Archive for September, 2011

Breakaway (TheByteScene Review)

1 Poorly-written-and-poorly-executed-slap-shot out of 4

Before I begin with the problems this film had, I’d like to take a moment to say that it is single-handedly one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen and while I wouldn’t recommend it, if you are forced to watch it, you won’t want to run out of the theatre screaming for a refund.

Breakaway is the story of the young Sikh male Rajveer Singh, played absolutely terribly by Vinay Virmani (who is new enough in the industry that he doesn’t actually have a proper IMDB page) and his dreams of being a hockey superstar. Of course, his father doesn’t approve of his dreams, especially since he went against Sikh tradition and cut his hair, and instead feels that young Rajveer should focus more on his job at Speedy Singhs, his uncle’s delivery business. The main premise of the film is relatively straightforward, but it’s also quite interesting watching the film’s director and writers absolutely butcher the basic plot by adding in a convoluted marriage subplot (starring Canadian-comedian-superstar Russell Peters ), and several other “distractions” to ruin the movie. Along the way, Rajveer encounters difficulties from his family, falls in love (with a Canadian law student, played by Camille Bell), attempts to make his country take notice of him and his culture and, in a roundabout manner prove everyone ever wrong by becoming a hockey superstar, who wins the coveted Hyundai Cup (which is a real thing, by the way).

The plot is incredibly simple to the point that the writers seem to have thrown in padding along the way, just to make sure the movie has a decent runtime. At one point, the film seemed to be taking a cultural route, showcasing the racism that Rajveer and his team has to endure, all the while juxtaposing the racism displayed by his own culture. I feel that the writers wanted that to go somewhere, but it really doesn’t. Instead, it’s played to comedic effect where the Canadians make fun of the Sikhs, the Sikhs complain about the Canadians and nothing is resolved along the way. Seriously, there’s a point in the film where Rajveer’s father goes on a tangent about ties and things invented by “White men” and, while hilarious, it leads absolutely nowhere.

Therein lies the film’s most glaring flaw: there are scenes that are shot just for comedic effect that go absolutely nowhere. Another example being a restaurant scene early on, where Rajveer and Melissa (Camille Bell’s character) meet in an Indian restaurant and share a meal together. It’s Camille’s first time eating Indian food, so naturally she has to accidentally get an incredibly spicy meal and the film then cuts to the next scene. The problem with the aforementioned scene isn’t that it had no place in the movie ( because it actually didn’t have a place), but that it didn’t go anywhere. One moment the characters are here, and the next they’re somewhere else doing something different. It seems like, at times, the movie and the actors have no idea what they want to be doing, and it shows; Russell Peters’s character being an example.

Peters plays Sonu, the fiance of Rajveer’s sister, who comes to Canada to marry her. His part is very simple to execute and it’s messed up entirely because the audience doesn’t know how to react to Sonu. Apparently Sonu and Rajveer don’t like each other because Sonu wants to run Speedy Singhs, but, even though it shows, the reason doesn’t become apparent until the resolution. Up until that point, it appears that Sonu is acted for no reason and there isn’t any reason to not like him; yes, he’s annoying and selfish, but there isn’t any development to him. It must be mentioned that, if portrayed well, characters such as Sonu can be used very well, but Peters sleeps through his entire performance, choosing instead to make poor jokes, all of which allude to his stand-up routines (unfortunately for the audience, the allusions aren’t funny either).

Though, if one discusses Peters’s unfunny selection, they cannot avoid the absolute trainwreck that lies within the dialogue. The dialogue was absolutely attrocious, containing every cliché, every typical line, every joke, every comment, every remark, and every poorly timed reference that one would expect a movie such as Breakaway to have. The early scenes where Rajveer is trying to woo Melissa are examples, as Rajveer tries every single clichéd line and falls flat each time.

An interesting thing to note, however, is the film’s cinematography; using a blend of traditional Hollywood and Bollywood techniques, the film really is the best of both worlds. It’s even more interesting in that scenes that should be traditionally Western are shot using Eastern techniques and vice-verse. While there are certain exceptions, for the most part, the film is a mix of the two and it’s interesting to watch because the movie makes it incredibly obvious. I didn’t find this intrusive, however, and the cinematography is the film’s strong points. Though, for a sports movie, there’s an amazing lack of sports scenes. Apart from a skating shot to show Rajveer’s inner struggles, which are few and far between, the only real hockey scenes are the beginning and the end sequences. Suffice it to say, this isn’t a traditional sports movie, which, if made as such, would’ve definitely made the experience far more tolerable.

Even more surprising than the cinematography is the selection of actors. The film has a blend of Eastern and Western stars though, for some reason Rob Lowe is in the film and Drake makes an appearance. Not to mention Ludacris, who shows up at the end to, obviously, sing an English-Punjabi song, alongside Indian actor Akshay Kumar. It amazed me because Rob Lowe is actually a central character, he’s not just a cutaway gag character who’s on screen just to collect a pay cheque. What amazed me more was that Lowe really tried his best to give his character depth and emotion; what amazed the most about this film is that Lowe does a surprisingly good job considering what he has to work with.

My biggest problem, however, is that I laughed. I laughed a lot, because (apart from Russell Peters, most of the time) the jokes were funny, the situations were absurd, and the characters were likeable for a long enough period of time that I didn’t grow sick of them. Even Peters’s character, who was very confusing, had a simple, touching scene where he shows that he truly loves his bride-to-be in addition to her family, and her cousin, and that really helped bring the movie together as a journey of dissension and reconciliation. The disappointing part is that, despite these very rare moments, the movie’s plot is all over the place, the dialogue is atrocious, the acting is terrible, and the movie feels like it’s crawling along at random paces, with absolutely no idea what it wants to do.

Though I certainly can’t criticize the movie for knowing where it wants to end up, because it’s obvious from the start of the film that the movie is catering to a very specific niche; specifically, those who saw last year’s Score: A Hockey Musical, and who felt that they’d want to sit through yet another poorly made Canadian hockey film. Oh, I’m very sorry, did you know that this film takes place in Toronto, Canada? You didn’t? Well, guess what? It does.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!


