Archive for September, 2007

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You either get better or you die.

September 29, 2007

Life is fleeting. Some days you just realize it. I’ve been dealing with the flu (the cold flu not the stomach flu) for the last 10 days or so. I feel like I’m finally getting better but something occurred to me during this bout of sickness. There isn’t a guarantee of always getting better. One day I’m going to get sick and I’m not going to get better. I operate on the assumption that this will be far in the future but there isn’t even a guarantee of that.

I’m someone whose thoughts are frequently in the future. Trying to understand where my life is headed. But sometimes I feel like in doing that I’m often missing the beautiful present. Missing the people I’m surrounded with now, even as I miss those I’m separated from.

I’m trying to learn not to take today for granted. Today isn’t a step to the rest of my life; today could very well be the rest of my life.

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Friday Five #4

September 28, 2007

Today we’ll be doing my top 5 tv shows. A few of which were cancelled far too prematurely.

Coming in at #5 is Boomtown. This was a detective show that told its story in fragments from different characters perspectives. Set in L.A. the show had great acting, fascinating directing, and was too smart to survive the reality T.V. show dominated era it came out in.

At #4 we have House. If you don’t know this medical drama you’ve been living under a rock. This show is very funny, at times moving, and Hugh Laurie is brilliant in the title role.

At #3, and premiering its second season last Monday is Heroes. This massive hit tv series is popular for a reason. It’s freaking good. This show has enough characters and plot lines, without becoming too complicated, to draw anyone in. Hiro Nakamura is definitely one of the cutest characters, but also one who we can expect to see the most development in. The first episode promises a great second season as well.

At #2 is Battlestar Galactica. This sci-fi show is what one of my friends refers to as “The smartest political show on T.V.” I would tend to agree. It essentially follows the lives of the survivors of an attack on the 12 colonies of humanity. An attack that left only a few who managed to escape in a colony of ships. These go searching for the planet of humanity’s origin. A myseterious place known as Earth. This show enters its final season in January ’08.

Finally at #1 we have Firefly. This Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) creation was a brilliant series cancelled at the end of its first season. It is about a rogue cargo ship in an era where Humanity is dominated by a totalitarian government in a solar system far away. The crew of the Firefly Class Ship Serenity has to navigate dangerous politcal waters, and an even more dangerous space, where government ships, other criminal elements, and ships controlled by deranged humans known as Reevers make even the most routine trip an adventure. It was cancelled at the end of its first season, but concluded with a movie: Serenity. Both the season and the movie are excellent.

So concludes this weeks Friday Five. I hope you have a great weekend.

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Everything must change.

September 27, 2007

The title is stolen from Brian McLaren’s new book. Which I am now excited to read. Especially in the context of a lecture I attended last night.

Lecture may be too strong a word. It was instead a conversation between Chris Frazer, one of St Francis Xavier’s History professors, and Sam Webb, the leader of the American Communist Party. The conversation covered a lot of ground, from the history of Socialism, to Socialism’s determination to become a viable political alternative, to the current goal of the American Communist Party to defeat the Republican party, by supporting the Democratic party.

When the floor was opened to the attendees I asked Mr. Webb to comment on the history of Religion and Communism, and where he saw it going in the future. His answer was a bit of a run around. Resulting in him criticizing the religious right in the states. A deserved criticism, but not one that deals with the constant putting down of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and others in China. The periods of intense pressure on Christians in Cuba, or the history of the U.S.S.R. where people of any faith were tortured and killed as enemies of the state. Sam Webb also said that there was room for people of faith in the Communist Party in the US. It seemed though that they would have to leave their faith at the door.

I had gone in expecting to disagree with everything he said. To a large extent this expectation played out. But what was more surprising is what we agreed on. The most important one being that things have to change. The environment is entering catastrophic change, there is a growing gap between the rich and the poor in the Western World, and the developing world is still far behind in basic human needs and rights. Things like consistent food and clean water. Not to mention things like education.

But we disagree profoundly on how this is to be dealt with. The goal of the conservative, which to a large extent I am, is for there to opportunities for all who are willing to work. Regardless of creed, race, or gender. The Goal of the Christian, which I am, is to see all creation, Christian or not, as loved by God, and therefore worthy of love by us. It is only through this love that we will see the world transformed.

