Saturday, April 28, 2007

Where the streets have no name

As I began driving to the university to prepare to write the final final exam of my degree around noon, I realized that today was a "Joshua Tree" kind of day. (Yes, I can define days by which U2 album characterizes them.) The first song, on this album, "Where the Streets Have No Name", features a minute-long instrumental introduction: the opening synthesizer chords lead into Edge's iconic guitar riff, which are followed by Adam's thudding bass line, which all come together in a harmonic climax before Bono cuts through the wall of music with his opening line, "I want to run, I want to hide, I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside." Everytime I hear this song, it gives me goosebumps, and I am reminded of all of the incarnations of this song, particularly of Bono reciting part of a psalm during the intro on the Elevation Tour, and of his cries of "Africa!" during the song's introduction on the Vertigo Tour. I am reminded that the performance of this song during the concert in Vancouver (which was two years ago today) still remains one of the most amazing experiences of my life, a time when I could feel the presence of the Holy Almighty God almost physically. I am reminded of all that I have been, who I am, and how someday I will be where the streets have no name. It is a song that transcends my ability to describe its effect on me. And today, singing along in my car with Bono in that moment when he first cries out "where the streets have no name", for no reason at all and for every reason present in God's creation, I cried.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Last Call

While researching for my recent retrospective on my time in the student press, I stumbled across a couple of gems from my first year at the Carillon: copies of Last Call, the comic written by our graphics editor, Adam Dodge. The comic featured the adventures of two alien-looking guys, Gord and Marv, which each related to a different reference from pop culture. Thankfully, some of the best cartoons were scanned and put online, so here they are for your enjoyment.

Wayne's World

The Price Is Right

Adam Sandler on SNL

Charlie's Angels

Charlie Brown

Scream

Yesterday's news

My time in the student press has finally come to a close. Over the past seven years, I have been an editor (in my first year of university!), a volunteer and contributor, a Director (on the Board of the Sheaf), and a CEO (as chair of the Sheaf Board this year), so you might say I have some experience with the student press. I have a lot of memories from over the years, but here are the things I remember most from my time in the student press.

Opinions Editing for the Carillon (2000-2001): I was 18, I had been in University for a week, and I was already involved on the staff of the student paper. I did not expect to get on staff so quickly, but it was a great year. I made a couple of really big mistakes, but it was a great learning experience and a lot of fun. Most of the issues are still online, so everyone can look back and laugh at discussions like this office discussion on Trudeau. I am certainly not proud of everything I wrote, but upon further reflection, I wrote well even back then. But there were a lot of good times, a funny spoof issue, and some great top ten lists and cartoons. Good times.

The Lana Nguyen scandal (2001): Most of the last month of that year on staff was spent dealing with the once-in-a-lifetime story of Lana Nguyen, an engineering prof who was forced to leave the university because she was qualified to be neither a professor nor an engineer. The story had identity theft, affairs, cover-ups, administrative oversight, criminal charges, and a whole lot of very mad engineers - you could not write something like this. If you ever have a half-hour to kill, peruse the links below to get a sense of the story as it unfolded.

March 1, 2001: Nguyen Dupes Hundreds, Police to decide fate of fraudulent prof, Red flags raised years ago, and an editorial entitled Investigation necessary to solve Nguyen situation; March 8, 2001: Phony professor allegedly received preferential treatment, Quest for research gone awry?; March 15, 2001: Prof guilty of telling the truth, External review announced; April 4, 2001: A professional's opinion on Lana Nguyen; May 17, 2001: Nguyen jailed again; November 29, 2001: Phony professor pleads guilty to fraud; No jail for Nguyen? (editorial)

CFS and other student politics (2003-2007): Longtime readers will know my unlimited distaste for the Canadian Federation of Students, and how their antics took a lot of time and money from a lot of people. I will certainly remember the problems at the U of S, but they were sketchy even in my time at the U of R. But we "No" voters were vindicated by the legal decision to discount the referendum. At least none of my money went to that organization, unlike the USSU, which certainly had its ups and downs during my time at the U of S. The main lessons I learned: do not trust anyone under 24 with representing you well; and enjoy the politics because the stakes are so small.

