The Shins – “Phantom Limb”

When compiling my best of 2006 list, is it wrong of me to put an album that won’t be released until 2007? Possibly… The Shins new album would be in the top three (alongside the Maritime album and the Band of Horses album). By the time December 2007 comes around, will I forget about it entirely? Why do I think about this stuff?

Either way, my favourite song from the album , “Phantom Limb” is now streaming on the Shins Myspace page. I think that it has something to do with being super depressed about something involving a girl or maybe a bad family life? Either way, it is the perfect song for driving at night on ice covered highways, as I did last night. Few songs can evoke seasonal temperatures like this one.

Also, this picture of The Shins rules school:

November is Jazz

I always listen to Jazz in November. I don’t know why, but every November I pull out my Jazz records. After November, I rarely listen to Jazz. I think it is a pallet cleanser, and it warms me up for December, in which I pull out my extensive Christmas music collection (and I am not kidding about extensive – when December comes, taste goes right out the f#$king window).

Right now, I am writing and listening to a Miles Davis gigatorrent I downloaded (a gigatorrent is a torrent with a few dozen albums zipped into one file – I downloaded “Miles Davis 1” which comprises his first 24 albums).

When ever I am writing a lot (as I usually am in November), I like to put on some Jazz because 1) it makes writing for hours and hours and hours a little more bearable, and 2) because it doesn’t try to pull my focus like the music I normally listen to.

While I am typing this, I got the following Myspace friend request: a girl named Jazz from Mexico. Is she real (I haven’t recieved a “real” myspace friend request in over six months)? I don’t read Spanish, so who knows.

How random is that?

I’m a widow / and I’m hot to do you

Now listening to the FREE live Robert Pollard album Moon that Merge Records sent me when I pre-ordered Normal Happiness last month. The song “I’m a Widow” absolutely kills on this. Listen for yourself!

I now have 50 releases in my personal collection from Robert Pollard – including LP’s, 7″‘es, CD’s, Singles, box sets from Guided by Voices, solo albums and all the one-off side projects. Yikes.

One thing I like about ordering directly from labels is that they generally throw in freebies (Merge also sent me a cool Normal Happiness poster). Even with exchange, it tend to be a lot cheaper than buying it at HMV.

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One thing I sometimes think about is that I wish I had more friends that were authors. I have one – my good friend Jeff Campbell has been writing really great Sci-Fi novels since I have known him. Which reminds me that I miss Jeff a lot. He lives in Vancouver, and I usually only talk to him once a year or so.

I have lots of artist friends, musician friends – but novelists are few and far between. I once took a stab at it – I wrote a short novella about this family living in a false room after the town that they were living in was occupied by an invading alien force – it was V meets Anne Frank, and it was as badly written as it was embarrassing. I also took a stab at writing a play and a radio-drama, to equally disastrous results.

The reason why this comes up is that November is Novel Writing Month! The idea is to produce a 50 thousand word novel from scratch in 30 days, no matter how terrible the result.

If I wasn’t in the trenches with my class work, I would be totally game to try this. Thus, my humble readers, in order to increase my cultural capital by having more novelist friends, I challenge you to write a bad novel this month. Bonus points if you are already an artist or musician (i.e. visual artist and novelist is worth three times the amount of cultural capital!).

It’s only fair, as I am providing the same to you (i.e. “my friend the sociologist says that…).

Also, I will settle for you to learn rock paper scissors 101 with me if you don’t want to write a shitty novel.

Update: the shittier the better.

Dear Stats: I hate you

I wrote my first exam since 2003, and I blew it. I know by now that everyone says this after writing a test, but I have a good sense of these things, and I am pretty sure that I blew it.

All is lost?

Not quite. The test is only worth 20%, and I just need to work harder for the next one. Secondly, I know how these exams are structured now, and I realize that my prof for this class is your classic “aside prof.” The “aside” prof is the prof whose lectures seem somewhat random, until you figure out that every little “aside” is going to be on the test. The opposite of this is the prof who will still provide the class with the enlightening aside, but pens go down when the aside happens. For future lectures, I will be eagerly anticipating these asides while keeping a separate log of them for studying purposes.

The thing is, I should have know that this was an “Aside Prof,” and here is how: the exam was open notes (that is, you could bring your notes into the exam). This should have immediately queued me into the fact that “open notes” equals “I will not be asking you anything on this test that will be in your notes, so if it makes you feel better, bring ’em in.”

I will also admit to being complacent, thinking that my notes would somehow enlighten me mid-test (I even produced a glossary of terms and my notes had a freaking table of contents!). I should have spent more time reading between the lines, so to speak. It’s not as if my notes were completely useless – without them, it would have been a blood bath.

I made a rookie mistake, and it cost me (I wager that I will get between 60-70%). I learned my lesson, and if I do poorly on the next one, it will be my own (@#$#%) fault.

