Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sad scenes and dodging paranoia

Hey, everyone. I haven't posted in ages, but there's a valid explanation. See, I started this blog at the beginning of January as a New Year's resolution intended to spur me to write more often. However, Chinese New Year rolled around at the beginning of February, and my main resolution for that holiday was not giving a shit about the blog. No harm, no foul. By the way, my secondary Chinese New Year's resolution was to find out if resolutions are even part of Chinese New Year, lest I come off as a dumbass cultural imperialist with egg on my face. In all honesty, I haven't gotten around to that one yet. Can someone help me out?

In addition, I've been saddled with a horrific cold virus, which I'll explain in geopolitical terms to spruce up the symptoms. See, imagine the top-half of my head being western Pakistan, and the lower half plus neck and chest Afghanistan. Disasterously, mucus jihadists overran the entire works about ten days ago, but international forces (represented by assorted over-the-counter remedies) beat the insurrection back and have reduced it to a smaller, localized rump. Unfortunately, mucus has centralized their operations around the inner-ear region in largely uninhabitable terrain that has been essentially ceded to them (much like the Swat Valley). So while I'm not sneezing and coughing as much, the beachhead in my inner ear/Pakistan endures unmolested, which is incredibly annoying. In other news, suddenly I feel like playing RISK.

Dimensions of the Swat Valley. Not pictured: Jared's anthropomorphized snot warriors.

Anyway, I remain pretty wonky health-wise, so don't feel like doing anything lengthy: here's some abbreviated rants, questions, and general crap. As per usual, it's all over the map, so will hold the attention of approximately nobody.

- It's the eve of Selection Sunday for the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament, and I'm already ridiculously excited regarding potential matchups. There's not really much drama personally, as my team (Wake Forest) is in and locked into a high seed, but the crazy conference tournaments from this week have only served to whet my appetite further. As a bonus, this is the first time in recent memory that the favourite clubs of my entire small college-hoops-watching posse (Wake, Gonzaga, Washington, and Michigan) are all going to appear in the same tournament, so the beery hijinks and smack-talk should be for the ages. I was also reminded of the upcoming tourney at Safeway earlier this evening upon spotting Jeff Teague's photo on a milk carton. Hey, I kid the Teague. Well, sort of. I'll give my picks in a post over the next few days once the matchups are announced, but have no problem sneak-previewing my sleeper team: take a bow, Villanova Wildcats. In a stunningly uncharacteristic display of competent prognostication, I successfully picked them to go to the Sweet 16 last year as a twelve, and they return essentially the same personnel this time around. As mentioned, more to come on the pending roundball buffet in the near future.

Final Four or bust.

- While in the basketballian vein, a simple request to the NBA: stop talking to Canadians like we're stupid, okay? You've been here for fourteen years now. I had Raptors TV on a couple of weeks back, and watched the network's coverage of Toronto's introductory press conference of Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks following the Jermaine O'Neal trade. Before the scrum started, Sherman Hamilton, who really should know better, noted in a disturbingly faux-soothing tone that 'a good trade is one where neither general manager gets fleeced and both teams can move on' (not exactly verbatim). Um...what? At the risk of not sounding sporting, a good trade is one where the other party is on the business end of an egregious goddamn rip-off. This isn't just a basketball thing, Sherm: even in elementary school, kids instictively know that bartering a mealy apple with a clod of dirt to be named later for a chocolate bar is the best possible outcome.

See, the thing about the demise of the Vancouver Grizzlies is that it wasn't about a lack of fan support, passion, or knowledge. It was due to the then-62-cent Canadian dollar and uber-incompetent, silver-tongued Stu Jackson running the team into the ground. For God's sake, the man couldn't even grow a moustache properly. I'll leave it there, as talk of the Grizzlies always leaves me cranky, but we knew the game.

- Am I wrong, or has Gary Roberts retired about five times this season already?

Go away.

- I plan on doing a lengthy music-centric post in the near future (seriously) but, quickly, here are two albums I heartily recommend. The first is Circlesquare's Songs About Dancing and Drugs, which is 2009's first really fantastic record. Circlesquare is the project of one Jeremy Shaw, a native Vancouverite who wisely escaped to Berlin. The disc came out on the K7! label, so I naturally expected pep, but it's actually a laconic, comedown effort with an endearing backdrop of looping instruments and capering observation. The other is a compilation by a band called Manhattan Love Suicides titled Burnt Out Landscapes. I've never been a fan of artists nakedly aping their forbears, but for whatever reason, The Jesus & Mary Chain lends itself exceptionally well to imitators. A miasma of feedback, distortion, female vocals, and subterranean pop hooks, this is really excellent. The JAMC influence is ridiculously visible, admittedly; one of the songs essentially rips off the introduction to 'Upside Down' wholesale. The band hooked me anyway, so their ably covering Daniel Johnston's 'Life In Vain,' which is one of my favourite songs of all time, is gravy. My only gripe about their version is that the guitars in the chorus kind of make the track sound like the theme song for a prime-time soap from the mid-to-late nineties.

- Has the word 'bane' been used even once outside of a heavy-metal context within the past couple of decades?

- I work in Burnaby, and we have crows. Not merely the odd murder, but a veritable blackout commencing each twilight that has been immortalized in at least one Douglas Coupland novel. I've always hated them, especially since they shit all over my beloved Brown Car with impunity. However, I read an archived article about their history on the site the other day, and it kind of made me feel sorry for them. Apparently this was their primary regional roost: the birds come from all corners of Greater Vancouver each night. Rampant development (the office park containing my company's building, a car dealership, Costco, and The Keg) has left the area essentially barren and treeless, so the confused crows perch upon any standing edifice as a poor substitute (I've noticed that they've especially gone hog-wild recently at the construction site of the Morrey Auto dealership across from McDonalds, especially since the walls have started popping up).

Adding insult to injury, apparently the building next door to my workplace thinks that crows are abject morons. As a deterrent, they've mounted several fake owls on the roof of the building. See, that's just not necessary; not only are crows acknowledged as fairly bright amongst the avian set, but they haven't seen nature documentaries, plus I highly doubt they sense predators purely visually. Not surprisingly, the crows aren't buying the whole thing; the nadir probably came the other day when I was outside on break and spotted a crow perched upon one of the owls.

All of this devil's advocacy aside, though, I really do wish they'd stop crapping on my ride and fuck off toward Burnaby Lake already.

The real deal.

- The Koivu brothers, Saku and Mikko, are probably the closest entity that hockey has appearance-wise to Patrick and Don Swayze. In both instances, the younger brother (Mikko and Don) kind of look like a bastardized, cartoon version of their more recognized sibling.

- What's up with those Vancouver bus shelter ads for CTV Olympic coverage that have the network's talent swathed in white, puffy winter gear? Bill Good and Pamela Martin look like cosmonauts from planet WASP.

- That new Apple commercial bugs the hell out of me. Yeah, so the thing is that 'funnest' is TOTALLY NOT A WORD!!

That's enough. I really do plan on writing more going forward, health willing. Enjoy Selection Sunday, basketball fans.

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