Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Surprise

I don't know what's wrong with me, but I really wasn't hyped about Watchmen. I usually get pretty excited about comic book movies, but I have gotten a little blase about them lately, maybe afraid of seeing a stinker... don't know. I loved the graphic novel Watchmen it was huge in the 80's and I collected comic books and such back then including Watchmen, Maus and Tank Girl etc etc. Somehow Watchmen movie just slipped by me. So landed up watching this weekend and I really loved it. Same director as 300 so I should have known better. I wish I had seen it in the theatre, it was so beautiful. What's extra special is it totally feels liek a grown up comic book, no measly kids or sugar powdered sex scenes. In fact, the sex scene is really cool. I totally loved all the actors cast and went and looked them up on google today. I was like who is this woman playjng Silk? I loved her! What an outfit! (she's Swedish-Canadian yea!) My only consolation for being such a loser and not seeing this in the theatre is that there is a directors cut with an extra 24 minutes. Imustfindnow. The filmmakers did such an amazing job with bringing this to the big screen twenty years later, and especially without compromising the dark sick stuff. A true gem. The actrors are incredible. I couldn't take my eyes off Rorschack. He was amazing and his body work in fight scenes and in general conveying his character through his body (since a fir bit of the movie he has a mask on) was mindblowing.I loved Silk's work too and whatever this actor did to fight and move was excellent. She seemed painted and alive all at once. The opening sequences are crazy good. Totally preparing the viewer for this new history of the world.I never would have believed I would say this, but this movie is mostly fantastic because of the casting! These are excellent performers perfectly cast. Combined with a relatively intense storyline (really hard to find in comic book adaptations) and ultraviolence, slick cinematography, perfect set direction...this is a movie to watch on a snowy afternoon when you just don't want to do anything else but snack on vegies and 5 layer bean dip and enter a parallel world. Zack Snyder you are a god!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Are You Ready For Your Transformation, Per se.

We just caught a South Park episode we hadn't seen from a couple years ago. Butters discovers vampires at school and the Goth kids also notice them because they are angry that instead of being the few kids who look good at school now all the kids who used to be jocks are now dressing in black. Not just black, but styling on the goth look. Stagg made a joke that they must be shopping at Hot Topic. Hot Topic is a store in malls that makes all these prefabricated clothes for Emo and Goths and punk and infant shirts with The Misfits. The firs time I saw it I couldn't believe it, it was so funny and when I was goth and punk...we had to make our own clothe. Now you can buy them already made. No...I mean mass-produced...not even a independently owned boutique for urban goths. The store is riot. Turns out, that in fact it is exactly the conspiracy in the episode called The Ungroundable. All the kids are being turned into vampires by being taken shopping by the vampires to Hot Topic. The leader of the vampires ends all his sentences with "per se".

Eventually, through Butters, the Goth kids at South Park(in above photo at the Principals office) find out the conspiracy and demand a assembly in the gym and write a speech they present to the school.

Fellow students. Over the past week there's been a lot of confusion, and so we have asked for this assembly to clarify the difference between Goth kids and Vampire kids. Let us make it abundantly clear: if you hate life, truly hate the sun, and need to smoke and drink coffee, you are Goth. If, however, you like dressing in black 'cause it's "fun," enjoy putting sparkles on your cheeks and following the occult while avoiding things that are bad for your health, then you are most likely a douchebag vampire wannabe boner. Because anybody who thinks they are actually a vampire is freaking retarded. [two seconds later everyone begins to applaud the speech. During the applause, Goth 2 steps up to the mic and gives everyone the finger]

The Anxiety Of Influence Or Why Easton Ellis Makes Me Laugh!

If you google Salinger's death you will probably come up with the above Twitter message from Bret Easton Ellis.

I am not sure I can explain why...but I found this to be one of the funniest things I've ever seen on the innernets.

The thing is...a bunch of people were totally horrified by this Twitter comment posted yesterday by Bret Easton Ellis. I however, laughed my ass off.

I'd like to tell you why I find this so hilarious but not sure I can. Immediately when I saw this Twitter (and it seems hundreds of websites are posting this quote, like The Huffington Post). I just had a huge guffaw. First, it might be the most blasphemous thing someone not religious could say or hear. My god... a literary god dismissed. Making bad with the dead. Of all people Bret Easton Ellis makes this even funnier since he surely is the heir to Salinger's style, and had a following every bit as cultish as Salingers devoted fans. If you're a writer and your work appeals to young people (Is there any higher acclaim? Is there any group better for financially-boosting and ego-boosting than the youth of the United States as your fan base?) then you surely will always be compared and have to lock horns with Salinger. Is it possible it would feel good to have one's major competition as "greatest living American writer" pass away? It's so sick, but I can't help but laugh at Easton Ellis being so forward. That is if he really means it. With Ellis I'm not too sure. His entire Twitter page is hilarious and could be written by some of his own characters. It wouldn't surprise me at all if Easton Ellis just wanted to say the most shocking thing he could think of...and I could even imagine him finding it funny. As I said, I sure found it funny. And I'm pretty sure Easton Ellis meant it as a joke. A lot of people are calling Easton Ellis a loser and a has-been since he posted this yesterday but to my mind, he actually seemed incredibly intuitive and relevant with this goofy bad-taste joke. It's right up there with John Lennon saying "We're bigger than Jesus" (did he say that or is that an urban myth?) or Elvis Costello's comment about Ray Charles in a bar fight in the 1970's. (apparently Ray Charle's said, ""Drunken talk isn't meant to be printed in the paper.")

