LAL and Zaki Ibrahim @ Tattoo

    5 November 2015, early evening

I met Fathima to go see a 10:00 show on a Wednesday night. First off: no concert starts on time; second: I’m probably too old to go see late night concerts on a Wednesday night. Dinner at Banu, always a good start to an evening, and we were off to go see LAL and Zaki Ibrahim play.

I’m not sure how Fathima heard about this show. Twitter? It was in Tattoo on Queen. Busy, but not too busy. Normally when I go to a show I am the odd one out amongst a sea of White people. At this show I was so thoroughly pedestrian. It felt like Fathima knew every other person from political activism, social work, or some such thing. There were big posses intersectional people. A refreshing change of pace to the usual concert scene. Everyone seemed really cool, but that’s par for the course now that I’m firmly in my thirties.

LAL still perform together? The last time I saw them was for Wavelength 250 at Cinecycle.. That was over 10 years ago. And they had already been playing together for years by then. LAL have shed some members, down to the singer and the fellow who produces their beats and music. Maybe that was always their group? They performed brand new material. We were the first audience to hear this stuff. It was much more pounding techno than the older stuff I remember. Their set was solid: really good. I’m looking forward to their album.

Zaki Ibrahim was around midnight. She was apparently flying out to Cape Town that night, or in a few hours. The set was varied musically. A bit more R&B than her previous stuff. Also a fair bit more retro sounding. Her backing band were in white suits Don Johnson’d up, with bright white sun visors on. That also probably contributed to the retro vibe. She’s a great singer and performer. Her material was also brand new. It’s fun trying to guess what songs will become singles. I have some good hunches.

We were out by 1:00. The TTC was still running. The weather was nice. What a night.

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Canada Votes 2015

   20 October 2015, early morning

What an election. The Liberal’s swept Atlantic Canada early in the night, and that wave never really let up. Toronto is now 100% Red, something it hasn’t been in a very long time. Lots of shitty Conservative MPs got shown the door. Of course, Toronto lost a lot of good MPs. My riding lost our MP Andrew Cash. Parkdale lost Peggy Nash. The NDP are back to the numbers I grew up with. So it goes.

Harper didn’t announce his resignation during his concession speech. His aides let reporters know. I think that about sums up his time in office.

Trudeau’s victory speech was pretty great. I’m expecting decriminalized weed and electoral reform. The later will be the real first test of his party. It’s always easy to talk about electoral reform when you are on the losing side of first past the post.

By my count this is the third election the NDP has fucked up by trying to chase the mushy middle. Horwath lost the party the election in Ontario, giving up most of the seats in Toronto to the Liberals to capture some seats up North via some pretty lame pandering. Chow lost the mayorship trying to chase voters she was never going to get. Finally we arrive at Mulcair, running the election he was clearly put in charge of the party to run. I like Mulcair a lot, but this is a big loss for him.

The end of 10 years of Harper is bittersweet for myself, but I am quite hopeful for the next few years. Let’s see how it goes: the Liberals are great at disappointing. Trudeau is quite charming, though.

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Ixcanul

   29 September 2015, terribly early in the morning

The last film I saw at TIFF was Ixcanul, a proper art film from Guatemala. The film is about a Mayan girl whose parents work a coffee plantation. It’s a coming of age story, that touches on the conflict and hardship Kaqchikel-speaking people face. The film was also an interesting glimpse into a world I was completely unaware of. The movie is slow going, slowly ratcheting up the tension as some of the choices the protagonist makes come back to haunt her. Ultimately it’s a film about a lack of choices. This is the sort of film I really only watch at TIFF.

