Friday, March 30, 2012

Y is for...Yawn

Here's an extremely uncharacteristic blog post for you about a book that made me yawn!

For school, I had to read the book Journey for Justice by Mike McIntyre. Now I have to write a blog post about it. But don't fret, I'll try to make it interesting for you. And besides, it's high time I wrote something meaningful (it's worth 15 marks!) and it's high time you read something meaningful (you dummy!)

Journey for Justice is a true crime novel about the Candace Derksen case, a Winnipeg girl who went missing in 1984. The case went cold until 2007, when really cool computers that test DNA and do other cool science stuff progressed to a point where DNA evidence held up in court. But hey, don't take my word for it; go here and learn more about the case, you dummy.

I enjoyed this book for all the wrong reasons. Well, actually I enjoyed it for one main reason: I can't read.

Haha just kidding, yes I can. But I hadn't read a book in an embarrassingly long time, and I'm pretty sure the last true crime book I read centered around a couple brothers, last name Hardy. So... I was due.

Once I had rediscovered the magic of reading, I didn't think this book was very good. Typos were abundant, time and place was occasionally unclear, people and memories felt valorized, and quite honestly, it felt like a book written about something that happened 30+ years ago. Before you get smart and tell me it WAS about something that happened 30+ years ago, allow me to explain.

I had no feeling for time in this story. The case began in '84 but I never got any indication of that through the story's details. Yes it was stated, but not enough historical context was given about things like the reaction of police, political landscape, or even the city of Winnipeg during the 80's. A large part of Winnipeg is in this book because of the effect the Derksen case had on the city, but what kind of city Winnipeg was at the time? I have no idea.

For a number of my classmates, the Derksen family's faith was one of the sitting ducks of the book's "issues". The Derksen's are very religious and they depended on faith a great deal during their awful tragedy. I was surprised how much that aspect of the book resonated. This family was going through an unthinkable amount of pain after their daughter simply never came home from school one day, but the level of compassion and selflessness that Wilma Derksen (Candace's mother) maintained during it was incredible. I can see how someone may say the book was too religious, but in this instance I didn't think it was. Mainly because of how much it affected one of the main character's, Wilma Derksen.

I sat in on a seminar by Mike McIntyre and Wilma Derksen after reading the book.

Mike seemed very similar to the voice he writes in the Winnipeg Free Press. Scattered, explicative and intelligent. Running off on a tangent that will undoubtedly make people forget what he was talking about, but being educated on every damn word of it. His relationship with Wilma seemed genuine

Wilma was the mold they began making grandmothers from. Sweet, patient, and a voice as soft as her sweater. I couldn't believe this is what a woman who lived 30 years with a missing daughter looked like. I would have forgiven her if her resting facial expression was a frown, given that I had just read such a personal and painful story about her. But instead I found myself wanting to hear more from her because I wanted to know how she stayed so reasonable through it all.

True crime is an interesting topic because, of course, it will never run dry of topics and, of course, they are always stories about misery. But I think Mike McIntyre showed in this book that telling a victim's story while adhering to facts is still a popular template to write a true crime novel from. The Derksen family suffered the most from this tragedy and therefore the book is written out of their camp, while the crazy guy who still won't admit to the murder is described by several medical and psychological reports. He was being fingered before the second chapter.

I suggest McIntyre's articles in the Winnipeg Free Press rather than this book. Also, I would suggest reading a book once in a while because it can make even the most depressing story you have to read because your instructors told you to, enjoyable.


Monday, March 19, 2012

X is for... Xzibit

 I sat down with foul-mouthed, formerly-relevant rapper Xzibit for a little Q and A. At times it was a little tricky to get a word in edgewise, but overall, he had some interesting things to say. Enjoy.

Pint of McGuinness: Good morning X, how are you today?

Xzibit: Yeah, ladies and gentleman
            Broadcasting live to you and yours

Actually no we won't be broadcasting this, but what are your thoughts on a podcast?

It's Mr. X to the Z, Xzibit
Yeah, bounce it
Come on

Hm...okay. Well why don't you start off by giving us some of the influences of your career? Who inspires you?

The first day of the rest of my life
X stand behind the mic like Walter Cronkite
That's interesting, I bet few other rappers would cite a tv newsreader from the 60's when talking about their influences. What's a typical day like for you?

