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Month: May 2002

Who’s David Still?

You can be David Still! Mr. Still has offered up his identity for anyone who would like to use it. You can send random email using his identity if you’d like… or you can reply to email that has been sent to him. He gives you all of his background information so you can really get into character. how much fun is that?

The Privatization of our Culture

“Our entire culture has fallen into the hands of a few multinational corporations, taking with it our right to tell our stories, our right to exchange our information, even our right to heal our sick. It’s time for us to take back what is ours.” Read this article. Just do it.

My kinda movie

Irreversible, directed by Franco-Argentinian director Gaspar Noe, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this week. The film, which describes a woman’s rape and her boyfriend’s bloody quest for revenge, proved so shocking that 250 people walked out, some of whom required medical attention. wow. A movie that inspires physical ailments – that’s my kind of movie!

A step in the right direction?

Maverick and Vivendi Universal want to sell you an MP3. In what appears to be a giant leap in the right direction for the recording industry, the label giants are going to offer a dance version of “Earth” by Meshell Ndegeocello online for 99 cents. What makes this step particularly bold is that they will be selling it as an MP3, an insecure format which the recording industry has been adamantly avoiding for fear of digital piracy. What makes it particularly smart is that this is what the public wants – up till now, the recording industry has been obsessed with finding a secure digital format for their releases, but have been finding, not surprisingly, that people don’t want to pay for music that can only be listened to on a limited number of devices or for a limited amount of time. So while they’ve been scrambling to find a secure format which would offer them the control they want, online piracy has been running rampant, leaving execs scratching their heads and blaming music services like Napster, Morpheus and Kazaa for their troubles. I think the labels may find, if given the chance, that people are not so dead set against paying for music. People want to be able to support their favourite artists, but they don’t want to pay a ridiculous amount for a bloated CD that contains one or two good songs and a pile of filler. They also want to be able to listen to the music they buy wherever and however they want. “I think you’ll be able to count the number of sales on one hand. As soon as one person gets it, its all over the (peer-to-peer) networks for free,” laments one critic. He may be right. Piracy is always going to be a concern – peer-to-peer technology is here and it’s not going anywhere, no matter how many lawsuits are brought. And that’s a big problem for the way the labels have been trying to do business in the internet economy – they’ve been trying to impose their old-world control on a medium that is grounded in a very different philosophy. Rather than giving people what they want, they’ve been giving people what they want to give them. Until they learn the difference, the internet pirates will be calling the shots.


An excerpt from Geeks by Jon Katz:

“For me, writing this right now, being a geek means being a willing member of a growing community of social discontent, an intelligent community of libertarians, artists, dreamers, and builders. Technology is just the ticket in, the magic is the discontent and imagination, never being satisfied, and being creative about it. Everyone can use a computer, not everyone is a geek.”

oh, the adventure of it all…

Had quite the weekend… took till today to fully recover, absorb everything, and write about it.

At some point in the last few months I decided that it was time to find something new and challenging to devote my time and energy to. I’ve spent the last year getting myself into good physical condition, I might as well use it. This decision has recently materialized in my interest in Adventure Racing. Adventure Racing is a multi-sport team challenge that generally involves Mountain Biking, Orienteering (map/compass), Trekking, Canoeing, and ropes (rappelling, tyrolean traverse..). Race durations can be anywhere from 4hrs to 36hrs to several-to-many days.

The first race I’m able to do (really busy summer this year) is this July – one of the Subaru Adventure Racing Series by ARC. There’s a 6-8hr race, and a 24-36hr race. I’m hoping to do the 24-36hr Outback race on July 6-7 – pending approval by potential teammates.

This past weekend, I took part in a weekend-long clinic by the gang at Synergy. What a fantastic time! We spent the first day-and-a-half learning and practicing all the skills required for AR, and the afternoon of the second day was spent putting it all together in a 5hr race. It was very physically demanding, as you can imagine – an entire weekend of physical activity – hiking, biking, rappelling, climbing, canoeing… I realized shortly before our technical bike instruction that I hadn’t been on my Bike in about 2 years – and it felt like it. My legs have finally recovered today. Ankles are still a little sore from hiking through the bush up and down hills on and off trails… I learned a lot about my physical limits and where I have to place my focus in my training over the next few months…

I think the thing that is attracting me most to AR is the element of self-discovery. It’s easy in life to fall into a certain complacency – living life on autopilot, for the sake of security. We like to feel warm, safe, and comfortable – rarely pushing our limits or taking risks. The road to self-discovery lies beyond this security blanket that we build for ourselves – our daily routines and our daily comforts and our fears. To really feel alive is to push beyond these perceived limitations.

The only way to defeat fear is to face it head-on. The only way to truly feel life is to take it head-on.

