RANDOM THOUGHTS

Greetings,

Well I’m back home now. The flight on WestJet went well – I have come to the conclusion, however, that I’m going to avoid early morning flights from now on if I can. I’m a morning person by nature, but all my recent flights have meant no sleep, as in going more than a day without it. I get really cranky without sleep. One time back in high school, I went nearly 72 hours without sleep. I was working at a nightclub back then and doing some theatre-related stuff, as well as trying to get organized for university, so there really wasn’t any time to sleep. I can still remember that final night vivdly; nearly 7 a.m., driving home, feeling delirious. I can remember being so desperate to hit the sheets that I parked the car outside, locked it and ran inside, fading fast. Locked the door, ran upstairs and just hit my head on the pillow. I can’t remember how long I slept, but the next time I woke up it felt like days had passed.

Needless to say, I was in that same state of mind last night.

I’m feeling really physically and emotionally spent at the moment. The last nine months really did a number on me. On top of all those assignments, papers and tests, working two part-time jobs and feelancing as well as the KSU, I know I did more than my fair share of work this past year. Some people would call it masochism, others character-building. Whatever. I’m just glad the rest of this month isn’t committed to anything particular.

I think it’s pretty symptomatic of my mental and physical retreat from reality that I have absolutely no desire to get in deep on the Sponsorship Scandal. Really, this is just turning into partisan wanking. All I’m gonna say is that if the Tories decide they’re going to defeat the government before the final report in November, they’re crazier than I thought.

Today’s all about organizing papers, sorting out documents from the past year and reloading my iPod. Couple of months ago, a major internal error on my iPod caused a total erasure of my songs. I lost more than 2500 tracks, which hurt badly. I managed to restore 900 of them, but many of the tracks were here at home or on CDs left at home. I’m up to 2000 now. I have a feeling I’ll probably stop it at that, because whenever you get such a plethora of songs you end up not listening to half of them because you’re just trying to listen to a few at a time. Seems like a waste of time.

MONTREAL JAZZ FEST: One of the goals this summer is to head to Montreal for the Jazz Fest. I went five years ago and it was amazing. Montreal’s the best city (outside of Toronto) in Canada in the summer.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: Ever since Cardinal Joseph Razinger became the new Pope, you really have to wonder what the Vatican has been thinking. Sure, I’m not going to question the wisdom of 115 cardinals, but come on.

I know people say Benedict XVI is a “transition Pope” but what does that even mean? So they’re going to take on one of the most Orthodox Popes in recent memory (apparently, Benedict XVI is to the political Right of even John Paul II, which is really scary) so they can have a transition to what exactly? A Pope that’s just as orthodox as Benedict XVI, only he’s not European?

I was pretty ticked when I found out the Cardinals thought it was a good idea to elect Benedict XVI, not just because he’s a “stay-the-course” Pope, but because he’s European. I know, first German pope since the 11th century, which I guess is progress, but I say it again: where is this Church’s power base again? If you want to define the orthodoxy of the Vatican with its power base, selecting another European (or even a North American) makes no sense. Why not select a Pope from Latin America, a key Catholic stronghold and also a Catholic region most in line with the ultra-conservative views of the Vatican?

GOODBYE TO HALIFAX… AND 50 CENT

Greetings,

Well today’s the day – my stay here in Halifax ends tonight. What a ride it has been. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed most of my time here and getting an East Coast lifestyle. Nine months later, I’ve got a graduate degree, new friends and a totally renewed perspective on my profession, my future career ambitions and what I want out of journalism.

Sure, Halifax isn’t for me as a long-term place of residence, but it’s been a great student experience. This will likely be my last foray into academia and it’s been a blast being a student one last time. I accomplished goals, learned a lot and feel a lot more confident as a journalist. Everything from being the BJ Representative, President of the BJ Students Society, Journalists For Human Rights, writing for numerous publications, doing CBC Radio, multiple trips, starting the KSU web site and getting the new logo going, writing for Tidings and learning more and getting excited about radio – it’s all been terrific.

So far, 2005 has been very good to me. I’ve got loads of opportunities in front of me and I feel like I’m ready to start anew.

Thanks Halifax, King’s and everyone at it – it’s been swell.