Celebrity feuds are now a major part of mainstream news. They seem like a whole new format of market branding for famous people. The Leno/Conan fight, the Nicole/Paris fight, Rosie/Trump fight, the MacKenzie/Michelle fight, the Herzog/Kinski fight, the Bale/Hurlbut fight...somehow it seems fitting that Easton Ellis would pick a celebrity feud with a ghost.

Here is another one of Eston Ellis's Twitter comments:

A lot of gays at Avatar at The Dome tonight. Well, now we know what the most popular Halloween costume in West Hollywood will be this year. From Easton Ellis Twitter page

Who knew Easton Ellis had such a good sense of humour...I found his comment on Salinger a sign the guy doesn't take himself as seriously as I, only slightly, thought he did. Somehow his comment perfectly describes what it must feel like to write locking horns with the great. Easton Ellis's humour is strangely profound and insightful. And here is really why I found it so funny...In one simple sentence he portrayed part of the work of a writer, to lock horns with the past. He came out of the closet in what Harold Bloom called "the anxiety of influence"...

Bloom's central thesis is that poets are hindered in their creative process by the ambiguous relationship they necessarily maintained with precursor poets. While admitting the influence of extraliterary experience on every poet, he argues that "the poet in a poet" is inspired to write by reading another poet's poetry and will tend to produce work that is derivative of existing poetry, and, therefore, weak. Because a poet must forge an original poetic vision in order to guarantee his survival into posterity (i.e., to guarantee that future readers will not allow him to be forgotten), the influence of precursor poets inspires a sense of anxiety in living poets.

Here are some other famous writers Twitter comments about Salinger passing away...I think they help put Easton Ellis's Twitter in context...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Salinger, R.I.P.

Is it too strong to say that J.D. Salinger saved my life? When I read The Catcher In The Rye I found that life sucked just a little less because Holden Caulfield saw through the phonies and maybe I could try not to be a phony. Maybe I'd fail, but it's a noble aspiration. The novel suggested that friendship is one way to stay out of the mental institute and hey. Staying out in the world with friendships and trying to be well seemed like a damn good plan. Thanks Holden Caulfield.

I've read his books and stories at least a half a dozen times each and Franny and Zooey is my favourite Salinger story. It actually has the best and surely some of the most profound philosophy in a novel. The novel proposes that every person, no matter what kind of an asshole, or jerk, or pretentious, or holy, or gifted is all of us, the Buddha. (possibly disguised as the "Fat Lady") Somehow Salinger managed to make Buddhaconsciousness or Christconsciouness cool. We are all the "Fat Lady" and we all have the option to perform and practice art as well as we can even if it's just for one other person. His characters are some of the coolest heartfelt people in literature. Complex, flawed and trying to be kindhearted. His few published books all seemed to wrestle with how to live kind and thoughtful in a cruel and fucked up society. Franny and Zooey is on my World Peace Reading List. He may only be read by kids these days, but I think this is a good thing...get the kids before they turn into cynical old phonies ha ha.

I once got into a massive competitive discussion early in the 1990's internet of online web boards when I thought that A Nice Day For Bananafish might be the story of a pedophile who couldn't live with themselves. (It's more likely about a war vet who couldn't live with themselves and the superficial society they found themselves in...but I had a strange epiphany and stuck to my guns pissing off some other readers online)

Salinger's character would come alive in their speaking...Everytime I read Salinger's characters I could hear them speaking out loud. They seem as real as anyone in the way he could nail dialogue. Salinger's peers are David Mamet and Quintin Tarantino for gifted dialogues.

Reports say that Salinger passed away at home. I wouldn't have expected anything less. He outwitted the hospital and retirement home and stayed reclusive till the end!

The voice at the other end came through again. "I remember about the fifth time I ever went on 'Wise Child'. I subbed for Walt a few times when he was in a cast-remember when he was in that cast? Anyway, I started bitching one night about the broadcast. Seymour'd told me to shine my shoes just as I was going out the door with Walker. I was furious. The studio audience were morons, and I just damn well wasn't going to shine my shoes for them, I told Seymour.I said, they couldn't see them anyway, where we sat. He said to shine them anyway. He said to shine them for the Fat Lady. I didn't know what the hell he was talking about, but he had a very Seymour look on his face, and so I did it. He never did tell me who the Fat Lady was, but I shined my shoes for the Fat Lady every time I ever went on the air again-all the years you and I were on the program together, if you remember. I don't think I missed more than just a couple of times. This terribly clear, clear picture of the Fat Lady formed in my mind. I had her sitting on this porch all day, swatting flies, with her radio going full-blast from morning till night. I figured the heat was terrible, and she probably had cancer, and-I don't know.Anyway, it seemed goddam clear why Seymour wanted me to shine my shoes when I went on the air. It made sense."

Franny was standing. She was holding the phone with two hands. "He told me, too." she said into the phone. "He told me to be funny for the Fat Lady, once." She released one hand from the phone and placed it, very briefly, on the crown of her head, then went back to holding the phone with both hands. "I didn't ever picture her on a porch, but with very-you know- very thick legs, very veiny. I had her in an awful wicker chair. She had cancer, too, though, and she had the radio going full-blast all day! Mine did, too!"

