Thursday, December 18, 2008

Note to self

Yesterday was Cameron's birthday. Sorry I suck, Cameron.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

What's old is new again

Happy 4th birthday, blog. I still love you.

While I have neglected this space, I assure you it's not because I'm all of a sudden less of a blowhard, but because I've been really busy with being a TA and other work. It's not so easy to write posts when half of the interesting stuff that you do is off limits because it's about students.

Also, when the other half involves either getting Guitar Hero: World Tour, improving at the drums in Guitar Hero: World Tour, breaking the kick pedal on Guitar Hero: World Tour, replacing the whole Guitar Hero: World Tour package, or awaiting the imminent collapse of the replacement Guitar Hero: World Tour kick pedal, there's bound to be a whole lot of repetition, and I decided to just skip that.

As a token of appreciation to my blog though I have decided to finally join the atom age and pick a "new" template that has the "new" Blogger features, including a much improved Archives system. I say "new" both because this stuff all got introduced, like, three years ago, and also because I've basically just gotten lazy and went back to the original aesthetic design. So it's a blend of old and new, and the new isn't that new, and that's the way I like it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

In conversation with Dickolas (Non-random quotes from a couple days ago, provided with context)

friend who is new to hockey:
I thought it was funny that Detroit got beat at GM Place.

me:
[laughs] Why didn't I ever think of that?!

me:
... [thinks about it]

me:
I guess because Detroit never gets beat at GM Place.


Current Music: Squeeze - Tempted

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Note to self

It's Frances' birthday today.

Current Music: The Band - Music From Big Pink

Monday, September 08, 2008

Note to self

It's Thomas Nguyen's birthday.

Current Music: Sloan - The Other Man (live)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I heart Achewood

Yesterday's Achewood was one for the ages.

Background: Ray was working with his annoying ex-girlfriend Tina on a new project when he accidentally punctures something in his bellybutton and it starts leaking clear fluid. Boy can I relate!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What's Wang This Week

I'm writing this in Google Chrome. Neat.

I'm back in Berkeley now. My trip home this summer was a whirlwind of chasing after my nephew, spending time with family, spending time with visitors from Berkeley, going to concerts, and attending weddings. Then it was over, and all of a sudden I was in front of a classroom trying to explain some of the finer points of conditional probability to a bunch of new graduate students. People have been asking me if it's good to be back in Berkeley; ask me again after I've had a minute to catch my breath, as I don't think I have since before I left Berkeley.

Once I do find a second to catch my breath, you'll probably find me practicing on my very own brand new banjo. I'd call it an encounter with GAS, but besides the possible acronym issue1, this wasn't an unplanned impulse purchase. This isn't the first time I thought about getting a banjo for myself, which you may recall ended in me deciding to buy a mandolin -- which I ended up never getting, but that's a different story -- but after borrowing one from Kyle all of last year, I decided that banjo really is cooler (I use the term loosely) and that I should get one for myself. Since Guitar Center was having their Labour Day sale and they had really cheap starter banjos in stock, I jumped. What better time than now to learn to play more kinds of, as Brad said, "really bad music"? Anyway, I'm spending my practice time learning to play some basic rolls following some lessons that I found on the internet. Once I finish that, I'm going to work on convincingly chewing on a long piece of straw while sitting on a porch.

My nephew is two and a half now and boy is he a handful. When I was in Paris this summer, he recognized me right away, but didn't know how to say my name, as R's give him some trouble. I wasn't that insulted, given that he couldn't say his own name either. A couple of times, he called me Artus, because one time he played with an 8-year-old boy named Artus and thought that Artus just meant "older boy that I play with". Anyway, now he can say his own name, and more importantly he can say my name... sort of. He calls me "Oucha". So long as he doesn't start calling that kid Artus "Oucha", I have no problem with that.

Also while I was at home, I did the Grouse Grind with some friends from Berkeley. We were so unprepared. I had been told by my friends Tung and Zara that if you take the Grouse Grind slowly, you can do it in 50 minutes. After about 1h15m, I remembered that Tung once did about 150 pushups in one minute. Anyway, we made it up in 2h15m or so, hampered in the first third by Shankar, the fittest member of our squad, having just eaten a large spicy meal, and then hampered in the last third by the rest of us being unable to keep up with him post-digestion. At least we made it up; Wikipedia tells me that the Grind's difficulty is "often underestimated" and that North Shore Rescue has to actually rescue people who are unable to finish it. It was an accomplishment, made sweeter by the fact that I never have to do it again ever.

