12.25.2005

Bonenkai + Shinenkai = Japanese Is Cool Right Now

I feel the need to recap some of the hits and misses of 2005. Let's start with the down notes.

Misses:
Final Fantasy X - Not terrible but too damn mediocre. Beautiful? Yes. Fun? Meh...
Working - Let's see... "Off for a year to write a book" versus "Working shmoe". Booooo, 2005!
GTA: Vice City - I give up. I don't like it. I've tried and tried but it ain't gonna happen.
Guns, Germs & Steel - Cut it in half and it's good.
Not finishing a rewrite - I only got 1/3 through my book. It could probably stand one more rewrite, too.
Sleep - I'd complain more but my wife gets even less.
andyournameis.com - I still want to do this podcast but I lack the equipment, the time and the willpower.

Hits:
Duh.
Dragon Quest 8 - Everything FFX should have been. I'm not even halfway and I'm loving it!
The Design of Everyday Things - Just so interesting!
The Office (BBC) - I am humbled, awed. I stare in wonder.
Arular - Need a Visa? Got with a geeza'. Need some money? Paid 'im with 'er knees up.
meanderingly.com - It's going pretty much as I expected.
My TV - It's so wrong to derive this much satisfaction from an object.
Improv - I feel like I can finally run after years of stumbling, bumbling and mumbling.

12.08.2005

I Got Tagged

Seven things to do before I die:

1. Live in another city for a year with my wife

2. Publish a book

3. Get beat by my son playing video games

4. Continue my D&D campaign

5. Play weekly ball hockey again

6. Regular improv shows

7. Give all my friends a hug



Seven things to do before I die (when I was an idealistic teenager):

1. Invent something useful

2. Become a politician

3. Become an astronaut

4. Get married

5. Publish a book

6. Be a good parent

7. Get some



Seven things I cannot do:

1. Argue with someone whose mind cannot be changed

2. Sing well

3. Remember anything

4. Be patient wth small details

5. Draw

6. Find an inexpensive USB microphone (I didn't really try)

7. Work diligently



Seven things that attract me to my spouse:

1. Her eyes

2. I did it all for the nookie

3. Her argumentativeness

4. Her unwillingness to put up with my shit

5. Good birthing hips

6. She laughs at my jokes

7. I laugh at her jokes



Seven things I say most often:

1. Awesome.

2. It's amazing.

3. Booboo baby!

4. Wha?

5. I think it's your turn.

6. Shiznit.

7. That's me.



Seven books I love:

1. Lions of Al-Rassan

2. The Black Company

3. Great Expectations

4. The Design of Everyday Things

5. Cryptonomicon

6. Unless

7. Famous Last Words



Seven movies I would watch over and over again:

1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy
2. Star Wars Classic Trilogy
3. The Professional (European Cut)
4. Zoolander
5. Swingers
6. Kill Bill Duology
7. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

12.05.2005

A Bigger One, In My Case

Yesterday, I received this in my email from my wife while I was at work:


[snip domestic nonsense]
Ben wants to type you a message:

cffff f ssssssszx vvvvvvvvvvvv vjmkn

I hope you can understand it.

These few lines made my day. I immediately felt a huge rush of love for my wife and son. Apparently, you become an over-emotional idiot when you become a father.

12.04.2005

The Stack - 1

These are the media I am in the process of enjoying:

  • Burnout: Revenge (PS2) - 40% complete
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA SP) - 30%
  • Viewtiful Joe (Gamecube) - 30%
  • Larry's Party (Carol Shields) - 70%
Movies in my posession that need to be watched:
  • Adaptation
  • House of Flying Daggers
  • Taxi (the original French version)
And can I take this moment to say that M.I.A.'s album, Arular, has got the best album I've heard in years. It's definitely one of the few albums ever where I love every track and it's been a long time indeed since I've been able to listen to a single album for a month straight. Check it out if you get a chance.

11.27.2005

HMMMM

My son is reassured by humming as he falls asleep. Sometimes shushing sounds will do the trick but some nights he prefers humming. I just grab the first tune that pops into my head and slow it down to lullaby speed.

I have hummed the following songs to my son at bedtime:
O, Canada
The Happy Birthday Song
Theme from Hockey Night In Canada
Here Comes The Bride
Smells Like Teen Spirit

11.23.2005

Finality

I finally finished Final Fantasy X. Good lord, that took forever. Pretty but forgettable. There's almost no exploration. It'll probably be the last FF I play. I'm tired of pushing buttons to get to the next cutscene. That's not a game.

I've also recently finished Mr. Norrell and Jonathan Strange. Great book. Recommend it.

Now I'm starting Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. I think it's really, really well done and I've just started. Impressive.

My book editing has gotten two more chapters (almost) under my belt. I don't think I'll finish by my set date but I can try to put a dent in it.

11.13.2005

Satisfied

Isn't this enough?

For those of us who enjoy the luxury of not living in an utter and complete hellhole, this finite time should be more than sufficient. It is, to my mind, grasping and greedy to seek solace in the beyond. We are already privileged with miracle enough. To those whose lot it is to suffer, I wish you the ability to enjoy what beauty you can find. But for those among us graced with the capacity for peace in our hearts and minds, this world, this wonder, is splendor beyond imagining.

11.11.2005

Additions

I've added 2 more blogs to my blogroll. They shoulda been there first time 'round but I'm forgetful that way.

I resent the way...

This is Alice's blog. She used to live in Montreal as a student but now she's in Washington DC waitressing until... well, until she's ready to stop. Her blog is mostly about pop culture and venting.

Update Frequency: Daily

The Road to Vegas 2005

Rob is an old roommate of mine from when I lived in Ottawa (I did a couple work terms there at Nortel). This sparse blog relates the time leading up to and during his trip to Vegas this year. He's become a poker freak and intersperses his poker mania with cool anecdotes, like the time he was on vacation and he got attacked by a hurricane.

Update Frequency: Random

11.08.2005

NaNoEdMo

I'm starting (again) to revise my book. The goal is to be done by Dec. 7.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

11.02.2005

Like Putty

I've been on a brain tear recently. I just finished watching an episode of The Nature of Things on learning in utero and how infants acquire certain skills. It was pretty amazing. They showed babies movies of people using items like a glass or a hairbrush. Once they got bored of that they showed movies of people using the items wrong, like miming a drink from a hairbrush, and the babies stared trying to reconcile what they had just learned. They placed an item in context of an activity pretty quickly. The show also asked the question about how babies learn that a shape they grab, the object they see and the sound it makes are all from the same source. I never thought about that before. The brain has to squish all that together and get it right over time.

My good friend King Casey explained to me how gambling (like slots or roulette) preys upon the neurological force of seeking patterns in a stream of information. The brain is too cool. I should start using mine.

10.30.2005

Loss

Request #2 comes in from Chris, from the never-boring site, countplusplus. He's asked me to talk about Loss. Off I go.

In the request, Chris mentions several of my losses that he's aware of. I've lost my father. I've lost a job. Friends have moved away. I want to talk about these and other losses I've been through.

Losing my father was sudden. He was alive, then he wasn't. It came out of nowhere to the family. While he and my mother had been separated for a few years already, my brother, mother and myself were all shocked. I was saddened at first but I also guiltily felt like a weight had been lifted. My father disapproved. Just, in general. He disapproved of a great many things and one of things I avoided as assiduously as possible was his disapproval. I was 17 when he died and I was at that stage where I started not caring about his opinions but with him gone, I felt very liberated. I wonder if I'd have ever reached the same sense of freedom over time simply through my own maturity. I'd like to have him back now. I feel like I'm ready to deal with him.

Losing my job was difficult. The week I went in to get a lymph node removed because it had an unnatural growth was the week I got laid off. I was home recovering when the decision was made and the first day I got back to work, a week later, they gave me my walking papers. I was surprised. I had expected to be cut all summer long. The business was diving, I was low-man on the totem pole. I could read the signs. All summer I knew it was coming. I guess I wasn't thinking about it when it finally happened, I thought I had bought another year. But it was not to be. In October, they let me know my last day would be just before Christmas. I was sad because I liked all the people there and I knew I wouldn't be able to find a job that paid nearly as well. At the same time, I was excited because I hoped I might be able to write a book.

Friends moving away is difficult. I miss Alex and Clare a lot. I saw them both so much, for so long. Alex, I had known since high school and we'd been more or less inseparable once I started doing improv with him. Clare and I were great friends in our own right and our shopping excursions are sorely missed on my end. She paddled me around in a canoe when I hurt my arm on a camping trip. I think about a lot of my friends who've moved away, but I'd give a lot to live near to them again. They're each worth their weight in laughter. Just writing this makes me miss them more...

I lost my original wedding ring. I wish I had that back.

Once I was given a 20$ bill to buy a birthday for a friend when I was twelve. I went to the store, picked out a gift and when I got to the cash, I found I had lost the money. I ran back home telling my parents that I lost the bill. They gave me another and a lengthy, voluble lecture and then deducted it from my allowance over the next several weeks. What stayed with me was not the trouble I got into, it was perfectly reasonable and handled, surprisingly, without an overrreaction. It was those fifteen, twenty minutes I raced frantically around the store, to and from my house retracing my steps searching furiously for a lost 20$ bill that I knew beyond doubt was long, long gone. I can vividly recall the utter panic at having failed so miserably with one of my firsts tastes of responsibility.

I like to think that I have a very strong sense of honour to those I love. If I make a promise, I take it very seriously. I know I haven't always been able to keep some of them (usually due to forgetfulness). I also have a strong sense of duty as a citizen. I think a loss of honour or an abrogation of duty are very serious things.

I don't live in fear of losing my family (by this, I mean my wife and child). I frequently imagine them gone, lost to me. It would be unbearable. The fact that they're here makes me rejoice. It pretty much makes me untouchable. There is no disaster that could befall me that can knock the smile of my face while my precious duo are safe, healthy and happy. In some ways, they are already lost to me because I've accepted the possibility of their being stolen from me, so I always feel like I've regained them whenever we're together. I'm the kind of person who lives by "prepare for the worst but hope the best".