Ixcanul at TIFF 2015

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SPL II: A Time for Consequences

   28 September 2015, early evening

SPL II: A Time for Consequences was a proper-ass HK action film. A thematic sequel to Sah Po Lang, the film carries over some of the cast from the original, and some of the themes and mood. Simon Yam once again plays a hard boiled HK detective. I’m always down to see Yam play a hard as nails cop. Wu Jing plays his nephew, a cop in deep cover, who also knows some serious ass martial arts. New to the series, Tony Ja plays a prison guard who also inexplicably can kick ass like a mother fucker. Basically everyone in this film happens to also know how to kick ass like a mother fucker. There are some great action sequences through out the film. Of particular note is the prison riot. There is a lot to like in this film, though it’s punctuated by a lot of melodrama. The original was gritty crime drama, which I’d say I prefer. This film was still quite compelling, and well worth checking out. Again, I wish I saw it at midnight.

SPL II: A Time for Consequences at TIFF 2015

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Much Loved

   28 September 2015, late afternoon

After Southbound we had a quick dinner and headed back to Paramount to watch Much Loved. This film from Morocco by Nabil Ayouch is about sex workers in Marrakesh. Much Loved looks at the lives of four women, earning money from European tourists and rich Saudis and Emiratis. Ayouch interviewed hundreds of women researching the movie. The contents of the film feel so real. Some scenes are tough to watch. There is a lot of sadness, throughout. Some great performances, but Loubna Abidar, the star of the film, was particularly amazing. The film was apparently mired by controversy: it’s depiction of sex, sexism, homosexuality, etc, is probably a bit too frank for much of the Middle East. I was glad to have seen it at TIFF. My only disappoint was the director wasn’t around to do a QA. This is an excellent film. You should try and watch it.

Much Loved at TIFF 2015.

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Southbound

   28 September 2015, mid-afternoon

My friend Mezan picked all the films I watched at TIFF this year, starting with Southbound. The film is a horror movie anthology. There are 4 stories, each thematically linked. They also make some attempt for the various stories to flow into one another, so it’s not so disjoint. The stories are all over the place in terms of their mood and aesthetic. My favourite was the middle story, about the fellow who runs over a girl, but they were all quite enjoyable. The films are all about purgatory, dealing with guilt, etc. The film was part of the Midnight Madness program, and would have been fun to watch at midnight with that crowd. Seeing it after work on a Friday wasn’t quite the same. Still, it’s a fun bit of grind house cinema.

Southbound at the TIFF 2015.

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Ten years Can Pass So Fast It’ll Break Your Heart

   22 July 2015, evening time

I should warn you esp if you haven’t seen me in months that I have lost quite a lot of weight and look rather alarming even to my own eyes – also I’ve given up on the scarf and look like an emaciated Friar Tuck hairwise.

It was a shock to see her. People would visit the hospital and struggle to save their tears till after they had left her room. This was the last email from my cousin, Usha.

A week or so later, in between a series of emails about going out for drinks at Supermarket and a discussion with Shima about her day is an email from Usha’s brother, my cousin Mahi, letting me know about his sister’s health:

Usha will be moving to the Princess Margaret Hospital palliative care hospice today at around 1:30. This was her idea, and we don’t know how long she will be staying there. She can return to her apartment whenever she wants.

Two months prior Usha had written to say she had stopped chemo. I knew what that meant and yet this message felt like it came so quickly.

She can return to her apartment whenever she wants. Could she? I’m sure my cousin knew the answer there. His words reflect a defensiveness with how we are forced to talk about cancer. A person loses their fight with cancer. In this battle what is palliative care but a decision to give up?

But there is nothing to give up. There is no fight, no battle. You have cancer and it will destroy your body or it won’t, but that has nothing to do with what you do whatsoever.

I hate the Run for the Cure. I hate pink ribbons. I hate breast cancer.

One day later:

Usha is extremely weak and not completely lucid, so I was planning on sending an email out asking people not to come by because she needs to save her energy.

But she woke up a little while ago and said that she didn’t know how she would be feeling tomorrow, so it would be great “if people popped their heads in today just to say a brief hello”. She insisted that I make the request.

I would visit each day, watching her body fall apart. People had a week to say hello. When it’s not killing you slowly cancer will cut you down so quickly.

