28 February 2010

Day 90 of 100

So I'm 90% a Better Person. The excitement of the 'ups is still at a low - that has been ongoing since Day 80. But I like the fact that I'm not enjoying them now, it makes me feel that I'm really being disciplined. And self-discipline is a great thing. Great like massive biceps and a rippling six-pack.


DAY 83: I did my personal best for press-ups in one set. 43. This despite the fact I had a massive hangover. Beer is my secret weapon.

DAY 84: Chiara and her friend Laura also did some press ups with me. Exercising is more fun with friends.

Day 90: Canada won the Olympic Men's Hockey Gold Medal. Ryan Miller won Silver.

This Ryan Millar is going for the Gold.


27 February 2010

The Other Ryan Millar


The Men's Olympic Ice Hockey Final is tomorrow night. In Vancouver. This is a huge deal. The talk is about the two goaltenders: one, the Second Coming. Roberto Luongo. Literally a saviour. The guy is awesome.

The other goalie is some jerk who has the same name as me.

I hate that Ryan Miller prick. For the following reasons:

1. He's on the wrong team.

2. He's got the same name as me. This is a double-problem because every time I hear the announcers say "Ryan Miller makes a big save," I'll be sad. Because I want Canada to crush the USA by filling his net with pucks.

And every time the announcers say, "GOAL! Ryan Miller really should have had that," my subconscious will be affected and my own confidence will ebb slightly. And I'm hoping that this call happens a lot.

Fucking guy.

Go Canada Go!


24 February 2010

Getting Better, 100 Days at a Time


Artist/designer Angela Fernihough is creating a work of art every day in a different style - pop art, manga, still life (with fruit), and even shoe prints in snow – all featuring her French-press coffeemaker. For one hundred straight days. It's not a personal obsession - she is one of more than 800 people involved in the 'One Hundred Days to Make Me a Better Person' project. The idea is simple: do "one thing, once each day, for one hundred days."

From this simple idea, an eclectic mix of ideas has sprouted. Pledges range from Lego sculptures, 30-second songs, random lists and monster haikus, to autobiographical comics, photo essays, and short stories based on the Wikipedia 'random article' link. One participants is even single-handedly battling littering, while another has pledged to curb misuse of the word 'literally': there is literally no limit.

The event, which stretches from 1 December to 10 March, is a collaborative art project whose final day will be an event as part of the London Word Festival. It is the brainchild of comedian Josie Long, who knows firsthand the power of one hundred days. “This past summer I was on a strict one hundred day diet,” she says, “It's long enough to make a habit.” She knew she wanted to do it again, this time as something bigger. So she teamed up with the London Word Festival, and the Hundred Days to Make Me a Better Person Project was born.

For Fernihough, what drew her to the project was the repetition. “I'm hoping it will force me out of any creative ruts. Experimenting with so many different styles and even copying someone else's style means you have to find new ways to create.” Long herself has four pledges: talking to one stranger each day; being more involved in politics; doing something physical; and writing one joke. She's finding it difficult already, but she likes it that way. “I'm into the excitement of people challenging themselves,” she says.

And after one hundred days of artistic and personal struggle the people will be ready for a big party – and the details have just been announced. The event will be hosted by Long and feature musician The Pictish Trail, and comedians Isy Suttie (of Peep Show), Chris Killen & Sara Pascoe – all participants. There will also be a Museum of 100 Days and the screening of a short documentary.

The event will be a chance for many of the participants to meet each other, and see some of the art produced during the hectoday-long event. Is Long happy with how it's unfolding? You bet she is. “I don't know what I expected to be honest, but it wasn't this. I'm immensely pleased.” Far from fading away like so many New Year's Resolutions, this self-improvement project is actually gathering steam as it carries on – more than one hundred pledges have come in since the the start, with more late-bloomers joining each day.

Tickets for the The Hundred Days to Make Me a Better Person Show on March 10 are £10. The event will take place at “A Secret East London Venue.” For more information see the Hundred Days or London Word Fest.

For a longer version of this piece, see here. To see my project go here. But start here.


