for more information contact skot@penguinstorm.com

I Am Skooter  So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
Saxophones started blowing me down  / I was buried in sound / Taxicabs were driving me around
— Wilco, Handshake Drugs
October 17, 2016
Bob Dylan: Tempest


This Hour Has 22 Minutes does a nice job every once in a while. (For the record, Tempest is an astonishingly good album.)

Posted by skooter at 9:16 PM
Tags: Bob Dylan, Videos

October 10, 2016
Adam West voices the Dark Knight

Adam West’s Batman was light and fun and in stark contrast to Frank Miller’s turn on the character which launched the darker interpretations that we’re now used to (most notably in Christoper Nolan’s Dark Knight films.) Hearing West read Miller’s original groundbreaking comic should leave you with no doubt that Adam West is Batman, in all of his glorious incarnations.

Posted by skooter at 10:10 AM
Tags: Batman

September 7, 2016
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Effects Reel


I actually find watching these types of effects reels a bit exhausting but this one’s Star Wars, so…here it is.

To be honest the best thing about this is that it shows how much of the film actually used CGI effects. There was a lot of press when the movie came out that focused on the fact that the movie relied on practical effects and the fact that made them “better” than the prequels. That may be partly true, but it was also a bit overstated.

At the end of the day movies rely on storytelling to succeed. The Force Awakens was no different, and it’s a better movie than the prequels because it had a better script and a better director—one who understands the fundamentals.

Great effects didn’t hurt though.

Posted by skooter at 7:07 AM
Tags: Star Wars

September 4, 2016
Evolution of Stop Motion Photography


Kubo and the Two Strings is an exquisite movie to watch made with a story that’s just as compelling. The stop motion animation that defines the movie is so exquisitely well done that it’s easy to mistake it for traditional cel-based animated work.

The video above does a nice job of showing how far stop motion animation has come since the early days of film making. For what it’s worth I’d rather watch the original King Kong than that horrendous Peter Jackson remake from a few years ago any day.

Posted by skooter at 9:55 AM
Tags: Animation, Movies, Videos

February 13, 2016
Jeff Tweedy Plays Charades with Ewan McGregor


Not being super connected to pop culture means this kind of thing slips past me a lot, so thanks to a friend for sending this along: Jeff Tweedy plays a games of celebrity charades with Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Posted by skooter at 4:56 PM
Tags: Ewan McGregor, Jeff Tweedy, Tonight Show, Wilco

October 28, 2015
Star Wars: The Force Awakens


I’ve actually resisted watching this before today, but I figured I might as well. A ticket has been ordered and, yes, my mother is coming out for vacation and I told her she’d have to plan around December 18th, 2015 when she came.

This one’s going to be good.

Posted by skooter at 11:53 AM
Tags: BB-8, Millenium Falcon, Star Wars

April 17, 2015
Chewie...we're home!


From that sand swept crashed star destroyer to those words uttered by Han Solo, this is just so good. This is going to be a good Christmas.

Posted by skooter at 6:34 AM
Tags: Han Solo, J.J. Abrams, Star Wars

March 25, 2015
I'm Not Some Kind of Nerdery Slut. I like Star Wars.


This is, to be quite frank, better than anything George Lucas has put out in the last 20 years.

Posted by skooter at 11:38 PM
Tags: Animation, Star Wars

December 21, 2014
Tina Fey: Comic Genius


Television without Tina Fey is just almost not worth watching.

Posted by skooter at 5:40 PM
Tags: Second City, Tina Fey

November 28, 2014
Two Words: Millenium. Falcon.

Posted by skooter at 8:31 AM
Tags: Millenium Falcon, Star Wars

August 5, 2013
Wolverine, Japan, Comic Books and The Movies

Pierre Trudeau on Weapon X I finally saw The Wolverine today. I went in with quite a bit of trepidation: I didn’t actually think the first Wolverine movie was awful, but it certainly wasn’t great. This one was different though: this one as, the story goes, tackling the Wolverine in Japan storyline that originated with the Frank Miller/Chris Claremont miniseries from the 80s. I owned the originals of that miniseries—James has them now—and it was a pretty formative story from my youth.

It doesn’t. It’s not even close. Again, the movie wasn’t awful but it falls far short of what it could have been and right into the traps of Hollywood superhero adaptations.

Stories like this or this one would have you believe that the movie was inspired by the miniseries. Calling that a stretch doesn’t do it justice: no less than three major characters in the film don’t appear in the miniseries. The entire plotline from the premise to the climax is different.

So let’s set that aside, and see what’s really wrong here.

I’ve argued for a long time that Hollywood’s problem with superhero movies is an excessive need for exposition: in a two hour movie every bit of back story and action is explained in extensive detail.

The most notable exception to this is in Batman: The Dark Knight. The Joker comes from nowhere, with no explanation and starts wreaking havoc in Gotham. The movie’s pace doesn’t miss a beat. “Sometimes,” Michael Caine’s Alfred says, “a man just wants to watch the world burn.” It does, and the film works as a result.

Not so in the Wolverine. “They’re Yakuza. Japanese mafia,” Yuriko says—just in case you mistook the guys trying to kill people for the good guys. Wooden dialog like this doesn’t make for compelling viewing. It assumes that the audience is dumb; that we couldn’t possibly follow along.

Contrast this with Joss Whedon’s Avenger’s film. In true Whedon style, the film launches straight into the story. No back story—the back story is established as we go, with the barest of details provided at the start. Whedon is a smart writer who consistently does assume_ that his audience is intelligent. It’s this assumption that makes devoted fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly so easy to find.

The plot of Wolverine does little to advance character development either, which is sad becuase that original miniseries was a pivotal moment for the character of Wolverine. Prior to that he was a blunt instrument. A rough and tumble little Canadian with claws who used the word Bubb a lot and went into a berserker rage. The miniseries introduced a side of the character that hadn’t been seen before, and showed us that Wolverine craved control over those rages. Mariko was his anchor, and the story gave him a code of honour, and ethos and a nobility that he had lacked prior to that.

The movie moves from action scene to action scene, with barely a moment to stop in between to lay out the cliches. Of course Wolverine and Mariko kiss. Of course Wolverine is still pining for Jean Grey. Of course Wolverine saves the day at the funeral (imagine if he hadn’t? What if he’d been unable too, and had to pick up the slack later?) Of course the character who dies doesn’t actually die.

So, the movie wasn’t awful but it didn’t exceed my expectations either—and those expectations are set pretty low. It’s a decent time, but I wouldn’t rush out to see it. I might even regret spending the I did to see if in the UltraAVX 3D format. I don’t think it gained much, but what’s done is done.

One day, someone might make a complex Wolverine movie: one that captures the character as he was. Sadly, I think the comics have retconned the character so much that it may not be possible with modern material (the bone claws? Really? Give me a break.) Maybe Justin Trudeau could even have a role, playing his father who was, after all, the leader who created him. Maybe Joss Whedon will write an Alpha Flight movie. Now that would be worth watching.

Posted by skooter at 8:43 PM
Tags: Avengers, Movies, Wolverine, X-Men

April 21, 2013
Patton Oswalt's Rant on Star Wars Episode VII


From the writer of the original scroll to the return of Boba Fett and a Marvel Universe crossover Patton covers it all.

Posted by skooter at 7:24 AM
Tags: J.J. Abrams, Patton Oswalt, Star Wars

June 22, 2012
Every Jump the General Lee Made


I am of an age where this resonates with my childhood. Having pimped out my car with somewhat fancy rims, I may consider installing a General Lee horn.

Posted by skooter at 9:35 PM
Tags: Cars, Dukes of Hazard, Television

June 3, 2012
David Suzuki: Force of Nature

Realeased theatrically a couple of years ago, the David Suzuki documentary Force of Nature is a biography of sorts of an uniquely inspirational Canadian figure. Dr. Suzuki is an internationally renowned scientist, television host and activist. The film is built around the content of a Legacy Lecture presented by Dr. Suzuki as, faced with his own mortality at the age of 75, he begin to consider his permanent legacy.

That legacy is strong and the film does a fine job of describing why. Scenes from the lecture are interspersed with stories and film from his life and it makes it quickly apparent that you’re watching a man whose concerns go so far beyond the personal that’s its hard to see where his concern for himself ends and his concern for all of humanity begins.

I volunteered at the Suzuki Foundation for a while. Those were good days. The work was nothing special, but I enjoyed the people I was working with. I had shifted my full time schedule to four days a week and was at the Foundation most Fridays. Those Fridays were rewarding and always interesting.

The David Suzuki Foundation is under siege these days, as part of the Conservative Party of Canada’s war on charities. Dr. Suzuki has chosen to resign so that he can continue to speak out on issues he cares about without risking the Foundation being declared an activist organization and endangering its charitable status. The Conservative Party of Canada, it seems, considers environmentalism problematic.

In the closing moments of the movies comes one of the most important messages. When discussing the real estate market and the value of his property, Dr. Suzuki says:

“…and that’s our problem: when we measure everything in terms of economic value those things that matter most to us are worthless.”

He’s right, of course. The most important things in our lives are not the things we buy or the relative ease with which we do it. They are the intangibles: the people we share our lives with, the places we consider sacred, the moments we remember for a lifetime.

It’s a film that’s worth seeing, if only to remind yourself of that one very important thing.

May 20, 2012
Darth Vader & M.C. Hammer

This is disturbing on so many levels, not the east of which is the wildly inaccurate premise: Lord Vader is entirely capable of killing people using only the power of the force. It’s not that he can’t touch this, it’s that he doesn’t have to.

Posted by skooter at 10:44 PM
Tags: Darth Vader, Star Wars, Videos

May 16, 2012
Weyland. Yutani.

Anticipation is high around Prometheus in these parts. Ridley Scott rarely disappoints.

