Sunday, October 29, 2006

24 hour party people is a smug, stupid little movie. nominally about the rise of new wave and rave culture in manchester, england it mostly serves as a excuse to show video footage of the actual bands (most notably joy division/new order) and then splice away to a cut of the actors playing those characters. the movie's self-conscious attempts to give us frameworks to view the story (Icaran, self-destructive/brilliant) are over-obvious (the themes are stated outright in sidebars). A bit of musical history about manchester may come in handy for looking with-it in hipster circles, but the movie itself is frankly boring.

in related news, I went to see "Shout out out out out" at the pyramid last night. they are a canadian electro-dance outfit. it was sortof like a cross between daft punk and grandaddy (part high-energy rave, part technological pathos). I dug it. Much like "you say party! we say die!" one has the distinct sense that people have been making this music in New york for about 6 years, but it sure is fun. 2 drummers, 4 bassists, 2 synths and a vocoder. for any new yorkers, they are coming for the CMJ fest on the 31st and the 1st.

Friday, October 20, 2006

i have been complaining recently about how disconnected i feel from movies meant to speak to my demographic. Close followers of this blog know how I feel about Garden State. I find wes anderson movies cute but artificial, and the self conscious narrative of Adaptation to be emotionally hollow.

Then I saw the squid and the whale.

I firmly believe this to be the most beautiful movie I have seen. I know it is a little short, and falling prey to 80s nostalgia is dangerous, but I see myself in all of the main characters. Watching the children pick up the bad habits of their parents like everyone reflexively lying to paint themselves in a good light was very poignant while being understated. The movie manages to generate genuine emotion without usual devices that divorce movies from the experiences of reality. If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is electric in Pumping Iron. I think the famous premise about his psychologically intimidating Lou Farigno is a bit of a fabrication. We are set up to see that occurance by the director's use of the interview about his intended psychological warfare; however, the actual precontest breakfast seems to lack any notable change in Farigno. ("Theory dictates what we can observe." --A. Einstein). Arnold's infectious confidence absolutely make the movie. That and the fact that I am TAing Anatomy right now, and bodybuilders are a fun place to play "spot the serratus anterior." For those curious, serrati anterior are those little muscles that run horizontally under the armpit which are only visible in exceedingly well-defined men between thier pecs and lats. they originate on the ribs and insert in the scapula.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

So you might all remember my nigerian roommate. His light was frequently on in his room at two or three am when I would get up to pee. hey, my roommate's life is his. but he has recently been away in toronto for a few days and I have discovered why the light was on. He was receiving calls from Nigeria. He is away, and I was woken up no less than 4 times last night between midnight and 6 am by phone calls from people who spoke poor english who couldn't figure out why Osa wasn't the one speaking (two from father, two from sister). During the father's first call, I could distinctly hear a rooster crowing in the background. I can only wonder from where this call was being placed. Evidently, they also didn't believe me when I said he was in toronto but that I would leave a message for him to call when he returned, because the both called again. I have a little experience speaking to not-so-comfortable-with-english parents of roommates (freshman year of college) but this was certainly a new level of confusion and frustration. The phone definitely stays in the living room tonight. He has been away since friday and this is the first night the phone was ringing off the hook so I hope everything is alright. I also hope he hasn't been calling them on my line. suddenly the fish head soup doesn't seem nearly so bad.

A cultural complication to my rooming situation is the perception of Nigerians as scam artists. My roommate is a bit of shady character (up all night, doesn't speak or smile much, leaves without warning for 5-7 days at a time, tried to borrow money, found him in a hotel/strip club) and I am having a difficult time teasing apart these behaviours. Is he just a slightly irresponsible 20 year old? Is he in some kind of trouble that he needs to go off for a week (twice) nominally to get money? Should I hide documents with my personal information on them? Is that a prejudiced action to even consider it? I disliked my previous roommate, but I usually understood what he wanted, where he was going, and could count on him to pay bills. I don't have any of those things now and I can't figure out if it is because my roommate sucks or because we can't communicate through cultural barriers.

While we are covering nigerians, we had a second meeting with canadian housing NGO, and everything seems to be progressing smoothly. Ike and Grace have to visit the bank who will review their credit and see if they can be approved for a loan. the exact financial usefullness of the NGO itself is still unclear, but they alluded to certain types of aid and/or guarantor status they might provide pending the review of the financial landscape. so this meeting had a lot less BS. but Immanuel still refused to eat.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

it snowed yesterday.
it snowed today.

The Guess Who suck/
The Jets were lousy, anyway/
I hate Winnipeg

Tuesday, October 10, 2006



so remember that place at the end of the world where I do my thesis research--Barrow, Alaska? well, they started a football team this year to try to keep kids off of drugs. it was very controversial in town because it was very expensive. espn came to film their first game. the Barrow Whalers actually won their third home game. we used to listen on the radio on saturdays on the island. check the big story on It has lots of video of barrow which is beautiful and makes me miss it.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I think this is times select, so don't stress if you can't read it.

