Thursday, February 09, 2006

do you like us? check yes OR YES.

More taffeta. More hairspray. More baked goods. More prizes. Fewer fire alarms:
RECOGNIZE. If you're going to Trevstock, we respect that -- the Autism Partnership is a worthier cause than arts and culture journalism -- but we have a better party, so please come over afterwards! We crave your attention and love just as much as your money. Send valentines and candygrams, fill up your dance card, and break some hearts (just not mine; I already dislocated it).

Our lovely host had some server problems and tech support problems and so forth, which is why The Local Black & Red stopped existing for a while, and then when all the files reappeared there was an FTP path change problem, so that is why there was no updating for a while (although there is normally no good reason for us not updating). THERE WAS AN ELECTION, AND WE COULDN'T MAKE FUN OF IT ON THE INTERNET. Instead we made election night crafts and e-mailed pictures of them to Jack Layton.

Hard at work:

The almost-finished product (his hair and moustache are more filled in now):

The roommate made a shirt in support of an alternative position on the 'stache. We have yet to hear back from Jack Layton (whose victory song was "Money City Maniacs," if you were paying attention, and we were). Nor did we win a Hockey Night In Canada jersey/Stephen Harper bio prize pack from CBC's After The Vote for our efforts.

If you're still into election jokes, the Subliminal Party's spoof Liberal attack ads (link via Jordon) remain eighty-five different kinds of brilliant, and are possibly even funnier now that they are making fun of the actual Prime Minister. (Funnier in that "laugh so you don't cry" sort of way. So how about that Cabinet? HOLY EFF.) We have also grown fond of the comic Don't Tell The Queen.

More no longer timely content we couldn't post:
dark aged and confused: a review of Tristan + Isolde

The Local Black & Red has waxed lyrical about James Franco before, and once we actually recognized him as the shirtless guy in the Tristan + Isolde commercials, we made a date with destiny. Or rather, density. A quick visual survey of the other people attending the opening show confirmed that the advertisers had effectively reached their target market of 16-24 year old girls. The trouble is that Tristan + Isolde is a crappy love story and passable political drama that really wants to be Braveheart, told through a script that could have been beneficially rewritten by an eleven-year-old. There's way more violence than sex, there's way more "sex" than any actual reason for the titular characters to be so attached to each other, and thus a classic tragedy becomes instead a tragic mess. I liked the fighting parts because mostly no one said anything cringeworthy during them. If you have tried to make a romantic tearjerker, and when the credits roll, almost everyone in the theatre STARTS GIGGLING, this is not a good sign.

James Franco's hair does most of the acting for him. Tristan mostly mopes around like he just got his Ph.D in Misery from Sadsack University, sometimes with his shirt off, while his hair becomes fantastically filthy, frozen, complicated, and enormous at various points. The hairstylist clearly asked himself "What's my motivation?" more often than any of the cast members.

Also, a still I found on the internet and a crick in my neck made us suspicious of James Franco's "sexy face." Check it out -- sultry:




Overall, I give Tristan + Isolde 2 1/2 dishevelled Jim Morrison haircuts out of 5. If you have no interest in James Franco or the What Not To Wear of screenwriting, don't even rent this.

More blog post equivalents of expired milk to come.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

going overboard at The Boat

(This post brought to you by Optimuscrime: "Why hasn't this been blogged?")

On Christmas Eve Eve, I went to Toronto, and in the company of some Journal staff and alumni, visited The Boat for its Friday night "The Boat Gets The Clap!"* festivities. I was told they involved "a lot of Morrisey."

Wrong boat.

The Boat is a restaurant/bar in the Kensington neighbourhood that has been overtaken by hipsters. Overtaken, mauled, however you want to put it. It looks nondescript enough from the outside, with one of those large, faded plastic signs common in the area. However, up the narrow staircase is a rather uncommon experience. In our case, we had our hands stamped with "KEEP IT UP!" and saw two really skinny guys (one of whom had a fashion mullet) dancing on an otherwise empty dancefloor to "Livin' On A Prayer" by Bon Jovi, lit by one of those rotating light-ball things.