Earlier on in the summer Allan also visited from Berkeley, and I spent a weekend showing Allan and Shankar around Vancouver a bit. We walked around the Seawall on the first day, and they're not the type to complain, but I started to suspect they were getting a bit tired of walking when they started to slow down a bit. My suspicions were confirmed when they suggested that we sit down after about 7K and they never suggested that we get back up and keep walking. That night we did more walking to get to and from the fireworks, and the next day both of them were sore and really tired. I'm a little worried that my friends from Berkeley are just going to remember Vancouver for being really tiring and difficult, and not for the amazing all-you-can-eat Japanese food, which is how I remember it.

A good friend of mine back from the good ol' days of the Math Club got married right at the end of my time at home. It was a great wedding and I'm really happy for her and her husband. The wedding was great fun and it was a fantastic time catching up with the old Math Club folks. I've been to a couple of weddings in the last year and a bit, and both times, instead of the couple kissing when glasses are clinked, they require you to stand up and sing a love song. Both times, now, I've sang "All Out Of Love" by Air Supply. That was an even more fantastic time. The other Math Club folks suggested I sing some "Roxanne", but I felt it was inappropriate to compare my friend to a prostitute on her wedding day.

I also played quite a bit of Rock Band over the holiday. I was already looking forward to the next generation of Guitar Hero/Rock Band games, but this actually had me considering spending $140 to buy the crippled Wii version of Rock Band just so I could practice the drumming. Guitar Hero is great, but even though you might be honing some skills that could help you in actually playing the guitar, at the end of the day you're basically wasting your time. (Albeit in the best way possible.) With the drumming on Rock Band, though, you're potentially actually learning to drum, so it's educational. Right? Right? Right? Anyway, that didn't materialize on account of spending the money on the banjo, and also as I figure one annoyingly-loud-for-my-landlord-and-neighbours hobby was good enough.

My parents had a food processor that they never used, so I packed it here to Berkeley. I was so excited to use it that I spent most of last week thinking of things to make in it. I decided to try making mayonnaise, since I figured that it would be impossible to make without a food processor. Ever seen it done? It's like frickin' alchemy or something. Anyway, apparently it's not that easy to make it in a food processor. That was a complete failure, and a waste of 500mL of oil and four eggs. I was so pissed off that I decided to conquer Mount Mayo with no oxygen tank, and I took up mixing bowl and whisk. Surprisingly, this actually worked, wasn't very hard, and was much more fun than watching oil and eggs sloshing around in the food processor. It really tastes a lot different from store-bought mayo (more French somehow), and now I understand how people might serve mayo, and only mayo, as a sauce for fish.

Some guys work on their car, or bench press 350 pounds. I'll take my banjo and my mayonnaise. My banjonaise, if you will.

Current Music: Blue Rodeo - Casino

1. Actually the G in GAS is for "gear", not "guitar", so this is not an issue at all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I always got my brother to do that part



(link for you Facebookers)

I think I only conclusively decided that this was fake when the Ghost of Kurt Russell appeared. Also, I don't have a brother.

Current Music: The Band - The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Friday, August 08, 2008

Monday, August 04, 2008

What's Wang This Week

I'm home now and will be here until the 26th. Wanna hang out?

My sister and her family are here right now too. Thomas is here and has so far been really excited to see me, which is a pleasant change from our previous meetings. He's right smack dab in the middle of the terrible two's, so it's a big operation keeping up with him. As a result, I think my parents are sleeping about 11 hours a day.

This weekend Allan was in town, and with Shankar now a postdoc at UBC, we got together and had a grand old time about Vancouver. I took them around the Seawall and to Granville Island, as well as to the fireworks. Yesterday we went to Deep Cove and walked around Robson a bit. Good times. The most important parts for me though were taking them to Jiro, so that they can describe first-hand the experience to our friends in Berkeley, and taking them to Japadog, which was also my first time. I had a great time, and they claim to as well, but I wouldn't be surprised if they later look back on that weekend as just eating a whole lot of Japanese food. Which, honestly, is how I prefer to think of Vancouver myself.

Current Music: Coldplay - Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends

Friday, July 18, 2008

People people -- this is a poll

(I considered not making this so lame, but then I did it anyway.)

It's been a long time coming, but my dreams have come true: a Sloan show is just on the horizon. They're playing San Francisco on September 30. The show will be at the Independent, and tickets go on sale this Sunday for $16.

I saw Sloan last year at the Independent and it was a show I'll remember for the rest of my life. Their new album is pretty good, but even if it's left you underwhelmed, I'm sure they'll play all those songs you grew up listening to on the radio down in the basement.

