Friday, April 30, 2004

This blog hasn't been nearly self-indulgent enough lately. . .

. . . so, via the blog of new Council of Alberta University Students Executive Director Duncan Wojtaszek:

"I want everyone who reads this to ask me 3 questions, no more no less. Ask me anything you want and I will answer it. Then, I want you to go to your journal, copy and paste this allowing your friends (including myself) to ask you anything."

In other news, the following resolution has been proposed to me:
WHEREAS S. Murray "Steve" Smith believes that his lifestyle is not sustainable environmentally;
WHEREAS Mr. Smith considers a vegetarian lifestyle to be more environmentally friendly than the omnivorous lifestyle that he now enjoys; and
WHEREAS an adjustment to a vegetarian lifestyle is considerably easier a lifestyle adjustment than others with comparable environmental merit,
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT Mr. Smith adopt a vegetarian lifestyle for a trial period from May 1 to August 31 2004, inclusive.

Since you obviously possess good judgment, as evidenced by the fact that you're spending your time reading my blog, I'd like to hear your thoughts on this resolution.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to point out that, once again, Joe Clark is the only federal politician calling a spade a spade. And by the first incidence of "spade", I mean "Stephen Harper," and by the second incidence, I mean "a raving space loon."

Speaking of Stephen Harper, the most amusing aspect of last night's 2002-2003 Students' Union Executive Partial Reunion may have been NDP candidate recruiter and noted feminist Shannon Phillips trying to convince noted misogynist (and, by his own account, future Tory Premier of Alberta) Kail Ross to run as a New Democrat in Mr. Harper's riding.

No longer speaking of Stephen Harper (and do take note of my class in not attempting to draw a segue, here), several of you have requested a man breast update: they appear to be receding. I suppose this is good news, though I'm sort of going to miss them.


Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Ah, the old "Venomous Snake Concealed Under a Million Dollars Cash" trick - should've seen that one coming.

Well, as much as I hate to push that last comment thread further down the page, I'm back to post again, with my promised review of Kill Bill Volume 2.

WARNING: The review in this entry contains spoilers. Those who do not wish to know what happens in Kill Bill Volume 2, do not read anything past the second paragraph (after this one). Those who don't care about it being spoiled, or who already know what happens, probably shouldn't read anything past the second paragraph either. You have been warned.

Since everybody else is doing it, what follows is my review of Kill Bill Volume 2. First, however, a note to whoever located this blog with a Google search for "Steve Smith passion webboard fucking": please me advised that you are one twisted bastard. Also, to all those of you who appear to be searching for some sort of Calgary Flames related William Hung "She Bangs" parody, you'll not find that here. Nor will you find any HOT NAKED PHOTOS OF BIVALVED MOLLUSCS or CHEAP UNDER THE TABLE VIAGRA!

Anyway, on to the review. It could be argued, convincingly, that I am not qualified to be writing this, since I've never seen Volume 1. However, the beauty of the internet is that it liberalizes the means of communication, and allows any random jackass with a computer and an ego to post his thoughts on whatever he wants. I, of course, am not just some random jackass - I am a highly specific jackass, with some highly specific opinions on Kill Bill Volume 2, which may yet be found somewhere in this entry.

Right, review. Kill Bill Volume 2 is a movie which can only be appreciated on its own terms. The problem is that it's more reluctant than a sweaty-palmed used car salesman to reveal its terms. One might assume (in the grand tradition of the pretentious, I'm using "One might assume" to mean "I assumed), from seeing the commercials, that it's a typical vengeance-action movie, and the movie's first chapters (as with the first edition, Volume 2 is divided into five cinematic chapters) seem to make a point of indulging in the genre's worst stereotypes - we get a smooth-talking villain, an unprovoked massacre, and a wildly improbably escape from a deadly situation. The last one, provided by Uma Thurman's unassisted exit from a nailed shut coffin buried six feet underground, is what led me to start mentally composing this review. Well, not *this* review - a review that declared my utter disgust for the movie, using such words as "insipid" and "hackneyed." Indeed, when Darryl Hannah decided to eliminate an adversary by hiding a Black Mamba in a suitcase full of cash, I was almost ready to walk out, offended by what I saw as the movie's lack of respect for its viewers - Hannah, remember, was playing a highly-trained assassin, yet she for some reason found it appropriate to, in assassinating another highly-trained assassin, employ one of the most needlessly risky methods available.

But then my perspective changed. As Hannah and Thurman faced off in the trailer of Bill's poisoned brother, each with one of the world's finest Katana's in her hands, and as the scene ended without a sword fight in one of the most beautifully anti-climactic moments available, with Thurman plucking out Hannah's remaining eyeball, I finally realized what I'd been missing the whole movie: Kill Bill is a comedy! And not an action-comedy in a True Lies sense, either, in which testosterone-infused bloodshed is interrupted for the occasional penis joke, or in which the muscle-bound star makes a few darkly humourous remarks before engaging in more bloodshed. No, Kill Bill is a comedy of the sort in which the "plot" is only an excuse to put the characters in new and more ludicrous situations, and in which the "characters" are only action figures to fill the ludicrous situations. As this type of movie, Kill Bill succeeds magnificently.

For starters, all the actors manage a deadpan that would do Leslie Neilsen (somebody give that man a decent script, for the love of god) proud. Chief among these performances is David Carradine's disarmingly likeable Bill - in fact, I would argue that the highlight of the entire film is the climactic (the term is used loosely, as the movie climaxes less than an eighty year old nun) scene in which Thurman's The Bride meets the daughter that she and Bill conceived before she ran off without him. Granted, it seemed that my friends (including Nathan, who this space's more devoted readers will recall for his inappropriate laughter during The Passion of the Christ) and I were the only ones in the theatre laughing as Bill explained to his child how he "shot Mommy for real," but I maintain that this is one of the funniest moments in cinema this millenium.