The bar menu is written in black marker on a sheet of paper and taped to a beam that rises out of the countertop. In acknowledgement of the festive season, there was also a sign reading
but with some of the letters backwards. If you asked and it was not your preference, I can only assume you would have to
It looked like the staff had nothing to do with what had happened to the bar, consisting of a middle-aged Asian man and a few younger girls.

We went to sit at our table, in chairs fancily upholstered in a vaguely nautical manner, and admired the portholes in the wall. There was no Morrissey. Mariah Carey, yes, but no Morrissey. Meanwhile, The Boat continued to fill up with "edgily attractive" people with asymmetrical haircuts, and the Labatt 50 continued to flow like water. The water that keeps The Boat afloat.

The Boat is also home to the most attentive table busing ever. I don't know what the staff do in their spare time, whether it is martial arts, or a lot of Whack-A-Mole, or what, but at times there were literally seconds between putting an empty glass on the table and having it whisked away. At time, glasses that were not empty were whisked away. My friend thinks they actually heard the straw from his glass hit the table before they turned around and picked it up. While the efficiency is marvellous, it's also oddly creepy.

There was certainly never any Morrissey, which I didn't necessarily have a problem with, but the music was absolutely baffling. It pretty much stayed mainstream hip-hop/R&B and '80s all night. The DJs were local scenesters and band members from outfits whose names I have forgotten Lang telling me. These people played THREE MARIAH CAREY SONGS BETWEEN THEM. And the patrons drank their beer and danced.

In fact, one of the dirtiest men alive, Jesse Keeler from Death From Above 1979, showed up in a sideways, straight-brim Yankees cap and a bordering-on-puffy jacket. And it was the weirdest thing ever.

It's not necessarily that The Boat was bad: it just didn't make any sense. Was I supposed to appreciate it ironically? Had I been brought to a time and space beyond irony? Was I allowed to enjoy it un-ironically? Would enjoying it ironically make me a jerk? How much did I drink?

We did try to seek out better entertainment nearby, but that was a mistake. Someone said a bar down the street called Neutral was supposed to play "alternative dance." The sign reading NEU+RAL maybe should have tipped us off, but when we got inside, it took us about thirty seconds to realize we were listening to industrial music in a goth bar and leave. When we asked the bouncer at The Supermarket what they had going, he answered "FUNKSOUL. Just funk and soul," and gave us a look that suggested we return to the sea.

So, that was The Boat. I'm torn between being curious enough to return, and having no desire to ever go there again.

*To my throngs of suitors: fear not, I didn't actually get the clap. Why am I telling you this on the Internet instead of just yelling it out my window? Aren't all those candles a fire hazard? If you burn down my apartment, you get to NO BASE.

Friday, December 30, 2005

to eat your heart out, or not to eat your heart out?

A couple of days ago Lesley made a post about the "eat-your-heart-out mentality" of running into exes or people who have rejected you to rub in how much better you're doing without them and how they clearly made a mistake in passing you up. Whenever I'm back in K-W, I keep an eye out for certain boys I went to highschool and junior high with, because I look a lot different now (recently suggested 'ironic' T-shirt slogan: "I Was Fatter In High School"). If you currently find me unattractive, you have no idea how far I've come. Unfortunately, I never do run into said boys. And I didn't want to tonight because I have a large red pimple in the middle of my nose. You're welcome for sharing.

I took my mom to see the no-longer-new Harry Potter movie at the mall cineplex where I used to work in highschool. While we were in line to have our tickets taken, I turned around to look at the concession stand, and after a lot of staring and squinting, was pretty certain I saw one of the boys who rejected me in highschool working behind the counter. I couldn't be completely sure from that distance, but I was about 85% sure. And he wasn't just some small hiccup in my personal history, but the gentleman who I had for some reason allowed to totally shipwreck my self-esteem for years. He also happened to bear an uncanny resemblance to Harry Potter, to bring things full-circle.