22 February 2010

Unfiltered Mantalk


People say a lot of shit. All the time. The worst part is that all that shit is usually stuff they've actually thought about. Or stuff that they care about. Or stuff they want to tell you because they care what you think about it.

More often than not, it's better to just let fire with whatever crazy, mean, hilarious animal-centric shit that you're thinking. By 'better' I mean 'funnier'.

Sleep Talking Man is a wife's website dedicated to the bizarre sleeptime rants of her 'mild-mannered English husband'.

The nutball things this very normal guy says in his sleep would be near-impossible to believe if his wife didn't record them and transcribe them for our enjoyment.

"Why don't you stand in fuck-up corner. You can stay there 'til, I don't know, I-don't-give-a-shit-about-you 'o clock."

How does an asleep guy get to be that caustic and witty? I have no idea.

His subconscious is really into animals. Mumbling things like:

"My badger's gonna unleash hell on your ass. Badgertastic!"


"Snail fiddling is not an occupation I'd be proud of. You dirty fucker."

Naturally this got picked up by the news and the couple did the talk show circuit. Naturally there's all kinds of merchandise available at their online store.

Shit my Dad Says started as the Twitter account of Justin Halpern, in which he shared with the world some of the solid gold nuggets of crotchety straight-talk that his 74 year-old dad says. Such as

"STOP apologizing. You’re sorry, he gets it, Jesus. You spilled a glass of wine, not fucked his wife."


"A mule kicked Uncle Bob once. Broke his ribs. He punched it in the face… My point? You have an ingrown fucking toenail. Stop bitching."

Off the raging success of these pearly gems of fatherly advice Halpern (an editor for maxim.com) got himself a sitcom development deal.

Today they announced that Captain James T. Kirk is gonna be the dad and say all the shit for the pilot. So yeah, awesome.

I predict a Sleep Talkin' Man-inspired web cartoon in the very near future.

The point is that if you're asleep or old just let it go, babble, shout and rant, because who cares what the fuck other people think.

If you don't have the good fortune to be asleep or old, then learn from these guys. Mellow out and speak your mind. Don't hold back.

Or as Halpern's dad would say:

"Don’t ever say stuff just because you think you should. That’s the definition of an asshole."


21 February 2010

Canada Owns the Damn Podium

The global image of polite and unassuming Canadians is being sorely tested by the quest for Olympic glory.

Hosting the Olympics is supposed to be a great honour for a city. It's not working out that way for Vancouver. From cancelled tickets and delayed events to heavy-handed security and awkward glitches, every day brings a new revelation of organizational ineptitude or callousness. These 2010 Olympics is undoing decades of Canadians-as polite-and-helpful stereotypes. In the British press especially, there is whinging, complaining and finger-wagging galore. All those whiners need to suck it up.

These, the XXI Winter Olympics, are Vancouver’s games, and Vancouver is free to mismanage them in any haphazard, insensitive and incompetent style that they want. Screw everybody else.

The big competition for Vancouver was the bid to host the Olympics. They won. Besting Salzburg, Austria and PyeongChang, South Korea in a tense finals. These games are basically their glorious victory lap, so why should they care how visitors actually feel during the games? Why shouldn't they erect a giant chain-link fence around the Olympic cauldron? Anyone who would seek to deny them the opportunity to fail at simple things like having proper Zambonis, accurate biathlon times and providing a safe not insanely-fast luge course is just jealous.

On the slopes, Canadian athletes are also doing their best to chip in on the bad hosting duties. They are not keen on sharing their podium with any of the other nations. Started shortly after Vancouver won the bid, Own the Podium is an amateur sport initiative that provided $118 million for amateur Canadian athletes. The stated goal? To help Canada win the most medals at this Olympics. As an added incentive, each gold medal winner has been offered $20,000.

And it's not just funding: prior to the games Canada privileged their own athletes at training facilities to give them a competitive edge. Every hometown angle has been exploited to provide Canadian athletes an advantage.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the new Canada. A Canada that wants to win, and doesn't care about hurting your feelings.