Lost is a pretty good TV show. If they can wrap this up without resorting to a David Lynch series finale, I'll be pretty damn impressed.

10.24.2005

Balance

My first request (hopefully not my last) has come from Simon, he of the monkey herding. He has asked for a bit of writing about Balance. About being a new dad, a husbandular object, an improv playa, a wanna-be writer, and general human. Here's the deal, Simmers.

I can only imagine how the topic came to Simon's mind because the life-changing event of a baby (he's the father of a one-yr old) doesn't change you like being turned into a frog or suddenly making you twice as tall. In fact, I'm more or less the same person (it's hard to judge oneself in these things). I don't personally feel changed. What has changed was how I spend my day and my priorities. I don't think my spending time with Ben is a change in me, but rather an additional priority that was previously absent, and a good one for that matter.

I do have a large number of things that I need to balance. A quick list might be useful here:

  • Wife
  • Baby
  • Work
  • Improv troupe
  • Sunday night improv (outside of the troupe)
  • Magic: The Gathering
  • Reading books
  • Writing a book
  • My blog
  • Playing video games
  • Watching movies
  • Playing sports
  • Social butterfly (I keep close acquaintance with a large number of people)

A few of these items have been entirely removed from my list of things. The Sunday night improv, which I really had a blast at, is now not possible. A 4 hour absence on a weekend (when I should be helping at home) is not feasible nor is it desirable on my part. Playing sports is a plausible activity but none are available to me at a convenient time. Curling on Sundays seems to be a good bet but it doesn't look like it'll be regular and it's not exactly the most demanding sport. Wife and baby join me at the rink and while she would like to join me out there, we end up taking turns (when she isn't falling on the ice and giving herself ugly bruises).

Playing video games is still happening. It's an activity that can be done while on baby duty. Perhaps my choice of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City may show an effect upon my child's development, but for now, as he sits under his toy laden arches batting at all manner of mouth-bound objects, I can take a golf club to a criminal's head with only minimal disturbance. I'm also playing Viewtiful Joe which is fun but not as much as I'd hoped. Bonus points for getting wife time while playing Final Fantasy X which we play together. I love my wife a great deal but playing video games with her is the coolest part. Watching movies probably falls under this category as well. This blog is only if I have a really urgent need to say something or if I want to write something short because I have no time to edit the book. Ben's blog comes under this, too. These activities can be done while holding or amusing a baby. Perhaps not very well but it can be done on occasion.

Reading. I usually have to give up something to get some reading in but I find that as I'm writing I avoid reading so as not to overly colour my own writing. I'm in the middle of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell which is a great book but I daren't write in my own book for fear that it's period language may yet affect my own hand.

Writing. The first draft of the book was complete as of Dec 31. I meant to have a second draft by Dec 31 of this year. There are 18 chapters. I have revised five, four of which were complete before the birth of my son. I vow to complete my task. I can do it if I apply myself and I think I've gotten a good hang on this parenting thing to give me time to do it... on my lunchbreak at work.

Improv Troupage. I've greatly reduced my workload in this regard. I no longer have a hundred tasks like poster making, poster pasting, webmaster, gig contact, etc. I thought I may have to give it up entirely with the baby's arrival but I attend one workshop a week and we only have one show a month which I can make. However, coming next month are weekly shows. I will probably not do more than two shows a month and I'll probably drop a workshop to do it. Usually, the workshop is in the weekday evening, which gives my wife a chance to visit her parents who gladly help with Ben in my absence.

M:tG. I still collect. I still play weekly games with the old gang though I think it may be dying out. We used to regularly get 5-8 people and now we struggle to get 4. Some have moved away. Some have become parents. Others are finding school or love eating their time. I still love it and seeing as the group always got together at my place, it was only interrupted for one week, the week Ben was born. No pressure to learn the game, son. Heh heh. My wife has been very understanding about this and while I try to help as much as possible, she usually ends up with the baby for a good percentage of the night. The guys have been good about helping out and not giving me a rough time about leaving the table to go change a diaper. Besides, there's always the Nameless Game.

Social Butterfly. While I used to use M:tG to see most of my buddies, it's not quite the same. I try to take Ben away from Tash for at least 2 hours every Saturday morning (usually more like 3-4) so she can sleep in or go out, free from any baby duties. I wish it could be more but as long as Ben is on the mommy juice he can't be away for too much longer. During this time, I go visit friends who are amenable to cooing over a baby. We hang out for a while and then we go home to mommy. I see my improv gang at improv, my magic gang on Saturday nights and I try to squeeze everyone else at the occasional baby-friendly party.

Work. I go. I come home. This is also my only exercise as it's a 15-20 min walk to and from work. It's not exactly super engaging but it's not totally tedious either. Every so often I get a task that is actually difficult but more often than not, it's test, test, test. Meh, pretty repetitive. It eats up a lot of my day but the people are cool, the hours are flexible, the walk is short and the money pays da bills. Who could complain?

Here's the big two. Wife and Baby. My wife and I take turns with the munchkin. We both love playing with him but as my wife is the non-working one, to her it falls the task of eternal baby entertainment. She's a trooper but Ben can be difficult. We're now thinking that he's being overfed and underslept so we're going to try and see if that will make our squalling tempest into a dulcet charmer. When he's in a good mood, he's a delight but woe betide they who waken his wrath. So if we can get Ben happier we can get Tasha happier.This is our current task.

As for how we three spend time together. I get bathtime with Ben plus I'm on baby-duty when I get home from work unless I have chores to do (which aren't quite getting done as they used to; which is bad news if you saw how we lived before). Then weekends are split. So I get a fair shake with Ben though I always feel like I could help more. Being at home with a baby can quickly feel like you're trapped with a baby. Her playgroup and visiting her parents has been a big help. Once Ben's asleep, that's when daddy gets in an hour or two of gaming or reading.

Tash n I are very independant people and we both hold alone time and personal projects in high regard. As an indication, we've both said in the past that we'd be willing to try separate vacations if we had to (say for scheduling reasons) but we've never actually had to do it, we always manage to travel together and I can't say that I can see it happening now with Ben. I try to give her as much time as I can so she can go recharge her batteries and she lets me wander off to do my thing.

As for time with each other, this is the thing we both agree we could be doing better. We're both exhausted by the end of the day and we're both recharged by doing our solo activities so it often ends up that we're in different rooms of the house when we have leisure time. This doesn't disturb us because it's pretty much how we were before Ben arrived. We always make time to go out for groceries or play a game or watch a movie or she'll sit in the bathroom as I bathe Ben. It's the alone time that is not exactly abundant. But we knew this going into baby-making and we're prepared. We've had 7 years of marriage and 5 years of dating before that to have us time. After 3 months, we're not exactly going crazy and the drips and drabs we do have are keeping us going. I'm sure we'll be able to make more space in our lives for each other as Ben gets more independant but for now, we happily surrender ourselves over to him.

For all the hard work we've put in so far, I've never found any that has brought us closer together or any so rewarding.

Request

I need some blog material. Email me a topic that you'd like me to write about and I'll do it to the best of my abilities. You can be as broad or as specific as you like.

In the meantime:

Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas
Kings Play Chess On Fine Grain Sand
Never Eat Shredded Wheat
O Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me

10.16.2005

You Got-ta Move It, Move It

I went curling today. Man, I missed it. The group I go with are learning and I find myself learning again since it's been 10 years since I played regularly. It's good to get back on the ice.

The surface was the worst I've ever seen. It had gotten so warm this week that some of the ice had evaporated and then condensed on the ceiling. It collected at various local minima and dripped onto the playing surface creating giant lumps (sometimes robin-egg-sized) that made playing a game impossible. But it was still good to get a few throws in, practice the slide, get the muscles working.

I hope to make this a 3-4 times per month deal. Ben liked the outing and Tasha tried her hand at it. She fell on her knee within 5 minutes, giving her a nice and purpley bruise. At least she sat with Ben while I played; we were supposed to alternate. He was behaving well, too. I hope she tries again. It's not an easy slide to master. I'm still flying all over the place. I hope to have my game back in a few months.

I really need some activity in my life again and I'm hoping this fits the bill. My ball hockey friends have disbanded and dispersed. There's no soccer going on. I couldn't make the Ultimate games this summer because of proto- and actual Ben. My job is very sedentary. If I didn't have to walk to work, I'd be very worried.

10.15.2005

Get Out Of Here

I've added a whole bunch of blogs that I link to. Here's a brief rundown...

Starting Out Small

This is my son's blog. He's only a few months old right now, so his parents do most of the work for him. Mostly pictures with the occasional text about being infantile.
Update Frequency: Weekly

tasha0

This is my wife's blog. She mostly writes about TV with the occasional post about her personal life. Uh, what else... Um... she likes me?
Update Frequency: Random

these are not my walls

This is Clare's blog. I was Best Man at her wedding. She is awesome. Obey her. A founding member of Without Annette (married to another founder). Her blog is mostly about improv, law school, hobbies, and quiz memes.
Update Frequency: Random

Something Up...