In Deep Sheaf (March 2006): The little cartoon that could made life interesting for a month. It is one of those experiences for which I was in the right place at the right time, and that will be memorable for the rest of my life.

Interviewing bands (2001-2007): Switchfoot (twice), Skillet, Superchick, Project 86, Reese Roper, Blindside, Pigeon John, John Reuben, Mute Math, Copeland, Underoath, Thousand Foot Krutch, and a number of local bands. It has been really great to interview artists over the years - almost so good that I considered a career in it. I have enjoyed these opportunities, and I hope to be able to keep it up somehow in the future.

In the end, I have had a good run in the student press. I have a lot of contacts in the lower echelons of music, journalism, politics, law, and academia as a result of my involvement over the years, as well as a lot of friends. I am glad to have put a lot of time into the student press, but I am also glad that it is now yesterday's news.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Round 2

Some things I learned about the NHL after Round 1:
1. I know the East fairly well, but my knowledge of the West needs to be refined. I overestimated some teams and underestimated others. But at the end of the round, three of my four conference finalists are still going strong (Buffalo, New Jersey, and Anaheim), and they're all looking good.
2. The end of the season makes more of a difference than I had thought. Calgary and Nashville both ended weakly, but I thought they would use the playoffs to pull their efforts up. That did not happen.
3. The competitiveness I had predicted for the first round did not really materialize. Even in the series that went six games, there were few games which were instant classics because of the effort of both teams. The most exciting game ended up being the 4OT thriller in Game 1 of the Vancouver-Dallas series. But I think that there will be more competitive games in Round 2, and that all four of the series will be very entertaining.
4. San Jose is a lot better than I thought they would be. I'm picking them over Detroit to go to the Conference finals, along with my previous picks - Buffalo, New Jersey, and Anaheim.

Let's see how Round 2 goes!

Friday, April 20, 2007

I am relevant!

I have been a reader of Relevant Magazine for a few years now. Their website is a key part of their media presence, and I often find that it provides commentary that is at the very least interesting. But what is really interesting is that much of the site's content is contributed by freelance authors. For a while, I have thought about writing something, but I just never did - you know how it is. But about a month ago, after I watched TMNT, I decided to expand a blog post I wrote shortly thereafter and to submit it to relevantmagazine.com. After four weeks of waiting, it finally got posted on the site! And I am now considered a "contributor" to the site and have future assignments. I honestly do not know why I did not do this about three years ago, but at least I have started now. Let me know what you think of the article, either here or in comments there. Man, I love being a freelance writer!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The days you cannot forget

Columbine. 9/11. Katrina. Now Virginia Tech. If I was a little older, I could include the Challenger explosion, the assassinations of JFK, RFK, MLK, and John Lennon, and the October Crisis. These are the kinds of days on which something so shocking and so horrible occurred that they are burned on your memory permanently, the kinds of days after which nothing is the same, and a once-idyllic bubble of a world is burst in a paroxysm of violence, anguish, and despair. You will not forget where you were when you heard, or what your initial reaction was. I still remember almost everything I did on September 11, since everything that happened on that day was magnified due to its proximity to the collapse of the Twin Towers. In the same way, I will remember much of today after learning of the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech. I wish these days did not come so often, but I also hope that somehow, there is more good accomplished in the long run than there is immediate evil. Some people point to these kinds of days as proof that God is dead; I believe that they are proof that we need Him more than ever. It is up to us to use these kinds of days to create good in the face of overwhelming evil, and to cling to hope ever the more strongly in the presence of such strong adversity, so that the good works that arise from days like these far outweigh the initial negative impact. I am glad that I do not forget these kinds of days, so that I may continually be encourage to pursue hope. Our world is not Pandora's box, and hope is not our enemy; it is our only hope.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rethinking "best of"