Next year I will be older than my oldest cousin. That’d be 11 years from the day she died, but who talks about the 11th anniversary of anything?

Ten years can pass so fast it’ll break your heart.

Usha was the smartest person I knew. Or, at the very least, she had good PR in this department. There was no aunt or uncle, distant or close, who wouldn’t speak highly of her. She was well read & well traveled. Was there a more cultured brown girl in all of Scarborough? She worked tirelessly to get my brothers and I to do anything other than play video games and watch TV. And she never got to see her success.

Usha is my oldest cousin. The very best of us all. Now and forever.

 

Black Dynamite

    5 June 2015, early morning

I finally watched Black Dynamite. My coworker had the film on Blu-Ray. It’s a parody / homage to blacksploitation films from the 70s. I chuckled here and there, but it wasn’t as laugh out loud funny as I thought it would be. There is still lots to love here, though. The plot is an ever escalating mash up of plot points you’d expect to see in a 70s era blacksploitation flick: Black Dynamite needs to avenge his brother, Black Dynamite needs to get crack off the streets, Black Dynamite needs to fight a villainous Kung Fu super villain. All in all it was an enjoyable film. Michael Jae White is pretty great in the lead role.

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Mad Max: Fury Road

   27 May 2015, mid-morning

At the very last minute I made it into a cinema to watch Mad Max: Fury Road. The latest instalment of Mad Max is easily my favourite, though to be fair I can barely remember the other ones now. The movie seems to distil the essence of Mad Max down to its core. The movie is essentially one long car chase, punctuated by the briefest periods of respite. I can’t recall the last film I saw that was so amped up. (Perhaps the Raid?) Visually the film is stunning. I don’t completely understand how they even filmed this thing. Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy are super cool as the leads in this film. Go watch it!

The official Mad Max: Fury Road website.

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For Grace

    7 May 2015, terribly early in the morning

I watched one film at Hotdocs this year, For Grace, a documentary about the opening of the restaurant For Grace. Chef Curtis Duffy closed down Avenue, a two Michelin star restaurant at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago to open up his own place. He thought he could do a better if everything was under his control. This was apparently one of the most hotly anticipated restaurants in the world. I was expecting something like the Opening Soon show on TLC. “Oh no, construction delays!” “Oh man, how did we mess up our schedule!” Apparently this is what the directors themselves thought. The film was originally supposed to be a 15 minute short on the Chicago Tribune website. Once they started filming it became clear there was so much more to this story. This film is much more about Duffy than his restaurant. He is so driven when it comes to his career he has sacrificed everything else in his life to be successful. This seems to be how it goes for most people operating at the upper echelons of the restaurant industry. The movie is a great mix of food, restaurant inside baseball, and the human experience. You should check it out.

The official For Grace website.

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Over the Garden Wall

   24 January 2015, early evening

Over the Garden Wall is a short miniseries created by Patrick McHale which aired on the Cartoon Network in November of last year. He’s a former writer from Adventure Time. The show is feels like a cross between Oh Brother Where Art Thou and a bunch of Grimm’s fairy tales. Two brothers are lost in some mysterious woods, and are trying to find their way back home. The show is thoroughly weird, and funny, and sweet. There are 10 episodes in total, each 11 minutes long, so its quite easy to get through. You’ll recognize many of the voices from the cast. I can’t recommend it enough.

You can read a much more thorough review of the show at the AV Club.

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Glasses: The Sequel

   30 December 2014, mid-afternoon

I lost my last pair of fancy glasses a little over two years ago. That’s a long tale of woe not fit for the Internet. Lucky for me I had a backup pair, the glasses I had ordered from 39dollarglasses.ca. I had dubbed them my hipster glasses. Apparently between 2008 and 2012 thick black framed glasses stopped being quite so ridiculous. I wore those cheap backup glasses without any fanfare for far longer than I expected to. No one seemed to think they were a gag pair of glasses.

I think after a year your backup glasses stop being your backups.

