Feed Me, McLuhan

I studied a book called “Feed” by M.T. Anderson twice during my undergrad work: once in a second year “Advanced Studies in Children’s Literature” course, and once in a fourth year “Econotexts” course. “Feed” is a young adult novel about a dystopic society in which every person has a chip surgically implanted in their heads. This chip then shows your brain an online, virtual feed, updating the person on news, virtual chats with friends, phone conversations, school lessons, online shopping, and it can even be pre-programmed to feed a certain dream to you while you sleep. Sorry Freud. Turns out you go out of business in the late 21st century.

The protagonist, Titus, is a 16 year old wealthy boy who lives in your every day, middle class suburb that hovers above the now over-poluted and unliveable world. Like the rest of the population, Titus’s ability to physically speak has vastly diminished thanks to the feed. When forced to physically talk with eachother, Titus, his friends, his family, and even his teachers speak in mostly slang, such as “unit”, “meg breg”, and “ohmigod”. The text itself is rich in satire, humor, and the horrors of humanity. It’s thought-proviking, heartbreaking, and fun. I unit recommend it.

As much as it’s hard to imagine connecting with people almost solely through a computer, to me it’s not that far off. I worry about my own means of articulation being diminished by how much I rely on my various devices to speak for me, to represent what I cannot or chose not to say. Where I once could pump out a 25 page research paper on James Joyce in an evening, (what? I mean over two weeks of meticulous research, writing, and editing), I now find it challenging to write more than 140 characters, as Twitter has denied the completeness of my thoughts too many times to count. I worry about how I appear online, what kind of identity I am marketing for myself, how I can really be myself in a medium that seems to distort everything and anything.

But yet I feel cheap and invalid in reaching for the “hey man, technology is going to kill us all” rationalization, that that kid in your politics class uses. You know, the guy who shows up twice to class in a semester, always making sweaping generalizations about “the evils of capitalism” while wearing a knit beanie in Jamaican flag colours and smelling vaguely of ramin noodles. Yeah, you know who you are.

Even though there are things that concern me with such succinct and erratic means of communications, I embrace that these technologies are revolutionizing our world and how we communicate our messages. I find communicators who make these mediums work for their information and themselves. It is possible. I’ve seen it. I laughed. I cried. It was better than “Cats”.

 Is the medium the message, Mr. McLuhan? I’d say so.


Lindsay Lohan, I Just Can’t Quit You

I have a soft spot for Lindsay Lohan. I don’t know why, but ever since watching her double-down as one-fourth British, one-fourth American, and two-fourths sassy twins in “The Parent Trap”, I was sold. Maybe it’s because I can commiserate with a freckled ginger, or because she could rock a headband, but I like to think it was because she had something special, that it factor, that certain something extra that had me buying movie tickets to “Freaky Friday”, “Mean Girls”, and yes, even “Herbie: Fully Loaded”.

But Lohan has tested my love in the years since. Sure, there have been good times; I still quote “Mean Girls”, (“Four for you Glenn Coco! You go Glenn Coco!), and she was actually excellent with Meryl Streep in a little indie called “A Prairie Home Companion”. But since her last bona-fide hit in 2005, yeah that’s right, Mean Girls was in ’05, the girl’s been to rehab five times, gone to jail five times, had two DUIs, and has applied more layers of mystics tan than I’d care to remember.

Every time I read about one of her latest troubles, be it stealing an heiress’ fur coat or doing cocaine in a club bathroom stall, I shake my head like a disturbed parents and mutter to myself “Lindsay, Lindsay, Lindsay”. And just like that disturbed parent, I’ll lose sleep wondering where it all went wrong; I’ll re-watch “The Parent Trap” like a mother looking at a baby album of her deceased child, and even go through the painful process of listening to her debut album “Rumors”. But yet, like an enabler parent who can’t quite cut their child off, I will continue to believe in her, if not for her acting chops, then for the potential comeback of that mane of luxurious red hair.

So as I eagerly await her pending court hearing on Nov. 2, for what she is being convicted I really can’t remember, (stealing that necklace? rotting teeth? forgetting to wear a bra?), I will be doing so while clutching my copy of “The Parent Trap”, remembering the good old days when her hair was red, her arms weren’t emaciated, and she was dating the foreign exchange student from “That 70’s Show”.

Wasabi and Why I Won’t Go for Half-Priced Sushi with You

For me, cheap sushi just isn’t worth it. Call me a food snob, (which I totally am), but I just feel like you can taste the 5¢ rice rapped around the week old salmon. I just can’t make the sacrifice to save my, ok my Dad’s bank account,  $3 a roll. Sorry, Winnipeg. I know you probably can’t dig it.

I always feel terrible when I meet a new friend, one who doesn’t know what a world class jerk I am yet, and they tell me about “this amazingly cheap sushi place that I love”. I used to go along with it, choking down the vinegary tasting rice and the questionable sashimi. But now, I’ve just stopped giving in. I make up an excuse to avoid doing dinner, or I tell them  that “I’m not in the mood for sushi”, which is a total lie.  Anyone who knows me would call BS on that line right away, as to me, there is no such thing as not being in the mood for sushi. It’s like not being in the mood for solving world hunger or cheese-flavored popcorn: that never happens!