Sometimes I wonder about the practice of creating "best of" lists at the end of the year, as I find that by the middle of April that much of my lists from the previous December are almost null and void after four additional months of movie-watching and music-listening. I have also found that as I have grown as a blogger that my perspective on "best" has changed, and that many movies I listed in my "best of" were really just "favourites" from that year, and those are often two entirely different lists. So here, for your perusal, are my new suggestions for the Best Five Movies of each of the last three years, each of which includes any remaining "spoilers" to the list that might creep in once I finally watch them.

2004 Movies: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Incredibles, Shaun of the Dead, Sideways, Spider-Man 2 (Spoilers: Collateral, Closer, Hotel Rwanda)

2005 Movies: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana, Walk the Line (Spoilers: Munich)

2006 Movies: Children of Men, The Departed, Pan’s Labyrinth, Stranger Than Fiction, The Prestige (Spoilers: United 93)

And now, for a quick revision of my Best of lists for music in the past three years. I have noticed that I am becoming increasingly aware of music nearer to its release date now, thus decreasing the likelihood of these lists changing in the future. I have also noticed that I have very disparate taste, and that it can be truly difficult to compare a hip-hop disc with a hardcore disc. Such is life. Here are my revised Top Ten CDs from each of the last three years, each with an honourable mention or two and maybe a spoiler or too as well.

2004 CDs: Blindside - About A Burning Fire; Demon Hunter - Summer of Darkness; Further Seems Forever - Hide Nothing; Keane - Hopes and Fears; Killers - Hot Fuss; Lovedrug - Pretend You’re Alive; Mute Math - Reset EP; Relient K - mmhmm; U2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb; Underoath - They're Only Chasing Safety

2005 CDs: Audioslave – Out of Exile; Blindside - The Great Depression; Coldplay - X&Y; David Crowder Band - A Collision; Demon Hunter - The Triptych; Mae - The Everglow; Moby - Hotel; Project 86 - …And The Rest Will Follow; Sufjan Stevens - Illinois; Thrice - Vheissu (HM: Death Cab For Cutie - Plans; Neverending White Lights; 4th Ave Jones - Stereo: The Evolution of HipRockSoul) (Spoilers: Bloc Party - Silent Alarm; Copeland - In Motion; Foo Fighters - In Your Honor)

2006 CDs: See the 2006 Year in Music review, since there have been no recent changes. (Spoilers: Copeland - Eat, Sleep, Repeat)

This suggests to me that I should actually time my Best of lists with Chinese New Year instead of our New Year, since I made fewer alterations to my 2006 picks than to previous years. But whatever happens in the future, I am a lot happier with these new picks than with those old ones - even if it was just for my own peace of mind. Thanks for indulging me!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The chance

The Stanley Cup playoffs are here yet again, and despite the lack of my beloved Leafs in the playoffs, I will be watching hockey intently for the next two months. So I now enter my picks not only for the first round, but for the entire playoffs, with as little commentary as I can provide for guidance as to my picks.

First round in the West:
Calgary (8) over Detroit (1) in 7 - it's tough to pick against Hasek, but I think these Flames have the heart to go at least to the second round.
Anaheim (2) over Minnesota (7) in 6 - the Ducks have experience, youth, and the best defensemen in the NHL.
Dallas (6) over Vancouver (3) in 7 - if last night's 4OT marathon between the Canucks and the Stars is any indication, this will be a long and hard series that will be decided by Mike Modano's goal in 2OT of Game 7. Just wait for it.
Nashville (4) over San Jose (5) in 7 - this would have made a great conference final; alas, the Sharks will be done in the first round thanks to the Preds' depth and desire to win a playoff series.

