28 June 2007

In Cyprus

I'm here. It's hot: like 40 degrees hot. But I'm air conditioned all day. I'm eating too much good food. People are nice, but standardizers, especially bigshots who come to Annual Meetings, are unlikely to ever become "my people."

The Time Elevator window is closing. TV, in general, in the Hawaii Grand Hotel in Cyprus in particular, is still not very good.

Last night a man danced with 23 glasses balanced on his head. That was the highlight of the trip. My flight out was delayed. Tomorrow I come home.


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25 June 2007

What's a Girl to Do

Do you like music, bmx bikes, beauty, and Donnie Darko?

Me too.


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Cyprusness

I'm going to Cyprus tomorrow. No. Not for holiday. Because I'm going to the Annual Meeting for the European Committee for Standardization. I will also get to hear some speeches I've written, and hopefully get to experience the Time Elevator Cyprus.

I'm pretty excited about the idea of it, but if I actually think about who i'll be hanging out with, and what i'll be doing, and what we'll be talking about I realize the reality is less than what it could be.

I am excited to hear the President speak my words though, and maybe go for a swim. Business travel? I'm pretty new to it. Colour me Reservedly Optimistic.

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21 June 2007

Digital Office

Did you know there was a time, actually not that long ago, when people went to their office jobs. And the internet DIDN'T EXIST!!

And not that long before that, people went to their office jobs, and
COMPUTERS DIDN'T EXIST!!

And not long before that, people went to their office jobs, and
COMPUTERS WERE REALLY REALLY BIG!!

And not too long before that, people went to their office jobs, and
DESKS DIDN'T EXIST!!

In all of these circumstances one can only wonder:

what did these people do all day?

I honestly have no idea.

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Ryan Millar on Slice of the Shiny


Hey!

I made an interview. While I was in Amsterdam I was on Boom Chicago's weekly podcast A Slice of the Shiny with Rob AndristPlourde. It turned out really well, though I didn't really discuss any creative projects I'm currently involved in, and said "uh" alot. It was posted yesterday.

You should listen to me on the Shiny podcast. And subscribe. It's always good.

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20 June 2007

Comments

Grazie Ragazzi! C'e un sacco di 'comments' da qualche studente del British School. Sono sotto. Sono molto divertente. Sono d'accordo, Riccardo e veramente un fairy. Ciao a tutti. Forza Roma.

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19 June 2007

Fathers Day

A sampling from PostSecrets and some great ideas to get the ball rolling for any new dads.

-----Email Message-----
Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2007 5:12 AM

My dad used to say that inside of the car's air-bags was uncooked popcorn. When you wrecked the popcorn would pop and you would have a snack until help came.

-----Email Message-----
Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2007 8:29 PM

when i was little my dad told me that polyester was a small animal in australia & they would kill it to make clothes. that night i sat in my room reading the labels on my clothes for hours & threw all of the polyester ones away.

-----Email Message-----
Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2007 9:56 AM

When we'd approach exits or toll booths, my father told me the sound the car made when it went over the rumble strips was the car getting angry because I had been bad. I still sit up a little straighter when I hit a rumble strip.

-----Email Message-----
Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2007 6:55 AM

My dad told me the worst swear word you could possibly say was "Bostonian". It meant "someone who has no private parts." My brother and I used the word until we were teenagers and my father giggled every time we said it, right before he sent us to our rooms.

-----Email Message-----
Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2007 10:06 PM

When I was little my Dad told me that the tune played by the ice-cream van was the ice-cream man letting everyone know that he'd run out of ice-cream.



'Best Dad Hands Down' Darren Millar, with his 1-year old son who believes everything he says.


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18 June 2007

Spilling Creative Juice

Last week I went to Amsterdam. I got to do a Heineken Late Night at Boom Chicago, see a Crumbs show and briefly say hi to interpid canadian longform improv touring duo Steve and Lee.

