The Den of Ubiquity

Saturday, August 31, 2002:

What A Perfect Mess

And here it is, the promised first-anniversary blog entry. A far cry from the four that I did on that first day, isn't it? Well, then I had more time, or something. I think I did it at work, back when I was that stupid.

I tried to think of some way I could make this entry special. I could try to refer to those original posts and update anything that's changed. I could try to make four posts myself. I could try to make a new layout. Well, that one was doomed from the start, because I just have no clue.

So maybe I'll do a little bit of a look back, but mostly this will be a normal entry, I think.

So, a year ago. At that point Nicole was not yet pregnant with Luke, and we may not have even decided to start trying yet. I was not in my new office at Joseki, and I was still getting off work at 3:30 every afternoon. I was probably still playing at least one game of Atlantis. Actually, looking back at my email archives(me? Ever delete anything?), I see that in one of them I was playing an NPC faction as well as my own. That didn't last too long.

As everyone is by now I'm sure painfully aware, this is just before the one-year anniversary of September 11th, so that had not happened yet. It was a different world. It didn't have the
Fourth Turning feeling yet that it does now. But maybe I should wait until the actual anniversary to get into that.

Last year, of course, I also hadn't written my NaNoWriMo novel, giving myself just the teeniest bit more evidence that if I ever wanted to I could become a Real Writer. And there were a lot of blogs I hadn't read yet, either. In some ways I think of them as people that I've "met", but of course I haven't, in the vast majority of cases. (Limegirl may be the only exception, in fact.)

You know, there's not a lot in that first day's entries that I feel the urge to comment on, though of course I urge relatively new readers to click on the top archive link just to see what I was up to a year ago. I didn't change my opinion on any of the books I read or albums I listened to that day, and I still hate people who leave scads of space in front of them when they're stopped in traffic. Though I guess in the interim I've realized that some of that is supposed to be emergency space in case the guy in front of you doesn't move and you have to pull around him. But still, some people take it to excess.

This has not been a year of great epiphany for me. It has been a year in which I have done no theatre, and certainly haven't even tried to do radio. I didn't manage to go to any SF conventions, though I did at least leave the province to attend my brother's wedding. It's been Simon's "terrible twos" year, which is not over yet by any means. And I've been sick a few times, too.

What kind of comment is it on my life when the phenomenon of blogging itself is probably the most exciting thing that happened to me this past year? Or maybe it's a comment on blogging, instead.

Moving right along...I'm still working my way through Scion's Lady. It's almost starting to pick up, but still not quite. So I can't say much more about that, and I doubt I'll get it done tonight/this month.

The library booksale table today was almost completely covered with magazines, which I think is totally useless, because in general I'm not a big fan of magazines. Except for SF magazines, but they're different. I'm still not totally reconciled to the big glossy magazines, either, preferring the digest-sized ones. I did pick up a few things at the bookstore, though. One was the trade paperback version of Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire, for completeness. The other three were "classics" from the 3/$10 rack they had out front. I am generally happy with a lot of popular classics, so I picked up Nicholas Nickleby by Dickens(can't go wrong with Dickens), The Iliad by Homer(it's time I got something more than the Classics Comics version), and Moby-Dick by Herman Melville(ditto). Actually, most of the books on the rack I already had--Madame Bovary, Crime & Punishment(though that's a recent acquisition), Jane Eyre, etc. I think this'll be worthwhile, eventually. I haven't measure the average time lapse from purchase to reading, for books that I am not chomping at the bit to read, but I'm sure it's measured in years, and maybe double digits at that.

I've been listening to some albums that I've had for a few years now, since before Simon was born, anyhow, and never really gotten into. "Exile On Main Street" by the Rolling Stones I picked up because someone in one of my music guides raved about it as their masterpiece. I was never particularly impressed with it, but I tried very hard to give it a good listening today as I was doing dishes. That's one of those activities where you can be busy but still concentrate fairly well on what you're listening to. It still didn't strike me as deathless music, but I was struck by the song "Let It Loose", which stood out for me among the second half of the album. Have to remember that one for next time.

Saint Etienne's "So Tough" was also a music guide recommendation, and I enjoy it fairly well, but one problem I have is matching up songs to titles. I don't have it on CD, and there are lots of short bits between songs, so sometimes it's hard to tell what's what. Often the titles are not in the lyrics(at least, if they are, it's not evident on casual listening), except for "You're In A Bad Way". I think that "Hobart Paving" is one that I like, for instance, but I can't tell for sure.

Bob Dylan's "Blonde On Blonde"...well, everyone always says that Dylan's early work is classic, so I picked this one up as well. It does have several songs I was familiar with from two volumes of his Greatest Hits, like "I Want You", "Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again", "Just Like A Woman", and of course "Rainy Day Women #12 & #35"(where did he get that title from, anyway?). This time I gave it a good listen too, and now I have a fairly good fix on "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" and "Most Likely You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine". Dylan is still not my favourite, but he may eventually grow on me. I like some of his later stuff too, anyway.

What else have we got...well, "Transistor" by 311 I couldn't give a good listen to this time because I was at work with the volume down. Siouxsie & The Banshees' "Hyaena" was pretty good, though the individual songs haven't struck me yet(with the possible exception of "Bring Me The Head of The Preacher Man", which I remember noticing but probably still couldn't hum for you). Same for Happy Rhodes' "Warpaint", which didn't seem to have any songs as striking as "Equipoise"'s "Runners" or "Cohabitants", though "Phobos", "Wrong Century", and the title track I could probably hum for you a little bit.

Then there's Split Enz's "True Colours". I've always been more of a fan of Crowded House than Split Enz, but then I never really remember them much except for "I Got You" and "Six Months In A Leaky Boat". I have picked up a few albums of their since, though, including "History Never Repeats", their greatest hits album(those I always find useful in getting my bearings with a group's music), but haven't gotten much further than those hits on the other albums. On this one, "I Hope I Never" and "Poor Boy" are still the two I notice most, but I'm getting to the others as well. I'm willing to tentatively state that I might like this album better than "Time & Tide", but I couldn't say for sure. And that's final.*

Oh, and I forget to mention earlier, on Tuesday Sharna & Nick offered to babysit, so we went out to see a movie. It turned out to be a cheap-theatre presentation of "The Sum of All Fears". The cheap theatre was incredibly busy, moreso that we've ever seen it, with actual lineups outside and everything. I should clarify--I think we've been in lineups outside there before, but this was worse than usual. It moved fairly swiftly, and we did end up having time to go see the movie of our choice(though there were four or five others at other times that we would have been willing to hazard as well), though not get popcorn. I think it was so busy because it's the last week before school starts again. I wouldn't have thought that the difference in prices between Tuesday($1.50)and the rest of the week($2.00 or $2.50)would have been extreme enough to get everybody out to the cheap theatres on that night, but whatever...

The theatre itself was a little crowded too, of course, and we did have to sit close to the left wall, but it wasn't a big theatre so it wasn't that bad. And I've noticed that there are very few seats in a theatre that are so bad that you still notice your awkward viewing angle after half an hour of the movie. I imagine they design them that way.

I read the book the movie was based on some years ago--the first Tom Clancy I read, in fact, grabbed on impulse from the library without much consciousness that it was several books into the series. The book was severely bloated with extraneous plotlines, but it came together in the second half and became very effective. I could already tell from the commercials that they'd taken major liberties, and broken all continuity with even the other movies, to put Ben Affleck in the main role rather than someone in his 50's or something.

Anyway, they had trimmed out most of the fat for the movie, and it was pretty good, though still slower in the first half. They pretty much kept the ending, which was by far the best part of the book, and that was a good thing. Though I was amused at one reversal between book and movie: In the movie, Jack Ryan is a political analyst who has an unpopular theory about the Russian leadership which nobody on the President's staff seriously believes--but in the book, there's a political analyst with a ludicrously wrong theory about the Russian leadership...who has the ear(and the bed)of the President, and causes a lot of the trouble at the end. It's almost a total reversal of the meaning of the book. Also, I noticed that the Arab terrorists of the book were replaced with fascists, who are a much safer target these days when it seems we're trying to avoid saying that all Muslims are evil while preparing for war with most of them anyway.

When watching the previews I was fired up again with urges to see "The Bourne Identity", which looks like it could be a bit closer to the book. I recognized scenes from the book during the trailer, which is amazing since it's been years since I read it, though my memory was refreshed by references in the later books, which came up more recently. (Clear?) The preview for "Road To Perdition" was interesting too, though we refused to believe that the movie had already come out to theatres because we were almost sure this was the first we'd heard of it--and a Tom Hanks movie, even! (Though we never heard a single thing about "That Thing You Do!" either.) That's another one we want to see, anyway.

Maybe one thing I should do, as I enter my second year of blogging, is write more about my past. I haven't done much of that.

I graduated from Grande Prairie Composite High School in 1987, shortly before I turned sixteen; after that, I elected to spend a year going to the Grande Prairie Regional College. My friend Jeremy, was also going to GPRC, and I both majored in Physics, mostly because of a great Grade 12 Physics teacher, Mr. Leesinsky.

We could only take one year at the college, though, so in 1988 we registered at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Then, of course, we had to find someplace to live. By chance, I ran into one of my math professors at a play at the college, and he said that he had a house in Millwoods that he needed to rent out, or at least the upstairs. There were three bedrooms, and it would be $540 a month. It sounded perfect--now all we needed was a third person.

At the college, I had met some cool people, mostly from the Catholic high school. One of them, Troy, I owe a debt of eternal gratitude for turning me on to such great comics as Watchmen, Grimjack, and Cerebus. He invited me to join in a GURPS game he was playing in. The GM of that game was a guy named Dave, who I knew slightly because at one point he had been in a play with my mother and Steve.

So when we needed someone to take our third room, Troy was my first thought. But he had already made his plans for accommodation, I guess. So I offered it to Dave, who had mentioned that he was coming down to Edmonton to take a course at Grant MacEwen. And he accepted.

