Monday, February 26, 2007

Bride's Maid's Oscars

Well, I regularly voice my derision for the Oscars. This makes it particularly hard for me to defend watching at least a portion of them every year.

Last night I had every intention of going home from work and playing video games, but as I got to Broadway Station I was feeling both hungry and in need of a little social contract, so I decided to have a burger at Toby's Pub.

The very charming waitress and I kept each other entertained on what was clearly a very slow night for her... and we watched the Academy Awards.

It all started with a disagreement over Ellen DeGeneres's suit. The waitress thought the colour was awful. I though she looked great... but to be fair, I was wearing an orange and green t-shirt with The Hulk on it and a blue cardigan reminiscent of Kurt Cobain. It was laundry day, what can I say?

I'm not going to bother wading through each and evey moment of the night. I'm going to comment on two thematic things and the elements within, but that's all.

The smallest first:
The two major stage performances (not counting the ubiquitous best song performances). The vocal jazz choir sound effect thingy... very very cool. Very cool. The shadow dancers... just seemed dull to me. I didn't fell like the images presented were genuinely representative of the films in question... boiling 'The Departed' down to a gun? Huh? It looked like the credit sequence of a James Bond film. And the first one where they turned into an Oscar statue... cheap-o! That was totally a cut out.

Then the over-arching theme of the evening...

I'm not sure exactly how to phrase this, but I guess perhaps this was the Bride's Maid's Oscars. The biggest example is of course Martin Scorsese finally winning an Oscar for directing. I admit I haven't seen all of The Departed - with a wee bit of irony I turned it off less than halfway through the other night as it wasn't effectively overcoming my grogginess, merely adding to it. I will watch the rest, but it hardly struck me as his best. I'm not so fond of The Aviator, but all of the other four films he's been nominated for are thoroughly worthy of an Oscar. (For the record, that's Raging BUll, Goodfellas, Casino and Gangs of New York.) Hooray for finally getting recognized for work you did 27 years ago.
Similarly Alan Arkin. I actually think the look on Alan Arkin's face when his name was announced read "You gotta be fucking kidding me. You're giving me a defacto 'lifetime achievement award', not awarding me for the actual work I did in this film!"
Helen Mirren - perhaps in less, er... desperate... need for a statue - looking like the sexiest blue-hair I've ever seen, winning after three nominations (albeit this is the first as Best-Actress).
If there was one person in the auditorium in greater need of getting a make-up call... I mean that metaphor in the sporting sense, not the thespian sense, despite the venue... than Scorcese it would be, of course, Peter O'Toole. We can pretty much assume that Lawrence of Arabia will never get an Oscar. I'm not a fan of the, as I called it above 'defacto lifetime achievement award' - but if some one had it coming, it was Peter O'Toole. At least Scorcese is going to have another chance - possibly even as soon as next year, and likely with a better film!
Moving on...
Jennifer Hudson... a bit of a 'Huh?' But she fits the theme. Didn't win American Idol - won an Oscar instead. As inexplicable a win as Marissa Tomei, but a good consolation prize for an American Idol also-ran if you ask me.
And lastly - Al Gore. Do I need to explain how he fits the theme? No? Good. 'Cause if I did, then clearly the best comedy routine of the night was wasted on you. Sorry, Ellen - you too are a runner-up. Gore's routine with Leo DiCaprio (who I admit has become a pretty interesting actor in the past year) was pretty funny, but the punch line was the best. And when Inconvenient Truth won Best Documentary, his "My Fellow Americans" line was priceless. It truly would have been a historical moment if he had announced his candidacy though, huh?

Okay one last thing... as I'm talking about Al Gore. As amusing as it was, the Academy's self-congratulatory announcement about going green was infuriating. It's 2007! The Academy Awards - Liberal Hollywood's biggest night - has just managed to 'go green' this year? How long has the environment been an issue? It's been in the public eye for easily 25 years, and the past 10 or more have been really really significant. It took this long for the Academy to adopt enviromentally low-impact practices? That is retarded.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Evidence

I've said before on this blog. I'm going to say it again. (I haven't said it yet, but I will...)

I just came across a Pixies video that I had never seen.

(I haven't said it yet, but I will...)

Minimalist to an extreme - I'm betting the entire video cost less than a grand to produce - and yet unlike many other extreme minimalist videos, it's very watchable...

(I haven't said it yet, but I will...)

The slow motion is pretty fascinating.

(I haven't said it yet, but...)

The Pixies were fucking genius. One of the best acts ever.