I picked up my new pair of Mykita’s today, from the same shop I bought my first pair. I think I like them more than my old pair. I certainly like them more than my black plastic glasses. They were a reliable pair, anyway.

me in mykita's

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Interstellar

   19 November 2014, early morning

I ducked out of work in the afternoon last Tuesday to watch Interstellar in IMAX. I have been waiting patiently for this film since the first trailer was released. Set in the future, on an Earth where all our crops are dying, Matthew McCaonohay leaves his family behind in search for a new planet to call our home. In many ways it feels like a homage to 2001: A Space Odesy. There are certainly many nods to the film throughout this one. The film is a bit melodramatic, but I think it’s all done well. Like all of Nolan’s films it feels a little bit creepy throughout. One of the themes of the film seems to be about trust and lying, which certainly adds to that creepiness. There are robots and they are great. The film visually stunning. I recommend you also see it in IMAX if possible. I love everything Christopher Nolan puts out. This film was no exception.

The official Interstellar website.

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Citizenfour

   19 November 2014, early morning

Edward Snowden contacted two people to tell his story about the great excesses of the NSA. One of Glen Greenwald, who over the course of many weeks and months has told Snowden’s story in article after article. The other was filmmaker Laura Poitras. She met Snowden at the same time as Greewald, and has been filming him since. Citizenfour is the documentary about this whole story. It’s really quite incredible. There is footage from their first meeting, when Snowden first sees his story coming out, when he is first interviewed, when he tries to leave Hong Kong. Seeing everything play out neatly in a coherent narrative makes this story of mass surrvalience much easier to understand. Snowden really does seem quite principled and selfless in his pursuit of getting this story out. He looks to have been ready to give up everything. I think everyone should watch this film. It’s a great documentary. It’ll make you so paranoid.

The official Citizenfour website.

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My Scarborough Commute

    6 November 2014, early morning

My trip to work yesterday took something like two and a half hours. There was random delay after mechanical failure after medical emergency, and with the TTC regardless of where those events happen the whole network ends up effected. These sorts of epic delays happen every couple months it seems. That the TTC is so slow isn’t frustrating, it’s embarrassing.

Travelling from Scarborough into the city is terrible. The fastest I can get downtown is about an hour and fifteen minutes. People who do transit planning talk about LRTs and people who try to get elected talk about subways, but neither would actually solve the problems many people in Scarborough face trying to get to work. A subway that ran right to my parent’s house in Agincourt would probably shave 15-20 minutes off my commute, never mind that particular subway is never getting built. The LRT lines they had planned for Scarborough wouldn’t help someone like me: I’d have to grab a bus to Shepard and then take that LRT to Don Mills and then take the Shepard subway to Yonge and then take the terrible Yonge line downtown. Scarborough does need LRTs as an alternative to its network of often late and crowded busses, but they aren’t an alternative to a good commuter train network. Oh wait, we sort of have one of those!

Driving to the Agincourt GO station and taking the train from there would probably cut my travel time in half. That’s what I’m talking about! Sadly, I don’t drive. Getting to that GO station isn’t that easy. There’s also the fact i’d have to pay a GO fare and a TTC fare. Have they figured that out yet? I’m actually lucky to live “reasonably” close to a GO station. Huge chunks of Scarborough aren’t particularly close to the Lakeshore East line or the Stoufville line. GO seems more interested in moving people outside the city than it does with moving people inside the city. To be fair, that is supposed to be the TTC’s mandate.

My solution to this problem was to leave Scarborough. I live downtown and my commute is shorter partly because my transit options after better, and partly because i’m physically closer to where I need to end up. This isn’t a real solution to this problem. Toronto needs one.

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Tory takes TO

   28 October 2014, early morning

Yesterday’s mayoral race was the first election in a while where the polls called things fairly accurately. Tory won by a nice margin, Chow coming in a distant third. A loss for the Fords is a win for Toronto. I’m disappointed that Chow lost, but I’ve been voting for the NDP my whole life and have grown quite accustomed to voting for candidates that lose.