Y'all keep the spotlight
I'm keeping my rhymes tight
Lose sight of what you believe
And call it a night

Right, I can only imagine how much work it is to keep your rhymes tight. Alright, time to go to some questions from my readers. Jessie from Indiana asks: "Dear Xzibit: What is your favourite drink?"

This ain't the light-weight, cake mix shit
That you're used to
Teflon territory you just can't shoot through
You gon shoot who? (Who?)
Not even on your best day
Rollin' the Wild West way, givin' it up
Leavin' the whole world stuck not givin' a f**k
Laid in the cut now we break through in the rut
Hennesy and Orange Juice baby fill up a cup
You strike me as a pulp guy, am I wrong?

Umm, yeah I guess I like pulp. But I hope that answers your question Jessie. Next, Mark from Halifax asks: "Hey X, do you have a girlfriend?"

Quick to grab Mary Jane by the butt and squeeze
Alright, sexual harassment isn't really appropriate for this sort of place so I'm going to have to ask you to...ohhh Mary Jane means
Loosen up, let your hair down, and join the festivities
Overcrowd the house like lockdown facilities
Bitches be quick to give me brains while I post the range
Going up and down my d**k like the stock exchange

Ok, ok, I think that answers Mark's question. And X, I'm gonna have to ask you to keep the language a little more appropriate.

X, Rearrange the whole game with my rugged sound
X, Won't even say your own name when I come around
X, Stay on top but remain from the underground
X to the Z and we all in the family

Good, I'm glad you...agree? What is making rapper's money like? Is it really like all the rims and chains we see in the videos?

Ever since Xzibit has spit, been on some pimp shit
Approach every woman like a potential mistress
Shine bright, make sure that X stay tight
Cause tonight I might meet my next X wife
Mr. Big Chief Reefa, Xzibit use his d**k like a Visa
I run it through and money come out

Wow, dick Visas? That, I can honestly say, I've never heard of before. How do you...Do people ever...actually you know what, never mind, we'll just move on. Why don't we talk about some of your beefs with other rappers. I know you and The Game didn't always get along...

Runnin' your mouth, I'll have somebody run in your house
Ravel your spouse and have a little fun on the couch
Now you know that it was bound to happen
I came to give you what you lackin'
Whenever you hear them other ni**as rappin
Rockin' chains, stadium, paladiums, cracked craniums
My whole skeleton is dipped in titanium
Drop tops sittin' on twenties
Using rappers like crash test dummies
Stackin' real estate and money
It's funny how things change overnight
When you thinking right
I beat the odds like Ike beat on his first wife

I'm pretty sure I just heard you say that your skeleton is dipped in titanium. I think you said those words. And I think that's impossible. But I'll take your word on it and move on. Brent from Edmonton wants to know: "Are you hardcore?"

What an event?
We hardcore 100%
Making it stick, Los Angeles proudly presents
The real deal, how does it feel?
No special effects
Yank the chain off of your neck
Demand the respect

How did becoming rich and famous change your relationship with the people around you? 

Now all your conversations sound strange to me
It be like everybody around me done changed but me
I stand alone on my own two feet
Stagger tracks, strangle the beat
Restless no time for sleep
Ni**as be weak, I'm concrete like Benjamin Greet

According to Google, Benjamin Greet was a Shakespearean actor and director who died in 1936 so...what the hell do you mean? 

It's a very thin line between a foe and a friend
 Straight to the chair
(Not these ni**as again)
Come back, bounce in the spot and slide right in

...fair enough. What do your plans look like for the near future? 

I ain't trying to see nothing but progress, regardless
Home of the heartless, move right, remain cautious
Represent nothing but the hustle and struggle
Hennesy, rock plenty of ice, making a double, now SCREAM

Once again, I have no idea what that means but I'll write it down and hopefully everyone who reads this will understand. I should also mention that Snoop Dogg has joined the interview and is acting... pretty weird. Snoop, do you have anything to say about your friend Xzibit?

Snoop Dogg
So there you have it; A-B-C, D-P-G-C
X to the motherf*****n Z
Mr. Xuberant, Xtravagant, Xtrodinary, Xciting, X-a-lotta
X-O with a little bit of Xtasy
X-ing your b****-*ss out if you tryin to test the G
And what's the recipe? Xcalibur weaponary
And we shoot Xceptionally
That there is hot- X marks the spot?
F*** naw, X spots the marks
Xclamation point, ni**az!

Alright, I think that should probably conclude this horrible interview. A video of this can be seen here: