Saturday, September 24, 2011


I got a nice deal on this silver/clear finish single-speed Langster so I swapped out the handlebars with bullhorns, accented with red cable covers, added some fenders, now I've got a sweet, speedy and low maintenance all purpose ride.

See modified version below

New house rule, only 1 Specialized bike may be displayed at any one time.
Update: Those fenders are kind of, sort of, really driving me nuts. I'm not sure how long I'll keep those on there.


Friday, September 23, 2011

At Least There Was Cup Cakes

Those chocolate ones with the raspberries were the goddamned bomb (emphasis my own)

Cup cake celebration. I hope this cup cake thing isn't just a fad.

Posted via email from peter's preposterous posterous

Autumnal Equinox Sextodecimo 

Piccadilly Circus, London. Circa 1965, R. Rogers

Fall arrived at 9:04 AM UTC. "Vernal Equinox" sounds more feral than "Autumnal" but I went with the seasonal moniker instead. Is there a built-in sadness to Autumn? I don't think so. Even though this set has a few glum moments, trust me, Loudon Wainwright's The Swimming Song makes up for any slight barometric dips.

Download Playlist (90 MB) - if you're using iTunes, import the playlist which is included as an XML file.

Track List

The Persuasions - Oh Heavenly Salvation
Aimee Mann - Save Me
Dick Hyman - Piano Medley from Hannah and Her Sisters
Wynton Marsalis - School Boy
D'Oyly Carte Opera Company - The Mikado - Act 1: Three Little Maids From School
Lotte Lenya - Speak Low
Reigning Sound - I'm So Thankful
Penny & the Quarters - You and Me
Lou Reed - September Song
Elvis Costello & The Brodsky Quartet - Sad Burlesque
Derek Smith Betty Carter - Lonely House
Elvis Costello & The Brodsky Quartet - Jacksons, Monk and Rowe
Beck - Guess I'm Doing Fine
Loudon Wainwright III - The Swimming Song
Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers - Jubilation Day
Woody Allen - I Think of Baseball Players1

FN1. This not-so-hidden audio track was somehow neglected in the original ZIP file but has since been reinstated (9:18 PM EST Fri Sept. 23, 2011)

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

C.N.E. Explained 

View of the C.N.E. image via The Daily Dose of Imagery from September 8, 2011

It is pointless for me to fumble around with my little Lumix camera or push its buttons like a chimp playing with a stone and try to capture the gaudiness and simultaneous beauty of the Canadian National Exhibition. From my modest balcony I can look out over this scene and watch storm clouds gather while small white sails bob on Lake Ontario but I can never capture my ambivalence about it the way this image does. It's like a backstage shot of a comic opera. People are stopped like bored ball players between innings, lights are still rather than throbbing in their typical mesmeric pulse and the clouds above plume and press over the whole scene like a curtain about to close.

No need to say anything more really. I'll shut up now.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bloomberg News, sent from my iPhone.

Generation X Stymied by Baby Boomers Refusing to Give Up Jobs

“We’re like the layer in between the cookies”
Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- In Tiffany Spaulding’s 12 years in the pharmaceutical industry, she’s worked for three companies, two of which no longer exist, and relocated to four states.
Now 39 and living in Brookfield, Connecticut, she hasn’t had a promotion in five years and says she sees no chance to advance, stuck behind a wall of baby boomers. She would quit and turn her hobby of jewelry design into a business, she says, if not for the home and school loans that eat up half her salary.
Spaulding, according to a new report, is a typical member of the relatively small group called Generation X, 46 million Americans born between 1965 and 1978: They’re ambitious, squeezed by debt and frustrated by people who aren’t retiring on schedule. More than a third hope to leave their jobs in three years, a survey of more than 1,100 members of Generation X by the Center for Work-Life Policy found.
Twenty-eight percent say they are working longer hours, an average of 10 more a week than three years ago, and credit card debt helps dictate career choices for 74 percent, according to the center’s report, based on research including interviews with Spaulding and 200 others.
“They are being leaned on from all sides,” says Sylvia Ann Hewlett, a co-author of the report and the founder of the center, based in New York. “They don’t think that there is necessarily a clear set of opportunities ahead of them in corporate America, so there is a lot of flight risk.”
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Noted. Not Seen. 