This is Maggie's blog. She's a friend of mine who lives in Montreal. Her husband was a founding member of Without Annette, which is how we met. She writes mostly about teaching, books and her family.
Update Frequency: Random

countplusplus

This is Chris's blog. I know him mostly through my Magic playing activities. His blog is mostly about his relationships with some amusing anecdotes thrown in.
Update Frequency: Random

Painted Words

This is Nicola's blog. She's a PhD history student at Oxford. She writes mostly about her hobbies, her day-to-day life with the occasional book / movie/ tv show review.
Update Frequency: Hardly Ever

Without Annette Improv: Montreal Comedy

The greatest Improv in Montreal Comedy called Without Annette that does Improv Comedy in Montreal. (That was for you, my googlebot darling). We blog about improv with a few other jokes, stories and reviews thrown in.
Update Frequency: Few Times per Week

Simian Farmer

This is Simon's Page. I've only talked face-to-face with him for a total of about 4 hours. But we like it that way. He writes about his family, his past and random thoughts with a bunch of links tossed in for good measure.
Update Frequency: Daily

Aurora Walking Vacation

Paul's blog is an AOL blog. Don't hold it against him. He writes mostly about his family, skepticism, and quiz memes.
Update Frequency: Daily

Without ME

This is Mariana's blog. She's a linguistics student that is trying to steal our baby. She writes about her day-to-day life, academic stuff and throws in some cool links.
Update Frequency: Few Times per Week

warning: highly mortal

Maryam's blog is about the weirdness of chemistry, her hobbies, books and her day-to-day life.
Update Frequency: Random

exBostonian

Andrew is a Scot who used to live in Boston but now does comics at McGill (he's probably also a student). I don't know him that well but his comic amuses me and he makes fun of the British which always goes over well with me.
Update Frequency: Few Times per Week

Where The Sidewalk Reappears

This is Adrienne's blog. Another person I don't know very well. But she's studying Drama + Sociology. That kind of mix has to produce an interesting blog. She writes about her day-to-day life with various reviews snuck into the text.
Update Frequency: Few Times per Month

Sillytech

I put these links in random order but this is probably my fave. It's ostensibly Dustin's blog. He's an indie video game maker (Buy Lux) which is pretty much coolest-job-ever. The site itself is a bunch of his friends (me included) posting a non-stop stream of crazy links we find.
Update Frequency: Daily

Experimenting With Words

This is Gil's blog. He's the newest member of Without Annette. He mostly writes about his life.
Update Frequency: Random

Whimsy Inc.

This is Neale's blog. We've met but I don't think we've ever had a conversation. His blog is cool though. It's about his art, street art, video games, game design, and design in general.
Update Frequency: Few Times per Week

babyresearcher

This was Amy's website. I added the link just in case she ever leaves her underground bunker.
Update Frequency: Hardly Ever

I hate you, Marc D. Rowland

This is here because I hate Marc D. Rowland.

10.06.2005

Past

I've been following the latest Parisian debate over "muséification" out of the corner of my eye. I have a thing for urban planning, which I suspect comes from my love of maps.

The crux of the debate is the fight between two valid points. First, those who believe Paris and its rich heritage should be preserved as is and that city laws should prevent any radical changes. The opponents argue that most of Paris is so full of heritage that there's no more space to change anything, especially in the city core. This is a good fight!

I agree that cultural and urban heritage should be preserved but how much of it can you rope off? Is a city a living, evolving thing or should it become a museum? The people who support change are accused of being "developers out to make a buck" but I think you can make a pretty good argument that too much of Paris is stuck in the past. Most of the modern development is way outside of the city core. Should a city perpetually look back at what it was or is that simply what it is and should remain? In a thousand years is Paris going to look the same? Should it?

A lot of people deride the glass pyramid of The Louvre by I.M. Pei (the same guy who designed Place Ville Marie here in MTL). I personally think its great. It adds a nice touch of 20th century to a building that could have been overly fossilized. You couldn't have added something in the style of the time and have it not look out of place. Why not add something from the now? It complements its surroundings, looks good in its own right, and is very functional.

I don't think they should tear down the Eiffel Tower and put up a row of condos but you shouldn't kill a city by putting it in a bottle.

9.27.2005

The Nameless Game

Let me introduce you to a great friend of mine, The Nameless Game. It's not so much that the game has no name, it's that it went so long without a name that it was simply known as The Nameless Game, which then went on to become its name.

This game arose from our frequent Magic sessions where one player would invariably have to go make a phone call, go talk to his wife, reshuffle their deck, answer the door for pizza, etcetebla and leave the game hanging on pause. What did the other players do? They developed The Nameless Game. Now I'm sure that one person suggested it and then another player agreed to try it but I don't recall who it was who had the stroke of genius to come up with it in the first place (though I know it was not me). The game went on to become legendary. There is a d20 version, there's a version with character classes, there's a variant with a death stroke rule but nothing beats the original for pure, simple fun that anyone can enjoy in under five minutes.

The equipment: One six-sided die (d6)
The rules:
1 - Each player rolls a d6 to determine their initiative (aka: who goes first). Highest roll wins and then proceed clockwise from there. Re-roll among the winners if there's a tie. Repeat until someone wins.
2 - If there are more than 2 players in the game, the starting player declares who is being attacked.
3 - The player rolls a d6.
= On a 5 or a 6, it's a hit.
= Anything else is a miss and the turn ends passing to next player (see step 5).
4 - If a hit is rolled, the player rolls the d6 again and does that much damage to the player they were attacking. (aka: the hit player reduces their life total by that many points)
= If the hit player is dead (aka: has no more points of life), they are eliminated and no longer roll to attack. I'll get to how much life you start with later.
5 - The turn ends and the next player starts their turn by declaring who they are attacking (see step 3).
6 - Repeat until only one remains.

That's the whole game.

Each player can have their own d6 or you can pass around a single d6. You can use pen and paper or counters to track totals but you really don't need to because you will rarely need to remember a number greater than 10. The length of the game is mostly determined by the initial life totals of each player. I find a good formula for a snappy game is: 20 / number of players (round up). So a 2-player clash has 10 points for each player to start with and 3 people = 7 points, 4 people = 5 points, and so on... Some people can be eliminated in the first round if the starting life is <=6 so you can always keep 7 as a minimum number if you really want but that kind of defeats the purpose of the game which is simply a hectic way to keep people with ADD amused for the 5 minutes of downtime that can occur during a gaming session.

It's amazing how intensely wrapped up in such a simple game we tend to get but shouting, cursing, boasting and taunting comes so easily in a game such as this. There's a lot of drama with each roll, and, as with all good games, it gets more dramatic the closer to the end you are. I suggest you try it if you're ever stuck for a quick game and all you have at hand is a teensy-weensy six-sided die.

9.22.2005

Behind the Music Hot Chicks

I like finding out who writes/produces the songs I like and it sometimes surprises me the links that can be found.

For instance, an easy example is The Neptunes. They've pretty much had a hip-hop song of theirs in the Top 10 for the last four years in a row. A sampler: Hella Good (No Doubt), Hot in Herre (Nelly), Like I Love You (Justin Timberlake), Drop It Like It's Hot (Snoop Dogg), Slave 4 U (Britney Spears), and on and on... Even if you don't like the music, you gotta give props to a solid record of making da hot beats.

Another songwriter that's wormed her way into your ear: Cathy Dennis. She wrote Can't Get You Out Of My Head (Kylie Minogue) and Toxic (Britney Spears), two songs that roamed the radio like dinosaurs ruled the Earth. I remember her dance hits from when I was in high school...

The inspiration for this post is finding out that Linda Perry, former lead singer of 4 Non-Blondes, has written a bunch of songs that have made the radio. Beautiful (X-Tina), Get The Party Started (Pink), What You Waiting For (Gwen Stefani). Hey, I liked their version of Misty Mountain Hop.

9.19.2005

Waxing Gibbous

I wonder how many years we'd have to go back before the average person knew when the next full moon was...

9.16.2005

Boxing Ethnics

A couple days ago I was part of a discussion with some friends over what constitutes "ethnicity". I was surprised to hear that some people define it purely from a genetic standpoint. Two Japanese people have a child in Korea, raise him there as a Korean. I asked, "Is this child ethnically Japanese?" The answer was a definite yes. That ethnicity is simply a sub-class of race. Caucasian is a race and Swedish is an ethnicity. "So culture plays no role in ethnicity?" A "No" came flying back at me, hit me in the nose and took a twenty from my wallet on the way out.

I don't think I can bring myself to define ethnicity in the same way. Certainly, I wasn't the only one who felt that way but I was definitely the one who felt it strongest (or at least was willing to articulate it the strongest language). Part of the discussion revolved around whether there exists a Canadian ethnicity. I don't think there exists a Canadian ethnicity (and, frankly, I find ethnicity and race highly overrated concepts; to me, it's like saying that tabby cats and black cats have different and defining characteristics beyond their superficial physical ones) but certainly people can identify themselves as Canadian. That, however, is so subjective that it's impossible to classify as definitvely as people seem able to do for ethnicity.

I definitely feel culture must play some role in a person's ethnicity or else, to my sensbilities, it simply feels like a eugenics exercise. In writing this post, I've gained a dislike for the term. I really don't see any purpose to the concept other than to divide people along some fairly silly lines. But people like boxes and placing themselves and others in boxes so, admittedly speaking as someone who's grown up without a very clear box to draw around himself (and glad for it), ethnicity seems like a dopey idea.

9.13.2005

We Can Ignore One

What's the smallest number with prime factors 2, 3, 4?
12 (yeah, yeah, 4 guarantees 2 but I'm trying to make a point here)

Number of hours on a traditional western clock face?
12

What's the smallest number with prime factors 2, 3, 4, 5, 6?
60 (you get 6 as a bonus prime factor since you already have 2 and 3)

Number of minutes in an hour? Number of seconds in a minute?
60

What's the smallest number with prime factors 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10?
360 (ok, you only need 5, 8 and 9 but still...)

Number of degrees in a circle?
360

I've always thought that was kinda cool.

9.10.2005

I Heart McDonald's

I don't talk enough about food. I love the act of eating. I enjoy good food. I like to cook. Sometimes. In any case, I wanted to talk about food but instead I'll talk about McDonald's which only legally counts as food in a few states.

I can recall going to Mickey D's often as a kid. It was the rare treat for my brother and me. Our family very infrequently ate out. Both my parents were good cooks at least. But when we did go out, it was usually to the golden arches. I got the Happy Meal (TM) and it did make me happy.

It sufficed for years until the family went out to McDo with an older kid, a friend of the family. He ordered two cheeseburgers. It blew my mind. I hadn't even conceived of ordering two burgers. I just thought that one day I would grow up and get the adult burger, the Big Mac. Two cheeseburgers?! There were people out there eating things that were beyond my reckoning. It turns out that two cheeseburgers was among those meals beyond even my ability to imagine.