Batman and Superman; Symbols of Peace, Hope and Change

Despite my best intentions to not draw a dividing line between the so-called audience and myself, I feel that I cannot withhold my opinion on who the better superhero is between Batman and Superman. I can imagine that any reader right now is experiencing an almost unprecedented surge of emotion and an even greater urge to furiously type out a message defending their preference, and to those people I say: wait. Wait for me to finish and then write back in the comments section.

I joke, of course, because the Batman-Superman debate is not only DC’s longest standing argument, but also one of the most pointless. Though, it’s been quite some time since I’ve written anything truly pointless, and I feel that it’s about time.

Suffice it to say, my choice between the two is Batman, but not for the general reasons; the money, the gadgets, the butler, and the physical limitations he pushes as a human were not the decisive factors, but the fact that Batman is a symbol of hope and change, while Superman is a symbol of peace. I can understand the confusion because, for those who don’t keep up with the DC continuity (or those who simply don’t care), Batman and Superman are nothing more than comic book characters created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane and Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, respectively. More importantly, to anyone who doesn’t have an interest in the world of comic books, DC, or animation, they might not understand that Batman and Superman are no longer the mascots of DC but are, instead, symbols of two very opposite forces of good.

While Batman skulks and wanders the rooftops of Gotham City at night, Superman patrols the streets of Metropolis all day long. Superman is an allegory for Jesus, being sent from the heavens by a supernatural force to help mankind, while Batman is significantly less of an allegory for Christ and is more so an example of the power of a single individual. Suffice it to say, Batman and Superman represent two differing ideals within the minds of humanity and it’s due to this reason that Superman is not the better hero between the two of them. Notice, for a moment, that I used the term “better hero” and not “stronger hero.” Superman is the stronger hero and, given any battle, would emerge victorious from almost any fight with Batman within moments; disregarding Batman’s Kryptonite supply, of course; because in the hypothetical island where Batman and Superman are forced to fight without any help from gadgetry or sidekicks, Batman would nothing more than a scared child in a bat suit while Superman would still be Kal-El, son of Jor-El and Lara, and the Last Son of Krypton.

Therein lies my first point regarding Batman’s supremacy: while Superman is the all around Uber-Mench, capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound, outrunning speeding bullets, and overpowering steaming locomotives, Batman cannot. The character of Batman is nothing more than a tortured boy, merely trying his best to adapt to a harsh world that killed his parents and forced itself upon him at an early age. Superman, comparatively is not a devastated representation of our inner child; he is an alien who was sent to Earth with his powers fully developed and intact (barring retcons, of course) with the sole purpose of being Earth’s saviour. Superman is the representation of our desires to be the intelligent jock in a universe that treats as like the weak and defenseless nerd. Granted, his father’s expectations were a bit high, but compared to the more relatable background of Batman (a scared child trying to adapt), it is far more difficult to relate to Superman than it is Batman.

Interestingly enough, the ability to relate to the character of Batman is very important when analyzing his superiority over Superman. The desire to want to be like Batman (excluding the horrific childhood) is not just an out of continuity desire; it’s not just the comic book nerds who want to be like Batman, but also the people of Gotham. Batman is a symbol of hope; he is the one constant against crime that can make a difference; the caped crusaders is the one member of an otherwise powerless organism and he is the only one capable of doing absolutely anything about his surroundings. Simply put, when it comes to a choice between standing up and making a change, Batman is the character people look up to, for the sole reason that he is capable of living out the fantasy of every human being in existence; Batman can do something about the evil, scum, and injustice around him.

Superman, however, is also capable of making a difference and the truth is that, when compared to the fact that all of Batman’s enemies exist only because of the Dark Knight, Superman is better at solving the problems he sees. Though, therein lies the one fault of Superman; he doesn’t inspire hope, quite the contrary because he inspires helplessness in those around him. Whenever something bad happens in a Superman story, the people of Metropolis immediately rise up, take a stand, make their voices heard and scream for help from Superman. The people of Metropolis are incapable of doing anything without their beloved hero much the same way that a person making a peanut butter and jam sandwich is capable of completing the trifecta without a third topping; it’s good to get the first two steps right, but it’s the third option that makes the greatest difference.

I must make it abundantly clear that I’m not saying that the people of Metropolis do not want to be like Superman and I am also not condoning the people of Gotham for taking a form of vigilante justice (because the truth is that Batman is nothing more than a vigilante). What I am saying, however, is that Batman inspires people to stand up and do something about the evil and villainy, while Superman allows them to do nothing more than stand up and scream for help. Batman, even in the most basic of forms, inspires social change; even if the people of Gotham just write letters to the mayor, or rally for a less corrupt form of government, they are still ultimately more proactive than the people of Metropolis, who’s only rally cry begins with a “Help” and concludes with an “Us Superman.”

This is my ultimate, and most basic point, Batman is a symbol of hope and social change, while Superman is a symbol of peace. Peace is good, but it is a fleeting concept; hope and social change, however, are eternal symbols and while Batman might be the Dark Knight of Gotham, he is still ultimately a better hero than Superman. On a side note, that’s what Gordon meant in The Dark Knight when he said that “Batman is not the hero Gotham wants, but the one it needs right now.” Gotham needed (and will always need) a symbol of hope, something they can use as a rallying point to stand up and force social change. Interestingly enough, the people of Gotham are metaphors for every society, in that every society needs a symbol of hope and change to cling to because otherwise we look to our ineffectual heroes and cry every single time a school yard bully ruins our economy and spends our hard earned money trying to fight with another, equally cruel bully from another school district.

The world doesn’t need a man to dress up as a giant bat to fight mob bosses as a way to therapy his mother and father issues. What it needs is the symbol of that bat-costume-wearing-man trying to do something about the mob bosses. The world doesn’t need people like Superman, to lean on and cry for help to; the world needs people like Batman, to force social change and to provide hope, even when all seems lost. That is why Batman is the better hero, not because he’s stronger, or faster, or because he can fly, but because, when it comes down to it, Batman is the only hero that’s actually able to make other people do something. Batman, unlike other heroes, will only be Batman, until the people of Gotham don’t need him to be.

As always, this has been TheBytePost of your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!


