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Hang a Coin Around Your Neck

Posted 17 February 2002, 1.08 am by Acheron

When I was a young boy, the Olympics were the highlight of, well, every set of four years. I have vivid memories of simply sitting and watching the CBC's (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's) coverage of the Olympics, day in and day out. My favourite games were always the winter, and my favourite sport was ski jumping. Recent events in the world of figure skating have forced me to re-evaluate my stance on the Olympic Games.

I no longer see the Olympics as a showcase of ameteur sport. Except for a few rare exceptions, like cross-country skiing, the individual-level rivalries have been replaced by gigantic advertisements, space-age bodysuits, and oversized flags. The Olympics are a chance for the world's nations and corporations to take their stolen hard-earned money and throw it at a glorified metaphor for war. For the most part, every medal is merely the result of either:

a) A larger pool of athletes in the home country (ie: the sport is more popular in that country).
b) Better funding for research, training, and the athletes themselves (ie: the sport is more profitable in that country).

Indeed, every medal must result from these circumstances. Imagine the chaos, the decline in nationalism, and, worst of all, the ineffectiveness of jingoism as a sales tool if athletes won simply because they were indisputably better than everybody else. Picture athletes competing without the flags of their home countries - such a picture destroys the entire purpose of the Olympics; without flags, the Olympics is just a really big track meet - such an event would not garner the sort of television ratings that the Olympics manages to pull in. Why are the Olympics popular? why is the World Cup popular? because tribalism - the at times savage desire for one's own country's victory - is intrinsic to human nature.

The fundamentally nationalistic tone of the Olympics has several negative repercussions on the athletes themselves. First of all, athletes of equal natural talent are often of unequal skill in competitions simply due to fiscal differences. Secondly, sports needing totally objective yet still human judges suffer. Can the Russian judge of pairs' figure skating be totally at fault for his/her decision? When an entire nation desires a certain outcome, that nation's judge will almost certainly take the chance to make that outcome manifest, even if it means ignoring objective truths. Simply put: the nationalism of the Games themselves can and will breed nationalism within the judges of said Games.

The only people truly hurt by this bias are the athletes themselves - dedicated idealists who devote their lives to self-improvement, then have their dreams whisked away by a flag or a dollar bill.

A Link For Dot

Posted 16 February 2002, 2.44 am by Berly

When I first stumbled upon this site, I immediately thought of Dot. Anyone who knows our beloved Dot knows how much she loves the contents of people's wallets. Dot, this link is dedicated to you.

Want a well written, simple to navigate and very humorous site? Visit What's Inside Jeremy's Wallet.

The content is exactly what the title page implies - "The Oldest Wallet On The Internet - Hot Wallet Action Since 1995, Baby!", by Jeremy Wilson. Make sure you check out the photo that moved 21 employees of the Detroit Film Society to collectively email the woman in the photo (but due to delivery complications, it got delivered to Jeremy.)

I wonder

Posted 15 February 2002, 5.18 pm by Villager

Every now and again, it occurs to me that of all the things I do, few are the result of any carefully deliberated thought, and none are of any great significance; my life will toddle on happily enough regardless of which route I choose. Life is easy. Life is a pre-planned path we all travel, and from which few deviate significantly. On first analysis, this seems wrong. But then, are not the lives of creatures the world over merely the result of chance, possibilities and paths chosen? Life is not a magic box. It is a magic garden in which we are free to wander, but which we cannot leave. I wonder why I look for a way to leave the garden.

Perhaps I am merely lacking contentedness, and search for meaning greater than life presents me with. Such immature wonderings are the product of a life unexplored, nonchalance and apathy, unfulfilled fantasies and elaborate dreams. Perhaps such a lack of direction is indeed the 'product of an unfortunate age'; life in the C21st requires more than instinct and nature to be content and happy with one’s lot.

Why am I even typing this, when I know that putting my thoughts down onto the screen threatens to further confuse and clutter my rationale as much as it promises to help clear my thoughts? Why, moreover, am I posting them here for you to see? Because we all, or many of us I suspect, search for ways in which our minds can leave that garden, and look back from afar, and truly appreciate the world in which we do live. We may not be able embody what we can conceive of, but the world can be that much more like we dream of it, you just have to believe in it; in your own ability to positively affect and sculpt the world around you.

Poe - Haunted

Posted 15 February 2002, 3.24 pm by Villager

I am somewhat surprised that neither Waldo nor The_Roach has reviewed this yet, as it is they who introduced me to it originally. The story behind the album is of the death of Poe's father, and her feelings and mourning for him. Despite the undercurrent of meaning, each song stand up as a work of art in itself, with emotive and thoughtful lyrics in each. Sample tunes include "Haunted" and "Walk The Walk", but there are no bad songs on this album.

There is a ranged mix of musical genres here, and the result is a sound unlike any other, and with each track Poe demonstrates an amazing voice and imagination. I can say without reservation that this album is among my favourites, one I can listen to over and again, and it's little short of criminal that Poe has yet to achieve a degree of fame and recognition greater than she has. Go read the Amazon reviews, I'm gonna listen to the album some more..

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Posted 15 February 2002, 3.16 pm by Villager

This, as I'm sure many of you will be aware, is a very famous book. It is also undeniably a classic. Written by Spanish Civil War veteran George Orwell in 1949, Nineteen Eighty-Four is an extravagant tale of totalitarianism and the power-hungry, from a working man's perspective. We see the world through the eyes of Winston, our hero of sorts, a middle aged office worker, just old enough to remember the times when the world was free.