Which leads me to one of my favourite meals:
- 2 Cheeseburgers
- 1 Medium fries
- 3 McNuggets (if your region allows it)
- 1 Medium root beer

I ask for a honey and BBQ sauce and then I mix them together with a fry. I eat that fry first. Thus begins a tasty and enjoyable meal.

Of course, I feel awful about two hours later. It feels like a bowling ball is breakdancing in my intestines: not good. But even though I know I'll pay the price later, I still look forward to it three or four times a year. And now that I have a kid, I can get the McDonaldland comic, too!

Werd.

8.28.2005

Over Before You Start

The thing about certain types of protection is that it gives you a moment to think, to reflect. One of the concepts that you could ponder is: "Hey, that's where my kid came out of."

8.24.2005

Nah, It Can't Be...

On March 11th, 2005, I wrote the following email:

Hello,

I'm a curling fan from Montreal who also happens to be a big soccer fan. At the start of each soccer season in England, the league champion plays against the FA Cup champion in a charity match called the Charity Shield. I was just thinking that a similar event might work well here in Canada with curling.

Here's the idea:
Have the Tournament of Hearts winner play against the Brier winner for charity (be it Sandra Schmirler, or any other worthy cause). Heck, no matter which charity you pick, you could still call it the Schmirler Cup (or Sandra's Cup; that sounds softer and nicer).

It's a fun idea that doesn't have to happen around championship time of the year and gets the curling season off with a kick (Really, it could happen anytime it's convenient). Typically, the public doesn't get to see a high-profile match until the Scott rolls around. Why not get them thinking about it earlier in the season?

C'mon! There's a battle-of-the-sexes edge to it, it's for charity, and it features the two hottest rinks in curling as well as adding one more prize to play for at the ToH and Brier. I'm sure it would be a lot of work but curling would get a great shot in the arm from it, in my humble opinion.

In any case, stay cool on the ice.

[My Name]
Curling Fan


And then I sent it to the whole Canadian Curling Association board.

Now, nearing the start of the curling season comes this:
The Scott and Brier champs are playing each other in a skins match.

Ah well, close enough.

8.20.2005

The Five Themes Of Hip-Hop

1. How great my [ skill / crew / hood / bitch / body / struggle / mother ] is
2. The [ wealth / fame ] I [ didn't / now ] have
3. I like to [ fuck / objectify / abuse ] the opposite sex
4. My anger towards [ rivals / authority figures / pet peeve ]
5. It is time to [ party / break the law ]

8.14.2005

The Best Defense Is A Good Offense

Breakfast at Tiffany's, great movie. I love to watch it. Just plain fun. Except for Mickey Rooney.

Haven't seen the film? Let me fill you in. As Holly Golightly is having fun in the zany world of New York City, she is constantly put upon by her upstairs neighbour, Mr. Yunioshi. Oh, Mr. Yunioshi, will you ever stop being so upset at our darling heroine? No? Is that because you're a white actor playing to every cheap stereotype of a foreign culture?

I truly find it horrifying to see a complex culture reduced to such a juvenile standard. The pure laziness of playing off of people's preconceived notions offends me. While today's politically correct standard would abhor a Mr. Yunioshi as much as perhaps an unironic blackface performance in modern cinema, I prefer to call into question the value of humour derived from watching one man's cheap imitation of a culture not their own.

Which leads me to The Longest Yard, the Adam Sandler remake of a Burt Reynolds movie (that last should suffice as a review of the movie). Now, I admit that I have not seen the movie but I have seen enough to require a quarantine. In this film, Tracy Morgan plays, get this, a gay inmate. I know, it's a screwball comedy, the bar for expectations should be set so low to the ground that to accurately describe it would require exponential notation. But Morgan's character! The homosexual stereotype is so painfully facile. There are homophobic teenagers with more complex portrayals of a gay person. I simply don't understand it.

I do believe there is a gay culture, any oppressed minority eventually develops one as they band together to carve themselves a corner in which to act freely. To mine it so lightly for the cheapest of laughs is just plain awful. But it is not the simple reductionism that angers me the most. Good comedy is hard; I can't blame the weak of wit for taking the path of least resistance. It is the mutually accepted fact between performer and audience that "Say, isn't this gay guy funny?" "Yes, he is!" resonates with people that gets me.

I guess I'm not really angry, to be honest. The better description is that it disheartens me. I don't hold mankind as a whole to a very high standard. The fact that it manages still to disappoint cuts me to the core.

8.08.2005

I Caved

I'm hoping my wife will help with the updates.

http://startingoutsmall.blogspot.com/

7.24.2005

Q&A

There's a quote I once read, attributed to Ben Franklin, that I wanted to cite. I searched online and couldn't find it. I'm not sure it was Franklin now. Here's the paraphrase from memory:

The question of an afterlife will eventually be answered and without any effort on my part.

Stay On Target

My last post made me realise something that's been tickling the back of my mind of late. This blog has moved away from my thoughts of mortality as the distance from my minor health scare grows with time. They are always present but the theme of this blog was never meant to be about mortality but rather my thoughts on the world we live in. I have tried to avoid links to sites, pictures, memes and the other usual blog content. This was always meant to be more of a diary than anything else. I'm not too disappointed with it so far. I've got a couple memes, a few links but nothing too egregious. I have other websites that I can use as outlets for those things.

I think I'll avoid posts in the future about the quirks of my kid or cute pics of him. I thought about starting another blog as an outlet for that, too, but I don't need anymore projects. I think I'll just blog as usual and spend my time enjoying my son's development instead of documenting it.

As for the pseudo-anonymous BS I've been maintaining for the last couple years (beyond the fact that it's patently obvious who I am by simply reading this blog), I think that that plan has run its course. Though the early entries were more for myself, the later ones were written with the full awareness of other people, people I know, reading this. If you feel like linking me, name and all, go nuts. Talk about it, deride me to my face over it, whuh-eva. While I won't go out of my way to promote CC, I have no problems owning any of this.

Reset

I started this blog not long after I found out I had lumps in my arms. While they turned out to be harmless lipomas (small masses of fat), I did have to undergo an operation to remove a growth from around my groin which turned out to be a swollen lymph node (still no solid idea as to the cause).

I can still recall my first inkling of mortality as an 8 year old when I realised that:
1) people died,
2) I'm a person,
Oh My God, 3) I'm going to die.

I was lying in bed and I sat upright with a big gasp for breath. It was only my first lesson, though.

When my father died in '92, I, at the age of 17, having seen how miserable a person could make themself and those around them and then suddenly die, I vowed to simply enjoy my life and let the people around me enjoy theirs. It became a futile effort to try and determine the whys and wherefores of living. There was no point in delaying action or living for some distant point in the future. The future is all too uncertain and cares little for your understanding of it.

It lead me to the conclusion/philosophy that waiting for ideal conditions before doing things I wanted is simply a lack of courage to get up and do something. My new flaw is that I frequently rush into things without much competence or forethought but I find that, more often than not, I am satisfied with the results and I would rather try and fail than having never tried. Life and its transitory nature have sat quite well with me for a number of years.

I have been ready to die for a long time but with the birth of my son, I'm sad that I won't see the entirety of his story. I suppose if he dies before me, I will, but I hope that is not the case. I can't really think of too many things worse than a parent having to bury their child. It's a new twist to my mortality that I'll have to learn to accept.

Ugh, this is difficult.

7.19.2005

Tough

I didn't think it would be this hard to go back to work but I'm finding it difficult to be away from my son so much. I daydream about him. It's just hard to be away from someone so funny. He's so strange, it cracks me up all the time.

My favourite part so far is his burping face. After a feeding, I sometimes sit him on my leg with his little legs draped across my thigh. He then gets leaned forward with his head supported in one hand and patted on the back with the other. His arms hang limp by his side and he gets this slack-jawed, wide-eyed look like, "Wha? Huh? I had a booby in my mouth a moment ago. Now I'm sitting up. I don't get it."

7.13.2005

Like A Wedding Cake

It only just occurred to me. I paid $200 out of my own pocket for a private room at the hospital. Normally, my wife's private health insurance would have paid for a semi-private (shared with another mother) but they paid half of the private room and we could afford the rest so we got our own room. A big bed for mommy, a pull-out chair mattress for daddy and a bassinet that was just right for el nino. So two questions then...

1) What do people who have no private health insurance get? A room with four mothers or do they just have to pay for the semi-private themselves?
2) Why are so many people objecting to paying extra for extra services in the health system? That ship appears to have already sailed.

7.11.2005

A Muslim Eunuch Goes To Sea

The tale of Zheng He gives me hope that mankind's exploration of the world around them will inevitably continue. Though our desire to do so may wax and wane, we will ever strain a hand towards the horizon because, my friends, there is always a buck to be made.

7.06.2005

Tear Down The Past

I was once asked the question "Do traditions not divide as much as they unify?"

I think my answer makes a good post.

Good question. I suppose it would depend on the tradition and the community. Some traditions are not exclusive in that there is no restriction on the participants (see: Commercial Christmas). But the vast majority of them are kept within a community.

If the tradition is exclusive (Christian Communion) or the community is exclusive (Freemasons), then you risk becoming isolationist and alienating. It certainly does help establish that sense of "Other" but at the same time if everyone followed the same traditions... Well, I don't think human nature would be able to tolerate that kind of homogeneity. It would be the most watered-down, lowest-common-denominator pap conceivable.

What allows tradition to survive is its genuine sense of emotional involvement with something much larger than oneself. Most traditions of the last century are currently undergoing a Darwinian process of elimination because exclusion has become the nastiest of words. Perhaps a portion of modern cynicism arises from this dearth of connection to bigger things.