Do Canadians approve of this new cut-throat attitude? With red-and-white, full-throated enthusiasm, they do. Crowds are enormous and boisterous, Olympic merchandise is flying off the shelves and Vancouverites are in the words of Canadian rock band Loverboy, lovin' every minute of it. Patriotic Canadians will still say please and thank you, they just might shout it in your ear while giving you an unexpected, Olympic-ecstasy and beer-fuelled bearhug. Don't be intimidated. Get used to it.

What option do the media party-poopers have? Go to another 2010 Winter Olympics? No, they have to face the facts. These XXI Winter Games are Canada's Games, and we literally Own the Podium.

*As it turns out, the glitches have all been dealt with, and the games are now going swimmingly. They've even managed to quasi-solve the Olympic flame flence issue by putting up some plexiglass. Although, of course, the British press can't stop rehashing the glitches, but that's fine, Canadians can take it. We are more.


18 February 2010

Day 80 of 100

I got my 'ups done today, as I have done everyday for the past 79 days, but I can't say I was that enthusiastic about it.

My enthusiasm for the Hundred Days project goes undiminished, as does my belief in the awesomeness of my pledge. However, when it comes time to climb out of bed, crawl onto the carpet and start 'upping, I feel some dread. Although the dread is mixed with weary resignation and augmented by a sense of duty.

But hey, I only have twenty more days to go, and then I can choose the number of 'ups I want to do, and how often I want to do them. I'm thinking 60, 2-3 times a week, but am open to suggestions.


DAY 72: This is the day I really started changing my approach. From Day 1 to Day 60-something, and even beyond, I have been trying to keep all my 'ups together - first to do them all at once, then, when that seemed physically impossible, to at least do them all in one session. TodayI did 32 'ups in the morning, went to class, bought some groceries, came home, and then did the remaining forty. I don't feel that this system is an improvement, but it manages to make the 'upping less daunting.

DAY 75: As part of plagiarism week, I wrote a short story based on the result of a click on the wikipedia random article link.

DAY 77: Another plagiarist effort, I got my Facebook Cull on.

DAY 79: Went to the Battersea Arts Centre and met up with a whole bunch of Hundred Days comrades. Drinks, laughs, chats and general cheer was the result.

The point is: I'm loving everything about the project. The part I love least is doing all of those press-ups and sit-ups. But after they're done I do enjoying flexing in front of the mirror and/or my wife.


16 February 2010

Team Canada's Olympic Welcome


I'm psyched about my hometown being the centre of international sport, bonhomie, and patriotic zest. On the other hand I worry Vancouver may have sold out personal privacy, the homeless, civic funding, artistic and journalistic freedom in order to kow-tow to the Olympics machine. Check the Onlympics for an ongoing Credit Check.

But the time for hand-wringing is later. For now I'm just psyched on wintersports action. Especially the hockey.

And once you hear Canada's Mens Olympic Hockey Team tear apart the competition in a hip-hop masterclass of glass-rattling brutality, you will be too.

Click through for the dopest international hockey themed Olympic rap you'll hear this year.

Full credit to Bloge Salming and Down Goes Brown. And of course, Canadian adoptee Krensky for sending me the link

While your patriotic heart is swelling to a hip hop beat, you should bump Classified's fantastic 'Oh... Canada'

Word to the double-double.

Go Canada!

And good luck with all the rest of it, Vancouver.


15 February 2010

A Facebook Cull

The Hundred Days Project is having a plagiarism week. After my Wikipedia 'random article'-inspired short story I'm having a second copycat mission.

Following on Jason Graham's excellent Facebook Cull I am culling a facebook friend*.


We went to Summerland Secondary School together, at least for some of the time. I don’t even know if he graduated or was in my year or anything. In fact, I struggle to picture him at all. Although I can picture some of the big trucks he used to park in the student parking lot by the Smoke Pit. His current profile picture is a car.

I'll Get You asked to be my friend back when he went by the name Josh Royer – a name I vaguely recalled from high school. We have quite a few friends in common from the 'good ol' days of being a teenager in Summerland. That's enough for us to be friends, at least on the cyberspace of the internet’s worldwide web. We never hung out, or even exchanged words, although I'm sure we were present at some of the same bush parties.