Posted by skooter at 7:26 PM
Tags: Alien, Ridley Scott, Weyland Yutani

January 10, 2012
Bill Cosby: 50 Years in Showbiz

The New York times posted a great article celebrating Bill Cosby’s 50 years in show business. The man’s been receiving accolades for years, and they’re all deserved. In a day and age where being funnier seems to be a synonym with being louder (I’m looking at you Sam Kinison) and crasser (I’m looking at you Chris Rock) Bill Cosby has remained a very funny while staying clean. I’m not saying those other guys aren’t funny, it just seems like a cheap, easy way out sometimes.

I saw Cosby live once. It was the end of a very hard summer for me. I was fifteen, and things weren’t good at home for me largely due to circumstances of my own making. I’d asked to leave Toronto and wanted to move to Cranbrook to live with my father. There was screaming, there was shouting and in the end my mother let me do what I wanted. She packed my stuff and put it on a bus and I was gone.

As these things so often happen, what I thought I wanted wasn’t what I actually wanted and things didn’t work out in Cranbrook. After a few weeks and before the end of the summer I finally screwed up the courage to call my mother and tell her I wanted to come…home. We talked for a few minutes about the trouble I’d been causing and she said yes without evening thinking about it. That’s what parents do. Good ones anyway. That was a hard call to make. She could have made it harder. She didn’t.

When I got home she asked me if I wanted to go see Bill Cosby with my Aunt & Uncle. She’d bought three tickets for a show at Exhibition stadium and she was giving up her own so I could go. It was a warm, dry memorable night in Toronto. The Blue Jay’s were on the rise and shortstop Tony Fernandez and outfielder and home run legend George Bell were in the audience. Cosby took the stage in a Jays jersey. He joked with the players, ran through some material and closed his show with his justifiably famous The Dentist routine. I’d probably heard that routine dozens of times but seeing it live was an entirely different thing. That man is capital F Funny. If he has an equal, I can’t think of who it might be. Lily Tomlin? Steve Martin? Maybe.

I’m sure I didn’t realize how much that night made me feel like I was at home at the time. Typical of most teenagers, I suspect it just felt like another night.

I’m not sure if my mother ever got to see him live. I don’t remember her mentioning it. I might have to make up for that sometime.

Cosby’s performing days are winding down—and tickets cost an abolute fortune I’m sure—but if he comes to your town don’t miss seeing him. You won’t regret it. That’s my commitment to you.

Posted by skooter at 12:59 PM
Tags: Articles, Bill Cosby, New York Times, Television

November 22, 2011
Jim Henson


I seriously can’t watch this without crying, even if the voice is off a bit (and I don’t meant that in a small way.) I’ve got high hopes for tomorrow’s release of a new Muppet movie.

Posted by skooter at 1:54 PM
Tags: Children, Jim Henson, Kermit, Mrs. Piggy, Muppets, Videos

October 17, 2011
Allen Toussaint & Mavis Staples at the Chan Centre

You know those times you go to a show and you’re not sure who the opening act is? Last night was one of those nights for me.

The opening act for last night’s Mavis Staples show at the Chan Centre was Allen Toussaint and just because I hadn’t heard of him doesn’t mean I didn’t know his work. The prolific composer organized the horns for The Band’s Last Waltz and has worked with just about everybody. An engaging, friendly and upbeat performer Toussaint played a brilliant set of slightly more than an hour.

Mavis Staples took the stage later in the night, after a short intermission. Her joy at being in Vancouver was infectious, and the third song of her set was The Band’s The Weight, a number the Staples Singers sang at that long ago and deservedly legendary Last Waltz. I just about died.

January 23, 2011
William Shatner: Rocketman


The man, he is a genius. Truly.

Posted by skooter at 5:38 PM
Tags: Elton John, Rocket Man, Star Trek, William Shatner

September 21, 2010
2010 Vancouver International Fringe Festival

Photos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe FestivalPhotos from the Vancouver International Fringe Festival Over the last ten days, in and amongst other things, I’ve been busy photographing the 2010 Vancouver International Fringe Festival as part of a talented team of photographers. It’s been an honour to spend time with the enthusiastic staff and volunteers who make the event possible, the performers who bring such amazing live theatre to Vancouver and the other photographers who are contributing to the Vancouver International Fringe Festival pool on Flickr.

Some, but not all, of the photos I took are in a Flickr collection.

September 9, 2010
Tommy Chong at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival

Tommy Chong at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival Legendary comedian Tommy Chong attended the opening gala of the 2010 Vancouver International Fringe Festival and graciously allowed me to take this portrait of him as he explored the silent auction items.

July 4, 2010
Happy Birthday to America

June 11, 2010
Objectified: The Film

Objectified title card Directed by Gary Hustwit Objectified could be seen as something of a follow up to the his earlier Helvetica., though that doesn’t really do the film justice.

Objectified delves a little deeper into the culture of consumption in numerous conversations with the people who make the things we consume. Notable designers interviewed include Dieter Rams of Braun(company), Marc Newson, Jonathan Ive of Apple, Chris Bangle of BMW and Karim Rashid (resplendent in purple sunglasses there aren’t words to describe.)
Karim Rashid

Rams opens the film, proclaiming Apple the only company to truly value design. Combine Braun’s history of design with the fact that North Americans traditionally view Europe as the home of good design and this comes as no small compliment.

Objectified explores a culture where the design of mass produced objects is increasingly important. During the 60s and 70s there wasn’t much focus on the shape of things we used. Function was important, and ergonomics were often overlooked. The classic example of the Good Grips swivel peeler is explored as an example of looking at the everyday objects we use in another way.

This leads to the exploration of the theme of the democratization of design. Our houses are increasingly filled with objects we think of as having been designed rather than simply manufactured. Mass retailers Ikea and Target are held up as examples of the process in action.

Ultimately, one of the points the film’s various interviewees reiterates is the fact good design is usually less design. Virtually every designer points out the contradiction of their profession: that good design should be timeless and last forever, but that they are paid to create the new thing that consumers want to replace the old with. Landfills are full of stuff that’s been discarded for no reason other than style and trends.

Dieter Rams sums up the future of design nicely in the film with his closing words:

The value, and especially the legitimization of design will be, in the future, measured more in terms of how it can enable us to survive—and I don’t think this is an exaggeration—to survive on this planet.
— Dieter Rams

Objectified is well worth seeing, and makes a nice companion piece for Helvetica. Hustwit also produced (but didn’t direct) the phenomenal Wilco documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart and has rapidly become one of my favourite filmmakers.

May 17, 2010
20 Years of Missing Jim Henson

I’ve certainly been moved by the death of many people I knew and loved, but I’ve rarely been as moved by the loss of someone I had never met as I was the day Jim Henson died. It was as if my entire had just been…erased. At a time when media felt more fragile and didn’t live forever, it seemed that a future without Jim Henson was a grim prospect.

Posted by skooter at 6:57 AM
Tags: Jim Henson, Muppets

May 14, 2010
Fred & Barney Shill for Winston

Posted by skooter at 4:58 AM
Tags: Cigarettes, Flintstones, Smoking, Television

May 6, 2010
Darth Vader's GPS Recording Session

Tom Tom has released a Darth Vader voice for turn by turn directions on its GPS units. The best part is the brilliant promotional video.

Posted by skooter at 3:15 PM
Tags: Darth Vader, GPS, Star Wars, Tom Tom

Television: A Poem by Todd Alcott, Interpreted by Beth Fulton

Television is a drug. from Beth Fulton on Vimeo.

Posted by skooter at 12:30 AM
Tags: Culture, Poetry, Television

March 21, 2010
Jack Donaghy as the Next Darth Vader

Don Geiss in Carbonite Don Geiss in Carbonite Tina Fey loves a good Star Wars tribute, and this week’s 30 Rock paid it in the form of encasing Don Geiss in a cryogenic chamber reminiscent of Han Solo in Carnbonite.

With Jack Donaghy presiding over the funeral, does this make Alec Baldwin Darth Vader?

Posted by skooter at 8:50 PM
Tags: 30 Rock, Han Solo, Jack Donaghy, Star Wars, Tina Fey

February 26, 2010
The 70s Were So Surreal

Posted by skooter at 12:10 AM
Tags: Videos

February 10, 2010
Edmonton, Baby!

I’m in Edmonton for work and—to answer the question, occasionally unspoken but always considered—I didn’t lose a bet. I actually volunteered, in part so that I could reconnect with friends.

It turns out that the only part of Edmonton I know is Whyte Avenue. It could be worse: it’s a pretty good part of town, with interesting sites to see. Of course, I’m hanging out in a Starbucks at Chapters with some free Wi-Fi. These are the compromises we make for connectivity.

I was last here in the summertime, about nine months ago, and things have changed. A nice small used bookstore I tried to spend some money in is closed. With Pages having closed in Toronto and Duthies closed in Vancouver, this is a trend that is becoming problematic for those of us who like the printed page.

I turned a TV on in a hotel room last night and lasted about a minute and a half. I haven’t had one for the last nine months or so, and the commercials and barrage of noise grate on me. The longer I stay away from it, the more annoying it gets. Back to CBC.

It’s snowy here, which is something I haven’t seen very much of this year. It makes me think that they maybe should have held the Winter Olympics here. In two days, Vancouver’s going to get crazier than it’s ever been. I fly home tonight, and I’m looking forward to it—and not just because of this Saturday night’s Wilco show.

Posted by skooter at 8:23 PM
Tags: 2010, Edmonton, Vancouver Olympics, Wilco

January 29, 2010
The Weary Kind - Theme from Crazy Heart

One of the best films I’ve seen in quite some time, with music curated by the always amazing T. Bone Burnett

Posted by skooter at 6:33 AM
Tags: AltCountry, Jeff Bridges, Movies, Music

January 1, 2010
CBC Radio 3 Top 103 Songs of 2009

CBC Radio 3’s top 103 songs of 2009 are now available as a playlist. It’s as reasonable a list as anything I could have come up with. I might have bumped Amy Millan up a bit for personal reasons. I think Young Galaxy should probably have another song on the list, and Metric’s Gimme Sympathy is a bit of a predictable choice for number one (though the acoustic version Emily Haines performed at the Polaris Music Prize Gala was beautiful.)