Adventure Racing can be gruelling. Ever seen Eco-Challenge? Granted, those races are on a massive scale, but imagine doing any amount of physical activity and sustaining it for many hours or even days on end. Then add the unpredictable nature of AR – dealing with poor weather, physical and mental exhaustion, equipment malfunction, team dynamics… Mix it all up and you’ve got yourself one helluva journey.

Mike Figgis, Hotel, The Hollywood Machine, and The Chicken vs. The Egg

Mike Figgis is well on his way to being considered one of the most important filmmakers of our time. Unfortunately, most people will probably never see his recent and arguably most important experimental works.

Never one to shy away from challenging his audience, in 1995 Figgis brought us a gritty, harrowing tale of love and alcoholism in Leaving Las Vegas. The movie, shot on Super 16 film on a budget of just $4 million, was dark and visceral and through his intimate shooting style, Figgis managed to engage his actors and, in turn, his audience in a very intense emotional way.

A few years later, Timecode (2000), a 93-minute experimental film shot on Digital Video in real time on four cameras, all of which are seen on screen at one time (the screen is divided into four quadrants), pushed the boundaries of filmmaking and began Figgis’s love affair with the digital video medium.

His latest work, Hotel, is Figgis’s second forray into Digital Video and a mostly-improvised script (Timecode was improvised around a basic story and timeline). Based on a stripped down version of “the sexiest, bloodiest, foulest piece of clasical theatre writing,” The Duchess of Malfi, Hotel is a play within a play – a feature crew being observed by a documentary crew and one director wanting the other one killed. While shooting, Figgis encouraged experimentation with the cameras’ settings, giving it a trippy, shape-shifting feel. Yet to receive a release date, this film is unlikely to reach a large audience because this type of unconventional film generally strikes fear in the hearts of studio execs, and never make it to wide release.

Jessica Aldred at puts it best: “Figgis demands our utmost commitment as active viewers, and in so doing, asks us to concentrate in an environment — the movie theatre — where we are largely accustomed to being passive, butter-fingered lommoxes.” In a time where Hollywood films keep getting Dumber and Dumber, with titles reflecting the average movie-goer’s attention span (Gone in 60 Seconds), Mike Figgis’s films will mostly, unfortunately, be relegated to small releases and repertory theatres. In the spirit of Leaving Las Vegas’s lead character’s musing, “I don’t know if my wife left me because of my drinking or I started drinking ’cause my wife left me,” Ms. Aldred over at also wonders, “if mainstream movies started dumbing it down because we as viewers didn’t want to be challenged, or if we started dumbing down our expectations as viewers because movies ceased to challenge us.”

Indeed, the old Chicken/Egg debate… whatever the answer, I damn well hope people like Mike Figgis continue to push the envelope and create challenging films, because as long as he and others like him are making them, I will seek them out. Sick of the Hollywood machine? Then you should too.

Why I love The Register

In this story about Micro$oft educational liscencing agreements, you’ll find this paragraph: “In the interests of cheap humour we’re also going to point out that in the first par of the School Agreement 3.0 calculator page it currently says: “For exact pricing, contact an Authorized Educaiton Reseller (AER).” Educaiton? We’ve heard of it…” Let’s hear it for cheap humour!

St. Lawrence River – David Usher

Smells on the air

See there it’s crushing the final impression

The stains on the paper

Where words fell like water

Unearth all the changes that never did matter

I think it’s beginning to freeze here

Caught in the rage and the fire of things

All the brightness that burns me

I’m fumbling through like a child in the dark

When the nakedness comes

I am shocked by the colour the glorious weight of your skin

Comes alive

And I never thought we’d make it back so soon

Might be nice

But I knew you’d be your own destroyer

Comes a time

And I always thought I’d make it up to you

Here please forgive me

Could we escape all the bitterness piled upon bitterness

Held in the face of the things that I don’t understand

Intellectualize over and over

This helplessness suits us

Funny how quiet has slipped to our corners

Worn all our edges away

You are watching breathing and baiting

Wanting and warming and cautiously waiting

For some simple signal to creep cross your conscience

Uncover redemption and oh did I mention

I carried you down to the St. Lawrence River

The banks running dirty the water’s beginning to freeze here

Solid by morning

And I’ll freeze here

Winter by morning

Comes a lie

And I never thought you’d get me back so soon

Might be nice

But it’s only if my own destroyer

Comes alive

And I always knew I’d make it up to you

I saw on your face such a curious grin

As I let go your hand

I was desperate to hold you again

But you’re sinking so deep in the water

Outsmarted myself and so easily gave up what I wanted

Solid by morning

What I wanted

Winter by morning

Comes alive

And I never thought you’d make it up so soon

Might be nice

But I always knew you’re my destroyer

Comes a time

And I always thought I’d make it up to you

Solid by morning

And I’ll freeze here

Winter by morning