We were never friends. We were barely acquaintances. We have nothing in common. At some point I put him on my 'limited profile' list. This just seems like the logical next step.

I’m happy to be friends with people from my past who I was once close, or even people I've met only briefly, but with whom I have at least one shared interest. But Ill Get You doesn't fit into either category, so it’s best to just end our non-relationship. It was never meant to be.

Ill Get U Royer (Josh Royer)...sayz HAPPY V DAY ...ma..FUCKERS..!!!!

I've never facebook culled. This is thrilling and terrifying. But I think it’s going to be good for me.

I don't know anyone who knows him, he lives in Calgary Alberta, and I doubt he remembers me either, so no, none.


*While searching for a cull I managed to clear out some other dead weight as well, but this is a one-off post.

If you want more facebook culling, check out the Facebook Cull, or Plagiarist Lizzie Poulton's shot at it.


13 February 2010

Plasmodium Octamerium - A Short Story


I am dabbling in a little idea-poaching for plagiarism week for the Hundred Days project.

Until he went quiet on January 25, Benjamin Partridge had been writing daily short stories based on the Wikipedia random article link. I thought I'd do the same.

The following story is based on this article.

Paul opened his eyes. He'd slept fitfully in his clothes for just a couple hours. He felt terrible. He looked around and realized that he'd spent out of doors. Even in the weak light of dawn he could see that he was still lost. Sleep had not changed that. He was also hungry beyond belief – he'd exhausted his supplies of a ham sandwich, juice box, and three granola bars very early in the day yesterday. He reflected fondly on the taste of food, before shaking away this unhelpful impulse. Despite the prospect of going without food for another full day until he found his way back to Addis Ababa, Paul forced himself to begin his regular morning routine – twenty press-ups and twenty sit-ups.

As he rolled over onto his stomach and placed his palms on the uneven gravel, a greater blue-eared glossy starling dropped out of the sky, landing right in front of his prone. It hardly made a sound. It gave a wave of its wing, and then was still. Paul pushed himself to his feet and approached the bird cautiously. He hoped it was a sign. His superstitious side thought it might be a sign.

It had been thirty-five hours since Paul Waters, keen observer of nature and skilled amateur nature photographer, had become separated from the excursion into the Ethiopian grasslands. Paul had volunteered to spend this spring weekend cataloguing threatened species with the Ethiopian Wildlife Trust, he had looked forward to it so much he had spent almost of all the lessons the previous week on the International Union for Conservation of Nature . On the very first morning, shortly after the briefing, Paul had become enthralled by a critically endangered guramaba shrew, and chased it down while fumbling with the macro feature on his camera. When he looked up, the party had disappeared. He hadn't eaten since that morning's breakfast, but had nevertheless continued his photography and animal count. But he was hungry.

Impulsively, he grabbed the greater blue-eared glossy starling and brought it to his mouth. Then he paused. This kind of feral savagery didn't befit an amateur nature photographer of his stature, especially one who had been lost for only thirty-five and a half hours. Paul looked around, before finding a small depression in the shade of a thorntree. He debated burying the bird, before deciding against it. He gently placed the bird in a nest of short grass, and did an impromptu quasi-religious blessing for the fallen creature. The bird seemed peaceful. But within, the Plasmodium Octamerium parasite continued to churn away, harvesting the life of its host.


09 February 2010

A Visit to Edinburgh


I'm not sure how much of this warm feeling has to do with the fact that we were 'on holiday', but damn is Edinburgh a nice place to be.

We stayed just off Broughton Street, right in downtown, and around the corner from Urban Angel. We went there for dessert on Friday, and it was so good we went back for breakfast the next morning.

Chiara kept trying to convince me to go back again - her soymilk rooibos cappuccino was something of a revelation.

I myself preferred the Artisan Roast for coffee.

Post-coffee, with wife asleep, I managed a short solo sojourn up Calton Hill, and the next day, down to the Scottish Parliament, and of course, see the Castle.

It was all very Scotch, and surprisingly French. Until we learned of the Six Nations Rugby Match that weekend. But the crowds of French rugby fans all over the city did little to dissuade us of the awesomeness of the town. The rain seemed romantic, as did the Scottish imperviousness to foul weather.