Onwards and upwards to 2010.

Posted by skooter at 1:15 AM
Tags: Amy Millan, CBC, Metric, Music, Young Galaxy

December 20, 2009
2009 in Concerts

I’ve seen a lot of live shows this year. Certainly more than any other year in my life, and enough to confidently say that anybody who’s seen more than I have is either in the business or doesn’t have to get out of bed to get into work at 7 a.m. five days a week.

Either way…whatever. This isn’t a contest. Some notes on particular standouts.

The Gist with Dan Mangan, Ivan E. Coyote, Brendan McLeod, and Damonde Tschritter

Coming hot on the heels of the release of Dan’s astonishing album, this collaborative show with Ivan (one of my favourite storytellers) and two people I’d never heard of seemed like a unique event. The funny thing is, I almost didn’t go…but I did, and it’s one of the most interesting live shows I’ve seen in a while.

Not strictly a concert the artists joined each other on stage, fading to stage left and stage right as the moment demanded. Watching these four together made for memorable night of entertainment.

I’d like to see something similar again, though I suspect we won’t see Dan in that small a room in Vancouver anytime again. If you missed this, you missed a great night.

Wilco, June 30th, Jacksonville, Oregon

When the summer concert schedule for Wilco didn’t include a trip to Vancouver, I decided not to take it personally. A show was scheduled in Jacksonville, Oregon—only 9 hours straight driving on I-5! Jacksonville was close to Crater Lake National Park so I decided to spend a few days there before heading to Jacksonville for the show.

Wilco rarely disappoints, and coming on the night of the Wilco’s release the show was no exception. At an absolutely beautiful venue on an absolutely beautiful warm summer evening, songs like Remember the Mountain Bed, Spiders, Bull Black Nova and Poor Places soared into the air. The band played right through to the cutoff time for the venue, and the crowd loved every minute of it.

Neko Case, Vogue Theatre, June 3rd

If there’s one thing better than Neko in the studio, it’s Neko live. Vogue is a beautiful venue, and sitting second row centre didn’t hurt.

With a great selection of animations on the backdrop, and plenty of witty stage banter between Neko and Kelly Hogan (including a shout out to Captain Caveman) the audience laughed and cried and asked for more. Lady Pilot was a great moment, and the home made music box used in Middle Cyclone sounded absolutely gorgeous.

Young Galaxy, October 28th, Biltmore Cabaret and November 13th, Legendary Horseshoe Tavern

Don’t make me choose which was the better show. The Vancouver show was a Tuesday night, and with the U2 concert in town…well, you could have picked a better night. I was lucky to be in Toronto the night they played there.

Great show with Catherine McCandless’s beautiful voice on display. I chatted with her at both shows.

I had more fun at the Horseshoe: it was a great crowd, and I met a few nice folks. Yes, they do exist in Toronto.

Patrick Watson, December 10th, Vogue Theatre

Patrick Watson won the 2007 Polaris Prize and then proceeded to follow a first album with an amazing second one. Seeing the band play live was like watching a kid in a playground. Saying Patrick has stage presence doesn’t even being to do it justice.

With a backing band that included one cellist and three viola players, the music was stunning. Highlight of the show? Patrick sitting at a piano, alone on stage and killing every light in the house. Total darkness with just one piano and voice to cut through it. Simply amazing.

Amy Millan, October 24th, Biltmore Cabaret

The Biltmore is like my home away from home these days, and the Amy Millan show there was one of the highlights of my year for reasons that go well beyond a fun performance that included an audience member getting up on stage to sing backing vocals (and doing a very fine job.)

The opening act was Bahamas, and he ended his set with a fine cover of Purple Rain during which the entire audience sang the chorus. Two weeks earlier I heard Immaculate Machine cover The Boys are Back in Town on the same stage. I’m still not sure which I enjoyed more. Do I have to choose?

There’s other reasons this was a great show for me, but they’ve got nothing to do with the show. It was a magic night though.

December 15, 2009
Arcade Fire with David Bowie - Wake Up

The drummer totally makes the video clip. No modesty in the Arcade Fire

Posted by skooter at 10:51 PM
Tags: Arcade Fire, David Bowie, Music, Music Videos

December 9, 2009
George Burns & the Muppets: Train Back Home

Too lovely for words. It’s hard to imagine that George Burns has been gone so long.

San Francisco is a grand old place
when I get back I’ll never never roam
tell those cable cars to wait
and open up that Golden Gate
I’m gonna take the train back home
to San Francisco

Posted by skooter at 4:13 AM
Tags: Comedy, Muppets

December 8, 2009
National Public Radio's Best of 2009

Over at NPR listeners (including this one) have chosen their favourite albums and songs of 2009. I’ve got no major quibbles with the list, judged in abstract anyway. I never take the order of these lists too literally (aside from obvious large gaps of the “WTF do you mean Britney Spears ranks 10 higher than Wilco!” sort.) At least three of the top ten are on my list of favourite things from this year.

Most of what they missed is, frankly, Canadian and as such not entirely surprising. NPR listeners don’t get the Canadian content that CBC listeners do. It’s what makes CBC feel like home for me.

I’ll write more later.

Posted by skooter at 4:26 AM
Tags: Neko Case, NPR, Wilco

October 23, 2009
Jeff Tweedy Comments On...Well...Basically Me...

At least he didn’t mention me by name.

What Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy thinks about what you think about him
By David Wolinsky October 14, 2009

Rather than discussing the band’s newest album and direction, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy wanted to talk about people’s “willingness to share opinions before they’re even formed,” so before the band’s show Sunday and Monday at the UIC Pavilion, The A.V. Club scoured the Internet for some notable anonymous comments to discuss.

Posted by skooter at 6:12 AM
Tags: Articles, Music, Wilco

October 6, 2009
The Redemptive Power of Bowling

Fringe, Season 3, Episode 3 The Big Lebowski

As near as I can tell, Season Three of Fringe shares at least one thing in common with The Big Lebowski firm belief in the fact that spending time in a bowling alley is the key to redemption. Who am I to disagree?

Posted by skooter at 1:45 PM
Tags: Coen Brothers, J.J. Abrams, Movies, Television

October 4, 2009
Dollhouse's Imminent End and the Future of Television

It should come as no surprise that the cancellation of Dollhouse is imminent.
The show’s ratings were miserable last year, and the new season has posted lower numbers than the first.

Dollhouse is a great show, although the first five episodes were so boring that I didn’t bother buying the DVD set. I figured I’d wait until it was cancelled in season two and then just buy a two season set. It looks like I might have that chance after all.

Dollhouse has a rabid fan base, and Joss Whedon a solid reputation as a writer. So why aren’t people tuning in? Why, in a world where almost 10 million people tune in to watch J.J. AbramsFringe are only 2.5 million of them watching Dollhouse?

I suspect that the answer lies with demographics, the Internet and the changing nature of the television game.

It’s important not to underestimate the impact of those first five episodes. While there may have been nothing inherently wrong with them, they were boring conventional television shows with nice clean plots that wrapped up. Dollhouse’s ratings slipped steadily from episode one. The studio had publicly tinkered with the pilot and forced a reshoot, and we’ll never know if the original pilot and its subsequent episodes would have hooked viewers for the long term. That’s unfortunate.

Fundamentally though, I suspect that Dollhouse’s problems lie with a young, Internet savvy audience. I suspect there’s quite a bit of crossover between The Guild’s audience and Dollhouse’s. This is an audience that’s accustomed to getting its entertainment when and how it wants it, not when a television network sees fit to air it. It’s also an audience that’s not going to spend the $2.49 per week to buy an episode at the iTunes store when alternatives exist (and those alternatives most definitely do exist.)

By contrast, Fringe probably has a broader and older audience of more conventional television viewers. Fringe is—and don’t get me wrong, I like the show quite a bit—basically the X-Files re-imagined by the mind of J.J. Abrams. It’s comfortable, familiar territory.

It’s interesting to note that Fringe appears in the list of recent bestsellers in iTunes while Dollhouse does not. It may be that that broader audience is more willing or able to spend money to download it: it may be that they’re not as aware of the alternatives.

Direct sales to consumers are emerging as a distribution channel, causing the cable and satellite companies a great deal of frustration. In Canada the broadcast networks are looking for direct payments from cable companies to make up for revenue they’ve lost. It’s a desperate move, and one that’s at best a stopgap. The cable companies are just a central distribution channel, and the Canadian networks have yet to create their own for some reason. Hulu is an obvious model, and one that would help them all maintain control over their products.

Either way, the broadcast television model is dying a fairly slow and painful death right now. The traditional funding model for a TV show has been a single use one: air it once and sell enough advertising to cover production costs. Sure you can hope for syndication and reruns do happen, but fundamentally that first airing has been the source of the greatest revenue: you wouldn’t produce a show if it could make money on the first airing. The rest was gravy. In the modern world of television there’s more opportunities for gravy—DVD sales, advertising supported streaming sites and iTunes sales are good examples—but I doubt the gravy is rich enough to support the production yet.

Dollhouse, as it turns out, isn’t even doing the gravy very well. Sales of the DVD were lower than expected iTunes episode sales aren’t great.

Ultimately with low ratings and (apparently) low residual sales, Dollhouse will die. It won’t be the last good show to do so. There’s no doubt that television is in a liminal period right now. The industry hasn’t yet figured out how to engage the first generation that was raised with the Internet as a primary, not a secondary, medium. They may yet, but I suspect that an old adage remains true:

The revolution will not be televised, but the proceedings will be available online.

