31 May 2007

News This Week

My hit counter reset itself last week which was disappointing. It's back, but I don't care. I was getting a little weird about it, so it's good that it reset itself...it helped break the spell. Or maybe I had 80,000 hits last night!!

The Sens have dropped their first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, which is not promising. Fortunately the 10 day break between conference final and final final caused my enthusiasm to reduce in intensity, so I don't care so much anymore. My enthusiasm has been downgraded to 'passing interest.'

However if the Sens win the next game... I'M BACK ON THE BANDWAGON BABY!!

My photoshopping actually came in handy at work when I was asked to make a 'fishbone' diagram for a Powerpoint presentation using an actual fish. I mean, a drawing of an actual fish.

Modest Mouse concert has been postponed until June 25. Apparently they want to be good and sure Chiara has recovered from mono before they take the stage. Thanks guys.

I got paid. So the bills can be too.

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30 May 2007

For the time being

Today we had a celebratory breakfast at work. Jam, croissants, juice, rolls, fruit salad. It's the thought that counts.

It was to congratulate ourselves for getting ISO 9001 certification of our office. ISO 9001 is a whole bunch of protocols and frameworks and thingies, and procedures, and other stuffs that ensure a productive efficient easily understandable work environement. I wasn't here for any of it, but i'll certainly eat the breakfast.

After breakfast we had a really really long staff meeting to catch up on what each department is doing. I have a sneaking suspicion that quarterly staff meetings of this nature are a very good example of what an organization must do to achieve the ISO 9001 certifcation.

As it was my first staff meeting our Secretary General introduced me (most people know me already, but it was nice nonetheless).

His name is Hermann Ahls, and he's a tall friendly German man. He looked at me and smiled as he announced in his Germanic English "And Ryan Millar has joined us some months ago. Many of you know him, he is here in the PR department. He is looking after Ruth's activities. For the time being."

Thank you sir. They're happy with me generally. I do good work.
But certainly a reminder that my position is really a long-term temp assignment.

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29 May 2007

Moon Unit


Nice album cover? The start of one anyway.

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Modest Mouse

Have tickets to go see Modest Mouse in June. I think it'll be awesome. Been too long since a live show. I hope Monogirl and I can plan for a night out.


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28 May 2007

Mono

Chiara has mono. Now we know why she's been sick for months.

Mononucleosis is known as the 'kissing disease.' Who, I wonder has she been kissing? Me certainly, but then why don't I have it? Or am I about to get it? I sure as hell hope not. It doesn't look like much fun. In fact it sucks enough as it is having a girlfriend who has it. And though staying home to tend to her has allowed me to hone my Playstationing skills to a razor-sharp point, it hasn't yielded many more tangible benefits. And

If I'm forced to stay home for substantial periods of time my Playstationing would continue to improve and my muscles and joie de vivre would continue to atrophy. I would drink alot of tea... But that doesn't sound like much of a summer.

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Hit Counter

My hit counter reset. Cheap widgets.

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25 May 2007

Accidental Death

I've accepted a part in the English Comedy Clubs upcoming production of Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist. And by 'a' part I mean the guy with all the lines in all the scenes. It's a little nerve-wracking because:
  • I haven't done scripted theatre (other than the occasional sketch) in years
  • it's gonna involve a billion (or so) lines to learn
  • It's going to involve alot of rehearsing this summer

I'm excited because

  • I haven't done scripted theatre (other than the occasional sketch) in years
  • I get to wear lots of disguises
  • I get to hang out with English-speaking theatre enthusiasts
  • the play is funny, absurd and political
  • I have a project

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24 May 2007

A Calm Position

My friend Jon Weinberg wrote a poetry book called 'A Calm Position.' It won a gold medal at the Independent Publishing Book Awards which is the Olympics of independent book publishing. I think. Jon and I did some acting, sketchwriting and skateboarding together at UBC long ago.


A Calm Position, explores love, loss, one's potential, calmness, contentment (the search there of,) hope, failure, dancing and the letting go of thoughts to a place where they can roam free. It is a journal of sorts that you are invited to peruse. Feel free to create your own pictures for the words and your own stories for the images.

I think he also took the pictures.