Hidden in the crowd of people in line, large pimple safely tucked away, I felt pretty self-satisfied. I had gotten out of Waterloo and gone on to . . . okay, waste my potential so that I was too embarrassed to go visit my highschool teachers last week, but the point is I left, and there he was, 22 and working the terrible job I'd had at 17. HA. I win. Right?

Maybe not:
  1. I was laid off from that job at the end of my first summer and never hired back because I was crappy at upselling. This was by no means a mass layoff. I think they got rid of an entire three or four employees from the concessions department of a 10-screen cineplex. You do the math.
  2. Minimum wage is higher now than it was when I was working there.
  3. The summer they employed me was one of the worst for movies in recent memory, so I could only use my free passes on winners like Planet Of The Apes, America's Sweethearts, and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.
  4. Okay, the uniforms are still really awful, but they are less awful than the one I had.
  5. At least he has a job. I'm currently unemployed and the last job I held was with Queen's Telefundraising (although frankly, I kind of liked it -- a lot better than the theatre job for sure).
  6. Since I graduated, my love life has not exactly improved.
Kind of a mixed bag . . . maybe it was somebody else. Yeah. 85% sure it was somebody else. Because really, what are the odds?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

big pimpin'

For the season of conspicuous consumption, my aunt and uncle gave me a ridiculously pimped-out white housecoat, or bathrobe, or something. It is resplendent and funny regardless of its purpose. It reminds me of those hip-hop videos that take place in tropical or pseudo-tropical locations, where the guys sit around the pool all covered up in fancy white bathrobes while surrounded by hot, wet, oiled-up women in bikinis who stroke the guy's forearms suggestively and moan a lot. Except I would be sitting by the empty pool behind my apartment building, which overlooks a frozen Lake Ontario, surrounded by fully-clothed, tall shaggy-haired dudes with big noses who would be totally indifferent to my presence, because apparently I'm into that, and arguing about who has more scene points while I performed a hip-hop remix of Yes' "Owner of a Lonely Heart," cold and ignored, but wearing an awesome bathrobe. I feel like that video would not make it to "VIBE-Rated" status on Much.

In light of my tendency to fail at . . . well . . . most of the things that are important to me, or that should be important to me, I have decided to adopt a second WWJD: What Would Jay-Z Do? It's not like I'm jumping ship on the OG WWJD -- I can deduce that Jesus didn't hand in all his Hebrew school assignments late, or sleep through class, or skip his exams, or go to synagogue hungover -- but I feel like some contemporary guidance would also be useful. As a successful businessman ("I'm not a businessman -- I'm a BUSINESS, MAN!") and artist, I am sure Jay-Z has an excellent work ethic and good time management skills. I need to do a little more hustling and a little less paralyzed-by-simultaneous-fears-of-failure-and-success. Maybe I will get an inspiring Jay-Z poster for my work space in the New Year. It will also remind me that I have a limited at best future in drug dealing or hip-hop and should probably stay in school (because obviously that's all I can do without a degree???).

I told Vanessa about my plan, and she said "Oh Jay-Z, if you can motivate Meghan, is there anything left you CAN'T do?" and I said "Shut your face or I'll have my posse pepper-spray you faster than you can say 'R. Kelly.'"

The above jokes were:
a) one year behind the times
b) about two years behind the times
c) so irrelevant as to be edgy and provocative
d) NO.

Almost everyone and their dog has seen this, but if you and your cat have not, here's SNL's amazing Chronicles of Narnia rap, "Lazy Sunday." That's what I want to be when I grow up.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

master debaters

Like the suckers we are, Vanessa and I spent Friday night watching the English language leaders' debate. Optimus Crime has a debate roundup that stole most of our observations and jokes, and demonstrated a less-wandering attention span. For our part, we spent a lot of time complaining that the NDP's PM lingo bingo cards were not keeping us adequately occupied.