“I thought of maybe quittin'”

I am about to enter… stats hell. I have an exam that I have been studying for over a week now. I am either totally over prepared, or I may get called on the fact that I don’t get a word of this shit. Or maybe I do…

Interval Estimates: Point estimation ignores sampling variability  An interval estimate of a parameter is a range of values of the sample estimates that has known probability of containing the parameter. Example: Constructing a confidence interval around a Mean The notion of an interval estimate of a parameter $\theta$with a confidence coefficient is assumed to be familiar. A point estimate, on its own, doesn’t convey any indication of reliability, but a point estimate together with its standard error would do so. This idea is incorporated into a confidence interval, which is a range of values within which we are “fairly confident” that the true (unknown) value of the parameter $\theta$lies. The length and location of the interval are random variables and we cannot be certain that $\theta$will actually fall within the limits evaluated from a single sample. So the object is to generate narrow intervals which include $\theta$with a high probability.

 errr.. wish me luck.

In other news: my iPod is broken. Again. I have had the thing for about two years… wait I had one, it broke after a year, so I sent it back and this is my second one, and it seems to be broken again. I call bullshit.

Finally (before I go to die), Borat didn’t make it to Lethbridge or Calgary this week. Argh. I’ve been waiting to see this movie since the Summer, and I have let the hype and the brillant publicity and promotion work me into a frenzy. I was even going to get a sitter for my son so I could go see it tonight, and NOTHING!!

Movie blue-balls.

Question: what do you want for Xmas?

Insert: Tragically Hip // Quote: “It’s not the band I hate / It’s their fans”

It could have been the Willie Nelson, or perhaps it could have been the wine, but after many years of disinterest in The Tragically Hip, I think I have come full circle.

You see, when I was in the fourth Grade, my family moved to a little city in Manitoba entitled Brandon. Now, Brandon at the time (mid 80’s) was a run down, shitty little place that lived inbetween Regina and Winnipeg, and acted as the storm drain for both (not literally). I liked it there – it was my first exposure to a comic book store, which I used to ride my bike to all the time and drool at the comic books that were kept behind glass.

More importantly for me was the fact that Brandon had access to MuchMusic, something that was completely alien to me at the time. I was obsessed with it, and frequently pretended to be sick so that I could stay home and watch it all day (hi Mom!).  This was one of the key developing factors in my lifelong love of popular music.

What was cool about MuchMusic (in the day) was that they used to actually play music videos (except for that one gameshow they had hosted by Dan Galager(sp), which was like a cross between “Rock and Roll Jeopardy” and the Gong show) . On top of that, they used to play weirdo videos all the time – (remember that video for “Fish Heads?”)


My two favourite video’s at the time were two Canadian ones: The Pursuit of Happiness’ “I’m An Adult Now” and The Tragically Hip’s “New Orleans is Sinking,” (which, when I think about it now, is still one of my favourite video’s , specifically for the part the bum drinks the fish bowl water, and may have accidently swallowed the gold fish).

In grade four I used to say that my favourite band was the Tragically Hip were my favourite. Then I discovered hip hop; alternative: punk:  hardcore: emo: indie: jazz; The Beach Boys… I got very far away from the Hip, and yet I find myself back where it all started.

You see, I never esisted The Hip:I have been aware of their new stuff here and there, I even saw them live once. I just never felt the urge to buy a cd or even download some songs. I just didn’t ever really think about them. Perhaps it was their fan base (Canadian Hip fans, in general, tend to be a tad mookish, not unlike American Dave Mathews fans)? Probably.
Last week I heard the new single, “In View” and I like it a lot. Yesterday, when I was in a cheapie used CD store, I found the two disk “Yer Favourites” compilation, and felt compelled to buy it and catch up. I have been listening to it non-stop since. There is a higher quality than I remember a lot of songs having. As well, I am hearing some songs for the first time, and a high number of them are blowing my mind a little.

Thus: Tragically Hip, I am back. Where should I hang my jacket?

You could look better: Phd photo

Dear me:

So you took the afternoon away from studying to watch “Flags of Our Fathers.” Did you enjoy it? Exactly. I too thought that this film was bloated, redundant, and save for a few decent scenes, was not enjoyed. Clint Eastwood apparently makes “good” movies, but this is two stinkers in a row (yes “Million Dollar Baby” is way, way overrated, and this one is worse).

So you get back to your grouphome (client away, house to yourself) and you get an email with the following picture in it:

And you sit there for a while, and you want to cry, but that isn’t really the emotion you are going for. Disgust? Pitty? Anger? Embarrassment?

Sir, you could look better. Let’s start with those glasses: they look stupid. It is time for some new ones. What is with that look on your face? That haircut? That shitty shave job? That wrinkled shirt?

