Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer Readin' II

The Catcher In the Rye - J.D. Salinger

This book is very much in the same vein as Less Than Zero. But considering Catcher was written way before Less Than Zero, its the original teen-angst novel. The story revolves around Holden Caufield, and is written from his first-person perspective. He even addresses the reader quite often. Holden has been thrown out of yet another prep-school. Not because he's stupid, but because he simply hates the people there, and considers them all 'phonies'. Holden takes off to New York for four days, and this is where the majority of the story takes place. Holdens story is one of dis-satisfaction with the world around him. School, most of his friends, and generally feeling he does not belong in the rich and posh life that his parents have provided for him. With this dis-satisfaction comes rebellion, cursing, smoking and drinking. I don't really get why this novel is has been so scorned over the years and considered 'dangerous' for youth to read. Its actually one of the most banned books of all time. After you read it you'll get what I mean. Anyways I highly recommend this one, its instantly one of my favorites.

On a side note, I recently watched the film adaptation of Less Than Zero. Fucking terrible. Don't see it. Barely keeps true to the story in the book.

Currently reading: On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Merde, C'est Chaud!

Holy fuck its too hot...my ice cold Canadian body can't handle this heat. It's starting to feel like Onterrible over here. I was hoping that maybe northern France escaped that god-awful humid heat, but apparently not.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Smokes, lets go.

Here in France, as with most cities outside North America, the system for begging on the street is quite different than back home. Here its more aggressive. Frankly, half the time they try to strike up a conversation with you. Instead of asking for money, half the time they'll ask you for cigarettes. On top of that, people you don't even know, and that aren't even living on the street, seem to have no problem approaching you and asking for a cigarette. This happens sometimes in Canada, but generally at 2 in the morning outside some shitty bar. When I'm here however, I use my favorite excuse so far, 'sorry, I don't speak French'. Works every time. By the way I can speak it more or less just fine. I'm not a completely heartless asshole, you could say I have half a heart. I just pick and choose who I'm going to give money to on that particular day.

For example, a few days ago I was sitting on the fountain in the main square, and a gypsy-child (there are a shit-load of gypsies here) who couldn't have been any older than twelve, came up to me and asked for a smoke. Not just any smoke though, she was asking for the one I was already two-thirds of the way through. What the hell? Why not ask even for a full one? Anyways I refused, seeing as she hadn't even hit puberty yet. She proceeded to yell at me and make fun of my English accent, which I found hilarious because she could not speak English or French. Its some strange Eastern-European language that nobody understands. After carefully telling her to go the fuck away, I gave her a Euro.

Another example is when this super old man, (while holding a bottle of champagne mind you) came up to me, grabbed my hand, started shaking it, and begged me for cash, insisting it wasn't for booze. First of all, if you're a beggar and buying liquor, don't buy goddamn champagne. It's probably what landed you on the street in the first place, not being able to handle your crippling addiction to Crystal. Secondly, you instantly lose your credibility of 'not using the money for booze' if you have a bottle of booze in your hand. I gave the man a smoke and continued on my way. I just wanted my hand back.

There is a new breed of homeless I have seen here, and its the homeless are dressed like they just got off work, are on their way home, but not before they make a stop in the local square to score some change. I am not kidding, there are some homeless out there who are better-dressed than I am. These people get nothing.

Then there are the youths who always have dogs, which I don't really understand because it's just another mouth to feed. Anyways, these people are identified generally by their baggy jeans (by France's standards) their hooded sweaters, and usually are smoking pot or smell like pot. I'm sure I get mistaken for one all the time. I'm not exactly up-to-snuff when it comes to European fashion. Sorry I don't want my genitals crushed between my jeans and my leg. Anyways, these are the people I usually give money to. They have creative signs. 'Need money for diesel-fuel ferrari so I can go 250 mph' is one of the more hilarious signs I spotted. Or the classic, 'Need money for weed' to which I generally reply, 'Yeah? So do I'.