"Yes, Yes, Yes. All right. Let me tell you something now, buddy...Are you listening?"

Franny, looking extremely tense, nodded.

"I don't care where an actor acts. It can be in summer stock, it can be over the radio, it can be over television, it can be ina goddam Broadway theatre, complete with the most well-fed, most sunburned-looking audience you can imagine. But I'll tell you one a terrible secret-Are you listening to me? There isn't anyone out there who isn't Seymour's Fat Lady. That includes your Professor Tupper, buddy. And all his goddam cousins by the dozens. There isn't anyone anywhere that isn't Seymour's Fat Lady. Don't you know that? Don't you know that goddam secret yet? And don't you know-listen to me, now-don't you know who that Fat Lady really is?...Ah, buddy. It's Christ Himself. Christ Himself, buddy."
From Franny and Zooey

Shadrach by the Beastie Boys..."I got more lyrics than J.D. Salinger..."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Collections And People

My first apartment was down the street from my dad and step-mum. I had flown the nest but not too far away. The apartment was in a very old "character" building in downtown Calgary. We lived just by 17th Avenue and 8th Street. The last time I drove by both my step-mum's old place and my old place they were still painted wth the same colours my family had chosen a long time ago. I have a few friends who helped paint that house and they have noticed the same interesting fact that any new owners have maintained that house colour. Anyways...I lived about a block from their place. One day I was doing yoga in my Danskin jazzercise body suit when the police pounded on my door. Apprarently my next door neightbour had tried to kill himself by shooting a rifle into his gas stove. The cops looking me up and down once in my yoga costume then asked to look in my closet for the bullets that went through the neighbours walls into my clothes. I didn't even notice. I was a very thick and slow teenager. Never even heard the gunshots. I did not tell my step-mum this story or she would have got me to move back in home. I had this ridiculously small kitchen about the width of the human body and back then I spent all my money on clothes and kitchen supplies. I vaguely remember eating but only on my shift at the local hipster vegetarian restaurant where I was a waitress. I'd eat a salad and carob cashew milkshake once a day. How funny is that? No matter how many tips I made I was always scrambling to pay my rent. Did I mention I spent all my money on clothes and cooking equipment? In this old apartment building I lived in we had shared washroom accomdation, which completely grosses me out now that I look back. Yuck. But I would haul my towel and a caddy of hair products and cleansing products down the hall in my robe for a bath. I always cleaned out the tub before I used it. One day an elderly couple across the hall asked me to help them do some errand they were having trouble with, I often met them in the hallway checking mail...or heading to the shared shower. Tey seemed sweet and I was as I said rather naive and so I went into their apartment to reach something or other for them. I couldn't believe what I saw in their apartment. It was filled to the ceiling with newspapers. The only way I could get to their kitchen was to carefully glide between tall coridors of stacked yellowing newspapers. I had never heard of hoarding before. In fact, being so naive and trusting I assumed they must have some fabulous purpose for keeping all those newspapers. I had no idea it was a mental illness.

Many times over the years since then, I thought about that apartment and that keeping newspapers and I later found out when I took a psychology course that hoarding might be a behaviour of a mental illness and might be related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Recently A&E started a series called Hoarders and I've been watching it. Sometimes Stagg will watch because it is totally fascinating. Stagg has a tendency to collect things and he makes a lot of artwork out of found stuff collected...and he calls the hoarders his peeps. Sometimes I laugh when he says this, heh heh...but I am the opposite, I like to have everything in a place and a home...even if we have a lot of stuff...I need to know exactly what it is and where. And if we don't need it: goodbye! Not easy. One thing that I really like about the tv show Hoarders is that at first I thought it was about the people who kept everything and filled up their houses. But it's turned out that the tv show is actually about the family of hoarders. Often these people are mystified and co-dependent or have worked really hard to not live in chaos themselves...and sometimes they step in with a psychological team to try and help the hoarder in their family. Heavy shit...and it absolutely seems to tear family apart.

Today we were walking home and from several blocks away we saw guy filling up a huge garbage bin. As we got closer I thought it was a reno job...but then I realized...holy cow, those are all newspapers. Real life hoarder! I couldn't believe it. The house he was hauling all this stuff from was a really beautiful huge house built in the 1940's on a fairly posh street near our apartment. I had to go up to talk to the guy. I said, "My husband and I are really impressed with how hard you are working on this terribly cold day" He says "Yeah, well you gotta take the work if you can." I ask, "Is this all newspapers from that house?" He says, "Yep, and there's lots more." I ask, "Is the owner in the house while you're working?" He says" Yes, and the owner's daughter."

Wow, just like the tv show I thought. I felt so bad for the daughter. One of the things that is obvious in the tv show is that many of the hoarders have very little social skills or take pleasure in what most of us experience as a valuable part of our lives with our families. The hoarders choose things over people. Something to think about. I am probably weird but I just had to take a picture of the newspapers in the refuse bin. When we got back home...I noticed a huge pile of things I've got by the door to donate to a church fundraising sale this week. Boy, I can't wait to get them out of the apartment.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

7 Days Till LOST

It's been a long strange trip but LOST and it's mysteries are finally coming to the surface this last season. What is that sound whenever the black mist shows up? What happened to Walt? Are Kate and Jack meant to be together? Who is Clare's baby and why was the spiritual forecaster so cryptic about his birth? Why those numbers? Why are all the books on the show like fundamentals of a magic Borges library? Will Saywer take off his shirt?