That the revolution has already begun is certain, and Dollhouse is one of its early victims.

Posted by skooter at 10:17 PM
Tags: Dollhouse, Joss Whedon, Television

September 14, 2009
Dr. Leo Spacemen, M.D.

Posted by skooter at 3:19 PM
Tags: 30 Rock, Tina Fey

May 20, 2009
Firefly: Oh, How You're Missed

Dollhouse has been renewed, which is good news but it doesn’t make up for the cancellation of Firefly..

According to the Guardian, Serenity, Firefly’s theatrical offspring, might even be better than Star Wars.

bq, Firefly won almost as many awards as it had episodes aired, sold DVDs by the shipload and ended up on the big screen in the form of 2005’s possibly-better-than-Star-Wars Serenity.

I’m not going to disagree with that statement…with the possible exception of Boba Fett.

Posted by skooter at 1:32 PM
Tags: Firefly, Serenity, Star Wars

LIke Father, Like Son

Quite at random, both Brian and Ben Mulroney made the front page of the Globe and Mail. It’s not often that the worlds of politics and entertainment clash with such vigor.

Brian must be so proud of his son (though I always thought Brian was Canada’s Ryan Seacrest…though I have very little idea of who Ryan Seacrest is.)

Posted by skooter at 3:43 AM
Tags: Ben Mulroney, Brian Mulroney, Politics

May 16, 2009
"Listen...when someone starts talking in the middle of a song, you know it's serious."

30 Rock’s third season has ended. Alan Alda guest starred as Jack’s long lost father Milton Green. When it turns out Milton needs a kidney transplant, Jack solves the problem in his own special way: by marshaling all the power of the liberal media, calling in personal favours (he apparently saved Mary J. Blige from a “…20 year contract with Sea World.”) and throwing a musical fund raiser benefit.

Some of the musician guests were great, and some of my favourites. Moments below.

Sheryl Crow snubbing Liz Lemon despite the fact that they were best friends in the fifth grade and co-kidneys in a play about the bodily organs.

Moby just before Jane Krakowski wrestles the microphone away and crashes the party.
Elvis Costello and Sheryl Chrow belt it out.
Steve Earle (in the middle—his new album Townes is great) and others who I think I should recognize by don’t.
“Listen, when someone starts talking in the middle of a song, you know it’s serious…So give Milton a kidney. We all believe in this cause so much we’re doing it for free…except for Sheryl.”
Cyndy Lauper: “I’m one of the drunk ones!”

Season Four should be good.

Posted by skooter at 5:15 PM
Tags: 30 Rock, Music, Television

March 27, 2009
Tina Fey as a Muppet

Tina Fey as a Muppet, 30 Rock Season 3, Episode 16 Tina Fey as a Muppet, 30 Rock Season 3, Episode 16 Muppets are, without a doubt, one of my favourite things. Combine them with Tina Fey and it’s hard to describe the sheer joy of the moment.

Posted by skooter at 1:22 PM
Tags: 30 Rock, Muppets, Television, Tina Fey

March 20, 2009
Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn? / Remember how she said that / We would meet again

Dame Very Lynn turns 82 today, my mother another year older in her early 60s, it’s the first day of spring and the anniversary of Einstein’s publication of his theory of relativity.

Battlestar Galactica goes off the air in one last finale and apparently tonight’s episode of Dollhouse is the best yet by a wide margin (as promised by Joss Whedon since day one.)

It really is quite a day.

Posted by skooter at 1:22 PM
Tags: Music, Science, Science Fiction, Television

March 19, 2009
Are Mandatory Ski Helmets Coming?

There’s not much information here so it’s truly hard to know what happened. That’s done little to ease rampant speculation on the part of the media.

Nonetheless, you should always where a helmet when you ski. You’re probably wearing a hat anyway—why not wear one that just might save your life?

Natasha Richardson, Actress, Dies at 45
By BRUCE WEBER, Published: March 18, 2009

Natasha Richardson, a Tony Award-winning actress whose career melded glamorous celebrity with the bloodline of theater royalty, died Wednesday in a Manhattan hospital, where she had been flown suffering from head injuries after a skiing accident on Monday north of Montreal. She was 45 and lived in Manhattan and Millbrook, N.Y.

Ms. Richardson, who was not wearing a helmet, had fallen during a beginner’s skiing lesson, a resort spokeswoman, Lyne Lortie, said on Monday. “It was a normal fall; she didn’t hit anyone or anything,” Ms. Lortie said. “She didn’t show any signs of injury. She was talking and she seemed all right.”

Posted by skooter at 2:30 AM
Tags: Articles, Hollywood

February 18, 2009
Joss Whedon's Dollhouse

Joss Whedon’s new show Dollhouse premiered on Friday night. It’s only the second show in the last three years that I’m going to be watching on a regular basis. 30 Rock is one of the others, of course, and this year’s Fringe has done a great job of holding my attention.

Whedon’s history is good with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and of course Firefly and Serenity the movie it spawned.

Something struck me about Whedon’s writing while I was watching Dollhouse: he’s got a reputation for writing strong female characters and, while this is true, he also seems to write replaceable female characters.

What exactly does this mean?

Joss has a history of killing characters, and for the most part these characters tend to be women. Kendra the Vampire Slayer died in season two, Buffy died twice, Cordelia Chase was killed off Angel, Willow’s girlfriend Tara, the mortal demon Anya and Buffy’s mom all died.

I’m not saying it was only women who died: Wesley Wyndham Price died and Angel’s certainly died more than his fair share of times. In the Firefly ‘verse Wash & Shepherd Book were the only mortalities. I’m just saying that a lot of women die.

Adding to this is the fact that Joss’ main female characters seem to be designed to be replaceable. Buffy had a built in replacement plan, and one that was executed on—no pun intended. At any point during the series Buffy could have died (permanently, as opposed to the two temporary deaths she did have) and a new slayer would have been born. Instant replacement for your show lead (although the show’s name might have proven…problematic.) Tara & Anya were visitors to the Scooby gang, and thus temporary by their very nature.

Dollhouse doesn’t even mention Eliza Dushku’s character (named Echo while at the Dollhouse) by name, and the very nature of the Dollhouse Actives makes them temporal. Personalities erased by the Dollhouse, all that needs to happen is to have Echo die and a new show lead can be swapped in. The premise has the plotline built right into it: all that’s needed is the right mission.

Is this just smart business? If Eliza Dushku starts asking for too much money or doesn’t renew her contract, killing Echo off and replacing her is a sure way to reduce costs (at the risk of ratings of course: legs like those are hard to find.) This may be the case.

I doubt there’s anything more sinister involved: Joss has a reputation for writing strong female characters, and it’s a trend that goes all the way back to his Alien Resurrection script. Inara and River Tam are the toughest characters in the Serenity universe, although Kaylee fills a more steretotypical female role.

Dollhouse’s ratings were miserable, in any case, so I doubt we’ll get to see how this world grows much. Paired with the high cost low ratings Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles it seems like this is a full season show at best. There may not be time to see if Eliza Dushku is replaceable after all.

February 12, 2009
The Silicon Chip Inside Her Head Gets Switched To Overload

The Boomtown Rats popped into my head today, which doesn’t happen that often. A performance from the Secret Policeman’s Ball that I saw a few years ago was just beautiful. Wait for the pause after the reverb at 2:46.

Posted by skooter at 6:22 AM
Tags: Irish Music, Music

January 15, 2009
And With Him, a Million Dreams of Vacationing on a Bed of Corinthian Leather

Ricardo Montalban as Khan Ricardo Montalban has passed away. Perhaps most famous for his portrayal of Mr. Roarke, and equally so as a Chrysler spokesman during the late 70s and early 1980s, Montalban will always be remembered as Khan Noonien Singh, one of James Tiberius Kirk’s most famous foes. Sentenced to exile on a desert planet, Khan built a civilization.

Hervé Villechaize is dead of suicide: no word on whether they’ll be buried beside each other.

Posted by skooter at 2:08 AM
Tags: Star Trek, Television

January 12, 2009
Tina Fey & 30 Rock Clean Up

This week’s episode of 30 Rock was a half hour laugh fest, with guest star Salma Hayek. I don’t know what I deserved to have both Tina Fey and Salma Hayek in the same place for a half hour, but I sure was happy about it.

The 2008 Golden Globe Awards were on tonight while I was skiing (and listening to Neil Young scream Rock and roll will never die and it turns out that 30 Rock cleaned up. Best comedy, Tina Fey for Best Actress in a comedy and Alec Baldwin for Best Actor in a Comedy.

I’m hoping for a fourth season, especially with the direction this one’s taking. Keep you fingers crossed.

Posted by skooter at 5:28 AM
Tags: 30 Rock, Television, Tina Fey

December 22, 2008
Where Not To Invest

Recession or not (or, as George W. Bush would say technical recession or note) companies that lay off percentages and not people are not where you want to be.

EA to shut Vancouver’s Black Box studio
…EA also announced Friday that it was upping the number of layoffs it expected to complete by the end of March from six per cent of the total workforce to 10 per cent, or about 1,000 employees.

Things may be bad, but these are people not just bodies. Regardless of how bad things are, when companies start talking in percentages its not a good thing.

Posted by skooter at 1:01 PM
Tags: Games, Technology, Vancouver

December 3, 2008
What Tina Wants

Today’s Vanity Fair cover article is essential reading, and I’m taking a copy on the plane. Interestingly, Tina talks about the scar on her left cheek, which she never has before.

Barbara Walters has put Tina Fey on her most fascinating persons list, which is depressing only because anybody cares what Barbara Walters thinks even when she’s so out of touch that it took her this long.

I’m just glad the rest of the world is finally on my bandwagon. About time you all got here.

Posted by skooter at 5:50 PM
Tags: Articles, Tina Fey

November 2, 2008
CBC Radio One on FM

With very little fanfare, CBC Radio One in Vancouver has launched its FM signal at 88.1 FM.