I'll be there with bells on. C'mon c'mon: who will come take it in with me? Can I coax you, cajole you, into joining me? Anyone who's anyone will be there. Don't keep on thinkin' for too long: suppose they close the door Monday, then we'll have to get tickets on Craigslist.

Penpals.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Maximum strength GAS relief

Fortunately for me, my bout with GAS coincided with Guitar Center's 4th of July sale weekend. Now, I know I've previously said I hate Guitar Center, but I'm willing to shop there if they're not making much profit off me. Come to think of it, I never got that mandolin... I guess they decided it wasn't worth it to sell me a mandolin at 20% off sticker price, like they said they would, so they just never called me back. It's What Jowen Would Do.

Also fortunately for me, the Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster doesn't seem to be that well-regarded by those who love Jazzmasters. The Mexican-made Classic Player model has some changes that make it not so much a Jazzmaster as a real guitar that looks like a Jazzmaster. The Jazzmaster, as I understand it, isn't exactly a real guitar so much as it is a conflagration of eccentricities in the shape of a guitar, and to fix a number of its flaws risks robbing it of its real essence. Even more fortunately, the store didn't have one because the one they got shipped was defective and they sent it back. So a fool and his $800 are not so soon parted after all.

I did, however, turn my attention to a low-end acoustic 12-string, which I might actually get some good use out of in my increasingly theoretical singer-songwriter role. After trying a couple and a night's deliberation, I decided on a very nice Yamaha FG720S-12 which I got at $270, $60 lower than usual. Eat it, Guitar Center. I played it and played it until my fingers couldn't take any more, which wasn't very long because I hadn't played much in a while and 12-strings are a bitch to play. Then I played some more. I would have written this post sooner, but I was too lazy to take a picture of it, and then once I got around to it I found that I had no batteries new enough for my camera to turn on.

This is the first guitar I've ever bought entirely on my own. All of my previous guitars were either chosen for me by my dad, given to me by my dad when he got better ones, or bought after much consultation with my dad. Because of that, I feel like this is the opportunity to teach myself to do a little guitar maintenance. Adjust the truss rod, make a new saddle, file the nut. Maybe install a pickup someday. It might make it seem a little more personal.

I've always been a packrat. As I get a little older, I'm starting to look at all of the crap that I've hoarded over the years and evaluate each piece on how much I'd miss it if it were gone. In the past I've said that guitars become like your friends, and each one is a beautiful and unique snowflake, blah blah blah, but I'm feeling a little more pragmatic about it these days.

For example, my first proper guitar was a white Fender Strat. It was real sharp, but it had a duff neck and it wasn't getting any better no matter how much we tried to adjust it. We traded it in on an amp, and I don't miss it at all. On the other hand, we had another old beater acoustic that we thought sucked for a long time. One day, though, my dad made some adjustments and it transformed from an unplayable bastard to silky smooth. As the years have passed, this cheapo guitar -- which was already about 12 years old -- sounded, played, and held up better than at least three other more expensive acoustics. I'd be really choked if I lost it.

The one guitar that I miss the very most, though, wasn't even my guitar. When we first started the band, Graham didn't play guitar. He proved to be a quick study, though, and before long the time came for him to buy his first real guitar. He got it second-hand before the age of Craigslist, without someone with him to tell him if it was good or not. Fortunately, he got really lucky.

We dubbed it New Wings, as was our custom. (My guitars were Wings and Acoustic Wings.) New Wings was, on paper, an unremarkable stock Mexican Standard Stratocaster, but two things made it special. First, the previous owner was a smoker, and because of that there was a cigarette burn on the headstock and all of the plastic parts on the guitar had yellowed and given it a cool, aged look. Second, it had the single nicest neck I've ever seen. My better judgment tells me that it must have had the same shape as every other Mexican Strat out there, but in your hand it felt wider across the nut than usual. Because of that, the neck gave the impression of being thinner than usual, which made it really comfortable for leads, yet with a solid enough depth and heft to make chords easy to grip onto. It had absolutely perfect action: low enough to make playing anything a breeze, but with just enough fight in the strings to keep things from bending all over the place.

Graham played it most, of course, but I played it plenty and used it on at least a couple recordings. We both loved that guitar, and when it got stolen we were both really choked. Graham replaced it with guitars that are nicer on paper and, to be honest, better sounding, but they'll never be New Wings. If anyone sees a sunburst Stratocaster in a pawn shop somewhere covered with UBC/Riverside school paper/Radiohead stickers, buy it. We'll pay you back.

I think that every time I look at a guitar, I'm hoping to find another New Wings. I feel like I've got a few now -- Wings II, Wings III, and Wings IV -- that are really great and cover all my bases, so I think I've done pretty well. If I'm being really honest though, although I wouldn't trade any of them straight up for New Wings, none of them will ever be New Wings either.