I am so excited for next Tuesday. I miss a lot of things about not being in Toronto, but one thing that is gonna be weird is I sure wish I could have a "LOST party" with my friends and family who also have watched every episode of this fricking awesome tv show. The pilot episode is probably still in the top ten pilot episodes ever. (others would be ER, 24, Desperate Housewives, How I Met Your Mother, True Blood, Dexter, Arrested Development, and The West Wing)

I really am going to miss being able to talk about each episode with family and friends in person. As it is, we make a lot of long distance phone calls and thank goodness for Skype, right? On a good night I don't have a clue what is going on and I depend on recaps and individual theories to keep up to speed ha ha. We've been waiting for this season forever it feels like...and one thing that is a drag is that the season will be pre-empted by the Olympics. Sure I'm going to be watching the Olympics, I prefer the winter games much more than the summer ones (sorry ancient Greece)...but nasty to have LOST interrupted!

Some LOST fansites I've enjoyed:

1.) The Tail Section
2.) Lost Media
3.) 4 8 15 16 23 42
4.) Lostpedia
5.) Dark UFO
6.) A Theory Of Time Travel

Pop Songs From Shakespeare

Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o' the great;
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke:
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan;
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renown├ęd be thy grave!

Helen Mirren ... Imogen
Michael Gough ... Belarius
Geoffrey Burridge ... Guiderius
David Creedon ... Arviragus

Directed by Elijah Moshinsky

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dear Internet

I was so surprised how much this story about NBC and the Late Show situation with O'Brien would ever have captured my imagination so much. We were talking about why is this such a big story with so many people, not just tv executives and fans....and our friend Tricia made a great point that Conan O'Brien's situation has touched a lot of people in the States who have lost their job, or their disappointment with the banking corporations rip off of citizens and the troubled economy. People have rooted for Conan to get a great settlement and related to this kind of machination that all of us have felt at one time or another. Conan O'Brien's last show was so good and so outstanding. Steve Corell showed up to do an "exit interview" with Conan....and the routine was brilliant. Neil Young played and affter his performance he thanked Conan for all his work promoting new music. The above clip is incredible. I really recommend you watch it. Conan is not only wise and upstanding, he is a good sport. Way to be inspiring Conan!

This is excellent too...Will Ferrell showed up to sing "Free Bird" with Ben Harper, Billy Gibbons and Beck. Conan straps on a guitar too.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Speaking Words Of Wisdom


This is beyond beautiful. Way to go Justin Timberlake, it takes a lot of "you know" to sing this song...

Friday, January 22, 2010

S and A Studios

Not too far from our place is a building that used to be a film studio. In films early history 1 out of 4 American movies were produced in Chicago. Essanay produced silent films with stars George Periolat, Wallace Beery, Francis X. Bushman, Gloria Swanson, Tom Mix, Ann Little, Helen Dunbar, Lester Cuneo, Virginia Valli, Edward Arnold, and Rod La Rocque. Charlie Chaplin made one of his "Tramp" movies here too!

Related Links:

1) Chicago Tribune
2) Landmark
3) Wiki

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vice Magazine Joins CNN

CNN has unveiled strategic content partnerships with Vice magazine's VBS.TV and Sub Pop Records for the launch of two new youth-orientated web series.

The global news firm will this week start hosting video content from Vice on its website, along with travelogue footage by Sup Pop band the Handsome Furs.

Both collaborations are part of CNN's strategy to broaden the range of voices and perspectives in its news reporting.

Launched in 2007, online channel VBS.TV is overseen by creative director and renowned filmmaker Spike Jonze, along with Vice founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi.

CNN will carry a new episode from VBS.TV every Wednesday, starting today with the Vice Guide To Liberia, in which Smith travels around the war-torn country, interviewing war lords and also citizens coping with the violence.

Each VBS.TV episode will be accompanied by field photography and editorial narratives to bring additional context to the stories.

"Most people who hear about this partnership will think, 'Vice and CNN, hmmm... That's an odd pair of bedfellows for you'. And you'd be right. The hipsters' Bible hooking up with the world's news leader is a bit odd," said Smith.

"But as our company began to evolve and cover stories around the globe, CNN was our first and only choice for a partner. In a world of hyper-partisan opinion-led news, CNN's credibility and reach put it in a class by itself. We couldn't be more excited with a partner unless it was Jimi Hendrix (nod to all the Baby Boomers out there) joining our rock and roll band."

CNN's partnership with Sub Pop focuses on indie band the Handsome Furs - made up of husband and wife duo Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry - as they embark on a maiden tour of Asia.

Titled Indie Asia: On Tour with Handsome Furs, the series features travelogue footage captured by the duo on Flip cameras from China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand. The first episode will go live tomorrow and be followed by a new instalment every Thursday.

"It's a real honour to be associated with such an amazing rock band, one so bent on bringing their wholly unique music to such far-flung parts of the world," said Sub Pop founder Jonathan Poneman.

"Likewise, it's an amazing opportunity for them and Sub Pop to be able to share Handsome Furs' experiences with the millions of people reaches every day around the world. In the end, that sort of connection - on record, at shows and now on - is the whole point."