Now if I could take back that offer, I would, because Dave had always been my Roommate From Hell experience. We might have had to pay that extra $90/month each for a month or two, but I'm sure we could've found someone more compatible.

Dave was sloppy and slovenly. He dirtied half of our supply of knives in a single day making a different peanut butter sandwich with each one, and similarly left many glasses with a thin film of dried milk at the bottom. We sometimes tried to make him do the dishes, but they ended up so greasy after he was finished that we abandoned the idea. He would eat anything that was in the fridge, no matter who had put it there, so sometimes if I wanted to keep something I would hide it in my room. He would cook sometimes, often a duck which he would roast and then eat for a day or two, getting everything greasy, and then stinking up the house after it started to go rancid. He would also snack on frozen peas, straight from the freezer. Okay, that one wasn't so bad, I could deal with it. His room never had more furniture than a mattress, and was incredibly squalid the few times we dared to venture into it for some compelling reason.

He was also often impossible to get out of conversation with if you got into it at the wrong time. Once he followed me into my room was I was trying to escape, and then picked a book of my shelf and started reading it. I had to actually ask him to leave. Oh, and it was almost impossible to get him to pay his share of the rent. He certainly never volunteered to do it, and it was painful to ask. He actually stopped taking the Grant MacEwen course after a few months, but never got a job or anything. He went out to buy books and games regularly, though. Once I saw one of his bank statements, and he had a lot of money on there; Jeremy said he thought that Dave's dad had given him some stocks or something.

Jeremy went to Calgary to work for the summers. The first summer, fed up with him, I asked him to move out. He didn't. He was still there when I moved in with Nicole, and he was still there after Jeremy left too. One of Dave's friends had moved in to replace me, and apparently they never got a third again. A few years later I got a call from the professor who owned the house, who wanted to know if there was any reason he couldn't evict them. Apparently they weren't paying rent, and seemed to be broke. I told him to go ahead, with my blessing. With any luck, Dave moved back with his mother. He was eight years older than me, as I discovered when the census people came by one year, and yet he was living with his mother before we moved down to Edmonton.

It wasn't all bad, I suppose. He was a pretty good GM, for GURPS, or the Star Wars roleplaying system, which was actually quite neat and fun to play. Jeremy probably got along with him better than I did; I hid in my room a lot, or, later, spent time at Nicole's. But Jeremy and Dave were both more interested in gaming than I was, so maybe had more in common. He was a total nerd, I have no doubt.

I don't miss him, though. I miss the other roommates we could have had instead.

And now I continue with another couple of entries in the countdown of my 750 favourite songs, which I started a few months after I started the blog(November 22, 2001), after seeing something similar in another blog which I probably couldn't even find now. It'll probably go on forever, now, because after this is done I will have more songs that I like to add to the list as well. But yes, the countdown:

418. Elton John: Candle In The Wind, from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Though I am much more familiar with the live version, I think with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra or something, which had a video in the mid-80's. That's the version on my favourite-song tapes, anyway. This is such a classic that I don't know what to say about it. I never listened to the Lady Diana version("Goodbye English Rose"?), I confess, because I thought that it was stupid to rewrite the lyrics for her and pretend it was a new song. I may never become reconciled to that.

417. King Crimson: Three of A Perfect Pair, from Three of A Perfect Pair

I heard it first on "The Compact King Crimson", one of the few Belew-era tracks which isn't from "Discipline". The album itself is pretty scattershot, especially the second half, but this song has King Crimson's trademark polyrhythms, and cool lyrics(even if I suspect they misuse "schizophrenia" to mean "multiple personality", which is a pet peeve of mine)

Turn back the clock and you're history. --Timecop

Aaron // 11:02 p.m. Clix me!

Thursday, August 29, 2002:

Write Your Letters In The Sand

I wasn't going to write a new entry tonight, but I just checked and it's been four days, so I guess I'd better. It'll be a short one, though.

I was actually considering trying to do a daily countdown entry, regardless of whether I write anything more than that, but I guess we'll see how it goes. Especially once TV starts and, eventually,

Though I am looking forward right now to the start of the new TV season. I have actually started watching some "Scrubs" reruns. I never watched it when it came out, because it didn't sound like the right kind of humour for me, but then I heard it compared to "M*A*S*H", so I thought I'd give it a try. Besides, it came on right after "Whose Line"(good lead-in!)--in fact, it came on instead of the second episode of "Whose Line" that they usually played back-to-back. I've only seen a couple of episodes so far, but musical allusions to "West Side Story" in the first one clinched it for me. Now I just have to remember to watch it.

I've been on BearShare tonight; I finally got around to downloading the new version, hoping it would make some kind of a difference, but it's just as deserted as it's been the last few times I tried. The number of search hits seem to be pathetic. Has everyone deserted the Gnutella network? It seemed the hardiest, if not the fastest, of the P2P networks(though I haven't tried many). Where is everybody these days? Oh, well, at least I seem to have found the rest of the MP3s so that I can burn myself a copy of the first Dream Academy album to replace my cassette copy. Much harder will be to replace Don Dixon's "Most of The Girls Like To Dance But Only Some of The Boys Do", which is in really bad shape.

A lot of the tapes in my collection were bought from 1985-88, and for some reason they're all starting to die off--getting screechy at the end of side one, generally muffled all over, or just plain getting eaten. Many of them I have tried to copy before the degeneration got too bad, but I have so many that I can't do them all, and sometimes it seems silly to wait until it starts sounding bad before I tape it, because then I have a bad-quality copy.

One day I'll have everything on CD, or MP3, or whatever. But that's not going to happen anytime soon, unless I win the lottery. One day I may have to decide which albums I could live without replacing. But hopefully not yet.

I finished Sailing Bright Eternity a couple of days ago, and I'd have to say it was a little disappointing. The main plot was so huge that there was no way that the human characters we were following could have done anything about it themselves, and as it turned out they didn't. There was a brief time when I thought they could have a dramatic climax, but after the mechs being mostly wiped out through entirely indirect means, all they could do was hunt down the one that had been their own personal nemesis. It didn't satisfy me. The scenery was interesting, but it didn't measure up to its predecessor, Furious Gulf. But at least I'm finished the series now.

Then I read More Adventures of The Great Brain by John D. McDonald. I know I'd read some of the Great Brain books as a kid, but now I've been rereading them trying to figure out which ones. I don't think this was one of them--certainly the first one, and Me & My Little Brain, which was my favourite. But it was still a good read, and had some genuinely touching moments.

Now I'm onto Scion's Lady by Rebecca Bradley. I hadn't really heard of her before meeting her at ConVersion a couple of years ago, but we bought her Gil trilogy and Nicole really liked them. This is the second one; I read Lady In Gil somewhere in there, but don't remember much of it. It will come back to me, though, I'm sure. The plot hasn't grabbed me yet, but then maybe I just haven't had time to get into it. I ended up talking to Edna at lunch instead of reading my book, and that's usually my reliable reading time.

Some library CDs, and others, to report on. I listened to "Morning Dove White" by One Dove at work, but after Edna actually complained about the volume once, I've been paranoidly playing things very quiet, so I barely heard it. Also, I'm ashamed to say it, I was working so hard that I wasn't even paying attention. So I gave it a second listen at home tonight. It was interesting, sort of light techno, but didn't come up with any tracks that really grabbed me.

Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells III" was more interesting than II in some ways. It was less a slavish rewrite of the first album, which was good and bad. The opening track managed to catch the spirit of the famous piano intro and add some techno beat to it, but it didn't provide anything else to measure up to the original's incredible side-one finale. It did include the song "Man In The Rain", which reminded me more than somewhat of "Moonlight Shadow", and was apparently recorded some time ago. So I'd rate it better then "TB2", but still not really up to his best work.

Today I listened to "The Audio of Being" by the Matthew Good Band. They're a Canadian alternative band that I've heard bashed quite a bit, but haven't actually heard much. This album didn't do much for me, despite having interesting, almost prog-rock titles like "Advertising On Police Cars". Again, it was a listen at work, and maybe I should give it another chance, but I often don't have the time to listen to a whole album at a time at home anymore. It's sad, really. I've got a whole long weekend coming up, I should be able to fit it in somewhere...

There's also a couple more I'd borrowed from Darren. There's "Steaming Pile of Skit" by Three Dead Trolls In A Baggie, an Edmonton comedy group who's done some kickass work in the past. It seems to be a sort of sampler of their work, and includes a spoof of the "sunscreen song", a song about how Canada burned the White House in the War of 1812, their classic "Proximity To God Index" sketch, and Wes Borg's "Political Diatribe" song in high-school French.

Then there's Todd Butler's homemade "CBC Songs #1" CD, mostly containing spoofs with politically-oriented lyrics, like "Hotel Can't Afford Ya", a comment on the current state of Alberta's health care system, "Bouchardian Rhapsody" about one of Québec's leading separatist politicians, and others dating back to the days of Brian Mulroney. My favourite is probably "The Car Song", which is not so much a song as a huge shaggy-dog P.I. story featuring as many car-name puns as he could fit in. The car version of "I Lobster But Never Flounder", if you will.

I haven't bought anything myself in a little while, though. I forewent my usual trip to Southside Sound last time we went up to Whyte, because that was when I was sick. Maybe if I sneak back up there this weekend to check for those heraldry books... I keep meaning to go visit the University library and look for that asteroid nomenclature book, too, even though my asteroid interest is in a bit of a lull right now.

I'll do the countdown here, and that'll be it:

420. George Michael: Father Figure, from Faith

This song has lasted better than I would have expected, and has long been my favourite from the album. It's kind of moody and haunting, and has a lot of punch in the chorus.