I said that Bill was disarmingly likeable - in fact, all of the villains are, and the audience is almost invited to develop a closer connection with them than with The Bride (connections between audience and characters are irrelevant, mind you, as they are in any good farce). This is partly due to their detachment; rather than active participants in the story, the villains seem like they're there only to play a specific role. It's not that the movie elects not to show what role they play in life besides that of antagonist, it's that the movie decides to show, quite clearly, that they play no other role. As a result, these deliberately one-dimensional characters never get in the way of the comedy. This is best illustrated early in the film when Michael Madsen, as Bill's brother Budd, remarks to the title character that The Bride "deserves her revenge, and we deserve to die." Then again, he notes, "so does she." Nothing personal about these characters' one-track efforts to kill Uma, you see, it's just how things are supposed to work - you know, for the comedy.

Another highlight, which I haven't yet managed to work into this review's flow but which bears mentioning (my decision to just stick it in is actually reflective of the movie's own style, rather than of negligence, laziness, or incompetence on my part): as The Bride attempts to carry out her final assassination for Bill, she is harassed a (female) counter-assassin, who she eventually dissuades by showing her the positive results of her pregnancy test. "Congratulations," says the counter-assassin as she edges away, gun trained on Thurman all the while. At this point, not even that liberated male that I am could resist the thought that maybe if Bill's target had employed a male, the movie would have been a whole lot shorter.

If Kill Bill Volume 2 has a weakness, it would be the denouemont - after all, as every junior high school English student knows, the denouemont follows the climax, and Kill Bill doesn't bother with one of those. It ends off sort of abruptly, knowing that after delivering two solid hours of gut-busting laughs, the audience isn't going to complain (still more evidence that the movie is a screwball comedy rather than an action movie - after all, she killed bill - what the hell else do the viewers want?). And if Tarantino doesn't have to come up with a real ending to his movie, I don't see why I should have to do so for my review.

Finally, it's been said that no review of Kill Bill would be complete without noting Gordon Liu's brilliant work as Pai Mei. Consider it noted.


Sunday, April 25, 2004

In hindsight, eating that Habanero Pepper was pretty fucking dumb.

This is just a shot in the dark, but do any of you folks happen to know the meaning of life?

Tomorrow: my review of Kill Bill Volume 2. Probably.


Friday, April 23, 2004

As I put the kettle on to boil...

Sister: Are you making tea?
Me: Yes.
Sister: Nerd.
Me: Making tea is nerdly now?
Sister: No, not really; I just thought I'd remind you that you are.

Classified advertisements:

1. I am on a mixed team for the Kananaskis 100 mile relay, and we are short a female runner. If you are a female runner (or, if not a female runner, at least a female capable of running from eight to twelve miles), and you would like to run in the Kananaskis relay, please contact me. You don't need to be fast, just willing.
2. I am responsible for making a dessert for a barbecue tomorrow. If you have a good recipe, please give it to me.

Quote of the day:

"I want to use the phrase 'Ceci n'est pas un blog' sometime."
- Chris Jones

"You will receive good advice from your accountant. . ."

Courtesy of Thomas comes the following game, which everybody on the planet except for Roman Kotovych and me apparently already knew about: when receiving a fortune cookie, attach the words ". . . in bed" at the end of its fortune. For example, last night I received a fortune reading "You are broad-minded and socially active." Those who know me will realize that a less accurate fortune could scarcely be conceived. But wait: simply add the words ". . . in bed" on the end, and you're left with "You are broad-minded and socially active. . . in bed." Apparently, we spoke too soon when we indicated that it couldn't have become less accurate.

This game, according to a study which employed a sample size of ten, makes eighty percent of fortunes more amusing. Even one of the ones that didn't work - "You will receive good news by mail. . . in bed" - at least *sounded* kinky, even if it did not, technically speaking, make any sense. The most amusing was "Accept the next proposition you hear. . . in bed."

In other news, I have started using MSN Messenger. Those of you whose e-mail addresses I have not immediately succeeded in tracking down should add me to your contacts list - steve dot smith at ualberta dot ca - that I might reciprocate and, in increasing the size of my Messenger contacts list, have my existence validated.

Thank you to whoever ran a Google search for ' "Steve Smith" "U of A" ' and thereby rectified the previously identified situation in which plenty of people had found my blog by searching for other people, but none had done so by searching for me.

Finally, noted Computer Science wannabe, Faculty Association Presidential sister, lurker on my blog, and current possessor of my Father Ted tapes Vanessa Thomas has started a blog. Actually, she started it several months ago, but I was only recently able to crack her top secret URL.

Go Wings.


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Sometimes I think I'm the only sane one left in the asylum

First of all, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I'm not a hockey fan, I'm an Oilers fan. In a recent blog entry, Janet makes this distinction more articulately (and at greater length) than I care to - for me, suffice it to say that I would rather watch a Ryan Smyth garbage goal than a Pavel Bure top shelf wrist shot. It also means that I'm not sure what team Pavel Bure plays for now, though I think it may be the Rangers. That is, if he's still playing at all, since I vaguely recall hearing that his career might be over due to an injury of some kind (concussions? No, that was Lindros. Knees? Hey, is Lindros still playing? For who?). Anyway, the upshot of all of this is that, what with the Oilers being out, I haven't watched a single playoff game this year, even though many accounts are calling this year's the most exciting playoffs of the last decade. Still, though, I don't live under a rock, and it's nice to have at least a vague idea of who I'm cheering for.

According to Dan Barnes, I should be cheering for the Flames.

Allow me to digress a moment, and compare the present situation to that which occurred during the Stanley Cup finals of two years ago - Detroit against Carolina. I was torn. On the one hand, Detroit was a city which knew and appreciated hockey (even Paul Simon saw fit to note in "Papa Hobo": "Detroit, Detroit, got a hell of a hockey team"). It played a game based on skill and, as much as anybody did, offense. It was captained by Steve Yzerman, the only remaining throwback to the glory years to play his entire career with one team. It featured Brendan Shanahan, one of my favourite non-Oilers. Carolina, by contrast, is a state in which hockey ranks below Tractor Pulling on a list of most people's preferred diversions. Its hockey team trapped like an unemployed bushman. On the other hand, compare the teams' payrolls. In the end, I pulled for Carolina, albeit mostly so I could say "Go Hartford!" at the end of the U of A cheer song.