Americans have a wealth of tradition that inspires patriotism; Canadians have exceedingly few and, thus, are less ardently patriotic (sweeping statement, I know, but I'm not sure how many would disagree). Is that a bad thing? Depends on how much you like your patriotism. In a sense, patriotism and nationalism are simply a larger set of community ideals with a larger set of traditions. Exclusion vs. inclusion here is far more important because when your community's population is large enough then exclusion becomes dangerous to the status quo. Those excluded may be numerous enough to force a change (see: Ghandi). There is nothing that will mobilize people like a sense of exclusion.

Tradition on its own is never a good enough reason to isolate oneself. With isolation, even ignoring exclusion, there is a terrible danger: stagnation. Without infusion of new ideas, without evolution, without the possibility of feedback, tradition becomes dogma. Unyielding, merciless dogma has long been the source of human conflict and stagnation allows tradition to fossilize into dogma. In a crowded new world we are learning how to share, dogma leaves little room for co-habitation.

I guess you can tell that I'm against tradition for the most part. On a smaller level, I am for tradition, mostly the quaint, trivial kind like the Stanley Cup or the Imperial system of measurements. On a larger scale, it doesn't really work except in a meaningless, heartless way. I think there is a need for a new human tradition but to make something universal and intimate at the same time seems an impossible feat. I think allegiances and conflicts are a part of who we are, that the sense of belonging and even excluding is fundamental to who we are. I don't think tradition should be eradicated but I wouldn't go around encouraging it either.

7.05.2005

Manifesto

The question of having children is one that has never crossed my mind. Even as a child, I knew I would like to have one of my own. I admit that part of my motivation is to correct the errors of my parents' ways (my parents have been, and my mother continues to be in some regards, poor parents). I can understand those who do not wish to have them. They are a lot of work, sacrifice and even hardship. Children, as they grow older, can make their parents suffer at their hands (there are poor children as well as poor parents in this world; I know that I have been one on several occasions).

I have always felt as though I raised myself, and while I know that is simply untrue and ungrateful to boot, I cannot deny the feeling. I think my parents were never meant to be together but somehow ended up doing so. They were both in their forties when they were married, and I, in my embryonic form, was the impetus behind that union. They seperated when I was fifteen, about three years too late. I have nothing but wonderful memories of my childhood up to the age of twelve. Very few of them centre on my parents. I was mostly left to wander around on my own. I was left alone unsurpervised in a library, alone supervised at the park, free to wander the quiet neighbourhood roads and parks with the neighbourhood kids. I suppose they trusted me enough to let me do these things but at the same time they were never participants in my life, more like overseers with occasional leave. So long as I kept my nose clean and did well at school, I didn't hear much from either of my parents. I was given a lot of things like lessons for piano/tennis/chinese (yes, cantonese, to be precise; damned if I can do anything other than count to 10 and read dates) but interaction with my parents mostly consisted of the occasional game (scrabble, caroms, cards) with my mother or playing the rare game of keep-away with a soccer ball with my dad. Conversation, which is a keystone in my life, was a non-factor. Even now, my mother would rather talk of the ice cream she bought at the store than any real conversation. My brother tries to draw her out but it inevitably devolves into church doctrine. The closest I can come to intercation is getting her to relate to me her travels around the world. My mother, notoriously independent, has always been an individual and has seen more of the world than anyone else I know (and has also had a fascination with eating the various animals that inhabit our planet as though she were moving down some unwritten checklist). Even then, she refers to the personal details obliquely.

In any case (after I've single-mindedly turned this post into a screed about my parents' failings), I know that I can't be a friend to my son for many years to come. Authority prevents the full-disclosure an open friendship requires and I do feel responsible for giving my son a sense of right and wrong; I will not abrogate my duty to raise him to be a decent human. It is now my turn to wear the parent hat and I feel as though I'm working without a plan. My parents' example offer some guidance but nowhere near enough. I suppose I'll do what everyone else does: make it up as you go along. Thankfully, I have someone way more awesome than me to help me out (lord knows I'll need it). It'll be tricky to work it out together (we already disagree on a few points) but we've always negotiated our way to a common ground and I see no reason why this won't continue.

So now that I've written all this out, I await the day when I can look back at this post and laugh, laugh, laugh at how incredibly stupid I really am.

6.28.2005

I Looked Into The Mirror And Saw Myself

For the longest time I could never figure out why I didn't like people who had a natural distrust of strangers. I'm not talking about people who've had something particularly bad happen to them but people who innately fear people in general, think the worst of them up front.

I put my finger on it, though, a while back. They simply think that everyone else is like them.

6.22.2005

Machina Anima

As technology continues to shrink we will eventually start building things, in a common manner, out of things we may not even be able to see. The Diamond Age is a great book about nanotechnology and, as is usual for Neal Stephenson, is packed with about three fun sci-fi ideas per page. And as we get better with the very small we will, inevitably, turn to nature for ideas. Why build a silicon filament when we can use an organic one? Why develop a gold-aluminium interface when cell membranes already have the desired properties? In case you can't tell, I am pulling these examples straight out of my nether interface. But the principle remains valid, as we need tools and pieces and machinery on a very small scale why not simply copy the organic blueprints that have proven themselves over millenia?

Which then leads to a blurry line between biology and engineering. Designed organisms that feed off of solar energy to light our roads at night. Genetically modified hair follicles that function as an interferometer. Whatever we can imagine, we will be able to make. We are approaching that day at a fairly good clip. We have surmounted physical limits at every turn of human history (irrigation, seafaring, flight, instant long-distance communication, etc.), and I see no reason why this will not continue at an increasing pace.

The question on my mind is not the hackneyed "What is it to be human?" but rather "What unimaginable wonder lies ahead of us?" Can you imagine showing a digital camera to an English peasant from the 15th century? What would early man make of an airplane? Will we be growing the Playstation 12? Will I be able to eat my credit card when it expires? There have always been things beyond the imagination of man (and always will be) and I'm amazed and enraptured by that which is beyond our current grasp but that I know we will eventually stumble upon. The world of a thousand years from now is sure to be so alien to me that it might as well come straight out of a fevered dream, a wonderful dream that I am living right now to the people from our distant past who could not begin to fathom what a blog might be.

5.25.2005

Edit

I've been thinking recently how awesome Saving Private Ryan would be if it started right before the landing and ended after they had secured the beach. It would probably be one of my favourite short films of all-time. The rest of that film is completely extraneous.

5.23.2005

Amp'ed

Anakin
Anakin (the remaining three)
Dr. Evazan
The Wampa and Luke
Anakin (yet again)

5.19.2005

Why Bother With One And Two?

It's quite handily the best of the three but by no means a good movie. There were fun successes and painful failures. I really bought the transition from grey area to bad guy, all of which is due to the solid work of the bigger bad guy. Any scene with emotions was horribly overwrought but I love a good swordfight and that's pretty much all I wanted to see, expectations having been decimated by the first two.

I think that was the major pitfall. There was material for one movie (this one) but somehow three got made. Also, the director thought it would be a good idea to take his 1930's update and bring it back to the 1930's. That's the only explanation I have for the dialogue and delivery.

Additional thoughts:
-Lava = cool
-Frankenstein = unnecessary
-The subplot on the fall of democracies was actually well done. It's probably the best part of the first trilogy. Probably because it's the part that was done quietly (well, quiet for these films).
-The turnover rate of technology is so much higher in the first three than in the second three!

5.17.2005

Windmill, Windmill

Silver thoughts racing through my mind,
Like flashes of fish in a river

I have to write up test cases
I have to go deposit some cheques
I have to pay the second installment of my property taxes
My wife is pregnant
My mom's birthday was yesterday
I have to get estimates for windows for the whole condo
I have to meet with the condo secretary
I have to charge the batteries of my mp3 player
I can't have sex with my wife until after the baby is born (or the kid doesn't want to leave)
I have to write up the next part of the D&D campaign I'm running
I have to write the synopsis of my book
I have to revise the first 3 chapters of the book twice more
I have to write in the WA blog
I have to write at meanderingly.com
I have to go to the Magic pre-release this weekend
There's the FA final with Man U on Satruday morning
Mariana is coming back to Montreal
Dustin wants to do some writing for his movie Thursday
I have to start preparing for the Fringe for All
We have rehearsals Wednesday, Thursday and double next Monday
I have to make my lunch in the morning
I have to move the computer out of the baby's room
I have to move the crib into the baby's room
I'm going to be in line for the new Star Wars movie before and after the workshop tomorrow
I won't be in bed until after 2 am tomorrow
I have figure out how much we'll have left over once we pay for the new condo windows
I'm going to be a dad (I hope)
Karen and Sonny are renovating their bathroom and keep using ours
I hate Forgotten Realms
I like the new Weezer album
My mom wants me to exchange the extra tiles she got from renovating her bathroom floor but I lost the bill
My wife is scared of having a baby
What am I doing Friday night?
I'm really tired
Is everyone going to be able to play D&D this weekend?
I haven't seen Andrew in a while
I forgot to reply to Sheridan

Now there's a big scary spider. I have to go.

5.11.2005

A Touch Of Truth

One of my friends, Sean M., said it best:

"I don't really need blowjobs anymore. I'm almost 30; I know how to masturbate really well."

5.06.2005

Quiz Knows

Ok, so these two posts unmask me to those who might not know me, but I'm pretty sure the ten or so people reading this are all people who know me pretty well. In any case, this post won't be up for long nor will it be archived.

A while ago (a long while ago), I was sent 5 questions which I then answered. At the end of that, I propagated the meme and offered 5 questions to anyone who was willing to answer them. I sent out questions to those who requested them and now I can post links to some answers...

Simon answered his questions back in March. Prompt, entertaining and informative. Well played.

Maryam just answered today. Your answers were a good read and, while I cannot commend the response time, they were appreciated nonetheless.

I had sent out one other set of five questions but they apparently were addressed to Ameila Earhart.

5.02.2005

Fortress of Solitude

There's an expression I once heard and I learned its lesson a few years ago but it is really being hammered home these days.

"A journey with another must wait until the other is ready. A journey alone may begin right away."