419. Queen: '39, from A Night At The Opera

Queen is one of the first bands I listened to regularly, courtesy of my brother, and this album in particular because of its variety. This is part of the very small genre of "relativistic folk songs", though it is flawed in that the relativistic effects of time dilation, while well documented these days, are totally unexpected by the characters in the song. It's still quite a powerful song, which doesn't seem science fictional on first listen, but on closer inspection you'll pick it up.

a^n+b^n=c^n. No solutions for n>2, as can be seen by |#@}NO CARRIER

Aaron // 10:44 p.m. Clix me!

Sunday, August 25, 2002:

Tired of Being The Life of The Party?

It's been a Star Wars kinda weekend. Saturday we did go to rent the movie for Simon to watch. The Special Edition, of course. I wasn't sure if I'd seen the talkie bit at the beginning before; I might have even seen the release of Star Wars in the theatre. It had some bits that I thought I would have remembered. So Simon did like it. He didn't think Darth Vader was too scary, which was probably a good thing.

Seeing the movie prompted me to dig out the comics. Like many of the series in my comic collection, it was started by my brother. I'm not sure if I ever bought any myself, in fact. Probably not. This is the Marvel comics series, which started a few months before the first movie. Yes, in an interesting publicity move, they published about half the movie in comic form before it was released. I don't have all of the first six issues, unfortunately, only a special release of the last three. But I've probably got about 80% of the issues from then on. I have been trying to fill in the gaps in the past few years. The issues that I have also stop at what would have been a few months before "Return of The Jedi"(which they were still calling "Revenge of The Jedi", the original title, even that late). I should look for some later ones, too.

Anyway, I thought it was pretty good. I was also a bigger fan of the more straight SF/fantasy titles than I was of the superhero ones--Silver Surfer, Dr. Strange, Micronauts, Star Wars, even Rom. Though X-Men's outstanding writing always put it way ahead of the rest. (This is before I got into Cerebus and Love & Rockets, of course.) Some of the best, or at least funniest, issues were the later ones, after "The Empire Strikes Back", when Dave Michelinie was the writer. When I say "funny", I'm not talking Red Dwarf here, but more like "The Princess Bride" or something. He was especially good at writing Lando Calrissian's point of view, being the least serious of the main characters, so the "Return To Cloud City" storyline was one of his best.

The earlier writers were good, too--Archie Goodwin, later to become editor of the Epic Comics line, used the Tagge family quite well, a family of nasty Imperials who didn't like the Rebellion or Darth Vader, and Roy Thomas, who had some neat SFnal ideas in the earliest issues. I was also surprised to read, in the early issues, how much they worked with George Lucas, as well as Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford, to come up with ideas. Later they didn't have quite as personal a relationship, as Lucasfilms got bigger and bigger, but at the beginning the comic was one of their main promotional outlets, it seems. Though it was more than that, the same way that the Micronauts comic series was more than just advertising for a line of toys.

Anyway, as a result I have not made much progress in Sailing Bright Eternity this weekend. The plot's going a bit unevenly this book--much of the first third is stuff that chronologically comes in the(admittedly huge)gap between the second and third books. And once we caught up to the present time, suddenly things started moving fast for a little while, and now they've slowed right down again. I seem to recall Furious Gulf being much more interesting. Some of the weird things happening in the vicinity of the galactic centre seem just a bit too outlandish to me, and I'm having a hard time taking them seriously. But it may yet improve before the end.

Saturday night we had the heraldry meeting over at Darren's again, and this time we had some actual other people show up! Jesse and her boyfriend(?) Dan, at least one of whom Darren had run into somewhere or other. So this time the discussion stayed more focused on heraldry--at least 50%. It did wander a little bit. We spent a lot of time flipping through Darren's heraldry books, looking at pretty pictures, and commenting on the bizarre and outlandish creatures. Some of them sound like the heralds got drunk, played Exquisite Corpse on somebody's shield("Okay, let's see...head of a cat, forelegs of an owl, body of a duck, tail of a pig..."), and then told them it was a real creature. The topper, if you could call it that, was the
bonacon. Why anyone would choose this as any kind of symbol is beyond me.

This is the last weekend of the Fringe festival, and Darren's house, being a paltry few blocks north of the Fringe site, was almost impossible to park near. I parked most of the way down the block, technically blocking an alley driveway by about six inches, and then had to lug back the immensely heavy A.C. Fox-Davies book I'd borrowed from him last time. And I went several blocks out of my way just to get there. They didn't block off many of the main streets, but when I was going back I saw that the speed limits were cut down to 30 km/h and there were many, many pedestrians.

Darren and Bohdana's daughter Sophia sat on my lap for a few minutes--she's about eight months old now. She almost started to cry at one point, but I was able to jolly her out of that with a game of peekaboo and some knee-bouncing. I noticed, inanely, that she was heavier than Luke but lighter than Simon.

When I was downtown for the blogger meetup on Wednesday, I kept noticing things having changed downtown. I haven't been downtown that much in quite a while. I drive up 105th Street to get to work, but that's a little bit west of the downtown core. They'd been working on the Stanley A. Milner library(the "main branch", but at some point they decided to name it after somebody, probably a famous librarian)for a few years, as I'd discovered a year or two ago when I accidently requested a CD for there instead of the Millwoods branch. The existence of an actual coffee shop next to it was news to me when we were doing the venue voting.

But I just never need to go downtown these days. I go to Strathcona all the time because of the bookstores and stuff, but downtown doesn't have that kind of stuff. Actually, the last time I went downtown was probably for the Bruce Cockburn concert, and there I parked in the library parkade and walked through the underground pedway, so I didn't see a whole lot.

One of the oddest things I noticed was crossing lights with countdowns. I noticed on the "flashing hand" phase, when you're allowed to finish walking across the street but not allowed to start. At some intersections, like the one outside the Second Cup window, they had a timer telling you how many seconds were left before it changed. I noticed the same thing on Saturday at 109th Street and Whyte Ave. going to Darren's. It doesn't show up anywhere on my way to work, and I don't suppose they could afford to put it at every intersection anyway, but I guess it's just the major ones.

It's like how they used to have "audio crossing signals" on some intersections--probably the same ones. It would chirp, for the benefit of the visually impaired I guess, when you were allowed to cross. I think it made different noises for crossing one way as opposed to the other way. I don't think they have those anymore, but I could be wrong. I remember them a lot from when we used to live in Oliver, west of downtown, but then they had a Canadian National Institute for the Blind office in that neighbourhood as well.

Another entry of the countdown:

422. Tom Waits: Step Right Up, from Small Change

This is a really funny song, with a repeating bassline ostinato, a little bit of sax, and Tom doing an endless meaningless huckster routine over top of it. Not one of his deeper works, but then I think those are often overrated anyway.

421. Offspring: Self Esteem, from Smash

Oddly enough, it's mostly the lyrics I like in this one too, about a guy who just can't stand up for himself with the girl who walks all over him. The music is okay too, not unlistenable speed-metal like some of the album, but a bit of actual melody.

Jesus saves and takes half damage.

Aaron // 10:27 p.m. Clix me!

Friday, August 23, 2002:

Send The Heart Police

I'm really tired tonight, so I will do a short, mainly music-oriented entry here just to keep my hand in and update the countdown a little bit.

It was just
Randy, Taz and myself at the blog meetup. Limegirl was out of town, and if anyone else showed up they probably missed us. Nobody ended up being a "host", so nobody had a sign or sheet of paper or stood up and shouted "BLOG!" at regular intervals.

So mostly another discussion of popular culture, my eyes glazing over a little bit as Randy and Taz talk about Saturday Night Live(a show I've never really watched)and obscure bands and websites I've never heard of. But it was okay. Each of us mentioned our brothers, generally as cool people, though Taz's is actually a local newsanchor that I've heard of, and maybe even seen on TV...

We also talked about the impending anniversary of September 11th, and how we heard about it. This also made me realize that this blog's first anniversary is coming up, because I hadn't been blogging very long before the tragedy. I will have to make an effort to mark the event with...well, a post, at least. That's all I can promise at this point. What, you want a new design too? Then fix one up for me, because in truth I don't care that much, and I don't really want to learn about cascading style sheets right now.

Tonight I had to pay Nicole back for the blog meetup. That is, I left her with the kids for an evening, so I had to take them for an evening in return. "Evening" here is basically 7:00 to 9:00. Well, it wasn't that much fun. Luke was fussy and kept wanting to be held or even walked with, but Simon wanted me to play computer games with him. Finally, once Luke settled down, Simon wanted me to play checkers with him, then complained when he ended up the wrong colour, and then cried when I beat him. I know that he has no clue how to play and it was probably cruel to beat him, but that was just the mood I was in at that point. If he wants to play with me, I won't hold it back. Maybe soon he'll start to get a grasp on rules.

I also showed him a bit of Go. I might have mentioned how Dick at work is a big Go player, so he got me interested in it, in passing. I managed to beat the computer a few times on a 9x9 board with first stone but no handicap, though it beat me too. Simon wanted to play too, of course, but he got absolutely toasted, and wasn't happy about that, either.

When I brought them back upstairs I was just enervated. I felt totally dead tired. I've recovered a bit since then, but I still might manage to get to bed before 11:30 tonight. Last night I didn't feel like doing anything, but I didn't want to go to bed, so I ended up doing stupid useless things like looking up my high school class on

There's only one person from high school I would really like to get in touch with that I haven't heard from at some point or other, and of course she hadn't signed up there. It's tougher to find female classmates than male, because they often get married and change their names. I never got to know her until just a few weeks before graduation, so it's a shame I lost touch with her.

But then, I'm bad at keeping in touch. I've given up on the baby announcements I kept meaning to send out to some of my friends, because it's at least six weeks now. I keep thinking "better never than late". Somehow to me it would be worse to be an afterthought than never thought of at all. Besides, they never sent me any baby announcements either...

