November 11th, 2009


Share the Wealth Wednesday #3

Wednesday morning is upon us once more, and so with it comes that most sacred of traditions: Share the Wealth Wednesday!

For those of you who are new here, and for those whose memories do not extend back as far as the murky depths of pre-history from which this practice emerges (by which I mean two weeks ago), every Wednesday, we post some neat thing that we’ve found in our journeys through the internet, which others can enjoy with but the click of a mouse. It can be anything – a YouTube video, a webcomic, a video game, etc – so long as it is freely and instantly accessible to anyone who cares to enjoy it. Theoretically, as more and more links accrue during the course of the day, this post, and posts from previous Wednesdays will become a repository of awesome distractions and oddities. New stuff is always preferred, since stuff you haven’t seen before is that much less likely to be something anyone else has seen, but the wealth of links you share need not necessarily be as fresh as all that; it need only be NEAT.

For my own contribution, allow me to direct you to Venture Bros Online. A website which makes the dubious claim to legality (which I nevertheless choose for the sake of argument to believe is valid) in presenting every episode of Venture Bros to date for your free online viewing.

I’ve spoken of Venture Bros a time or two, and the show has been on the air long enough that it shouldn’t be an enigma to most media savvy people, but it bears, for the sake of this post, a short description. Venture Bros started off as a parody of a number of “boy adventurer” cartoons; primarily Johnny Quest, with a bit of Scooby-Doo and Hardy Boys thrown in there for good measure, but has fairly swiftly matured and mutated into its own distinct entity. The humour is very much intended for an adult audience, and indeed by season three, there’s a certain amount of swearing an nudity which, though censored in the televised version, is on full display on the DVDs.

My personal favourite episode of the series to date, which I feel really captures the essence of what makes this show great, is a second season episode entitled “Escape to the House of Mummies, Part 2”.

A scene from Escape to the House of Mummies, Part II, in which things get bizarre and complicated.

This is the middle part of a ridiculously complex adventure involving a high-tech ancient Egyptian cult, time travel, mummies and death traps. There is no part one and there is no part three; you’re literally only getting the middle part of the adventure, with no setup and no resolution. What’s even better is that the bulk of the episode has Rusty Venture – a washed-up, embittered middle-aged former boy adventurer-turned failed mad scientist – getting into an absurd, petty and meaningless dispute with Doctor Orpheus – a necromancer and single parent who rents out a suite of rooms from Rusty – over a point of personal pride, which results in them becoming so completely distracted and side-tracked that they utterly forget about the adventure at hand, leaving the rest of the cast to their fates, which we occasionally see in a series of increasingly bizarre cut-aways as their adventure continues. It’s absolute comedy gold.
Anyways! There’s my contribution. What’ve you got to share, my friends? It’s time to share the wealth!


The legacy of Vince: The drama continues to unfold.

As I had mentioned a month or so prior, as a consequence of the various misdeeds of Vince, the Parasite King, I’m being evicted from my home of six and a half years. The process is going... less smoothly than I might like.

For the past ten years, I have, over and over again, been forced to move, quite against my will, as a result of the actions or decisions of others. Each time, I have found myself thrust into a new living situation without very much control over where or in what situation I would end up. This time, though, I had thought? This time could be different.

I had spoken to a friend of mine who was in a similarly horrible living situation. While not wishing to air his dirty laundry, even anonymously, suffice it to say that at around the same time, it became plain that he would also be needing to move. He and I spoke, and agreed we would get a two bedroom place together for December 1st, and indeed, had begun looking at a number of prospective apartments together. Things were looking quite promising! And then, abruptly, he went silent on me. No phone calls, no e-mails, and no response to any of the same from me. Finally, on the night of November 1st, I learned from his mother that he had decided to get a place on his own.

This did not sit too well with me.

For starters, it meant that I had no room-mate, and insufficient time to find a replacement. And housing costs in the greater Vancouver area make a one bedroom apartment of the sort of size I would be comfortable living in prohibitively expensive. To say nothing of the personal offense, of which – again, out of a desire not to air his dirty laundry in public – I will not here speak. Secondarily, there was the creeping horror at the realization that there was a very real possibility that I would need to put out an ad on Craigslist or somesuch in order to find a replacement. This was the very dark path which led me to live with Vince in the first place, and there is no joy whatsoever in the notion of opening the door to that sort of horror once again.

I can afford a two bedroom place on my own for a month or two, though, and I hope that in that time, I can find someone stable and secure enough that I could in good conscience allow them to live with me, but this still represents a significant risk and significant inconvenience, relative to the “clear sailing” state I had looked forwards to existing in by now as of this time last month. And so I’m actively apartment hunting, hoping to secure something worthwhile by this weekend.

I figure I might just as well toss this out there, on the off chance that the fates might yet conspire to redeem this situation for me with nothing more than a few lines of text: Is there anyone among my readership who is in need or in want of a new home in the Burnaby/Vancouver area in the next two months? I find that I prefer the notion of finding someone with whom I stand the chance of having some degree of familiarity with prior to cohabitation to that of living with a complete stranger whose only connection to me is the quirk of happenstance which would have them reading my ad before I happen to accept someone else who does likewise.

An historic act

This morning, Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, took part in the Armistice Day ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris, France. This is the first time a German Chancellor has done so since the practice began after WW2. France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy, called this an "historic act", and indeed it was.

Think about this for a moment. This is the sitting leader of Germany, going and honouring those fallen French soldiers who died in the process of defending their country against the evil German hordes. To put that in context, try to imagine - really try to imagine - a time some sixty years from now when a sitting American president visits Iraq and lays a wreath at a memorial commemorating the Iraqi soldiers and insurgents who fought and died in the process of defending their country against the evil American aggressors.

Pretty hard to imagine it  ever happening, isn't it? 

I would love to know, to really understand, what this means to the average German. This is a country - and a person, in Chancellor Merkel, in particular - which has really, really seriously come to terms with their history and made their peace with the fact that they fucked up bad. No illusions. No excuses. No false bravado. They admit and acknowledge that they have, in living memory, been unimaginably screwed-up as a society, and have come to the point where they can be mature and genuine enough to be utterly contrite about it. How many countries have ever reached this point? Germany is certainly one of the worst and most notorious of the various nations who have, in the history of mankind, decided to destroy everyone and everything in their path of destruction, but they're by no means the only ones, and I can think of few that are willing to make a gesture like this.

I would love to be able to understand this cultural experience better. I really would.