On Friday night, Paul and I took the guitar-and-accordion act to Mullins, a pub in the Bay-and-Wellesley area. For those of you not familiar with Accordion City, Bay and Wellesley’s kind of quiet mostly-condos area nestled between the financial district to the south, the University of Toronto’s main campus to the west and “Mink Mile” — a shopping district with the kind of stores you’d expect to register at for your wedding — to the north. Since this is good ol’ multicultural Toronto, Mullins is an Irish pub managed by an Asian guy named Ken.
Mullins has an open mike night every Friday night hosted by our friend Dave Ellul, one of the members of a fine drinking club known as the Thirsty People of Toronto. Word about the open mike night hasn’t gotten around yet, so while the pub is usually packed with patrons, Dave usually ends up being the only act for the evening. Paul and I thought we’d come and help lighten the load. We even brought our own groupie, Eldon. The rest of the Thirsty People were already there when we arrived and our buddy Rob — he who gave me the accordion almost four years ago — met us at the pub.
Since I haven’t had to show up at an office since August, everything about my contract work at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada — where I’m helping to write software for processing refugees — seems pretty novel. Even the work area, which happens to be my first cubicle. In eight years of programming, I’ve never been assigned to a cubicle. It’s sort of neat, but that’s probably because I’m just a tourist and not a cubicle “lifer” like those around me.
Being an office of the Canadian Government, you hear a lot of Quebecois French accents. That’s because the office has to be able to serve people in both official languages. The funniest owner of a French accent is the security guard at the front desk. When I showed up for the interview, I walked up to the desk and before I could say a word, he greeted me by name.
“Ah, you are early, Mister Jo-way.”
“How’d you know my name?”
“We’re da gubber’ment, hein! We know h’everyt’ing!”
Welcome to the working week, folks.
Welcome to the Working Week
(Lyrics by Declan McManus, a.k.a. Elvis Costello)
Now that your picture’s in the paper being rhythmically admired
And you can have anyone that you have ever desired
All you gotta tell me now is why, why, why, why?
Welcome to the working week
Oh, I know it don’t thrill you, I hope it don’t kill you
Welcome to the working week
You gotta do it till you’re through, so you better get to it
All of your family had to kill to survive
And they’re still waitin’ for their big day to arrive
But if they knew how I felt, they’d bury me alive
I hear you sayin’, “Hey, the city’s alright,” when you only read about it in books
Spend all your money gettin’ so convinced that you never even bother to look
Sometimes I wonder if we’re livin’ in the same land
Why d’you wanna be my friend when I feel like a juggler running out of hands?
Welcome to the working week
Oh, welcome to the working week
In which I continue responding to comments or emails sent to me about the blog.
Indian Motorcycle: Back in Business
In the blog entry about the Indian Motorcycle Cafe, I wrote that the actual motorcycle company closed their doors fifty years ago and the brand name is now just used for clothing and night spots. Apparently, that’s not the case — Both Peter van Impelen from the Netherlands and Diane Duane (an American living in Ireland) have pointed out that the Indian Motorcycle Company got back into the business of making motorcycles last year.
Hey, Cory: your ancestral home (Russia) has just hooked up with your spiritual home (Disney theme parks), and there’s a fair use twist too!
(Ananova) A life-size statue of Lenin with the head of Mickey Mouse is to go on display in Moscow.
The five foot statue is the work of controversial Russian artist Alexander Kosolapov.
It will be exhibited at an art gallery in the city, reports Pravda.
The artist, who has lived in New York for 20 years, previously won a landmark court battle with Coca Cola after the company objected to his use of their logo in a poster which also featured Lenin.
He said his work celebrates the “heritage of socialist realism”.
As you’re probably aware, I do have a link for comments at the end of each entry of this weblog. As you’re probably also aware, the comments service to which I subscribe often doesn’t work, and when it does work, it often does so very slowly. I am of the “blogs as conversation” school of thought, so with that in mind, I thought I’d highlight or answer some comments that have been posted in the past few days.
Obsessed with high school?
In reponse to Monday, February 17th’s Why Nerds are Unpopular, my friend and former coworker Patrick Lee wrote:
Ok, I held my breath and counted to a large number before posting this… but I have a question- how come people 20 years younger than me (ie Joey) seem so obessed with what went on in High School? I mean, it is only 4 or 5 years out of even a 30 year old life. I am pretty sure that if the categories had existed I would have been a geek, nerd whatever in Grade 11 at least- a few friends sitting at the same cafeteria table decided we should be “nebbishes” which is even lower in Yiddish. But, I graduated, and I honestly don’t think I have spent more than 12 hours since then (counting writing this) thinking about what went on from Grades 9 to 13. So, what’s the big deal?
For the record, in sixteen months of blogging with entries almost every day, making for almost 500 in total, here’s the number of weblog entries I’ve written about my life in high school:
If you count the entries about my snow-cone selling job, which took place on summer vacation from high school, you’d have a grand total of three. Throw in the Why Nerds are Unpopular essay and that makes four. That’s a very teeny percentage out of 500-ish entries.
If writing about a given topic less than one percent of the time qualifies as obsession, it’s time to rewrite Freud’s line as “a cigar is always your father’s penis”.
The article was interesting to me not for the high school aspect, but for these reasons:
- It’s about nerds. I’m interested.
- It’s about social standing, navigating the choppy waters of cliques, social kindnesses and cruelties and the nature of popularity. I also find these interesting.
- This essay was quite a departure from his usual topics. Normally Paul Graham writes about technical matters, such as the Lisp programming language and ways of stopping spam.
- It’s very surprising to read a Paul Graham article that doesn’t make me wish I had a long-distance slapping device. Yes, there are still traces of “I am much smarter than you” in the essay, but he’s nowhere as bad as he used to be.
Getting back to the topic of high school: while it was interesting and formative, life didn’t become really interesting until the summer after high school, it became more so after I switched university degree programs (from electrical engineering to computer science) and even more so after my friend Rob said “I have an old accordion in my basement. Do you want it?”
Simply put, I’ve given more thought to learning the chords to Avril Lavigne’s Sk8r Boi in the past week than I did to high school in the past year. Whether this is a productive use of my leisure time is still up for debate.
My question is: Patrick, what aspects of high school are your friends so obsessed about?