CNN senior vice president and general manager KC Estenson added: "When we unveiled the new, we wanted to showcase CNN's in-depth reporting, as well as introduce a new range of voices to our users through strategic partnerships.

"Indie Asia will provide users with a unique cultural travel log of Asia, while the original storytelling from VBS.TV promises to bring the audience smart, alternative documentary-style videos." From here

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nearby Action

Went To See Avatar Again!

I enjoyed it even more the second time. I really like the guy who played the Colonel, Stephen Lang. He was right out of Sgt. Rock. I was pretty involved in the characters the first time, I noticed a lot of other things things time around, the choreography and composition was pretty amazing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kate McGarrigle

Elvis Costello had an amazing tv show called Spectacle (there are still a few new episodes in release this year before it's cancelled) and I'm so glad he had Rufus and his mum on the program last year. Canadian singer/songwriter Kate McGarigle will be missed. I feel bad for Rufus. Our friends in England Asterisk and Red...just saw them perform a month ago. I've seen her play about half a dozen times. She was a real treat.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Hey, There's Skittles In There!"

I realize me and Stagg are probably the last people to on earth to see The Hangover...we just kept missing it. As soon as I saw the trailers I knew I wanted to see it, but life got in the way. So we got it this weekend...and wow was it worth the wait. What a fucking outstanding hilarious movie. It's one of the best comedies I've ever seen. The writing is so wonderful and it really hits you as the movie goes on. If it wasn't enough that some of the sight gags just are killer...the writers and directors know just what makes one comedy rise above the others. And that is the essential core heart of the chaaracters. We saw this in A Fish Called Wanda. What made that comedy genius was that John Cleese really loved the girl. And in The Hangover the emotional delivery comes as we start to actually care about these guys. We even like "fat Jesus"...and trust me he isn't that likeable at the beginning. I laughed so hard my whole throat hurt and I started losing my voice. We kept it extra so we could watch it again today. Really, I'm sure you've heard this before and I'm late on this one...but you gotta see The Hangover...I wanna marry this movie! I don't wanna say too much, but if it's just for the physical opening half hour...this movie will have you happy to be alive...but it's even better because structurally the writers knew what they were doing and it's a masterpiece of ludicrous fun!

And just to mix it it up....the crazy Jersey Shore!

If you don't get MTV, then when Jersey Shore comes out on dvd you have to rent it. Seriously painful and adorable. We've been watching this first season and then doing a marathon and now Stagg and I can speak "jersey Shore".

We got an equation that is falling apart around the situation and Snooki is dramatized.

They say once you learn a couple of langauges...all other languages come easier to you. Seriously howling every episode...and oddly, even though the slang is different the show kind of reminds me of some of high school in Kitimat. Hey, us hosers have our own language. I figure I pick up this new speak of Jersey since I already speak hoser. At one point in this series you kind of realize that the meaning of life is about TGH. Tanning. Gym. Haircut.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Secular Priest

How do we live? I love movies that go deep into this question. I love novels that do this too. Stories that bravely engage us in how we live. How do we treat people? How do we treat ourselves?

We have a lot of news stories about rotten priests, cheating cops, responsible parents who go mad in Vegas, and George Clooney is working with such characters in several of his films that contain a character that was previously familiar to us in film noir. Film noir exercises it's major exploration with characters who are both good and bad. They live outside the norms of society, loners, angry cynical folks who find a way to make choices that keep them outside emotional communities and responsibilities. Their alienation and existential ethics become the way they solve problems. Geroge Clooney has made master works in several films of such people.

Up In The Air is a comedy-drama that has a film noir main character. George Clooney plays a man who has made his life so pure of purpose and application who practices an ethic code of his own making and he is fascinating. Clooney has two other characters like this in his history. Both his Syrianna and Michael Clayton characters seem to live a monks existence.

We often forget that without the hard work of people who decide to not get married, not to put a career and materialistic wealth as their main focus in life...our society would fall apart. Nuns and priests are good examples of such a framework. Sure those news stories of corrupt perverted priests get all the main coverage. But the basic population of nuns and priests keep our cities functioning in ways we don't always remember. They give extra time to help our kids learn music and sports. They help our homeless people. They schedule thousands of hours of our social and spiritual lives. They do these valuable things and buffer the rest of us who do not put helping others as a priority because we just don't have time to work so hard and buy the things we want and take care of these other valuable aspects of our culture.

Up In The Air is so interesting because here is a person who has made sacrifices a monk or nun has made, he serves the community and fills in a gap almost no one else wants to fill. The three characters he portrays in Syrianna, Michael Clayton and Up In The Air all have the qualities that we enjoy in a film noir protagonist. Looking at the styles and genres that film noir has taken since the 1940's it is so cool to see these kinds of alienated, loner, mavericks now played within corporate institutions and how well Clooney has honed in on these characters who have eked out a life by trying to maintain a removed but ethically comfortable life. All three of these movies explore what challenges happen when we find no room to live if we don't want to live like everybody else.

