard’s Visit

 

Leonard was coming back to Calgary from Art School for a week, which meant I was going to be at either the Ship and Anchor or the Distillery.  The Distillery has changed a lot lately, and in some ways, no matter how many new things she tries, Leonard is still a robot of habit in the deepest steel chambers of her mechanical heart.  She can’t handle seeing how some things have changed, and she wanted the familiar, so we were at the Ship.

We went on Friday.  If you don’t know, the Ship and Anchor is a bit of a punk pub, at least originally, but it’s slowly showing a hipster influence.  There’s a row of fake books on a shelf near the ceiling.  Antique-looking paintings and artefacts adorn the walls, interspersed with FIFA soccer pennants.  Each table had its own crowd, with no coherent group dominating the bar.  A couple of old guys spoke emphatically near a group of bookish girls too afraid to yell to be heard over the bar noise.  A pair of overly attractive people tried to decide if they wanted to make out at 8 pm in a pub, mostly through trail and error.

I got there to find Kodie, Leonard, B1 and A2.  I hadn’t eaten, so I ordered food.  For the rest of the night, one person at our table was always eating.  Either someone new would show up and order food, or someone who had been there for a while needed an appy.

I was sitting by A2.  He was ordering a different beer with each round and showing off his iPhone.

Tall showed up a bit later, followed by R1 and A3, friends of Leonard.  It freaks her out to see people she knows from different places together, especially if they get along.  She especially hates it if they start doing things without her.  She calls it “hanging out behind her back.”  I believe it’s because robots are always plotting against humans, so she assumes it goes the other way.  She knows it’s crazy, and she’s mostly gotten over it, but at times it bugs her.

So I probably shouldn’t have been hitting on A3.  Since the last time I’d seen her, she’d gotten a rather significant haircut, and was adorable with her short hair.  I was trying to be subtle, so as not to upset Leonard until there was reason for her to be truly angry at me.  On top of that, it was a loud bar, and everyone kept switching places around the table, so A3 and I didn’t get much of a chance to talk.  I doubt she noticed.  She also didn’t get my full attention, and I wasn’t willing to push to hard, so she was able to escape my considerable charm.

This time…

When Shawn showed up, our waitress changed.  The new girl was gorgeous, and completely inattentive.  You had to yell at her to stop her to order a drink.  We soon decided it was time to move the party, and Kodie and Shawn suggested the Elbow River Casino.  Tall, A3, B1 and R2 were out, but the rest of us decided to go. 

I’ve only ever been to the casino in Lethbridge.  It’s a newish building on the highway out of town.  I used to go with Txt Girl and her friends, because she loved to gamble.  I’d spend $20 on ten games of blackjack, then just hang out, because I value my money.  The Lethbridge Casino was fun every time.

Elbow River Casino was different.  It was smaller, darker, and mostly row upon row of heartless slot machines. 

Pictured: Uncivilized Gambling

 I don’t like playing the slots because they’re too much like video games.  The bright lights and sounds confuse me into thinking I’m having more fun than I am, and I forget every button I press costs me money.  I feel like my Nintendo cheated me as a child, so I know those machines that are literally after my money will for sure.  I just don’t like the disconnect I get from something too much like my Xbox 360.

So I walked by and got a drink.  Then I checked out the Blackjack.

There were no $2 tables.

The lowest on the floor were $5 minimum bet.

When the fuck did that happen?  I want 10 games for my $20.  Now, the most I’m guaranteed is 4 games.  4 fucking games.  Less than half.  I sighed, and sat down by A2.  I managed to last for 8 games without going over my $20 limit.  I was frustrated when the last of my money left so I went to find Kodie.

He was at a slot machine, and I was not sober enough to make good decisions.  In 3 minutes, the evil little robot ate $20 more.  I asked Kodie how he managed to keep the machine going.  He shrugged a timid shrug that suggested he’d spent more than he should have.

Shawn and I found the cheapest slots in the place, and I lost another $10 before I gave up.  It was home time, and I was down $50.

Do all Casino’s suck this much?  Am I remembering things wrong?

Or is the Elbow River Casino where hope goes to die?

Miniblog: Japanese Tourists

I have this dream for Stampede.  I keep hoping I’ll run into some cute lost Japanese girl. 

Someone along these lines

 

She’ll be all confused by the city, maybe talking to her equally cute friend, who will probably be wearing a cowboy hat, trying to figure out how to get somewhere, like the grounds, or how to do something relatively simple, like pay for parking.  Of course, they’ll be afraid to use their English, because these two girls are Japanese University students, who fear mispronouncing a word more than death. 