What’s actually far more disappointing is the number of incumbents that were returned to city hall. All the terrible Scarborough councillors? They are all back, including Raymond Cho, the champion of doing nothing. Mammoliti? That asshole is back. Mike Ford—a 20 year old camp councillor who completed a year of college—defeated John Hastings for his school trustee seat. Of course, Hastings is actually qualified for the job. A few ridings may have benefited from ranked ballots to shake things up, but for the most part useless incumbents have a base of support that feels like it’s beyond reason.

There were a few high points from last night. My friend Parthi defeated the shockingly corrupt Elizabeth Moyer. Ausma Malik also became a trustee, despite a pretty racist and Islamophobic campaign against her.

Who knows what the next four years will bring. I’m assuming it can’t be worse than the last four.

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Olivia Chow for Mayor

   26 October 2014, early morning

Toronto goes to the polls tomorrow. The election has been long and terrible, marred by pretty overt racism, sexism, and homophobia. I’ll be glad when its all over. Ford Nation are clearly the #GamerGate of Toronto politics. Electing a new mayor won’t magically make shitty people disappear, but it’s a step in the right direction. If you call someone a fag you should feel like a marginalized piece of shit. Let’s get back to that Toronto at the very least.

Olivia Chow started off with a lead in the polls she quickly squandered. Of course, who knows what the polls even mean. Tory now commands that lead. He even scored endorsement from the papers. Now, endorsements from papers are worth even less than polls conducted by Forum. Remember when The Globe and Mail and the National Post both endorsed both Hudak and Rob Ford? Yeah, me too. The Toronto papers are next to useless when it comes to covering and commenting on municipal politics.

The only endorsement that matters is the one you have all no doubt been waiting for. funkaoshi.com endorses Oliva Chow for mayor. She’s the only person pushing a progressive forward thinking vision for the city. And, in a surprise twist, she’s apparently the only candidate who decided to figure out how to pay for it all. What?

I always vote for the person I want to win. You should do. Otherwise what’s the god damn point?

Regardless of what happens in the race for a new mayor, i’m hoping to see some of the more useless city councillors get the boot. Scarborough’s council needs to be razed to the ground, at the very least. Andray Domise is running against Rob Ford in Ward 2, and i’m hoping he can sneak in. That’ll be a tough fight, but he’s clearly the better candidate. The Fords have been terrible for that ward.

Tomorrow should be an interesting day.

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An Open House

   19 October 2014, mid-afternoon

An open house sign

“Hey! Can you guys sign in?”

Who is this dude barking at us? Of course I know. My cousin and I have walked into an open house. It’s a surprisingly cavernous detached home near Bloor and Dufferin. I could imagine it being quite nice—in some alternate timeline. In this one it was probably a former rooming house. It’s listed at 1.25 million dollars.

The housing market has moved beyond rhyme or reason. My cousin narrates tale after tale of being out bid on places he already can’t afford. Houses in our neighbourhood now regularly sell for $100,000 over their asking price. That’s walking around money. Now, I like where we live, but our neighbourhood isn’t $100K-over-asking nice by any stretch of the imagination. These stories play out across the whole city.

This house is full of sad ancient furniture. Remnants from its past life. I’ve seen houses in worse shape, which may sound like faint praise because it is. At least this house is relatively clean. My cousin has seen houses where the sellers haven’t even bothered tidying up. Why waste their time? They know the house will sell for more than they want anyway. The desperation of home buyers is palpable. Agents are emboldened.

Who can afford to live in this city? I could never dream of buying my busted-ass house now. It’s price has moved beyond me. That’s some sort of wealth, I suppose. Not the useful kind, but it’s something.

We walk through the house and leave. The agent makes no effort to talk to us. I am sure he is well aware we are just touring this dump. We probably didn’t look worn down enough when we walked in.