The piece is Stanley Fish trotting out that favorite conservative boogie man, the university, for ridicule. In this case, Fish is deriding universities for attempting to enforce morality through divestment. He lauds universities that don't get too uppity when he praises Wisconsin-Madison's refusal to take a stand against the invasion of Iraq by stating "the University of Wisconsin has no foreign policy." This anecdote underscores Fish's larger point which is "why don't you stick to teaching and learning." On the surface, this isn't an absurd statement. On the subject of divestiture, it rings very similar to Jim Cramer's (of the epileptic "Mad Money") response to buying stocks in profitable, but morally questionable nations and enterprises, "Some is going to make that money, why shouldn't it be you." Although superficially, Cramer and Fish are talking about different things, beneath the surface they are talking about the same thing: the compartmentalization of society and the ultimate subservience of morality to finance. If capital is always privilged over morality, then morality can never win a battle where it is set at odds with capital. For Fish to tell universities that the morality of investments isn't their business is for him to say that capital should be privileged over morality and that universities are a vocational device for the creation of good workers for the national economy. This level of brutal pragmatism is already at work to a large degree in universities. this is a cynical and flawed view of universities but one that rings the same tone insidiously oversimplified common sense as much of conservativism.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


monkey vs. robot

(patches vs. zoe)
this picture was taken last spring by tracey. it blows the mind.

that is the foal of a miniature horse breed in a standoff against a pug. all sense of perspective has been shattered.

Friday, October 06, 2006


the customer is always and asshole

gold star if you get the title.

This article as about how the Kremlin is attempting to screw over Shell and ExxonMobil and gain oil hegemony by enforcing environmental regulations on the Sakhalin projects on Sakhalin Island. (Sakhalin is that big long island north of Japan. Russia owns it.) The case is framed by NYT to sound a lot like the sort of selective enforcement that the kremlin performed on Yukos to renationalize energy resources; however, the article treads lightly on the fact that the multinationals have pulled some pretty dodgy moves of thier own including jacking up the production cost estimates which according to the terms of the leases delays the russian government's acquisition of profits significantly as well as raising the percent stake requirements for voting above the 25% stake purchase Gazprom was negotiating only a week before the deal was to be signed. Basically Shell has bait-and-switched the russians twice, and now the russians are pissed and are using questionable environmental enforcement to regain their bargaining leverage. And Greenpeace is playing the dupe to this geopolitical oil conflict by cheering on anyone who puts the screws to the environmental enforcement of oil extraction (as though Gazprom is going to do a better job after russia nationalizes the Sakhalin projects).

This is interesting because it touches on a major trend in world economics which is the nationalizing of western oil projects by populist or anti-western governments. We have seen similar strains of conflict in Nigeria as well as more bald-faced grabs Venezuela and Bolivia. And this argument is far from one sided. The nationalisers are breaking the agreements signed with the multinationals which harms their globalized economies in the long term by breaking trust, but if these incredibly lucrative resources are orders of magnitude more valuable than anything else your country produces, attempting to recoup your only resource seems reasonable. In addition, is the western economic model where large corporations gain favorable extraction leases because smaller gov'ts can't produce the infrastructure and capital outlay to extract it themselves. Oil politics is dirty stuff.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


vice--the hipster lads magazine

rare is it that I bother with vice magazine past the "do's and don'ts." But today I did and came across an amusing series about high school. They asked folks from different age classes to recount the cliques and styles in thier highschool. Pretty funny, and also fairly accurate. I am impressed by the clarity and detail of recall. keep an eye out for the 1996-2000 section. and play "spot yourself." Most fun place to play it since "I am charlotte simmons."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006



I love eggs. Always have. I have been known to consume piles of scrambled eggs intended for two people without batting an eyelash. (Ask springydog.) My feeble defense to such an act of gluttony was "They're so fertile." So it brought me great happiness to see a big article about eggs in NYT.
better than that, the article, instead of just being a trend-watch about restaurants 1200mi away that are too expensive for me to eat in, includes tips on ideal soft-boiled and scrambled eggs and thier use at all meals. Not rocket science, I know, but eggs are one of those things to seem so simple taht you don't consult an expert (at least I don't). but the right combination of time and heat makes a huge difference.

you may now be jealous of me and the dozen fresh eggs I get sunday nights from the family farm of my wonderfully kind friend and classmate . And don't get me started on the tomatoes. or the hutterite pickles.

Ensalade caprese deserves a whole separate post.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Went to go see Thunderbirds are Now! and You Say Party! We Say Die! last night at the Collective. Tickets were cheap. YSP!WSD! ( were a hyper-caffeinated group of canadians playing new wave dance punk. I know new wave dance punk is over, but it was still superfun and they were cute and enthusiastic. It raised an interesting question of what it means for kids who never saw new wave to dress/dance/sing like new wave. I also didn't experience new wave, so I don't know what it meant culturally which compromises my ability to analyze the trend. I thought the onstage kitsch could have been left behind, but having a band explode your tempo paradigm is always fun. They really were infectious. Music par excellence for cooking, cleaning, or dancing around your apartment.

Thunderbirds Are Now! were a bit of a surprise. ( A 4 piece all-male group from detroit, they also played high energy rock and were hyperactive on stage, but they had a undercurrent of of raw jack white detroit guitar that placed them in a different catagory from YSP!WSD! The combined the positive aspects of pure boogie that uptempo music gives with a bit more grime. The keyboardist doesn't have quite enough to do and winds up roaming the stage being self-consciously weird (they often use loops in lieu of keyboard), but these guys are rockers. I recommend them for highway driving.

Good clean $8 CDN fun all around. Have a listen to their music on their sites.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Rarely do I read an article that makes me physically grimace.

For those of you too lazy to read, it is about the disposal of toxic waste from a European oil services company. The disposal price was too high in europe, so they shipped to to cote d'ivoire where it was disposed of by local companies by simply dumping it it local landfills. Brutal stuff. But not suprising. Global opportunities without global regulation is going to lead to the "offshoring" of of tasks that are expensive in countries with tight environmental regulations to those with little or no enforcement. This story is noteworthy because it is glaring and involves injured babies, but it is part of a paradigm that is much larger.

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