By the present Nineteen Eighty-Four sees planet earth split into three continuously warring factions, each consisting of a heavily oppressive, totalitarian state, with the common goal of suppressing the masses and maintaining the status quo. One third of the earth, and the one in which Winston lives, is Oceania, in which a genius system of language and control of lifestyle makes for a gripping read. The tale of propaganda, indoctrination and 'law' enforcement therein is incredibly well created and will ring alarm bells in each of you as to how the governments of the world influence you.. are you being watched? Is your life not monitored and analysed in much the same way as the oppressed are Nineteen Eighty-Four?

Many of you will have read this book, and I review it only to try and ensure nobody misses out on this, "a masterpiece of political speculation". It’s only 326 pages long, and yet it provokes more thought and imagination in that short space than many authors manage in ten times as much. You needn’t be interested in politics to find this a gripping read, as it strikes at the very core of everyday existence. For the second-hand Amazon paperback price of $1.50, you really cannot lose with this, a true modern classic.

Magical.

My Ishmael-Daniel Quinn

Posted 14 February 2002, 1.20 am by Jake

Having read the first installment of the two, I was pretty impressed with this sequel. Although, it is not a sequel per se. It occurs along (and a little after) the basic timeline of the first one, although set in a different perspective. Quinn's explanations of common cultural mishaps are even more credible through the dialogue of 12-year-old Julie Gerchak and her unique tutor, Ishmael. Covering everything from the common misinterpretations of history, the incorporation of different methods such as agriculture and industrialization and comparing it with the systems of tribal societies, Quinn provides a unique perspective on the destination of mankind, and how we can change the future. Many of his ideas are extremely sensible and appealing, and I found it hard to put down. Although slightly lacking in a few spots, it makes up with cultural analogies and alternatives, as well as alternate perspectives to ideas from the first book. I would recommend this book to anyone who is even remotely interested in philosophy, sociology or anthropology. Give it a shot, you may like it.

The Sound of Freedom

Posted 13 February 2002, 7.54 am by The_Roach

The following is a reader submission from janetdoggy. Enjoy.

The front page of the newspaper revealed the heartbreaking details. Although worthy of a headline story, It was not news to me. I was expecting the worst because I heard the helicopter.

For years, I regarded the noise from aircraft as the sound of freedom. Living a few blocks from Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, My windows rattled constantly. Even Sunday provided no relief from the sensory assault of cutting edge weapons booming across the desert.

Three years ago, I made the right decision. I Moved my family away from the noise and confusion of an overcrowded nightmare.

Adjusting to a small town lifestyle is easy. I like knowing my neighbors. The police are no longer an enemy to be feared. I discuss my childrens progress in school with their teachers at the grocery store. Strangers wave and say "hello".

The helicopter is the only noise I'm likely to hear at night. It lands at the only hospital in a sixty mile radius. For many, it is the first and last time they will ever fly. The helicopter never brings good news.

Requiem For A Dream

Posted 13 February 2002, 2.08 am by The_Roach

Requiem For A Dream
Herbert Selby Jr.

No doubt you've already heard of this stunning piece of fiction, either as a literary work, or due to it's recent film adaptation. If you haven't, you're in for a rare and terrifying treat.

The story revolves around four individuals who lose sight of reality when they pursue their dreams. A lonely widow with nothing to live for learns she will be on television, and decides to take diet pills to fit into the dress she wore to her son's bar mitzvah. Meanwhile, her son and two of his friends plan to start selling heroin on the street in order to save up enough to open legitimate businesses and retire.

Of course, it's an old yarn in today's society, and one with an obvious outcome. What's fascinating about the tale is the manner in which it has been presented in both book and film.

Selby's writing technique is very raw, and requires some getting used to. There is little distinction of voice in dialogue (no use of quotation marks, either), many of his sentences run-on, and there is rarely a paragraph break. The first impression a reader might have is that Selby spent a little too much time with Hunter S. Thompson. What's more disturbing is that it works, drawing you further into the story and associating you more closely with the out of control nature the characters have.

The film doesn't pull any punches either. Director Darren Aronofsky uses a myriad of techniques and presents the viewer with a highly visceral, and deeply disturbing film. It has some very distinct differences from it's parent work, the most notable being the portrayal of drug use. Selby's writing works to downplay their importance, making them seem more casual as they would to the users themselves. Aronofsky employs an interesting tactic to achieve a similar effect by demonstrating the character's addictions in 4 second clips containing a barrage of images that show the viewer exactly what's going on without forcing them to watch another drawn out scene of hypodermic use. Add to this performances by Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, the tragically beautiful Jeniffer Connely, and a surprisingly talented Marlon Wayans (who would have guessed?), and you have a film you will want to show your kids instead of giving them a heart to heart about drug abuse.

So, which is better, the film or the novel? Neither. While not a carbon copy of the original work, the film holds true enough to it's namesake. Both are equally enjoyable, and equally challenging to accept.

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This is the shot of a crab apple tree outside of my house. I used thirds and rather than having the foreground directly in the middle I moved it to the left and let the rest fall out of focus.


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Props to Green Mamba for bringing the weirdness

Hmph

80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!

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