What we got here is a fine looking finished product and an award winner to boot. Congratulations are definitely in order. Speaking of order... I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of the book, and you should too.

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23 May 2007

Omelette photos

Every year the 'Brotherhood of the Omelette' comes to Brussels to prepare, cook and serve an omelette so big it requires a forklift to move it.

It goes without saying that a 10,000 egg omelette is a big omelette. However, the biggest omelette in the world is not measured in eggs, it's measured in tonnes. That 2.95 tonne omelette was made by the Lung Association in Brockville Ontario Canada. It's alot bigger.



But small though this giant omelette was, it was not just the biggest omelette I'd eaten, it was the biggest anything I've eaten. There's not even a second place.


The Brotherhood of the Omelette comes from Malmedy in the Wallonia region of Belgium. They share Brotherhood duty there with the 'Brotherhood of the Trout Knights.' But while the Trout Knights have done nothing for me, the omeletters perservered in the face of a torrential downpour to serve up a damn fine omelette and a perfect example of what makes Belgium so great, and why it will never be taken seriously.

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21 May 2007

Senators Progress





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Hockey Thoughts

First of all, how good is Ottawa right now?
Answer: very good.

How comfortable is their bandwagon?
Answer: It's very nice. Thank you.

I can't believe the way THEIR Swedish captain (ahem) has stepped up during the playoffs. I watched the game on Saturday and the Senators play smart fast strong impressive hockey. And their first line of Alfredsson, Heatley and Spezza seem pretty unstoppable. They've got a jillion points these playoffs. Plus strong secondary play from their complete well-rtounded team. I like their chances against either Detroit or Anaheim.

Here's another question: what the fuck does Ray Emery have to do to get respect? People are still questioning him after he won the 'goaltending battles' against two of the leagues top goaltenders in Martin Brodeur and Ryan Millar in the last two rounds and put HIS team into the Stanley Cup finals. Pundits are still all, "hmm, does he have what it takes?" ...I think that question has been answered.

Anaheim vs. Detroit

What a tough series to call. Not just because it's so evenly matched but because I can't decide who to cheer for ie. who I hate less.

Detroit:
Last night during the game Chiara suggested we support Detroit because they have Bertuzzi, and he's Italian. That's cool, I wish him all the best. And if hockeyhater Chiara chooses a side, we best fan that flame and hope it grows into a deep abiding passion for hockey. Also Detroit has mad hockeyhistory so Ottawa-Detroit would be a cool final. Buuuut
I fucking hate Detroit. I cannot physically cheer for them.

So Anaheim then. But they knocked the Canucks out. (You could argue the Canucks knocked themselves out technically, but Anaheim was at the scene of the crime). Also their name is the Anaheim Ducks formerly Mighty Ducks, and that's the shittiest name going. It embodies everything that's wrong with pro sports. Plus they're from southern California, decidedly not a hockey region. It's the kind of place a Stanley Cup finals would be lost on. I apologize to all Ducks fans, and I know there are some of those, but I don't really dig Disney ice-hockey in Southern California. No matter how deserving of a place in the finals your team is.

So I should support Detroit. But that's just not possible. I was so happy when those shit-heads got scored on in overtime last night. Ha ha! Fucking Detroit...

I can't cheer Detroit and don't want to cheer for Anaheim so let's just hope for a grueling, hard-hitting 7 games to tenderize whomever advances.

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18 May 2007

Return to Mystic Mountain

We rented Cold Mountain. For some reason I thought it was going to be 'Mystic River.' Chiara thought it was 'Brokeback Mountain.' Just because the blurb is in French doesn't mean we shouldn't read it. Anyway, it was alright. No Sean Penn though, or gay cowboys.

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Wolfowitz Quits?

Paul Wolfowitz resigned from the World Bank today after two years of being president. Despite the fact everybody hated him and wanted him gone, he fought bravely to stay on, it must be said. What a sparkling resume: that jackass was a major player in the decision to go and fuck up Iraq, and now he's forced to resign in disgrace from the World Bank. Yet he will probably score a plum consultancy to Halliburton or some shit to the tune of millions a year. Asshole.

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16 May 2007

Splitsville

New Josh Martinez video. It's morbid and awesome. DJ Moves featuring Josh Martinez and Awol One.