Fortunately, I’ll be there to save them with my ability to understand the idiocy of Calgary parking, and my scant Japanese which I speak with more confidence than it deserves.  Of course, they’ll want me to hang out with them all day, and then eventually, I’ll accept their displays of gratitude, whatever they might be. 

Probably blow jobs, but I won’t be too picky. 

Anyways, if that’s going to happen, I better get out there to Stampede.  What if someone else with rudimentary Japanese gets to them first?  Those are my bjs!

Published in: on July 14, 2010 at 8:47 am  Comments (1)  
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Stampede

The Calgary Stampede can be a difficult thing to enjoy.  The city is absolutely overrun.  There’s no parking, there’s too many people on transit, there’s even more bad drivers, and there’s crowds everywhere you go.  You can’t get into a restaurant or pub.

Then again, cute girls in cowboy hats and short shorts are crowding the streets.  It’s never too early to be drunk.  There’s games and festival food.  With a plan, it’s a beautiful thing.

So I went this weekend and did it right.  David had a bunch of friends down from Edmonton, so we drank a bunch of beers at my house.  When you head out to Stampede, it helps to be less than sober.  Most of the people you meet will be drunk, and possibly assholes, but they’re easier to cope with when you’re full of beer.  

The day was a bit rainy, which actually cut down on the crowds.  There are people sober enough to go inside when the weather is terrible.  Not my kind of people, but they exist.  So we walked to the gates and paid $14 to get inside.  It pisses me off a little that there’s nothing included for that $14.  You pay that to have access to all the rest of Stampede.  Shouldn’t the people setting up booths and rides and exhibitions pay rent so that we’ll see their stuff, and we can give them even more money?  I mean, Disney Land is expensive, but you get access to all the rides with admission.  You don’t pay to get into West Edmonton Mall, you just pay for what you use.  Stampede, you pay entrance, for food, for entertainment, for souvenirs, for everything.

I need 5 beers first to justify it.

But the small crowd inside was awesome.  We walked through the midway, stopping every once in a while to gamble or throw a baseball at some beer bottles.  We checked out the rides, but since we’re planning to come back on a weekday, when you can get a wristband to ride all day, we decided not to buy any tickets.  We went to the beer gardens, had a round and got shot glasses on Mardi-Gras beads, and then the rain picked up enough that even we noticed.  So we headed over to the Big Four and hide in the casino, playing slot machines until the rain settled down.

We headed out to my favourite part of Stampede: food.  I had Taco in a Bag, Elephant Ears, the giant lemonade, and cheesecake dipped in chocolate.  I am a bottomless pit of Stampede food.

If you’re a Stampede goer, and you want to know how it stacked up, it was average.  It’s a run of the mill Stampede.  You need to go to at least one, but they probably won’t ever blow your mind.

Miniblog: Back in the Saddle

My computer died.  It sucked.  It terrified and stressed me out.  I lost a lot of work on my novel, and hours and hours of music.  I’ll be backing everything up better. 

But I managed to save the basis of the system, and I’m up and running again.  In the process I learned how to build a laptop.  It’s actually pretty easy.  My computer runs better and faster, and I’m going to try one more time to save the information off of the old hard drive that died.

I’m also planning to go to Stampede, and drink my face off, but that’s unrelated.

Published in: on July 9, 2010 at 1:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Miniblog: World Cup

Due to extreme technical difficulties, I’m unable to post a full blog today.  I know the world was waiting with baited breath, and I apologize, but it may be touch and go while I work on getting my computer at home back online.

In the mean time: World Cup.  Chris asked me what World Cup was like up in Canada, and the 2010 is different than any previous World Cup.  Soccer just didn’t happen in Canada before.  It probably doesn’t help that the highest Team Canada has ever ranked is 40th and that was in 1996.  People here just didn’t follow Soccer, not enough for it to be on TV or anything.  They had to read it in the back of the sports section, and it’s hard to get behind that.

But since the 2006 there’s been changes in the way people do information.  With YouTube and the Internet, Canadians can follow foreign teams, fandom usually based on whatever boat their parents came over on, and follow the sport.  With digital and satellite channels offering packages with over 20 sports channels, those channels need something to fill the time when there’s no more hockey and curling, and so they go to soccer.  It’s actually possible to follow FIFA in Canada now.

So this year, bars are opening at 8 am to play games.  People are getting up early to see what’s happening in soccer, and drinking as soon as these games starts.  They’re cheering on teams based on whatever connection they can find, and desperately seeking paraphilia.  Having an official anything makes you a big deal. People cheer when a goal is scored, but apart from the hour, it’s really not looking much different than a busy night at the pub, but people disperse at the games end. Also, 8am drinking.   It’s almost enough to get me to actively follow the sport.

Because you’re not a drunk, you’re just a soccer fan.

Published in: on July 5, 2010 at 1:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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