June 2006 Archives

Thursday: Seven Swords (might catch the creepy-looking Brit film in order to kill time until 9:30, if schedule allows even one movie *at all*)
Friday: Tokyo Zombie (wanted to double-header it, with the Korean gangster flick "A Bittersweet Life")
Saturday: The Maid
Sunday: A Chinese Tall Story

So, the story behind Seven Swords was that it was totally everywhere on one the last weeks I was in HK. I'm not sure what happened, but while I had time to see things as insignificant as Howl's Moving Castle BEFORE ANYONE IN MONTREAL (and not dubbed), Eros (which I looked for for years after it was said to have had a private showing at Cannes - and which was finally released in Asia, maybe NA but I didn't care), and, err, the Wayward Cloud (gratuitous hardcore sometimes-mature pr0n with finish, and interspersed with 60s/70s cheesy lip-sync musical performances - it was Tsai Ming-liang, and there I go, absolved). Basically, I didn't see Seven Swords, and now I itch to see it, even if my friend thinks it's the worse movie of the year. I read an interview in the Sunday Morning Post Magazine with the three of the ladies in the film, Charlie Yeung, Kim So-yeon, and Zhang Jingchu. I believe the reviews were mixed, but nonetheless, it was big, and had big names. Since the Chinese program for this Fantasia is so thin, why not throw away $7.50 plus the price of popcorn?

Then, there's Tokyo Zombie, with Tadanobu Asano, Chara's husband, blabla. The poster looks interesting, and we're sort of intrigued by weird-looking movies (near future, wig, manga-based). There seems to be a trend going on with zombies this year. (I am likely to miss Death Trance, which appears to be the same actor as in Verses, that crazy crazy zombie 'n yakuza movie that played at Golitzinsky's party at Greek Easter '04.

The Maid: Singaporean movie. There was an interview with actress Alessandra De Rossi when the movie came out, either in a HK or S'pore paper. And so it's a Singapore movie - I'm really fond of Singapore, and it's worth every nostalgia-inducing cent.

A Chinese Tall Story: It's going to be cheese! It's got Charlene Choi of the Twins in it. And, while he's no Ekin Cheng, it also has the rarely-appearing Nicolas Tse. Must be noted that I'm going to be missing the World Cup final. >_>

vibrate($string)

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I woke up at 3AM, probably right after a post-midnight midsummer thundershower fell to refresh the city.

I woke up, thinking that I slept a whole night, only to find the skies still dark, and the alarm clock on my bedside desk pointing well before 7:30AM.

I woke up feeling distraught. The first thought that brought me back to the reasonable world was that eternity can be so long, so short, yet had no meaning if you didn't see both the beginning nor end of it. I might've slept only two hours, but the architecture of a good night of sleep is such that its exit is exactly the same as that of a long nap, because you only remember the last REM state.

And so, I only remember the last REM state. I could've slept a million years. and yet it will only be a single REM state.

Good scoring

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Not that my musical reviews are very good, but Google seems to like me, and placed me in the Top 10 for Utada Hikaru's new album Ultra Blue, and #1 (now #3) for Mara Tremblay's latest I talked about last winter. Huzzah, 80-something hits per day from total strangers... how appealing. XD

I despair when I hear news like this. I never thought they could push the escalation to the point of kidnapping the government of a rival/enemy state like they just did. So much passion.

After dragon boat (less deadly, but I was still totally hurting from Monday), we went for simple Chinese food at that Ravioli de Manchuria place. Not as good as it used to be, but it's still quite unique for the homemade Northern-style dumplings (pork & chives, fried). Also, when one doesn't have a full-power cooking oven at home (certainly I'll try to get an oven that works with gas and throws fire when I get my own house), then stir-fried veggies - any sort, but preferably mini SH Bok Choy - are a must-order, even if it's like 10$ for just choy. And we had mutton skewers (less meat, drier, and now with sesame seeds to cover up the scarcity of substance) and a somewhat good sliced fat pork stir-fry (not as thin as it can be, but not bad for Montreal standards).