I’m a bit uncertain whether this is an unofficial launch or, perhaps, an early equipment test. I think I heard something about it on The Morning Edition on Monday, but that’s only a vague memory. It may be that they’re waiting to make a bit more of a splash about it (the web page still lists AM 690 as the frequency.)

Either way, I’m pretty happy. The FM signal is much higher fidelity in both the car and, most notably, at home where I often chose to stream NPR rather than listen to CBC’s AM signal.

By any measure, of course, this is ten years too late. Toronto switched almost that long ago, and I was shocked at the length of time it took to make this happen here.

Posted by skooter at 1:38 AM
Tags: CBC, Radio

October 30, 2008
Long Deserved Attention for '30 Rock'

30 Rock has it’s third season premiere to night. I’ve been waiting for this for a while, and apparently the New York Times has too.

Tina Fey Returns to Her Thursday Night Not-So-Live Gig
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
Published: October 29, 2008

NBC’s parent company, General Electric, should send Senator John McCain flowers and a microwave oven. Tina Fey probably doesn’t do a credible Mitt Romney, but her impersonation of Gov. Sarah Palin is so deliciously dead-on that it has helped Saturday Night Live score its highest ratings in years.

Tina Fey is the creator and star of 30 Rock, a backstage comedy on NBC.

The popularity of those Palin parodies (mostly Ms. Fey quotes the Alaska governor verbatim) will surely give a boost to Ms. Fey’s other job.

Her NBC comedy, “30 Rock,” returns on Thursday for its third season. Despite unstinting critical acclaim and many Emmys, the show, which Ms. Fey produces, writes and stars in, alongside Alec Baldwin, has yet to be embraced by a broad audience.

Posted by skooter at 3:24 PM
Tags: 30 Rock, Television, Tina Fey

October 20, 2008
Possibly for the Last Time: Tina Fey as Sarah Palin

But we can hope for more, perhaps on this week’s Thursday update.

The sketch itself was followed by more.

A Weekend Update segment with Sarah Palin is most notable for Governor Palin’s use of Tina Fey’s sign off line “Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow.” The line was originally used by Chevy Chase in the 70s, but the tribute here is obvious.

It’s at least nice to see Governor Palin being self-deprecating. The moment where the moose gets shot was pretty funny.

Posted by skooter at 5:27 AM
Tags: Elections, President, SNL, Tina Fey

September 30, 2008
I Swear I Thought I Was Dreaming

Having fallen asleep in front of the TV, I thought I was dreaming when I woke up to see Tina Fey on my TV. Happily I wasn’t.

The moment, about four minutes in, when she starts to explain about the economic bail out plan is just beautiful, and hits the nail a little too close to the head. “…and having a dollar value meal at restaurants…” Priceless.

September 23, 2008
30 Rock: Best Comedy...Again

At this years’s increasingly meaningless Emmy awards 30 Rock once again won Best Comedy with Tina Fey wining Best Actress in a Comedy and Alec Baldwin winning Best Actress in a Comedy.

30 Rock was ranked 94th last year on a list of 220 shows by Nielsen. There’s been two good years so far, and a third committed. Despite the awards, I can’t see NBC giving us a fourth.

“‘30 Rock’ is available to be viewed on NBC.com, Hulu.com, iTunes, Verizon phones, United Airlines and occasionally on actual television.
- Tina Fey, accepting the award for outstanding comedy series for “30 Rock.”

This is going to be a good one though. Enjoy it while it lasts. Season premiere on October 30th. Funniest woman on TV.

“I thank my parents for somehow raising me to have confidence that is disproportionate with my looks and abilities. Well done. That is what all parents should do,” said Fey, who also won Emmys for best actress and writing in a comedy series.

Posted by skooter at 4:30 AM
Tags: 30 Rock, Television, Tina Fey

September 15, 2008
Oh Tina, How Much You're Missed

Yet one more reminder of how the funniest woman on television once made Saturday Night Live a very funny show.

Posted by skooter at 4:31 AM
Tags: America, Comedy, SNL, Television, Tina Fey

September 12, 2008
Saddest Song Ever (according to Neko Case)

At the Stanley Park Singing Exhibition the divine and magnificent Mrs. Neko Case declared Don’t Forget Me by Harry Nilsson “one of the saddest songs ever.”

With that kind of authority (Neko is, without a doubt, the modern Queen of the Maudlin Lyric) behind it, how can you go wrong?

Don’t Forget Me by Harry Nilsson
In the wintertime keep your feet warm
But keep your clothes on and don’t forget me
Keep the memories
But keep your powder dry too

In the summer by the poolside
While the fireflies are all around you
All miss you when I’m lonely
I’ll miss the alimony too

Don’t forget me - don’t forget me
Take it easy if only for a little while
You know I think about you
Let me know you think about me too

And when we’re older and full of cancer
It doesn’t matter, come on get happy
‘Cause nothing lasts forever
But I will always love you

Don’t forget me, please don’t forget me
Make it easy if just for a little while
You know I think about you
Let me know you think about me too

Posted by skooter at 7:06 PM
Tags: Lyrics, Music, Neko Case

If Tina Fey Registers, I'm Heading to Ireland

Tina Fey drops Star Wars references quite a bit, and Baby Mama was no exception. If I find out that she’s registered for this course, I’m signing up.

Star Wars Jedi Knights course offered by Queen’s University Belfast
A university is offering a course that will use the psychology of the Star Wars Jedi Knights to teach students communication skills and personal development.
 
By Tom Peterkin
Last Updated: 4:48PM BST 11 Sep 2008

The UK’s first Jedi course is on offer at Queen’s University Belfast in November and hopes to attract Star Wars fans and introduce them to the joys of continuing their education through open learning.

According to its publicity material, the course ‘Feel the Force: How to Train in the Jedi Way’ teaches the “real-life psychological techniques behind Jedi mind tricks”.
It also claims to examine the “wider issues behind the Star Wars universe, like balance, destiny, dualism, fatherhood and fascism”.

No prior qualifications are required and the blurb informs students that “light sabres are not provided”.

Posted by skooter at 4:44 AM
Tags: Education, Star Wars, Tina Fey

September 1, 2008
Neko Case, Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park

Neko Case at Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park Singing Exhibition, 2008

Posted by skooter at 7:19 AM
Tags: AltCountry, Neko Case, Stanley Park

August 27, 2008
Mini Legomen are 30 Years Old Today

They’ll always be Legomen to me. Minifig be damned.

Posted by skooter at 4:01 PM
Tags: Lego

July 23, 2008
What's next? The Sugarbaker girls?

Say it ain’t so. Just say it ain’t so.

Estelle Getty, 84:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080722.wobgetty0722/BNStory/Entertainment/home
The Associated Press
July 22, 2008 at 2:29 PM EDT

LOS ANGELES Estelle Getty, the diminutive actress who spent 40 years struggling for success before landing a role of a lifetime in 1985 as the sarcastic octogenarian Sophia on TV’s The Golden Girls, has died. She was 84.

Posted by skooter at 4:46 AM
Tags: Obituaries, Television

June 18, 2008
Galactica Season 4

Admiral Adama and President Laura Roslin Galactica Season Four has just ended and it was far far better than Season Three which, in my opinion got wrapped up in its own sense of self-importance with an obvious Iraq war allegory.

The finale was excellent, although the second to last episode was better (and written by Jane Espenson.) By far, my favourite moment came towards the end when the crew lands on Earth, and Adama reaches down to pick up a handful of sand.

I have seen the future salvation of humanity, my friends, and it comes on a wet, foggy beach in Vancouver.

Season Five in 2009 seems to be promising, with ten episodes to come.

June 6, 2008
CBC Meteorologist Claire Martin's First Appearance

2:36 seconds into the video, the girl wearing the number 32 with her sleeves rolled up.

Posted by skooter at 5:47 AM
Tags: CBC, Music Videos, Pink Floyd

May 6, 2008
It's Better to Burn Out Than Fade Away

Posted by skooter at 4:50 AM
Tags: Music Cassette Vintage

April 29, 2008
Cleese Idol


Worth watching just to see Ben Mulroney get shot.

Posted by skooter at 5:32 AM
Tags: Comedy, John Cleese, Monty Python

April 8, 2008
The Mike Wallace Interview

The Henry Ransom centre has posted a series of Mike Wallace Interviews from the early days of television. Some of them are interesting stuff, including the Frank Lloyd Wright one, which I used to actually own on video tape.

The blatant promotion of smoking by Wallace is odd and seems out of place, but it was a different time.

Posted by skooter at 4:13 AM
Tags: Frank Lloyd Wright, History, Television

April 3, 2008
Perhaps There Is Still Hope for Television

Despite poor ratings, the best show on TV has been renewed:

NBC announced on April 2, 2008 that 30 Rock will return with a third season as part of NBC’s fall schedule. It is currently unknown how many episodes the season will consist of and it is also unknown when the season will premiere.

Since I plan on moving with no TV at some point in the next year or so, I’ll have to find some…other way of watching it.

Posted by skooter at 9:28 PM
Tags: 30 Rock, Television, Tina Fey

Kids in the Hall Reunite For a Tour


Interestingly, the tour comes to Seattle but not Vancouver.

Posted by skooter at 5:01 AM
Tags: Comedy, Concerts

March 4, 2008
Gary Gygax

Gary Gygax, the man who invented Dungeons & Dragons and provided me with many hours of entertainment when I was younger has passed away.

In recent years, he was seen on Futurama:

Al Gore: To my left, you’ll recognize Gary Gygax, inventor of Dungeons & Dragons.
Gary Gygax: Greetings it’s a…
[rolls dice. checks result.]
Gary Gygax: … pleasure to meet you.