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Tennis @ The Mod Club

    9 October 2014, evening time

Shima looked at our tickets. “7:00 doors open. Early show?” Neither of us knew what that meant, though we could guess well enough. We hoped in a cab shortly after 7:00. This might have been the earliest I’ve ever gone to a concert since seeing Rachael Yamagata perform a promo show when she was first getting started. The two of us were going to see Tennis at the Mod Club. We hadn’t been to a concert together since we saw the Woodhands play at the Phoenix.

Pure Bathing Culture

When we arrived the opening act was already playing. We grabbed some beer and listened to them play some indie pop music. The lead singer had a hair cut straight out of the 80s, but she was probably born in the 90s. They were very good. A four piece band, the singer also played synths. They didn’t sound like Tennis, but had a similar musical aesthetic. They thanked the audience for listening to their set and then walked off stage without saying their name. God damn it. I ended up discovering their name on Twitter: Pure Bathing Culture.

Tennis

Tennis are technically a two-person band, but when on tour I suppose having some extra musicians on hand is useful. They were up next. A mix of musicians and techs started setting up their instruments. I am guessing their singer is too recognizable to still do this stuff. She came out briefly to check out her keyboard and sing and the crowd started cheering. (This lead singer’s hair cut reminded me of Shima’s hair from a photo she has of her grade 8 graduation.) When the band started performing I realized the other half of their band was the person doing the bulk of the set up. That’s what happens when you aren’t on the album covers.

Tennis put on a good show. They played a mix of music, mostly from their most recent album. We were up near the front with all the turbo fans and people trying to take photos. It was fun. They played a lot of the songs I love, but focused on the stuff from their new album.

And just like that it was over—and it wasn’t even 10:00! I bought Pure Bathing Culture’s CD from the band’s lead singer. That’s why opening acts are the best.

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Turn, look down: there is no city.
This is centre of a forest.
Your place is empty.

They bend, straighten; the sun lights up their faces and hands, candles flickering in the wind against the unbright earth.
I see them; I know none of them believe they are here.
They deny the ground they stand on, pretend this dirt is the future.
And they are right.

Those who went ahead of us in the forest bent the early trees so that they grew to signals.

— Margaret Atwood, poem outside the Fort York library.

Also, a reminder that if you are voting for Doug Ford in the upcoming election you are a clueless fucking asshole.

Julian: Fuck jail. I’m not going back to jail, Ricky. Not gonna happen man.
Ricky: Julian, don’t be dissing jail, man. We’ve had some good fucking parties in there, we got good friends in there. I mean they fed you, you used their gym. Come on, man. Don’t be dissing jail. That’s not fucking cool.
— The Trailer Park Boys, Season 4, Episode 6, “If You Love Something, Set It Free”

Leopold FCC660M

   16 September 2014, early morning

My Leopold FCC660M

I’ve been using my Unicomp Spacesaver more or less continuously for work since I bought it several years ago. Shima hates when I use it at home: she finds the chatter of the keys annoying. I’m pretty sure my coworkers do as well, but they seem to have gotten used to the white noise now. I love that keyboard.

At the time I bought my Spacesaver there seemed to only be a handful of other mechanical keyboards on the market. The two that jump out in my mind are the Happy Hacker and the Matias Tactile Pro. People would also track down old mechanical keyboard stock: Apple Extended IIs and IBM Model Ms. Today there are so many mechanical keyboards it is hard to keep track of them all. I joined a site called Massdrop some time ago: it constantly has mechanical keyboards up for sale—or kits to build your own keyboards. It’s a brave new world for mechanical keyboards today.

I decided to replace my Spacesaver with something that actually saves space. I like the smaller profiles of so called ‘hacker’ keyboards and wanted to get something in that vein. I settled on the Leopold FCC660M. It’s very small, but still has all the keys I wanted on a keyboard. (I’m not hardcore enough to say goodbye to my arrow keys.)