On the face of it, my choice this year in the Detroit-Calgary series should be much easier. While all of the good things about Detroit continue to apply, Calgary, unlike Raleigh, is a hockey town. The Flames play much the same sort of game as the Oilers - a skill game, despite not being able to afford more than a couple of players with both skill and consistency. On the other hand, they're the freakin' Flames!

It's been suggested to me that in today's hockey climate, an irrational grudge against our fellow small market team to the South is a luxury we can no longer afford, and that we should get behind all of the small market Canadian teams knowing that, as they go, so go we. After all, times have changed: both teams used to be consistently competitive for the Cup, now I can't even name the last year they both made the playoffs. The pride of St. Albert used to be an Oilers icon, now the new pride of St. Albert is a Flames star, while the old one finally seems on the verge of retirement from the New York Rangers. We used to have Fuhr vs. Vernon, now we have Conklin (who?) vs. Kripusoff (who?). And, truth be told, on some level I'm happy for the Flames fans - yes, Ross, Kail, Jake, Nick, Duncan, that applies to you - which certainly wasn't the case in 1989.

On the other hand, they're the freakin' Flames. And the fact that an Alberta team is in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs is enough to convince me that things haven't changed that much. The fact that the Flames are once again competitive is reason to cheer against them, not for them. Go Red Wings.

* * *

1. I know I promised that that rant would be one of my best, but I seem to have lost some of my passion for it with the whole "Sound(s) of Silence" thing.

2. Over on Duncan Taylor's blog, the following question has been posed:

"How the hell did Steve loose that election? Every fucking blog on the internet is linked to his. He has his own religion or something... Oh right. No Volunteers + No classroom speaking + personality of a broomstick = no presidency for you"

My response:

- Sadly, not *every* blog on the internet is linked to mine. Despite my repeated phone calls, e-mails, and visits to his house in the middle of the night, Paul Wells has yet to provide me with a reciprocal link.
- It's not surprising to me that I have my own religion. What *would* surprise me would be if said religion counted adherents other than myself.
- Back in my agnostic days, I harboured a secret desire to become a televangelist: "Your eternal soul, assuming that it exists, may or may not condemned to hell unless you live your life according to the dictates of the Bible! Or possibly the Koran! Send money." And not to brag, but I *do* have a knack for chastity.
- I actually did have volunteers, one of whom refused to be publicly seen volunteering since he was applying for an S.U. job post-election and was afraid that whoever beat me would hold the fact that I volunteered for me against him. He put up some posters for me in Corbett under the cover of darkness.
- I engaged in classroom speaking, too, until it became apparent to me that I was so bad at it that it was actually hurting my campaign.
- I've been told that I have more personality than my own stool, though the person who told me that admitted to never having met my stool (and expressed no desire to do so).

3. Kim "ravie" Unknownlastname has started a blog, and says nice things about mine in her first post. Aww.


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Hear my words that I might berate you

This was supposed to be a brilliant rant - one of my best, it was shaping up to be - on why I was refusing to jump on the "Go Flames Go" bandwagon that seems to be weaving its way through Edmonton. I had it all worked out in my head. I was all worked up in my head. There was geneuine foam eminating from my mouth on the topic. I could hardly wait to get to a computer and pound it out.

Then I looked at the newspaper, and remembered that there are far more serious atrocities in the world: to wit, Blender Magazine ranks "The Sound(s) of Silence" as the forty-second worst rock song of all time. Well, I thought I was foaming at the mouth *before* reading that. . .

It should be noted that Blender deserves credit for trying. If I'd been charged with a similar task, I probably just would have copied and pasted Barry Manilow's entire discography and taken lunch early. And again to its credit, it's tough to argue with some of the choices - the list opens with Celine Dion's putrid "My Heart Will Go On," a piece of sap-laced dog feces whose sole redeeming feature is that it gave rise to one of the most immature parodies of all time in "My Fart Will Go On" (all together, now: "Every night in my room, I hear you, I smell you. . ."). The presence of the New Kids on the Block is self-explanatory, and "Achy Breaky Heart" and "She Bangs" (the Ricky Martin version, not the far superior William Hung one) are also no-brainers.

But come on: "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" as number forty-eight? A little overrated, yes, and not among the Beatles' best, but including any Beatles track at all on a list purportedly of the worst songs - not the worst songs that have endured forty years, not the worst songs by otherwise brilliant artists, but the worst songs in music history - reeks of a wannabe music snob magazine trying to prove itself by assuming an inverse correlation between popularity and quality. Memo to Blender: sometimes things are popular *because* they're good. Other times, they're popular because people are stupid. It's all about nuance.

Even the number one choice - Starship's "We Built This City" - is something of a let-down. While it's hardly a classic, naming a generic turn-it-up-while-driving-down-the-highway rock song as parade marshall to the worst music of all time seems a little weak.

As for Paul Simon's inclusion on the list, Blender notes "If Frasier Crane were a song, he would sound like [the Sound(s) of Silence]." Well, truth be told, I like Frasier, too (or I used to - I haven't actually seen a single episode since Niles and Daphne ran off together, though I may watch the series finale).

So, in summary, the list is pig doots. I could come up with a list of fifty worse songs just going through my own CD collection (which, needless to say, includes only the highest quality tunes). Let's see, we've got Bob Seger's "Horizontal Bop," The Who's "Boris the Spider," Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" (if you do not believe that this is a bad song, you have never heard me sing in the shower - "Fire Awa-a-a-a-y!"), and - let's be honest - pretty well anything by Steve Miller, except maybe "The Joker" (one day, I will learn the meaning of the word "pompetus"). Then there's the CD by Global Edmonton news anchor Gord Steinke, which I picked up in a Toronto pawn shop for two bucks, and whose omission from Blender's list must only be due to the magazine's ignorance of its existence.

Hell, if I wanted to - and I don't, for it would be a truly soul-wrenching exercise - I could probably cull a list of fifty Paul Simon songs more deserving of a spot on the list than "the Sound(s) of Silence."

The "Fifty Worst Songs of all Time"? Sorry, Blender, looks more like "Fifty Ways to Kill Your Credibility" to me.

Coming later: "Why I'm Cheering for Detroit" and "How My Parents Got Married."