To love what God created means treating the environment with care. To love what God created means looking after the sick and the poor. To love what God created means being ashamed of our materialistic ways and our economic system that propogates it. It means requiring our governments to look after the countries that can’t feed themselves or lift themselves out of economic hardship.

And its simpler than communism.

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Friday Five #3

September 21, 2007

Today we have yet another collection of five. Following the mention of my love of Pop music I figured I would give my top 5 pop songs. These are not of all time. Just the first 5 songs that I think of that I also like right now. I also realize some may be classified as RnB or Rap. I still throw them under this as popular music.

#5 Is the one that would be easiest to guess. It is Gimme More by Britney Spear. I’ve already talked about it here. ’nuff said.

#4 Stranger, Hillary Duff. Saw the video for this while playing Ping Pong with a buddy. It’s unfortunate that she has decided to go the skankily dressed route. Hopefully she doesn’t get into the drinking partying scene she has thus far avoided. However the song is great. Liberal use of the ebow, a cool middle eastern riff, and distorted guitars. A definite plus for me.

#3 What Goes Around, Justin Timberlake. This Timbaland produced track is probably the only thing that makes me not hate Justin Timberlake for the awfulness that was Sexyback. The cool, I believe Dobro riff followed by a great melodic structure is great. The only weakness that Timbaland and his apprentice Danja (producer of Gimme More) really have is outros. We don’t need to hear your voice in every song.

#2 Umbrella, Rihanna. Rihanna has a great voice. This song too is all about the music. Mostly synths and beats, it still works really well. The intro by Jay-Z, though not really in the spirit of the rest of the song is still pretty cool.

#1 Stronger, Kanye West. I am aware (now) that the talkbox/vocoder effected voice is Daft Punk. Kanye West has taken this piece and constructed an entirely new song around it. The lyrics have some good moments, some funny moments, and some unnecessarily crude moments. But the reality is that between the drum beat and Daft punk voice this song is made. Everything else is just frills, nice frills, but frills none the less.

There you have my Friday Five. Now to think of a top 5 for next week.

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Not that I’m expecting mail but…

September 19, 2007

You can send me letters, postcards, hatemail, etc. at

Liam Kinnon
MSB PO Box 545
StFX University
Antigonish, Nova Scotia B2G 2W5
Canada

I finally confirmed that my key worked and that MSB PO Box 545 is really my box after deciding to order a couple of books off of Amazon.  Thanks to a gift certificate from some amazing people.  Anyway, if you want to send me stuff I’d love to have it.  Mostly.

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A Great Quote

September 18, 2007

G.K. Chesterton on progressives and conservatives.

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”

From his Wikipedia entry.

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Gimme More and a defense of Pop Music.

September 17, 2007

So I’ve just heard the new Britney track: Gimme More. I hate to say this but I’m impressed. I frequently hate having to say that. I should be honest here. My biggest guilty pleasure is pop music. Most of my junior high and early high school years were spent hiding this fact. I was lucky enough to also enjoy rap and rock. Both separately and together in the Rap/Rock or Nu Metal genre. These gave me a degree of respectability with my peers. But when I got home I would borrow my neighbour’s latest n’Sync or Backstreet Boys album and bask in the delightful melodies, harmonies, and professional songwriting.

Yup, I just said that. Professional songwriting. I think that is something often overlooked by music snobs. The reality is the song your favorite “indie” band just wrote and released was written by amateurs. The songs my brother and I write and record are also efforts by amateurs (efforts I know have at least one fan: Me). But a pop song is usually, almost scientifically, constructed with amazing hooks, perfect chord progressions, and wonderful melodies and harmonies.

In terms of Gimme More, it reflects the degree to which pop stars are denied the ability to grow up. Lyrically it is a pretty stupid song (the reality is that the lyrics are probably as close as Britney gets to the writing process). But the melody and construction of everything but the outro is well done. The subtle use of the synth strings to change the chord structure during the chorus is brilliant, simply because nothing else changes. It took a number of listens to figure out that one. The melody is mostly on one note. Perfect for having a crowd sing along.  The outro is what producer Danja, apparently a protege of Timbaland, has learned from Timbaland, throwing in some shameless self promotion in the song you’ve just produced.

If you want to be a songwriter or producer you have to listen to pop music. It is the best (if not the only) way to learn how to make hooks and melodies. It’s time to let go of the musical snobbery. Gimme more.