One more reason why I find writing so satisfying.

Also, the toxic personality test is so goddamn true. If you feel more tired after spending time with a person, that person is toxic. Run the hell away. It doesn't necessarily mean they're a bad person, it just means they are toxic to you.

The inverse is true, too. If you are re-energized after spending time with someone, keep them close. No one can give me a boost or a charge of energy like my wife. And that's not even counting the dirty thoughts you were just having.

4.23.2005

Minutiae

Here's four movies:
Ghost
Toy Story 2
Return of the Jedi
Meet the Fockers

Ok, now try to put them in order of box office take (worldwide), lowest to highest...

Got it?

Here's the answer:
Return of the Jedi ($475 million)
Toy Story 2 ($485 million)
Ghost ($505 million)
Meet the Fockers ($511 million)

Seriously... (from http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/world/)

4.21.2005

The Boob Tube (hee hee)

Television frequently gets a bad rap as a purveyor of garbage and mindless waste of time, the junk food of entertainment. Books, however, are praised as the ultimate achievement in human history. We are trained from a very young age to dismiss TV as the lowest media while elevating, sometimes to a intimidating level, the almighty book (and I ain't talking Torah 2.0).

It's tough to argue otherwise. Any given person will say that most of what's on the idiot box is not worth their time. Any given person can likely also list a few books that they simply loved, oh and you should read it too! TV, WTF. Book, OMG.

Here's the problem. The number of new TV shows that appear each year is not that big a number. Maybe a couple hundred if you add them up across all the cable channels here in Canada. The number of new books that get printed each year is pretty large. Ok, here's my hypothesis (one I don't plan on supporting beyond its assertion). The ratio of books that you'd like to ones you'd hate is the same as the ratio of TV shows you'd like to TV shows you'd hate.

Now let's examine the two forms of media.

Television:
  • The viewer is at the mercy of the broadcaster to watch the shows they like.
  • Once a TV show you like ends its run, you are at the mercy of re-runs/syndication no matter how popular it was.

Book:
  • Buy the book in a store, enjoy when you like.
  • Once a book goes out of print, you can try to find old copies of it, or if it was popular, find a reprint.
Books that are in long-term demand, presumably because people enjoy them and thus posessing some quality one might term "good", subjective though that term might be, get reprinted into infinity. Shakespeare, still macking hard. Homer, gets the face-out treatment in stores today.

TV that you might be interested in, however, is buried in an avalanche of crap that you aren't interested in. Imagine you had an eBook whose pages dowenloaded Book A one hour and then Book B the next hour. You'd have to wait around for the book you wanted to read to come up. Or maybe find out which website would feed your eBook the book you wanted to read. Of course, your book would be filled with print ads every few pages and you could download the book for free once you bought the reader. Books are so liberating by comparison. Portable, ad-free, ready at your command, with a wealthy history where generations of readers have weeded out the obvious crap.

Which brings me to DVDs of TV shows. Finally, the book has arrived for the TV. It's not completely analogous, obviously. You do need a TV to watch it. But a history is being built. The good shows will outsell the obviously bad shows. The marginal shows make it to air as often as the marginal books make it to print but don't expect either to return for a second printing or a DVD if they dont appeal to someone. Every single show ever made is now going to the DVD. Thirty years from now, though, the selection of DVDs from this and previous eras will have been weeded through by consumers.

You can watch the shows when you want. There's no commercials. The power is now in the buyer's hands (provided your favourite show is allowed an opportunity to compete). The price is still not comparable. 50$ and up for a season is still steep versus 30$ for even the pricy hardcovers with used bookstores selling books for next to nothing (of course, compare just the number of people involved in making a TV show vs a book). Perhaps the day will come when audio/video storage with playback will be as cheaply made as books are and then we really will see an analogous situation. Who knows what re-runs of today will be the Dickens of tomorrow?

4.11.2005

But With A Whimper

As of April 18th, I will be gainfully employed.

It's a company that does "digital signage" (aka: ads in stores and malls). It's a small company of about less than 30 people. They seem to be growing though, so that's good. While advertising is not one of my favourite industries, my last employer was also a military contractor (in a another division) so I definitely feel like I've taken a step up the ethics ladder. I'll be doing the same ole QA routine: look for bugs, fix problems, write a ton of documentation. The really big bonus in this is that it's a twenty minute walk from home, right downtown. Oh man, what a relief to not have to drive. It's a dream come true.

I was hired mostly for my English skills as they appear to be hard to come by in Montreal among the technorati; their documentation apparently needs a total overhaul. Also, I got bonus points for having my CV on one page. Seriously, I've never understood why it should take more.

This all adds up to my wife sleeping a little more soundly and people finding out how tiny my penis is.

My very small sex organ. Doesn't hit the market until June...

Sorry, suffering humans, my sense of self needs indulging. Well, further indulging... Ok, massive self-indulgence. Yeah, that's me. Guilty, but not that guilty.

4.09.2005

Remix

Man, I'm a big Weezer fan. They're on my auto-buy list still (which reminds me I should pick up Guero by Beck when I get the weez album). I just saw the video for their new single, Beverly Hills, today. It was also the first time I heard the song. The video is pretty mediocre, which is disappointing because they usually manage something interesting. I was prepared to write off the single with the same word until... the Frampton solo. Love it. Salvages the whole song. Still not groovin' on the talk-singing and the "gimme-gimme" is a little Offspring ("uh-huh! uh-huh!", among others).

You can check it out at the MSN video site.

They also have the Clubfoot video by Kasabian at the MSN site. Reminds me of EMF (of the Unbelievable one hit wonder). I really liked the whole EMF album and even their follow up. Clubfoot has the same vibe. Must check them out.

Still rockin' to Tegan and Sara, Speak Slow.

Oh, and that sound you keep hearing everywhere you go is the sound of millions of teenagers learning to masturbate as inspired by Gwen Stefani's new video, Hollaback Girl. It pretty much pushes the high schooler fetish to its logical conclusion. I've never really found her physically attractive (so skinny!) but she's got her bodymoves set to eleven in this video. The song, passable, is largely irrelevant in the face of her sexyvibe. Yeah, that's two portmanteaus in two sentences... Score!

=w=

4.04.2005

Rock The House

I went curling yesterday.

I realised how much I missed it.

I hurt everywhere.

3.29.2005

Link, He Came To Town

I don't post funny links that I find to this site though it's the typical place to do so. I use sillytech.com for the bizarre world of the internet. I try to keep this site mostly for personal thoughts, essays, memories and the like (well, maybe not essays).

When I Went to New York

It started at the Comedy Cellar in NYC, one of the most awesome nights of my life. Partners in crime: Alex, Clare, Tasha.

The stand-up is just starting his routine when a thug and his posse walks in and sits at a booth towards the back. Not long after, thug starts shouting at the comedian. It's hard to hear what he's saying over the comedian but he's loud enough to draw the comedian's attention.

Thug: Hey! Yo' face is tight!
Comedian: What?
T: Yo' face is tight!
C: My. Face. Is. Tight?
T: Yeah!
C: What? What does that mean?
T: It's tight. Like Skeletor.
C: It's tight... like Skeletor??

The comedian started riffing off his face being tight and then, sensing that this guy was gonna be way funnier than anything he had to say, started quizzing him.

C: What's that around your neck?
T(he's wearing some generic gold medallion, oh, and he's started puffing on a cigar): It's a pie.
C: A pie? A whole pie?
T: Yeah!
C: You're wearing a whole pizza pie around your neck?
T: Yeah.

Comedian surrenders and tries to start up his routine again. Enter guy in the front row.

Guy: How tall are you?
C: What? What the hell is going on tonight?
G: Six foot? Six two? You're tall.
C: I'm a tall guy.
G: So how tall?
C: What, you want to know who's taller, me or you?
G: Yeah.
C: Get up here.

And the comedian pulls him onstage and they do a height check. The comedian is taller. The bit ends and he tries, once again, to do his act. A joke occurs to him.

C: You know... if my face is tight like Skeletor, does that mean you can have a face loose like Orko?

Alex and I die laughing. The crowd gives him a good laugh.

C: What the? I get my biggest laugh of the night on an Orko joke?

He tells a couple jokes and then says goodnight.

Coda:
Alex, Clare and I do a quick improv scene on Broadway for Tasha so we can say we performed on Broadway. Later on, I discover Hot Cocoa and Cognac, the greatest drink ever invented.

I'll never forget that trip.

3.28.2005

Guaranteed Hit

After thinking a bit more about CBC Radio's 50 Tracks, I find it difficult to believe that no cover of the theme to Hockey Night in Canada has ever hit the charts in Canada. It doesn't even need lyrics... Mind you, from what I've heard, the lady who wrote the song guards the rights to it quite jealously.

3.23.2005

Difficult

There are two things in my way of making it to Germany for the World Cup next year.

1) Almost 4 million applications for 812,000 tickets. A 20% chance of getting tickets. Not too good. The upshot is that there are two more chances to score tickets later in the year. This is just the first phase.

2) I still don't have a job. That makes convincing my life partner that we will be able to afford the trip difficult. It kind of makes it difficult to convince me, too.

*sigh*

3.16.2005

Five Easy Pieces

I have been drawn into a meme going around. I requested five questions aimed specifically at me they have been delivered.



1. You and your wife are about to embark on the life-long journey of parenthood. What aspect of this unknown voyage has you waking in a cold sweat some nights wondering what the heck you're getting yourselves into?

Well, my wife is mostly concerned that I'm going to forget to pick the kid up from soccer practice. I do have a terrible memory but if that's the worst I can do to this kid, then I'm set. I really don't know what to expect. I think the only thing I truly fear is having a child I hate. I can even tolerate a child I don't get along with but to hate one's own child would really, really suck.

I mean as an infant, there's not much to hate but children are born with their own personality. As much as nurture can do, nature has its fair shake. I get a good shot at shaping the kid but once he starts to make their own decisions, the important ones, I'm out of the picture.