P.S. For the record, as much as the sentiments above are genuine and from the heart, this entry was as much about testing embedding video as anything else... after all, I'd pretty much expressed the sentiment already.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Molly Grows Up

I'm trying to wrap my head around the YouTube phenom.
I wonder how long it's going to remain such a cultural touchstone?
How much opportunity is left to exploit with in it (and what is that opportunity / how can I get me a piece)?
Or does it represent a true paradigm shift?

Sadly it has already begun to be corrupted.

Case in point.... Molly Grows Up

I think what amazes me the most is that there are folks out there - young and old who didn't get it right away. How is that possible? Am I truly that much more media savvy than... however many folks?

I suppose it was inevitable, but that doesn't make it less crass.

The mocked ironic voices, the low-budget You Tube staple... it all makes me cringe. Once again, counter-culture co-opted by the corporations. I wonder what Naomi Klein would have to say?

Aparently it's referred to as 'Astroturf' - this faux 'grassroots' marketing.

Is it wrong? Well, so much about advertizing is wrong and this pattern has played out many many times before. I believe we are powerless to stop it, and I'm not even sure I like the greater implications of freedom of speech that would be implied by any legislation that could prevent it.

A necessary evil? Not precisely. It sure isn't necessary. But the lack of boundaries which allow it also allow so much that is necessary. So I suppose that make it a concommitant evil?

Must go... must figure out how to bend the YouTube generation to my nefarious will.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Ultimate American Idol Douchebag - Martik Manoukian A.K.A. - Eccentric

I'm not exactly sure what is at work here, but I have a funny feeling...

Last week in the LA auditions for season six of American Idol, Martik Manoukian made a complete ass of himself. He also uses the performing name 'Eccentric' - though perhaps he deliberately misspells it in some (ahem) cool way like Exentrik.

Where to begin?

The self-delusion in this guy is absolutely epic.

I'm going to assume that the current trend is going to continue... for some reason, his videos keep getting removed from YouTube at a rate unlike any other i-stick who makes a fool of themselves on that show. I don't think Fox gives a shit whether the videos stay up or not - the show really is a one-time thing except for the car-accidents like Martik. They've got a whack of in show promotion - like the drinking cups on the table - so they're happy to be able to say that the show continues to be broadcast on the 'net.
So here is my thinking... fuck-head Manoukian either by seeing the public opinion or perhaps, just perhaps, by simple assesment of the actual clip has come to realise that he looked like a complete and utter knob. And he has since made an effort to attack each and every clip that makes him appear so - he did sing a song of his own writing, so arguably it's copywrite material (though I'm sure Idol required a release). In any case there are probably any number of ways in which he could be manipulating the YouTube policy and rules to have the clips ditched.

But what he cannot do is keep people like me from giving a complete PbP and repeated using his name and tags and so forth to make sure that future google searches on him result in him being revealed as a delusional twit into posterity.


(Play by Play to follow.)

Veritable (Relative) Assault of Controversial Attention

Not sure exactly what caused it, but my last post about Little Mosque on the Prairie was the first evidence that my blog is being read.
I got comments. Five of them!
Perhaps considering the controversial nature of the responses I should be taking this more seriously, but I have to admit that I'm really still just stuck in the cycle of being giddy about actually being read!
I will wade into the fray if it seems like it's relevant when I return...
Oh yeah... I'm going away for nearly a week.
I'm actually quite excited about it.
I'm going 'home' to see my Dad.

I love my Dad. But no doubt we are very different animals. We're never going to have a 'father-son fishing trip.'
It's been over two years since I Iast 'went home.' I've seen him in that time, but I haven't made it to Prince George. For at least half a year he's been saying 'you should just hop on one of our planes and come up for the weekend.' That's nowhere near as 'Daddy's flying me to the Hamptons on his jet' as it sounds. He has worked for Northern Thunderbird Air for around forty years. Every Thursday a plane goes from Vancouver to Prince George and every Monday one comes back. It's simply a perk.
So we've been agreeing that I should just spontaneously do that for ages. It never happens.
So before Christmas we agreed that we'd pick a weekend in the New Year and stick to it.
Dad said "Any weekend but the second weekend in February. I've got a curling bonspiel."
I countered "Heck, that's exactly why I'm coming up then."
My limit in Prince George is about 3 days before I go stir crazy. But I really like watching curling - even curled with Dad when I was a teenager.
Dad is a lifer. And he's even won some significant stuff in his day. Curling is a really big deal for him, though his knees don't let him be competitive anymore.
So I'm volunteering at the bonspiel and hanging out with Dad. We'll be busy as heck, the time will fly and we'll be doing something together that has meaning to us both. We'll get in a few beers at the clubhouse - my current moratorium on beer is going to have to be tabled for the weekend - we'll probably be exhausted, but in the end I'm thinking it promises to be one of the best times we've spent together in years.
I called him last week to confirm the flight and while we were talking he said "This is going to be a lot of fun." I had a little moment of YEEES! Nailed that one!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Head Space Sickness

This one is just so unlikely that I have to add it to the list of things I've blogged about - though I haven't got much to say about it...