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

If you make sixty percent of my mark dependent on a three hour open book exam, of *course* I'm not showing up for your class during the term

I just finished my last exam. As the prof came around getting us all to sign the sheet of paper indicating we were at the exam, he stopped at my desk.

"Are you in my class?"


"Could I see some identification?"


Monday, April 19, 2004

"Steve does not have many friends..."

Because that last entry was so dull, I'm making another one right now - my favourite reference letter of all time, written by one of my high school teachers when I was applying for the Parliamentary Page Program in Ottawa (I did make the second round of interviews, but failed to proceed further):

"Sir, Madam,

I hereby declare that I totally support any program that involves Steve Smith moving to Ottawa for an extended period of time. Not only will this be beneficial for the general well-being of our province, but Steve is actually somwaht qualified for this position. I make this statement based on two painful years as Steve's teacher in French Language Arts and Social Studies classes at Paul Kane High School in St. Albert, Wild Rose Country.

The position for which Steve is applying is related to the government, which Steve follows a lot more than the average gifted teenager. Steve is very well-briefed on his side of political issues, and is willing to argue about them loudly and clearly. He will take your position and make it appear ridiculous - in his eyes, at least, which are the only ones that matter to Steve. He will not hesitate to declare you a fascist or a separatist, which demands an ability that comes naturally to Steve: to overlook traditional courtesy and social skills. As far as tact and diplomacy go, he will remind you of a young Pierre Trudeau, but with slightly stronger opinions. With those qualities, he belongs in Ottawa.

Steve has been in French Immersion for all of his scholastic life, and is now able to ramble on for quite some time in a loosely-structured and jumpy, yet imaginative, use of the French language. His English is almost as good as it is fast. He will let you introduce your position, and then take it down with sharp criticism. He is known for interrupting while in discussion, and for being able to put you in your place with only a brief, demeaning, glare. Steve does not have many friends, and prefers to walk against the wall rather than to challenge the flow of the crowd while navigating his way in the school's halls. He is very effective at pointing people where to go in their visits to the school, and that IS good experience.

Steve is what could be called an effort-challenged but talented individual, able to produce barely acceptable work when not motivated and some occasional quality work when he deems the task interesting enough to actually be worthy of his effort. Lots of potential here!

For all of these reasons, please use Steve in Ottawa for as long as you can. Extend the program if necessary. Alberta should have some sort of emergency fund for doing so what with those huge surpluses.

Thanks you for listening,

[Name deleted]"

He actually provided another, more flattering letter, for me to actually send, but this one was more honest.

I should be depressed, my life's a mess, but I'm having a good time

The good news is that this is shaping up to be the first term since Winter 2001 in which I pass one hundred percent of my courses. The bad news is that my GPA is still likely to be the lowest it's been in a while. I blame the four point scale.

Consider a hypothetical student who takes three courses gets a D, a C-, and a C+ (this student, by the way, truly is hypothetical - if you think I'm posting my grades on my blog, you're crazy). This student will have a GPA of 1.67, and will be immediately required to withdraw, without benefit of academic probation. Those grades' alleged equivalents under the nine point scale would be 4, 5, and 6, respectively, which would result in a GPA of 5 - the student would be permitted to continue studies without even being put on academic probation. I'm also wondering the rationale of requiring students who pass all of their courses to withdraw, while allowing students who fail a substantial minority of their courses but pass the others by large margins to continue. Of course, if we reversed the situation I'd have been kicked out of school some time ago, so perhaps I ought to stop examining that gift horse's mouth.

Oh, and I'm still unemployed, though I applied today for a position with the Edmonton Bar Association for which I consider myself eminently qualified. However, there's only on position, and I imagine that it will be pretty hotly contested, so I'm not holding my breath. I've also put in an application at the plastics factory at which my sister works, though it's worth noting that they wouldn't hire me last summer. If I get truly desparate, I'm pretty well guaranteed to be able to find a spot with a planting company, but that would entail missing Council all summer, and I am truly loathe to do that.

As long as I'm cramming all of my angst into one post, I should note that several people with whom I graduated from high school are now graduating from University and beginning to act like real adults in the sense of renting apartments and getting full-time jobs. Fortunately, since most of my friends from high school are academically-inclined, a good portion of those who graduate this year are moving directly on to graduate studies, which means that I won't notice the difference except insofar as I can no longer count on their votes in Students' Union elections. Perhaps I could convince some of them to take over the GSA.

Still, though, as the title indicates, I can't quite bring myself to be depressed over any of this. That may prove to be to my detriment, but for the time being, I'm enjoying life.

This has been a remarkably boring entry. I promise that my next one will be more rant-like.

When your mother-in-law has one eye, and it's in the middle of her forehead, you don't put her in the parlour.

First order of business - I thought it might interest you to know that, based on my tracking statistics, the following people have stalkers:

Bazin, Josh
Hall, Henday
Hirji, M. Mustafa
Hudema, Mike
Kawanami, Kyle
Nator, Buxi
Prusakowski, Ross
Samuel, Chris
Smith, Jen
Tam, Nick

Either that, or you're all typing your names into Google just to see what happens. Egomaniacs. Strangely, nobody has yet found this site through a search that included *my* name.

The next order of business - apparently I'm eccentric. This doesn't surprise me, but the fact that I'm apparently sufficiently eccentric for a high-ish ranking member of the University of Alberta administration to characterize me as such in private conversations with others does. What maes me more eccentric than anybody else? We all have our characteristics that set us apart - some of us don't shave during election campaigns, while others among us enjoy bathing in baked beans - so what makes one person more eccentric than another?

Back in high school, some friends of mine secretly designated one of our classmates as the most normal person in the school, the idea being that he was the person with the fewest defining characteristics. He adhered to convention, but not so slavishly as to be noteworthy. He passed courses, but not so spectacularily to be memorable. He had interpersonal skills, but not so many that he'd produce conversations worth repeating. Yeah, he was a little dull, but not spectacularily so. He was so remarkably unremarkable that I remember him better than I remember, for example, the guy who tended to shriek at air molecules. I suspect that this relates to my original point somehow - first person to explain to me how wins a dollar.