Most of all, you look as bloated as “Flags of Our Fathers.” Sir, no one likes to look at bloat. Time to start running again, and to stop eating movie popcorn and it is time that you grew up and stopped eating all that candy. It’s rediculous.

I’m giving you until Christmas.

Mind map: Small Wonder (80’s TV show)

Here is a map of my procrastination:

1) Read RSS feeds on Bloglines for 40 minutes.

2) See a post on 80’s Halloween Costumes, follow link

3) See the following costume of Vicky the robot from Small Wonder

4) Wonder to self “I wonder if YouTube has any Small Wonder Episodes?

5) YouTube has many.

6) Watch on in its entirety (30 minutes)

7) Blog and link episodes.

Part 1 – Small Wonder – “Brindies Move In”

Part 2

Part 3

On: Urban Alienation

See, the thing is that I have been to Calgary a billion times. Living in Lethbridge, it was the closest city with good shows and half decent record stores.

Hell, I even lived here 1996-1997. I was trying to make something out of myself (i.e. I wanted to be a rock star. Don’t laugh.) and I ended up scurrying back to Lethbridge when I felt insecure about things.

Here I am, and I am basically alone the entire week, sitting in my shitty (shitty) office, with no windows and with nobody around. Ultra-depressing. Perhaps it is the Statistics exam I just cannot convince myself to care about? Or maybe the fact that I am not here on the weekends, so I have missed all the important bonding that goes on between grad cohorts? Or perhaps it is because everything I care about is two hours (light years) away?

Either way, I am out of sorts today.

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I went to check some books out of the UofC library, I managed to severely annoy no less than three librarians:

Q: “Can I get course reserves here, Mr. Bearded Librarian man?”

A: “No, they are through those doors” (severely annoyed at me).

Move to the course reserves area:

Q: “Hi ‘classic’ Librarian lady, I need to take a book out of course reserves.”

A: (severely annoyed) “Book or article?”

“Book”

(even more annoyed) “They are on. the. shelves. behind. you.” (walks away)

Find the book I was looking for (plus another I wasn’t, bonus)

Q: “Excuse me again, sorry to bother you mam, how long can I take these out for?”

“They were on the shelf behind you. What does the sign say? The sign says “Three. Day. Course. Reserves. (walks away).”

I go to the checkout area again (same bearded guy, severe need of a bath and a trim), who checks my books out, and says to me”This one has a CD in it. You need to pass the CD through to the guy sitting in the cubicle by the exit”

I go over to the exit, and this guy, whose job it is to a) pass books through to the other side of the sensors and b) act passive aggressively towards students. I start taking the CD out, as per instruction, and this guy looks at me like I just pulled my wang out in church. He says to me:

“What do you think you are doing? Just pass the whole book to me” (and I swear, I heard under his breath “Gaaawwwd”).

Welcome to Calgary. Bitches.

Borat on Conan

Is nice.

The Borat movie comes out this Friday. A perfect way for me to forget about my dismal perfomance on the statistics test I am writing that morning.

I am planning on seeing Borat 23 times. In the theatres.

University of Lethbridge Upass

A vote was put to the University of Lethbridge student body whether to increase fees by $52 a semester in exchange for a semester long bus pass for registered students. I just read that 60% of students voted no. This is dissapointing (but not suprising).

Having two degrees from the UofL, I am well aware of the lack of vision held by a large portion of the student body, especially when it involves things that do not involve 1)trucks 2)the bar.

I don’t get this town.

“Resident Expert”

I was interviewed by The Atlantic Monthly yesterday for a long form piece that the journalist (Arthur Poe) is writing on Metafilter. I was interviewed as the “resident expert,” seeing as how I wrote my thesis on Metafilter. It went well, and I am excited to read the piece.

It is strange that writing a thesis on something makes me an expert  – I don’t feel like an expert, and I could probably list a handfull of Mefites that know a lot more about the social mechanics of Metafilter. Either way, being interviewed about my research feels validating, and I made some notes from the conversation from some ideas I had for my dissertation (which will not be on Metafilter – I’ve done enough damage there). I also made a new connection – I was extended an offer to send an article for consideration in the Atlantic Monthly (this is good!).

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I noted that I had found this the other day. I am obsessed with it now.

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Why is YouTube so amazing? Here is another find for you: Michel Foucault debating Noam Chomsky.

part 2

The Shins – Wincing the Night Away

I have listened to it! This record is so good that I am willing to fly to wherever in the world and punch the first reviewer that references Garden State or says that this is going to “change your life” in a manner in which said reviewer is thinking they are going to be clever.

This is the video for “Pink Bullets” from Chutes Too Narrow, a song that always makes me feel very sad. I think I tell everyone this as if it matters somehow that Chutes Too Narrow is my #1 favourite record released since the year 2000. It is a perfect 10.