Posted by: Joe | October 17, 2009

“We’ll eat you up–we love you so!”

Until I was about 6, we lived a 3 hour drive from my grandparent’s house, where Where The Wild Things Are sat on a headboard bookshelf of one of the upstairs beds. I vaguely remember my grandfather reading it to me as I sat in his lap next to the wood stove in the kitchen. Of the dozens of children’s books in the house, this is the one that captivated me. Even before I learned how to read, I’d pour over the artwork for hours. 6-7 years ago I got a 6″ model of a Wild Thing for Christmas, and it’s pretty much the only personal item that I keep at my desk at work. To say I’ve been eagerly anticipating this movie is a bit of an understatement.

That generally bites me in the ass. While I lack the ability to manifest my creativity in any kind of artistic manner I have an active, vibrant imagination–and a lot of the time, the movie on the screen doesn’t live up to the vision I’ve created in my head.

So with all that said, I loved Jonze’s film adaptation. It is the movie I wanted to see. Which I think is fairly amazing–the book is just 10 sentences long, and stretching that to feature length certainly leaves a lot of room for interpretation. To Jonze/Eggers’s credit, they manage to expand just enough without the plot feeling contrived.

The film Max was very easy for me to identify with–the biggest similarity being his family, but dozens of other small details about him struck a chord with my inner 9 year old.

It falls a little short of being great. God bless Gandolfini for trying, but he shouldn’t have been cast in one of the main roles–his voice is just too distracting. I thought the dialogue was slightly heavy-handed in a couple of important scenes. The pace through the middle of the movie felt disjointed, slightly plodding then rushing to a climax.

The Wild Things are stunning–minimal CGI allow them to feel genuine and still be fantastic at the same time. They are the book’s artwork come to life. Runny noses and tears reinforce that they are all part of Max’s mind, dealing with the same hurt feelings from his life at home.  Max Records is wonderful, on screen for virtually the entire running time, never succumbing to cutesy hamming for the camera. I’ve enjoyed Karen O’s soundtrack over the past few weeks–it’s even better as part of the film.

This is a movie to remind you what it was like to be 9 years old. Learning to deal with lightning mood shifts, from euphoria to rage. Learning that your family is imperfect. Nothing lasts forever.

And sometimes things do live up to your expectations.

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Posted by: Joe | October 9, 2009

“What do you want, a cookie?”

US President Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his “extraordinary efforts” to promote diplomacynot be George W. Bush.

To paraphrase Chris Rock, you don’t give out a Nobel Peace Prize for DOING SHIT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO, you low-expectation-having motherfuckers! Ghandi was nominated 5 times AND NEVER WON.

The US still has troops in Iraq. The US strategy for Afghanistan is a mess. Gitmo is still open.

I’m a big supporter of Obama. I think he has the potential to be one of the world’s truly great leaders. But he has done absolutely nothing concrete to deserve this, and he really needs to acknowledge that or he’s going to get raked over the coals for it by the right.

Posted by: Joe | July 3, 2009

Awwwwwww–Cito got me a birthday present!

I was listening to The Fan yesterday on the way into work, and two chuckleheads were praising Cito Gaston’s managerial acumen in demoting Vernon Wells in the Jays batting order.  Word is that Wells will be batting 6th today against the Yanks.

Here’s the problem: it’s taken a month longer than any sane manager would have let this go on.  Jays fans with any baseball knowledge at all have been calling for Cito’s head since the end of May.

Cito’s method of dealing with a slumping hitter is to let him try and hit out of it, because Gibson-esque juggling of the lineup messes with player’s confidence.  I’m fine with this theory, but here’s the problem:  WELLS HAS ZERO CONFIDENCE TO MESS WITH.  He’s been admitting to anybody that will listen for weeks that a big part of the Jays’ recent slump is his lack of production in the heart of the order, and that this is the most frustrating time of his career.

Cito has shown time and time again over the past year that he has no tactical skills. He constantly misses simple things like pinch hitting at the right time, or when to properly execute a double switch.  I have no problem with Cito being a part of this team.  He’s clearly had an impact since joining last year.  But his strength is in coaching players–somebody else should be running the bench.

Posted by: Joe | May 27, 2009

Memorial

It’s been almost 6 months since my friend and coach died unexpectedly.  He’s in my mind whenever I’m at the gym–and while I’m not training for anything specific right now, that’s still a lot and there are few days that I don’t think of him.

A few days after his death I had an idea for a memorial proposal, and after running the idea by his family I sent this letter to Oakville Town Councillor Ralph Robinson:

Dear Councillor Robinson,

My name is Joe Miller.  I am an amateur boxer, and I am writing to you on behalf of the family and friends of Mike “Prime Time” Post.