While eating, the telly, tuned in to a HK-based all-news channel in Mandarin called Phoenix, threw long minutes of some economic forum anniversary happening in HK with a familiar-looking Communist Party big wig, and Donald Tsang, his Macau counterpart and that photogenic Henry Tang from the central bank of HK or something (not sure of the title, but he was often in the SCMP). Nonetheless, I soon recognized that they were talking about the World Cup when I heard "Yi-Ta-Li" (approx pinyin), but Wee pointed out they weren't talking about Italy's upcoming match against Ukraine or their victory over Australia, but more precisely about the CCTV commentator who was openly and aggressively taking for the Italian side. And indeed, after getting back my connection to the world, I noticed it was indeed reported on in the Western press.

Fantasia '06

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So I saw some posters in the metro, and it was today that the program was announced and that the site went up. Did not have the time to check up on schedule, but will likely write a preview of movies I want to see, like in previous years. Despite what I thought, the '04 preview is not a preview, and the '03 one (which I know for sure is in the '05 format) went down with its container. To be continued...

Today was probably the worse we've overcome this year. We really really need to get in shape for the race (especially the novice like me), and so today our coach applied the shock therapy. First, it was a 3.5km jog, then various drills in 3-minute variants, then 2-minute (quicker) and 1-minute (yet quicker). And _then_ we get to go on the boat: 2x1000m, 2x500m, 2x250m and something like synchronized paddling (keeping your paddle in the air, and follow the pacer's stroke).

I probably said before that I've never been as in shape in my whole life. Well, I'm pushing the limits week after week now (and today, on top of not sleeping for 38 hours straight - b/c I slept too much during the long weekend). I also never thought that I could jog (after failing the jog test during high school, thus registering my only semestrial failure grade - in phys ed, how revealing) and it isn't actually hard with the right shoes.

I better go to bed. (Currently lots of happy exercise chemicals circulating in my body. Tonight, I shine, tomorrow, I'm an undead.)

Duck fat

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Oh yeah, I've collected a bowl of (orange-flavoured) DUCK FAT from yesterday.Hmm, what do you do with it?

Some sort of orange duck

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I was commissioned to cook for the family. We had a couple of duck magrets in the fridge, and my mother at first suggested to marinate them in random sauce and then barbecue them (weather is still gorgeous). I decided to more or less follow a recipe from Epicurious, for "Orange Duck".

First off, I swung by Metro for fresh herbs (IGA doesn't have those) and missing ingredients like oranges and fresh parsley. In fact, I picked up whole plants of marjoram and thyme to plant in the herbs pot in the backyard. We never cook with marjoram, but it was in the recipe, and I wanted to try something new. We never cook with parsley either, so maybe it'll go to kebabs or a tabouleh this week.

For an hour or so, I marinated the duck in a white wine, orange juice, a little olive oil, onion cut in wedges, marjoram, thyme, parsley, ground cumin, and coarse salt. then, prepared the sauce, which was basically a base of caramel (melt sugar in a saucepan), orange juice, and a little white wine vinegar, chicken broth for taste, and a teaspoon of flour and butter mixed together for perhaps giving body to the sauce. I overdid the caramel a bit, and it started tasting sour, but my parents didn't notice anything of that.

In the meanwhile, I cooked the magrets for 10 mins on each side, and browned the top for less than five. Half a magret for each person is so very little. It was served with carrots and onions (slow-cooked for 30 mins, to release all the sugar and to make tender) and a tip of parsley for an attempt to restaurant-ish presentation effect.

Magrets were purchased from Cosco for about 10$ each. Maybe you can find similar cuts from public markets or regular supermarkets for a pricier tag.