Problems; A Discussion of Teeth, Characterization, and Being Someone Else

Today, I have a problem. Though, that’s not an accurate way to start a conversation, or any discussion really, because I’ve found that when it comes to my life and me, I frequently have a problem. Due to a list of poor nutritional choices, in addition to the ignorance of medical advice, coupled with a helpful amount of bad oral genetics, I have to wear a retainer for the next two to five months, for example. The doctor wasn’t very helpful in telling me how long I’d have to wear the torture device, because I was informed that my treatment would continue for a “few” more months. Notice the word “few” in quotations, because I fear that my doctor has finally come to the realization that my teeth are incredibly resilient to foreign bodies, are slightly hostile towards change, and are also impervious to any form of harm. I’m not joking when I say that despite my entire body being incredibly weak and frail (staying indoors for years can do that to a person), my teeth are quite literally made from adamantium.

Though, my teeth aren’t the only problem I have today; there’s also the massive amount of untreatable pain I’m in because my teeth are quite literally being shifted from a spot they’ve held for over two and a half years (treatment began approximately four years ago). I say untreatable because Advil, Tylenol, and ibuprofen doesn’t seem to do very much when it comes to the pain I’m currently dealing with. Suffice it to say, I’ve come to believe that my teeth have gone through the exact mutation that the wanderer-warrior hero Wolverine had undergone prior to leaving his home and beginning his adventurous life as the mutant who is very good at what he does, despite his line of work being entirely undesirable.

Well, that’s not quite right, because I say Wolverine is a wanderer-warrior, but the fact of the matter is that, due to years upon years of character development, he is no longer a character with a single dimension. Thanks to portrayals by various voice, and live, actors, in addition to art provided by the comic book industry’s finest (and the animation industry’s best), Wolverine is no longer the wanderer-warrior that he once was. Not anymore anyway. Allow me to explain; under traditional heroic archetypes, Wolverine falls under the categories of both the “wanderer’s” heading and the “warrior’s” heading. To anyone who isn’t aware, traditional heroes fall under five or six different archetypes: the orphan, the martyr, the wanderer, the warrior, the magician, and sometimes the innocent.

I’d like to point out that up until a few hours ago, I too had no idea that traditional heroes fell under only six archetypes; I personally believed that heroes, characters, and even humans for that matter, had only 12 or 13 base archetypes. On a side note, if anyone is wondering what each of the six headings mean, look up the definition of each of those words in a dictionary (digital, or in print) and you’ll have educated yourself in a manner significantly faster than one I could provide. Suffice it to say, once one removes the various differences between each archetype (small matters such as goals, fears, spirituality, and intellect) they really are nothing more than cardboard cutouts of their predetermined headings.

The warriors fight, the orphans have no parents (and are very sad), the martyrs sacrifice themselves at the mere mention of danger, the wanderer looks around for meaning in a lot of different places, and the magician does a bit of magic, all the while acting like a cross between frilly and fun Dumbledore (from the Harry Potter series), and somber and serious Gandalf (grey or white; from the Lord of the Rings series). They are very rarely anything more than their archetypes and, once again, if they appear three dimensional, then that’s only because they fall under more than one heading. Good characters, after all, are only good because they are interesting or relatable. Therefore, logically speaking, giving a character more than a single emotion, or thought pattern, is how they become more than just a character.

Even when characters are really nothing more than cardboard cutouts (as is common in the “group of four” in television, or movies) so long as they are interesting, the viewer, or reader, has no problem with them. Interestingly enough, the concept of characterization is not my third problem today. Quite the contrary because I feel that characterization is incredibly important and it’s even more important to limit the kinds of characters that are created. Not because of a weakened intellect of the viewership, or readership, but because after a while, all characters begin a repeating cycle where two characters from seemingly unrelated sources begin to look and act alike (the “group of four” is a common example because the ladies from Sex and the City have the same characteristics as the titular reptiles from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; albeit, in an incredibly roundabout way). Additionally, the fact that my recent articles have all had a relatively literary twist due to my reading and critiquing of Northrop Frye is also not my third problem.

No, my third problem is that, in recent years, many of us have come to believe that we can be classified under the same literary characteristics that we’ve come to know and enjoy for the past however-many-amount-of-years. To put this incredibly simply: I am not a reptile-ninja, you aren’t a character from a popular 17th century Russian novel and your friend is definitely not part of the Jonas Brothers, even though we may act in a similar fashion to the aforementioned characters. My third problem, quite frankly, is that we’ve come to believe that human emotion and human behaviour can be quantified and that, more often than naught, we can take advantage of these quantities to understand and alter our own behaviour to suit what we believe is right or wrong. My third problem, amazingly enough, is that we’ve come to believe that we are capable of having a single dimension of both emotion and behaviour because, quite honestly, humans are more developed, and far more interesting, than the characters we read or watch on an almost daily basis.

I suppose the reason to all of this is actually an incredibly simple one: unless you were created by Kevin Eastman (and Peter Laird), written by Leo Tolstoy, or brought to popularity by Disney, you are not single dimensioned and any attempt to prove the contrary would lead to a series of emotional and behavioral revelations that any self respecting psychiatrist would be more than happy to discuss. I can understand the desire to turn away from one’s current surroundings and I can certainly understand wanting to be someone else and I can even understand wanting to run away from our own lives to be that other person, but the fact of the matter is that despite what we may believe, it’s impossible to quantify human emotion and it’s even harder to change ourselves to become more like a character from some form of media, no matter how simple the transition may be.

Even more troubling, to me at least, is the fact that I don’t have a solution to this problem and I fear that I never will. It’s not as easy as saying “be yourself,” yet it’s not as complicating as telling someone to be someone else. Perhaps it’s my youth (once again) and perhaps it’s my own attitude, but I find that it’s infinitely easier for someone to be themselves, than it is for someone to be someone else (I don’t mean acting, of course, because that ends once you’re off the stage). I suppose, one could say, it’s just another problem I have.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment, subscribe and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!


Acting Like Northrop Frye; Thoughts On “Real-Life” Trolls From An Avid Blogger

Of all the opinions I have of writers, artists, musicians, and their work, I feel that Frye is the one who I’ve been picking on the most lately. Don’t get me wrong, after writing my last article I made sure to reread The Educated Imagination properly. Moreover, I made sure to look at literature and writing from his point of view and I even made a habit of taking notes again, just so I could compare them to my earlier ones and see where the differences occurred. Sadly, however, I learnt that my problem isn’t that I don’t like Frye’s opinion, because I agreed with him a few more times during this read-through, and it’s certainly not that I think Frye’s uneducated, because he’s not. Trust me when I say that after really trying to form a connection with Frye and his words, I’ve come out a wiser and more developed person; Frye’s writing has that effect because he’s so well versed and because he genuinely knows what he’s talking about.

