Thursday, September 29, 2005

Grociology

I am not going to lie. I really enjoy grocery shopping. I don't see it as a chore, but as an adventure. Sometimes you never know what you're going to come home with in your shopping bags. I deliberately sometimes don't make a list, so that it makes it more fun. Of course, I could be one of those people who is all paranoid about what other people think about what's in your cart, but I really don't care. I think someone could make a lot of money studying the way people act in grocery stores. Call it a sub-field of sociology...grociology. But what makes grocery shopping even better when it's a social time as well. I just got home from my local market, having stood in line behind my Grade 10 English teacher (who is now a principal), and the mom of my Grade 6 crush, Jessica. And I wasn't judging them by what was in their carts. Honest.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The world's done shaking me down

It was just over four months ago that I recounted my mostly negative time at the previous Collective Soul concert ("The Collective Soul Experience," May 21, 2005). Tonight, CSoul was in town again, but this was a much different experience. The sound was decent, the venue was better, the set was more balanced, and the crowd was better. The band played for an hour and a half, and played a good balance of old favourites along with new selections. Unlike their May concert, they pulled out a second song from their first album, "Sister Don't Cry," as well as "When The Water Falls" from the self-titled album, and one of my all-time Soul favourites, "Tremble For My Beloved" from the Dosage album (which led off the encore). Of course, to do so, they sacrificed "Smashing Young Man" (has the song finally dated itself too much?) and one of my favourites, "Needs" (which was so good to hear Eddie do back in May), and "Satellite" from Youth (nothing missing there). Ed Roland still knows how to rock a crowd like few do, which was especially evident when he came out into the audience during "Better Now." This was the concert I was waiting for. The way I figure it, Collective Soul is a lot like an aging athlete. Sometimes, you question their ability to keep up, but then they pull out an amazing effort and prove all the naysayers wrong. I am still not necessarily the most excited about their new direction, and I am still not sure that their best years are not behind them, but tonight was a good solid reminder that it is alright to rock. I am definitely feeling "better now."

The set list for Collective Soul, September 28, 2005:
Counting The Days / Where The River Flows / Listen / Heavy / Precious Declaration / December / Him / Compliment / How Do You Love / Perfect To Stay / When The Water Falls / Sister Don't Cry / Run / Under Heaven's Skies / Gel / Home / The World I Know / Why Pt. 2 / Better Now / (Encore) Tremble For My Beloved / Feels Like (It Feels Alright) / Shine

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Who's afraid of the big black Bat?

I saw Batman Begins for the second time tonight, and it was even better than the first. Christopher Nolan is a genius. The script is absolutely amazing. The casting and acting are absolutely spectacular. Gotham looks the way Gotham should look. And the way Nolan weaves together so many themes and motifs...fear, the search for identity, regret, vengeance, justice, right and wrong...the list goes on. Even the attention to little details, like placing the "opening credits" at the very end of the movie, exceeded my expectations, and each seemingly insignificant detail helps contribute to the greatness of the whole. Not only is this the best superhero movie ever (barely nudging Spiderman 2 and Unbreakable...yes, you heard me right), it is the best movie of 2005 and should be considered for some serious awardage. If the mark of a good film is not only how much it entertains, but also how thought-provoking it is; Batman Begins succeeds in both areas. Nolan has created a film in which the superhero is the vehicle, not the tenor, and that is a difficult feat. It is a feast for the senses and the mind, a rare treat in today's cinema. "He's here...the Bat...Man."