I highly recommend Up In The Air. The story, cinematography and themes are excellent, deep and well explored. It's a very funny and emotionally satisfying movie while touching on sacrifice and tragedy. If George Clooney was Humphrey Bogart he would stand in front of a mirror and say "This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship". George Clooney is the cool mans new age monk.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sexy Directors

One of the great things about cable and having a movie channel is you see a lot of movies that often get less press than others. Back in the 80's when Canada first got movie channels they played a lot of great movies. A lot of really good almost B-movies. I would often have the tv just on...and would get interested in some movie just for the sake of it. One such movie was The Loveless. It starred a really sexy actor who I had never heard of, Willem Dafoe, and rockabilly musician Robert Gordon. I was taken quite by surprise. The movie is about a motorcycle gang that passes through a small town and just stirs up all kinds of shit. It was very much like some kind of 50's Marlon Brando or James Dean motif. The way the movie looked was really beautiful and the soundtrack, provided by Gordon was super cool. I made note of the director and made sure I've watched everything she made since. Her name was Kathryn Bigelow. Bigelow is an interesting artist for a number of reasons. She made films that were gender-bending because they often included a fair bit of violence and almost always a detailed fight scene. And she was drop dead gorgeous...supermodel gorgeous, actually. She isn't very well known for a lot of people. Her movies didn't always get huge box office but they always had really good characters and cinematography with highly stylized mise en scenes. This year Kathryn Bigelow will finally be on the minds of many movie buffs because her new film, The Hurt Locker, is getting a lot of press and attention. I am really happy for her. Bigelow is the only person I ever wrote a fan letter to...and I am still kind of amazed that Iw as so inspired to write her a letter...and I am also very embarrassed to admit writing a fan letter in public ha ha.

No secret...I love Quentin Tarantino. I think he is wonderful...and I find him super sexy. I know...he's kind of got challenging looks. But I love him. I love how he talks about movies with such passion and hard core knowledge. And then there are his movies. I will pretty much buy the dvd version of all his movies. I've got several Kathryn Bigelow movies including her awesome vampire movie Near Dark. Her strange psycho B-movie Blue Steel I also own. With Tarantino, I have all his movies on dvd. I am hoping he gets some nods now that award season is here for Inglorious Basterds as it is just about perfect. One of my favourite things about Tarantino movies is the strong, often powerful, female characters. So many times the plot hinges on these women, especially in Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Deathproof.

(I once went backstage at the El Mocambo, in Toronto, and interviewed Robert Gordon. He was an amazing interview with a massive knowledge of music history.)

I am mad for James Cameron. I first saw The Terminator on the movie channel...and was so blown away I had to find a repertoire theatre that played it on the big screen. I made the same pledge I made seeing Bigelow's movie after seeing The Terminator to see all of his movies to follow. He is a real prize for Canadian pride! I also love all the stories about him being one tough son of a bitch to work for...the other day on Oprah she asked him if it was true that he nailed a cell phone to a wall on set. He said, no it was a screw gun, a nail wouldn't hold it. What is kind of cool about Cameron is the very fact that The Terminator was a cult movie...often seen by others like me on a cable movie channel and blown away. Critics generally do not like sci-fi films and it was panned by many so-called professional critics at the time of it's release. But the critics didn't have a clue that by the 1980's there were so many of us who grew up on comic books and sc-fi and were ready for decent movies that represented this generation of fans. .James Cameron is a good example of how fans find an artist and support them diehard. James Cameron was once married to kathryn Bigelow and he helped her get support for many of her movies even after their marriage broke up. I always thought that was great. Camerons' films always have strong, even if lightly painted, characters who have amazing chemistry with each other. He seems to really have a grasp on romantic relationships and many of his movies have very funny scenarios between married couples in extrodinary situations. (a quality that Hitchcock also always played out) He always has amazing female characters and for this alone he is a mensch. A seldom mentioned detail about Avatar is the Sigorney Weaver character. She isn't a main character but her part in the movie is really delightful. Tarantino and Cameron have written some of the most important female characters with complex personalities in the last twenty years and for that I am grateful. In fact, they may be even more complex than the majority of female characters in lead roles in romantic comedies and that is just amazing!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Happy Friday!

Been super busy here. I'm not crazy about super busy...I prefer to lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling or a movie. Anyways, we have been doing monster housework and some paperwork and just stuff. All good but just takes me away from online activity. Even my bookclubs have lost my attention more and more in the last few weeks. One day, a few weeks ago, I was especially stressed. Long story. Feeling pretty pressured and such. Stagg and I had to run some errands/go over to the bank/laundry and I felt I was really having a low. We dropped off a bit of mail down the street and as we continued along the block to the bank...I saw a snow globe on the grass right beside the sidewalk. I picked it up. It was a blonde angel with a stag. "Stagg it's a sign!" I just try to think about that when I'm feeling overwhelmed in the last couple weeks. And here it is the weekend...we are hoping to get tickets to see Avatar again. If you still haven't seen Avatar just do it. It's like the totally coolest movie. I know a fellow who is really tough on movies...especially Hollywood movies...and he gave it 8.5 out of 10. Of course anyone who knows me will know exactly why I think it's the greatest movie ever made and I can't wait to see it again!!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Teddy Pendergrass, R.I.P.

There are probably people not going to work today...a lot of girls crying. The romantic sexy Teddy Pendergrass has passed away. The video above is awesome, I mean after he throws off his shirt he makes a "booty stop" move. Pendergrass just always seemed to really love singing and he was just a classic lover...I bet a lot of babies were made to his smooth vocals. For other basketball fans like myself...he wasn't note for writing and performing the theme to March Madness "One Shining Moment".