Head Tax: about time

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Heard that it was coming, and it did:
http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2006/06/22/chinese-apology.html

must feed the dragon

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Yeah, really. Because of the Grand Prix settling down, we moved from our usual Wednesday practice site in Parc Jean-Drapeau to the cozier Canal Lachine near the Centre Gadbois (a revamped municipal sports complex complete with pool, rink, training room). I don't recall going there in recent years, but people (including parents) have told me how nice and relaxing it is for jogging, rollerblading, biking or all of the above.

I already missed two practices, one last week because I totally didn't sleep (ironically, I slept even less yesterday and the night before - vivement la St-Jean), and Monday b/c of you-know-what. I already arrived late, so missed the dry-land training (jogging a stretch of canal three times, and then setups beside the benches lining up the canal), and only did the jogging stretch twice. Twenty minutes later, at 8, we jumped in our stinky/rotten lifejackets and set sail for about an hour or really painful but educative rowing. The new teacher Almer is "all about technique" and taught us, among other things, to dip in the water "long and deep". But seriously, he was much better than the previous coaches we had. Basically, we focused on four points: 1- keeping both arms outside the boat, 2- bend your body and turn your torso when you redress, 3- make long and deep strides, and 4- keep your body square and straight at the end of your stride.

I was by far the worse of the team members, but everyone was nice. Can't let them down again, for sure. At this point, my arms are already starting to hurt, as well as torso and legs from the jogging. I guess that this is it: I can do so much more with this body.

On our way back, Jack dropped us off at Monk metro, and made us an improvised guided tour of the sights on Monk Avenue, which is an interesting-looking commercial artery outside of city centre (of course, everything in Mtl looks better in the summer - *everything* ;D). It had a multi-ethnic array of cuisines, grocery stores. I might like living in that area - that is if I can decide to take the jump or not...

Re: Oilers

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Final article about the Oilers, as the Hurricanes prepare to "celebrate" their conquest of the Cup (which I think would be rather reminiscent of when the New Jersey Devils were winning and celebrated with a parade in the parking lot of their home arena, for lack of a real downtown). The Oilers' loss adds to a long list of underdogs losing in the final, which includes the Panthers (1996), the Capitals (1998), the Sabres (1999), the Hurricanes (2002), the Mighty Ducks (2003) and the Flames (2004).

Oh the cute beaver.

From the Canadian Press article:

University of Alberta sports psychologist Billy Strean said fans can be forgiven for suffering some short-term effects from the absence of their regular doses of Oilermania.

"For most people there's a period of mourning," said Strean. "People should allow themselves that. For some people they'll move on 30 minutes after the game, but for those who have been waiting 16 years it's a big disappointment."

(Yeah, it went away overnight.)

Strean tried to put things in perspective.

"If your biggest problem is that your favourite hockey team lost, you're living a good life," he said.

(w0rd, that was what I was trying to say.)

Utada Hikaru - Ultra Blue

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Without being the kickass album of the year, I think that the new Utada Hikaru still deserves a bit of attention. Sure, she's slowed down since First Love and Distance, but is still one of my favourites in Jpop (in fact, most of the regular Japanese pop is like whatever pop in whatever country: unsavory... I'm a snob with everything, like music... I think that it's a personality trait: I like what's precious and with the illusion to be hard to find.

In any case, it's sprinkled with some 2006 or recent 2005 singles (Be My Last, Passion, Keep Tryin'), and some older stuff that I didn't think would appear in any album (COLORS). The first track is really dancy, yet familiar-sounding (it is "pop", after all). I played the album on repeat for most of the day, interrupted only with some German electro required for the productive stretches. Nichiyou no Asa (Sunday Morning) is pretty good too.

Anyways, it was a pleasant surprise to have discovered the news of the new album in the LJ music blog community roll (I don't usually read my communities, on top of it).

And now that it's done...

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Bleh, they lost, and I spent at least 30 mins seeing the opponent team parading with the Cup. At least, I guess that one good thing is that the Habs almost eliminated the Canes, and are probably going to be next year's cinderella. Being a NHL cinderella team really sucks, b/c they consistently lost over the past fifteen years or so. Alright, no more hockey posts - it's summer after all.