So will this new 12-string be New New Wings? Probably not. But I can hope.

Current Music: Ron Sexsmith - Exit Strategy of the Soul

Attn: Mike Gillis

If you pull this off, I will personally buy you a Jam Session. I'll make it for you, Mike Gillis.

You choose the flavour.

Current Music: Sloan - Never Hear The End Of It

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The sexualization of our my nephew (or, That's my boy)

[Setting: at the daycare.]

Thomas' three girlfriends:
Thomas est beau!

Teachers at the daycare, wishing to spread the love around:
Mais [Thomas' best friend] Romain est beau aussi, non?

Thomas' three girlfriends:
Non. Romain n'est pas beau.

Thomas, somewhere else:
[points excitedly] C'est une balle! C'est une balle!


[Exeunt.]

Current Music: Sloan - Parallel Play

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I should hope so

For about the last six months I'd been concerned that I was losing my hearing because I kept having to turn my iPod up louder and louder to listen to music. This didn't seem likely because I'm not any kind of headbanger, so I did a little more testing and it turned out that my iPod earphones were probably just worn out. They had served me well, but alas, they had lost a tonne of volume, and the bass response was almost nonexistent. I kept telling myself I should get new ones, but earphones are exactly the kind of little hidden expense I absolutely hate, like guitar cables and light bulbs. I also didn't want to find out that no, I really am going deaf. Besides, I was very proud of those earphones because I kept them in good enough shape that they wore out before I broke them by sitting on them.

I finally did something about it before I left for Paris and ordered a cheap pair of Sony earphones on Amazon. I toyed with the idea of getting both a noise-blocking pair and a non-noise-blocking pair (for the bus/plane and for walking, respectively), but in the end I decided to go with just the non-noise-blocking pair. It seems like it's not too hard to find a decent-sounding pair of cheap earphones if you're willing to forego the noise-blocking aspect. Also, they'd lead me into a lot less traffic.

Unfortunately, the Amazon order was delayed and I really didn't want to get on a long flight with only my worn-out iPod earphones, so I went to Target and bought a simple pair of Sony noise-blocking earphones. Happily, they confirmed that I wasn't going deaf, and they really were great to have on the plane. The box they came in also proudly proclaimed in capital letters on the front that these earphones had "RICH SOUND", which I was happy to hear (literally) after months of my tinny old earbuds.

Sony make good earphones. One thing I noticed as I walked through Harrods in London is that all Sony earphones come in a box with a short description prominently displayed on the label. For example, each box might say things like "SURROUND SOUND", "CARRYING CASE", "FOR MP3 PLAYER", or "GREAT INSULATION". But they only say one such thing, so the marketing people and engineers must have to choose which one would be most flattering to say about their top of the line earphones, which I assume satisfy all of the above descriptions. I have no reason to doubt them: mine do sound rich.

Anyway, when I got back to Berkeley the Amazon package with my regular earbuds had arrived. I opened it up and the earphone box said "GOOD SOUND".

It's true, they do sound good.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A post-Canada Day question

Mike Gillis became the general manager of the Canucks promising big changes and talking about making bold, smart moves.

So far as GM of the Canucks, his most visible changes have been picking up an overweight underachiever off the waiver wire in Kyle Wellwood and picking up a cheap enforcer in Darcy Hordichuk.

He passed over Kyle Beach in the draft in favour of a guy considered to be much more of a team player, but also way smaller. Not exactly bold, but perhaps smart.

He also got shot down on an RFA in David Backes and offered $10M/yr to Mats Sundin, which would make a slightly better than point-per-game 37-year-old player -- who doesn't seem to even be sure about wanting to play at all next year, let alone in Vancouver -- the highest paid player in the league. Bold? Sure. Smart? Um... maybe? Incidentally, Sundin is so blown away by this offer that he has announced that he's just not ready to make a decision on his playing future right now. Perhaps he has to wash his hair.

In addition, he's stocked the front office and coaching staff with inexperience in: Dave Gagner, the father of his former client; Scott Mellanby, who retired in 2007 and spent last season on TV; and Ryan Walter, hired based on his skills as a motivational speaker.

So, my question, and it's one that I may have to eat if all does really work out: is this really an improvement over Dave Nonis?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Tin and rubber

Ten years ago today, Graham and I got together with some friends to record our very first song, "Edible Rubber". This group -- Graham, Jesse, me, and whoever else was at Jesse's house at the time -- was a nascent version of the unfortunately named Pirkinweed, our band.