image of Robinson Crusoe on Mars poster via getfilm

Lately, I've been getting my money's worth from Netflix Canada, which isn't always easy. I'm following season 4 of the Glenn Close drama Damages, and I'm getting a kick from the BBC Sherlock Holmes update, Sherlock. As the Canadian streaming catalogue is so diminished, (oh whither Canada, whither thee) and as there's no way to make a playlist I've been carefully bookmarking the films or shows I want to see and I've noticed others making recommendations too because let's face it, we all know the fatal flaw of Netflix et al… you can never find anything you like. Well, I have found a lot, the problem is I always want The Big Lebowski and there are very few of those around. But there are a lot of great British comedies like Saxondale, That Mitchel and Webb Look, The Catherine Tate Show or the classic A Bit of Fry and Laurie. I'll just share this list, copied straight from my browser and you can just see if anything suits your fancy. I hope this helps you on a night when you just can't find anything to watch.

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Oh TIFFany 

image from Gianmarco Magnani

It's that time of year again. The city is "abuzz" with celebs and Cinemania for the Toronto International Film Festival, otherwise known as TIFF or The Festival or "Crap, this street is closed for what? A red carpet! This is an outrage, I ought… oh my God, I just saw what's her face from that thing with the guy!" You may also hear a lot of "…shorter than I thought." or "Yeah, her skin was gloooowing – like it was lit from within."

Yet, each year I think I'll try to catch something and never do because past experience has taught me that anything I've heard of will a) be in wide release in a few weeks, b) be sold out because everyone else has heard about it or c) not sold out because it's a dud. The first year living in Toronto, I went to a seminar and caught maybe 4-5 films. I was able to get tickets because it was the middle of the day. Because I was unemployed. These days I'm happily (over)employed and can't imagine sneaking out to see a movie for $20. The manic ticket grabbing has also made the festival a no-go zone for me, unfortunately. The thing I really love about the festival is that the films are "introduced" and the film maker is often there and will answer questions. It makes movie going special and theatrical.

I'll probably try to see something this week but if I do, it'll probably be a little known art film never to be seen again. Which is alright. That's what the festival should do. Though it would be nice to see that hot young thing, what's her name, you know, she did that thing with the guy from that other thing where they were in a place?

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Friday, September 09, 2011

Eddy Merckx Will Eat You Alive 

Te voet over de col Aubisque / Climbing the Aubisque on foot
*Apparently, the first year the col Aubisque was added to the Tour, one rider, walking his bike past course officials yelled at them, "Assassins!"

On a recent Saturday morning I did something I rarely do. I woke up before 8 AM. I was on the bike by 8:30. Not early by most standards but early for me and it did mean I would be done this ride before I usually begin one. It was a strange morning weather wise. I should say I originally woke around 6:30, looked out to see the city shrouded in a thick fog, so I returned to my repose. When I awoke again, the sun was shining thus my change of heart.

As I rode along the Lakeshore I would occasionally pass through immense fog banks that, rather than blot out the sun, seemed to enhance it like some kind of gigantic lighting diffuser as though some unseen hand had just switched on a second sun. When I wasn't riding through a glowing mist, I was in the bright sunlight, with occasional tufts of fog drifting across my path. It was a little like something from a film, slightly unreal, slightly unbelievable.