Game notes: I cut myself while shaving as the only Edmonton goal was being scored (it wasn't because of the goal, mind you - I didn't even hear it announced, until my brother told me, as the TV was left on in my room across the hall).

(Of course, there are worse things in this world, like your mother dying, dying of hunger, war, sitting on an ant nest whilst covered in honey, etc. It just realigns my belief that this world is not fair, and that it's up to you to go for what's up for grabs. We're lucky enough to have parents providing us with their love, their self-sacrifice.)

Before the game begins...

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Just to get this off my chest... I think that Erik Cole will have a big game, looking at how he played last time, and while he got his neck broken three months ago, he's prolly not as bruised up at other places.

I predict a 3-1 Oilers win. Winning goal by Mike Peca.

Edit #1 (8:07PM): The intro of HNIC is the best you can get. The Pisani goal, Weight sandwiched, shots of Erik Cole back in the lineup. Haha, currently, there's a McLean/Hrudey pre-show talk, and Oilers fans, like, peeking right behind their shoulders, yelling *into* the mic. And they, being pros, ignore them completely. So, as the CBC HNIC blog points out, it was a Nickelback song. Now they're fuckin' playing the long version of the Tim Hortons' ad with the Cantonese Chinese. >_>

Edit #2 (9:58PM): It's fuckin' 2-0 for the Canes. Blargh.

So it's the parliamentary break currently, but I just came across the news that the Libs held another debate, this time in French (and where a member of the audience blasted most candidates for not being able to speak proper French).

Stephane Dion, probably the nerdiest (ex-)Minister in recent memory. He was hated by Quebec sovereignists when he was an inter-provincial relations minister, but gained a bit of love when he was in the Martin cabinet as environment minister and who then got to chair the Montreal talks on climate change.

All this to say that while there's only a remote chance that he actually wins the pretty dull Liberal leadership race (which has few of some big names formerly touted as leaders-to-be, like Brian Tobin or John Manley or Frank McKenna), checkout the Google Search for Stephane Dion, and the top hit is the PM Office's site! Now, a former university prof as PM, wouldn't that still be pretty Bartlet-ish? :D

(He's the only candidate from Quebec, and who's perfectly bilingual, except for former Ontario premier Bob Rae, and Stephen Harper is *never* going to win enough votes in the Greater Toronto, so...)

Seventh Heaven

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Edmonton convincingly defeated the Carolina Hurricanes. For the third consecutive Stanley Cup final, it's going to Game Seven, and for the first time after a team is trailing by 3-1 since the 1994 series between the Rangers and the Canucks (where NY led 3-1 - and eventually won what was a close call in NYC, ironically with current Oil coach MacTavish on the Rangers' lineup). No team rallied from 3-1 in 64 years (the last time, being the Toronto Maple Leafs in the midst of WWII). Unbelievable.

Also, for the past ten years or so, underdogs/cinderella teams reaching the finals always lost. Carolina is a classy favourite (after missing the playoffs and navigating well below .500 last season), but I state the obvious that it would really be a boost for the Canadian economy happiness level of Canadians if the Oil could win.

The Prime Minister of Canada, who's not a lightweight in hockey (he's writing a book on the history of the sport), even came on the CBC during the first intermission (it was still 0-0) to say that "they have to keep shooting the puck and going to the net to have a chance to win". He knows his hockey, but I'm still not going voting for him. :D

blah blah Hong Kong blah blah

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A cool photo exhibit on Wah Fu, Hong Kong, and the high-density living, from the Urban planet exhibit on the BBC News site.

Re: What a game

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I think that Cam Ward is a Patrick Roy type of sore loser. Does not like losing, but is so young and immature about it that whenever he gets scored an important goal on, he actually tries to hit the other player with his stick in a very obvious way (but always misses his shot, or maybe the other player who gets hit does not pay attention to not generate some infinite brawl). You can see it after the overtime Pisani goal, when one of the ecstasic player coming from the bench almost bumps into Ward. I forgot whether it was on NHL.com's highlights or CBC's feed posted on the Edmonton Oilers site.