Third order of business - one exam to go, and then being unemployed becomes *really* embarassing.

I listened to an old favourite today - Spirit of the West's "Political." It's clearly supposed to be about a relationship gone bad, but I always picture an incumbent, defeated in an election. Though I suppose that is a relationship gone bad, of sorts. Perhaps I need professional help.

What is your favourite pentathlon event? Discus.


Saturday, April 17, 2004

Who speaks for the Lorax?

If the ends don't justify the means, why does history so consistently vindicate the likes of John A. MacDonald and Winston Churchill?


Friday, April 16, 2004

Links are the last refuge of the blogger's block inflicted

So it turns out that I'm more interesting in writing than in person. My empirical evidence? Whenever I've seen anybody I know today, his/her first response has been to point out that I haven't updated my blog, and to demand that I immediately cease speaking with her/him and instead mosey off to update this.

The fact that I'm more interesting in writing than in person really ought not to surprise me - after all, I've been paid to write things, but nobody has yet offered me a cheque merely for getting up on a soapbox and ranting (though I'm told that there's entertainment value in that too, so hope shall continue its eternal springing). Still, though, there's something a little distressing in discovering that even your own friends prefer you as the silent eccentric behind the computer monitor than as an actual human being. And really, people, it's not as though I'm any less self-centred or more coherent or interesting in blog form. Hell, my most critically acclaimed entry so far has been a random story about what a hell-raiser I was in my grade eleven English class. I guess what I'm trying to say is as follows: my contempt for all of you knows no bounds.

Contempt, as you surely know, is best mixed with pity, so, in the style of Mr. T (to whom I've been told I bear an uncanny resemblance), I shall identify a person (or "foo'") I pity: the person who located this blog by entering "Stairway to Heaven is About" into Google - sorry, buddy, unless you consider either Duncan Taylor or me to be a rock scholar (not that this is an inherently unreasonable proposition), you'll find little of use here. If you were doing research for some kind of academic paper, I suggest that you write that "Heaven" is supposed to refer to France, and that the "Stairway" of which Zep was prophetically speaking was in fact the Chunnel. Points for originality, anyway, like the time that I argued in a paper that Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" wasn't about drugs (yes, this was in Ms. Updike's class - really, who else would assign a paper on an acid trip?).

As has undoubtedly become apparent, I have nothing of substance to say. Webboard has been a little disappointing in its supply of interesting new threads (though the Greatest Canadian one has morphed into an argument between Mustafa and I on whether Trudeau was a good Prime Minister, which is remarkable only in that I'm pretty sure that I'm winning). The best I can recommend is to head over to Spencer's blog and read the comments to his April 12 entry, which are like a Webboard thread in that Mustafa and Janet argue about Separation of Powers. Fair warning, though: if you read all the way to the end, an unpleasant mental image awaits you.

Meanwhile, in its ongoing and wholly successful efforts to be more interesting than the U of A S.U., the U of C S.U. has just impeached one of its Senate Reps. Since University Senates are even less useful than their federal counterpart, this doesn't really matter that much except insofar as it, along with the election drama and the Presidential censure, makes me wish that I was four hundred kilometres to the South.

The moral of this entry is "Be Careful What You Wish For."


Wednesday, April 14, 2004

"Bam!" say I

Well, triple apologies are due...

1. I apologize for my absence over the past couple of days. It's exam time, so needless to say procastination has taken up much of my time, and it's been difficult to squeeze bloggery into that.

2. I apologize that I have so little of substance to say now that I am posting.

3. I apologize for cutting your brake cables. Unless you didn't know about that yet.

The remainder of this post will just be a bunch of random links. If you're not into that sort of thing, I suggest you stop reading now, and visit Webboard.

Jake Troughton has started a blog. Its subtitle - "Musings on women's hockey, and very little else" - is rivalled only by Sarah Kelly's "Boys, Girls, History, and Mindless Chatter, but no Baseball."

A double dose of Webboard threads of the past few days:

First, a completely unresolvable debate erupts on the greatest Canadian of all time. It eventually degenerates into an endless debate between Ross and I on whether or not William Lyon MacKenzie King was a useless tit (for those of you wondering, the answer is "yes"), but it was a pretty good thread until I crashed it.

Second, this one. Its greatness cannot be conveyed in blog form, so you'll have to visit it yourself. Suffice it to say that the great S.R.S. wins.

Kyle Kawanami just told me that in a little game of "match S.U. hacks to historical Canadian political figures" that he's been playing, I was C.D. Howe. I took this as a compliment, even though I am on record as calling C.D. Howe a dink. Chris Jones, it goes without saying, was John Crosbie.

Finally, confidential to Marc: since it appears that not all bloggers love free expression to the extent that I do, please note that at the end of my last comment on Jen's Blog was supposed to appear the sentence "Please try to keep up, old man." So there.


Monday, April 12, 2004

A family is a circle of friends with whom you're legally prohibited from procreating

I am (according to Google) the only site on the web to mention both Colleen McCullough and Arthur Meighen. I have arrived.


Sunday, April 11, 2004

She called him Speedo but his Christian name was Mr. Earl

Didn't get through much Paul Simon today, so I'm still in the middle of Still Crazy After All These Years. I'm rather obviously compensating by at last deriving my post titles from him.

At the top of my mind today is the fact that, despite the running I've been doing and the fact that I am the slimmest I've been in months, I seem to be budding a rather nice set of man breasts. This means that I either need to develop some sort of upper-body regimen, or have a sex change operation. I'll keep you posted as to which I choose.

I've decided, to my alarm, that the Canadian Prime Minister to whom I bear the greatest resemblance (ideology notwithstanding) is Arthur Meighen, which depresses me.

The last two days have been spent in the company of extensive extended family - my father's side today and my mother's side yesterday. One of my favourite excerpts:

My paternal grandmother: When we were planning [my parents'] wedding, Andy [my father] told us we couldn't have it on a Saturday because Brenda [my mother] was a Seventh Day Adventist.
My mother: Why would you tell them a thing like that?
My father: I thought you were.

