Tuesday, January 24, 2006

With the Canadian federal election over and done with, I am proud to say that I have done my civic duty and cast my vote. In the Fleetwood-Port Kells riding, there was less than 2% votes between Conservatives and Liberals, translating to just over 800 votes between the two. Given the fact that there was a 60.2% voter turnout, that leaves out 29, 835 registered voters that didn't make a contribution. This could have had a very different turnout if those people actually got off their asses for a few minutes.

As Canadians, we're born complainers. Allegedly, there was a higher voter turnout altogether, given the chance to vote in a new government. For those who didn't actually vote, they don't really have the right to complain about what the government does, because hey, they had their chance to.

Mandatory voting might be a good idea. But then, some could consider it to be infringing on the democratic process. I think it's a good idea up to a point. But on the other hand, according to one source, Australia (who has had mandatory voting since 1924) has a large number of spoiled ballots, either in the form of protest votes or from recent immigrants who didn't understand the voting process (but then, why are they voting in the first place?). As it stands, voting should be an informed decision.

Given the new minority Conservative government, a lot folks seem to think it spells the Americanization of Canada, with Stephen Harper playing patsy to George Bush and selling off our country bit by bit. But don't blame me. I voted for Kodos.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

It's my latest addiction.

Oh, God, help Me.

Like clockwork, Thursday night, as my evening class winds down, I find myself in the company of my classmates in Scruffy McGuire's pub and grill on Karaoke night, belting out tune after off tune, successfully forgetting everything I learned during music class in elementary school, as the teachers turned what's supposed to be a beautiful art form into a chore.

Some people have a specific approach. For one, Glen, the host, consistently chooses "Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who and "Losing My Religion" by REM. Joel, another regular (also a student at Douglas College), consistently chooses "At Last" by Etta James, "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston, "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers, and "My Immortal" by Evanescence.

Karaoke night brings out all types, from the guys who have a garage band, to the professionally trained opera singers that just happen to be on a night out, to the people who really should not be behind a microphone, but do it anyways because everybody is already drunk out of their trees.

I don't think I have a particularly good singing voice, which is why I make a point of picking songs that are already considered poorly sung, or songs that I repeatedly sing in the shower or while I'm in the car. Unfortunately, this list of songs is getting progressively shorter and shorter as I make my way through the song book.

On average, I can usually pull out about three songs per night, more if it happens to be particularly dead. But, it gives me a good idea of what songs are particularly easy to do and have really hard-to-hit high notes. I try to avoid repeats whenever possible, although if I get particularly good response out of a particular song, I'll keep it in mind for next time.

