Late spring roundup

Recital finished in April. The program was 1.5 hours and very physically demanding. Never doing that again. I finished all my coursework—including the final project for a course that meets so infrequently I forgot I was in it—and played an obscene number of other concerts. Then, because I hate myself and secretly enjoy seeing myself suffer, I decided to write an essay for a music pedagogy competition rather than take some time to recover. My rationale was it’s an easy $1000 if it happens to win, and I need either an E-flat clarinet or a saxophone. Probably it’ll never see the light of day outside of clarinet pedagogy circles, where it will be roundly mocked. But the joke’s on all of you because I had to give up the copyright.

This is a roundabout way of saying I graduated. I walked across the stage yesterday and now have my B.Mus. in clarinet performance. Now getting the distressing thoughts that everyone must get at this moment: how can I support myself without getting a job in the salt mines? The next year is pretty much set at this point but I can’t help but worry.

I had my first ever hard drive failure, and it happened to the newest hard drive in my computer: a 1TB Seagate, bought at a time when the $20 difference between a Seagate and a WD was insurmountable (Seagate has by far the highest failure rate). The old drive is still intermittently useable, so I didn’t lose any files even though I’m not very good about backing up data.

My new drive is a 3TB WD, which brings its own problems: apparently, as a way of coercing people into upgrading, Microsoft decided not to support 3TB volumes in Vista and 32-bit Windows 7. Since I still use Vista due to poverty and inertia, this means I can’t actually use a chunk of my hard drive space. Or at least I can’t use a 3TB bootable volume; I may be able to do something else with the remaining space.

I updated my resume and applied for a zillion new jobs, and have heard from maybe three of them. I’ve always had terrible luck with getting jobs. When I follow the conventional wisdom, printing out a load of resumes and hustling to various customer service-oriented places, I get a lot of fake smiles and never hear back from anyone. I’ve only ever been hired by or even interviewed for jobs I found and applied for online. Maybe this is because I’m not a very friendly person.

There also seems to be no logic to who hires me and who doesn’t—I had no trouble getting a job in the U of M Libraries, which pays quite well, but have never managed to get so much as an interview at McDonalds. Even call centres are a crapshoot. Anyway, I will be returning to the Manitoban for the coming year as copy editor and will likely be doing various other things as well, which means I still won’t know how to answer when someone asks me where I work.

I played Just Cause 2, which my brother introduced to me on a lark and which hooked me in minutes. It’s sort of like Infamous with a little more detail and a much more inviting sense of humour. You play as Rico “Scorpio” Rodriguez, voiced by a Serbian crack-addict doing a Pacino impression, and try to topple the communist dictatorship on the island of Panau by causing chaos—which amounts to breaking anything you can.

You have unlimited parachutes and grappling hooks, the latter of which can grab almost anything. The physics operate on cartoon logic—if you’re falling from a great height, you can use your grappling hook to pull you to the ground without injury. And the military hardware. Goddamn, the military hardware.

I’ve been busy with a musical project that I hope to reveal here in a couple days. It’s something just a little off the wall, and if I’m being honest the time spent doing it has been more valuable to me than the finished product is likely to be to anyone else. But I think it’s neat.

I also recently got round to Mad Max: Fury Road, which is absolutely everything you’ve been told it is. Interesting how the explicitly feminist slant of this movie fits into the overall slant of the series. It’s gruesome, and a lot more hard-hitting than anything I’ve seen in theatres recently. Themes of bondage and domination are closely bound up with body horror. Ultimately it’s an optimistic film.

Things move fast and some bits are as visceral as a punch to the gut, but Miller has a Brucknerian sense of pacing and architecture, and a loving craftsman’s sense of how to render the fantastic on screen. I recently rewatched The Terminator, which includes some primitive special effects and some rather unsubtle alternation between shots of Schwarzenegger and shots of a vaguely Schwarzenegger-looking dummy. But even with the stop-motion stutter of the fully revealed T-101 at the end, the robot still looks more realistic than today’s CGI creations. Miller appears to have gone light on the CGI in Fury Road; a lot of the movie was done at 60 MPH with cars that they actually built. And the payoff is incredible.

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