Splitsvillains are on tour now. Catch them if you like hot rap.

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The Bush Legacy



George W. Bush really sucks as a President, and, I think it's fair to say, as a person. But lately somethings been bothering me: surely he hasn't fucked up everything he's ever touched as President of the USA? I mean surely he's done something right. Right?

The man's the fucking President of the United fucking States of America, and has been for many years. Surely a success story is hanging around somewhere: I don't know- an economic intitative that helped the economy, for example. Perhaps a recess appointment he shoehorned through that turned out to be a minor stroke of brilliance. Maybe something tumbled out of his mouth that actually turned out to be kinda clever. Just something..

We're pretty certain we can rule anything military-related out from the word 'go.' But anything that springs to mind related to politics in 'The Great Satan' are an exercise in mismanagement: Wolfowitz at the World Bank, or the Justice department firing debacle, to name but two. And all can be traced pretty directly to the Big Monkey... but somewhere else...something must be going right.

I mean the guy has alot of power over alot of things, and surely not everything he's touched has turned to shit. That just couldn't be possible. Despite my anti-Bush bias, I'm convinced he's probably blundered onto a success in something, somewhere, somehow. He did get re-elected after all.

I'm just curious, is all.


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15 May 2007

Atomium



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14 May 2007

10.000 Eggs

Yesterday afternoon I had a serving of a 10,000 egg omelette made by a shadowy organization known as 'The Brotherhood of the Giant Omelette. It was cooked in a frying pan that had to be moved by forklift, and at the precise moment I received my plate the heavens opened up with one of the most torrential downpour storms I've ever seen.

Symbolically we were able to take refuge at the overhang of the Canadian Embassy.

Photos and more to come...

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Eurovision!



Yet again I missed Europes biggest and most awkward celebration of its own unwieldiness. This is the third opportunity I've missed to watch Eurovision and wallow in the Eurotrashiness for which Europe is known.




The Eurovision festival is a celebration of kitsch whose reputation for craptastic music is matched only by its political contentiousness. It's the only time I, and I imagine millions of others, would willingly subject ourselves to such terrible music and clothing. I searched just a couple videos on youtube and was really blown away by the almost complete unlistenability. I had hoped to finally see it this year, and unabashedly celebrate my euroness, but yet again I just didn't get around to it.





The contest was held in Helsinki Finland this year, because scare-metal art-school novelty rockers Lordi, last years winner, are from Finland.


In a microcosm of EU policies the bulk of the money to put on the celebration comes from the big Western European countries. The benefits are reaped by the Eastern European countries, who all vote for each other and use their combined strength to outmuscle their bigger neighbours. The times online reported that "nations east of the Adriatic Sea occupied the top 15 places in the competition, in one of the strongest indications of the political alliances and unofficial voting patterns that have come to characterise the event." France, England, Spain and Germany occupied four of the bottom six places.

It's no wonder that the political entity that can't even get a campy kitschy silly good time crappy song costume ball right without sinking into political rivalry, bloc-voting and protectionist bribery can't get it together to work on its much ballyhooed Galileo satelite tracking system to rival the GPS. For example. Airbus would be another example.

But the good news is: all everybody at the kids table really got along...the Eastern countries banded together to vote for Serbia. Due to the country-based voting system that means Serbia won. Serbia is in the Balkans, the area of the world that gave us the word 'Balkanize', which means "to divide (a country, territory, etc.) into small, quarrelsome, ineffectual states." source
Hah! Apparently not. The Eurovision contest inspired all of those countries to come together and hold hands. And that's gotta be worth something.




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11 May 2007

The BBQ Quest

This was my entry into a contest run by The Brussels Bulletin. The Prize: a brand new bbq.

The challenge: "send an imaginative menu for a meal you'd like to cook on your new barbecue to the bulletin@ackroyd.be with 'Weber BBQ' in the subject line." I did all that, but have yet to hear I won a bbq, which is shitty for me and everyone I know, because we could be sampling the following deliciousness...

Or even just eating some veggie burgers. It don't matter, s'long as it's barbecued..

The Great Escape

A BBQ Menu to be cooked on a newly won Weber Barbecue

Drink

Sangria: A red wine sangria made with a little rum, club soda, fruit chunks and, in this case, a little dash of hot sauce for that extra pep.