I love pubs. Chiara, not so much. But we managed to find, and dine, and drink in two lovely ones on the shore in Leith. In one day! The King's Wark for drinks (where Chiara warmed her back on the fire) and I watched her warmth, and glance over her contented shoulder and see the glowing embers. I also enjoyed a dark delicious Caledonian ale.

Then we went to the bar up the street called The Shore. Dinner was delicious, and Chiara could again warm her back on the fire. A second perfect evening in a row.

I also managed to make my way to The Scotch Whisky Experience, which was, I think, important.

As a whisky experience goes, it was suprisingly enjoyable, impressively educational, and remarkably immersive. Climbing into a big whisky barrel and being led through the whisky production process by a projected ghost with a potent burr could be hit or miss, but for me, it was pretty fucking hit. The stretch where I went through the yeast was the best, although the cooling copper tubes were pretty great.

Between that barrel of good times, the tour of Scotland's whisky regions, and the whisky tasting session, I now feel qualified to project the insufferable air of the whisky dilettante.

But hey, I also got to see the world's largest collection of whiskies (3,384, if memory serves) so I think I know what I'm talking about. Plus I got a commemorative tasting glass.

A smoky peat-fired after-dinner tipple, anyone?

I saw snazzy kilts, buses with no rear exit door, drivers who interpret a flashing green walk signal as a cue to accelerate through the pedestrian crossings, and castles shrouded in mystery, history and fog.

Despite the hazardous traffic, the whole place projected a warm homey vibe. With tonnes of good veggie food, pub fare, and ales and whisky (and tales and whimsy) aplenty.

It was over too soon.

I sure hope to be back. For more strolls, fireside meals, and perhaps some Edinburgh Festival Fringe. My efforts to get myself to that fest recently doubled. And now, even more recently, redoubled.

Low note: I passed up an opportunity to have veggie haggis with whisky sauce and mash, at a beachside pub. Why? I have no idea.

But I will right that wrong on my next excursion, this I assure you.


08 February 2010

Day 70 of 100

My shoulders feel like coiled springs - only not in that 'ready to strike' ninja-like way. More like the 'consistently extremely tense' kinda way.

I guess this is how bodybuilders feel all the time: angry for no reason and extremely tense in the neck and shoulders area.

It's a real downer.

On the plus side, I'm not really angry for no reason. I'm not angry at all. In fact, I've managed to push through a little bit of the frustration and negativity. I'm becoming a better person. A better person with tenseness in the upper back area.

Going away helped me gain some perspective and bump the slump. Thanks Scotland!

Our tiny holiday apartment in Edinburgh had scarcely enough room for me to lie prone on a couple of cushions, tuck my feet under the bed, and repeatedly 'sit up'. But I did it - and without hitting my head on the radiator.

Press-ups? Got them done too.

Onwards and repeatedly upwards.

In other news, my touring of other pledges has fallen by the wayside. While the Plagiarist herself, Lizzie Poulton is still going strong, I've veered off to dabble in a little of this and that. The good news is this week my 'this' was drawing, and I did that.


03 February 2010

Obeying Parkinson's Law


Parkinson's Law is: "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion."*

Tell me a-fucking-bout it. It's right up there with gravity for me in terms of natural laws I'm obeying.

I've spent my January mostly moping around. In fact, my productivity has consisted almost exclusively of some press-ups and sit-ups in the morning. Although, I've also spent a fair amount of time laughing at the meager amount of written work I'm required to submit at the end of my scholastic term.

It's still not done. It's due tomorrow.

I've had six weeks. Six fucking weeks. To write and edit some shit. And I'm a writer. So it shouldn't be difficult or time consuming at all really. Unfortunately, I think my 'student procrastination' programming has overwhelmed my 'professional writer' programming.

Either that, or Parkinson's Law is just impossible to work around, and I should just get used to it.

*In his book of essays, Parkinson's Law was expressed as a mathematical equation. Which is pretty awesome, if you think about it. Everything else about Parkinson's Law: procrastination, inefficiency, bloated bureaucracy, etc. is depressing. But funny. Like Dilbert.