In fact, in terms of everything else that I’m going to say, you must understand and recognize that it’s not that I don’t like Frye, because I genuinely do. I just don’t like his tone, the way he writes, his condescension, his pretentiousness, and his overall “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitude. In his defence, however, the problems I’ve just listed are not specific to Frye but to anyone who makes a habit of giving opinion (I understand the irony, but if you’re still so inclined to complain and point out the humour and irony in my last phrase, do so in the comments). Romance novels, online therapy columns, radio therapy shows, televangelists, comedians who take themselves too seriously, and even characters such as Frasier Crane and Emma Lloyd (from Frasier and The Accidental Husband respectively) all have the same problems as Frye in his book; instead of offering opinion, they instead opt to offer advice.

The problem with making such a statement, however, is the same problem with listing two words and complaining about them; no matter how much I grovel and kick at the ground, because they’re words, the argument becomes a matter of semantics and etymology. To allow for a smoother reading, I’m going to be simplifying the two words down to their core tenants (I normally abhor such an action, but taking time into consideration, this is far faster; I digress once again). Opinion is offering a different point of view to the one already provided while advice is ignoring the other point of view entirely and instead opting for a more direct “I’m right about this because I know more than you” approach.

If the speaker doesn’t allow a counter argument and they choose to mask condescension and pretentiousness as a way to enforce and subdue foreign thought, it’s advice. If the speaker continues to speak and doesn’t even allow foreign thought, it’s advice. If the speaker has an extreme point of view that doesn’t allow for middle ground (you’re probably dealing with a tiger mother, but also) it’s advice. My problem with Frye is that he does all of those things and even more throughout his novel, and my biggest problem yet is that he’s allowed to. He’s Northrop Frye, one of the most educated and decorated literary critics of the 20th century (let alone the fact that he’s one of the most educated and decorated literary critics of all time) and it’s because of his vast knowledge and considerable experience that he’s allowed to speak in such a manner; under every circumstance, he’s deserved it. On a side note, the mere fact that I’ve been able to drone on for so long about my dislike of his character and overall writing style is evidence enough of his prowess, not to mention his years over me; he makes his readers think, he makes them disagree with him, he makes them agree with him, and he does everything that any good writer should: keep the readers interested long enough that they’ll leave with more thoughts in their mind than when they entered.

Up until now my complaints have been launched at a man who’s been dead for over 20 years. It should be abundantly clear that this article isn’t about Frye; it’s about the people who act like him because they believe that they have the education and experience to warrant such behaviour (do remember that despite my opinion of his so-called “advice” Frye is still infinitely wiser than I am and is, most likely, wiser than I will ever be). These are the individuals who flaunt their knowledge as if it’s a trophy or medal of their, often insubstantial, achievements; the critics who launch into a 15 minute speech about every minute detail that wasn’t up to par in the latest Winner the Pooh film (which was easily one of Disney’s best movies since their renaissance) just because they’ve seen Citizen Kane; the talkers who rant for hours about the lack of grace and tact in society all the while not letting anyone else contribute for fear that they may be disproven or, infinitely worse, “disgraced.” It’s the people who spend hours upon hours dissecting every intricate detail about someone’s height, weight, or body type just because they’ve seen a few episodes of Project Runway; that’s what truly and utterly irks me.

For a moment, I’d like to mention that, excluding the film, I’m guilty of each and every one of those actions; in the written word, however. Writing, whether in a magazine, on a blog, on a website, or even in the comments section of a YouTube video, allows one to “peddle” their advice, but it also allows others to provide counter arguments and their own opinions once the original writer is done. Yes, internet trolls are admittedly incredibly annoying, but so long as they keep their comments and complaints limited to Batman and Star Trek minutiae online, they are entirely tolerable. Once they leave the protection of their homes and online lives, the commenters, trolls, and enablers are all forced to become another part of society and are, therefore, forced to adhere to the convention that one does not ramble to their cashier about the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory that “Wasn’t that funny because Sheldon would never find a real mate anywhere in the real world…ever.” Assuming that they’re tolerable individuals outside of the internet to begin with, though that’s a matter for another time.

I suppose the point that I’m trying to make is that there is a noticeable difference between speaking one’s mind, and writing it. When speaking, we must be sure to follow conventions and if we don’t do so, we have to be prepared for the logical consequences; writing, on the other hand allows us to say what we want to say and it also insures that whomever is listening will do so without interruption (presumably, or hopefully rather, thinking about what you’re writing). Which is an incredibly significant point that many seem to forget; just because we have an opinion and we think we’re right, that doesn’t mean that we should spend hours defending that opinion during otherwise mindless discussions. The “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” principle applies to speech, and not to writing because in writing, anyone reading can close the book or magazine, or just close the window in their browser. When listening to someone deliver their opinion to you orally, especially in a relatively nonacademic situation, a person can’t just walk away, and they certainly can’t force the speaker to stop talking without using a stapler in many, slightly illegal, ways.

It’s not a matter of “Don’t say dumb things,” but a matter of “Control your opinion and let. It. Go.” I mentioned earlier that Frye keeps his readers thinking even after they’ve concluded reading his essays and lectures, and that’s exactly what internet trolls and letters to the editor allow us to do; vent or provide our opinions during otherwise impossible to speak situations. If you want to do that; if you have an opinion and you feel that it’s not heard, and if you feel that your opinion is worthwhile, then start a blog. Otherwise, just let it go, because it wasn’t important anyway and the people around you are not interested in having to deal with, or maintain a discussion, with a real life internet troll. Trust me, I’m a blogger, I know.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!


Breaking the Standards; An Apology to Northrop Frye

A few weeks ago I began reading a battle manga titled Shamo and while the premise is slightly convoluted, the characters extreme beyond all reasonable compare, the violence bloody, the social commentary obvious and expected; the action sequences are astoundingly well drawn and the overall feel of the manga is brilliant. Suffice it to say, it’s interesting; though a single line has been haunting me ever since I read it a few weeks ago: “Break the standards.” I can’t remember exactly which chapter it’s said in, and I certainly can’t remember which page it’s uttered on, but ever since reading the words, I’ve been forced to reconsider every notion of the universe I’ve held since antiquity.