I can only trust my child not to make decisions that would make me chew through my old man's cardigan but he will have to live with the consequences. And while there are only some extreme decisions that would result in my hatred, I can't imagine anything worse than hating your own child. So much so that even the remote chance of hating my child makes me quake in my boots.

I'm inviting a stranger into my house; he better not be a total ass.


2. You have a Masters (of the Universe) degree in Physics, are a member in an improv troupe and are writing (have written?) a book. What do you really want to be when you grow up?

I did my physics degree because I wanted to know more about how the universe works. I did my Master's because I was unsatisfied with my Bachelor's. I felt there were still too many unanswered questions. Once the Master's classes were done, I felt it was time to jet.

As I was doing my BSc, I got into improv. I love it but I live in Montreal. It's just too difficult to make a living doing English improv here. So that's not even an option for me.

The first draft of the book is (more or less) done. I'm editing it (or at least I'm supposed to be). The plan is to get three first chapters in shape and start sending them around with the outline. If it makes as much money as I made on EI, I could possibly take another year off and write another. However, I can probably make double that with a new job and triple it pretty quick.

So, if I want a semi-secure, high-paying job, I work the 9 to 5. If I want to follow the dream, I need to sell the book. I'll leave it to the reader's imagination what I want to do when I grow up.


3. We've all been wilfully victimized by addictive activities. Which one do you most wish you could rescind and reclaim the lost time, health, money, intangibles...? If none, why not?

I have a very addictive personality. When I get fixed, boy, I go all in. I recently bought and played through Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door. I beat the game with 71+ hours logged in about two weeks. But I don't regret it.

I own a lot of Lego. More than I reasonably need. No regrets. A bunch of comics. I enjoyed reading them. A megaton of Magic cards that I spend hours (literally hours) simply sorting and indexing. I play with them every week in what has been called a "boy's quilting bee" with a bunch of my bestest friends.

I do improv at least twice a week. I blog on three sites (this, a sketch-writing-site-cum-internet-hang-out, and the improv troupe's site). I hang out on two message boards (an author's and fark.com). I've started a crazy writing website. I edit my book. I look for a job. Oh, and my wife is pregnant so I'm occupied with all that that entails. I attend to my addictions with careful time-management. Well, my best impression of time-management.

I had an operation in 2003, the only serious loss of health I've really expereinced and that seems to have disappeared which I don't think was brought about by any addictive activity. I bought a house and a car, the only major losses of money (the house isn't really a loss; a car always is) but I get great use out of both.

I'm a pretty conservative guy. Don't take a lot of chances, don't push too close to the edge. I carefully leave a margin of safety on nearly everything I do. So, no, I haven't really gotten burned in any significant way. Yet...


4. Describe in as much detail as you can recall / are willing to
share, the most vivid dream you've ever had.


Ok, I just wanted to take a moment to say I just felt the baby kick for the first time ever. Wow.

I almost never remember my dreams. The ones I can recall are few and far between. I've had my fair share of naughty thoughts. I even had a recurring dream of being in a bike race as a child.

One that stands out in recent memory, however, is the one where a good friend of mine and I are on a small plane flying over a snowy mountainscape. As we were zooming along, chatting idly, he suddenly leaned in and kissed me full on the mouth. And, at that same instant, the plane suddenly began a nosedive into the mountains below. The plane bounced and I came to (yes, I dreamed passsing out) and I was surrounded by snow, as though I had been caught in an avalanche. Being in dreamland, I don't recall being hurt but I distinctly recall the sensation of not knowing which way was up. I experienced what my imagination considers weightlessness and disorientation. It was very bizarre. I then remembered that you can drool and gravity will pull the saliva down so you can dig your way up. At that point I woke up.

I talked about it the next day with the friend in question. We had a good laugh. Then we made out.


5. Thirteen years later, you have the opportunity to spend one single
day with your dad. What do you do?


Hm. I didn't really know my dad all that well. He spoke to me when necessary and did all the fatherly things without much joy. I don't have a lot memories of him being happy; he was not the kind of person who was ready with a friendly smile.

I can recall him talking to me about a trip he had taken to Cuba. My parents had been separated for a couple years at this point and the only way I knew he had gone on the trip was when he called from Cuba to say hi.

When he got back, he sat down on a chair in the tiny computer room in my mom's old house (he was visiting; I was still living at home). And we talked. For the first and last time, my father talked to me like a person and not his son. Whether or not I hadn't really been listening to him before that moment is hard for me recollect, and I don't discount the possibility, but that conversation stands out so clearly as him treating me as an equal that I can't imagine having missed it before. I was 17 and I hungered for it.

He didn't have a great trip. It had been pretty cloudy in Cuba and he felt bad for having all the good food and money while so many people had so little. He was warned by the Cuban government not to tip anyone but, talking to the service people, he found he could leave bars of soap (and other small luxuries) as a tip. I asked him a bunch of questions about what he did and what he did like (the sunny days were really nice on the beach). It was the first time my dad actually talked to me like a person and not his son. And the last.

Less than month later, he was dead.

Today, I would fly to Europe with my dad and take him to the biggest soccer game I could find. I get my love of soccer from him. During the Montreal Olympics, the only thing he went to was a Soviet soccer game (don't recall the opponent). I'd tell him pretty much what I'd been up to since he had died. We go out to a bar and have a drink. I'd tell him about my wife and the baby. I'd ask him about what he'd done before he came to Canada. I'd just try to get to know him over a beer (I have a lot of memories of my dad with a bottle of Guinness in hand). I'd have another talk with my dad, as a friend.





If you want to get five personalised questions from me, email me.

3.11.2005

And Bad Mistakes, I've Made A Few

1) "All tolled" - Once you've added it all up, that's what the end result is. "All told", the correct expression, escaped me for years.

2) "Sworded affair" - It's quite a combatative affair with dirty tricks (all sword fights have dirty tricks; it's a fact). "Sordid affairs" still don't make a lot of sense to me.

3) "Throw cosh into the wind" - What is cosh and why are people throwing it? I can see why throwing it into the wind is so reckless though. Ohhhh! Caution! Note: don't try to throw tanh into the wind...

4) "Fiery" - Rhymes with "cheery". 'Cause, y'know, field, fiend. You couldn't spell it "firy" like "wiry", eh?

5) "Anemone" - Annie moan, kinda like telephone. an-EH-mun-ee? Huh? Wuzzuh?

6) Cookie Monster - I'm a teenager, oh yes, over the age of twelve, watching the C-Monster on TV tear into a... cookie... and... Oh. No. The cookie... It just crumbled into pieces. He didn't actually EAT ANY OF IT! All those years of wasted cookies!! Damn you, Cookie Monster! You fiend!!

3.10.2005

Bet on the World

Just a great piece.

"10 Things I Have Learned" by Milton Glaser

Something I Wrote In 2001

I was in a used book store the Friday night and I found a few copies of Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson sitting amongst the clutter and the stacks. I have a friend who recommended it to me and it seemed like a short read (Don't be fooled; it's NOT!) so I browsed through what must have been required reading for last semester's college curriculum. There were several copies, some solid, some frail.

However, one immediately caught my eye with seemingly random letters from the title blacked out (I could never discern any coherent message.). Within, an enterprising student saved a few hectares of trees by using the book itself as a notebook for the class. Scattered throughout were a great many underlined passages and comments obviously written in an academic frame of mind. "Wife given what she never had." "Always seeking pain."

Perhaps this wasn't a student. Perhaps this may have been some studious fellow who enjoyed commenting on books as they read them. It's not unheard of. It's not impossible. And yet... and yet...

This person, male or female, I could not say, chose to also put their personal judgements of the character's actions and dialogue on paper. Most frequently in single words (with surprisingly few expletives) and also with very little sympathy. Chapters ending with comments like "Naive" and "What the f*ck is going on?". Paragraphs underlined with the simple comment of "Sucker!" by the side, condemning the fictional characters to forever be labelled as such.

I didn't read the passages so outlined to prevent the colouring of my own read. And so with heavy heart I replaced what would have certainly been a fantastically entertaining read and picked up another less editorialised copy. It was in better condition and, for some obscure reason, cheaper. Is the store placing some higher price on the book for its extra content? I did not dare ask.

And now I read the book, untutored by any anonymous mentors, the pages blank and lacking in both personality and cruel mockery. I am forced to admit that I am a little saddened by this quiet book. A faint regret fills me as I read: "Is this the 'bastard'? Am I at the part where someone is a 'Sucker!'?"

I wonder who will one day pick up this book and share in the views of this remote critic. Will they be upset that they were forced to buy such a copy, filled with the mutterings of an acerbic fool? Or will they cherish the joy of sharing a read with an old friend? A friend who likes to share their thoughts as they read along, invisible by your side.

3.05.2005

Burn, Baby, Burn

You have a box of matches and two lengths of rope. Each length of rope will burn from one end to the other in exactly one hour. However, the burn rate along the length of each rope is not guaranteed to be uniform (ie: you don't know if the rope is, as an example, 60cm and burns at 1minute/cm all along its length; it might be different rates at different places along its length).

Using the two lengths of rope and the matches, how do you measure exactly fifteen minutes?