Snack Starter

Tortilla chips with mango salsa: By adding half of a diced mango to regular salsa you get a simple yet special starter.

First Course

Shrimp/Lime/Pineapple Skewers: Jumbo shrimp marinaded in olive oil, lime, hot sauce and salt and pepper. Skewered with pineapple and lime wedges. Grilled on the new BBQ.

Main Course

Hot BBQ Tuna Steaks: Tuna steaks rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper. Served with a spicy mango orange salsa.

Avocado Rocket Salad: Dressed in an olive oil raspberry vinaigrette.

Dessert

BBQ’d Banana Split: Grilled banana and pineapple with a peppery honey glaze. Served with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I'm just putting it out there, because I don't really care where the barbecue comes from... You could send one to me. Yes you. Or invite me over for a barbecue. At least.

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10 May 2007

Bucket of Buffalo Wings



NY Governor Elito Spitzer has bet alot of chicken from Buffalos Anchor Bar against Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's months supply of Tim Hortons coffee. McGuinty slapped thirty-one double-doubles down on the Senators in 6. I'm not gonna bet against him.

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Stabbing


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09 May 2007

America Fixes Iraq



Dick Cheney made an unannounced visit to Iraq today. I thought the only place he went unannounced was his undisclosed location! But no, he's in Iraq to encourage rival Iraqi factions to put aside their differences and work together. He said "We've all got challenges together. We've got to pull together. We've got to get this work done. It's game time."

Riiiiight. Perfect. The White House shows impeccable timing and flawless leadership by sending the architect of the unjust, grossly mismanaged, wildly expensive, poorly planned, illegal occupation of Iraq over to mend some fences. At home, where the casualties are measured in the thousands but at least measured, Cheney is deeply unpopular (68% of Americans viewed him negatively according to a recent Harris poll)... just imagine how he's perceived over there!

So who better than this untrustworthy, dangerous war criminal who bears a heavy burden of personal responsibility for the debacle of Iraq and the suffering of its' peoples. Who better than Dick Cheney to go over to Iraq and use a fucking sports metaphor to get conciliatory talks rolling?

Right On America! Way to go!


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08 May 2007

Sesame Street Flute Beatbox


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07 May 2007

Bryson on Brussels

It sucks that you think that where I'm from is wack, but as long as that's enough to keep your ass from coming back.

-Slug




Bill Bryson, in his very funny travel book 'Neither Here nor There' has this to say about Brussels:

"Brussels is a seriously ugly place, full of wet litter, boulevards like freeways and muddy building sites. It is a city of grey offices and faceless office workers, the briefcase capital of Europe. It has fewer parks than any city I can think of, and almost no other features to commend it- no castle on a hill, no mountainous cathedral, no street of singularly elegant shops, no backdrop of snowy peaks, no fairy-lighted seafront.

Bryson is truthful, but not entirely accurate, in this case.

Brussels is in fact a very charming city full of pleasant little cobbled side streets and some beautiful parks (including the excellent one located a 45 second walk from our front door). As well it's got a great cafe culture for the drinking of delicious beers and mediocre coffee, as well as some excellent museums. Every other weekend is a huge arts festival and all summer long there's going to be a drive in theatre located at the Parque Cinquintennaire. There's daily flea markets and a weekly organics market around the corner, decent clubs, a big skate park... and so on.

And one of the best things about Brussels that I'm already appreciating and expect will enjoy more and more as we head into tourist season, is that Brussels isn't a big draw on every tourists agenda. Sure one might pass through for a day or two on the way somewhere more beautiful, romantic, charming and famous, and you may even be impressed by the BRX, but it's never going to be a destination in and of itself.

And after 18 months of tour guiding in Rome and lining up daily for the Vatican Museum and/or the Colosseum and or traipsing through the hot hot tourists spots, I'm glad to be in a city strangely devoid of such big ticket monuments, and the crowds that come with. It's still got old-world charm, only much less so than any other European capital you care to name and that charm is much more dissipated and hidden. But to my mind that's what makes it great. That and the fries.