Posted by skooter at 8:08 PM
Tags: Dungeons & Dragons, Obituaries

March 2, 2008
Gnutella: Unstoppable By Design

Hollywood and the recording industry like to talk about the problems of piracy. An article from Wired “describes the now relatively benign Gnutella network as unstoppable”http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.10/architecture.html and also touches on the Napster phenomenon that started it all.

Napster is virtually dead (again) and Gnutella has faded, largely replaced by the faster, more widely distributed network of torrents, with no end in sight.

Posted by skooter at 6:04 PM
Tags: Bittorrent, Gnutella, Napster

February 27, 2008
Maybe George Lucas Should Have Consulted This Girl

Posted by skooter at 12:59 AM
Tags: Movies, Star Wars

February 25, 2008
Tina Fey Hosts Saturday Night Live

The first post-writer’s strike of 2008 episode of Saturday Night Live aired last night, with Tina Fey hosting. I’m not sure how I knew about this in advance, but I stayed up to watch it anyway.

It’s never been more obvious to me how far the show has fallen: guest appearances by Steve Martin and a remarkably self-deprecating Governor Mike Huckabee were definite highlights, but the general skits were just…blërg.

Back to Cormac McCarthy for me, I think.

Academy Awards tonight. I’ve said it before but I’m hopeful for No Country for Old Men to win Best Picture. I’d like to see Tommy Lee Jones win Best Actor—he’s nominated for the excellent and underwatched In the Valley of Ellah but also gave a stellar performance in No Country for Old Men. I suspect Daniel Day Lewis will take it, but that’s where my personal loyalties lie.

Posted by skooter at 1:30 AM
Tags: SNL, Television, Tina Fey, Writing

February 13, 2008
Decades of Human Rights Abuses? No Problem.

I’m tempted to admire Spielberg for this, if there weren’t so many better (and long standing) reasons not to support the Chinese government in pretty much anything.

Spielberg quits Olympics work to protest Chinese inaction
By Helene Cooper Published: February 13, 2008

WASHINGTON: The movie director Steven Spielberg has said he is withdrawing as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing after almost a year of trying unsuccessfully to prod President Hu Jintao to do more to try to end Sudan’s attacks in the Darfur region.

I wonder if he’ll protest the Vancouver Olympics because the Canadian government lacks the same level of slavish devotion to Israel that the U.S. demonstrates?

Posted by skooter at 1:58 PM
Tags: 2010, Olympics

February 5, 2008
Oh, This is Not a Good Thing

I’ve been watching season two of The Muppet Show and it’s as fresh as it ever was. I’d forgotten about Veterinarian’s Hospital stuff:

Nurse: What kind of dog is it, Dr. Bob?
Dr. Bob: Ask him what time it is.
Nurse: Why?
Dr. Bob: Because he might be a watchdog!

and I’d forgotten how much I learned about cooking from The Swedish Chef.

This is definitely not helping my home productivity.

Posted by skooter at 3:41 AM
Tags: Elton John, Jim Henson, Muppets

January 28, 2008
Lego Turns 50

January 28, 1958 marked the birth of the Lego brick. Gizmodo has a great timeline.

Business Week have a wonderful article that includes a slideshow on the making of the little bricks that created an entire chidhood.

Posted by skooter at 4:28 PM
Tags: Lego, Technical Communications, Technology, Toys

January 16, 2008
John Cleese and the Muppets

I can’t possibly see how the discovery of thousands of old Muppet Show clips on Youtube is going to help me be more productive at work. Nonetheless….

I still consider Jim Henson’s passing to be one of the most poignant moments in my life. It was like my entire childhood just faded to black that day. I cried when I heard, and despite attempts to keep them relevant the Muppets hust haven’t been the same in the years since. It makes me sad, still, to think about such a genius being gone so young.

I like to tell a story about one of the earliest pitch meetings I was a part of, for the now defunct Playdium company. John Burghardt was part of that pitch and his resume listed him as the co-creator of the Cookie Monster. Burghardt had worked with Henson at an early ad agency. It made for a good pitch, although we didn’t win the business.

Posted by skooter at 4:38 PM
Tags: Jim Henson, Muppets, Television

November 22, 2007
Censorship in School Libraries

Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass has been pulled from school shelves in some Ontario catholic schools.

School board pulls ‘anti-God’ book
RON BULL/TORONTO STAR
Philip Pullman’s works have often been criticized by the Catholic church.
Halton’s Catholic trustees and staff to review fantasy that is `apparently written by an atheist’
Nov 22, 2007 04:30 AM, Kristin Rushowy, Education Reporter

Halton’s Catholic board has pulled The Golden Compass fantasy book—soon to be a Hollywood blockbuster starring Nicole Kidman—off school library shelves because of a complaint.

Posted by skooter at 3:38 PM
Tags: Books, Censorship, Fantasy

November 19, 2007
Hollywood's Writers Strike

I don’t particularly mind the Writers Guild of America strike since so much of what’s on TV is utterly disinteresting anyway but when it starts to affect the good stuff, I get concerned.

Battlestar Galactica has wrapped production half way through a planned season. This was supposed to be the last season anyway, but at more than 13 episodes. Season 3 was less engaging than the first two, but still one of the only things on TV worth watching.

With 30 Rock having a limited number of episodes shot already, I expect it will go into repeats shortly. Blurg.

I suspect that this will allow me to dig into the growing pile of books on my shelf: I’m fairly happy about that.

Posted by skooter at 4:54 PM
Tags: 30 Rock, Battlestar Galactica, Blurg, Television

November 10, 2007
Fiery the Angels Fell

I was young when Blade Runner was released: only 11 years old. The directors cut was released in 1992, but I don’t remember seeting theatrical viewings.

Ridley Scott has famously recut the movie several times, culminating in the theatrical release of Blade Runner: The Final Cut

“Fiery the angels fell. Deep thunder rolled about their shores…burning with the fires of Orc.”

I had never seen this movie on the big screen: this movie was meant to be seen on the big screen. Every moment of every scene is rich with visual detail that a television set doesn’t do justice. Seeing the film with no voiceovers at all is a nice treat…they were famously added by the studio, and always ruined the tone of the film. All have been removed now, and the print is beautiful.

See this movie in theatres, if only to remind yourself of how far ahead of its time it was and how young Harrison Ford once was.

October 23, 2007
The Darjeeling Ltd.

The Darjeeling Ltd. is the new film from Wes Anderson, who’s previous work includes The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zisou. Both were well written and cinematically interesting. Tenenbaums is one of my favourite movies of recent memory, actually. I love that film.

The Darjeeling Ltd. is a bit slower in pace, but shares a plot with the same quirky nature. All of Anderson’s films include children estranged from their parents, in various flavours. In virtually all of his films, the incredibly beautiful Anjelica Huston plays the estranged and aloof mother. She does so here, and her brief moments on film are a highlight, as well as a climax to the loosely defined plot.

Bill Murray has a cameo as well, at both the begining and end of the film. He speaks not a word. The wonderfully amusing Kumar Pallana who played Pagoda in the Tenenbaums is here again, although I would have loved to have seen him used more than he is.

As usual, the camera plays with physical space. There’s a wonderful montage at the end where the camera pans to the right from disconnected room to disconnected room. From a train, to a hotel, and onwards: the occupants lives are connected, although their rooms may not be.

Anderson has also been accused ot painting broadly with the music of the 1970s playing long over dramatic, melancholy scenes (often shot in slow motion.) This happens here as well, but the scenes are so good it’s hard to level this as a criticism. It’s a bit like calling Blade Runner too slow; it’s essence of the film, and part of the reason it works. If you like The Darjeeling Ltd., you’ll like these scenes.

It’s a film that’s well worth liking, and should stand up to repeated viewing for those who choose to do so.

Posted by skooter at 5:57 PM
Tags: Movies, Wes Anderson

October 19, 2007
The New York Times Review: Rendition

The New York Times somehow has managed to review the new film Rendition without mentioning the name Maher Arar.

This seems just…strange. You can read the review here

Posted by skooter at 12:59 PM
Tags: America, Articles, Media Bias, Movies, Terrorism

October 17, 2007
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a long, poetic, wonderfully shot and beautifully told film. Clocking in at a bit less than than three hours, the movie is moved along by a third person narration that manifests itself at regular intervals. The narration is not a voice over, and works nicely by filling in relevant details.

Much has been written about the film’s cinematography, and the early train robbery scene in particular. My favourite shot has Brad Pitt’s boot on the rail of the train track as it starts to rumble with the vibrations of the approaching train. The gravel piled closely against the rail starts to fall, until the camera cuts away to the wider shot of the train approaching in the dark of the night.

Will Brad Pitt win an Oscar for this role? Maybe.

Pitt’s characterization of Jesse James is a man who is filled with confidence, with a large presence of life that doesn’t require speech. James dominates his gang with few words. As with many, in the heat of the moment when nerves act up the words start to flow: during that train robbery, James is edgy, angry and vocal. In the immediate aftermath, the calm exterior returns.

Over time, as Jesse’s associates are caught and it becomes apparent that his days seem numbered he becomes more agitated, more vocal, less confident and less sure of himself and his associates. It’s the portrayal of a man living life in a narrowing funnel.

Casey Affleck gives a convincing performance of the 19th century fanboy Robert Ford, the assassin of the title. While many are describing his performance as better than those of his brother Ben Affleck, I feel that the bar should be set higher for anybody than that particularly dubious mark of distinction.

James Carville makes a convincing appearance as Governor Crittenden and Nick Cave sings the ballad of Jesse James in a saloon towards the end of the movie.

And that title? Some people think it’s too long: I view it as a test. (Just look at it over there in the left side navigation…it takes up three whole lines!) Despite the fact that it gives away the basic storyline, the film works extremely well. I think the title works largely because of the word _Coward. Watching Affleck’s Robert Ford as he attempts to develop his scheme is a revealing contrast to the confidence of Pitt’s James.