About eight "members" came and went before we wrote our third song. About ten songs later I was almost ousted by everyone in the band who wasn't Graham, which I turned around by booting one of them. About ten more songs and we got Eric to play bass for us; about a year passed before my attempted ouster was avenged: our drummer was booted, and Eric became the drummer.

We changed our name to The Asbestos Concern. We thought we were good. We couldn't hold down a bass player. We never played a show. About twenty more songs got written; probably a third of them got recorded before the band bit the dust.

Yet for all those changes, "Edible Rubber" changed remarkably little from its original form, beyond Graham learning how to play guitar on all six strings instead of the top 3 he had been using (in hindsight, the lower three would have been a lot more useful). It was perfect already.

To celebrate the tin anniversary of our band, here's a video of a cat eating rubber:



We still think we were good.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

New for 2008: the Fender Classic Player GASmaster



Ohh yeah... come to papa. Your little sister can come too.



Current Music: My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Murphy's Jaw

Here's a snippet I caught in the National Post on the plane to Paris with quotes from Chris Murphy of Sloan. He really does seem to come off as a huge asshole if you just read the quotes, but I imagine that they just seem that way out of context; if you've seen his interviews, it's easy to imagine him just tossing these lines off without any malice.



Chris Murphy is one of my heroes. Just look at how he rocks those double-bridged glasses -- it's intense. Sadly it's looking more and more like I won't end up being his west-coast counterpart, for lack of media savvy and musical success. At least I have two of his autographs now.

As for Sloan's new album, it's good. Sometimes really good (Jay), sometimes not so much (Andrew). What it is not is 2.5 stars, which is what Spin gave it in the very same issue that they give the new Coldplay 4.5 stars. Now, I'm not even through the new Coldplay yet, and I think it's pretty good, even, but let's just say I disagree with the assessment.

Current Music: Coldplay - Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends

Friday, June 27, 2008

YYZ

(I originally intended to write this post yesterday in the terminal at YYZ, but the signs proclaiming "wireless internet everywhere in the terminal" failed to mention "for $5.50/hr".)

Yesterday I flew back to Berkeley from Paris, where I spent a great two and a half weeks visiting my sister, along with a three-day excursion to London. On my way back home, I passed through Toronto Pearson airport and used what may have been the very same moveators used by Feist in her My Moon My Man video -- I never miss a moveator opportunity. I considered jumping up and sitting on the handrail the whole way down, but I just didn't see myself doing it without also falling off the other side headfirst.

I love Toronto and almost wish I had scheduled a couple days there on my way home. That's part of why the waiting area after the US customs and security check is always my least favourite part of the airport because it's like you're already kind of in the US. Well, I don't want to be in the US right now, I want to be in Toronto, thank you. There was at least a Tim Hortons near my gate, but they didn't take debit and there were no cash machines around that provided Canadian cash. At least now I can pay for things with USD and not feel completely screwed on the exchange.

I also find it a little funny that Toronto Pearson, probably the single most important airport in Canada, got saddled with the callsign YYZ, almost the very last callsign in the book. I had thought it's because it's relatively new amongst Canadian airports, but a visit to Wikipedia says that's not the case, having existed in some form or another since 1939. Even Toronto City Centre Airport (YTZ) has a better callsign, and you need a frickin' ferry to get there. Montreal-Trudeau (YUL) doesn't make much sense either, but at least there's an L in Montreal (and, I suppose, a U in Trudeau).

Finally, I considered including a Rush joke in here, but I just can't find the appetite to listen to the song now that Wikipedia has told me that it's an instrumental. From what I know about Rush, this means it's bound to be like 9 minutes long.

Current Music: Sloan - Parallel Play

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Foux da fa fa

Bonjour from Paris, where I have been since Tuesday. I'm staying with my sister and her family and have been playing lots with Thomas. My limited French is getting me through; I can at least communicate with most boulangerie workers, so I'm assured that I won't starve.

The thing I enjoy the most is the architecture. I've never seen anything like the old stone buildings here, like Notre Dame. I guess that's the beauty of such an old culture. What really amazes me, though, is that every church is just gorgeous. I'll get lost and sit down in a park to get my bearings, and there'll be another church, not a famous one or anything, and it's really incredible to look at. I still haven't seen an ugly church since I've been here. When I find one I'll take pictures.

Tomorrow I head off to London and I'll be there until Wednesday. Good times.