Awesome to get some improv into my life, if only for a weekend. And sadly, I was unable to participate in Steve's workshop on Sunday. I would've loved to but cashflow is tight and I still hadn't finished laying down vocals for my new hip hop album.

What?

Yeah.

In an alter ego I'm a rapper. Rapper me teamed up with soon-to-be Australian expat Shortcut Kid, and Dutchstralian expat Creaseless Ben to form Overboard.
Now at work on an e.p. called F.I.T.
That's pretty awesome as far as I'm concerned.
Because I like yelling/rapping.

All in all, Amsterdam was a good good time. Visiting with some old friends and flicking sparks at more than one creative pursuit.


This week started with a rehearsal yesterday for Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo. Get to Brussels late September for some solid English language political farce theatre. Featuring me. Really excited to be in on that project. I gotta good feeling. And alot of lines. Alot.

Scripted acting is the opposite of improv. Because with improv, (a) golden rule is 'anything you say is correct.' That is, whatever you say will be accepted by the other actors and built into the story. With regular theatre, only one thing you say is correct. So you better say it. Still we got plenty of rehearsal time left. And the process is fun.

As well I've been working on some stand-up and sketch comedy. Trying to follow up random jokes and offhand comments, massage them and see if they can't grow up into bigger concepts.

Someone has told me I should channel my energy at one pursuit, and that seems like a good idea. A good idea. Not the good idea. For now I'm gonna keep throwing everything I got at everything I want to.

And then write a book.

Or make a movie.

Or paint a picture.

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15 June 2007

Photosynth Prototype

A 5 minute video that's not funny. But has crazy pay-off if you're interested in the power of the computer, and the impact of the internet on collective memory and space. Or groupthink. Or imaging. Or something like that. Point is: it's cool:


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Only Heroes: A Non-Fiction Short Story

The rain rained down like rain to the power of eight. Rained down with the sound of a Battle Royale between six different high school marching band percussion sections. It was that strong. Really strong.

Chiara dragged her mononucleosis ridden body down three treacherous flights of steps and out the front door. Armed only with an umbrella and rainboots she trudged, quickly yet slowly (she had mononucleosis) around the corner to the spot where her douchebag boyfriend had inconveniently parked the car, mere days before. Gone. Her heart leapt into her throat as the icy fingers of panic latched onto her eyes and savagely began to claw. Breathlessly she pulled her mobile phone from her bag and, once the keypad was unlocked, dialled 'Ryan Work.'

Ryan slammed down the phone with a force that rattled the windows in his office, and the depths of his soul. He leapt to his feet and shook his fist at the bad weather/bad luck gods operating on Mount Frustration. "Dammit," he cursed angrily, "why must you work overtime to thwart me?" It was a rhetorical question, one to which he knew he would receive no reply. He received no reply.

Summoning the final reserves of his formidable wellspring of inner strength he composed himself enough to google "Brussels Police contact Ixelles." The triumph of finding the contact number for the local police office faded quickly once the number were entered into his office telephone. It was replaced by the now familiar feeling of frustration. Only this time the frustration was due to his complete inability to make himself understood in French. "Dammit!" he cursed silently for the second time in only minutes "why do I know neither the verb for 'to park,' nor its past tense? Let alone the verb for tow, or its past tense" The question this time was not rhetorical; he knew the answer, and it chilled him to his very core. However, he had not time to think about the dual culpability of Summerland Secondary School or his current CPAB Language Programme. He could think of only two things: "One, it's in no way my own fault my French is so so terribly shitty, and two I NEED TO GET THAT CAR BACK! NOW!!" Fighting back the terror that threatened to consume him, he bravely switched to English.

Chiara crawled back up the stairs, too weak to even move. Almost. Shedding boots, umbrella, pants and bag she staggered towards the spare bedroom. Her eyes lolled in their sockets as the strength leaked from her fingertips. She paused, supported by the doorframe, and tried to focus. Then she saw it, the one thing that could save her. A plan began to form in her now feverish mind.