In the end, while James’ life is in definite decline and Ford’s should be in ascent the younger man fails to achieve the former’s stature either in life or in death.

And yes, for those who are wondering, Brad Pitt copied my haircut again.

Posted by skooter at 6:43 AM
Tags: Brad Pitt, Movies

October 12, 2007
Before Live 8 there was Live Aid

Before Wilco, there was U2. One of the most famous performances of the greatest rock and roll song of the 1980s (despite that silly CBC 50 Tracks survey that chose With or Without You from the The Joshua Tree.)

As with so much great art, Bad was born from torment. It’s a song given birth by the plague of heroin that Dublin suffered in the mid 80s, not that different from the one that’s ongoing in Vancouver.

Last night I attended an art fund raiser on Granville Island where the catering company served shrimp on lemon gazpacho filled skewers. The idea was that you tipped your head back, ate the shrimp then squeezed the skewer to get the liquid into your mouth.

It was so downtown eastside, it was tragic. I met a couple of people who wer bright enough, and on top of it enough to get the irony…I suspect there were many more who just didn’t.

October 11, 2007
Why Tina Fey is the Best Writer on Television

30 Rock is the most underwatched show on TV. It will disappear at the end of this season, as all comedies that I truly love do. Sports Night did.

This year Sports Night’s creator Aaron Sorkin and Tina Fey faced off on the same network with shows that were set behind the scenes of a weekly live comedy show. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip came out of the gate strong, but quickly withered—perhaps a victim of unrealistically high expectations. 30 Rock is the little show that could, and the only show that I schedule TV around.

(Ok. Not really…it can be downloaded after all.)

Here’s why.

Tina Fey said this:

I would really like to try to live in the world of the characters we’ve created for a little bit. We had a lot of great guest stars last year, but I also feel like there’s a lot we could explore with the characters that we have. And I’d like to leave a little breathing room in the show, to let viewers keep up a little. I feel like sometimes it was a little too dense, the shows last year. In a way, [it was] the thing that made Arrested Development so great, but I wonder if it will help new viewers come to the show if it’s a little less packed.

The fact that a show this carefully planned and structured can be so consistently funny provides the clearest demonstration of Mrs. Fey’s talent ever. 30 Rocks’ weakest episodes have been more entertaining to watch than years worth of Everybody Loves Raymond or Tool Time, both hugely popular but tragically mediocre.

If this show doesn’t get through to a third season, I will have lost what little faith I have in television to produce quality entertainment.

My apologies to Joss Whedon, by the way, who does write beautiful work but not comedies. Joss and Tina have both written two of the best movies I’ve seen in the last while—the thrilling Serenity and Mean Girls, the movie that launched Lindsay Lohan’s career in rehab.

October 7, 2007
Right...well...if Jim Carrey said it...

So now that Jim Carrey’s said this, I suppose people are supposed to start taking it seriously?

Jim Carrey calls for UN embargo against Burma
Last Updated: Saturday, October 6, 2007 | 7:51 PM ET
CBC News

Canadian comedian Jim Carrey has urged the United Nations Security Council to slap an arms embargo against the military junta in Burma.

“This is a government that uses its weapons not in self-defence but against its own citizens,” said the 45-year-old performer, star of movies such as Bruce Almighty, Dumb and Dumber, The Truman Show and The Mask.

Two questions come to mind, given the source of the information:

  1. When did Jim Carrey become politically active? This seems like a sudden rebirth.
  2. Did the star of Ace Ventura Pet Detective make his feelings about Burma known from his ass, or by more conventional methods?

Posted by skooter at 11:42 PM
Tags: Burma, Hollywood, Hypocrisy, Politics

October 1, 2007
The Kingdom

The Kingdom is a well made political action film set in Saudi Arabia against the backdrop of international terrorism. It’s worth seeing, even if it makes it’s point (and it does have one) a bit too literally for my taste. This is Hollywood after all.

Onw of its better moment is the opening credits, the backdrop of which is a brief two minute history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

That point, by the way? The good guys often have much more in common with the bad guys than people think. This isn’t always a good thing.

Posted by skooter at 6:02 AM
Tags: Hollywood, Movies, Terrorism

September 18, 2007
Stardust

The outrageously creative mind of Neil Gaiman is something that I haven’t really explored, but having just seen Stardust I’m reminded that every time I do it’s at the very least interesting.

I’d read Neverwhere and actually found it kind of annoying and a bit formulaic. By contrast The Sandman was brilliant, and I was looking for that graphic novel not that long ago…its gone missing at some point.

Stardust is a fairly straightforward fairy tale and love story, but the telling is highly original. The film is visually interesting and well worth watching.

American Gods got great reviews, and may be worth exploring…I’ve been looking for a new book lately…

Posted by skooter at 9:39 PM
Tags: Movies, Science Fiction

September 2, 2007
Spook Country, William Gibson

I’ve just finished Spook Country, the new novel by William Gibson and the first on released since my daily life included passing in front of his house twice a day.

The man has an unhealthy Volkswagen obsession…both in the book, and in the rotation of three Jetta’s that are the only cars I’ve ever seen parked in front of his house. One green. One silver. One black…that one’s very rare, and older.

The Volkswagen obsession is a part of what makes Gibson’s writing riveting though: his ability to capture the seemingly meaningless details that make a scene memorable, while also shedding those that aren’t necessary.

Spook Country deals in the present, not the future. it also ends in Vancouver, quite significantly. Gibson has been slowly reverting to the present day since Neuromancer with one side trip to Victorian England in The Difference Engine, his collaboration with Bruce Sterling.

There are three storylines running through the novel, seemingly disconnected. These eventually intertwine and the connections are complex. The plot is unclear at first but reveals itself with patience, and the best thing about it is that it’s essentially about…nothing. A movie of this book would be interesting to watch…the climax lacks the splash that Hollywood would expect and I suspect they would have difficulty with it.

If the book has a message (and I’m not certain that all works of fiction need to) it seems to be a thesis on the similarities between art and terrorism: both are a matter of perspective, really…just as one man’s art is another man’s trash, so is one man’s terrorist another’s patriot.

This reminded me of a Don DeLillo quote that came my through Laurie Anderson. DeLillo, according to Anderson, claimed several years ago that:

Terrorists are the only true artists left in the world. They’re the only ones who can surpise us anymore.

Art and terrorism are intertwined in the world: both have the power to change it forever.
True art…art that moves the world forward…is inextricably intertwined with te

Posted by skooter at 4:57 PM
Tags: Books, William Gibson

August 20, 2007
Wilco, Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park

Wilco, Malkin Bowl, Vancouver With the crowd clapping in time to the beat, the band slowly began to get quiet. “We’re going to drop out now,” Jeff Tweedy said, “but you have to keep doing this. Keep doing it without getting faster, or slower.

Forever. Like your heartbeat.”

And the band just slowly disappeared, with only the sound of thousands of hands clapping to fill the night sky.

After a day where it rained off and all all day, the sky stayed dry for the night. Great music, a great venue and great company made for a perfect night for a summer that’s not over yet but has an end in sight. The set list in online here

Posted by skooter at 11:26 PM
Tags: Concerts, Wilco

April 10, 2007
Television the Fickle Beast

Article like this one always make me laugh in a bittersweet way.

I am a bona-fide fan of no less than 3 shows on that list, and I suspect that 30 Rock will join it at the end of next season, having just been renewed.

These shows all have one thing in common: they’re too smart for television, at least the commercial version.

Posted by skooter at 9:02 PM
Tags: 30 Rock, Joss Whedon, Serenity, Television, Tina Fey

February 17, 2007
Pan's Labyrinth

Pan’s Labyrinth is one of the most beautiful and lush films I’ve seen in years. That it’s not nominated for Best Picture and Guillermo del Toro isn’t nominated for Best Director speaks to the insular nature of the industry that is Hollywood. The film is entirely in Spanish.

See this movie.

Posted by skooter at 6:52 PM
Tags: Fantasy, Movies

February 5, 2007
Joss Whedon Is My Master Now

Joss Whedon has pulled out of Wonder Woman. making this movie substantially less interesting to look forward to.

Wonder Woman film director quits
Joss Whedon will focus on writing and directing thriller Goners

Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon has pulled out of directing a feature film about Wonder Woman.

“I had a take on the film that nobody liked,” he told a fan website, saying he and the film’s producer Joel Silver “just saw different movies”.

“At the price range this kind of movie hangs in, that’s never gonna work,” the writer and director added.

Posted by skooter at 9:13 AM
Tags: Firefly, Joss Whedon

November 24, 2006
Shaken, not Stirred

You'd cry too if your Martini was weak I spent last Friday night trying to teach a four month old boy how to say “Shaken, not stirred.” It didn’t go very well.

It doesn’t matter that much—there’s still lots of time for life’s important lessons. I only hope he remembers what I told him about shaken martinis being weak. The short explanation is that the ice cubes chip when you shake them, which makes them melt faster. The martini is weak as a result.

That’s the important part, Benjamin. Don’t forget.

The occasion, of course, was the opening of Casino Royale starring Craig Daniels as the new James Bond.

Calling this the best Bond movie ever would be a stretch. That’s a long and storied history to rewrite, after all, and it does depend on perspective.

From one perspective, it might be a stretch to call this a Bond movie at all.

The new Casino Royale is extremely entertaining and a very good action thriller. It opens—post credits—with a Parkour chase scene which was thrilling to watch.

The movie then launches into a somewhat convoluted plot that requires attention, but does make sense. The point of the plot, it would seem, is to drive home the most fundamental rule of a movie spy’s life: “Trust No One.”

The women are beautiful and the scenery exotic. There are Aston Martin’s driven, crashed and gambled. Judi Dench is back as M.

This is most definitely a Bond movie, although it’s not much like any that has gone before. It’s well worth seeing.