Right, now a bunch of library CDs. First we have "Furnace Room Lullaby" by Neko Case & Her Boyfriends. I ran into Neko Case a little while ago on the New Pornographers album, and discovered that that's sort of a west-coast supergroup. Neko herself is more alt-country, but in a good way. Interesting contrast to Sara Evans, who's totally mainstream country. The title track of the album is quite good, and there's some good guitar bits on "Mood To Burn Bridges". I'm not sure if it's quite up my alley, but I'm sure I'd buy it for two dollars...

I was quite impressed with "99%" by Meat Beat Manifesto. I don't know anything about the album, but had them confused with the Meat Puppets in my head, and maybe even the Beat Farmers now that I think about it. Anyway, it's electronic music of a sort, but more industrial than techno in a lot of ways. If I have those terms the very least, it made me think more of Cabaret Voltaire than the Chemical Brothers or Daft Punk. Also a bit more drum'n'bass. The track that stood out for me was "10x Faster Than The Speed of Love", which is mesmerizing even at six minutes long. Definitely one for my wishlist.

I also picked up "Undercover" by the Rolling Stones. I've never really gotten into the Stones that much, but I like "Beggar's Banquet", and some tracks from "Steel Wheels". I picked up "Exile On Main Street" strictly on the All-Music Guide recommendation, but it doesn't do much for me. I know I've tried "Goat's Head Soup" at some point, too. This one at least I knew some of the tracks from their videos. I don't think it's a keeper overall, but "Too Much Blood" was a neat song, if also a bit long.

Now I guess on to the countdown of my 750 favourite songs:

424. The Buggles: Living In The Plastic Age, from The Age of Plastic

My brother used to listen to this album a lot--I recognized this track when I first played the album--but I couldn't get past that stupid "Video Killed The Radio Star" song for a long time. But now it's one of my favourite albums. This one, the leadoff track, keeps making me think it's a track from Pink Floyd's "Ummagumma" when it starts, with a little bit of weird psychedelic sound, but after that moves into propulsive synth-pop and opens up on the chorus. Highly recommended.

423. The Police: King of Pain, from Synchronicity

I know I used to like this song a lot, though it's palled a little bit in recent years. But it is still a classic.

Opinions are like armpits--yours are warm and secure, everyone else's stink.

Aaron // 10:29 p.m. Clix me!

Tuesday, August 20, 2002:

Faster Than The Eye Could Flick

I know it's only been a couple of days, but I thought I'd try writing another blog entry anyway. "Mad impulsive boy. But, as you wish." [Neddy Seagoon]

Let's see, what have we got to write about... Well, Simon burned his finger today, apparently, touching a hot burner on the stove. Can we hope that maybe he will learn what we mean when we say "Don't touch that, it's hot!"? It didn't start hurting that much right away, but soon it did, and it blistered. Nicole still had some of the burn creme from when I second-degree-sunburned my head watching the Track & Field Championships, so she put that on with a bandage, then checked with her ex-nurse mom to see if it was okay not to rush him to the doctor. Since it was only a finger, he'll probably be okay. He was sacked out on the living room floor when I got home, and apparently slept for almost two hours. Must have been very draining.

I have trouble sometimes giving sympathy when Simon hurts himself, because usually he was doing something stupid in the first place, something we told him not to do. So while Nicole will be more likely to give him a hug and say "Poor baby", I'll be saying, "That's why we told you not to touch the stove." I'm just so...stern as a father. I've got a killer stern voice for it, too, the product of years of amateur theatre productions, I guess. But then, I have never liked kids Simon's age that much, especially boys. Which always made me unsure about the whole parenthood thing, but I thought, well, maybe it'll be different.

And it is, for the most part. I now get the chills reading news stories about young children or babies getting killed, when before they wouldn't have affected me nearly so much. But I have no sympathy for the kind of crap Simon seems to try to pull all day. It's like I yell at him for an hour straight because he goes from doing one thing we don't want him to do(e.g. walking on the two-inch living-room window ledge)to another(e.g. climbing up on the back of the couch)to another(e.g. playing on the stair railing). It's probably just the Terrible Twos thing, and he will hopefully settle down in a few months(knock plastic), and he won't be this bad for his whole entire life. I would much rather be the fun daddy who knows everything than the stern daddy who won't let him do anything.

Oh, well, if he turns out to be a brat for the rest of his life, then there's always Luke.

The monthly Cult of Pain meeting was tonight; it broke up a little bit early, being a weeknight and all, and I was so hot that I had to go downstairs for a while, which is why I'm writing this now. I hope I get to bed earlier than last night, when I was up until 12:30 catching up on all my blogs. But more on that later.

The meeting was at our house, which meant we didn't need babysitters, though we often don't for Cult meetings. We've taken Simon to more than half of them in the last year, probably; not sure what we'll be doing with Luke, though. I had to vacuum the living room when I got home, because, well, we never vacuum unless people are coming over, and sometimes not even then these days. Luckily, I had a good day at work, with lots of successful refactoring, so I was in a good mood and willing to do things. Not like yesterday, when I was crabby and grumpy. We did have to wake Simon up, though, because he was lying right there on the carpet. He then lay there on the loveseat and watched me vacuum for a while, only getting up when I moved into the kitchen. (I like vacuuming the kitchen floor better than sweeping, though it is noisier and more work.)

Almost everyone came in two vanloads--Barb, Ann and Kevin in one, and Sue & Karen in the other one. Mari came later by taxi(she'd forgotten about the meeting until the last minute), but got a ride home with Sue & Karen. That's practically our core group right there, including us. Howard never seems to have the time off from work, Marissa and Kirby are always doing other things, and the other Barb flies around the country constantly as part of her job so is often in entirely different cities. Haven't seen Joanne in ages, either.

There was nothing to critique this time, though Nicole had finished up a new draft of a short story(!) called "Without A Cue". She doesn't write much short fiction, preferring novels, but she had an idea for it recently anyway. I remember the conversation that led to the original idea, too. So we mostly jabbered about movies and cons and stuff. Barb(that's Barb Galler-Smith, if you're interested)is getting three stories published in three Mike Resnick anthologies--well, one is apparently just out, and the other two next year. She talked about doing an anthology herself, too. I always thought that sounded like fun, though I'd rather have a magazine.

Sue came up with some good ideas, too. She thought that we should do an annual chapbook of stories, preferably ones either critiqued at the group or written as "homework" assignments. I'm not sure how that works as far as selling them later to magazines, but since I've already posted so many of mine on the Net, I don't think it's any worse. My brother put together a chapbook of my stories(off the web)a few years ago and then gave me a couple of dozen copies as a surprise Christmas present. I've still got a few of them, too. So it's not all that hard to do, and Sue was willing to do it, too. Then when we all get famous we can auction them off on eBay and make even more money. (Or the non-famous ones of us can do it.*)

I don't remember if it was she or Kevin that decided they should run a short fiction or poetry contest, charge an entry fee, and then make off with the money, returning some shoddy product in return. Like the guy who raffles off his dead horse. I hope they're not serious about it, though there certainly are tons of wannabe writers out there, and I hear most of them are crap. If I edited a magazine, I'm sure I'd find that out more directly.

Luke got passed around a lot--Kevin was the only other male member there, so lots of women eager to hold a little baby. Simon kept trying to climb on the table, and ended up knocking over Mari's glass of pop. So we took off his socks. Well, he was warned... The meeting dispersed quite quickly while I was up putting Simon to bed--I came down and the next meeting date and place had been decided, and everyone was getting ready to leave. Oh, well, it is a weeknight, I suppose. Weekend scheduling has become so difficult, especially in summer, that we moved to weekdays a few months ago.

I haven't been doing much for writing, except vague thinking about this year's NaNoWriMo novel, and that's really an entirely different project that I just happen to want to use. I wonder how many people I'll be able to talk into doing it this year? "And they told ten friends, and they told ten friends, and so on, and so on, and so on..."

I did read Reefs, just finishing it before supper while I lay on my side with my eardrops trickling in. It was a decent read, with a fairly exciting climax. McGill Feighan is quite powerful, being able to teleport himself and other things, but he still finds barriers in his way. Pity there are only four books in the series.

What next? Probably Sailing Bright Eternity, as I was thinking earlier, though after that I should probably get to the Great Brain book I got from the library. Those don't take too long. I'm trying to remember if I've read them all or not; I know I read at least the first one, and Me And My Little Brain(my favourite). Those, the James Bond books, and the Lemony Snicket books are all series I'm reading from the library, and they're all pretty quick reads.

Library CDs...yesterday I listened to "Pure" by Lara Fabian, from a batch I picked up from the French Language racks, because I'm so out of touch with what's happening in French music these days. Not like I was ever really in touch, but at least I heard some once in a while--Les Rita Mitsouko, Niagara, Marc Seberg, Etienne Daho, Jean-Jacques Goldman, Madame, Rock Et Belles Oreilles... Anyway, this one is pretty bad, like Celine Dion except without talent or decent songwriting. One song that looked interesting from the lyrics was "Les amoureux de l'an deux mille"(Lovers of the year 2000), which sounded like a diatribe against Internet romance, but musically it was just as bland as the rest.

Today I listened to "Born To Fly" by Sara Evans, which I grabbed last week at the Strathcona library. I wouldn't normally be listening to it this soon--I can borrow CDs for three weeks, and I tend to listen only to things that are due on the coming Saturday. But there's nothing due this Saturday, because I was in Ontario three weeks before that, so instead I'm working on stuff due in midweek, which is always harder to remember.

Anyway, the album was okay, still country, but good country. I liked the song "I Keep Looking", and she did a decent cover version of Bruce Hornsby's "Every Little Kiss". No Shania Twain or anything, but she has promise.

On to the countdown, I guess:

426. Alanis Morissette: You Learn, from Jagged Little Pill

I was just listening to this one a day or two ago, and oddly enough it was getting me choked up, though I'm not sure why. It's a powerful song, using Alanis's favourite lyrical technique, lots of parallellism.

425. Dire Straits: Your Latest Trick, from Brothers In Arms

I like practically everything but the singles from this album. Mark Knopfler's rough voice works well here, and the saxophone melody is very nice.