But in my ongoing attempts to further trivialize politics, I offer the following supplementary notes:
  • Seriously, Gilles Duceppe kept doing Blue Steel (or "Acier Bleu," if you will). I couldn't find an appropriate picture but if you watched it, you know. Or maybe it was actually Ferrari and he's saving Blue Steel for the January debate.
  • The Conservative Party is so dedicated to looking consistent on the issues that Stephen Harper's hair DOESN'T EVEN MOVE. It was totally Ken hair.
  • If Jack Layton shaved his moustache, he would look like Peter Mansbridge.
  • The NDP's debate strategy, in full:
    -Ed Broadbent
    -"send more New Democrats to Parliament"
    -Ed Broadbent
    - forceful hand gesture
    -rinse, lather, repeat
  • Apparently rock stars are the new avenue to political legitimation or lack thereof. Not only did Layton think it was important to mention that Bono had withdrawn his support for the Martin government, but moderator Trina McQueen mentioned attending Parliament with "a rock star" who was appalled by the undignified behaviour of MPs. We assume that this rock star was also Bono, and we also predict that if Bono finds out about all of this, his head will finally actually explode.
  • Paul Martin is the Prime Minister of Canada, not the President of Math: "What Quebecers, they want to be respected and they want to know where their role is within Canada. Think about what's happened here. Six million people of an English-speaking population of 300 million and they have got some of the greatest artists in the world ..." (Six million French-speakers of a population of 30 million, you mean? Don't thank me, just give me a Senate appointment.)
  • We were both horrified to hear the NDP, of all parties, imply that Parliament would operate in a more dignified manner if it only included more women.
    MEGHAN: Hey, do you think Parliament would be more dignified if I was elected?
    MEGHAN: I think I've written too much embarrassing stuff on the Internet to be able to run for office.
  • During Martin's impassioned pro-federalist speech, Duceppe danced like a chicken. We are not kidding you.

- We watched the National following the debate, and there was a "fact-check" segment in which some tweed-suited guy refuted several of the statistical claims made by the leaders . . . but only by Duceppe, Harper, and Martin. Apparently the Liberals didn't make any mistakes. I mean, obviously Canada has a population of 300 million. (It's in the partial debate transcript on the CBC site, you can check it.) There's also the already much-covered issue in which the CBC in a 'non-editorial' news feature described a Liberal poll lead as 'promising'.
- A couple of weeks ago in the grocery checkout line I burst out laughing at the cover of Maclean's, which featured a picture of Jack Layton with the tagline "WHO IS THIS MAN . . . AND WHY IS HE GOING TO BE RUNNING THE COUNTRY?" or something to that effect. Yesterday I saw the cover of the current issue of Maclean's, featuring a picture of BC New Democrat Svend Robinson to go along with a cover story encouraging British Columbians not to vote for him. The logical conclusion is that Maclean's is in no way concerned about the Liberals losing votes to the NDP, at all.

As to the title of this post, it is not just a cheap joke but an awkward reminder of my past. I was involved in debating in highschool and was actually really good at it, until I quit in Grade 11 or 12. After one tournament in which I took home some hardware, one of the Debating Club staff supervisors obliviously wrote a morning announcement containing the phrase "master debater Meghan Harrison . . ." The student announcer barely got through it without giggling and it continued to haunt me for a year-and-a-half. And now I put it on the Internet for posterity, which is clearly a smart move. GOOGLE THAT, FUTURE EMPLOYERS. GOOGLE THAT.

I am back in Kitchener-Waterloo for the holidays. My mom is currently preparing an early Christmas dinner and just asked me how to set a table. Since I don't set the table for microwaved dinners, she had to call our neighbour.