Some context: my mother was baptized United, and is now probably a lapsed Christian or an agnostic or something. I've never asked her. My father is an atheist, like his father before him (making me a third generation atheist), though his mother (my maternal grandmother) is United.

Webboard threads of the past several days: the Jones-Knisely intergalactic blood feud continues here (beginning three posts down) and here (beginning seven posts down).


Saturday, April 10, 2004

It's another Saturday night and I ain't got nobody
I got some money 'cause I just got paid

So, Paul Simon Weekend proceeds apace (we're almost into the seventies, now). I continue to use quotes from non-Paul Simon songs to open my posts.

Why this one? Well, it is another Saturday night, and I ain't got nobody, but the heading's real relevance is in the second line. Today, for the first time in my life, I benefited financially from somebody's death. I can't decide how this makes me feel, but I'm afraid the dominant emotion is happiness from having received the money. Does this make me a bad person?

Speaking of bad people, have I ever told you about my friend Nathan? Probably not, so I will here. Nathan is a guy I know from high school who would probably pose a major threat to world peace if he wasn't so damned lazy. And I'm not talking about "plans on accomplishing something on the weekend but winds up spending most of it in front of the TV" lazy, I'm talking about "will not get out of a chair unless you convince him, with PowerPoint slides, of the benefit to him in doing so." Thanks to this laziness, his malevolance has been mostly confined to laughing at inappropriate moments during movies (partial list: the part of Lord of the Rings where they're going to set that guy on fire, the part of the Passion of the Christ where Satan makes his first appearance, the part of Titanic where Jack drowns). Unfortunately, I have recently received word that he has, on his own initiative, gotten out of a chair to think of a name and logo for his political party: the Northern Alberta People's Armed Liberation Movement (NAPALM). It probably bears mentioning that Nathan "works" (the term is used loosely) for the Canadian Forces. None of this bodes well.

Finally, the U of C S.U.'s Tribunal has overturned the Review Board's decision, so the original election results stand. My congratulations again go out to any successful election candidates reading this blog, by which I mean Jen.


Friday, April 09, 2004

Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder

So my sister says to me today, and I quote, "I hear rumours that you're running for President this year." How the hell is my sister hearing rumours about my political career? I try to keep my family sheltered from every detail of my life - my mother, for example, is under the impression that I'll be graduating next Spring. Very odd, to see the least.

Also, this weekend is Paul Simon Weekend (hence my use of a Leonard Cohen quote to introduce this post). As I accomplish things multitudinal, finding a job hopefully among them, I shall go through Paul Simon's entire career, beginning with the bootleg copy of some of his early stuff with and without Garfunkel from around their "Tom & Jerry" days and culminating with his Grammy-nominated "You're the One." There is no reason that this should interest any of you, but there really isn't any reason that anything on this blog should interest any of you. Seriously, people, get a life.

Finally, I note that I am in dire need of a hair cut, but do not seem to be getting one. I suspect that this makes me a rebel.

Steve out.


Thursday, April 08, 2004

A dictatorship of the spineless

Well, Lex got voted off, but I'm not going to talk about that. I'm not going to dwell on that. I'm not going to become so fixated on it that I don't bathe for weeks on end, and that I communicate with my fellow homo sapiens only in abrupt and irritable snaps. No, I'm going to get on with my life and start cheering for Rupert.

What I am going to dwell on, from now until his retirement, is how our Prime Minister is what theologians call "a gutless puke." This isn't new news, of course, but I figure that with Paul Wells taking the month of April off of Martin-bashing, somebody has to pick up the slack, and I'm pretty sure that Wells had me in mind when he announced his break. The latest example? Martin leaning against meeting the Dalai Lama for fear of pissing off whatever gang of oppressive murderers is in charge over in Beijing this week.

Let's be clear: this isn't just pissing me off because I'm some kind of crazed human rights-obsessed leftist who returns Mike Hudema's phone calls and lacks any understanding realpolitik (I am, but that's not why it's pissing me off). No, no less an ideological bedfellow of mine than Conservative MP Rob Anders is also up in arms about this. A goodly portion of Mr. Martin's own Liberal caucus also signed a petition urging him to meet with this fellow. There is no reason for this to be a controversial move - politicians of all ideologies are urging it. After all, this isn't one of them violent-revolutionaries-turned-peaceful-dignitary like Nelson Mandela (on whom, by the way, Paul Martin voted in favour of bestowing honorary Canadian citizenship). It's the Dalai freakin' Lama! He was profiled in Reader's Digest - not exactly a hotbed of revolution.

And what's China going to do if Martin meets with him, huh? Make some noise? Lodge a formal protest? Stop buying nuclear generators from us, perhaps? Let's examine some kind of parallel: what does the Canadian government do when governments in countries like the United States and France meet with separatist Québec politicians? I'll tell you what it does: a whole lot of fuck all. Scads of fuck all, in fact. Politicians in these countries don't even think twice about the effect on Canadian relations of meeting with Gilles Duceppe. Nor should they. But here we are worried about our relationship with a bunch of hypersensitive thugs if we meet with one of the most respected peace advocates in the world.

I guess he's too busy repairing the democratic deficit at home, by undertaking such revolutionary measures as deigning to survey Liberal backbenchers on changes they'd like to see made. Note to Liberal backbenchers: you know all those votes that keep happening in the House of Commons? I'm going to let you in on a secret: you decide how you vote on those issues. Paul Martin doesn't. Hell, if you decide to vote against his wishes on the right motions, you can even decide the fate of his government. That's right, you - the disenfranchised backbenchers - can kick him, the Prime Minister, out of government if you want. Really. The worst he can do is kick you out of caucus, which only makes you all the freer to vote as you'd like, which is what you've professed to want to do all along. Oh, and I suppose there's always the danger that he won't appoint you to a cabinet position, but that just leaves you more time to legislate, which, as you'll recall from your MP Orientation Session, is your damned job. Seriously, you dumb bastards, you really have nobody to blame but yourselves for the eunichization of you and your ilk.