Can I have it all now? --Kate Bush, "Suspended In Gaffa"

Aaron // 11:27 p.m. Clix me!

Sunday, August 18, 2002:

There Is No Map

All right, it turns out that having Nicole's parents here did not mean an increase in output after all. But there always seemed to be something going on in the evenings that meant I didn't get downstairs to my computer until 9:00 or later, and then I didn't want to stay down there too long because that's where they were sleeping, and without much privacy either, because the futon room(also known as the library, because it contains the majority of our bookshelves, and I guess the guest room)has no door on it. We have the door, but it was detached by the previous owners, and we never bothered to amend that. It also, for some reason, has an exhaust fan in the ceiling, which we have never had the need to use, but indicates that it might have been used as a smoking room as well.

It did mean a certain amount of relief for Nicole, and myself, from having to look after Simon, and to a lesser extent Luke. But on Wednesday evening, when they arrived, I felt compelled to socialize for a little while, at least. Then Sharna came over on Thursday, so we were talking with her. And Friday, we went out to a movie, and when we got back, Wayne was there. This weekend was the wedding of a man who was not only the son of one of Nicole's parents' neighbours, so they were invited, but also a friend of Wayne's. I had had to get up with Luke for an hour early Friday morning, as well as trying to wake up frequently to put in my eardrops. So I slept in as late as I could manage to Friday morning, and then went to bed not too long after getting home on Friday night. No time on my computer at all that day, though of course I was on the computer at work. Not the same.

The movie we went to see on Friday was "Signs". I had heard absolutely nothing about it, I don't think. Never seen any commercials, never seen any previews(well, maybe once...)before finding one on the Web. I heard about it entirely from blogs. And everybody was so concerned with not revealing the "secret plot twist" that I thought I should see it before I did find out about it by accident.

Well, I'd say it wasn't that big a deal. Not the movie, nor the plot twist. The movie was much lighter than M. Night Shyamalan's previous works, which isn't saying much. There was still a lot of tension, and some mood, but it was frequently broken by lighter touches, and even a fair bit of humour. So the mood never got a chance to build as high as it could have. Apart from that it was a decent movie, but not a spectacular one. Night(is that what his friends call him?)had a small part in it himself, though there were not many characters and he was probably in the top ten lineswise. Now I wonder if he Hitchcocked in every movie or not. He looked so out of place to me, though, I thought--I'm used to seeing Asian characters in urban settings, I guess, but not in rural.

I have been getting a lot of reading done, though. I apparently didn't even mention having started, and finished, The Magicians of Night by Barbara Hambly. It's the second book in her Sun-Cross series, and the last so far, though Hambly has rarely been one to leave a series unfinished in the past. The first one takes place entirely on a fantasy world, where mages are feared and despised, and then at the end the characters cross over to another world where, apparently, the mages need help. The mages are from a culture that also respects the symbol of the "sun-cross", also known as the "fylfot", or "swastika"(if you turn it backwards). Yes, it doesn't take Rhion long to realize that Nazi Germany in 1940 is not actually imperiled by other countries who want to eradicate magic. So it turns into a sort of WWII thriller with a magical twist to it, and works pretty well.

But I finished that several days ago now, and have been working on A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving. It's an interesting book to me, as an outside to religion, since it forms such a large part of the book. In a way that doesn't bother me in the least, I should mention. I noticed some similarities to "Signs" in the configuration of the book, on the subject of believing in miracles or just in coincidence. Just because of the juxtaposition, I guess. Anyway, it's a fun book to read, and I'm almost at the end by now because I've been spending time reading instead of on my computer--which usually means that the book is hard to put down.

After this I will probably read something a bit shorter and more SF, so The Mask of Time gets pushed back again. My current inclination is towards Reefs by Kevin O'Donnell, Jr., second in his McGill Feighan series, because it's pretty short. Then maybe on to Sailing Bright Eternity by Gregory Benford, to finish his Galactic Centre series. It's always nice to finish a series, particularly one as long as this one--six books.

I guess I should try to finish off the account of the Ontario trip, even though it's so far in the past that it's almost shown up on our Visa statement. I was up to Monday, August 5th, as I recall.

That was the day that was scheduled to be a day where we would just hang out with Steve & Kelly. They were booked at Duffy's in Amherstburg just as we were. We even thought they might be at the room between ours and Mom & Elmer's, because we had 212 and 214, and we didn't know who was supposed to be in 213. But when we checked, they were supposed to be in 315, the "honeymoon suite", on the top floor.

"Supposed to be", that is, because when we checked on Monday morning, after giving up on waiting for them to call, they were not yet checked in. The desk clerk said that that could just mean that they had checked in really late. Well, not wanting to waste the morning entirely, we decided to see what else there was to see in the area. One thing that caught my mom's eye immediately was the island across the river from us, which was variously called "Bois Blanc" island and "Bob-Lo" island. The latter was obviously a corruption of the former, but we weren't sure which was in use. But she'd seen a ferry going there a few blocks away, and there was some mention of a possible amusement park, so we decided to try it.

The ferry did not seem to be incredibly large, or incredibly busy. The man who operated it seemed to be rather dull-witted, but I don't think that what happened was all his fault. We drove up and said that we wanted to go to Bob-Lo Island. The man was puzzled for a while, then said, "To the restaurant?" We weren't sure what to say to this, but finally Elmer said "Yes." Whereupon the man said the fee was $6, and then he gave us an coloured piece of paper. We scrutinized on the ferry trip over, and discovered that we were apparently free to visit only the restaurant, whose name I forgot, but it was something nautical. Directions were given to take us there, and there only, and dire penalties were threatened were we to deviate from the path.

Apparently "Bob-Lo" island is not a general-access tourist attraction. There were a number of expensive-looking houses on it which we could see from the path, and perhaps more elsewhere. And there's the one restaurant, which was closed when we got there, and it was only about 11:00 anyway, and we weren't hungry anyway. Judging by everything else, it would probably have been grossly overpriced, and specialized in seafood to boot. We wandered around for a little while, seeing what we could see in the prescribed area, which wasn't much, and then turned around and went back. The ferryman didn't say anything, but I wonder what he thought of us. Ignorant tourists, I imagine, and that is what we were. Because the information we would have needed, to know we shouldn't have gone there, was just not available.

You know, I meant to look it up on the Web when we got home, so that's what I'm going to do. There seems to be
a site which touts it as a "resort community". Apparently you can buy or rent homes there, and there is a much better ferry available for "residents and their guests". Not the hoi polloi, though. It is a "gated community". According to an article on its history in the Detroit News, it used to be owned by a company that did have an amusement park and such on there, but that stuff was all sold off in the 90's, and apparently a guy named John Oram has bought up the whole place and is probably making a mint off of it. On the Web, I am unable to determine precisely how much it would cost to buy or rent a house there, though, so I don't know exactly what class of people are supposed to live there. Maybe one day I'll write a story set there and fill it with snide, snobby rich people.* (Also, there is another Bois Blanc/Bob-Lo Island up in the Straits of Mackinac--at the other end of Lake Huron...)

Anyway, after that fiasco, we just drove around the coast for a while. It's bizarre seeing a boat dock on every house. Finally we went back to Duffy's. We had message from Steve and Kelly, to the effect that Kelly had fallen asleep early Sunday night, probably from relief of tension, and they'd never made it to Amherstburg. So they'd stayed overnight in Windsor, but they'd be down to see us after lunch. Lunch was a bit of a challenge, because there didn't seem to be a lot of places open. We ended up going back to a Burger King that Mom and Elmer had seen during a trip to the local mall for supplies. It had a little kids' play area that we let Simon loose in for a little while.

Then we came back to Duffy's, and we waited, and we waited. We went in the pool. They phoned a little later to say that they were having trouble getting away--people kept showing up that wanted to talk to them. Finally, sometime close to 4:00, I think, they showed up. I think most of us(except me and Luke, of course)were in the pool by that point. I did go down a little bit later--Steve came to poolside and held Luke for a little bit.

By that time it was close to supper. We all piled into the minivan, even though there was technically not room for Steve and Kelly to both fit in there. But they are neither of them drivers. A quick turn around Amherstburg told us that there were very few restaurants open there. This on a Monday that was not, technically, a holiday in Ontario, in a town that was supposed to be touristy? We couldn't figure that out. We even tried a couple of places that we'd seen a little south of Amherstburg on the highway.

Then Kelly talked us into trying a place in Lasalle, called the "Michigan Tavern". She said they had really good food there. Well, when we got there, it was apparently an all-smoking place, if not technically a bar that did not allow minors. So we left there pretty fast. After that we ended up going all the way to Windsor, where we went to a Swiss Chalet. We didn't really feel like Swiss Chalet, but we were damned if we were going to drive any further.

And that was the first chance we really had to talk with Steve & Kelly, brief as it was. By that point it was close to 7:00, I think, and Luke was getting hungry; we just mixed him some formula and gave him a bottle. It was another short evening after that; we went back to Amherstburg and Duffy's, and retired to our own rooms.

The next morning we had breakfast at Duffy's as usual, and eventually Steve and Kelly joined us. I think they were staying there a little while longer, but I'm not sure. Our plane was scheduled to leave from London shortly after lunch, so we left in what we thought would be plenty of time. We decided we would take the 401 this time, which it looked like it would be easiest to get onto in Windsor. So we drove up to Windsor, but our map was missing a number of streets, and we kept missing turns. Only a few good warning signs kept us from ending up going over the bridge to Detroit. Finally I took the map and managed to navigate us back down to the highway that would take us to the 401.

The 401 itself was not that impressive, just a four-lane highway. I guess it's more notorious for its bad traffic, and that closer to Toronto. This side of London, it was fine. I found amusing that while they had few signs that actually told you how far it was to London, etc., they had a number that told you the exact fines for traffic violations, in English and in French. That's the difference between signage in Ontario and Alberta, I guess. I still give the "good signage" award to Alberta hands down over any other province I've driven in. But then I think we have a better infrastructure budget.