The smoky voice on the other end of the phone line uttered assent and the conversation proceeded at a figuratively BREAKNECK pace. In English. Ryan's hunch that it had been towed had now been confirmed, in English, by the police officer on the other end of the phone. Now Ryan knew, knew beyond a shadow of an inkling of a tiny doubt, knew with a certainty he had felt only infrequently before, that the car had indeed been towed. He also knew that he needed to get to that police station... and FAST!

Chiara settled onto the futon upstairs and closed her eyes. Her plan had worked! Though it had only been sketchily drawn in her mind, it had been executed flawlessly. She had lain down on the futon almost perfectly. She allowed herself the briefest sigh of relief before an awful question entered, unbidden, into her mind: 'Why is my boyfriend such a fucktard?' she thought, before passing into a blissfully fitful sleep.

The locations raced by like a musical montage, only there was NO music! Just a blur of ID cards, signatures and bitter, bone-chilling rain as Ryan raced from elevator, to car of colleague who offered him a ride, to home to pick up car keys and an umbrella, to police station, to tram stop, to tram, to tram stop three stops along, to bus stop, to bus, to bus stop on other end of the line with only the most cursory of inspections of the decent looking pizzeria he saw along the way. And then, finally, his pentultimate destination loomed before him casting a dark shadow across his heart: The Tow Truck Place.

He knew his luck haD not deserted him entirely when the stupid bitch behind the counter gestured into the parking lot in the back. She knew she had been outfoxed: the car was going back to its rightful owner. There was nothing she could do to stop that piece of justice. Ryan pushed his way through the open door and walked the length of the counter moving inexorably into the parking lot. But as Ryan walked through the dirty puddled parking lot towards the object of his desire, a realization hit him. Hit him like a 2x4 in the face. And the wallet.

"I just spent 218 euros, euros I can scarcely afford, on a car that we already owned," he thought (and not for the first time that day) very, very, angrily, "It's not as if they did detailing work, or changed the oil, or anything at all: except take it away. They're little better than thieves! 218 euros is a fucking shameful amount of money to charge for towing a car. I fucking hate those fuckers." Then he throw his head back, looked at the purple sky, and puked.

"Hi baby," Chiara shouted down from upstairs. She had decided that Ryan's own anger and frustration would suffice, and the valuable parking lesson had already been learned. No ball-breaking would be necessary.

Ryan trudged upstairs, ball-broken and weary, but comfortable in the knowledge that the white Citroen Saxo they legally owned was legally parked out front. He looked at his girlfriend, and happiness and relief washed over him. Then he thought again about all the fucking money he had just spent and puked. Puked with anger. But no amount of puking would get his money back, and deep down in the very core of his being he knew this. The only thing that would end this ordeal would be acceptance of events as they unfolded, or revenge. Ryan swore revenge.



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14 June 2007

Canada on the move

Canada is a perennial football weakling. (I'm not talking about 'American football', nor will I ever) I'm talking about real football: football football. But this is quickly changing, regardless of Owen Hargreaves defection to England. Crappy Canada jumped 38 spots last month in FIFA Rankings. So now we're number 56.

Not exactly a reversal of fortune but that's a huge powermove! POWERMOVE!

Only Armenia made a bigger powermove. BIGGER POWERMOVE!!

I don't know if that means we'll be on the World Cup Stage come South Africa time. In fact we can be almost certain that Canada doesn't have the talent to go that far but I'd be happy with a solid mid-30s ranking. MID-30'S!!

Let's go Team!! Let's strive for respectability!!

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12 June 2007

Levels of French

There are a number of levels of French in my Language School.

I am in the first level. And you know what? It's pretty easy. I started getting a little bit of a swelled head, thinking 'I'm too good for this class, they should put me in the next level, that'd be more my speed.'

And it gave me a little warm glow, because I figured I had underestimated my French, and maybe it wasn't so bad. Maybe my French is almost decent. Then last night I asked how many levels there were in the school.