It happened during, I think, Game 1, when the Oilers scored its 2nd or 3rd goal to make it two or three nil, if it wasn't Game 3. Pretty obvious from replays... And I remember during the Habs series that it happened. Sort of sketchy info, but I shall verify with fact, when I have time. >_> (Anyways, it's all video-archived somewhere - thanks teh internets.)

What a game

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Requiem for my great-aunt

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My great-aunt in Macau passed away. At first, we didn't quite believe it, b/c the news came from my cousin over MSN, and my father spoke to my grandmother just this morning (he remembered that his sister's mother-in-law, the one in North Point, also passed away earlier this week).

But my cousin assures me that her mother did have a conversation with a nephew or relative-by-marriage of my great-aunt.

I'm not sure what to think. It's the first time since my grandfather (my father's dad) or my great-grandmother (my mother's granny) died, and I can never remember which first b/c I was 13-14 back then and wasn't exactly emotionally mature enough to have remembered how I felt - but I do remember the faces of my relatives, especially those who were the closest to the deceased - my grandmother, my father, aunts and uncles; my mother, aunts and uncles.

Google Labs, on a roll

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First, there was Google Spreadsheets (with a shitty permormance when run on Ubuntu, and it's quite okay on Windows - I have no idea why, except maybe optimization, memory handling, different versions, and pure luck), and now there's the Google Firefox Sync Tool. With my multiple workstations, and partitions, that's the greatest thing since sliced bread.

So today was the harshest day by far. I forgot how many 250m or 500m we did, but my technique's bad and it seems that physical coordination is not my strength, and that it's even worse when the instructions are given in English (despite being almost accent-less and practically fluent). Could not follow the rhythm at times, and even if the heart wanted (we had two simulated races against more experienced teams), the body could not follow, and I had to skip a few strokes, paddle with bad technique for the last stretches of the 250 or 500 metres. Painful, and I have hypertrophied biceps now. _O_ (I was told by Alex that shadow boxing, lifting weights with a frontward gesture is good training.)

After the training, our team went for a late-evening munch at Van Roy in Chinatown... which I haven't been to for the past ten years. Teammates were singing praises about the "pork fat" dish that is the pork chop combo (the champions' meal, complete with steamed veggies, mounds of rice, more than enough _deep-fried_ pork chops and a fried egg to finish off what's left of your monthly quota of cholesterol), but while three or four members of the team settled for that, the remaining eight or nine went for ordering our food "Chinese style". And it's obvious that large groups at Chinese restaurants is a ++, b/c it's basically a buffet on a turning table. :D

I was on the Plateau Mont-Royal this afternoon, so dropped by Fairmount Bagel to pick up some fresh out of the oven bagels. Unlike bagels you get from the grocery store (or anywhere, if not a bagel shop), those ones are crisp on the outside, doughy on the inside. A Montreal delight at its best (what are those NY bagels anyways?).

At the same time, I got a slab of matzoh, as I was intrigued by the menu sign, again. Got the sesame-covered matzah this time (last time, I believe it was garlic-flavoured), and finally connected the dots, realizing that this was the food item eaten by Jewish people during passover. Rob from CTF, and then non-Jewish people, understandably, occasionally brought some with them as a snack, with a dip too, perhaps. I've seen some at the Cosco last weekend (gawd, they even sell those bamboo-in-a-pot lucky charms), but it came in multi-family pack, so we didn't get it. However, the matzoh I had seemed darker (not white with a roast aspect, but just overall brownish) than the one I usually see. For $1.40 apiece, it's a premium, but definitely worth the try (it has roasted sesame, is slightly salted, and crisp, mmm).