We got to the London airport with not as much time to spare as we would've liked. We managed to get all five of our seats actually together this time. We didn't end up with much time for lunch, though. The tiny little cafeteria was understaffed and very slow; Nicole asked for a hot dog, which she thought would be quicker than a burger, but it turned out to be the holdup of the whole thing. My BLT sandwich came faster. So we're sitting there, Nicole waiting impatiently for her food and the rest of us wolfing ours down, while the calls come over the PA exhorting us to get into line for the security screening for our flight. At least, the airport being so small, we were in easy viewing distance of the line--it was maybe ten feet away--and got into it in time, even though we had to bring the fries we'd allocate to Simon along with us.

Then, of course, we had to sit in a crowded waiting lounge after our security screening. It wasn't too long before we got to pre-board the plain(one benefit of traveling with small children, though you have to get off last as well). Somehow, our water bottle got left behind in the shuffle. It was a squeeze bottle we'd gotten many car trips ago and had taken to bringing up into the bedroom at night. We haven't replaced it yet.

Simon was a bit more of a pain on the flight back, not wanting to stay in his seat belt. Perhaps the fact that we had more turbulence--nothing major, but a lot of bumps--and the seat belt sign stayed on for most of the way contributed to that. The washrooms were in high demand, probably because there weren't any in the boarding lounge in London, so I think we were almost to Winnipeg before I got to use one. We had to switch planes in Winnipeg, with just enough time for everyone else(who hadn't gotten to the washroom)to use them, and change diapers, and then we hurried back to our gate to wait as they unloaded our plane, which had been running a few minutes late. I actually got a window seat this time, for a while, because Luke had been fed on the descent into Winnipeg and wouldn't need to be fed again until we got back close to Edmonton.

Finally, after enduring more Simon misbehaviour, looking at mostly clouds out the window, and then having to switch seats with Nicole before we started descending again, we got back to Edmonton. Our stroller, however, was not waiting for us when we deplaned. We'd gotten a gate tag in London like everything else, but it was not there. We asked someone, who went and checked, and found only a stroller labelled for Comox, BC(the plane's next destination), which was patently not ours. They told us to go down to the baggage claim, in case the gate tag had gotten lost or something. So we went there, but it did not show up. Finally we went to the "lost luggage" counter, and talked to the guy there, who said he would check into it, and after he did everything he could with the plane that we'd been on, had us fill out a form and said it would hopefully be found and delivered to us soon. In the meantime, we had to carry Luke, but it was not a major hardship because they had a little "Park & Ride" shuttle bus, where it was easier to carry Luke than get the stroller on and off of it anyway.

That night, we got a call about 9:30 from the lost luggage guy, saying that the stroller had been found in Victoria(???), but was on its way back to us and should get there within the hour. I was just about to give up and go to bed at 10:30(which was 12:30 Eastern)when the doorbell rang, and sure enough it was a guy with our stroller. So that's pretty good service, if you ask me.

And that concludes, finally, the Ontario story. And probably explains why we didn't leap at the chance to go to the SF convention in Calgary the next weekend.

A few library CDs to discuss as well. As a result of reading that list of "albums to get rid of", I became interested in not a few of the ones I hadn't heard. One of these I grabbed at the library a few days later--"Time Out" by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Now I'm not a big jazz fan, but the whole thing of playing around with time signatures sounded interesting. Well, it wasn't, really. It was still mostly just jazz.

And "Take Five", which I thought would be some bizarre 5/4 masterpiece, was not only incredibly laid-back, but I'd heard it before, or a version of it, on guitar. Apparently I already had a version of it by Chet Atkins on one of his albums, and just didn't realize it. I don't know if I'd noticed it was 5/4.

So it was nowhere near as interesting as some of the other odd time-signature song I'd heard, like "Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel or "Mother" by The Police, just to name a couple that occurred to me, or practically everything by the early-80's incarnation of King Crimson.

I also wasn't that impressed with Daryl Hall's "Soul Alone", not that I really expected to be. Pretty bland and unremarkable.

I was impressed with "Room For Squares" by John Mayer, about whom I've been hearing a lot, mostly on the Net. I hadn't heard him on the radio or anything, that I know of. I did like the album, though. I could see why some people had compared him to Dave Matthews, though his sound was not as musically elaborate as most of DMB that I've heard--mostly just the voice. The sound was more like Don Dixon, almost, and I kept hearing hints of that in there. More of a musical throwback, I guess. But it will definitely go on my wishlist.

Finally, I also checked out "Made In Japan" by Deep Forest, which apparently was a live album. It's sort of world music, though with synthesizers as well--more like Shadowfax meets Gentlemen Without Weapons. An interesting sound, but not compelling. My mom might like it though, I'm not sure.

Finally(last time I use "finally" this entry, I promise), we have the countdown:

428. Björk: Human Behaviour, from Debut

I like a lot of Björk albums, but sometimes she's hard to pin down, and sometimes she just gets too weird. So the first of her I heard is still my favourite. I love those big tympani in the background, the lyrics are just too cool, and it's just very compelling.

427. Indigo Girls: Land of Canaan, from Indigo Girls

Actually, I'm not sure of the album there, because I also have it listed for "Strange Fire". Maybe it was on the earlier version of something. I had to look it up, anyway. This is a powerful song, more Amy Ray than Emily Saliers, of a woman in love with someone who regards her as an ideal, when what she wants is real love right now. It's bitter without being scathing.

Vultures only fly with carrion luggage.

Aaron // 12:07 a.m. Clix me!

Tuesday, August 13, 2002:

Every Feeling Will Dissolve

Okay, I'll start trying to type this, even though I still have to keep my head canted ever-so-slightly to the left because of the eardrops.

Yes, I'm still on eardrops. I went back to the doctor on Monday, though of course it would be too much to expect I would get the same doctor at the medical clinic. I did get Dr. Balakrishnan, who I've probably seen more than anyone else there. She's really nice, and I would like to make her my regular doctor, except that I would feel bad occupying a "patient slot" for a female doctor when so many women are looking for them.

Anyway, after a weekend without any medication whatsoever, my right ear was still feeling pretty okay, but my left ear was starting to get sore. The doctor confirmed that it has spread to my left ear(which is probably due to own scratching fingers, I confess), so now I have to take eardrops in both ears. That is just so bloody fun the word "fun" doesn't even come close to covering it. At least it's supposed to be only three times a day each--four times a day was completely impossible. I realize that this works out to six times a day, but somehow I think this will be easier. And I will get to sleep on more than one side.

These are the eardrops I had before though, a few years ago--less viscous and oily than the ones Dr. McCarty gave me a couple of weeks ago. So these are the ones that will leave a slightly rubbery residue. And they are runnier, so it's hard to give only two. Last night I think I gave myself five by mistake, and had to keep draining my ear out bit by bit until it felt like the right amount.

I also got some earplugs, because bathing with trying to keep one ear dry was hard enough(especially washing my hair), but two would just be impossible. I got four pairs of foam ones, which I think I will just consider disposable while my infection lingers. I also saw some cool ones at the drugstore that supposedly will block water from entering while swimming(the Millwoods Wave Pool is the #1 suspect on the original source of infection)without rendering you completely deaf as well. But that's for later. These ones are for keeping the contagion from spreading. It was a weird sensation, but I think it worked okay.

Oh, and meanwhile I got a cold as well. Big sore throat Sunday night and Monday morning, requiring seven or eight glasses of water to reduce to a manageable state of merely phlegm-coated throat. Obviously stayed home from work, and ended up going to bed early(more about the actual day later). Today more into the snuffles and sinus-headache realm, so stayed home again. I will try to go in tomorrow, because I feel guilty about staying home too long if I'm still moderately able. But I slept most of this morning, though I also didn't get much sleep after waking up at about 4:30.

On Monday Luke tried a little sleep experiment, too--he didn't. He stayed awake(with a brief car-ride-induced nap)from early in the morning until late at night. For a baby, this is probably well into the paranoia-and-psychosis stage of sleep deprivation. But today he's on a more normal schedule. I think maybe he had a little sore throat too, or was in some way a little sick and couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep.

I promised to tell you about the Ontario trip, and so I shall.

The Unity Ceremony on Sunday(August 4th)was sometime between 10:00 and 11:00 in the morning(they specified a more precise time, but I'm too lazy to look it up), at Kelly's aunt's house in Lasalle. When we got there, we found out it was a beautiful place. The backyard had a little stream(or pond, I wasn't quite sure)with a bridge over it, lots of foliage, and had been quite beautifully decorated. My memory for the specifics will probably return when our photos come in, in a couple of days. The weather started out mildly cool--less than 20 C, anyway--and a bit misty.

Things did not start quite on time, which is a)typical for weddings, and b)typical for Steve & Kelly*, so nobody was surprised. There was some technical problem with the portable stereo that was supposed to play the processional, and at one point four people were bent over it trying to diagnose it. But eventually everything was in readiness, and Kelly came "down the aisle"--really, around the corner of the house.

To open, the Unitarian minister read an introduction(which must have been what they were hashing out the wording of beforehand). In it, she explained that this was a Unity Ceremony and not a wedding--the government was not being involved at all, there was no wedding license. The term Unity Ceremony is often used for same-sex unions where they are not sanctioned by the government. (I should note here that Kelly is female, in case I had failed to establish that. Well, I've known male Kellys...) It was also modeled on a Celtic handfasting ceremony, which historically were for a year at a time only and had to be regularly renewed. (Sort of like the "contract marriages" I've seen in some SF stories, mostly written in the 70's for some reason.)

I almost forgot--also part of the ceremony were Kelly's two poodles. One, Phoebe, was quite aged, and quite blind as well. We'd met her on our previous visit to Toronto. She entered carried by Kelly(or her person of honour)with a little pink skirt on. The other, Bijou, is much younger, and he came in with a "tuxedo", and the rings attached to his collar. Tricia, who we'd met at the barbecue, was Best Person and was wearing a white tux; I think one of Kelly's young cousins was the Person of Honour.