The line isn’t exactly the most eloquent phrase to read and there have certainly been others that hold more power and presence and those are certainly ones that make more sense when read, but the line has been on my mind for the longest time. Allow me to explain; when the line is said, the main character Ryo Narushima is losing a karate match against an opponent with more resolve, greater technique and a higher level of popularity than his own. After fighting it out for a few rounds, all the while being sent back to his corner, Narushima’s coach offers no more advice than “Break the standards.” What happens next is only paralleled by Rocky in terms of its sheer audacity and absurdity; Narushima makes a comeback that can only be described as epic (or completely unimaginable, if one is trying to be more eloquent than I) and, even though he loses the fight in the end (in a stunning way, no less), he “Break the standards” in some convoluted and roundabout manner (it’s an amazing scene, but that doesn’t make the manga any better).

Before I continue, however, I must be allowed to make a rather slight confession. Ever since writing my last article (about the movie critic and doing something with one’s life instead of just prodding along) I have found it incredibly difficult to write anything. It’s actually quite remarkable because I’ve never experienced such a resounding wall of writer’s block before and it’s incredibly annoying knowing that something is so incredibly close, but so incredibly far. I’m not lying when I say that I’ve attempted to write this article 12 times now and this (in case anyone’s wondering) will be my final attempt at doing so. Not because I’m tired, but because if I don’t write something, I might just explode in a ball of annoyance. Under any normal circumstance, it has never been this difficult to write anything and it’s not that I don’t have ideas, it’s that I have too many. Or rather, I have too many ideas to decide on just one and when I try to pinpoint a single idea worth discussing or talking about, I hit a figurative brick wall. It’s not that I don’t have ideas, I cant state that enough because I do, it’s just that whenever I try to sit down and write something, whatever comes up appears insincere and fluffy (two things that I can’t stand my writing sounding like).

Apart from that issue, however, other problems I’ve noticed are an inability to match tenses (that being said, my verbs don’t match my nouns, my nouns don’t match my verbs and everything in between sounds like it’s been tapped out on a Speak N’ Spell), an inability to find the right words to write, an overabundance of opinion, and a surprising lack of motivation. Though, when I say lack of motivation, it’s not that I’m specifically feeling under-motivated, it’s just that I’m finding it a bit troublesome to conform to generally accepted literary conventions. Though, I suppose of everything I wanted to talk about (opinion, difficult times in life, Northrop Frye, or change and adaptation) that’s the one thing that I’ve been trying my hardest to come to terms with: generally accepted literary conventions.

It feels like my entire reason for writing has been nothing more than an attempt to challenge the conventions of not only literature, but of the world around me; something of a giant middle finger to the universe in an attempt to go against the grain and do something different or , dare I say, important (brilliant or astounding really). Everyone understands the rules, but those who go far in life are those who bend or obliterate them entirely and make their own; that’s the mindset I’ve started having and, quite frankly it’s about time I raise myself from this infantile state of mind and move on. It’s not wrong that those who go far in life make their own rules, but it’s only after they’ve spent years mastering and understanding the so-called “Rules” that the universe has built itself upon and slowly, over time, building and rebuilding generally accepted principles and conventions.

Before I’m allowed to continue onto the point of today’s article, I’d like to take some more time to discuss a childish and immature thought I’ve had regarding literature and literary greats. Or rather, I’d like to take some time to apologize (before a nameless and almost nonexistent crowd) for my behaviour while reading Northrop Frye’s The Educated Imagination. I spent the majority of my time trying my best to come up with ways to disprove and disagree with Frye’s point that, for the most part, I missed the message that he was trying to convey. Worse, at times my point of view was in accordance with his own, yet I disagreed anyway, for the mere sake of argument, not because I truly disagreed but because this sense of defying convention has been in my mind for the longest possible time.

Rules, in every sense of the word, have been meant to be broken, but entering any situation with the sole purpose of breaking a rule is both dangerous and highly illogical, especially considering that I decided to make one of the greatest minds of the 20th century my opponent (in my mind of course). Perhaps it’s because I don’t truly understand the conventions I’m attempting to go against, or perhaps it truly is due to my youth and stubborn attitude, but I believe it’s about time that I come to terms with the fact that Frye is both smarter and far more educated than I will ever be. Furthermore, I believe it’s also time I come to terms with the fact that not all rules are meant to be broken and that most rules exist so people have a strong base to learn and grow from. I also completely understand how cliché and fluffy it sounds to say something like that, but frankly, that’s a matter of personal opinion.

The truth of the matter is that “Break the standards” has been haunting me not because it’s fantastic advice, but because it’s exactly the reckless, do-what-you-will-to-get-ahead, pointless babble that I’ve been following for no good reason. In the original context of the manga, the phrase was meant as pick-me up of sorts; something to allow the failing Narushima a belief that winning is actually possible and in retrospect, it’s certainly not advice that anyone should follow if they want to do anything. The truth of the matter is that “Breaking the standards” is not what the successful do; quite the contrary because following rules and accepted principles is exactly what people do to become successful. It’s only once they’ve been recognized for having talent, or a certain indescribable demeanor that they stop following generally accepted conventions and begin to change the way we think about the aforementioned conventions. It must also be pointed out that even the concept of “Success” is an entirely ludicrous one to talk about, but for the sake of this article, allow the word “Success” to be taken in it’s loosest possible sense.

I must apologize to Northrop Frye for, sadly and disappointingly, completely missing the point of his lectures and I must also be allowed one final point: breaking the standards and going against convention is a fantastic thing to do, only once you truly understand the conventions you are going against and trying to deconstruct. Until that time, I’m afraid that my writing will remain as under evolved as it has ever been; my tenses will be poorly matched, my word choices will be rudimentary and juvenile, my prose will be weak and sporadic, my themes and thesis will continue to be typical and expected, not to mention repetitive and ever-changing, and my voice will continue to sound not like true writing, but speech.

It’s also a fact that I will continue to try my hardest to learn, not only from Frye, but from everyone else brave and lucky enough to write something of their own and that is both a promise to myself, and the nameless audience.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!