PS: "Bartending" a Scottish family gathering = busy time.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

there but for the grace of God goes your brain

Exam season has begun, wherein I get up early each day to figure out new and innovative ways to procrastinate. My possibly-illegal cable just inexplicably shuffled all the channels and lost clear reception of TBS, so I'm going to have to get creative here. As badly as this might affect my academic performance, I'm still doing better than some other people. For instance, I have a friend at another university who is TA-ing a course about women in the Christian tradition, and today she received this e-mail:

If you're a politics student like I am, you can almost pretend that reading about politics on the Internet is studying. If not, you can just say that becoming a more informed citizen is a productive use of your time. Either way you're clear to go take the Vote By Issue Quiz (link from Meredith), which presents you with the anonymous stances of the Liberals, NDP, Conservatives, and BQ on twelve issues, and then tells you who you agreed with and disagreed most with at the end. (You can take the quiz without including the BQ positions if you're only interested in, say, looking at things you can actually vote for.)

My results:
You agreed with:
Paul Martin on 7 issues
Stephen Harper on 3 issues
Jack Layton on 11 issues
You disagreed with:
Paul Martin on 5 issues
Stephen Harper on 9 issues
Jack Layton on 1 issue
Oh, I'm sorry, is my social democrat showing?

Another fun way to not really do anything is to use Pandora (link via Brian), which is a web program that analyzes the musical qualities of an artist or song you enjoy and then generates an Internet radio playlist of songs and artists with the same musical qualities. I can't quite enjoy this because my soundcard has been broken for months, but the recommendations it gave me that I recognized sounded pretty right-on. The program will get smarter when you give it feedback, and is also very polite when it is slow or malfunctioning (Bill Gates, are you paying attention?). But isn't it kind of depressing if a computer program can figure out your musical taste for you? WONDER-KILLER.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

boys will laugh at girls when they're not funny

("Artist's rendition" of the chalkboard in the QP earlier this week)

Today I went to the bank to pay my rent, which was indeed two days late -- not because I am broke but because I don't have any sense, any sense of time. On my way to the bank I was thinking that I need to set up automatic withdrawal of my rent from my bank account, because this is not the first time I've done this. But that was before The Cutest Bank Teller Evs, who made me very embarrassed that I had let myself go to the bank looking like I did a 100-yard dash in a 90-yard gym. He had a warm chuckle, and possibly a whimsical sweater, but I may have added that in lovestruck post-production. It was probably just a nice sweater, not a whimsical one. Forget automatic withdrawal -- I will not let my landlord or my credit rating stand in the way of our love, which I anticipate would be full of warm chuckles, and complaints about his facial hair. And for some reason, whatever I envision has an overwhelmingly green decorating scheme ... anyway, A+ in customer service for Chris from TD! Oh creepy.

After a week of school-related sleep deprivation, I slept for 12 hours last night (7 PM to 7 AM) and it was glorious. Also, according to this 200% GENIUS Black Table article linking violence in gangster rap to sleep deprivation, it may have prevented me from busting a cap in your ass:
In songs like Eminem's "6 in the Morning" and Avant's, um, "Six in the Morning," and in others by Nick Cannon, 2Pac, and Jay-Z, it's never over 'til six in the a.m., the hour at which everyone's Escalades presumably turn into pumpkins. When Christina Aguilera went hip hop, she bragged of being up 'til then in one song and then, in another, one-upped the entire hip hop community by keeping it popping til eight a.m ... In any case, whether it's six or eight in the morning ... it's easy to see why everyone knew LL Cool J had gone soft when he bragged on his comeback album of staying out 'til a school-girlish 1 a.m. in a track titled, what else, "1 in the Morning."
But would street violence really be put to rest if rappers didn't go around chugging Pimp Juice, Crunk!!!, Stinger, and DefCon 3 in order to get it on til the early morn? Well, just remember that Ice Cube didn't have to use his AK when "It Was A Good Day," and that's because that day ended at a reasonable 2 a.m. with a sobering, delicious Fatburger. He was "drunk as hell but no throwing up," and he didn't answer his pager although it was still blowing up. After all, who could be calling at that hour?