My favorite sushi place in the city is Wasabi. To me, it’s just the gold-standard of Winnipeg sushi. Everything, from the decor to the fish’s freshness to the service, is impeccable. Some people will disagree with me. Other notable sushi joints in Winnipeg are Kenko, Edohei, and Asahi. They are also excellent and very comparable.

I went last week with my friend Sam, and then again with my friend Brittany, and then I did a takeout order. (I know I have a problem, ok? Get off my back , Dad, and put the Visa bill down!) We had a great meal and I urge sushi fans out there to go there and  treat themselves.

Sam with her Crazy 88 roll

Wasabi has three locations; Osborne, Broadway, and Taylor. My personal favorite is the Taylor restaurant, called “Wasabi Sabi”. It has a slightly more upscale atmosphere than the other two. The original location, Broadway, is warm and sophisticated, without the pretension of the Taylor version. The Osborne location is trendy, minimalist, and dark. Not my favorite, but perfect for the village and will still serve me my favorite rolls without openly gaping at my gluttonous order. This is very much appreciated. They will, however, give you extra pairs of chopsticks when you do a takeout order, as they assume the disgustingly huge amount of food must be for a party of 12. It cuts deep, Wasabi. Cuts soooo deep.

Tiger Roll and Vegetarian Caterpillar Roll

My favorite rolls are;

1) Tiger – Cucumber, avocado, and sesame seeds, with cooked shrimp on top and  drizzled with special sauce.

2) Vegetarian Caterpillar – Tempura yam and cucumber inside with avocado on the outside, drizzled with sweet sauce & sesame seeds on top.

3) Wasabi Tempura Roll – Crabmeat and shrimp with avocado, tobiko, mango & soy bean, with a light crispy tempura finish drizzled with spicy sesame sauce.

4) White Dynamite Roll – Tempura shrimp, avocado, spicy mayo, tobiko, sesame seeds and sprouts wrapped in a thin radish crepe.

5) E Carriere Roll – Chopped scallops, tobiko and mayo topped with red tuna and salmon

Sabi Sashimi

The hot items are also not to be missed and the sashimi is beyond. I recommend the Yuzu Truffle Butterfish, the Tuna Tataki, and the Grilled Lambchops. If you can bankroll it, you should try a bit of everything. I will be doing this when I marry rich. Just kidding, I think.

Goma Ae – (Tuna Goma Ae is also delicious)

I understand some of the prices can troublesome for people and that’s a valid complaint. But in my eyes, and these are eyes that have little comprehension of money, it’s worth it  to pay the few extra dollars to have fresher fish and a waiter that won’t roll their eyes when you order another round.

What’s your favorite sushi in the city? Do you hate sushi? Will you never invite me for sushi again? Share your thoughts below!

All The Governor’s Men

That magical time of the year is coming! The weather is growing colder. The days are getting shorter. I’m feeling an urge to read numerous subtitles and gain 5 lbs. from popcorn consumption alone. That’s right, Oscar season is fast approaching, and anyone who knows me will atest to the fact that I am just the worst during Oscar season. But for those of you who don’t know me in that charmingly intimate capacity, fear not! For I will be using this wonderful medium that is the blog to share my Oscar season thoughts, predictions, and annoyances with my loyal readership (i.e. Dad).

I kicked off my Oscar season coverage with an informative and pretentious little ditty on “The Help” . Next, I will be delving into George Clooney’s latest Oscar nip directorial endeavor “The Ides of March”.

Adapted from Beau Willimon’s critically acclaimed play “Farragut North”, “The Ides of March” examines Democratic Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney), as he and his team campaign through the Democratic Primaries. The cast gives me the Oscar fuzzies; Oscar winners George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Marisa Tomei, star alongside Oscar nominees Ryan Gosling and Paul Giamatti. My hopes were high for this one and it didn’t totally disappoint. The acting was incredibly strong, most notably from Hoffman, Giamatti, and Gosling, and it had all the intrigue, scandal, and twists of a top-notch political thriller. However, for me, it was just lacking something that I just couldn’t put my finger on; like when I’m eating a hamburger that I haven’t put potato chips in and I think to myself, “hey, something’s missing here, but what?”

Without giving any of the plot away, I’ll just say that I found that the film lost a lot in adaptation. When I first heard that Willimon’s play was being turned in to a film, I felt like it was a promising idea. After all, the American political scene is a big, gritty, highly-public world. I felt like the film medium would do this cut-throat, ever-broadening realm more justice than the stage ever could. But left with so much extra space, Clooney filled the voids with tired, overused clichés of hubris. The moral was too simplified and Gosling’s subsequent departure from innocence to experience felt played out and obvious.