Call me an asshole if you want, but after living here for two months, it'll happen to you.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

No More Moonwalks

Well its the end of a life full of controversy, that frankly was fucked up since childhood. The problems became more or less public from 1985 onwards. I mean, was he TRYING to look like he did at the end of the video for Thriller? Another five to ten on this earth and no doubt he would have succeeded. In my opinion the man was bat-shit insane, but holy fuck could he dance:

Thursday, June 25, 2009


This is the first time in a long while where I've been a trailer for a movie and actually felt the real need to see:

Fête de la musique‏

Last Sunday, Lille had its annual 'Fête de la Musique‏' which is a big music festival where local (and not so local) musicians come to town and rock the fuck out. Whats really cool about all this is how its set up. First of all its completely free, and you're allowed to walk around with as much open liquor as your heart desires (woo-hoo!). Secondly, the festival isn't centered in one big square with a couple stages in the same spot. Nope, the bands are actually playing all over the Vieux Lille district (where I live), even in small side streets. Walk two minutes and you'll find anything from a rockabilly band starring a harmoica-wielding father with his two sons tearing shit up on their axes, to spider-man mask clad electro-rock bands. It really is pretty cool.

Oh, and lots of bars host bands aswell. I saw a 'psychedelic' rock band from Australia play at the Australian Bar (figures) and they were pretty good. Major hippies. It seemed that each member of the band resembled rock figures from present and past. The singer looked like Frank Zappa, bassist was Sam Roberts, guitarist was Dimebag Darrel, and the drummer was Zach de la Rocha. The resemblances stopped at their appearances however. For a psychedelic band, they sure could drum up a pretty bad-ass cover of Still D.R.E. Personally, I found it rather hilarious watching a white guy in a tie-dye t-shit yelling 'It's still DRE day Nigga, A.K. Nigga'.

Anyways, the point of all this is to say we need more of these festivals in Canada. I know we have some similar festivals, but the whole being free to basically do whatever you want is what makes this one pretty cool.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Classic J-Roc

It's a damn shame they're not going to make any more episodes...

Maybe he can get his old job at CBC back. Remember Jonovision?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Shit has hit the fan.

I don't know if any of you have been paying any attention to what's going on in Iran right now, but it is getting pretty ugly. In the country it seems like its 1979 again, and the Iranians are on the verge of another Revolution. Whether or not an actual revolution will take place remains to be seen, but the proverbial 'shit' has hit the fan.

This all started right after the results of the recent Presidential elections in Iran came out. According to the government, President Mahmoud Admadinejad was re-elected by a large margin, edging out political rival, and potential reformist, Mir Hussein Moussavi. Moussavi essentially wants to move Iran slightly away from the idea of an 'Islamic Republic' and wants to see far more liberal policies enacted in the country. More equality for women, better education for everyone, and far less bullying on the international level, like pursuing nuclear interests.

The Iranian people have taken to the streets and are as we speak, fighting the dictatorship, attempting to basically overthrow Admadinejad's regime. They cannot fathom how Admadinejad has managed to be elected, as they are very suspicious of voter-fraud, and tossing ballots. From an outsiders point of view, after watching the news and various protest videos on youtube, it really seems like this election may have been a farce, with the government fabricating the results to keep Admadinejad in power. Admadinejad is a strong supporter of the 'Islamic Republic', and seems to have gained the support from Ayatollah Ali Khameni (the religious figure-head of Iran). So now not only is the Iranian population clashing with police and defying Admadinejad's pleas, they are also defying the Ayatollah, which is a very big deal. No one is listening to either leaders.

This is in Tehran the day after the elections:

Here is an article published in the NY Times yesterday, explaining the tense emotion in Iran right now:


We should all be following this very closely.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer Readin'

I've had a ton of free time on my hands here in Lille, so I've taken it upon myself to actually get back into reading. To be honest I haven't really read a book cover to cover in about two years. Pathetic I know, but it seems at the moment I'm on a reading frenzy so I'm just gonna keep going with it.