An Evening With A Critic; A Matter of Choice, Mediocrity, and Passion (Alternate Title: TheByteWeek Issue 6)

I recently spent an evening having dinner with a movie critic attending the Toronto International Film Festival and I can safely say that in comparison to my time spent with certain other mentionable individuals, I thoroughly enjoyed myself with The Critic far more. Though I suppose the interesting part of the evening wasn’t so much The Critic, and nor was it the backdrop of the TIFF in Yorkville as much as the circumstances as to which The Critic arrived at his vocation. After earning more degrees than any one individual would ever make use of, in addition to working as a financial controller for various publications, The Critic decided one day that he’d like to stop doing all of that (thanks to various forms of industrial prodding) and that, instead, he would like to watch and review movies on a regular basis.

After speaking with him for a surmountable amount of time, I came to two observations. First of all, he is the living embodiment of the Cosmo Kramer character and, second of all, he had actually done something that he wanted to do instead of plodding along life- which immediately reminded me of an article written by Jeremy Clarkson, “I’ll be right there, Sir Ranulph- must conquer the sofa first,” written for Sunday 24 May 2009.

The article is part of Clarkson’s weekly columns for the Sunday Times where, using witty banter, depreciative humour, and a very powerful sarcastic tone that targets everyone from political leaders to Martha Stewart, he gives his opinions on day to day topics like sports, pets, cars, his job, your job, the weather, economics, and, hilariously enough, Martha Stewart. During the aforementioned piece, Clarkson discusses the drive of Sir Ranuplh Fiennes while he was climbing Mount Everest. Fiennes’s strategy to reach the peak of the geographic behemoth was to merely imagine that it didn’t exist. Fiennes reasoned that he was willing to continue climbing forever, never stopping to consider that there might a top and Clarkson reasons that the British explorer completed his journey (that most of us only dream and fantasize about doing) by doing what we all do on a daily basis. Specifically, Fiennes “Plodded” his way to the top of Mount Everest in the same way that we all plod along life; never trying to do something crazy or insane because it would be far easier to do something less difficult or, in Fiennes’s case, never imagining doing something crazy or insane at all.

It’s interesting to note that, for the longest time, I have been meaning to write an article about the topic of living our lives through others or, rather, why it’s far easier to have someone else live our lives for us, but I didn’t because I didn’t have the right series of words to string along into interestingly developed sentences. It’s actually due to speaking to The Critic that I’ve come to the conclusion that I must discuss this topic now, or else I’ll have accomplished absolutely nothing in my time writing this blog (regardless of course, of everything else that I’ve gained). The truth of the matter is that I admire The Critic for the exact reason that I admire anyone who decides to do something different because, like everyone else on this planet, I have a fear of never doing something that I want to do. Though, even that’s unfair to say because my fear isn’t so much wallowing in mediocrity as it is never trying to get out of the mediocre hole that I built through a series of safe and risk-free choices.

The concept of doing something extremely out of the ordinary, or going against routine is far more admirable, to me, than overcoming various obstacles to achieve a major goal. My admiration does lie within the child, born in an economically desolate neighbourhood, who spends hours perfecting their craft to achieve placement in Harvard, but I’d admire them more if they decide that, after spending years on Wall Street trading stocks (and earning several tidy sums), they’d rather sell wine as part of a small monopoly of wine suppliers in Vietnam. I’d admire it even more if, after spending years in the Vietnamese wine industry, they would decide to try their hand at judging international pie-eating contests, or the like.

I suppose the message that I’m trying to convey is that I (once again, like everyone else on this planet) am afraid of making a choice and never getting a chance to take it back; which is exactly what The Critic has done. He made a choice and decided that, after however many years at one specific trade, he’d like to try his hand at something else and, because he wanted to, he chose again; rolling the dice once more, so to speak and getting to start at and pass Go.

I must state, again, that my greatest fear- even more so than genuine mediocrity or failure- is never doing something that would even allow me to reach such a result. It’s far worse, in my opinion, to spend time doing something that I dislike, but that leads to a certain level of financial freedom, instead of something that I love, but that leads to a lower sense of financial prosperity. However, I am once again diverging away from the point because, while The Critic might have made his choice regarding vocations (which does ultimately lead to the question of his income and so forth), my point doesn’t lie within the economical side of the topic, but rather, the causal.

The end of Clarkson’s article poses a question for the reader, “We can’t do everything. But don’t you wish that sometimes you could find the time from doing the drudge of the humdrum…to do something?” Well, Mr. Clarkson, to answer your question directly? Yes. Yes I do. Almost every single day and, while my youth, stubborn denial of the so-called “Facts of life” and overall childishness might be why, I can guarantee that anyone reading this article that, when it comes down to choosing between the safe and logical option or the, so-called, risk-free option, we choose the risk-free ones far more than we should. Well, I say everyone but the fact remains that giving up a position as a financial controller to review movies is not a logical and risk-free step to take.

I suppose that, in terms of doing crazy and illogical things, it might just be a phase that people go through to rid themselves of the rigmarole of the average life but, quite frankly, isn’t that the point of living in a 1st world nation? Actually, scratch that, isn’t that the point of having a level of personal freedom? Yes, we might all have jobs or an education to tend to, or families to care for, or a universe that needs saving, but does that mean we have to spend our lives in a constant state of fear and apprehension because we’re absolutely terrified that stepping out of the “Safe and ordinary” bubble might end up with the entire world exploding or, worse, ending up with us actually getting up off the couch and accomplishing something more? Pardon my petulance, but frankly that seems like a rather boring life to lead, especially if one lives in a country where “Choice and free will” are global reasons for why a person might want to live there.

Though, nn a final note, I must mention that when I say “Accomplishing something more,” I am certainly not attacking the people who are actually helping save lives (or anything of the sort); becoming a doctor, for example is a very kind, generous, and human thing to do, but becoming a doctor just for the money, or the power or, even worse, because there’s nothing else to do is vulgar, pointless and cruel. Not to your patients, obviously, but to the people who actually want to be doctors, because it’s their passion, or because they want to help others for reasons other than “Making money” and certainly not because they feel that they’ll have an easier life in the future if they can lay back and rest on a couch bought my medical money. Though, I suppose that’s the final point that The Critic helped me realize (on a side note, I can guarantee that my fears of self inflicted mediocrity or failure haven’t been resolved after talking to him, only slightly alleviated); do what you will, but do it because you’re passionate about it. Otherwise, really, what’s the point?