A perfect metaphor for what is lost in translation, (that’s right, let me get my English major on, for a second), comes from the decision to change the title. Originally titled “Farragut North”, Willimon’s play is named after a Washington Metro station red line. Willimon himself worked on Howard Dean’s doomed campaign and would take this subway line from home to Farragut Square, a hotspot for political big shots working on campaigns, think tanks, and political lobbying in Washington, DC. Clooney chose to scrap this title and go with “The Ides of March”, a dual-reference that cites both the full moon on the Roman calendar and also the date on which Julius Caesar was stabbed in the back, i.e. the most obvious reference for betrayal and ambition known to man. Nice one, Clooney. I’ll be debating the subtle complexities of that title for years to come.

For me, betrayal is hardly a major theme here and Clooney’s decision to use it ignores the more subtle and tricky themes of fluctuating morality and the desexualization of power.

Final Verdict: In the end, you make up your ticket price in shameless Gosling ass shots alone, (well worth the money, am I right ladies?). Despite its shortcomings, I believe it is still worth seeing. But when it comes to Oscar nominations, I think the golden king Oscar will look past this well-manicured, under-developed political thriller, with the exception of some possible Best Supporting nods for Hoffman and Giamatti.

What did you think of “The Ides of March”. Are you all “Gosling’s ass shots aren’t worth the ten bucks,” or are you thinking “woah, woah, woah, Seymour’s ass is the real money maker, here.” Let me know! Comment!

I Believe

You might as well know this about me: I am a huge Broadway dork. It’s not even to the point where it’s funny or kind of cute. It’s mostly just annoying and socially awkward. For example, doing the Evita arm raise and singing Don’t Cry for Me Argentina every time I am on a balcony isn’t charming to those around me. And singing Carrying the Banner when I try on a newsboy cap in a public store makes those accompanying me embarrassed. Whatevs. Thems the breaks for someone with a specialty Playbill album that I had to order online from Ohio and pay $45.95 in shipping and handling fees for. Don’t be hatin’.

Me after failing to get Daniel Radcliffe’s autograph after “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”. I’m the coolest.

Needless to say, this passion can be accompanied by a bit of pretension. I tend to feel alienated or annoyed by a show that I once enjoyed, simply because it grows exceedingly popular. I had the pleasure of seeing Wicked in New York during the first year of its run. I initially loved it. But as years passed and the amount of Youtube videos of 38 year old accountants singing Popular grew, I lost my taste for the over-hyped Schwartzepic.

I assumed this “oh thaaaat musical. Yeah, I got in the ground floor of that shiz, original cast all the way and now I’m over it” shtick would be the same when I saw The Book of Mormon. After all, it’s not exactly a small, low-key little show. Conceived by South Park wunderkinds Trey Parker and Matt Stone, scored by Avenue Q hot-shot Robert Lopez, and produced by Hollywood big wig Scott Rudin, it wasn’t exactly a sleeper hit. However, I was one of the lucky few who got to see it in its first month of production in New York, before buzz and Tony wins ruined the ticket prices and the fun. Yeah, the informational segment of this blog has now transitioned into pretentious bragging, just fyi.

I naturally assumed that as soon as the inevitable huge Tony nominations and subsequent wins came for the not-so-little show that could, I’d immediately be sick of it. But please, let me be the 8 millionth person to tell you how amazing this show is. Seriously, it defies the coolness expiration date that most Broadway a-holes such as myself subscribe to.

The basic story, for those living on a rock or for those who don’t know the difference between Broadway and Off-Broadway (sorry, I’m the worst),  is of Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, two 19 year old Mormons, sent to Uganda on a Mormon mission. Needless to say, hilarity ensues. However, not in the way you would expect.

When I first heard the concept and team behind The Book of Mormon back in ’08 (I’m so sorry, I’m just the worst), I didn’t know how it would work. After all, a big-budget, traditional Broadway musical doesn’t exactly mesh so naturally with Parker and Stone’s patented poop humor and veiled atheism. I initially assumed that it would be a two hour, expensive, well-produced Saddam Hussein reference. I assumed it would condemn Mormonism and organized religion altogether in one blaze of glorious farting. I thought it would be cynical and crude and awkwardly crammed into a traditional Broadway format. Boy, was I wrong.

Yeah, I suppose it was all that. It had some poop jokes, some famous dictator jokes, it was cynical about religion. But somehow, it was also one of the most joyous and hopeful shows I have ever seen. It somehow managed to be a typical South Park off-shoot, as well as a critique of blind faith, as well as a celebration of the endurance of the hope in the face of unimaginable horrors, as well as a traditional Broadway musical that paid homage to the medium’s past greats, all at the same time. Parker, Stone, and Lopez managed to make a show that unabashedly spoke the terrifying truths of Aids, famine, female castration, and genocide while still making it funny, hopeful, full of Broadway glitz and originality. How does this happen? How, I ask you???? (That was mostly directed at Stephen Sondheim, who I assume reads my blog weekly).

Anywho, I’m being super original here in urging everyone to pay the now exorbitant but well worth it ticket  prices and go see this show. The national tour is set to kick off in Denver in December ’12, four months early. Hopefully it will make its way to Winnipeg and we can all bask in the glory that is this incredible feat of cynicism and optimism. I’ll be there with bells on, while still reminding anyone who will listen that I got to see it original cast. Yeah, I’m the worst.

Am I just the worst? Please tell me. Comment, comment, comment!