Anyways, here are the books I've read in the past three weeks or so, and what I've thought of them:

Less Than Zero - Bret Easton Ellis

The story runs from a first person narrative, through the main character, Clay. Its a powerful story about Clay returning home to L.A. from school on the East Coast, and being completely disenchanted with his surroundings. The friends, the drugs, the parties, the money, all becomes a huge wash for Clay. Its nihilism among youth at its worst. A truly great novel, and very easy to sympathize and connect with its main character, as I'm sure many of us have felt the same way about our home, friends, and other surroundings at one time or another. Its quite remarkable that the author, Ellis, wrote the novel at the age of 21. Remarkable, and depressing. Depressing in the fact that it makes one wonder, what the hell have I done at 21? Anyways, I highly recommend it.

The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway

This short novel (its only 100 pages) won Hemingway the Nobel Prize for Literature, and its easy to understand why after you've read it. Its the story of a man nearing the end of his life as a fisherman, and facing the elements in an epic battle against a marlin, sharks, and his own aging body. The story is literally just about the old man trying to catch a fish, but Hemingway has written it so well that it never bores you.

American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis

Written in the same style as Less Than Zero, through a first person narrative. This novel is hilarious, terrifying, and disturbing all at the same time. Its the story of Patrick Bateman. Successful business man on Wall Street, lives in a very swanky apartment, intelligent, and enjoys the finer things in life. Oh, he's also a raving psychopath who slices up his victims in horrific fashion during his spare time. This one is not for any one who can't handle violence. I mean, not many things in movies, music, or books phase me, but man there were some scenes in this one where I was actually bothered by what I was reading. For example, Bateman at one point stabs a homeless mans eyes out, then stomps on his dogs legs, leaving its paws 'sticking up at an obscure, satisfying angle'. Its not all about the violence, though. Ellis describes 1980s upper-class New York in such a way that makes you feel pity for these people whose lives revolve around material items from the best-looking suit possible, down to who has the best business card (which by the way, is one of the more hilarious parts in the novel). Its a dark, bleak comedy which, like Less Than Zero, is a satire on the terrible power of money.

Currently reading: The Catcher In The Rye - J.D. Salinger.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ein! Zwein! Die!

Zombies? Nazis? Nazi Zombies!?!?

The two most satisfying things to watch get slaughtered on film have been combined.


The sky, remixed.

It would be safe to say one of my most listened-to albums last summer was M83's Saturdays=Youth. The album is chocked full of 80s-style synth, I highly recommend it. If you get the chance to see M83 live, do it.

Now, just in time for this summer, I've come across a remix of one of the best tracks on the album, "We Own the Sky", infused with some pretty fucking kick ass dubstep...I think I need more dubstep in my life.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

French Bureaucracy

Let it be known: Getting anything done in France that involves paper work, forms of any kind, applications, anything...it is the biggest cluster-fuck you could ever imagine.

In Canada if you need a health card, you go to the health card office. If you need a drivers license, you go to driving bureau. If you need a passport, you go to the passport office. You get the idea.

In France however, some buildings do a list of things, some do only one or two things for you, and some, it seems, are only there to tell you you're in the wrong place. Today I applied for my national identity card, which gives me complete dual-citizenship. Originally I was told to go to the Prefecture (police station) to file my application. Once inside, I was directed to another desk that deals with foreigners specifically. Keep in mind I told the woman at the desk exactly what I was there for.

Guess what, I was in the wrong place. Not just at the wrong desk, but at the wrong building entirely. I was then told to go to the local Mairie (City Hall) to sort it out. After a twenty minute walk or so, I arrived. I enter, talk to a lady at a desk, and am promptly told that I am in the wrong building, again. See in France, apparently they have little mini-City Halls for each district in the city. I was then directed to the Mairie de Vieux Lille (our neighborhood). Finally, I was in the right place. All my papers were in order, and I was in and out in about fifteen minutes. So what could have taken fifteen minutes actually took an hour and a half. To top it off its going to take a month for them to process my application. Great.