3.02.2005

Test of Endurance

Instructions:
- Bold those you've read,
- Italicize started-but-never-finished,
- Add three of your own.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. 1984, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Susskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
101. Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
102. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
103. The Beach, Alex Garland
104. Dracula, Bram Stoker
105. Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
106. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
107. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
108. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
109. The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
110. The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
111. Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
112. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 1/2, Sue Townsend
113. The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
114. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
115. The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
116. The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
117. Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
118. The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
119. Shogun, James Clavell
120. The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham
121. Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
122. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
123. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
124. House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
125. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
126. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
127. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
128. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
129. Possession, A. S. Byatt
130. The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
131. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
132. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
133. East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
134. George's Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
135. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
136. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
137. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
138. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
139. Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
140. Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
141. All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
142. Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
143. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
144. It, Stephen King
145. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
146. The Green Mile, Stephen King
147. Papillon, Henri Charriere
148. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
149. Master And Commander, Patrick O'Brian
150. Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz
151. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
152. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
153. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
154. Atonement, Ian McEwan
155. Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
156. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
157. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
158. Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
159. Kim, Rudyard Kipling
160. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
161. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
162. River God, Wilbur Smith
163. Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
164. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
165. The World According To Garp, John Irving
166. Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore
167. Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
168. The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye
169. The Witches, Roald Dahl
170. Charlotte's Web, E. B. White
171. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
172. They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
173. The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
174. The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
175. Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder
176. Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
177. Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl
178. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
179. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach
180. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
181. The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
182. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
183. The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
184. Silas Marner, George Eliot
185. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
186. The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Gross-mith
187. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
188. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine
189. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
190. Sons And Lovers, D. H. Lawrence
191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
192. Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
193. The Truth, Terry Pratchett
194. The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells
195. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
196. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
197. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
198. The Once And Future King, T. H. White
199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
200. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews
201. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
202. The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan
203. The Great Hunt, Robert Jordan
204. The Dragon Reborn, Robert Jordan
205. Fires of Heaven, Robert Jordan
206. Lord of Chaos, Robert Jordan
207. Winter's Heart, Robert Jordan
208. A Crown of Swords, Robert Jordan
209. Crossroads of Twilight, Robert Jordan
210. A Path of Daggers, Robert Jordan
211. As Nature Made Him, John Colapinto
212. Microserfs, Douglas Coupland
213. The Married Man, Edmund White
214. Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin
215. The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault
216. Cry to Heaven, Anne Rice
217. Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, John Boswell
218. Equus, Peter Shaffer
219. The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten
220. Letters To A Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
221. Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn
222. The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice
223. Anthem, Ayn Rand
224. The Bridge To Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
225. Tartuffe, Moliere
226. The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
227. The Crucible, Arthur Miller
228. The Trial, Franz Kafka
229. Oedipus Rex, Sophocles
230. Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles
231. Death Be Not Proud, John Gunther
232. A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen
233. Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen
234. Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
235. A Raisin In The Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
236. ALIVE!, Piers Paul Read
237. Grapefruit, Yoko Ono
238. Trickster Makes This World, Lewis Hyde
240. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
241. Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, Unbeliever, Stephen Donaldson
242. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
242. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
243. Summerland, Michael Chabon
244. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
245. Candide, Voltaire
246. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, Roald Dahl
247. Ringworld, Larry Niven
248. The King Must Die, Mary Renault
249. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein
250. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L'Engle
251. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
252. The House Of The Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
253. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
254. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
255. The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson
256. Chocolate Fever, Robert Kimmel Smith
257. Xanth: The Quest for Magic, Piers Anthony
258. The Lost Princess of Oz, L. Frank Baum
259. Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon
260. Lost In A Good Book, Jasper Fforde
261. Well Of Lost Plots, Jasper Fforde
261. Life Of Pi, Yann Martel
263. The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver
264. A Yellow Rraft In Blue Water, Michael Dorris
265. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
267. Where The Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
268. Griffin & Sabine, Nick Bantock
269. Witch of Black Bird Pond, Joyce Friedland
270. Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH, Robert C. O'Brien
271. Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt
272. The Cay, Theodore Taylor
273. From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
274. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Jester
275. The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
276. The Kitchen God's Wife, Amy Tan
277. The Bone Setter's Daughter, Amy Tan
278. Relic, Duglas Preston & Lincolon Child
279. Wicked, Gregory Maguire
280. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
281. Misty of Chincoteague, Marguerite Henry
282. The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum
283. Haunted, Judith St. George
284. Singularity, William Sleator
285. A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
286. Different Seasons, Stephen King
287. Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
288. About a Boy, Nick Hornby
289. The Bookman's Wake, John Dunning
290. The Church of Dead Girls, Stephen Dobyns
291. Illusions, Richard Bach
292. Magic's Pawn, Mercedes Lackey
293. Magic's Promise, Mercedes Lackey
294. Magic's Price, Mercedes Lackey
295. The Dancing Wu Li Masters, Gary Zukav
296. Spirits of Flux and Anchor, Jack L. Chalker
297. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
298. The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, Brenda Love
299. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace --
300. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
301. The Cider House Rules, John Irving
302. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
303. Girlfriend in a Coma, Douglas Coupland
304. The Lion's Game, Nelson Demille
305. The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars, Stephen Brust
306. Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh
307. Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco
308. Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
309. Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk
310. Camber of Culdi, Kathryn Kurtz
311. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
312. War and Rememberance, Herman Wouk
313. The Art of War, Sun Tzu
314. The Giver, Lois Lowry
315. The Telling, Ursula Le Guin
316. Xenogenesis (or Lilith's Brood), Octavia Butler
317. A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold
318. The Curse of Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold
319. The Aeneid, Publius Vergilius Maro (Vergil)
320. Hanta Yo, Ruth Beebe Hill
321. The Princess Bride, S. Morganstern (or William Goldman)
322. Beowulf, Anonymous
323. The Sparrow, Maria Doria Russell
324. Deerskin, Robin McKinley
325. Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey
326. Passage, Connie Willis
327. Otherland, Tad Williams
328. Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay
329. Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
330. Beloved, Toni Morrison
331. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, Christopher Moore
332. The mysterious disappearance of Leon, I mean Noel, Ellen Raskin
333. Summer Sisters, Judy Blume
334. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo
335. The Island on Bird Street, Uri Orlev
336. Midnight in the Dollhouse, Marjorie Filley Stover
337. The Miracle Worker, William Gibson
338. The Genesis Code, John Case
339. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevensen
340. Paradise Lost, John Milton
341. Phantom, Susan Kay
342. The Mummy or Ramses the Damned, Anne Rice
343. Anno Dracula, Kim Newman
344: The Dresden Files: Grave Peril, Jim Butcher
345: Tokyo Suckerpunch, Issac Adamson
346: The Winter of Magic's Return, Pamela Service
347: The Oddkins, Dean R. Koontz
348. My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok
349. The Last Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
350. At Swim, Two Boys, Jaime O'Neill
351. Othello, by William Shakespeare
352. The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, Dylan Thomas
353. The Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats, William Butler Yeats
354. Sati, Christopher Pike
355. The Inferno, Dante
356. The Apology, Plato
357. The Small Rain, Madeline L'Engle
358. The Man Who Tasted Shapes, Richard E Cytowick
359. 5 Novels, Daniel Pinkwater
360. The Sevenwaters Trilogy, Juliet Marillier
361. Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
362. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
363. Our Town, Thorton Wilder
364. Green Grass Running Water, Thomas King
335. The Interpreter, Suzanne Glass
336. The Moor's Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie
337. The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson
338. A Passage to India, E.M. Forster
339. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
340. The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
341. Pages for You, Sylvia Brownrigg
342. The Changeover, Margaret Mahy
343. Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
344. Angels and Demons, Dan Brown
345. Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo
346. Shosha, Isaac Bashevis Singer
347. Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck
348. The Diving-bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
349. The Lunatic at Large by J. Storer Clouston
350. Time for bed by David Baddiel
351. Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
352. Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre
353. The Bloody Sun by Marion Zimmer Bradley
354. Sewer, Gas, and Eletric by Matt Ruff
355. Jhereg by Steven Brust
356. So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane
357. Perdido Street Station, China Mieville
358. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
359. Road-side Dog, Czeslaw Milosz
360. The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
361. Neuromancer, William Gibson
362. The Epistemology of the Closet, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
363. A Canticle for Liebowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr
364. The Mask of Apollo, Mary Renault
365. The Gunslinger, Stephen King
366. Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
367. Absalom, Absalom, William Faulkner
368. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
369. Dreamhouse, Alison Habens
370. Hyperion, by Dan Simmons
371. Prospero's Children, Jan Siegel
372. Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers
373. Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond
374. Enchantment, Orson Scott Card
375. Cetaganda, Lois McMaster Bujold
376. Beauty, Sheri S. Tepper
377. The Hour of the Star, Clarice Lispector
378. The Patron Saint of Liars, Ann Patchett
379. Sexing the Cherry, Jeanette Winterson.
380. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula Le'Guin
381. Assassin's Apprentice, Robin Hobb
382. The Axis Trilogy, Sara Douglass
383. Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie
384. Sabriel, Garth Nix
385. Maurice, E.M. Forster
386. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer
387. The Wild Swans, by Peg Kerr
388. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
389. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
390. Welcome to the Monkey House, by Kurt Vonnegut
391. The Stranger, by Albert Camus
392. Angry Candy, by Harlan Ellison
393. Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
394. Motherless Brooklyn - Jonathan Lethem
395. The Brains of Rats - Michael Blumlein
396. Cowboys Are My Weakness, Pam Houston
397. Faking It, Jennifer Crusie
398. John Adams, David McCullough
399. Swiss Family Robinson, Johann Wyss
400. The Black Stallion, Walter Farley
401. Strangewood, Christopher Golden
402. Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton
403. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein
404. The Lays Of Beleriand, JRR Tolkien
405. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Alan Sillitoe
406. Native Son, Richard Wright
407. The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara
408. Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli
409. Rain of Gold, Victor Villasenor
500. Red Tent, Anita Diamant
501. The Atrocity Archives, Charles Stross
502. Broken Angels, Richard K. Morgan
503. The Dust of Empire, Karl E. Meyer
504. Experience, Martin Amis
505. The Red and the Black, Stendhal
506. The Empty Space, Peter Brook
507. The Heat of the Day, Elizabeth Bowen
508. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
509. Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil: John Berendt
510. Belly Laughes, Jenny McCarthy
511. Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
512. Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
513. Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Lisa Yee
514. Forever, Pete Hammill
515. Unless, Carol Shields
516. Ronia the Robber's Daughter, Astrid Lindgren
517. The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley
518. The Lions of Al-Rassan, Guy Gavriel Kay
519. The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
520. The ABC Murders, Agatha Christie

I guess I had better get cracking...