Current Music: Flight of the Conchords - Foux Da Fa Fa

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What's Wang This Month

I'd meant for an entire week after the Canucks' season was over to write my own take on their season and how they missed the playoffs. I thought this was a pretty self-serving and douchebag thing to do, but then I read a post by Matthew Good about the Canucks which I disagreed with greatly, and I decided that dammit, if Matthew Good can do it, then so can I. Matthew Good has always been an inspiration to me musically, in that listening to him emboldened me in writing songs because I refused -- and still do -- to allow him to be the biggest musician to come out of the Coquitlam area; the same principle holds here.

I never got around to it, of course, but the long and short of it was this: the Canucks were never good enough or deep enough (although this was changing, which we should thank Dave Nonis for), even when healthy, to win the Cup anyway. When healthy, they were definitely good enough to reach the second round, but the injuries they suffered were ridiculous. Besides, it always seemed clear that the plan was to hold on to their assets until this offseason when they finally rid themselves of $9M in salary tied up in Naslund and Morrison. It had to be this way given the absolutely insane prices people are asking for rentals these days at the trade deadline (Kesler, Edler, and Schneider for Brad "$7.8M" Richards1?!) and Dave Nonis was wise to not make any deals.

The Sedins are facing all kinds of questions about whether they have enough grit in their game to succeed in the playoffs, but people tend to forget that the Sedins, despite some dry spells this season and their illness-affected 2007 playoffs, had always been solid playoff performers and are extremely effective when they stick to their cycle game. They finished the season off strong, as well.

People were calling for Vigneault's head because the team was playing boring defensive hockey, but I thought he was a good coach and made do with what he had. Let's not forget -- let's not forget, dude -- that the offensive juggernaut Canuck teams of the early part of this decade tended to evaporate in the playoffs, with the West Coast Express line consistently underperforming in their three playoff rounds. Having said that, you cannot convince me that Trevor Linden should have been sat in favour of Rick Rypien and Byron Ritchie.

Then Nonis was fired. So much for my opinion.

Much has been written about Francesco Aquilini's decision to fire him, and I tend to side with those writers who consider it a really bad move made by a meddling owner who doesn't know as much about hockey as he thinks. Having said that, new GM Mike Gillis' first press conference indicates that he might not be a total clown either, so I'm cautiously optimistic. His interest in improving scouting is something I am 100% behind, and yes, I also think the Canucks could use some more grit, because those are the kinds of players that succeed in the playoffs. Unfortunately, there's no tree where you can pick Jarome Iginlas, so it'll be interesting to see what happens this offseason.

Despite the constant stream of crap coming out of Canuckville for the last month, this was a beautiful moment:



(link for you Facebookers)

I'm really excited about the new Sloan album coming out in June. Surprisingly, I learned about it from their American label first. I've already pre-ordered it in the hopes that I get an autographed copy like I did with their last album. I've also already listened to it a number of times on their Yep Roc website, and I really like it, with the disclaimer that I've only repeatedly listened to Jay's and Chris' songs. I've decided that I like Yep Roc, although according to the interviews on this CBC Radio 3 blog they were previously on the same label as Berkeley's own William Hung.

I've recently been watching clips on YouTube from the original British version of Whose Line is it Anyway? I never realized until now how much it influenced me. It was the first time I really thought "I grew up watching this" about any show. When I was a kid, I didn't always want to be Trevor Linden, or an astronaut, or a rock star: I wanted to be Tony Slattery. If you've only seen the American version, check out the original, because you're in for a real treat.

Some highlights:

  • Stephen Fry's "worst things to say to the Royal Family" -- for those of you keeping score at home, he's a longtime comedic partner of House himself, Hugh Laurie:

    (link)


  • Tony Slattery's "There's no free lunch":

    (link)


  • Tony Slattery's "Pecking order for fruit":

    (link)


  • The American version wasn't without highlights either. Here's Robin Williams guesting:

    (link)


It's been a big month for video games. Between Smash Brothers and Mario Kart, I think I've got enough game to last me for the next year. I still haven't finished Guitar Hero 3, though. On the plus side, I've been playing more actual guitar, which is nice. Thinking about Matthew Good reminds me that I should be playing that right now instead of blogging, so I'll go do that. After Mario Kart.

Current Music: Sloan - If I Could Change Your Mind


1. Also, Brad "I had sex with Drummond's 17-year-old cousin whom I met in a bar shortly after winning the Conn Smythe" Richards, which is a story for another day.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Monday, April 07, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Note to self

Yesterday was Divyesh's birthday.

(Sorry, Divyesh, I was out all day.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring break

I'm going home for a week -- actually the 21st until the 31st -- for Spring break. Who wants to hang out?

The Iceman Cometh



(link to the video for Facebook)

A couple summers ago when I was at Cornell for a couple of weeks, one of my roommates was a very quiet Swede. About a week and a half in, during a soccer game, someone said "So you're really quiet. What's with that?"