I'll be voting NDP, of course, even though they want to implement proportional representation, which disenfranchises Canadians from being able to elect their own representatives, instead allowing the voters only to vote for the faceless party that they want to name their representatives. And I don't believe for a moment that Jack Layton would be much less spineless, lazy, or useless than Paul Martin if he'd been in government for as long as Paul has, but at least he hasn't. Politicians are like tires: you need to rotate them every once in a while. And they're full of air. And you don't want to see them stripped. And it's good to kick 'em a few times before you make a final decision.

* * *

Okay, I feel better now (except for about Lex being voted off). You'll notice that I've added a new link, Blorg.org, which belongs to a couple of Gatewayers by the names of Gerald Ford and Smorgasboard. Hey, they linked to me first.

Live long. Prosper. Throw the bums out.


Wednesday, April 07, 2004

For the benefit of those of you who haven't been paying attention:

I am an unstoppable stallion god

Actually, that's probably not quite strong enough. I am that great. I'm rarely at a loss for words, but not even I can find any suitable for describing the wonder that is Steve Smith.

Thus far this week - from Sunday to today - I have done all the work necessary to pass three classes. That includes learning the necessary material, doing the necessary assignments, and becoming sufficiently informed to pass the final exams. Granted, one assignment (the one I did Tuesday morning, and for which I relied on Webboard for advice) bore an uncanny resemblance to an assignment started a few hours before due date on which I relied on Webboard for advice, but other than that, I'm amazing. This should put to rest those ridiculous rumours that academic last three and a half months.

In other news, this blog finally got its first real celebrity hit: incoming Gateway Editor-in-Chief Adam Rozenhart stopped by to say hello and compliment me on my choice of blog template.

Webboard moment of the past several days: we're going to give this one to the University of Calgary Students' Union Webboard for a thread which, though nominally about law school, is basically an excuse for a lot of pretentious people to fight about nothing. My own (decidedly ill-advised) involvement begins on page 5.


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Everything I know about politics, I learned from my English 20 class

In grade eleven, I had an English teacher. We'll call her John Updike, because she happens to share a name with a famous author (Colleen McCullough) but I want to give her a pseudonym as part of my ongoing lawsuit avoidance program.

Anyway, Ms. Updike, though a Canadian, had just returned from teaching in Texas, where she had picked up something of an accent. I'm not sure that this fact will turn out to be relevant to anything else in this entry, but it might be, so you'd best remember it. She and I also didn't see eye to eye on a lot of issues, such as the issue of whether or not she was qualified to be teaching English 20.

She used to give us "vocabulary tests," in which she would give us a list of words whose definitions we had to know by the end of the week, when she would read them out in class and we'd have to write down definitions. Unfortunately, she wasn't clear on a lot of their proper uses herself. For example, she defined "guile" as meaning "cunning," which is all very well and good provided that you mean the form of the word cunning that is a noun. She didn't, repeatedly using it in sample sentences as an adjective.

Anyway, the points that I'm trying to get across with this introduction are as follows:
1. Ms. Updike was dumb; and
2. I didn't like her.

That said, she did manage to teach me a lot of valuable lessons the use of which I continue to make in this crazy little thing called my political career. To wit:

1. Say what you think. Always.

Since, as I mentioned, Ms. Updike was neither a competent linguist nor a competent instructor. She tended to treat us like grade three students a lot of the time, which I initially took to be condascension but which I eventually realized was the extent of her qualifications. Anyway, one day - a Thursday - a mother of one of the students called her to complain abot this. Ms. Updike's calm, measured, and mature response was to come storming into class on the Friday to say "If you don't want to be treated like children, maybe I should make you work like adults. There's an essay due on Monday. In this essay, you must defend the point of view that the number 4 has special significance in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club." Those of you who have read the book will doubtless appreciate that this is the most retarded essay topic imagainable, but we all stormed dutifully home to put together our essays.

Mine - which I still have on my hard drive, under the filename TexBitch.doc - opens with the line "That the number 4 is especially significant in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club can scarcely be disputed." "What a crock," I thought to myself as I wrote this, "that the number 4 is especially significant in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club can scarcely be defended." Nevertheless, I handed in this masterwork of artifice the Monday morning, along with everybody else.

Once all of our essays were in hand, a look of smugness crossed her face - not unlike a cow finished with her cud - and she took out a magazine clipping. On this magazine clipping was a quote from Amy Tan acknowledging that the number four held no special significance in the book.

"Well," she gloated, "I'll be anxious to see what you all think of your essays now."

the moral of the story - to the extent that it exists - is that if I'd just gone ahead and said what I thought, I would have been right. Instead, I fell into her calculated trap to make me look stupid. Lesson learned.

2. Always cast yourself as a moderate - relatively speaking

In my English class were a couple of guys names Jarradt Seier and Brendan Andrews. That is to say, there were two guys total, one with each of the aforementioned names. Anyway, as much of a dink as Ms. Updike thought I was, relative to them I was Jesus, but better-groomed.

True exchange between Ms. Updike and Brendan, while Brendan is talking during somebody else's presentation:

Updike: Shut up, Brendan, we had to listen to your crap yesterday.
Brendan: We've had to listen to your crap all year!

Brendan and Jarradt also, when charged with doing a class presentation on Chinese funeral customs, included a video that contrasted these funeral customs with funeral customs in Nazi Germany. There was a lot of gasoline involved.

Anyway, by always associating myself with Brendan and Jerradt, I seemed more reasonable by comparison. I believe that Yassar Arafat employs a similar strategy.

How does that apply to my political career? Well, I hang around with Mustafa a lot.

3. Never admit you're in a position of weakness

The last class before Christmas, Ms. Updike asked to speak to me after class. As it turned out, she wanted to show me an unsatisfactory conduct report she had been putting together on me for the past couple of months. It contained a whole bunch of quotes taken out of context, misrepresentations of fact, and undefended and vague assertions which, if impossible to prove, were equally impossible to shoot disprove. Needless to say, I was impressed.

"Wow," I commented, "I guess you're more guile than I have you credit for."

Ms. Updike beamed malevolently.

"I hope you won't take this personally," she said, "it's a chance for you to improve yourself. Call it tough love."

"What a shame,though," I continued," if I'd known that we were exchanging unsatisfactory conduct reports, I'd have brought the one that I've been putting together on you. And it must be a lot of work putting together so many unsatisfactory conduct reports."