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Office Ideas

Things I do at the office to make me appear thoughtful and/or busy:

-stride purposefully to the copy room, emerge with papers moments later and stride purposefully back to my office;

-take lunch late;

-clear my throat;

-rest my chin in my hand while reading;

and, my signature go-to move,

-take off my glasses and rub my temples.

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Oisins Final Thoughts


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04 May 2007

Poke Me





I've had it pointed out in the Financial Times by grumpy old codger James Harkin that 'web 2.0' has been a long time coming.

Harkin begins his opinion rant with "Anybody heard of Facebook?" Describing it as a place "where school and university students [and office workers]go to kill time and-in the digital equivalent of a hello- 'poke' their friends, just for fun."

Facebook is just one very current example of Web 2.0, the term coined by O'Reilly Media in 2004 to describe the new wave of web platforms. Commonly cited examples of web 2.0 are Youtube, Wikipedia, and Myspace. Facebook, Twitter and virtual world Second Life are other examples. Basically anything with user-generated content and providing new modes of interaction count as Web 2.0.

Harkin goes on to describe the phenomenon as a repository of "exhibitionism and voyeurism." and "a headless monster, prone to ill-considered flurries of enthusiasm and dangerous stampedes." Clearly he's not a fan. And he's not alone: author Andrew Keen has an upcoming book called 'Cult of the Amateur' arguing that web 2.0 is full of idiotic ramblings and inanities. And it'd be impossible to argue that that isn't true. Go to Youtube and see for yourself. Of course you can also go to youtube and see alot of things that you might want to see, such as hockey highlights, old stand-up routines, music videos and so on..



Harkin makes passing reference to Marshall McLuhan's concept of a 'global village' in his article. McLuhans prophetic and cryptic writings made him a public figure in the late 1960s through to his death in 1980. His works are a cornerstone of media theory and he was named patron saint of Wired magazine. Not bad for a guy who died before Al Gore invented the internet. McLuhans utopic 'global village', argues Harkin, is instead a "sordid cauldron" and a "headless monster". I disagree.

Could the global village that McLuhan prophesied be anything other than so-called Web 2.0? I don't think so. Mcluhan was speaking about electronic mass media, and the term became a kind of catch-all for the triple-double-u, but when you think about the ways people can interact and stay connected using these new platforms eg. Facebook, Youtube, Second Life and so on, it's clear that McLuhan was spot on. I can refer specifically to my Myspace account that gives me access to bands and comedians and political groups I might be interested in, and vice versa based on my profile (i didn't ask for that. Or maybe I did.)

But on a more personal level, Facebook has put me in touch with friends from high school, college and times and experiences before and after. They are spread out all around the world and many of them I haven't talked to for 5 years or more. I wouldn't call them, I wouldn't email them, but we can stay connected and have that feeling of community thanks to this technology.

A dumping ground for self-glorifying idiocy? Yes, it certainly is that.

A realization of 'the global village'? It is that too. And like any village, you can choose with whom to associate.

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03 May 2007

Milan


So let me get this straight: Rome is ejected from the Champions league in spectacular fashion (they received what is commonly called 'drubbing' and used to be know as a 'raping') by Manchester United. Manchester then goes on to face AC Milan, the kind of awesome, but actually so-so team that nobody can really cheer for because they are owned by rich, arrogant, cruise ship singer turned media mogul turned politician/ idiot savant Silvio Berlusconi. Also they were found guilty of cheating in the lead up to last summers World Cup.

And Milan wins!?!? 5-3 on aggregate. A 3-2 away loss to Manchester in the first leg surely beats getting pounded 7-1, as happened to Rome.

And then a 3-0 victory at home. 3-0? Are you fucking kidding me?

Sure I love Roma, but this is ridiculous.

I'm also torn because for the semi-finals there were four teams 3 of whom were English. This was rightly seen as a coup for Premiership soccer, the awesomest sports league in the world.'

So ina way I'm glad that Milan is in the finals against Liverpool. But am I glad enough to cheer for them? I'm not so sure. Although I will cheer for the hard-tackling Gennaro Gattuso.

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02 May 2007

Evolution

Facebook corporate hired artist David Choe to do up their offices. Another reason for facebook to get my vote for awesome.

Nice stairways.



Nice elevator.



Nice pretty lady with the city in her hair.




What's up now, Twitter?

More images here.

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