The Leopold uses Cherry MX mechanical key switches, unlike the buckling spring switches found in my Unicomp. I picked “Blue” switches, which are similar to my old keyboard’s springs: they are tactile (you can feel when the switch actuates) and “clicky” (they make some noise when the switch is actuated). They are slightly quieter and take slightly less force to actuate. Rounding out the things that keyboard nerds fuss about, the keycaps for the switches are made of thicker PBT plastic and use dye sublimation to label each key. They keyboard feels solid and well made. The experience of typing on this new keyboard is satisfying.

The Leopold lacks function keys, as well as many of the keys found to the right of your typical full-sized keyboard (the number pad, insert, home, etc). Thus far I haven’t found the loss of these keys a nuisance, but if you rely on them heavily that might be something to keep in mind. Typing a back tick on the keyboard requires pressing FN-ESQ, as escape, tilde, and the back tick all sit on a single key. I’m getting used to doing so, but it definitely stops me in my tracks when I’m typing right now.

My Unicomp was clearly a good investment. All these years later my Unicomp looks and feels as nice as the day I bought it. I’m hoping my Leopold holds up as well. If you are still using a lame keyboard you should switch. If you are typing everyday—and really, who isn’t?—you should do so on something that is a pleasure to type on.

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Revenge of the Green Dragons

   12 September 2014, early morning

Andrew Lau and Andrew Loo co-direct a (very) gritty look at Chinese gangsters in Queens New York in the 80s in the film Revenge of the Green Dragons. (It was produced by Scorsese, who directed the Hollywood re-make of Lau’s Infernal Affairs.) This was the only film I am likely to see at TIFF this year. I bought the ticket online in the morning, walked over to the Lightbox at lunch, and watched it with my friend who was taking the day off to watch films. I think next year i’ll try and actively participate in the festival again. I miss going and watching movies.

The film stars Justin Chon, and follows his character as he is pulled into the Green Dragons street gang and rises through its ranks. The film doesn’t present the gang in a glamourous light—at all. It’s pretty gruesome and violent at times. The film has a real 80s feel, beyond simply being set in the 80s. The soundtrack features a lot of electric guitar. It’s a very serious film, but the dialog is often cheesy gangster film dialog. I was reminded of As Tears Go By by Wong Kar Wai, itself a throw back to Mean Streets by Scorsese. The film is based on real life events, chronicled in a lengthy article from the New Yorker back in 1992. I liked it, but do think it was a bit muddled. Relationships aren’t explored fully, making some of the plot points in the film seem half-baked. Some of the twists seem pointless. My friend didn’t like the film at all.

The write up for Revenge of the Green Dragons over on the TIFF website.

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Snowpiercer.

   24 July 2014, mid-afternoon

If you watch one near future dystopian science fiction film about a train that circles the earth after a climate change apocalypse, make sure it’s Snowpiercer. What a film! They know how to make movies in Korea. Chris Evans stars in this film, which seems strange, but since I don’t think it’s strange for Korean actors to star in American films maybe i’m just being Western-centric. He is fantastic. All the actors are. Tilda Swinton in particular plays a great shitty British politician. The film is funny and dark and action packed and so many things all at the same time. I’m still trying to figure out what the message of the whole film was. The film has a limited release. You should try and watch it if you can.

The official Snowpiercer website.

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Silver Lining Playbook

   23 July 2014, early morning

I watched Silver Linings Playbook over the Christmas break, but forgot to mention it here. It’s a romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Both characters are suffering with some mental health issues, each dealing with them in their own ways. Cooper is trying to win back his wife’s love after getting out of a mental institution. He needs Lawrence’s help to get a letter to his wife, who has a restraining order against him. She agrees to help on the condition he is her partner in a dance competition. Seriously. That reads like the plot to a ridiculous romantic comedy, but somehow this one executes on that premise in a way that isn’t stupid. This film is an example of what you can do with the genre of you try. It’s a good film, fun to watch, with some great performances from both the leads and the supporting cast. As romantic comedies go it has to be one of the better ones out there.

The official Silver Linings Playbook website.

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