Monday, June 15, 2009


The apartment got a whole lot better the other day when we discovered a small, albeit slightly sketchy entrance onto the roof of the next door church. Since I'm rather...*ahem*...not small, it was slightly more difficult for me to get out the window, whereas Andrew had little trouble. To get to the window from the inside you have to step onto a small ledge that's above the winding stairs inside. Falling would be a painful affair.

Luckily there's a small, shaky ladder waiting for you on the outside.

Once outside its all sunshine, grits, beers and shirtless Canadians.


I could get used to this.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

This has to be a joke.

I keep hearing this song in many different places around Lille. I keep on getting told that its good. I keep on getting more and more nauseous. Kudos if you can make it through the whole video without vomiting.

Terminator Salvation: How not to salvage a franchise.

I watched the new Terminator film last night and oh my was it ever bad. Not that I went into the film with high expectations or anything. But man the trailer made it look pretty fucking cool, wouldn't you say?

(youtube.com won't allow me to integrate the video directly on here)

Anyways, the story is a complete mess. To start things off, John Connor has to find a young man named Kyle Reese who has to live, so that he (Kyle) can travel travel back to the late 1980's with the sole purpose of fornicating with John's mother, Sarah Connor, so that John can be born. It never really explains what will happen if Kyle does not survive and cannot go back in time. I mean, if John Connor is already alive and well in 2018, why does Kyle have to be sent back in time to do the nasty with Sarah Connor, and protect her? All that already happened. It was called Terminator. Then comes this other guy, Marcus Wright. He is a machine who believes he is human (thanks for ruining that in the trailer), and is hell bent on finding out who has done this to him. Honestly if they had kept this a secret it may have added some excitment to the films boring and useless plot. Connor and Wrights fates are intertwinned, as Marcus can gain access to Skynet (the evil machine headquaters) and Connor has to find Kyle Reese. What could be a cool idea, falls completely flat as throughout the film you really stop caring about the characters, and their goals. I wasn't even rooting for John Connor or Marcus to prevail, like I might have been screaming at Arnie and a young Connor in Terminator 2 to run from that fucking T-1000. By the end of the film nothing is really resolved at all, making the whole thing seem like a segway into an even more expanded three-story arc. Which by the way, is happening.

I've even tried to take the film as a nonsensical acton flick where you don't have to think. But you know what? That didn't work either. The action isn't even that amazing. It was a poorly directed mess. And why, for God's sake, was McG (I still don't understand why he insists on being called that) of all people chosen to direct a film that had the potential to be pretty good? Here's a quick run-down of McG's previous directorial masterpieces:

Korn: Who Then Now? (1997)
Charlies Angels (2000)
Charlies Angels: Full Throtle (2003)
The Offspring Complete Music Video Collection (2005)
We Are Marshall (2006)

Not to mention the great programming he's been attatched to via being a producer:

The O.C.
The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search For The Next Doll (2007)
Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious (2008)
Sorority Forever (2008)

The list goes on and on, littered with MTV and VH1 bullshit. So why, oh why was he chosen to direct a film from one of the more beloved sci-fi/action franchises in the past twenty-odd years? Questions we'll never have answers to. Oh, and by the way, he's already involved in pre-production for the fifth Terminator.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Can't you tell I have a headache?

In typical French fashion, there's some kind of strike/demonstration going on in the main square of Lille (right where I live). Perfect timing, seeing as I'm rather hung over, and hand washing my filthy clothes in a bathtub. Seems like every week there are people out in the square rallying for something. More money, lower taxes, or just sticking it to the government in general. I'm starting to think that the French are simply just extremely lazy. But hey, they seem to get what they want so I guess it works.

Anyways, the reason I am so hung over is because I went to see Breakbot of Ed Banger Records spin at the Supermarket last night (a small, basement-like club in Lille, which can be hit or miss, depending on the DJ). Thankfully the music was good, because that place has an awful lay-out.