You may have read in the local papers (http://www.oakvilletoday.ca/news/article/222938), about 6 weeks ago Mike passed away suddenly.  Mike was an exceptional athlete, excelling in football and track&field before finding his niche in boxing.  Undefeated in the amateur ranks, Mike had compiled a 17-1-1 record as a professional.  He was poised to break out among boxing’s elite, recently traveling to Puerto Rico to serve as a sparring partner for former WBO light welterweight champion Miguel Cotto, and was to fight for the IBA World Junior Welterweight championship next May.

In addition to being an great athlete, Mike was an entrepreneur, owning a popular gym in Oakville (Prime Time Personal Fitness and Boxing).  In addition to doing a significant portion of his own training at the gym, Mike was a tireless proponent of amateur boxing in Ontario, and ran an amateur boxing program.  Mike loved giving back to the community, recently making the gym available to local high school classes to introduce young people to the sport.

I was at the gym for an early morning workout this spring to prepare for an amateur bout, to do some hill sprints at a spot not far from the gym.  When I had finished and returned to the gym, Mike was there and we talked for a bit about The Hill’s effectiveness as a training tool.

All of the Team Primetime fighters are very familiar with The Hill.  The Hill in question is a narrow lane off of Bronte Road, leading down the side of the Bronte Creek valley, into a parking lot in Petro Canada Park.  It’s short, about 150 meters at most.

That morning Mike and I both agreed that it didn’t matter who you were, or how good you think your physical condition is, The Hill will kick your butt.  If you’ve done a dozen sprints up the hill and aren’t totally exhausted, it’s because you didn’t push yourself.  It doesn’t matter if your name is Joe Miller, or Mike Post, or Donovan Bailey–The Hill will beat you every time.

At the end of our discussion, Mike joked that he’d run up The Hill so many times that “by the end of my career, they’ll name it after me.”

Mike was truly one of Oakville’s finest young citizens–a community leader in every respect.  He was an example to everyone who knew him that a positive attitude, respect and hard work could make your dreams possible, no matter how high your aim. We miss him dearly, and would like investigate having this hill named in his memory.  What do we need to do to make this happen?

Sincerely,

Joe Miller

On behalf of,

Family:

Team Primetime:

Prime Time Fitness & Boxing Staff:

Friends:

Thousands of others to be found on the following Facebook groups:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=38350701685
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=42090731722

Coincidentally, when Councillor Robinson received my email, he was meeting with one of the other amateur fighter’s mother on Oakville town business.  As well, one of the other town councillors did some occasional sparring with Mike, so the proposal gained immediate traction.  However, as is typical with municipal politics, the proposal was shelved pending a feasibility report, and it wasn’t until tonight that it actually went to a vote before the Community Services Committee.

Ex-Dallas Cowboy/Toronto Argo Chris Schultz is also a member of Primetime Fitness, and was a close of friend of Mike’s.  He made a heartfelt argument before the Committee, which went a long way to winning their support.

However, it turns out the land doesn’t belong to the town–it’s on a long-term lease to Oakville from Petro Canada, who were resistant to the idea of naming their property.  However as an alternative, they were open to the idea of a memorial plaque on the hill, which is sort of what I had imagined in the first place.  And the Committee voted to absorb the cost of purchasing and installing the memorial, which would normally be the responsibility of the group making the request.

So while we didn’t get everything that we wanted, I’m happy with the compromise.  And in the end, if Mike’s name and face are permanently at the top, it will be Primetime Hill regardless of what’s printed on the street sign.

Posted by: Joe | May 19, 2009

So, I’m unemployed…

…for one week, at least.  I’ll have a new employer on Monday.

When I was a kid, Mom bought a collection of abridged classic literature from one of those mail-order TV commercials.  It had about 25 or 30 volumes of mostly American novels like Moby Dick, The Last of the Mohicans and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  I read them over and over again, and now have many of those same stories in hardcover on my bookshelves today.

One of my favorite volumes was The Tales of Edgar Allen Poe.  It included “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Pit And The Pendulum”, “The Cask Of Amontillado”, “The Fall Of The House Of Usher”, and “The Gold-Bug”.

“The Gold Bug” is a story about a hunt for pirate treasure. A large part of the plot is an explanation of how the main character solves a simple substitution cipher using letter frequency analysis to reveal the location of the loot.  For a 10 or 12 year old, interested in math and science, it’s a great tale.  Because of that story, I’ve always had a passing interest in cryptography, though I’ve never done anything about it.