12.

No matter how good I'm doing in the 'You don't know anything about French' class, i'm still a long way off from attaining 'French speaker' status.

The 12 Levels of French at my School
  1. Completely Inept
  2. Sucky
  3. Nonsensical
  4. Aww, you're trying.
  5. Cute... Let's speak English.
  6. Intermediate.
  7. Upper Intermediate.
  8. Good French
  9. Really Good French.
  10. Really, Really Good French
  11. Expert
  12. French French

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11 June 2007

Semiotics


"Hey Karen, are you wearing a speedbump? Ha ha. Just joking. But seriously, That hat looks stupid."

"What? My hat isn't stupid, it's hot. I get tonnes of pussy when I rock this chapeau. And have you looked at your bowtie lately, Mr. Fashion Critic?"

"You think it's too wide?"

"A little. And way overstylized. It looks like a fucking bikini top, you dickwad"

"Whatever. God. I really have to piss."

"Me too. I hope this elevator hurries the fuck up."

"Let's do the pee dance, see if we can't speed things up."

"We already are."

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08 June 2007

Anaheim Champs


I found this on a Canucks booster site on Facebook, stole it, and then patiently waited for my opportunity to put it on my blog and lambaste the Ducks for losing to the Canucks. Or the Senators. Didn't really happen.
So congratulations Teemu and team.
But the question is why can Canadian teams only get as far as second place? That's three years running. If the Canucks pull together a strong team again, or, more accurately, a mediocre team that plays very well, it should be our turn for a cup run.
And I'd hate to think that recent history would repeat itself.
The other 'curse' that the Sens were playing against is the European Captain curse: no team with a European captain has ever won the Stanley Cup. Well, the Canucks could perpetuate that curse as well, if they stick with the underperforming "silent leader" Markus Naslund as captain.
He should be traded, or at least stripped off the captaincy and downgraded to second (or third liner) where I think the lowered expectations will allow him to be a consistent role-player and twenty plus goal contributor. Although there is that little problem of the millions of dollars they're contractually obligated to pay him.
It's a real conundrum for Dave Nonis to fisure out, but you can't ignore the fact they're gonna need more firepower.
Last note: I only watched one game of the finals. I had to stay up until 5 in the am to do so, but fortunately it was the excellent game 3, which the Sens won. Too bad they forgot to show up for any others.
Maybe I should've. Maybe that woulda helped..

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07 June 2007

Darren Bifford


I moved to Summerland BC in Grade 6. On the first day of school, a nerdy looking kid (like me) befriended me, hanging out with me on recess and everything. It was a big relief. He even invited me over after school! But when he was getting his stuff out of his little locker after the final bell I saw that he had a magazine poster of rock drummer Tommy Lee. This was in the height of the coke-fuelled Motley Crue heyday: shirtless, painted up, wild hair, leather pants, fierce expression, and tattoos. I was terrified. I didn't know anything about Tommy Lee, or heavy metal, I just knew this was a big BIG red flag. Fearing my new friend was some sort of Satan worshipper I made up some excuse and took off home.

In my defense of my fear-of-Tommy Lee incident I was a pretty sheltered kid up to that point. Not sheltered by anything in particular, except circumstance. My father worked at a radio station, so we were bombarded with all the 'hot' new music as it came out, and I loved it. I could sing the chorus of just about any song in the Top 20 charts of any given week, circa 1987. Maybe that's not a very good defense, but it does explain why my first view of heavy metal caused such a violent terror in me. It leaped out at me on my first day of class in a new school, in a new town, when I was most vulnerable.


That was a long time ago, and I'm over my embarrassment of that day, as is the former hard-core heavy metal child Darren Bifford. We became great friends shortly thereafter. I consider him my oldest and dearest conspirator, collaborator and kindred spirit.


He was in Brussels just now. Which was awesome. He's also a regular blog reader: It was really fucking great to see you man.