Check him out here:

Oh, and I came across a video of one of the 'deadliest' punchers to ever grace the NHL, Joe Kocur. Enjoy a highlight reel of his devastating punches, set to Motorhead.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Big Game

Tonight the Pittsburgh Penguins will face off against the Detroit Red Wings in a game 7, winner takes all, Stanley Cup Final. I only hope that by the time I get home tonight, I am sedated to the point where if the Penguins lose, or have already lost, I won't have to break something valuable. Is it bad that I'm considering skipping a night out to watch a game that starts at 2am here?

In the meantime, enjoy A-Roid getting it from Boston Red Sox fans. I wonder how they (Sox fans) will treat Manny Ramirez when, and if he actually gets to play this season.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Words of wisdom, found in an unexpected place.

Last night I re-watched Con Air for the first time, in what has to be at least five years (far too long in my opinion). Con Air is the second in a string of three pretty bad ass action films from the late 90s, all starring Nicolas Cage. This was before all that City of Angels and National Treasure bullshit. When Cage's awful acting could be overshadowed by ballin' action sequences, switching faces with John Travolta, and leading an assault on Alcatraz with none other than Sean Connery.

This is not a review for the film. This is about a character in the film not played by Nicolas Cage. I am talking about Garland Green, as played by the great Steve Buscemi.

This character is a calm and collected psychopath, who has the best introduction of all the characters in the film. Con Air came out a year before what is arguably Buscemi's best role, in The Big Lebowski (one of my favorite movies of all time), leading me to believe (probably incorrectly) that if it wasn't for Con Air, he may have never played the memorable Donny. Let's ignore the fact that he had already played a major role in Fargo, another Coen Brothers film.

That man is creepy as hell.

Amongst the madness, one-liners, and a frantic John Cusak, Buscemi gets the chance to spit out a few lines that actually make sense, and (albeit slightly) comment of society. Its rare that you find pearls of wisdom in action movies whose sole purpose for existing are to show exactly how much shit you can blow up in 90 minutes or so. It was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, what else could you expect?

To give you some context, Buscemi's character seems to be somewhere between Hannibal Lector and Patrick Bateman. Anyways, here are some memorable lines from Buscemi during the film:

Buscemi on the films main baddie, Cyrus 'The Virus' Grissom (played by John Malkovich):

"He's a font of misplaced rage. Name your cliché; Mother held him too much or not enough, last picked at kickball, late night sneaky uncle, whatever. Now he's so angry moments of levity actually cause him pain; gives him headaches. Happiness, for that gentleman, hurts. "

(After Nicholas Cage, Cameron Poe if you will, has called him insane):
"What if I told you insane was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn't you consider that to be insane?"

This next line takes place on the plane the cons have hijacked, with the song 'Sweet Home Alabama' playing in the backround:

"Define irony. Bunch of idiots dancing on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash."

And finally, one line that completely lacks any wisdom at all, but I had to throw it in. Reminds me of American Psycho...

"One girl, I drove through three states wearing her head as a hat"

Go watch the movie. Then watch The Rock, then Face-Off, and forget everything else you thought you knew about Nicolas Cage.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This can't be healthy.

For the fourth or fifth...maybe sixth (I'm losing track, short-term memory is fading. Side effect?) night in a row, I've watched the sun come up. Its almost becoming normal now, hearing birds chirping as I lay my weary head onto my pillow. I wonder how long I can keep this up before my liver gives me the finger and decides to stop working properly.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New Digs

So its official: I am no longer simply squatting on a shitty, foam pull-out couch on Andrews floor any more. About five days ago we moved into an apartment, which is more or less a carbon copy of his old place. Only now I have my own room, with a real bed. My back is thanking me, I was starting to feel like more of an eighty year old man than I already do. We have a roommate, her name is Claire...who we never see. I think our schedules are direct opposites. She works during the day, and sleeps at night. Like a normal person. We however, sleep for most of the day, work in the evenings (if you could even call what I do work), and rarely go to bed before 4 am.

