Saturday, May 25, 2013

Who are you? Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

Three choices: return home to settle down; keep calm and carry on; or what’s in the box. What would you choose?

Batman had said, “no matter what, you are still you.”

But I didn’t feel that way at the time, nor for a long time thereafter. I’ve since put in a lot of hard work to get to a good place, and for the most part I am there. I know who I am, I know where I came from and where I’m going, and every nine days out of ten life is simply superb.  And yet, why every now and then do I still feel so … tortured?

I know nothing.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Winter is Coming

A few gems from Game of Thrones: The Exhibition:
The King in the North
Mad King Igor Targaryen
Pensive Paul Baratheon, King of Westeros and the First of His Name
A few months back, my good friend and fellow mad scientist, Igor, paid me a lovely visit and we partook in much fun and adventure. So I decided to carefully make my way over to the original cool, Holland, to return the favour. Our journey took us from Utrecht to Rotterdam to Amsterdam to Westeros and back again.

Tyrion's Armour! (and other nobodies as well.)
Dragon Eggs!
A Treasure Trove of GoT Goodies! Check out those fingers ...

It was a total blast; I ate deliciously terrible food, met some really cool people, worked out at a great gym, and ... well, remember gents: what happened in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam! 

A Lovely Dress for a Wedding. A Red Wedding.
Map of Best Coffee Shops in Westeros.
Lastly, this is what happens to those who break our Amsterdam pact! (But, you know, if you happen to run into Pauline again, say hi for me.)

The actual head of Sean Bean. Great actor. You will be missed.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bil and Norm's Excellent Adventure

The ‘stralians are taking over Paris! Whoa!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Topics in Optimal Transportation

Yours truly and Cédric Villani
Tonight I was lucky enough to encounter someone whom I admire very much; if not a personal hero then as close to one as there can be: Professor Cédric Villani, recipient of the 2010 Fields Medal for his work on the Boltzmann equation, and author of one of my all-time favourite books, Topics in Optimal Transportation. This book provides a beautiful exposition of the Kantorovich functional and Kantorovich duality, subjects that have profoundly influenced the direction of my research and my life. I was actually a little nervous, as the people I typically admire for their talents in one area turn out to be ... disappointing ... in other areas of life - Orson Scott Card comes to mind. Thankfully, Professor Villani turned out to be nothing short of charming, intelligent, and friendly in his public discussion with the French artist Bartabas on the subject of creativity, including interactions with the audience. He even gave a five-minute explanation of his work on the Boltzmann equation. As if that wasn’t cool enough, I think I also finally have the simple example I need to finish off the draft of my paper.

All in all, a good night.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


I met Nick and Bryn through a bit of happenstance and “the Canadian way”; if someone needs help, and all other things being equal you can help, then you help. It turned out to be a wonderfully pleasant experience; they are my kind of Canadian. Young artists - Nick in music and Bryn in theatre - they were able to bring a little piece of home to this weary Canuck expat simply by being their cheery, friendly selves. They were also consummate guests - cooking dinner, cleaning up, sharing interesting conversation, but also speaking in whispers when needed. My favourite moments were listening to Nick practice at night while I lay in bed drifting off to sleep.

Nick played an intimate show at a Parisian venue called Pop In with his good friends and fellow Canadian artists Jenny Berkel and Dave Simard. It was just the sort of show I used to see all the time back in my younger days. It took me back there, to those times, to hopes and dreams and thoughts of what might come to pass, and what actually did. I don’t know much about music, but I do know good music does that for you; it makes you feel. What particularly makes Nick stand out - aside from talent - is the adorable banter between songs. You simply have to the check this guy out to know what I mean.

You can get Nick’s albums here. The best part? HE’S SELLING CASSETTE TAPES! How cool is that? I made him promise to send me one. In the meantime, I bought the digital versions of his albums, and truthfully, I’ve been playing them constantly for myself and my friends. Give ‘em a listen. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Invincible Iron Man

The Invincible Iron Nose
Iron Man 3 is the Army of Darkness of the Iron Man franchise. You could easily imagine Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark saying, “gimme some sugar, baby.” The film focuses on Stark as he battles nightmares of nose-adorned faceplates and "Gandhi", and struggles in his relationships with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts and ... a little boy (but not at all in a creepy way). The rapport between Downey Jr. and the little boy, Ty Simpkins, really works; in fact, I could watch a whole other movie with just the two of them bantering and nary an iron suit in sight.

Is it the best movie you’ll ever see? No. But it sure is a helluva lot of fun. Go see it.