A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for February 2004

[BRIEF NOTE] Back in Context

I’ve mentioned here how I’ve recently watched Strange Days on DVD. This encouraged me to dig the excellent original soundtrack from my book of CDs. There’s a lot of good tracks: Skunk Anansie’s “Selling Jesus” and “Feed,” Tricky’s “Overcome,” Lords of Acid’s “The Real Thing,” Graeme Revell and Lori Carson’s haunting “Fall in the Light.” The French world-music sampling group Deep Forest has two tracks on it, in tune with the general cosmopolitan postmodernism prevalent in the film itself. The first is song “Coral Lounge.” The second is possibly my favourite song, a collaboration with Peter Gabriel called “While the Earth Sleeps.”

Until recently, I’ve never understood the lyrics to “While the Earth Sleeps,” mainly because most of them aren’t sung in English. I could hear one verse, in some language–probably from post-Communist Europe, given Deep Forest’s recording proclivities, hence probably Slavic or possibly Magyar–be repeated over and over again, with a female singer beginning and then being joined by Gabriel. Interspersed between the repetitions of these verses is a three-line refrain sung by Peter Gabriel, the first line saying something about “letting go,” followed by the two lines: “Oh the rest will never know/No, they’ll never know.”

Just yesterday, I googled the lyrics, and the song. To quote this source, “Deep Forest collaborated with Peter Gabriel on the fantastic song While the Earth Sleeps which was specially written for the film “Strange Days”. Centred on a heart-wrenching vocal sample by Macedonian singer Kate Petrova, mixed with Mongolian chirps and the distant voices of the Tsinandali Choir (who hail from the European region of Georgia) all set to a driving dance beat and electronic basslines make this possibly the group’s greatest track to date!”

Anyways, the Macedonian lyrics are simple enough:

Dali znaesh mila majko
Shto sum ne srekjna?
Cel den doma sama sedam
Nadvor ne smejam

And in English translation:

Do you know dear mother
How unhappy I am?
All day I sit at home alone
I’m not allowed outside

Before I understood the lyrics, I guess I understood them more as syllables which sounded nice, indistinguishable from the aforementioned Mongolian chirps and distanced voices of the Tsinandali choir. Now, I’m trying to fit them with the movie–the lyrics do fit with the restraints imposed on the protagonists, by society and by themselves, I suppose. I’m not sure how much the song has gained or lost in my appreciation, though.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 29, 2004 at 7:03 pm

Posted in Assorted

[NON-BLOG] Movies, food, codes

Friday night, I saw Fight Club, featuring Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, and the incomparable Helena Bonham Carter. Last night, I saw Amélie, featuring Audrey Tatou and Mathieu Kassovitz. I really liked both films–their subject matters, cinematography, et cetera are quite different, but share a common watchability. My friend C., who lent me those two movies and more besides, as part of an intensive program of education in the great works of film of our epoch, commented that I can’t commit myself wholly to watching a movie, that my attention span keeps drifting. I still enjoy the films, but perhaps not as much as I should.

Boston Pizza is nice.

Oh, and via witelize, my blogger code: B6 d- t- k+ s u– f+ i o x e l c, decodable here.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 29, 2004 at 6:46 pm

Posted in Assorted

[NON-BLOG] LSAT results

I’ve just gotten back my LSAT scores, over E-mail. I scored 158, for a percentile rank of 77. Looking at the Internet Legal Resource Guide, that doesn’t seem to be too bad. Getting into the University of Toronto, of course, is entirely out of the question; but then, I’m not applying for next year, so there you go. Maybe I should have studied.

Oh well–I know what it’s like, at least, and I want to believe that it’s helped open up another potential opportunity.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2004 at 5:10 pm

Posted in Assorted

Since everyone else is commenting on The Passion of the Christ …

It’s funny how, well into my teenage years, I used to be fairly religious. It was in a passive sense, of course, and in a liberal sense–the United Church of Canada is theologically rather liberal. At times, it seemed to me like I was the only person in the class who took Sunday school seriously, in the sense of actually listening to the teacher and doing my readings. By the time I was 15, though, my family stopped going to church without any significant discussion. Inasmuch as I’m offspring of a Catholic father and a Protestant mother, I suppose that can be taken as proof of the correlation between interreligious marriages and low religious practice, though the question of whether this is cause or effect remains to be answered in my specific case. Likely it’s both.

I’ve been following the controversy over Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ at a distance, not particularly committed. (Easter’s a time when you receive sugary treats and some small gifts, like your birthday. My family are such heathens.) Today, though, I was visiting The New Republic when I noticed a few interesting articles.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2004 at 3:35 pm

Posted in Assorted

[BRIEF NOTE] Morocco and the European Union

The European Union has quite a few peripheries unlikely to join the European Union for some time yet. Take the states of the west Balkans–Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic of), non-Yugoslav Albania, and, perhaps one day, Kosova. Had Yugoslavia remained united, three of these states (possibly four, depending on how you see the Serbian-Montenegrin relationship) would have been ready to join the European Union. Yugoslavia was, after all, the most prosperous and liberal of Europe’s Communist states. The Wars of Yugoslav Secession changed this. Ukraine and Moldova might be culturally European, and extraordinarily dependent on the future EU-25 for whatever prosperity and stability they might enjoy, but their very desperation makes them unsuitable candidates. Turkey has tried to get into the European Union for forty decades and is only now getting up to the minimal standards of membership.

And then, there’s Morocco. As Uganda’s New Vision has noted, Morocco’s government and people are quite eager to distance themselves from Africa.

This land of 30.5 million, whose coastline is washed by both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, is geographically misplaced in Africa, so its people love to think.

It could as well have been designated part of Europe, being separated from Spain by just the seven-mile wide Strait of Gibraltar. Though racially considered an Arab land, half of its population speaks French as their mother tongue. Spanish, the other colonial language, is widely spoken too.

For the better part of the 38 years during which Hassan was in power, he was convinced Morocco rightly belonged to Europe so much that the country’s policies were decided not in Rabat but in Paris and Madrid.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Randy McDonald

February 27, 2004 at 9:49 pm

Posted in Assorted

[NON-BLOG] Generic Update

Things have gone nicely. The weekly English grad students’ coffee hour was enjoyable. Too, I was able to vet my proposal for my final paper in my Laurence Sterne class (the relationship of Yorick, in A Sentimental Journey, to France and French culture as a sympathetic yet English observer), and go for a swim in the PEC. Then came, in the evening, a Kingston livejournalers’ get-together in the Sleepless Goat. (That link, incidentally, leads to pictures. I’m the guy with dark hair, glasses, and a goatee.) Today was slow, but Fight Club, now.

Tomorrow, me and a few friends will go see Monster. Aileen Wuornos‘ story is oddly captivating, if only because it shows what some people on the margins of society can become, in rather graphic and horrifying detail. Too, business networking skills hosted Thursday the 4th in the evening at Dupuis Hall by Catherine Bell.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 27, 2004 at 8:42 pm

Posted in Assorted

Written by Randy McDonald

February 27, 2004 at 9:57 am

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A Case of Bad Argumentation

Shmuley Boteach, in the Jerusalem Post, on South African opinions towards Israel, suggests that “[f]ar from being a white, colonial settlement, the establishment of Israel is analogous to the case of American blacks who had been forcibly removed from Africa returning to create Liberia.”

If only he knew what Liberia was actually like.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 26, 2004 at 11:10 am

Posted in Assorted

[ARTICLE] Islamic Democrats and Human Rights

“Thou shalt not kill”

Feb 19th 2004 | ANKARA
From The Economist print edition

The mosques at last proclaim a woman’s right to live

A SHARP new message will soon be delivered to the 15m men who gather every Friday in mosques all over Turkey to imbibe the latest spiritual guidance, on anything from foreign policy to personal cleanliness, from the country’s state-appointed prayer leaders. Worshippers will be told that “honour killing”—the murder by men of female relatives deemed to have besmirched the family’s moral standing (for such heinous crimes as going to the cinema with a man who is neither husband nor kin)—is not just a breach of the law. Such acts are also a sin against God, the preachers will say: they contravene the Prophet’s teaching on clemency.

The idea of using Muslim sermons to stamp out one of most grisly practices of traditional society, of which dozens of cases still occur every year, belongs to Ali Bardakoglu, the new head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate. This is a state institution which reflects Turkey’s paradoxical mix of official secularism and popular piety. Its job involves micro-managing religious life and telling preachers what to say.

The directorate’s new emphasis on protecting women has cheered western-minded Turks. When the current mildly Islamist government came to power, liberals and feminists feared that this powerful agency might start pedalling backwards. But Mr Bardakoglu amazed women’s groups by seeking their help in penning a homily in time for International Women’s Day on March 8th; and the stark warning against “honour killing” is among the results. “It’s revolutionary,” says Halime Guner, of Flying Broom, one of the movements consulted by Mr Bardakoglu.

Read more (if you’ve a subscription to The Economist).

Written by Randy McDonald

February 26, 2004 at 10:57 am

Posted in Assorted

A quote from a friend doing her practicum for her B.Ed in Alaska

The best reason to begin and end your trip in the Southeast is the scenery. Few places in the world have the spectacular views found here. Rugged snowcapped mountains rise steeply fromt he water to form sheer-sided fjords embelished by cascading waterfalls. ice-blue glaciers that begin amoung the highest peaks fan out into valleys of dark green Sitka spruce and melt into wilderness waters supporting whales, sea lions, harbour seals and abundant salmon.
Lonely Planet, Alaska, p.122

Written by Randy McDonald

February 25, 2004 at 1:57 am

Posted in Assorted