During the weekend, my parents delegated me to cook for the family. I've never been so sollicited for my cooking abilities (:D) in my entire life, as, when I usually want to cook, I simply hijack the kitchen. So, I went for an oven-cooked salmon with lemons and rosemary... which is what it is: in a deep platter for the oven, place a piece of salmon, slices of lemon, rings of onion, salt, just a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking, butter for the taste, fresh rosemary, and water to prevent drying/burning. Put to oven at 400C for about 10-15 minutes, and voila! I chose rosemary, and it could've been tarragon as the herbs packaging suggested for fish, but I always remember the time my aunt used branches of fresh rosemary for a barbecued fish (white-fleshed) in an olive oil marinade that we had a few summers ago, which was so good.

Re: Live from MUTEK

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The special CBC Radio 3 MUTEK mix is also awesome.

Late edit: Actually, I mean to say that it's recognizably full of minimal stuff. XD And actually, so is Krikor's live performance on Bande à part's 5th day podcast coverage of MUTEK.

Sean had some cool-looking metallic support old-school Koss headphones (50-60$) today at work. I've always bought earbuds, but I'm now considering that a real set of headphones could be very good for listening and really _feeling_ electronic music, aka da mind-massage music for work. :D

Ugh, the end.

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On top of losing on a fluke giveaway by one of the backup goalies (interchangeably bad), MacT just announced that Roloson won't be back in the series. :/

Some commentator (Kelly Hrudey) was saying how the Oilers were going to win the series b/c they aren't a no-name crew, unless one of Roloson or Pronger were going down on an injury or something. _O_

OTOH, the whole situation adds a dramatic value to the unfolding of the series. Are the Oilers going to survive w/o Roloson? If they do, this sounds like the Simpsons episode where Burns invites MLB all-stars to replace regular nuclear plant workers on the amateur softball team (and where, the all-stars fall to various freak accidents or ailments). Anyways, losing after taking a 3-0 lead makes this loss all so bleh. Millions of Canadian hockey fans will agree with me.

Unlike the TB Lightning, who won the Cup in 2003-04, the Hurricanes don't have a core of French-Canadian players. Had the Buffalo Sabres won the Eastern Final, I'm sure a good portion, if not a majority, of hockey fans in the province of Quebec would've taken for the Sabres. Another political statement that Quebec != Canada.

Another Cup to a team in the American Southwest? omfg, no.

El Zaziummm

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I knew the El Zaziummm way back in cegep, and haven't been back since (although, I was seized with episodes of deja vu of recently being there - so, man, my mind *already* on its decline). It was still at its old location, three or four addresses closer to Ave. Mont-Royal, quite smaller, but with the same trademark fancily-decorated dining room.

I missed the Beer Fest bout, but still caught up with the guys as they left the Trois Brasseurs, a micro-brewery chain from the north of France with a very aggressive expansion plan in Montreal/Quebec. I went there before on several occasions; their "Flamm" is what stands out from their food menu. It's basically a thin-crust pizza, but they call it "Flamm" and it's from Alsace, and I throw a guess that the original recipe is far from what Trois Brasseurs serves (despite all this, it isn't bad at all, when washed down with a very large tasty beer, and a typical resto-bar with plenty of flat-panel TVs).

One recognizes the El Zaziummm by its giant shark figure bursting out on Park Avenue. Indoors, many tables (as many as the old Zaz had) are in fact a shallow glass-covered compartments filled with sand, Latin American bills and random Spanish-language newspaper clippings. There's even a bathtub at one end of the room, which serves as a low table to rest your sangria or margarita upon (and formerly, ashtrays).

Live from MUTEK

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MUTEK supports a few online streams, including one from LePlacard, which is an online venue for artists to perform live on the web. They didn't post the link to the stream directly on LePlacard, but the webmaster of ceremonies will gladly provide it over IRC chat (current link to audio stream). The venue should be open for the rest of the summer for performances at other electronica music festivals around the world.

Bandeapart.fm has a podcast per day of MUTEK (see archives).

Wah, teh database errors

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A couple of junk trackbacks clogged MT to a stop (such that I couldn't rebuild the site, or post new entries). Had to delete the table for trackbacks using the sql web-console, and now it's fine.

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