As always, this has been your Admin; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!


Back from Vietnam (Alternate Title: Memories of Paradise, TheByteWeek Issue 5)

I’m back, and in case anyone’s wondering where I’ve been, then you clearly haven’t’ been keeping in touch with me and my various travels over the past two months. For all intents and purposes, I am no longer I Vietnam and I’m home in the lovely country of Canada. Apart from the obvious fact that I’m no longer abroad, a lingering details remains abundantly clear: I haven’t written anything (except for this article on the word “Like”) for at least a week. This isn’t good because I actually enjoy writing and when I don’t, I tend to feel a little lost and confused; not literally, of course, but figuratively, in the sense that I feel annoyed with myself for breaking a promise to myself.

The truth of the matter, however, is that I’ve been busy, and that really is the one and only reason for the delay. I mean it wholeheartedly when I say that I’ve had at least 25 important things to take care of this week, and the majority of them are matters that require quite a bit more than a few hours. The hilarious part is that I actually haven’t taken care of everything I was planning on finishing yet, because almost everything that still needs to be done hasn’t actually happened yet. No, seriously, a lot of what I have to do this week is preparation for the actual event.

Tomorrow, for example, I’m going to be attending an annual (and apparently global) Jazz festival in Port Credit (The Southside Shuffle) and I’ve been preparing all week for the moment. In fact, a part of me wanted to put off writing this TBW just so I could include tomorrow’s events, but the truth is , no matter how much I look ahead, I must write about my last few days in Vietnam at some point. Right now, I believe, is the perfect time.

As I said before, I’m back in Canada; I’m home, and I’m no longer in Vietnam (the country that I had been calling home for the past 2 or so months). Though, technically speaking, I’m also no longer in Nha Trang either and that’s an even more valid point to make. As always though, I must be allowed to commence my story from its beginning.

On the 2nd of September I traveled from Nha Trang to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city) at about 9 in the morning, on perhaps one of the earliest flights I’ve ever had to wake up for. A quick aside: to catch a flight at 9:00 AM, one must be at the airport at 7:00 AM, to account for whatever might be happening outside the city (or country) and as such, even if everything goes smoothly and one checks-in on time, a passenger is recommended to arrive at an airport early (as one would expect from any mode of travel). Staying in a hotel, additionally, leads to certain events to transpire. For example, instead of waking up at 6:30 AM (like I had hoped) and catching a taxi to the airport in a mild rush, I received a wake-up call (no doubt because, earlier, I regaled the staff with other stories of missed flights; all due to my tardiness, I might add) at 6:00 AM. Additionally, due to the kindness of the managers, in addition to the amazing intricacy found within the confines of my travel details, I drove to the airport in the hotel car, instead of the Mai Linh Taxi I was expecting to call.

To tell the truth, the hotel car was far more comfortable than the Mai Linh cab would have been and the ride was not only smoother, but it was also a lot faster than I was expecting; I reached the airport at exactly 7:00 AM, whereas I was anticipating a slightly later arrival (around 7:30 AM or so). I suppose that just goes to show the dedication put into making guests feel comfortable when one works at a hotel, in comparison to the absolute state one must be in when driving a taxi. Another quick aside before I continue: due to a matter of bias, I’ve decided that I’m not going to name the hotel I stayed in. This actually isn’t just because of my own opinion, but just in case anyone might decide to try to recreate my experience; if anyone does try to have the exact same time as I did while they go to Nha Trang, I recommend making friends with the concierge, and not every single manager in their hotel.

In addition to arriving earlier than expected, my flight wasn’t as busy as I was anticipating, meaning that checking-in (both myself and my baggage) was a quick task with very little difficulty. At this point, allow me to fast forward a few hours to, say, around 10:00 AM of that same day where one will find that I landed in Saigon. After claiming my baggage and hailing myself yet another taxi, I found myself in yet another hotel, waiting for my room to be prepared; luckily, this didn’t take too long and after a few more minutes, I was finally in my room, ready to get my day started. Or not, because after reaching the bedroom, I decided to take a quick nap; a kind of beauty sleep to accommodate for the lost time in the morning.

As anyone can imagine, I woke up later then expected, at around 2:00 PM feeling both groggy, hungry, and incredibly thirsty (a very powerful and weakening combination, that any traveler will tell you is a major downside to the experience). Another interesting thing to point out is that September 2nd,1945 is actually Vietnam’s Independence day from France. On this day North Vietnam was formed and it wouldn’t be until July 2nd, 1976 that North and South Vietnam would once again be a unified country. In fact, in September the Vietnamese celebrate independence day, while in July, the Vietnamese celebrate reunification day. This is important to note because when I arrived, almost every shop was closed, but almost every single restaurant, bar, and cafe was open and filled to the brim with people (both locals, and foreigners).

This is even more interesting to note because not only was I able to quickly cure my thirst and hunger, but I was also informed of the fireworks that would be launching around 9:00 PM meaning that I would have to spend my day twiddling my thumbs, trying to think of something to do. Being a fan of fireworks and general celebration, I made a mental note to free 9:00 PM in my already incredibly hectic schedule. I spent my evening in an absolutely fantastic restaurant eating an amazing steak and, quite hilariously, I missed the fireworks. Though, I say that I “Missed” them when, in reality, what happened is that I took my first bite of the well-done piece of meat only to realize that explosions were going off in the background. My first thought was war, I certainly can’t deny that, but as soon as I realized what I was missing I had to force myself to not run out of the restaurant and to the square where the display would be on full view. So, I suppose the summation of all of this is that, yes, despite my planning and lack of other commitments, I missed the fireworks. Though, in my defence, it was a good steak.

The night ended after I went back to my room and fell asleep (yet again), and the rest of the next day was spent packing and getting ready for the voyage I would have to make later that night. Originally, I had planned to write an article for each airport that I landed in, but after taking off from Saigon, there really wasn’t much else to say. The article I wrote from there is below:

So here we are; the trip’s over and I’m heading back to Canada. Well, I say it’s over but it hasn’t even begun seeing as how I’m still in Saigon’s international airport.