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Helen Mirren As Imogen

Here is a scene from the BBC adaptation of Cymbeline. This play begins with a beautiful Princess married to a man of lower birth but with great personality and character. King Cymbeline, the Princesses father is angry about this secret marriage and banishes the Groom. Meanwhile the Groom has made a bet with a Roman soldier who says he can tempt the Princess, Imogen, to commit adultery.

In these clips we see the Princess, Imogen, when she first meets this Roman soldier named Iachimo...

A father cruel, and a step-dame false;
A foolish suitor to a wedded lady,
That hath her husband banish'd;--O, that husband!
My supreme crown of grief! and those repeated
Vexations of it! Had I been thief-stol'n,
As my two brothers, happy! but most miserable

When Iachimo first sees the Princess, he is very surprised by her beauty and her strong character...and he suddenly has doubts about whether she is as flighty as he assumed...

[Aside] All of her that is out of door most rich!
If she be furnish'd with a mind so rare,
She is alone the Arabian bird, and I
Have lost the wager. Boldness be my friend!
Arm me, audacity, from head to foot!
Or, like the Parthian, I shall flying fight;
Rather directly fly.

Iachimo tells the Princes sthat her husband is sleeping with all kinds of women in Europe. A real dog and player. But the Princess doesn't buy it......the Roman soldier is not able to trick Imogen into commiting adultery. Imogen defends her husband and says she will tell King Cymbeline about all his lies. Iachimo quickly tells her it was all a test of her loyalty. Iachimo is a jerk and lying. He wants to win his bet. So he sneaks into her bedroom while she is sleeping, steals a bracelet to "prove" to the Groom that Imogen is unfaihthful...and looks at her naked sleeping body to also provide "proof" he saw her naked!

So...of course, the Princess must be put to death...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Book Is The Wrong Shape For A Dictionary

My friend Mac Dunlop turned me on to this excellent link with four outstanding interviews about language, architecture, and earth-bound asteroids. A must-read!

"Lexicographer Erin McKean once edited the New Oxford American Dictionary. Now, she's working to close the book on dictionaries, as we know them.

MCKEAN: Oh totally, but I think that the book shape is the wrong shape for the dictionary. I don't know if you cook very much, if you're from the South you may have actually cooked with Crisco. But at some point in the recent past you started being able to get Crisco in sticks. I think that Crisco in a stick is one of the triumphs of modern civilization. Because it's so much easier to cook with. The tub is the wrong shape for Crisco because you get it all over your hands; it's really hard to measure.

YOUNG: That's true.

MCKEAN: In the same way the book is the wrong shape for the dictionary because it's too small, it can't hold all the words. It can't even hold all the right kinds of information about the words that it does hold. It doesn't tell you anything about people's opinions about a word. It doesn't tell you people think this word is beautiful. It doesn't tell you, oh, this adjective is only used with these objects. It doesn't tell you words work, it only tells you what words mean, and what words mean is just one facet of how words work.YOUNG: So, the way we use a dictionary is clearly going to change. Is the content of the dictionary going to change a lot, as well? What's going to get in?

MCKEAN: Every single word, or phrase, or idiom, or combination. The only reason that some things are in a dictionary right now and some things aren't is that the print book is just too small to hold every word of English. Even the Oxford English Dictionary has fewer than a million words in it, and it's pretty easy without even doing a whole lot of heavy lifting to find more than, say, four million unique English words.

YOUNG: You got to draw the line somewhere. If I just say "squizzlebop" is that going to be a word?

MCKEAN: If you use it as a word, it's a word. It's all about intent and communicative value.

YOUNG: This is anarchy! This is anarchy!

MCKEAN: [Laughs] No, it's not! Just because a word is a word, doesn't mean it's a good word. And so part of the job of the dictionary is to let you know, most people think this word is terrible, so maybe you don't want to use it. A lot of people feel that if a word's in the dictionary it's perfectly okay to use, and if it's not in the dictionary it's perfectly not okay to use it. And this is not a very good system for making word decisions because the dictionary is on a time lag, especially print dictionaries, and because there may be words that are perfectly, let's say cromulent in certain contexts that are not okay in other contexts.

YOUNG: Cromulent? Excuse me; I have to go to a dictionary.

MCKEAN: [Laughs] That's a word you may not find in the dictionary because it's from an episode of "The Simpsons". And cromulent means "okay" and it was actually used when one of the teachers in Bart's school was saying to another teacher, you know, I can't believe you don't know that word – it's a perfectly cromulent word.

[YOUNG laughs]

MCKEAN: But once it was used in "The Simpsons" it became a word, automatically.

YOUNG: Uh huh. Well, will emoticons ever make it into the dictionary? Please say no.

MCKEAN: [Laughs] I'm going to have to disappoint you.

[YOUNG groans]

MCKEAN: Well, okay, but think about this: the exclamation point, if you really think about it, is a kind of emoticon.


MCKEAN: It's an image that tells you what kind of expression goes with the sentence. I mean think of the difference between saying, "It's on fire" period, and "It's on fire" exclamation point.

YOUNG: Is there any place at which I can make you draw the line and say, "No, sorry that's just not acceptable – that's not a word."

MCKEAN: People have tried. [Laughs] But the truth is that I'm not the person who decides what's a word and what's not a word. If you use something as a word, there's a little magic an alchemy that happens that makes that a word.