Simon sometimes made it hard to concentrate on the ceremony, because he was more interested in playing with the fans that had been made for the ceremony. You know, the kind where you take a sheet of paper and fold it accordion-style, except that these were made from paper with patterns on it(probably wrapping paper, it just occurred to me). Simon's had happy faces on it, and he was quite taken with it. They were quite useful as well, because things were starting to warm up.

They read their respective vows, the minister did the actual handfasting(which involves tying their hands together, of course), they exchanged rings, and then the deed was done.

After that things dissolved slowly into a wedding brunch, under tents set up in the neighbours' yard(with their consent, of course). Simon went straight into the little mini-yard where there were toys set up, as well as a huge inflatable swimming pool. Kelly's aunt had volunteered the use of their family room for Nicole to feed Luke.

The temperature was rapidly climbing, and the shade of the brunch tents was very nice. Luke was much admired. I chatted with some of Steve's friends that I had met briefly at the barbecue, including Abby, who was generally identified as the one who, during a brief stay in Edmonton, convinced Steve that he should totally move to Toronto. (She also expressed some interest in blogging, so she might have stopped by here at some point...)

At one point I went with Simon to the play area. There was an older boy there, maybe five or six, daughter of Kelly's cousin Michelle, who we almost stayed with. He engaged Simon in a "sword fight" with those big foam cylinders, and Simon was enjoying until he fell over into a small tub which was, unfortunately, full of water. Still wearing his good wedding clothes, of course.

Luckily, we had packed changes of clothes for all of us. Nicole had already availed herself of hers the first time she went to feed Luke, because her dress was not suitable for nursing without being hiked up above the waste. I took advantage of the opportunity to get changed myself, after I changed Simon, because I was sweating quite severely in my dress clothes. My excuse, did anyone ask, was that I had gotten wet carrying Simon inside, though--ha, ha!--I had not.

Not too long after that, Simon went into the pool anyway. Kelly's two little first-cousins-once-removed or whatever were in there, and the older boy, and there were even a couple of teenage girls there to lifeguard and babysit, so we could leave them there with impunity. We're really bad at giving Simon opportunities to socialize, so we're happy whenever we can arrange one, though we're still not sure how well he does. Well, it'll come eventually.

About midafternoon we decided it was time to start heading out. First Steve & Kelly corraled us for some pictures, in a back corner of her aunt's yard where there was a swing. Also around that time I got into a talk with Steve's friend Neil, who was a fellow SF reader, so we fell into one of those conversations that mostly involves recommendations. It turned out he was also a Spider Robinson fan, so I told him that Callahan's Key sucked but The Free Lunch did not.

And then we were heading back to Amherstburg. The minivan had been parked not in the shade, so it was exceedingly hot inside when we got in. After the near-constant air-conditioning(the inside of the house had been quite frigid), it was a shock to be in such a hot vehicle. But soon enough it cooled down.

When we got back to Duffy's, most of us got into the pool--I stayed with Luke, because of my ear infection and stuff. But eventually I decided I wanted my turn, and she came up to take Luke(I think he was hungry, too)while I went into the pool, careful not to immerse myself. Everyone else ended up getting out before I did, probably because the sky was rapidly clouding over and starting to thunder. But I stayed in until I actually started to see lightning across the river.

By then it was close to suppertime. We had to figure out where to eat. There was a place, Rosa's Pizzeria, across the street from Duffy's, but we decided to drive around first, and got back into the minivan just as it was starting to rain. As we drove around the town, we saw a number of other restaurants, though we rejected them all for some reason or another and eventually decided just to go back to Rosa's.

By the time we got there, the rain was pelting down quite hard. There was no parking particularly close to the door(the parking lot was fairly small anyway), so we had to run for it, and finally all got inside. It wasn't too full, so we got a table no problem. At which point the lights go out.

It was quite funny, really. There was almost enough light from outside for some of us to be able to pick out the words on the menu, and the waitress assured us that all their stoves and ovens were gas-powered. They had no candles, though, apart from birthday candles, and apparently there was a big party in the basement right then as well, with no windows at all. Ontario Hydro was supposed to be pretty good at this stuff, though, and less than five minutes later the light came back on. It flickered a couple more times, but otherwise was pretty good. Nicole had to leave early to feed Luke, though, running back across the street in the(slightly diminished)rain to our hotel room.

I forgot to mention earlier, there came to be a sort of contest between me and Elmer to see who paid the bill. It's something you're used to it at first, as a starving student or poorly-paid worker or unemployed bum, going out to eat with your parents and having them pay for everything. But when you start getting financially stable and maybe even doing better than your parents, it's hard to get them to stop. And my mom says that Elmer's dad was particularly bad.

When we went to breakfast at the Dalhousie Street Grill, I put down the money to pay for it. We waited a while for the waitress to come back, and when she didn't, Elmer said he'd go check. But he took the bill with him, and paid it inside. Sneaky devil.

So I was all set to pay at Rosa's, especially when Elmer said he'd left his wallet back in the hotel room. Ha ha! Victory was mine. Except that I had also forgotten my wallet, in the transfer from the suit jacket to this one. Curses! Mom had to pay for it.

I did, however, find the second key to our hotel room. We'd gotten two when we checked in, but one went missing after a day or so, I think after we got back from dinner at Duffy's the first night. We looked everywhere for it, including my jacket pockets. Apparently it had been sitting beneath my wallet, so that I didn't find it until my wallet was removed.

After that the evening ended quickly, with us going to our separate rooms, Nicole and I going to bed soon after Simon, and Luke keeping us awake at various points throughout the night.

I had to laugh recently, when I got a few referral links from
Sex and Sunshine, "mainly a music blog". I've gotten a few, mostly from archive pages for some reason, but never two in one day before, so I thought I'd check it out in case he had posted about me. Well, he had. But apparently only to state that he was removing me from his sidebar of "music blogs", because "the posts are too long, my attention span is too short".

This is fairly diplomatic, because it doesn't come out and say "The Den of Ubiquity sucks" or anything. It's self-deprecating, the way I say that I don't get certain books because they're too literary for me, and not because I think they're pretentious arty crap from someone who doesn't know how to tell a good story. So for all I know Mr. Fritz, the proprietor, thinks I'm crap. But I agree that my blog is not a good "music blog", and I've never categorized it as such. I like to ramble on about music, and about books, and also about what's happening in my life. And I do it less frequently, so the posts get long.

Besides, I don't like Radiohead, either.*

I was going to talk about Darren & Bohdana's visit yesterday. Not much to tell, but I will anyway. They called up, offering to come over and chip in for a pizza. Basically, they had just gotten back from Vancouver, on the bus, no less, and did not feel like cooking. We could totally relate. We had been going to have lasagna, from our abortive plans for the anniversary dinner, so we just invited them to come over and have that, and they did.

Sophia is quite alert now, and kept looking around with her blue eyes. Bohdana had to hold her for most of the meal, though, because we didn't have a high chair for her or anything. We found Bohdana's knife, completely clean, under the placemat when we cleaned up. Yes, we used our placemats, since we had company. We're so hifalutin.

They said something about a "translator's conference" in Vancouver. Since Darren is a chemistry instructor, this must be what Bohdana is doing now, which makes a certain amount of sense. She knows Ukrainean(her native tongue)and English, and probably Russian too, and possibly others. And it's work she can do at home with the baby if she needs to. Even on the road, if she spends some time in Red Deer with Darren. (I wonder when his year starts and he has to go back down there.) Darren hasn't done much work on the next stage of the D&D campaign yet, so who knows when we'll get back to that...

Tonight Simon was being a bit fractious, wanting to go upstairs with Nicole when she wanted to work on her writing. Finally I lured him downstairs with the promise of a story. He didn't want any of the usual "stories" though--which I just recite, as opposed to reading from a book, and at the moment generally consist of "Goldilocks & The Three Bears", and "The Three Little Pigs". We'd had some success last week with "Goldilocks & The Three Pigs", especially with the three porridge bowls, one made of straw, one made of sticks, and one made of bricks.

I then asked him about "Luke & The Three Bears"(since Luke was downstairs with us, lying on a pillow on the futon and kicking his legs happily), "The Three Little Lukes", etc., but Simon would have none of that. Until I hit on the idea of telling him the story of Luke Skywalker.

This isn't the first time that we've told him the Star Wars story, actually, but it has been a while. He seemed quite taken with it, especially the light sabers and the attack on the Death Star at the end. Mostly because they involved fighting and shooting, but whatever. We will really have to let him watch that sometime, but not for a few years yet, I think.

Yesterday we went down to Old Strathcona. That's one of the older parts of Edmonton; in fact, as I understand, it used to be a separate community on the other side of the river from Edmonton, until they joined together at some point. I love the name "Strathcona", and wish they'd used it for the entire town instead of "Edmonton", which is pretty dull. Oh, well. It was apparently quite run-down for a while, but has been revitalized in the last ten-fifteen years into an arty place like Vancouver's Gastown. It's got the largest concentration of used bookstores in the city, and lots of craft shops and such.

I was originally planning to go there because I had somehow, by accident, ended up with a book on hold at the library branch there, instead of at the Millwoods branch. The only thing I can think is that I was using one of the web computers that someone had set to a different default, and I didn't notice. I wonder if any others of my requests are also going to come in at Strathcona... But my comic store, Warp One Comics & Games, is also down there, and while I do have a file there, I collect it so infrequently that after a few months I get paranoid that they'll clean it out.

Then Nicole decided to go, because she likes to visit the Wee Book Inn, the premier used bookstore chain(for our purposes, which are not focused on particularly old or rare books). So we drove down there, and upon arriving at Whyte Avenue(the central thoroughfare of Old Strathcona), found signs that some streets were blocked off for the Fringe Festival. But we were fairly sure that the Fringe hadn't started yet... We parked near Sharna's old apartment, as usual(though not as near as we often manage), and set off to our separate destinations. (This was the day that Luke was awake most of the day, recall--that car trip was his only nap.)