It’s difficult to say how I’m feeling right now, psychologically, of course (physically I’m feeling fantastic; napping for 4 hours does that to a person). On one hand, I’m excited to go back to Canada, but on the other, I’m going to miss Vietnam. Or rather, I’m going to miss my time spent here; everyone’s told me that I’ve done very little, but frankly it feels like I’ve done everything. The people I’ve met have really made the trip; an Indian Naval Commander, a wine supplier and his protege’, two French chefs, a German SCUBA Diver, a Moroccan-Jewish Restaurant owner, a Norwegian Hotel Guest, an Australian couple, a Vietnamese tour guide; suffice it to say, I’ve met many people and shared even more stories amongst them all.

Annoyingly enough though, it doesn’t feel like two months have passed by; everything feels like yesterday and every action or thought I’ve had has compacted itself into a nice long vignette on constant play back. The memories are flooding through and beyond me; some more prominent than others, though I’m still feeling relatively fantastic. I suppose all I need to do is wait for the purified air in the airplanes to hit me before I really feel bad, though I digress.

The truth of the matter is that I don’t really feel like I’m leaving; yes, I’m going home, but at the same time, I’ve been at home for the past two months. No, seriously. My time in Vietnam was very vacation-like, but at the same time, it wasn’t really a vacation so much as time spent among family in a new home. It’s unfair to say that I don’t feel conflicted about leaving, but it’s not a sadness that I feel, but a sense of peace and tranquility. It’s actually quite annoying and I can’t wait for it to go away, but at the same time, I’m really quite happy about it. I don’t like the word but, for all intents and purposes, I feel relatively normal and, for the first time in a long time, that’s perfectly fine.

There really isn’t much else to say, I suppose. The flights were relatively bearable, and despite (but most likely due to) my tiredness, nothing else happened the day I landed in Canada. In fact, I went to sleep at 6:00 PM, a few hours earlier then my usual bedtime.

Since this is a TBW, I’m allowed to not have a “Moral,” so to speak, but I would like to end on this note: I had a fantastic time in Vietnam, and it was a pleasure to meet everyone that I met. Do I dream of going back? To tell the truth, throughout the week I did catch myself thinking a rather casual “In Nha Trang, this would be cheaper” but I think the memorable part is everything that has happened and, while looking to the past is a brilliant idea, for now, I will look to the future. With the past in mind, I would like to hereby declare the end of my summer, and to wish everyone a fantastic fall, and winter. I realize the date’s might be off here, and there but, then again, the date’s usually are.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!


Like, People Don’t Hear the Smart; They Totally Only Hear the Loud

I have always found that when words like “Intellectual,” “Academic and “Smart” are thrown around there are times when many assume they mean the same thing. To clarify, they do not, and it is due to this that I have always fancied myself an intellectual, though rarely have I ever claimed myself to be truly “Smart.” The problem I have with the word is that it really does not encapsulate a fair description of anything and therefore it is far too vague to have any real use. In schools, for example, a smart student can mean anyone from an individual who excels in all of their subjects, to one who is fairly adept at only one subject, to a person who is capable of juggling various subjects and an additional workload placed on them by extracurricular activities. Outside of the academic world, the term “Smart” can describe a person as being well dressed, or an object pleasing to the eye, to a person who is academically intelligent, or an individual that has paid a good price on car insurance. The fact remains that, despite its desired interpretation, the word “Smart” very rarely has a single possible derivation.

It is this vagueness that Clark Whelton disdains from the onset of his City Journal article attacking the word “Like.” Similar to my dislike of the word “Smart,” Whelton’s dislike of the word “Like” originates from the fact that the word allows a sense of extreme vagueness that undercuts the credibility of the one who uses it. As an example, he uses interviews he conducted during his time as a speechwriter as proof that increased use of the word “Like” had direct correlation with the quality of one’s work, especially in regards to English and the written word. In an indirect counter to his writing, New York Times Language contributor Patrica T. O’Conner claims that the word “Like” has acquired a negative connotation and that despite the opinion it has garnered due to sounding infantile and juvenile, it is more than acceptable in casual conversation. Before I continue, I must mention that both writers refer to the word “Like” in the colloquial Valley Girl sense of the word, where it is used as filler, on an equal level as “Um” and “Uh.” Though, it must be mentioned that in extremely casual conversation, the word “Like” has also begun to replace words and phrases such as “Said,” “Mentioned,” “Thought” and so forth. Suffice it to say, I agree and disagree with both Whelton and O’Conner, though for slightly different reasons.

Personally, I believe that both writers make valid points in their articles; I do agree that the word “Like” is a scourge on the English language. Though, I must admit that I too believe that it is only acceptable to use the word during more casual moments; the word “Like,” in my opinion, is similar to the font “Comic Sans MT” in that it is only acceptable during the most casual of moments and under no circumstance should it be used in a professional setting.  I also believe that both writers have missed a slightly more stunning detail regarding the word and its possible indications on humanity: We live in a world where the intellectual and wise are ignored for the loud and verbose. The word “Like” isn’t used because people are getting dumber or because we, as a species, are beginning to favour a more casual affair with our words. No, the word “Like” is being used because everyone else uses it in a very loud way. In short, the word “Like” represents everything that is wrong in this world; it is the ultimate gateway drug that allows its users to enter various states of casual ignorance where a topic is not learned or fully understood because “No one else does it.” This is the main problem with the society we live in; it is perfectly acceptable not to know something so long as a large majority can support an individual in their ignorance.

Interestingly enough, however, despite what it leads to, the word “Like” is not the only one of its kind, as various other words and phrases have changed in meaning over the annals of time; curse words and terms with derogatory meaning are usually the first to experience such a major change. The fact of the matter is that those who disdain the word have no need to fear it indefinitely as soon its original meaning will once again be its only meaning. What we as a society have to fear is the fact that within the next few years, a new word will be added to the repository and new articles will be penned by more writers who will also miss the aforementioned detail. The fact of the matter is that we don’t have to worry about the word “Like” or any word, because it, and they, will be gone from our vocabulary or reformatted to mean anything, given enough time; what we truly have to worry about is an almost universal truth: that we, as an intelligent species, will never accept that, unless the educated, intellectual, academics stop writing about words in a language with an ever changing definition, and start making their collective “Smart” voices heard in a loud and verbose way, nothing will change, whether verbally, or socially.

As always, this has been your Admin; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!