He just shrugged and said "I am Swedish."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What Wang Watches

The Daily Show, in Berkeley:



(link for those of you reading this on Facebook)

Over the years I've been known to get excited any time I see Vancouver on TV or the movies, in places like: Smallville; Hockey Night in Canada; X-Men 3; and most notably Juno, which gets extra points for including lots of scenes in Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam. This is the very first time I remember getting really excited about seeing Berkeley on TV.

Bonus! In conversation with Dickolas (Random quotes from my past, provided with some context)



me:
[walking by the Army recruiting booth outside the basketball game] So this is the Army's recruiting effort: a Hummer painted with Army logos, a single inflatable free-throw game, and a covered tent? That's like something Pepsi would use... and it's not as good as what Pepsi would have.

Allan:
Well, it's an inferior product.


Vampire Weekend, on SNL:



(link for those of you reading on Facebook)

I'm sure there's all kinds of Vampire Weekend backlash ("more like Vampire Asshole"1) but hey, I only just found out who they are -- I think I've heard "A-Punk" on the radio but didn't know who it was -- and I love this shit so far. It really appeals to my inner XTC fan, as well as my inner part-that-wants-to-like-the-Police. My first instinct, actually, was that it sounds a bit like what I remember of the bits of Paul Simon's Graceland-era concerts they show on PBS pledge drives. It made me want to check out Graceland-era Paul Simon, but I clicked on one link on YouTube and didn't have the patience to get through the whole thing. I'll keep trying.

Aw heck, more Vampire Weekend on SNL:



(link for you excellent Facebookers out there)

Hawksley Workman's new single:

(link for everyone, because embedding is disabled)

Note to self: buy Hawksley Workman's new album over Spring Break.

Hawksley Workman's old single, featuring an Oscar-winning actress:



(Knock knock. Who's there? link2)

A sporting massacre:



(You know what, Facebookers, that "View Original Post" link at the top isn't there for my health.)

I fully expect the Americans to say I'm an idiot, but the Canadians will appreciate.

Current Music: Vampire Weekend - Mansard Roof

1. also, Vampire Weaksauce
2. Link who?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Duh (duh) Duh (duh)

On Saturday I found myself lamenting -- as I have done before -- how none of my American friends have ever heard of The Odds, or of "Heterosexual Man". It's a damn shame, but maybe it's fitting. I'll always think of Vancouver and my teenage years when I hear this song. To me, it's always going to be a purely Canadian thing, even though I can't think of anything particularly Canadian about the lyrics or the music, and I don't mind keeping it that way.

But then again, maybe not. It's a damn good tune. The video featuring the Kids in the Hall -- another purely Canadian despite not being particularly Canadian-y thing -- isn't bad either.



Current Music: The Odds - Heterosexual Man

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Season 1 of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" synopses

Episodes 1-6, 8-10:

Larry David does something semi-moronic and/or neurotic. Everyone around him is a total moron and overreacts, causing Larry to fail at everything he tries. His wife is a bitch.


Episode 7:

Larry David does something semi-moronic and/or neurotic. Everyone around him is a total moron and overreacts, causing Larry to fail at everything he tries except getting oral sex in his car from his bitch wife.


God I can't stand that show.

Current Music: Jason Collett - Here's To Being Here

What's been Wang this academic year

Okay so I think the reason I haven't been posting very much is because last semester I was a TA. Since my life revolves around the statistics department to the point that I actually smell like Evans Hall when I'm not there, and since I couldn't (and can't) write anything about my students, I had very little to write about. Also, my blog is now read by my parents, and has been brought to the attention of the faculty in my department, including my advisor (due to the time I ate ketchup on my chocolate cake), not to mention being imported onto Facebook, so I can't just go around talking about people all willy-nilly on the internets. When you take away work and friends, I find myself lacking in material.

I suppose that's also indicative that I'm working more effectively and don't have as many little tidbits to share about the things I read, watch, play, and eat. I only get about 8 hits a day on this blog, so I also might as well just share them with the 8 of you individually, and you're all my Facebook friends anyway. Then again, it's possible that if I wrote more, I'd have more than 8 hits; it's a vicious cycle.

I'm realizing now, though, that this was a bad idea. With the writers' strike on for the last four months, I could have totally tried to build my brand and become the iconoclast I've always dreamed of being. Hell, had I been more on the ball, I might have started Stuff White People Like before whoever started it did. I could even have taken a turn writing about American politics (long story short: Clinton), although my contribution to the political discourse goes no further than what I learn about on The Daily Show. Since TDS was heavily affected by the strike, my contribution might have consisted of me finally looking up Obama Girl to see if she was hot. Verdict: yes.