Just say no to CFS

There are only a few things in this world that can cause the bile in my throat to rise and in response to which I am forced to restrain myself lest I commit some unspeakable act in a blind rage. One of those things is the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), an organization which purports to be a student lobby group, but is one of the most irresponsibly run and unbelievably incompetent institutions imaginable. The CFS is currently pushing for a "Yes" vote in the referendum that will take place next week, in order that they might replace CASA as the official student representative group on campus. They are in the process of sending speakers to classes extolling the greatness of the CFS without mentioning the gross mismanagement of the organization and of student funds. For example, one of the causes to which this student lobby group applies the money it receives from students is opposition to the clubbing of baby seals. A noble cause, to be sure, but do I want my fees spent on that when they should be dealing with student issues? The CFS would be considered "left-wing" on the political spectrum (or at least the kind of bastardization that passes for left-wing in this country), so it comes as no surprise that the CFS serves as a recruiting field for the NDP and that it is condemned by other parties and notable politicians (including Stephen Harper himself), which seems like a rather unseemly position for a supposedly non-partisan lobby group. Of course, the angle the CFS is playing is the "free stuff" argument, which has been known to work with students, but I am hoping (against hope) that there are students who are considering this entire issue critically rather than just being excited about the shiny buttons. There are many questions that come to mind when the CFS is around... When has there actually been a reduction in tuition due to your lobbying? Why did the U of S previously deliberately not join CFS, to the point where a committee struck by the USSU two years ago recommended AGAINST joining the CFS? What is the U of S gaining by joining the CFS? And most intriguing of all...why is the CFS campaigning so hard to win this referendum? I will not guess that it is for the good of the students on the U of S campus that they are putting significant time, advertising, money, and manpower into this campaign. Could it be the fact that they would have a significant presence in what is mainly a right-wing campus and that they would receive additional tens of thousands of dollars in fees from this campus to fund their whims and fancies, whilst being able to subjugate the wills of independent campuses under the guise of national unity but actually with the purpose of profit for themselves? Maybe. Just maybe. Think about these things, and if you do not believe me, do the research for yourself. The facts are out there, and they will provide you with everything you need to make an educated decision. Still, I will encourage you, if you are a U of S student, to take the time on October 4-6 to vote no to the CFS.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

See You At The Bowl

Today marked the ninth consecutive year in which I have participated in See You At The Pole (known here at the U of S as See You At The Bowl). It is a time where we can gather as students (and teachers) and pray for our country. I had the opportunity of leading this year's time of prayer for the third year at the U of S, so I was familiar with what needed to happen and how to do it. Although this year's turnout was not as high as previous years, there was still a good time of prayer and interceding for our nation. But it only felt "good." There wasn't any kind of super-transcendent moment in which God revealed himself to us, or even any kind of moment that could be held as a benchmark for the rest of the year. It was...good. Not great, not horrible, but good. And so I began to think about the nature of our relationship with God in prayer. Sometimes - no, often - we expect that when we set these landmark events that God will blow us away and bring us to new heights of faith. But that doesn't always happen. In fact, if we truly think about it, most of our time in relationship with God is spent in what might be considered an "ordinary" state: not much happening, but just good to be in that relationship. We don't always expect huge life-changing discussions with our temporal friends, so why should we expect that of God? Or rather, of ourselves? Am I worthy of always having these great epiphanies and God revealing himself to me? No, I'm not. There's pride and prejudice and my own senses and sins that get in the way. So is it God not coming through, or is it me? Well, it's me. And I guess today was just one of those days that was an ordinary day with God. And I'm alright with that. I think.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Bring back vinyl