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06 June 2007

Scandanavian Love

My friend Johannes really hates the Danish. That makes alot of sense because he's Swedish. It's his birthright.

After much discussion on facebook we compiled a list of exceptions to the rule.

An Exhaustive List of Danes Johannes Doesn't Hate


  • Niels Bohr, physicist
  • Helena Cristiansen, hot model
  • The Guy Who Invented Lego
  • The decapitated body of the Little Mermaid statue in the harbour of Copenhagen*
  • Carlsberg beer**

*The statue is no longer headless, but the head doesn not make the list. The rock she sits on does.

** Carlsberg beer is not a person. However as a subsection of this entry we included the drunken Danish twat who ran onto the field and tried to take a swing at the referee in the 89th minute of the recent Sweden-Denmark football match. His actions cost the Danish National team valuable EuroCup Qualifying points they had earned by coming back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game. The fan (who lives in Sweden) admitted to consuming 15-20 beers prior to the incident. Johannes would not deign to give him his own entry on the list, but did agree to give him a note under the Carlsberg entry.


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Independent media swims against the current

I'm a fan of independent media. I think it's awesome. Some independent media I really like. My blog, for example, allows me to write whatever the fuck I want, on whatever topic I so choose, without any regard for rigamarole, editing or coherence. And publish it on the internet. That's awesome for me.

But there's also real independent media that is awesome for other reasons. Indy news agency The Tyee is a pretty hot Canada Left Coast media source, and they produced this video, which is awesome.



It's the best thing I've seen fish do in a long while.

On the unhappy side of things Medichannel is an awesome independent media source that 'watches the watchers.' It is a great site that unfortunately is in dire financial straits, so go ahead and kick down a dime. After you watch the youtube video, you'll probably have a renewed appreciation for the importance of independent media, and the need for continued critical analysis of the copy they print to make an awesomely welcoming environment for advertisers.

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04 June 2007

The Smell of Coke

Rome is a dirty city. I lived there for almost two years and can tell you that there is alot of traffic. As beautiful as it is, it looks and smells dirty. Apparently also 'dirty' in the sense of 'immoral.' Italy's National Research Council found that there's traceable particles of weed and coke in the air. With the highest concentrations in the city centre and by the university. I think that's pretty awesome. Also surprising and hard to believe. And too minute to get you high.

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Help the Police

With a hand on the volume knob Dad can indulge his weakness for gangsta rap and school his kid on respect for authority. At the same time.



Thanks, I Make Beatz for sourcing the goodness.

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Gone Fishin'


A Navy Junk enthusiast listens to a boat motor.

Sunday June 3rd was no ordinary 'lazy Sunday' in the Chatelain neighborhood of Brussels. Nope. This particular Sunday saw the streets blocked off to cars and filled instead with the joys of junk-sifting and sea-faring. It was the Chatelain annual 'Navy Junk Street Sale', where many a blanket was piled high... not just with shoes and broken record players as is usually the case at these flea markety things. But also, on blankets, tables, and parked in handicapped spaces: nautical equipment.

For reasons completely unclear to the outsider participant, this entirely land-locked neighborhood has a day devoted to watersports and navyishness. Fishing rods, motor boats and boat motors, wetsuits, drysuits, flippers galore, anchors, sextants, maps, surfboards, waterskis and the like. If it requires a large body of water (of which there are zero nearby) for its' use, then it was on sale on this day.


A landlubber hawks fishing rods on the left, while a navy junk enthusiast strides past. I saw that Navy Junk enthusiast later with a harpoon gun and an armful of maps.

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Belgian Army



Showing little or no regard for enemy lives or the rules of engagement the Belgian military is deploying here in Belgium to inflict heavy casualties on their foes.

Europe and Belgium usually favour a 'soft power' approach. That is, wielding influence over adversaries by means other than force. But that doesn't always work, especially when the enemy infilitrates your hallowed territory. Then you gotta send the army in and fuck your enemy up. Right on! Eat shit, caterpillars.

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