From the archives: November 2003

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Punchline suppressed for causality reasons

Thursday, 20 November 2003 — 10:16am | Comics

I actually missed a pretty big item in my bout of Gateway-praising last post. It was a review of the new Bob the Angry Flower anthology, The Ultimate Book of Perfect Energy!!!

For those of you out there who have never heard of Bob, go catch up right now. Suffice to say, he is arguably the greatest contibution to society ever to come out of the University of Alberta, and possibly the most culturally significant thing to be associated with the city of Edmonton that isn’t named Bioware. Actually, given how Knights of the Old Republic is crashing on me every five minutes, it darn well trumps Bioware.

Yesterday, creator and all-round cool guy Stephen Notley was selling and signing books in the Students’ Union Building, and I managed to pick up a copy. I can now check “autographed comic strip collection with sketch of main character” off my Lifelong Scavenger Hunt item list.

Quite appropriately, up in the UADS office we now also have this strip up on the wall. And don’t forget to pick up today’s issue of the Gateway for an important grammatical reminder from yours truly, which you can also read online.

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Go-go gadget Gateway

Tuesday, 18 November 2003 — 2:56pm | Journalism, Studentpolitik

Today’s issue of The Gateway was one of the best in recent memory, for a number of reasons. The first, of course, is a front-page article about the UADS heading to Singapore for Worlds over the Christmas break. For those of you who don’t already know, I am one of the six judges along for the ride. Also check out the accompanying photograph, in which Sharon displays one of the cuter expressions in her extensive library of subtextually evil glares.

David Berry scores the Opinion Article of the Week by very accurately dissecting the appeal of Students’ Union political advocacy as lying in empty stomachs rather than actual support for a given cause. Any article with a reference to “SU President Mat Brechtel, or VP (External) Chris Samuel, or, God forbid, Business councilor Steve Smith” is automatically a riot. Granted, Berry makes some errors, such as congratulating Mike Hudema’s success with media awareness when the former SU President is about as guilty of misinterpreting student support as one can get, and mistakenly tying the Speak Out! lectures to Executive initiatives, but he’ll receive his comeuppance in a future Letters to the Editor.

Speaking of which, Letters – consistently my favourite section, and one that only appears in the print edition – featured two significant entries today. The first was from Raymond Biesinger, last year’s Managing Editor, on a matter of factual accuracy regarding Canadian troops in Iraq. “Note,” he writes, “that if two jeeps were to fill the proverbial ‘left, right, and centre,’ they’d be one jeep shorthanded.” The second letter of note was a piece from Chris Jones clarifying a frequent item of student ignorance and misconception, that of the relationship between university funds and the construction of brand spanking new Engineering buildings.

Student journalism rules.

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When bankruptcy is justified

Monday, 17 November 2003 — 12:35pm

If you pick one week to go completely broke, this may be it. Forget all the Christmas presents you plan to buy your friends and family – there are some personal priorities at hand.

The Two Towers is released in the form that everybody actually wanted it to be in from the start. Let It Be drops the willy-nilly frilly. Mario Kart finally comes to GameCube (and let’s not even get started on that Zelda anthology offer). Knights of the Old Republic arrives for the PC. Heck, a Homestar Runner CD comes out this week.

Go out and spend some money. I am, of course, excited enough about each and every one of these items to potentially review them at one point or another, though I’m saving The Two Towers and Mario Kart: Double Dash!! for a full home theatre experience, so I will be behind everyone else by around two weeks. I’ll live.

My wallet, however, might not.

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Everything that has a beginning

Monday, 10 November 2003 — 6:49pm | Animation, Debate, Film, Star Wars, Television

If you have noticed the conspicuous absence of any entries in the past week – and if you are one of the handful of people who lurk here without telling me – three things: a) I know you’re out there by way of third-party information, b) the “Annotate” link is there for a reason, and 3) you are probably wondering what I thought of The Matrix Revolutions.

Regarding the film, I have drawn the conclusion that I cannot formulate an adequate assessment until a second viewing. My initial impression is one that lacks fulfilment. This is a movie that needed to provide both plot resolution and thematic resolution, and save for the best exchange of dialogue in the entire trilogy during the final fight, the second was distractingly incomplete. Plot-wise, there was the appropriate balance of denouement and ambiguity. Theme-wise, some ideas were swatted away rather than provided with appropriately soft landings.

The film was enjoyable nonetheless, though the intelligence and visual audacity exhibited by The Matrix Reloaded was not improved upon. The biggest problem with Revolutions is that next to the first two films, it feels all too conventional.

The laziness-business dialectic axis prevents me from elaborating any further at this time, so do not take this as a full review.

Another release that deserves some comment is the debut of Cartoon Network’s Clone Wars series of shorts by Genndy Tartakovsky, perhaps the flag-bearer of this generation of expressionistic animation, a generation without a Friz Freleng or Chuck Jones at the helm. The first episode is on the Cartoon Network website, but is inaccessible for anyone outside the United States. File-sharing is a Canadian’s best friend – except hockey, that is.

Chapter 1 is, more than anything, a tease of what’s to come. So far, it looks good. The best part about it is that it does not yet show any signs of falling victim to the stock conventions that make the Expanded Universe so unbearable. It’s slick, it’s stylish, and even though it isn’t at all like the style of the films, it possesses a dynamism that somehow feels right. Chapter 2 is due out tonight, so we will see how this develops.

As for what occupied me all weekend: I was debating in the University of Alberta’s home tournament, the Hugill Cup, Friday through Sunday. That’s right – Sunday. For a variety of reasons, among which was the ineligibility of a rubber duck named Bismarck, I made it into one of the two semi-final rooms and won an exquisite set of coasters. Unfortunately, I botched my secret mission from uncharted space to break into public speaking finals right in the very first round. Next time, Gadget, next time.

Check out the results. And if you see one of Misters Crossman or Tse, buy him a well-deserved drink, and ask him to show you that snappy champions’ pocketwatch.

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If a tree falls in an election…

Monday, 3 November 2003 — 6:15pm

Do you hear that in the distance? If you listen really carefully, you can hear the Unite the Right movement show a true sense of harmonious unity for the very first time.

Collectively, with deft synchronicity, Conservatives all over the country are saying: “Well… crap.”

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