I always found it interesting when artists put out side projects.I often wondered what was so different about the side project that an artist had to release it under a different name. There are things that you want to say that cannot be said using the existing artistic structure, and so a side project must be born. For example, in 1995, U2 had some ideas with Brian Eno that they wanted to get out there, but that would not have been U2 songs and so the "Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1" project was born. Another more recent example is Thousand Foot Krutch. Their 1999 "Set It Off" album consisted mainly of driving rap-rock choruses, but there were some pop-punk diversions dispersed throughout the album. By the time 2003 had rolled around, they had created a new forum for those songs in entitling a side project FM Static, which was devoted to the poppier side of TFK. TFK was then able to pursue the harder-edged music exclusively, and it made for a more unified album in 2003's "Phenomenon." Two albums, two messages, two purposes, two voices, one author. Possibly a dichotomy, a contradiction, a conflict...but ultimately not.
Now I feel like I understand a little bit more how artists who pursue side projects feel. Over the past little while, I have been working on some side projects of my own in the blogosphere. I really love what I have been able to do with Life of Turner, and I want this blog to continue and develop and grow and become what it is supposed to be as I do the same in my life. But I have felt that there are things that I have wanted to say for which this is not the proper forum, and so I have been working on a side project or two. For now, one is launching, with another on the way hopefully within the month.
What is this side project, you ask? Bring Back Vinyl, a weblog devoted to creating a community for self-proclaimed music snobs. These are the people who love music, who eat, sleep, and breathe music, and who need a place to share that passion. That place for me is not here. Sure, there will continue to be times where I will blog on Life of Turner about music; in fact, I doubt that much will change on this site regarding that subject. But what BBV will give me is a place to go deeper with people who want to go deeper. If you are a person who is passive about music, pass on through. Feel free to stop and visit and see what is happening, of course, but there will be those who visit and those who stay. If you are passionate about what you listen to and you just need a place to be with people who understand, bringbackvinyl is the place for you. Like most side projects, it will not be for everyone, but it will be a lot for those for whom it is there. Check it out at bringbackvinyl.blogspot.com.

Young and aspiring

Underoath was in town tonight as part of The Used's Canadian tour, along with prominent Canadian band Alexisonfire. Underoath has been one of Tooth and Nail's hottest acts in the past year, and their album They're Only Chasing Safety has moved a quarter of a million copies since its release in June 2004. I had the chance to sit down with drummer Aaron and keyboardist Chris for an interview for the Sheaf (which will likely run in the September 29 issue), and I had a really great chat with the guys. They are my age and they have such a sense of vocation in what they are doing. They know that Underoath is what God is calling them to do, and that opportunities like this tour and Warped Tour are God opening doors. It is very refreshing to see guys who are this grounded and humble being so honest and open with their lives, including the statement near the end of the show that "we do everything we do because of Jesus Christ." It is little surprise that artists like this garner attention because their attitude is so qualitatively different from the packaged rebellion offered by bands like The Used, who are being so scandalous when they drop f-bombs. As the headliners, The Used were the final band of the night, and their incredibly forgettable and overly loud brand of junk punk drove me out of the building. They are completely inseparable from the rock worldview, and whether it is conscious or not, they are advancing the world's agenda and not God's agenda. It is great to see bands standing up for Christ in the midst of that and living lives worthy of the gospel. And rocking my face off at the same time. For anyone who is interested, here is the set list Underoath played tonight, as best as I can recollect: It's Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door; The Impact of Reason; Untitled new song; I Don't Feel Very Receptive Today; I Got 10 Friends and a Crowbar That Says You Don't Know Jack; A Boy Brushed In Red Living In Black and White; Young And Aspiring. In all, not only was I impressed with UO's show, which blew me away, but I also appreciated their candor about their life in Christ. May 2006 is the tentative release date for their new album (though Safety is being rereleased with some additions on October 4), and it cannot come soon enough.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The adventure of Links

Aside from a cheesy pun for all you classic gamers, I have a fair chunk o' fun to offer you today: links to other blogs! Over the summer, I collected some new blogs to read (as you may have observed in the renovated links list), and so I wanted to bring these blogs to your attention. So, without further ado, here are some sites to go check out that I have not referred to before (or if I have, it has been in passing). Enjoy!

The weblog of David Hutton: former editor of The Sheaf working on his Masters in English at the U of S. Great comment on movies, comedy, and pop culture, as well as an avid blog-surfer himself.

age of insomnia: criticisms of society and observations from an English student in Brandon who sees the world differently than most people.

West Word: the new blog of the former "terminal philosopher," now a grad student in Victoria. Mainly movies and eclectic independent music reviews, but with some good analysis of academia as well.

TheHeresy dot com : LT's long-standing blog that still remains one of the best in the biz. Emerging church, current issues, post-modernism, it's all here.

Number One Cellar: The stories are colourful, and so is the language used, occasionally. And there is an inordinate amount of use of the term "giggady, giggady." Go here to be entertained, not intellectually challenged.

My Thoughts On A Monday Night: Emo thoughts from an emo kid. Mostly life in high school and music, but very insightful.