It's all over the news. It's just too strange a story on an other wise slow news day.

I have lost track of the original article I read, which is too bad as I can't find the quote that amused me the most in it anywhere else. It was a NASA spokesman - I assume James Hartsfield who is quoted in article after article as saying the parallel statement that "Nowak's status as an astronaut is unchanged; I cannot speculate on what may happen in the future" - who said something to the effect of "As far as we are concerned, Lisa Marie Nowak is still an astronaut." Practically the same thing, but something about the latter strikes me as funny.

With little doubt, Lisa Marie Nowak will be this year's Tonya Harding/Lorena Bobbit/Amy Fisher.

Hmmm. Now here's something... I was once stalked - long story not going to get deep into it here, but I'll sum it up with a few phrases: break and enter; 14 phone calls at 3AM in one night; spying through my window; reading my journal; 13 holes in the apartment wall with a hammer; and to her limited credit - ended once the police got involved - but the salient point... her name? Lisa Marie. Well, not exactly. She had changed the spelling of 'Lisa' to 'Lhesa' because it provided better numerological results.

I guess the lesson is don't name your daughters "Lisa Marie." (It's probably not a good idea to name your sons "Lisa Marie" either, but let's assume that that is academic.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sextup... No, Quin... Okay - Quadruplets should be saved from their parents

Meet the Douchebags.
They're a nice young religious couple who believe that letting your children die when action could feasibly save them is a righteous way to live their lives.
They believe that blood transfusions can also infuse a body with sin. Yes, that's right, their definition of 'bad blood' means that you can become a bad person by accepting the blood of a bad person into your body. I think it must have something to do with the Red Cross not screening for Dark Side Midichlorians.
They also believe in the sanctity of every precious life. Or so they say. In fact, what it means is that they believe that their own souls are precious. They don't want to go to hell. They are scared that if someone else forces them to allow their children to have a life-saving proceedure which happens to be against the tenets of their specious religion, that they - the parents - will fall from grace with god. Therefore it is better for them (and supposedly the children) to allow their children to die. Perhaps the children have been spared. Not from hell, but from being raised by parents who have fallen into the Watchtower Society's trap of spiritual slavery.
It borders on hypocrisy that the Douchbags would allow themselves into a pregnancy which could only be achieved by modern medical miracle, yet not accept the added benefit of saving their children's lives via those same modern miracles.
Or perhaps the Douchebags just got in over their heads? One (or two, or five) children too many? And luckily for them their religious beliefs supported a choice that would ease their load?
Personally, I think that the Douchbags have forfeitted their right to a say in the treatment of their babies. There is a Hypocratic Oath for doctors. If you ask me there should be one for parenting.
What are the surviving kids going to think when they grow up? It's not like this is going to be something that can be hidden from them. It's simply too public. They will put it together. They'll Google (v. 11.51) it and find a backlogged history that their church cannot keep covered. They could even read this very post. (Sorry for calling your parent's 'douchbags', kids - but they are, and I hope you are recognizing that by now, because your disdain is the true hell which they deserve for reasons I shall discuss henceforth. If your real family name was not being kept secret, I wouldn't have to make up a symbolic one.) They can read that their own Mother and Father were willing to let them suffer and die so that THEY THEMSELVES might avoid going to hell... or at least avoid being ostracized by their JW elbow-buddies. Two (so far) of thier former wombmates have already died. It could have been any of them. That's how much your parents care. They are willing to let you die so that their social life with YHWH isn't disturbed.

The Douchbags have every right to refuse their own medical treatment, but if they have no such right to impose such gobbledy-gook on children too young to have a say. It's nonsense. The sooner the government can re-set and save those babies from their parent's dogma the better. And hopefully it will set a clear precedent for the future so that next time some a-wipe zealot squirts out a prodigious litter in need of ICU attention, they'll get it without any sort of interference from a collectively insane religious sect.
Apparently before someone can refuse medical treatment they need to satisfy three conditions: they must be deemed competent, adequately informed and be free of coercion. (I'm not sure exactly how this - particularly the second item - is applied in DNR cases or in the case of people who have declared that they are not to be left on life support if their quality of life has been compromised, but that's a different issue.) So let's break that down quickly...
Competent: I'm thinking that if 5 week old babies were considered competent that we'd give them the right to vote.
Adequately informed: "Hello 5-week-old-baby. I'm your paediatrician. If you don't get new, potentially sin-filled, blood into your vascular system ASAP, you are going to die and possibly be saved from a life ruined by a tidal wave of sectarian gibberish and lies imposed upon you by Ma & Pa Douchbag and their zealot chums. Stare blankly or cry if you understand."
Coercion: I think it's pretty safe to say that any choice, positive or negative (however one defines those based upon their political and religious beliefs) is being forced upon the child, so I figure that we have to go with the default - which by definition of these conditions is to adhere to a treatment regimen. But even if we look past the kids to the parents... I'm going to turn to an excerpt here to make my point: (Full Text.)