When I entered the blocked-off portions of 83rd Avenue(one block north of Whyte), I soon realized that active Fringing was not in progress. The Fringe Festival is the annual drama festival in Edmonton, with dozens of plays going on in assorted venues, mostly around the Strathcona area but some at other places around town. I haven't been in years, but I've seen some good plays there and some bad ones. I know that they have Fringe Festivals in other cities as well, but I recall hearing that Edmonton's was the first... Though I could, of course, be wrong. Anyway, they were just in preparation for the Fringe, which is probably starting more like Thursday or Friday.

The Strathcona library branch is a really old building(by Edmonton standards, anyway--in Amherstburg nobody would even notice), and probably getting pretty cramped, but also probably an unrenovatable historic site. It's just across the park(whose name I forget)from the Gazebo, and on the same block as the Walterdale Theatre(a former firehall). I picked up the CD that was there for me("99%" by Meat Beat Manifesto), and grabbed CDs by Neko Case and Sara Evans on impulse as I went through. (It's one of the branches where you go in by one door, but have to go all the way around and out by the other door.)

Then we went down to Warp One, where I've been going for several years, since it's the premier comic and gaming store in Edmonton. I'm not as much into comics, or gaming, as I used to be, but I still read two faithfully, Cerebus and Love & Rockets. There were four Cerebus issues there, so it's probably four months since I was there. I thought Simon might enjoy the store, but I don't think he really saw much of it, though he did like one display of miniatures and another of Tintin comics.

Then back to the Wee Book Inn, where Nicole had a very awake Luke in his stroller, and had already searched through more of the romance section than usual. I wandered over to the SF section and picked out a few books, which I will discuss more fully in a later entry because I know you want it, but they're still upstairs for some reason. Nothing too spectacular, but I nonetheless could not resist. Also a book of geometric and pictorial puzzles which looked interesting, and which Simon might like in a few years. He's already looked through it a couple of times.

The Cerebus issues were interesting, though more and more Dave Sim's going into the single-picture-per-page-with-dialogue-down-the-side mode of working. I loved the bit where the Northern Isshurians(basically Canadians, in Cerebus's world)came to complain(very politely)about the fact that Five Bar Gate(=hockey)was considered less important than food and drink. Sim's a Canadian himself, of course, so it was all in good fun, and really quite funny. He's up to Issue 280 now--20 issues more before the long-announced finale in Issue 300.

Love & Rockets I'm not as sure about these days. Gilberto Hernandez has apparently quit writing Palomar "Heartbreak Soup" stories, though he's perfectly willing to write stories featuring the characters who are now in America, like Luba's younger sisters, though he's started a similar series of stories which somehow hasn't gelled nearly as much. Jaime is still writing with Hopey and Maggie and all those, and the "Bay of Threes" story showing how Penny Century met H.R. Costigan was a nice bit of backstory.

On to the musical portion of this entry, viz. the Countdown:

430. Moist: Silver, from Silver

Moist may be a mildly lame band who rose to prominence mostly because they sounded fairly "alternative" and a little "grunge", and fit Canadian Content regulations, but they have moments of brilliance, and this song is pretty powerful, especially David Usher's vocals.

429. Sinéad O'Connor: Jackie, from The Lion And The Cobra

The album opener(I believe), lyrically almost a traditional folk song about the woman mourning her love lost at sea, but with a powerful guitar line that builds underneath it which, along with Sinéad's piercing vocals, drive it to almost painful intensity.

Bite the bullet that feeds

Aaron // 11:38 p.m. Clix me!

Sunday, August 11, 2002:

The Whole Thing Seemed Unreal

Well, our anniversary plans were a bit snagged yesterday, but turned out okay, I guess. This may be the last time my dad gets to babysit, though.

He was working for Uncle Daryl all day, and then apparently they decided to have a barbecue. This is nothing new, particularly. They invited us over, of course. And eventually we decided to go, since all we had really planned was a lasagna dinner. We were looking at going to see "Signs" at 7:00 or 7:30, because, like others have already said, it's best to see it before you run into a spoiler you can't avoid.

When we got there, they hadn't been there too long, and with them was a guy named Frank, whom I'd never met before. Oh, great, another stranger brought to join a family function. My dad's famous for that one too, but apparently this guy was a carpenter that Daryl had met and wanted to get to do some work for him.

Frank, though, was a real shit-disturber. I didn't realize that at first, but he seemed to be deliberately provocative, not to mention one of those people who swears every other sentence. He seemed to take offense by my noncommittal answers to his questions, forcing me to defend myself. I began to ask myself, is this guy gonna be here when we leave our children behind? But my grandma was supposed to be coming, and Daryl's kids. And my dad, while he might be tolerant of Frank, probably wasn't going to let him get away with much. But it was still an unpleasant experience.

Daryl and Frank left to get some more food for the barbecue. I discover that what they have is a roast and a ham on the barbecue, not burgers or hot dogs or anything quick, and they just put them on at 5:00. And I'm not much of a fan of roasts, especially if they're rare, so it wasn't an appetizing prospect to wait for barely-edible meat and then rush off to a late movie.

So Nicole and I decide to go to the South Edmonton Common theatre complex, which has some fast food places in it, and catch the earliest show, which happened to be "Attack of The Clones". We shared a small pizza and got some popcorn, and were in the theatre with a few minutes to spare. Neither of us was very cheerful at that point.

Luckily, the movie was pretty damn good. I wasn't sure what to expect, having heard reviews from all over the spectrum, but Darren liked it, so I thought I might as well. And I did. The allegedly wooden acting of Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman didn't bother me, so the love story worked fine; the rest of the plot worked okay for me too, though the chase scene near the beginning went on a bit long for my tastes. Some scenes(like in the foundry)seemed all too obviously to be ads for the video game or something, and some of the droid scenes were a bit too slapstick. They were parallel to the plot, barely important to it, unlike the original movies where they occasionally made a difference.

It was nice, too, to find out who Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru were, though I thought that Uncle Owen might have recognized C-3PO when he bought him from the Jawas if the droid had already been working for him for five years. Minor plot inconsistency, but it bugged me. Maybe it was just his polish being different. Anyways, now we're actually looking forward to the third movie, whenever it may come out.

When we got back to Daryl's, the rest of his family was in fact there, and Frank was not nearly as annoying. I'd seen my cousin Ken several times, but hadn't seen Tammy in years, for whatever reason. We didn't stay long, it being close to Simon's bedtime and, let's face it, just a bit smoky, but it was nice to have a little chat.

I just finished listening to "The Marshall Mathers LP", and I can understand what all the fuss is about, in more than one way.

I think I first heard of Eminem when I caught part of a video, during a brief attempt to watch MuchMusic, with him and another rapper during an armed robbery or something. I didn't watch it for very long, but it stuck with me and it left a powerful impression. Then, a few years later, I caught the video for "Stan" and really liked it. The Dido song was a large part of it, of course, but it was also a compelling story.

So I'd have to say that that is the high point of the album. "Kim" is actually also a powerful story, if you take it as just a story. And that's the problem with the album. He seems to have one or more personae, and maybe that's all they are. He's just trying to be a shit-disturber, and succeeding fairly well. In "Who Knew" he disavows any responsibility for what people may do after listening to his music. Whether he can really be considered completely free of blame is still a controversial question, but it's still an open one.

One of the problems with the album, apart from the two story-pieces already mentioned, is that it's so defensive. He's dissing record executives(I assume), some of them by name, and mostly talking about people's reaction to him and his music. That's so self-referential that it's tempting to try to check out his earlier music(if any), before he had so much to react to. Actually, "Drug Ballad" is also an interesting story of involvement with drugs and how it can be easy to get into and hard to get out.

As for the charges of homophobia and misogyny, it is, once again, hard to say if it's really him or part of the persona. Of course, he probably created the persona himself, and may be just trying to pander, which would certainly be blameworthy. But if it's a natural part of his personality, it might be like blaming a medieval Englishman for anti-Semitism. It's possible he grew up in a place where that was endemic, and all he can be blamed for is not transcending it.

So in a nutshell, I think it's decent music, but maybe a bit irresponsible in his subject matter. He's probably trying to be a shit-disturber(see Frank, above). And the question always is, if we talk about bad things, does it make them worse; if we don't talk about them, do they go away?

I know I promised to continue describing the Ontario trip here, but I just don't feel up to it tonight. That Eminem album took a big chunk of my free time away, because it was too distracting to be able to write much while listening to it, so I just played games instead. I don't know if I've mentioned, but all the Chip's Challenge scores we made got cleared out, probably by an injudicious press of F2. So now I'm working my way up the levels again, and I've pretty much reached the wall where it really got hard. So I did that instead. And now it's too late to write much. We'll see when I get back to it. Darren & Bohdana & Sophia came over tonight, too, but I don't have time to write about that either.

I'm going to go in to the doctor tomorrow morning and see what's up with the state of my ears. I stopped taking the eardrops, and if he asks I'll tell him that I left the bottle in Ontario and see what he thinks of that. Hopefully my right ear is fine now anyway, but now it might have gotten into my left ear, which is probably my own damn fault. It would be annoying, though. I'm tired of this ear infection crap.

432. The Beatles: Blackbird, from The Beatles(The White Album)

One of Paul McCartney's finest vocal performances, just him and solo guitar. I used to sing this one on my way to and from Nicole's when we were dating.

431. The Box: L'Affair Dumoutier(Say To Me), from All The Time, All The Time, All The Time...

I've talked about this one before, but it is a well-done tale of a woman's murder and the multiple-personality man accused of the crime.

Pardon my circumlocutions, I seem to be soliloquizing.

Aaron // 10:54 p.m. Clix me!

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