My Heart on my Sleeve My friend Laurel's journal as she goes through grade 12.

I think my next link project will be to begin to describe blogs I recommend in haiku. Just wait for it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Happy is a yuppie word

I have been listening to Switchfoot's new album Nothing Is Sound for two days since it was released, and so I finally feel that I am familiar enough with the album to make some early observations of it. It is not The Beautiful Letdown, but neither is it a letdown. Sound is a more reflective and personal album (although it would have been difficult to imagine that possible after Letdown), and more so than any of the band's previous efforts reflects an understanding of crafting a full album. The songs may not be quite as edgy or catchy, but each song does stand on its own while fitting into the larger whole fairly seamlessly. Though there are times during the album in which the band evokes external comparison (album opener "Lonely Nation" is reminiscent of Foo Fighters circa Colour and the Shape, and closer "Daisy" has OK Computer-like sentiments at times a la Radiohead), Switchfoot has taken another step in defining their unmistakeable sound with this fifth album. After Letdown, I wondered whether Switchfoot was attempting to manufacture a place in the pop-rock canon through their references to other musicians; with Sound, whose title the band owes directly to Bob Dylan, it is apparent that that feature is part of what distinguishes Switchfoot from a lot of the other artists out there. This is the album that Switchfoot fans were waiting for, and it feels in no way like the band is suppressing anything or is being pigeonholed by the big-label marketers. I wholeheartedly recommend Nothing Is Sound, unless you're one of those people that will only listen to it and say "This is not as good as The Beautiful Letdown." Then you're just a weiner, and there's nothing I nor Switchfoot can do for you. To be honest, I have asserted since 2000's Learning To Breathe that Switchfoot was one of the bands that matters. I still believe that, and Sound is another step in cementing their status in that pop-rock canon.

Changing of the guard

In the last week, several of the NHL's older generation have finally called it quits, but for the most part because they do not have anything left to prove. The list of recent retirees reads like a list of pretty-much surefire Hall of Famers: Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Scott Stevens, Al MacInnis, Vincent Damphousse, and James Patrick. For these players, it just seemed like the right time to go. Next year's retiring class could be similarly spectacular: Mario Lemieux (again), Ed Belfour, Dominik Hasek, Chris Chelios, Steve Yzerman, Dave Andreychuk, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, and Steve Thomas, among other possibilities. And the year after that, the last remaining links to past great teams like the '89 Flames (Roberts, Nieuwendyk) and '90 Oilers (Gelinas) will be passing into memory. This is a very historic time for the NHL. The early to mid-1980s have produced players that have not only played but often dominated for two decades, much like the baby boomers after World War II. And this time over the next two or so years in the NHL is similar to what will happen when the baby boomers retire: people who have been holding positions for extended periods of time while excelling at them will finally retire, and there will be a giant influx of new workers and opportunities will open up. Sure, some older players will remain to guide the young guys, but for the first time in twenty years, the NHL appears poised to give the young guys their due, much like players from the 70s Bruins, Flyers, and Canadiens had to move aside for the 80s Oilers and Flames to take their place. As we saw at the 2004 World Cup, there is a core of young players ready to take up the charge. Think, just for a second, of the team that Canada could choose to ice at the 2006 Olympics in February. To avoid arguments, we will concede that Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic, Rob Blake, Adam Foote, Scott Niedermayer, and Martin Brodeur are givens. But just think of the youth movement available to Canada, pretty much all under the age of thirty... Forwards: Ryan Smyth, Jarome Iginla, Brad Richards, Rick Nash, Jason Spezza, Todd Bertuzzi, Dany Heatley, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Simon Gagne, and Shane Doan, among others. Defense: Jay Bouwmeester, Bryan McCabe, Ed Jovanovski, Robyn Regehr, Dion Phaneuf, Wade Redden, Chris Phillips, and Eric Brewer, among others. And in goal, there are the options of Roberto Luongo, Jose Theodore, and Marty Turco. And many other countries, except maybe the ever-again USA roster, are in similar positions with youthful players from which to choose. Why do I point this out? Because the NHL is going to use the 2006 Olympics as their real springboard to achieve some kind of respect again and to be able to market these new names to a wider audience. Sure, there will be the focus on guys like Sakic, Sundin, Modano, Jagr, and the rest of those stars drafted in the early 90s who will continue to bear the NHL torch for another six to eight years, but these upcoming Olympics, even more so than the 2004 World Cup, are going to mark the true changing of the guard, both for the NHL and for the world. And the new guard looks good for Canada.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Students and money