I’ll get the opportunity at my new workplace, Certicom.  Certicom is a cryptography company, and holds a large number of patents related to elliptic curve cryptography.

Elliptic curves are an important part of modern number theory research.  They were used in Andrew Wiles’s proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem, and are used in one method of integer factorization, which can be used to break RSA, the most common form of public-key encryption.

RSA relies on the fact that factoring very large integers is computationally difficult.  The larger your key is, the harder it is to factor.  300-bit keys can be broken in a matter of hours using common PC hardware.  512-bit keys can now be factored in several weeks using common hardware. 2048-bit keys are generally considered secure , and 4096-bit keys are unlikely to be broken in the foreseeable future.

However, the larger the encryption key, the more bandwidth is required for your encrypted message.  The advantage of ECC is that a similar level of security can be achieved using a much smaller key.  The largest publically broken ECC encryption to date is 109 bits, using 10,000 Pentium class PCs running continuously for over 18 months.

Certicom has a tutorial of the math behind ECC, which is not for the faint of heart, and I don’t understand a great deal of it.  Luckily, I’m not going to be working on the guts of Certicom’s cryptographic toolkits–I’ll be building systems using the toolkits.  I’m pretty stoked to learn more about how it all works.

Posted by: Joe | May 18, 2009

Danger Mouse: 2 EMI: 0

Danger Mouse has been one of the most prolific DJs and producers of the last 5 years.  He’s produced albums for Beck, The Black Keys, Gorillaz and is one half of Gnarls Barkley.  If you’re an artist and need beats for your album, DM is the one you want.

DM’s rise to stardom was a result of The Grey Album, a mashup of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and the album The Beatles (aka, The White Album).  EMI is the copyright holder of The Beatles discography, and predictably tried to squash distribution of the project.  Also predictably, that didn’t work out so well for EMI, and their efforts only served to increase the visibility of the project.

Danger Mouse’s latest project, Dark Night of the Soul, is a collaboration with Sparklehorse, who are on the (you guessed it) EMI label.  Containing contributions from Frank Black, Iggy Pop, Suzanne Vega and a host of other artists, it’s a release I’ve been waiting for for some time.

It seems that EMI didn’t learn anything from Round 1, because DM and Sparklehorse are now releasing the album as….a blank CD-R.  The online store for the album reads:

Due to an ongoing dispute with EMI,  Danger Mouse is unable to include music on the CD without fear of legal entanglement. Therefore, he has included a blank CD-R as an artifact to use however you see fit.

“However you see fit”, wink wink, nudge nudge.  The album is currently streaming on NPR, and can be found on most of your P2P networks of choice.

I’m happy to see that the major record labels are continuing to do their best to put themselves out of business.

Posted by: Joe | May 11, 2009

SSME cutoff confirmed, Atlantis is in orbit

After watching the live launch of STS-125, I’ve been watching replays on NASA TV for the past 20 minutes or so.

I’m watching crappy resolution replays of a launch that I know went off fine, and my heart is racing like a bastard.  I need to start planning a trip to Florida before the fleet is mothballed.

Posted by: Joe | May 7, 2009

My Father, My King

I don’t have much more to say about Monday night’s Mogwai show than what Dan and Frank have already said, except for one short anecdote.

At a couple points during “My Father My King”, I felt my Blackberry vibrate in my pocket.  I ignored it, assuming it was Twitterberry going off.  But when I checked it as we were walking out of the Phoenix I remembered something:

I had powered off the handset about 15 minutes before because the battery was low.

Yes, it was loud.

Posted by: Joe | April 29, 2009

Dear Media:

Calm the fuck down.

There have been a grand total of 8 documented H1N1 flu deaths.  8.  You know what causes thousands of deaths every year and you haven’t heard about?

THE REGULAR PLAIN-JANE VANILLA GODDAMNED FLU.

.

And since I watched Religulous on the weekend, this really shouldn’t suprise me but an Isreali health official has said “we should call this Mexican flu and not swine flu“.  Because pigs are unclean.

I’m sure that Mexicans everywhere are happy to know that they are kosher.

Posted by: Joe | April 24, 2009

I believe this makes it official…

…bacon is the perfect food.

Bacon sandwiches cure hangovers.  Look I’m not making this up, scientists say so.  So it has to be true.  Although perhaps I should read the report closer to determine if they were using themselves as test subjects.

If you’re not going to believe scientists, maybe Jim Gaffigan can convince you (skip to about 2:07).

YAY BACON!

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