"Congregations are deliberately kept to no more than about 100 people so everyone can get to know each other, said Mr. Ruge. They spend hours together doing door-to-door canvassing and attend a number of meetings each week, he said. Other parents of multiple-birth children say such aid is crucial in dealing with the monumental child care challenge.
However, the infants still have months of medical care in hospital ahead of them, with their survival not at all assured, physicians say.
Extremely premature babies experience a drop in levels of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, to the point where anemia often develops, said Ian Mitchell, a Calgary pediatrician who has dealt with Jehovah's Witness patients.
It is very common for such infants to require transfusions as a result, he said. Jehovah's Witnesses, citing various parts of the Bible, believe that blood is sacred to God and that Christianity forbids its consumption, storage or transfusion.
In a paper published with Dr. Mitchell last month in the journal Pediatrics and Child Health, Ms. Guichon argued that patients and their families sometimes feel pressure from the organization to oppose a transfusion even when they might feel differently themselves.
The fear, both explicit and implied, is that anyone who agrees to accept a transfusion will be banished from the organization, and lose the social network on which they depend, said Ms. Guichon. That prospect may be even more frightening for the B.C. couple, given how much they will need the help of their fellow Witnesses, she said.
But Mr. Ruge said Jehovah's Witnesses do not reject transfusions because they feel coerced. In addition to their religious beliefs, most are convinced that they are better off physicially without the blood, and there are many alternatives now to transfusions, he said.
"I wouldn't have a blood transfusion for a million bucks."
However, he did not deny the consequences of willingly undergoing a transfusion. Anyone who does so "wouldn't be a Jehovah's Witness [any more], of his own accord," said Mr. Ruge. "Jehovah's Witnesses follow the teachings of Christ and by your own actions you wouldn't be one."

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Little Mosque, Better Fare

Okay, so I'm glad to be eating most of my words.

Episodes two and three of Little Mosque on the Prairie have now aired and gosh if they weren't pretty funny.

The pro-am acting has largely been dialled back and a few of the actors really shine - Sitara Hewitt springs to mind, who is not only funny and real as an actor, but gorgeous as well.
Additionally the bad word play has practically disappeared. (Allah, be praised!)
The characters are developing nicely. Still a bit surface in some cases, but hey, it's only been three episodes! The range of characters is quite pleasing. Varying levels of devotion to Islam - even within single families - and plenty of universal virtues and foibles.

Yeah, I still with it were a bit edgier, but I think I'm going to have to relent on that matter. Edgier would appeal to a narrower audience - quite possibly even the Muslim audience that likely make up the shows core viewers - and would probably be the kiss of death to a show which is already pushing the boundaries of viewer expectations.

I can hardly wait for the curling episode!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Mooninites Attack!

In the whiplash splash of opinion that is the internet, I am over a day behind on this one... but last night I was telling two friends (and they'll tell two friends...) about the 'Aqua Teen Hunger Force Bomb Hoax.' They had not yet heard the news, so I suppose there's still some value in weighing in... even if it's just so I have something to reflect back upon in my dotage.

So... who is the mental midget who called in the lite-brite? And once the police are on the case, they have to follow through.

But here's the thing, THEY WERE UP FOR A WEEK! Do the math... of the four flights involved in 9/11 the longest any one flight went from scheduled departure to crashing was just over two hours (United 93 which crashed in Shanksville) - let's call it an even two - that's 84 terrorist hi-jacked flights that Al-Queida could have sandwiched into a week if it had taken people the same length of time to notice that there was a big column of smoke billowing out of New York.

I really don't know which is worse. The retarded paranoia that leads to thinking bird-flipping low-res cartoon characters hate America, or the sharp as a brick instincts that keep said paranoia in check longer than all the days strung together that Jack Bauer has been awake for public consumption. (And how long is it going to take before there is a YouTube video about CTU fighting Mooninites.)

I'm particularly bothered by the incessant use of the word 'hoax.' It implies that the folks at Adult Swim, or the Cartoon Network, or Turner Broadcasting had every intention that someone would take their publicity campaign as a bomb threat.

Having said all that, the media conglomerate who will benefit outrageously from this campaign should be expected to pay the public expense.