In a little less than four months, I will be 23, and I will have a debt from school that averages out to approximately $2,000 for each year I will have been alive. But for some reason, that does not concern me. In fact, money has never been my primary concern. I have somehow always had enough - sometimes a little more than I have needed, often a little less, but generally close to the right amount. A wise friend once summed up the money philosophy of the student brilliantly: figure out what you need, and then find a way to pay for it. And if there's something you can't pay for, evaluate whether you really need it. Often it is unnecessary. So I try not to worry about money so much, though I often have to budget very wisely. Students find a way to live within their means, which often means some sacrifice, either of buying things, or of time used working to acquire things that they might not have the time to enjoy because they are working. Of course, I also acknowledge that I have had the privilege of student loans all the way through university, which has allowed me to pursue other interests over the past four years (I worked two jobs in my first year). This year, there are things that I need that I will not have the money for, so now I have to figure out a way to pay for them. That's the way student budgeting works.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Students and time

There are simply not enough hours in the day to complete everything you need to do when you are a student. I find that I leave things unfinished every single day of the semester. It really becomes a matter of prioritizing: what cannot wait for another time? Sometimes that is reading or an assignment, sometimes it's watching a movie, sometimes it's simply spending time with someone. But whatever is the most important thing that you need to do is what you get done, and anything that can wait does. Sometimes that means that assignments get handed in late, or that you see people far too rarely for your liking, but as a student, you do what you gotta do when it needs to be done. And usually no sooner.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The problem of impermanence

As my roommates and I have been establishing our household over the past week, there has been an unfortunately prevalent thought in our minds: this is only temporary. Sometime next summer, we will be forced to undo everything we have done, to place all the furniture that was already here where it was, and to make it seem as if we did not live here. And so our existence here is acknowledged to be terribly impermanent, a problem which plagues most students who move out of their parents' houses. There are times where it is convenient to be so nomadic. After all, a lot of things that I use reflect the fact that I will not be keeping them for an extended period of time, especially in the kitchen and living room. If it functions decently, it is worth keeping, and it is never too expensive to replace things at Value Village should something go wrong. And an existence with roommates allows you to often not own a lot of things. For example, I do not own a toaster, nor have I ever owned a toaster, and somehow, there has always been a bed for me to sleep on. There are things I own that I bought with the knowledge that they will be moved repeatedly, but will still be worth every cent, such as my computer desk, but for the most part I am still fairly mobile. Furniture can be left behind, and I can still move around fairly easily. But this is where the problem comes in - I am tired of this life of impermanence. Since I moved out five years ago, I have lived at nine mailing addresses, NOT including camp. I have moved seventeen times in five years, and aside from nineteen months in my last house have lived nowhere longer than eight months. And it never gets any easier setting up a household once everything is moved, with new roommates and a new school year and everything being re-evaluated every four or eight months. So why did I enter a situation that would certainly be impermanent, since the woman who usually lives here will be returning from her internship in twelve month's time? Because I knew that even with how difficult it would be that it was what I needed to do, regardless of how "unfortunately mobile" I would feel. After all, with whatever happens next summer, followed by an education internship who knows where and one final semester of school after that, this lifestyle will continue for another year after this one at least. Maybe at that point I can invest in something more permanent. I guess it has been a growing experience for me, and I have learned a lot about the impermanence of our own tenure on this celestial ball, and I have to be thankful that I have had great rent and a dozen great roommates over the past several years, but it will be nice when I can afford things that are worth moving and a place in which I do not have to move them. Until then, just call me "The not-so-Littlest Hobo." "Maybe tomorrow, I'll want to settle down. Until tomorrow, I'll just keep moving on..."