My combined set list of all songs sung so far (off of memory):
  1. "Wonderful World" by Louie Armstrong. This song is much easier after a few swigs of beer, as mimicking L. Armstrong's vocals can be pretty hard on the throat.
  2. "My Ding-A-Ling" by Chuck Berry. Apparently, not a lot of people request this one. I wonder why. Nevertheless, it's a crowd pleaser.
  3. "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-A-Lot. If you don't know the words to this one, the words on screen are very hard to keep up with. I only know up to "My homeboys try to warn me / but that butt you've got makes me so horny."
  4. "Black" by Pearl Jam. Fairly simple track, although I always screw up that one line before "Now the air I've tasted and breathed as taken a turn."
  5. "She Bangs" by Ricky Martin. This one's a lot of fun because I do it in the style of William Hung, the infamous American Idol reject. Just speak with the most blatant Chinese accent and start off with, "You know I have no formal training, but I give it my all and I have no regrets." Gets 'em all the time.
  6. "Put Your Lights On" by Carlos Santana with Everlast. This one's fairly easy as it doesn't require a huge vocal range.
  7. "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. This one works best when you have at least three people on the mic, but they only have two mics at once. This one also requires a higher vocal range.
  8. "Fell In Love With a Girl" by the White Stripes. This one requires a higher vocal range and my voice cracks when I try to hit them.
  9. "Creep" by Radiohead. Thom York incorporates a falsetto voice during some parts, which can be tough to mimic, plus the part, "Run, run, run" is challenging if you can't hit the notes naturally.
  10. "Come Sail Away" by Styx (as performed by Eric Cartman from South Park). This one is tons of fun, although imitating the voice is hard on the throat (see entry #1). The words on screen also tend to go out of sync with the music. If no one applauds, finish it by saying, "Screw you guys, I'm going home!"
  11. "Date Rape" by Sublime. A really fun song to sing and doesn't need a huge vocal range, but the words go by very quickly. You will need to know this one by heart because the words tend to go out of sync with the song.
  12. "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" by Monty Python. This one's a fun one to do...just do your best fake British accent. However, the spoken word parts towards the end are difficult to time unless you know those parts by heart.
  13. "I've Got You Under My Skin" by Frank Sinatra. Sinatra doesn't incorporate a wide range of vocals, which makes this a fairly easy pieace to do.
  14. "Plush" by Stone Temple Pilots. Another rock song, this one's a little more challenging because of the vocal range required. ("Whe-en the dogs to find her...")
  15. "Santeria" by Sublime. This is a great song, although requires a larger vocal range than "Date Rape."
  16. "Stand by Your Man" by Patsy Cline. I try to do this one Blues Brothers style, and start it off with, "We play BOTH kinds of music. Country AND Western." Another crowd pleaser.
  17. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day. Not a hard song to sing, but my voice sounds even worse over the PA system with this song. I can't explain why.
  18. "At a Medium Pace" by Adam Sandler. This song has some really sexually explict lyrics (sample: "Push it in and out at a medium pace"), but given the comedic nature of the song, it's almost expected that you butcher the vocals for it. There are some high notes which I can't hit, but this one's a crowd killer. Just don't expect to get a lot of phone numbers in the pub after singing this one. For bonus points, try getting someone to act out the parts of the song for you.
  19. "It's Been A While" by Staind. This one's pretty easy.
  20. "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon & Garfunkel. This one usually works best if you're doing it in pairs and if you can tone down the voice a little bit. Big booming rockstar vocals do NOT work for this song.
  21. "A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis vs. JunkieXL. I don't actually know the words to this one, plus he tends to mumble really fast during some parts of the song.
There are several songs which I'd like to attempt, but only if I can attempt a different spin on it. I almost managed to convince one of my classmates to do "I've Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher, only I'd be doing it Beavis & Butt-Head style ("We need a chick...huh-huh...we need a chick who has tattoos on her butt..." "Yeah, we need one of those chicks.").

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Monday, January 02, 2006

I gotta say, when rereading what I wrote about one year ago, I'm pretty disappointed.

(from archives, January 1, 2005)

1: Improve myself socially. Action plan: be more aware of the way I am perceived by others and work to change that; stand up for myself more often; take a lot less crap from people; learn to choose my battles much more carefully.

Result: B-. I stand up for myself more often, am well aware of the opinion of others (i.e.: it ain't as high as I'd like), and am more than willing to drop people if they aren't worth my time. On the other hand, I started becoming a lot more confrontational (especially with people who inconsiderately use their cellphones in the theatres) and starting to have a lot more smart-ass moments under the pretense of trying to be funny. Not good.

2: Improve myself culturally/intellectually. Action plan: set aside 15 minutes a day to read a book not related to school; indulge in less cultural junk food (video games, comic books, action movies); do something culturally/intellectually stimulating at least once a month (eg: go to museum, see a foreign film or a documentary).

Result: D. I rediscovered Diablo II. I was only able to read about four books from cover-to-cover (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowlings, Jennifer Government by Max Barry, Porno by Irvine Welsh, and Battle Royale by Koushun Takami). I gave up half-way through JRR Tolkein's The Two Towers and I'm struggling through Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. Only saw ONE foreign film during the Vancouver International Film Festival (Tudo Azul, from Brazil).

3: Improve myself physically. Action plan: continue to exercise regularly and eat properly; bring along journal to keep track of progress of any gains; adjust exercise program at least once a month to avoid stagnation.

Result: B-. I've injured myself repeatedly through the year, mostly during Capoeira class (busted extendor tendon on finger, cut over left eye requiring stitches, overstressed left wrist, overflexed left ankle), and I started seeing a chiropractor regularly. I continually hit the gym and I started jogging to the gym instead of driving, but my endurance level is not there right now. And I still don't keep track of my gains.

4: Improve myself professionally. Action plan: complete education; get out of the house and meet more people and network more often; practice and improve time management skills.

Result: D. While I did manage to get a well-paying work experience position during the summer, I've been a baaaaaaad boy. I consistently nod off during class, I put off work until the very last second, I've burned at least one bridge by accident (got stressed and wasn't paying enough attention) and my work area is a complete mess. The only reason why I don't rate myself any lower is because I actually manage to get it all submitted in time.

It's been said that goals are repeatedly given up on because they are unrealistic or unattainable. Maybe I need to lower the bar a little bit, and then raise it slowly.

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