Instead, I've spent my free time playing video games, spraining my wrist, suffering from hives, eating popcorn, learning about proxy servers, and trying to SOCKSify Windows Media Player. My chance to reclaim readers and become a conversation piece amongst my friends is gone. I'm okay with that, because that's how I do things here at I,DW. There's something romantic about wasting opportunities and continuing on anyway. Plus, Guitar Hero is really fun, proxy servers are interesting, and popcorn is delicious. The wrist thing sucks, and don't get me started on hives.

After much work, I beat the entire Hard career on Guitar Hero III and am now onto the second-to-last set of songs on Expert. Unfortunately, I don't see myself getting to the last set anytime soon. I think I've been able to get this far because up until now all the songs have been within my abilities on the actual guitar, which are wasting away because I'm spending all my time on Guitar Hero. Now, though, I'm up against things I am incapable of; this hump will take longer to overcome. I really believe that once I get past this stuff, I will truly be a better guitar player. The danger is that I'll actually want to play Raining Blood.

I've decided to complete my Garfield and Friends collection. I bought volumes 4 and 5 on a whim and now I'm hooked, so my current plan is to buy a volume every time I need something from Amazon that isn't expensive enough to get free shipping on. Volume 3 came with a package of four electric toothbrush heads, and I suspect volume 2 will come when I decide to check out The Jam's "All Mod Cons" or Japanese sci-fi flick "Tetsuo II: Body Hammer".

Last week I went to my first ever rugby game: the "World Cup" between UBC and Cal, named after the long-defunct Vancouver World newspaper. Apparently I unintentionally chose to attend the two biggest powerhouses in North American college rugby, and they meet up every year for a two-game series. I went in not knowing who I'd end up cheering for, now that I've been at Cal for four years, but on the first tackle I found myself cheering for the T-Birds. You can take the boy out of UBC, but you can't something something something. I figure this is sensible because I could conceivably still get kicked out of Berkeley, while it's far less likely that UBC would strip me of my Bachelor's degree.

Rugby, it turns out, is a beautiful game (who knew?!) and I enjoyed watching a sporting event that isn't completely big business. Without commercials, an actual sporting event can be held in under an hour and a half (who knew?!). In the end though Cal won 35-17, which was a disappointing result for me, but I took pride in knowing that this was the least lopsided game Cal has played all year. To put things in perspective, their season opener was won on a score of 99-3, and the week prior to the UBC-Cal game, they had among their weakest second halves of the season, only winning 78-22. Beside the UBC kicker missing four straight kicks, the biggest difference as I saw it was that every time a UBC player got tackled, he went down and lost about 7 yards -- pardon me, metres; rugby is such a civilized game -- while all the Cal players could have four T-Birds hanging off them and still leg out a 5 metre gain. So aside from all of Cal's team being totally on the juice, it was a really close match.

Funny, though. I'm so used to only following hockey in Vancouver that I kept almost mistakenly calling the T-Birds the Canucks. This lasted until the Golden Bears opened up a 10-point lead; after that I started almost mistakenly calling the T-Birds the Grizzlies.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Canucks' failure to land Brad Richards, as a person named Richard

I for one am disappointed that the Canucks have passed up the opportunity to have more Richards on the team.

The Canucks' failure to land Brad Richards, as a hockey fan

Thank God. $7.8mil/yr? You must be joking.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Friday, January 18, 2008

Note to self

Today is Graham's birthday, Jowen's birthday, and Paul's birthday.

Monday, January 07, 2008

How likely are YOU to eat your friends if trapped and starving?

44%
Find your Match at JustSayHi


Note that this is contingent on my buddies already being dead and probably safely preserved -- in ice, say.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

True story

Steve Downie, former Canadian World Junior Hockey Championships hero, has landed himself in trouble again with a sucker punch on Toronto's Jason Blake. Downie was in only his fourth game back from what was then the 5th-longest suspension in NHL history for a big ol' headshot on Dean McAmmond.

A few summers back, when I was flying from a summer school at Cornell to Toronto to visit with Mak and Jim, I had a stopover in Philadelphia. I was sitting in the airport at the gate waiting for my plane when a pretty big dude walks up decked out in all Team Canada gear and looking like a guy who would give me many wedgies. It took me a minute to realize who he was (at the time, he was the guy who scored the winning goal in the 2006 World Juniors). He had been drafted in the first round by the Flyers, so it made sense that he'd be flying from Philly to Toronto. I considered asking for his autograph, but thought better of it, because of his even-then-existing reputation for on-the-ice violence.

He was doing word searches.