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!

In 1975, NBC took a chance on a late night program on Saturday nights. And thirty years later, NBC aired a program about the early years of the show that would fundamentally change North American pop culture and after three decades is virtually inextractable from the collective comedic consciousness of two and a half generations of people staying up past their bedtimes. The show lured viewers initially not because of its stars or because of the recurring characters, but because of one little word: live. When the cameras were rolling
SNL has become one of the defining acronyms of North American pop culture since the end of the Vietnam War, along with MTV and ESPN. But why and how did this happen? And has it really been that influential?

It featured a number of comedians noted in Chicago and New York, but no real stars. But the star was the concept of the show itself: it was live. When the cameras rolled, they rolled, regardless of what happened. Think about this for a second. As a direct result of their success on Saturday Night Live, the following comedians moved into film: Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, David Spade, Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, and Will Ferrell, among many others. Many of the show's characters have become icons and have been transplanted to the silver screen, most notably the Blues Brothers and Wayne's World, but with several other feature-length films extracted from a series of short skits on SNL.

Furthermore, without SNL, it is likely that other television shows in the same vein such as SCTV in the early 1980s, In Living Color in the 1990s, and MadTV in the late 1990s would not have found the level of success that they did. In turn, it is possible that comedians featured on those programs - including John Candy, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas (all from SCTV), and Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, and the Wayans Brothers from In Living Color may not have found as accessible a route to comedic stardom as they did.

It is still considered a hallmark of a performer's career to host Saturday Night Live; once you have hosted SNL, you are "hot." Once you have hosted the second time, then you have "made it." Musicians still consider SNL to be one of the hotspots to hit to promote their albums. When Coldplay released X&Y in June, they performed on SNL the Saturday previous to the release. When U2's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was about to drop in November, they took over the SNL stage, usurping the now-iconic closing credits ritual with a spirited performance of the twenty-five-year-old song "I Will Follow."

For better or for worse, Saturday Night Live has changed the way comedy is done. Sure, it's not great now, but there are still a few sketches each season that come up as significant in the greater realm of pop culture. And despite my best intentions, I still end up watching it when an intriguing host comes on. I guess it's my own fault for still trying, but I always hope something funny will come up. And usually for 5-10 minutes of that hour and a half, I'm laughing hard. Sigh.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Triumphant return

Folks, the wait is over. Life of Turner is back at full capacity and hopefully better than ever. As you can see, I decided to make my return more emphatic by doing a not unsignificant redesign of the site. This new format is intended to give more focus to the blog itself, and so I have decided to streamline all of those little features that I spent so much time on in the first few months of 2005 (like the Pop Culture Shout-Out, Review in Haiku, Verse of the Week, and CD review) into the text of the blog itself, much like the trend toward inclusive education in recent years. The redesigned LoT is simpler and singularly focussed, much like I feel I am now. I will be doing some more work on the site soon (such as revamping the links list), so stay tuned to your local blogosphere for a better Life of Turner than you have ever seen before!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The first day of school

It has begun. School is officially in session. Today was an interesting day, though. I saw several people I know who were entering university for the first time, and it was interesting to see their emotions on their "first" first day of university. This was the sixth time for me, so there was not a whole lot of excitement. Seeing old friends was good, but the explanation of the answer to the inevitable "how was your summer?" question was tough at best. Explaining that two people to whom you were close died during the summer repeatedly throughout the day is not necessarily easy, after all. But in a lot of ways, it was just another day, even though this is hopefully the last time I will go through this ritual as a full-time undergraduate student. It really seems as if it is going to be a good semester. I know people in my classes, my profs seem really good, and I think it is genuinely going to be a good year. Then again, I think that every year... Well, this year will be different. I think. I hope.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Swifferrific!

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly declare my love for the Swiffer Duster. I'm still as of yet undecided on other Swiffer products. And I would also like to assert my continued undying platonic affection for a certain previous peddler of Swiffer merchandise. Swiff on.

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