50 CENT: One area of journalism I’m keen on getting more into later this year is music journalism. I haven’t done a lot of it in the past, but I want to do more on the subject because a lot of my technology-related articles have a natural cross-over into music.

This month’s Vibe features two major articles: the first deals with the Top 50 movies that influenced Hip-Hop, and the other on 50 Cent’s rise to power in the Hip-Hop musical genre. The cover is absolutely incredible – a stunning riff on 1983’s Scarface, with 50 Cent in the pose and place of Al Pacino’s Tony Montana. It’s an amazing shot and apt for a guy like 50 Cent (Scarface is regularly cited as a major influence on contemporary urban hip-hop, given its prominent place in movies like New Jack City).

Personally, I’ve got a mixed opinion on 50 Cent. After reading this article, I don’t think it’s fair to demonize him as the worst purveyor of U.S. inner city carnage on the block – he’s not. A lot of what 50 Cent does in his acts are about performance and genre expectations – he’s playing a role of the ultra-violent thug because his intended audience expects that. Sure, he’s been shot nine times and he’s lived the life as much as he portrays it, but the guy isn’t making poetry here: he’s reflecting a very stark reality of urban life in the U.S., and a lot of people have problems facing up to the reality of what 50 Cent is saying.

This being said, he’s also done a great job at reinforcing stereotypes about gangsters. 50 Cent is from that hip-hop lineage of N.W.A., Dr. Dre, Eminem and so on – no responsibility towards their lyrics and what they mean, total objectification of women, rampant homophobia and extreme violence. The common rationale for this is that they’re reflecting their reality of urban life and art is about writing about what you know. Fair enough, but I also think guys like 50 Cent not only makes hip-hop trivial, but forces more artistic hip-hop like Common or The Roots to the fringe. Just because Common doesn’t flash T&A or waves a .22 in front of the camera doesn’t make it important, but it’s hard for artists like that to compete with such visceral imagery as sex-and-violence.

Fascinating stuff – incidently, if you’re interested in thoughtful Hip-Hop, check out this site. Okay Player is a fantastic site.

Also, this kind of debate isn’t reserved for just hip-hop – mainstream rock deals with the same kinds of issues too. More on this later.

THE POLITICS OF PERSUASION

Greetings,

Shipped all my stuff today – what a relief. Almost there…

NDP: Every now and then I get incredibly impressed with the tactical moves Jack Layton and the NDP manage to pull off. Layton announced today in the Commons his party would support the Liberals if they change the budget to address Ontario’s fiscal deficit.

Smart move – the NDP looks like the good guys here, they win some concessions from the Liberals and the Grits could stay in power.

NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR

Greetings,

Based on the fact I’ll probably never get the chance to do this again for years if I didn’t take up the opportunity when it presented itself, I went with some guys in my class to the wonderful province of Newfoundland & Labrador for a few days. I miss it – what a province. It’s astoundingly beautiful. The weather is pretty insane (winter is still very much alive there) but that’s all part of its charm.

Thursday, we took off and went through Cape Breton and Sydney to get to the Newfoundland Ferry. It’s run by the feds, and once I get an error sorted out with a photo I took on the top deck of the ferry at sunrise, I’ll post it. Cape Breton is also an incredibly beautiful area of Nova Scotia, I’m glad I saw it before I leave.

Friday was the main drive in Newfoundland. We stopped in Cornerbrook where a classmate lives and then headed onwards to St. John’s. Imagine this: after maybe three hours sleep on a bunk bed on a ferry, us guys, dirty, overtired, get onto the road at 7 a.m. and never look back. We put on some Led Zepplin and just kept going.

Once we got to St. John’s, we stayed in a house owned by another classmate’s uncle. We slept on couches and spent some “quality time” on George Street (St. John’s centre of, um, socializing) in some nice bars and had an all-around fantastic time.

Saturday was incredible. Busy, but incredible. We went to Signal Hill, which is where Marconi sent his first Trans-Atlantic radio signal. It was windy. Incredibly windy. As in wind-burn windy. And as in the wind could lift you off your feet windy. You get the point.

All in all, it was a fantastic mini-trip. Now I can say I’ve seen all of Eastern Canada – Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Newfoundland & Labrador.

PERSONAL STUFF: Just when am I getting out of Halifax? Wednesday. I have to ship my stuff tomorrow and sell my bed and sign a few documents but then I’m outta here!