First round in the East:
Buffalo (1) over New York Islanders (8) in 6 - I can see the plucky Isles taking two from the Sabres, but not four.
New Jersey (2) over Tampa Bay (7) in 6 - Tampa's success came from the shootouts, and they don't have that luxury in the playoffs.
New York Rangers (6) over Atlanta (3) in 6 - These teams are nearly identical, with high-flying European forwards (Kovalchuk and Hossa vs. Jagr and Straka), relatively new European goalies (Lehtonen vs. Lundqvist), mobile defense corps, and a dominant power forward (Tkachuk vs. Shanahan). The difference: Sean Avery. Rangers win.
Ottawa (4) over Pittsburgh (5) in 6 - It's easy to forget that Sid the Kid is only 18, and that he has a whole career to win. Ottawa has something to prove, and they'll put off the coronation of the Penguins by at least a year.

So, with these picks in mind, here is how I see the rest of the playoffs shaping up. Second Round: Anaheim (2) over Calgary (8) in 7 and Nashville (4) over Dallas (6) in 6 in the West; Buffalo (1) over NYR (6) in 5 and New Jersey (2) over Ottawa (4) in 7 in the East.
Conference Finals: Anaheim (2) over Nashville (4) in 6 in the West; Buffalo (1) over New Jersey (2) in 7 in the East.
Stanley Cup Final: Anaheim over Buffalo in 7. The Ducks finally win their Cup. Quack.

I'll be back at the beginning of the second round to evaluate my first round picks. And until then, there is a lot of hockey to be watched. Go Ducks go!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Anticlimactic

I write my first of my four final finals tomorrow night, and I think other people are more excited about it than I am. It's not that I am not glad to be done; it's just that I find it more tiring to be excited about the prospect of being done school. It feels really anticlimactic to be celebrating my completion of school at this point, following what has perhaps been my weakest semester work-wise and certainly one of the more stressful life-wise, rather than in the past when I might have felt more able to appreciate it. I feel as if I said a lot of my goodbyes to the student lifestyle at the end of the last school year, and certainly at the end of my internship, and that these last four months have been far more of an inconvenience than they have been a great opportunity. But life is slowly returning to me, and I will be done in seventeen short days. Okay, I guess it does feel pretty good after all.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Awakening

It sometimes occurs to me that I do not post enough silly stuff I find on the internet, nor do I discuss music nearly enough considering the amount of time and money I spend on it. This post is a solution to both of those problems. Take Switchfoot's newest single, some cool animation techniques, Guitar Hero, and Tony Hale, and you get this, the most awesome video of awesomeness. Enjoy.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

No name Facebook

I have been inundated lately with e-mails requesting my presence on the new internet rage, Facebook. In response to these queries, I wish to issue the following statement: I will not join Facebook. If I was going to, I would have last year when I first heard about it. I have decided to begin to reduce my internet presence, and will be taking steps to do so with even this blog (such as removing my name from it as much as possible) within the month. I have heard all about how Facebook is safe and great for finding people and everything, but the fact is that I have also heard horror stories about it not being safe, and that people can find me if they need to without using sites like that. I know I am a gaping hole in the Facebook world, but you will all have to deal with it. No Facebook for Turner. Deal with it.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Baby steps

It was two years ago that I first began to find out that friends of mine were pregnant and starting to have children, and I still have several friends who are having children, and some who may soon be on their second children. The oldest of these kids are around eighteen months old, and I have begun to see them actually grow. Until fairly recently, I have had no idea how to deal with babies - how to hold them, how to react to them, how to exist with them around. They have confused me and weirded me out, likely because I had never really been exposed to babies for much of my life. But I am actually starting to know how to deal with infants and toddlers - it may have taken me over a year, but I am getting used to babies. And, even weirder, I am starting to enjoy having babies around. I suppose that means that I might be ready for one of my own eventually. Until then, I will continue making "baby steps" in enjoying my friends' children and watching them grow up and making me smile all the while.

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