Friday, March 27, 2009

Not really a post. Not even a po.

I miss my blog. Things have been so hectic the last two weeks, what with moving houses, finishing assignments, preparing presentations, work... the list goes on. Blog ideas have been backing up. Twitter is great for little spurts, but I need more than that. Things should settle down some time next week, but I hope to post a couple of pictures of the new house this weekend.

That's all.

No, wait. Remember when monsters used to be scary?

He's so cute. I might go watch Monsters vs. Aliens just because of B.O.B. and his Seth Rogen voice.

Back to work.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

We deal in lead, friend.

I promised a more cheerful post, so this will have to do.

Exciting news! My band's album is ready! The band is called The New Confusions, and I should have a few things up and online by the end of the week so people can see and hear us. I'll blog the details, of course, but I don't want to spill all the beans just yet.

Less exciting (and kind of depressing, really) is an article I read in City Journal. It turns out that the US Congress passed a law in 2008 that would help regulate some hazards, like lead. Under that law, books made before 1985 can no longer be sold, and should be destroyed. Ridiculous, but true. Some booksellers (used, vintage) are paying the price. And do you think libraries are going to replace all their old books? Not bloody likely.

I think I'll take my favourite pre-1985 book (1984, perhaps?), and lick it. Just once. As a sign of protest. Actually, this remind me of my favourite quote from Steve McQueen in The Magnificent Seven. "We deal in lead, friend."

Now back to other matters.

I had a decent St Patrick's Day. It ended better than it started, and now I'm going to catch 5 blissful hours of Z's. I would like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to my sister who is working and living in Ireland, and whom I miss quite a bit. (Is it whom? I'm too tired to decide if that was the objective case. Oh, whatever.)

I wish everyone a shoefull of shamrock.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Always have good friends

It's been more than a week since the last post. I hate that, but too many things came up. At the top of the list would be the passing of an old friend, George Kibedi. He was a fixture of my childhood. He taught me how to draw, and how to thread film through a projector. He and his wife, Andrea, founded and housed the homeschool where I studied until I was 13. He was a Hungarian, and a refugee from the Nazi occupation, the Spanish civil war, and the Chilean dictatorship of Pinochet.

All that was before my time. To me, he was the guy who rented movies for us kids on Friday afternoons, and who brought tea and cookies for everyone to snack on.

He framed a drawing I did when I was about 9 years old. The drawing was of a fancy earthenware jug. It probably wasn't that good, but hey, my artwork was framed and displayed right at the front of his house. Drawing was one of the only things I had any inclination for in those days, so it felt great to be validated in some way.

When the homeschool broke up, I saw less of the Kibedis. Andrea died when I was 18, and I barely saw George after that.

Around Christmas time, I discovered that he was at a retirement home right by my girlfriend's work. I decided to visit her for lunch one day, and then stop by to visit him. He was much older than I remembered. He used to tower over me as a child, and now I was the taller one by more than a foot. I continued to visit him every week, and then my mom called my work on Thursday to tell me he'd passed away. It was exactly an hour before the time I usually went to meet him.

I didn't mean for this post to become a memoriam. It was going to be about other things that happened during the week; good things. But maybe I'll just stop here. I'll do a cheery post tomorrow. I promise.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pulling Strings

One of my resolutions this year was to get back to my piano and violin roots. I've neglected both instruments over the last few years, and that's a shame. With that in mind, here's an article I read while back. It has to do with violins, our busy lives, and a social experiment by the Washington Post. (I found out about this from Amanda Palmer, one half of the Dresden Dolls. Read her blog. )

You can also watch the video on YouTube.

Keeping with the string themes, there's a lovely article in today's Toronto star about the plight of violists. You know, the orchestra members who play those things that look like violins on growth hormones. They sound beautiful. My old violin teacher played the viola as well. He loved it, and I liked the sound of it, and I'd recently been thinking of buying a used one. The article was great timing for me.

That's about it on the strings section, but as a follow-up to my last post about Julie Wilson and her Indigo incident, the issue has been resolved.

Tune in next time to hear a bit about kind dentists and their escalating bills.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Legal Stuff

Falling under the category of "Patently Ridiculous," Indigo has got itself into the blogging news by turning away Julie Wilson, author of Seen Reading. For those of you who may not know, the blog is about Wilson and the books she sees people reading. The following is an excerpt from her site:

What is Seen Reading?

1. I see you reading.
2. I guesstimate where you are in the book.
3. I trip on over to the bookstore and make a note of the text.
4. I let my imagination rip.
5. Readers become celebrities.
6. People get giddy and buy more books.

Seen Reading is great. Who would make a fuss over it? Big Blue; that's who. As reported in Quillblog, an Indigo employee took exception to Wilson copying out 50 words from a text she didn't own. Apparently it's illegal. Read it for yourself.

In fairness to Indigo, this was the work of one unnamed employee. I hope it was a manager, because I can't imagine one of the friendly floor walkers throwing around that kind of weight.

As for the legal terms... technically, Indigo is right. "Fair use" means you can only quote from a source that you own. At least, it does in Canada. (Someone let me know if I'm wrong about this, so I can fix the error. I have proper notes written down somewhere.) Wilson would have to buy hundreds of books a year. The only publicist I've met is Taryn Manias at McArthur & Company. I'm not sure how much publicists make (even the cool ones who work for McArthur or Anansi), but I'm pretty sure their personal budgets don't include buying hundreds of books per year.

Of course, you can quote from a library book. That's one loophole. The difference is that libraries pay for that license, so the issue falls under Public Lending Rights.

Which is to say that Julie Wilson would have been just fine if she picked up the same book for the same reason in a library. Or a less picky bookstore. My guess is she'll just go to another bookstore.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Elementary, my dear Watson.

I promise that this one will be a short post. It has to be. The last couple of days have been busy, what with all of the following taking place: wandering aimlessly around Kensington Market with an uncomfortable shoe on my right foot; watching several episodes of Battlestar Galactica; reading and writing grim fairy tales; having my teeth scraped by a dentist's chisel; working and studying; and hanging out with friends at the mother of all burger joints, Steer Inn.

What was I talking about? Oh, right. Keeping it short.

This is a post about Sherlock Holmes, and how he will affect my world.

The sleuth in a deerskin cap has come back from my childhood stories, and is set to re-enter my consciousness in two special ways. First, through Hollywood. After a year of reviving his public and professional image, Robert Downey Jr will be starring as the detective of Baker St. It's a film full of intriguing choices, from Downey Jr as Homes (which I think will work), to Guy Ritchie as the director (inspired... please let this be a return to form), to Jude Law as Watson. That last choice puzzled me until I actually thought about it; Watson isn't as incompetent in the novels as he's been portrayed on the silver screen. I can't wait for this movie.

Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr (sans deerskin cap).

In other Downey Jr news, did anyone else hear that he's in talks to get Mickey Rourke (the other big return-to-glory acting story of 2008) in on the action in Iron Man 2. I hope he faces off against Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury.

My other Sherlock point concerns a bookstore I never heard of until today. It's called Sleuth of Baker Street. It's small, independent, and it publishes a newsletter called The Merchant of Menace. If that's not enough to lure you into a bookstore not owned by Chapters/Indigo, I hear they also have those fabulous ladders-on-wheels that slide on their bookshelves. Fun, right? Check it out.

Now I'm checking out. This knave needs some rest. A good night to all, and thank you for reading.

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