YOUNG: But you're writing dictionaries! Isn't that your job?

MCKEAN: My job is to map the language. So, I tell you where everything is, and what it is. But I don't leave the red-light district off the map because I disapprove of it.

YOUNG: Mm hmm.

MCKEAN: That would make a pretty bad map. And then you'd stumble into the red-light district and not know where the heck you were. And that wouldn't help anybody.

YOUNG: Are we headed toward something better than a word?

MCKEAN: In my opinion there is nothing better than words. Even if they invented some magical telepathy device or something that let us convey emotion through perfume or anything else. Nothing is better than words. And that is possibly my not inconsiderable bias talking.

YOUNG: Erin McKean, lexicographer and now CEO of a new online dictionary, called Wordnik. Thanks very much.

MCKEAN: You're very welcome."

For the entire transcripts of this excellent interview click here

Monday, January 11, 2010

I Forgot My Camera...Twice!

I've been to Graceland twice and both times I forgot my camera. ERGH! About the middle of December Stagg says to me, "the next time we're in Graceland we need to buy a dvd tour". He had no idea I had already booked hotel rooms and a bus ticket for us to go to Memphis for the winter holidays! Weird. So the night before he started guessing where we were going and he guessed eventually with "ribs". Well we went to Graceland and I guess I was so relaxed I forgot to check my purse to see if my camera was with me. It wasn't. Good thing Stagg wanted to get the dvd tour. Last night we watched the dvd and I sat and kept taking pictures. After each shot I said to him "I'm taking pictures of my trip to Graceland." Here they are...ergh!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Back Alley Style

Visitors and friends know...I don't buy very many new things. I sure as hell am not buying a new cabinet for our tv...and guess what? We needed one and we found one in the garbage in our alley. We have awesome garbage in our alley partly because we have a reclaiming company behind us who finds facades and huge building material refuge and sells it to architects and designers. They have great garbage. We also live in a busy apartment building with people coming and goigng so often there are chairs and clothes thrown away when people move out or in. We founf this low-slung tv table whoo hoo!

Yes I know we have archaic electronic equipment. Listen...we do the best we can. And yes, I still play my records. In fact the other night I had a hankering to play ABC's "When Smokey Sings" it is...

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Colliding And Collapsing

In our lifetime we have seen some societies collapse including Somalia and Rwanda.

Jared Diamond gives us five things to look for to avoid such collapses:

1) look for human impact on the environment
2) climate change
3) relations with neighbouring friendly societies-do they pull away or end trade/negotiations?
4) relations with hostile societies-do they block resources?
5) political/economic/social/cultural factors in the society that will make it more or less likely to perceive and solve it's environmental problems

Friday, January 08, 2010

Get Back To Work

Dear Stephen Harper..I never would have voted for you in a million years...your policies suck. BUT, I still have to pay your wages. You are a public servant and I am your boss. Get back to work.

Facebook has over a 100,000 people signed up to pressure Harper to go back to work on the January 25th.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Cheese Man

Cheese man for the smiles...because today and yesterday Stagg and I have been doing that kind of work you wish you didn't need to deal with...sorting through the ephemera and flotsam and inertia of STUFF. I am packing up holiday decorations by priority. My fave decorations packed carefully should we move in the next year. That's ready to go. Sorting I LOVE this book, will I read it again, is it a resource. I've packed Stagg's t-shirt collection into levels of value, he must have 500 t-shirts...and I've got a few Rubbermaid containers with them in storaage down the basement. Just going through all this STUFF...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Another Great Rock 'N Roll Swindle

"Warner Music, meanwhile, has emerged with egg on its face and, no doubt, a large debt to right off, confirming once again that the best music cannot be steered, shaped, focus-grouped or marketed, no matter how huge the budget. It just happens."

Gallows, Great Rock'N Roll to read the whole article. Yea GALLOWS!


One of my online bookclubs is starting a discussion and group reading of Cymbeline by Shakespeare this week. We are reading one Act per week for five weeks. If you've never read a Shakespeare play with a is your chance for a fun time. On the off chance that someone just stumbles on to my blog or a regular visitor wants to join is the link at Shakespeare's Fans at the Goodreads webboards.

I've just begun the first act and the action is being thrown at us. First we hear two genetlemen gossiping about the Palace. (Just like our tabloids writing about our contemporary celebrities) Kings and Queens and Royalty were the movie stars of Shakespeare's time. We hear that the Princess has fallen in love and married a regular boy. This regular boy had been orphaned and adopted by her father, the King. The King is outraged she has married beneath her social standing and has banished this boy to Rome. (not a ban place to get banished, no?) He arrives in Rome and a gentleman is mocking him for thinking he could marry a Princess and she would stay loyal. The two men argue over whether this Princess Wife will stay loyal to a lowly Groom. the Groom defends the Princess as being loyal and true to him. The other fellow says...I will trick her into bed and come back here and tell you. They make a wager. A wager ups the ante in Shakespeare, as in life!

The fellow who is going to trick the Princess into having sex with him will win a fortune if he succeeds. The Groom...pissed off at the suggestion his Bride isn't faithful and truly in love with him wagers death. If the Bride doesn't sleep with this fellow...the result? Swords!

Above is a painting of the Princess, Imogen, by Herbert Gustave Schmalz.
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