"So many?" she asked, a little confused.

"Well, if you've put one together for me, I can think of at least three or four other people you must also be writing up. After all, being as guile as you are I'm sure you realize how easy it would be for me to accuse you of some sort of irrational personal bias if only I got one."

She never submitted the thing. If she had, I would have been screwed.

4. If they offer you an inch, take a yard

During vocab tests, Ms. Updike would let us ask her about proper spelling. I was fond of also asking her about the proper definition - not "what does that word mean, again?" but rather "is that the one that means 'cunning'?" Strangely, she never penalized me for giving the answers to her precious quizzes out loud. Equally strangely, some people still managed not to ace them.

5. Always take the good lines for yourself

We had to do a group presentation of some kind, and the group's more artistic members had graciously agreed to put together all of the visual aids. This left me to write the actual presentation parts.

"Steve," complained one of my group members, "you gave yourself all of the good lines."

Well duh.

Oh, and Ms. Updike, if you're reading this, I hope there are no hard feelings over the part I played in ensuring that your contract wasn't renewed. Call it tough love.


Monday, April 05, 2004

To err is human; to forgive is rarely advisable.

Is forgiveness always the nobler route? Is it ever better to hold a deserved grudge when every fibre in your body is urging unrequested forgiveness?

Webboard moment of the past several days: Chris Jones lays the smack down on Adam Knisely, with a guest piledriver by M. Mustafa Hirji.

Now, off to pass some courses...


Saturday, April 03, 2004

I've never seen anything like it in any amusement hall

The following is an e-mail I recieved from Heather Wallace at two-thirty this morning:

Mr. S.M. Smith,

So, as you know, because of your blog I have become your stalker and here is a suggestion for you. I will ask you questions that your other stalkers might like to know and you can jam them up there on your blog under Miscellaneous Murray Data. What do you say?

Well seeing as I can't hear you say anything I will proceed like you said yes,
We'll start with 15, make it easy on ya, this is very "Teen Beat" I will admit:

who am I?
what am I made of? what do I live for? what do I live on?
I can cook...(insert cooked item here)
On the bus everyday I...(don't say masturbate..I only assume "read bylaws")
Favorite Colour?
Favorite piece of clothing?
Earings?/tattoos? (yeah, didn't think so)
date of last haircut?
Would you rather die by drowning or be burned?
family pets?
Something I learned this year? (insert wisdom here)
How many drinks until I am drunk? Favorite book?
Bonus: Anecdotal ~ Most stupid thing I have done in my life.

Other useless trivia:
Shirley Temple always had 56 curls in her hair.
Camels milk does not curdle.
The Sanskrit word for war translates as 'wanting more cows'
The billionth digit of pi is 9.

Heather Wallace
Faculty of Arts Undergraduate
Political Science II
GFC Representative
Students' Union Councilor

Well, Heather, if there's anything I like more than talking about bylaws (and there isn't), it's talking about myself. I'll take you suggestions, and create a new popup for answers to my fan mail. Any successive fan mail I receive tht includes questions will be added to this popup. In this way, you may discover whatever inane facts about me that my quiz results leave to be desired.


Friday, April 02, 2004

The Circle of Life

Is there anything quite like discovering that an e-mail address that was once yours now belongs to somebody else? A random Google search today lead me to the unsettling realization that carlosthejackass@hotmail.com now belongs to one Carlos Donoso.

Though, truth be told, I haven't thought of it in quite a while, this discovery brings all of the memories flooding back. . . it was with carlosthejackass that I kept in touch with the acquaintances I made at Forum for Young Canadians, all of with whom I have long since lost touch. It was from carlosthejackass that I sent my first columns for the St. Albert Gazette. And it was carlosthejackass that I abandoned when the spam became too much. Of course, that was only part of it - I was lured away by steve.smith@ualberta.ca, by the promise of a bigger inbox, and the promise of being "Steve Smith" instead of "Steve Smith 842," the best I ever could have hoped for with Hotmail.

I think of sending Mr. Donoso an angry e-mail, telling him that carlosthejackass was meant for me and me only, that he can never be to it what I was. But then I realize that that would be selfish, and foolish. I cast carlosthejackass aside like an unwanted friend. I moved on with my life. How could I expect that it wouldn't go on to be used by others? After all, it was quite a catch - I still remember the way my heart fluttered when I discovered that the address was available, how I resolved to make it mine.

And besides, it's not as though I'm upset with my present situation; things are going well with steve.smith, and I'm generally very happy. What are regrets but the unproductive enemies of contentment?

No, I wish Mr. Donoso and his new e-mail address the utmost happiness. He's a lucky man.

As for me, I can barely read my monitor through the tears. . .


Thursday, April 01, 2004

Written by an Italian poet from the sixteenth century

I've spent most of the evening listening to Dylan's "Tangled Up In Blue" on repeat (both the studio version from the seminal "Blood on the Tracks" and the 1984 live version) and updating statutory references in G.F.C. policy. And they pay me for this!

I got the shirt, but not the explanation. Which I suppose it preferable to the reverse, because I really like that shirt.

Today is a special day for any number of reasons. First of all, it's the day that I break out my horrible boy scout shorts and sandals. Yes, it's time to pack away my Winter geek style for the year, and break out Summer geek. Milan is excited - I can feel it from here.

Second, it's my cat's fifth birthday. She seems to be feeling a little out of sorts today, but that won't stop me from communicating my birthday greeting: I hope you die and burn in hell you vile, miserable, beast.

Third, this is the day that I finally get all of the Survivor Pool entries in order. If any of yo should happen to see Tyler Botten, Mike Garlough, or Anand Sharma today, badger them relentlessly for me.

Also, I'm going to accomplish a bunch of stuff today. Really.

Finally, it's April Fool's Day. I'm not much good at the whole April Fool's Day Joke thing (the last paragraph was my attempt for this year, by the way), but it was nice to see that the Gateway rehashed the tired old "Our Editor-in-Chief died" joke, and then failed to even post it on their website. At least, I hope it's a joke. I'm going to feel pretty bad if it turns out that Boutet actually *is* dead.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com Listed on BlogShares