Despite how good I felt at some point I still had to turn around and call it a day. I had errands to run and things to do. Oddly, just as I was reaching a time when I would have to turn around to be back in time for an appointment, a sign appeared on the road. A construction sign. The road was closed and I had to turn around anyway. As I made my turn, an old Elton John tune started on my iPhone. Benny and the Jets. Sometimes you need protein and carbohydrates to fuel a ride and sometimes you need a song. I started singing along, loud as I could muster. I'm sure I was wearing an Andy Schleck smirk as wide as the Aubisque is high. A dour young women passed me in a sleek Mercedes. I believe she was slightly repelled by this maniacal cyclist. I don't blame her. Then I started thinking about Jack Layton whose memorial service was about to begin at that moment. As a high profile cyclist I'm sure he would have got a kick out of the sight of me. I also thought about Eddy Merckx who, no doubt wouldn't have even noticed me, and would've gobbled me up and spat me out. That would be something. To be devoured by the Cannibal*.

*I also realized, I'll never be so good at something to get such a fantastic nick name as "the Cannibal".


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Synthetically Happy 

Recently a friend and I were having a discussion when I told him that I decided to be happy and that I'd heard people use that expression, "Happiness is a choice". I assume it is so, unless you've had a brain injury or illness that impedes typical brain function (I'll avoid the term "normal"). He then told me I had to see this video, which he then displayed on his large HD TV. There is something to be said for watching Web video on a large HD TV. This TED talk is about 20 minutes, so view it full screen and get comfortable.

As a naive non-scientist I can say the more we learn about the brain, the more it appears like the magic is leaving the world. Do you know what I mean? Primitive man thought almost everything had a spirit or every phenomenon was magical thus spiritual (did we invent religion or are we hard wired for it etc ?) Things that we may have pointed to in the past as proof of the Soul, for instance, are being whittled away and re-imagined as evolutionary science. Charity and altruism aren't part of our humanity but simply ways we have been configured to preserve our species thus continue our genes. We have empathy and can read each other's emotions as a form of communication. Communication helps us form communities where we thrive and when we thrive our species has success and can continue. I know there have been some explanations of why we are able to make music or why we create art, I just can't think of them at the moment. We know why the sunset is orange and now we're figuring out why we think sunsets are pretty. Personally, I still think there is too much "magic" in the world to completely explain away the existence of "the Other" out there which is why I can't describe myself as an atheist (though I still wouldn't describe myself as very spiritual. A nice guy, sure, but not someone who depends on spirituality). Oddly, as this TED talk seems to be another scientific nail in our spiritual coffins it is also resonant of a comment I often think of from the Dali Lama. I'm not Buddhist but at some point you have to respect a guy who thinks a lot about these things. When asked the meaning of life, his answer was direct, (I'm paraphrasing), "The meaning of life is simple. Be happy and be useful". I'm still working on both, but recently I definitely think happiness is a state of mind you make not something you find which reflected nicely by Dan Gilbert's talk and the Dalai Lama's instruction to just "be happy". Not find happiness, but be happy. I'm on it.

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Monday, September 05, 2011

Seen in August

The Tree of Life image via

I'm surprised I didn't watch more films but I guess I was busy just re-watching some old favorites and streaming online stuff instead. August was a loud noisy blur to me but here's what I watched.
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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Indian Summer 

Consider this sextodecimo as an ode to the end of the season. An end to an unrelenting and at times, gruelling summer. Breathe in the cool lake air. Embrace the early twilight and encroaching damp of Autumn. Let the world tilt away from the sun. Play it cool and Saran wrap all you can. The dog days are over.

Download Playlist (79.3 MB) - if you're using iTunes, import the playlist which is included as an XML file.

Track Listing

Dreams – Robin Pecknold (of Fleet Foxes)
Home by Saturday – Hayden
Theresa – The Golden Dogs
Cecilia (Simon and Garfunkel) – Local Natives
Rocketship – Mood Ruff
Mighty – Planet Smashers
The Undefeated – Super Furry Animals
This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) – Talking Heads
Underwater (You and Me) – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Isn't She Lovely (cover) – Irma with Gad Elmaleh
Young Folks – Peter Bjorn and John
Dog Days Are Over – Florence + The Machine
I Don’t Ever Want To Change – The Drones
30 Century Man – Scott Walker
Blister in the Sun (cover) – Corktown Ukulele Jam
Atheists Don't Have No Songs – Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers

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