The apartment is right at the center of town. Literally could not be more downtown in Vieux Lille than we already are. I will take pictures at some point and put them up on here. If I don't forget. Don't hold your breath.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

65 Years ago, yesterday.

Yesterday marked the 65th anniversary of the Normandy invasion by the Allied troops, making it the largest aerial, naval, and land invasion our modern history has ever seen. Being both French and Canadian I am instilled with a great sense of pride, and sadness. Sad that my own people fell so quickly at the hands of the German war machine, and were completely helpless on their own. But proud that my other, Canadian, countrymen took up arms and came to the defense of so many European nations. Its a strange feeling. I almost get choked up thinking about what both of the countries that I hold dear to my heart went through. I just wish the French were a little more grateful. I was here in France on V-E Day, and I was here yesterday.

I have yet to see any body celebrating, or even acknowledging the dates.

Lest we forget.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Listen carefully.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The epitome of 'not getting it'.

According to an article that was printed in the LA Times today, (i was linked to it through digg.com...sue me) some conservatives actually believe Stephen Colbert (of The Colbert Report, Comedy Central) is being serious. To be more specific, conservatives from Ohio State University seem to take him seriously.

From the article:

"Indeed, Colbert the character, a right-wing blowhard on a one-man mission to reeducate the ignorant, is convincing enough that a recent Ohio State University study found that a majority of conservatives polled believed Colbert the man was one of them."

link: http://theenvelope.latimes.com/awards/emmys/env-en-colbert1-2009jun01173713,0,2529447.story

Now, I'd give someone the benefit of the doubt if they had only watched the program once. And that's being generous. However, if after repeated viewings someone still thinks that Stephen believes everything he is saying, and is being serious...well, there is something seriously wrong. Not with the program, but with the viewer.

The fact that they believe Colbert is being serious leads me to assume three very unflattering, if not frightening things about these conservatives from Ohio State:

1. They are missing the part of their brain that allows them to register satire, when its blatantly in their faces.

2. They (conservatives from Ohio, presumed to be Republicans) believe that what Stephen says on his show represents the party and their belief system.

3. They believe some of the same things that he does. Such as the idea of the earth being under 6000 years old, hold Bill O'Reilly in high esteem (Stephen calls him 'Papa Bear'), and blindly follow whatever a Conservative President wants to do.

Now I don't hate conservatives, and this is not an excuse to bash them. Its an excuse to bash the stupid. If a liberal thought Colbert was being serious, I would fear for their gene pool just as much as I would fear for a conservatives. The difference is some of these conservatives identify with Colbert, and that's the scary part. They think he represents the conservative political philosophy and Republican Party well. The man preaches 'staying the course' in Iraq constantly, sticking by the President no matter what, never questioning religion, and calls for the destruction of bears (OK, maybe that's just him). Maybe I'm taking cheap shots, but goddamn.

Are people really so dense?

Alright I'm done now.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Prawns Are Coming.

Being a lover of foods that are generally terrible for me, I have discovered and become a fiend for...are you ready for it? Prawn Cocktail Lays. I know, it sounds awful. I was very hesitant at first. I'm not even really a big lover of seafood. I mean, the idea of powdered flavor from anything of marine origin combined with thinly sliced fried potatoes doesn't sound very good. Basically everything about the chips sounds and looks unappealing. I don't know what it is about a pink bag of chips that is so unnerving. Regardless, the preconceptions you may have of the chips projected into your brain by both the title and bag are quickly removed by the time you finish your first taste. I don't think I've ever been so surprised by a chip before in my life.

Maybe its because they are not available in Canada that I am so enraptured by their deliciousness. Either way, the idea of emptying my backpack of all my belongings only to be replaced by Prawn Cocktail chips becomes more and more appealing with each bite.