If this movie means Moonraker slips into distant memory, it will be a money well spent too.

Posted by skooter at 10:03 PM
Tags: Bond, Movies

November 10, 2006
National Film Board of Canada

Anybody who was raised in Canada in the 1970s and 1980s cannot help but have been exposed to the National Film Board of Canada and its productions. They were a staple of the classroom—those reels of film turning through overheaded projector bulbs across the country were a pretty special sound.

A huge archive of materials is available online, and I stumbled upon two classics.

The Sweater explains hockey and its role in Canada in a way that lives on forever.

The Legend of the Flying Canoe is an ancient Québec folk tale. The same tale inspired the label of La Maudite which remains the best beer produced in this country to this day, at least since Sleeman bought the Upper Canada brewery.

Enjoy, and I sincerely hope these tales are available for a very long time.

Posted by skooter at 5:04 PM

November 1, 2006
Brave New World: The Musical

For some reason the concept of Brave New World — the Musical strikes me as particularly bizarre.

Singing, dancing “Brave New World” comes to Berlin
Wed Nov 1, 2006 11:07 PM IST144
By Dave Graham and Imke Oltmanns

BERLIN (Reuters) — Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, one of the most famous dystopian visions of 20th Century literature, has been transformed into a German musical complete with songs, rapping and dancing.

“Schoene Neue Welt”, its German title, opens in Berlin on Thursday, 74 years after British author Huxley published his work about a future society whose members are drugged into a state of ignorant bliss and happy subservience

Posted by skooter at 10:30 AM
Tags: Books, Broadway Muscial

October 28, 2006
Marie Antoinnette

Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette is beautifully shot and directed, as one would expect from such an artist. Like Lost in Translation it’s full of wonderful cinematic moments. The costumes are beautiful, and the sets are lush.

The story moves along oddly, with large jumps in time that aren’t clearly indicated and an odd pace. The film stops far short of the actual end of Marie Antoinette’s life—while it makes the sense of rebellion amongst the citizens of France apparent, showing protesters outside the palace of Versailles, it ends with the King and Queen fleeing Versailles and does not actually portray the imprisonment or beheading of the royal couple.

Coppola herself has not portrayed this as a literal retelling of Antoinette’s life, and it’s a shame that many will take it on its face as such. The entertainment press is partially guilty here: selling this as a bio-pic, rather than the parable that it truly is.

I would watch this film again out of curiousity for the evolution of Sofia Coppola’s career, but my initial response is less enthusiastic than it was to the beautiful Lost in Translation

Posted by skooter at 9:43 AM
Tags: Hollywood, Movies

September 18, 2006
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Title Card Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip premiered last night in Canada. Thanks to CTV, we get a 24 hour jump on the U.S. This is the new series from Aaron Sorkin — the man who’s brought the only two truly excellent TV series to the screen in recent memory (Sports Night and The West Wing.)

It’s a pithy show full of well written, witty dialog — Sorkin writes excellent dialogue, which I attribute to his past work in theatre. The first episode goes through the standard need to introduce a bunch of characters and back story, but was generally good.

My personal favourite line of the show was this:

MATT: So we make some budget cuts, we shoot in Vancouver.

DANNY: No, we’re not shooting in Vancouver. I’m drawing the line on the insanity. Vancouver doesn’t look like anything, it doesn’t even look like Vancouver. It looks like Boston, California

This is possibly the best, most accurate description of Vancouver I’ve heard in a very long time.

Posted by skooter at 6:20 PM
Tags: Aaron Sorkin, Television, Vancouver

August 11, 2006
Miami Vice

Like most teenage boys in the 80s, I went through a Miami Vice phase. Unlike most teenage boys, I came by this rather late — it wasn’t until the clothes turned a bit darker and the white Ferrari Testarossa came into the series that I really gained interest.

Miami Vice movie logo I was particularly interested when I learned that a friend was working on the crew for the just released film, directed by Michael Mann

Tonight, I finally went to see it.

It’s my general opinion that Michael Mann hasn’t made a bad film yet. Heat was the first DVD I purchased, and is a particularly sharp film. Collateral, Last of the Mohicans, The Insider and Ali are all excellent examples of the body of work involve here.

Miami Vice cotinues Mann’s excellent record of extremely stylish, well lensed movies. Colin Farrel makes a fairly good Sonny Crocket, and Jamie Foxx a good — albeit somewhat brooding — Rico Tubbs.

The film feels…confused a bit. With a plot that seems to be designed more to show off locations than to make sense, it lacks the coherence of earlier work. While Heat is one of the best cops and robbers films ever, Miami Vice feels extremely ordinary from a story perspective.

Worth seeing on the big screen for the cinematography (a particularly beautiful panning shot from a helicopter of Crocket crossing the waters between Miami and Havana took my breath away) but perhaps faiing to live up to — admittedly high — expections.

Posted by skooter at 10:55 PM
Tags: Movies

June 19, 2006
V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta was playing at the Hollywood Theatre tonight, so off I went.

Reviews of the film were generally mediocre, so I had some difficulty with the concept of plunking down 12 of my hard earned dollars to see it in first run. Four dollars seemed about right.

Generally, I’d say the movie was not as stylish as the trailers made it out to be — it seemed a little flat visually. The story was a bit oversimplified and full of cliches.

It says something when the credits the graphic novel’s illustrator, but not the author. Alan Moore wrote the original, and distanced himself from the film — not a good movie has ever been made of Moore’s rich, complicated stories. This is no exception, but it is perhaps the best yet.

At the end of the night it just left me feeling somewhat blah. It certainly didn’t match the Wachowski Brothers Matrix films.

Oh yeah, while I was in that movie North Carolina won the Stanley Cup. So much for the late blooming Edmonton Oilers.

Posted by skooter at 11:03 PM
Tags: Movies

May 27, 2006
Galactica Season 2.0

Having just completed watching Season 1.0 of the new Battlestar Galactica the Space Network has just wrapped airing Season 2.0.

The writing on this show is razor sharp, although it lacks the comic relief provided by Alan Tudyk in Serenity and can seem a bit over gloomy at times.

In any case, I greet the ending of Season 2.0 (and my current TV watching season) with these words:

I, for one, welcome our new Cylon overlords.

May 19, 2006
The Da Vinci Code Redux

The Da Vinci Code film comes out today — definitely not going to see this thing, but I am enjoying the reviews.

In particular, I liked this sentence from the New York Times review of the film. The emphasis has been added by me.

“The Da Vinci Code,” Ron Howard’s adaptation of Dan Brown’s best-selling primer on how not to write an English sentence, arrives trailing more than its share of theological and historical disputation.

Posted by skooter at 8:11 AM

April 12, 2006
Syrianna

Syrianna is an extremely rich and complicated movie, and deserving of many of the accolades it has received.

This is not a film that one enters into lightly; not a film that one views as entertainment, and not a film that can be completely absorbed in a single viewing.

It is most definitely a film that is worth seeing.

I wondered about the irony of driving home after seeing it. I’m not sure that the film is actually anti-oil, although it is most definitely a scathing indictment of how the large American oil companies conduct their business.

Posted by skooter at 10:23 AM
Tags: Movies

April 1, 2006
Deeply Disturbing

I can only describe the existence of this as deeply disturbing and perhaps the surest sign of the end of television as we know it that I have yet seen.

Posted by skooter at 8:39 AM

March 15, 2006
E. Annie Proulx - Gifted Wordsmith

Remember what I said about that Crash backlash? I didn’t expect it to come from this source, but here it is:

Proulx pens tirade over ‘Crash’ Oscar
From a Times staff writer
March, 14 2006

Annie Proulx, who wrote the story that spawned the film “Brokeback Mountain,” has lashed out at members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for passing over that movie in favor of “Crash” for the best picture Oscar.

“We should have known conservative heffalump academy voters would have rather different ideas of what was stirring contemporary culture,” Proulx wrote. “Roughly 6,000 film industry voters, most in the Los Angeles area, many living cloistered lives behind wrought-iron gates or in deluxe rest-homes, out of touch not only with the shifting larger culture and the yeasty ferment that is America these days, but also out of touch with their own segregated city, decide which films are good.

“And rumor has it that [Lionsgate] inundated the academy voters with DVD copies of ‘Trash’ — excuse me — ‘Crash’ a few weeks before the ballot deadline. Next year we can look to the awards for controversial themes on the punishment of adulterers with a branding iron in the shape of the letter A, runaway slaves and the debate over free silver.”

She concluded the article: “For those who call this little piece a Sour Grapes Rant, play it as it lays.”

I will play this as it lays — I would expect better, and more maturity from a Pulitzer Prize winning author.

Posted by skooter at 10:58 AM
Tags: Movies

March 11, 2006
Battlestar Galactica

I’ve only recently been watching the new Battlestar Galactica on Space, and have caught it intermittently (it’s on a weird times because of the three hour P.S.T. shift.)

I am begining to come to the conclusion that it is, in fact, very very good.

Filmed in Vancouver, too.

Posted by skooter at 5:41 PM
Tags: Battlestar Galactica, Vancouver

March 8, 2006
This is Wonderland

Although I caught it only intermittently, I will miss This is Wonderland which airs its last episode next week. It was a great show.

What I’m noticing most about this — its second-to-last episode — is the amount of profanity that is being spewed. It is, of course, all being censored by the CBC which makes it highly amusing.

While this show will be missed, I’m quite happy to see Davinci’s City Hall off the air. There’s never been a more biased presentation of a political viewpoint, and the show paints Vancouver in the worst possible light.

Posted by skooter at 8:20 PM

March 5, 2006
Crash bang!

So Jon Stewart stayed quite a bit funnier throughout than I suspected. No self destruction there.

And yay for Crash! Boo for the Academy for ushering these people off stage prematurely. This is the big award — give’em a couple of minutes.

I only paid attention to the whole thing because I was working online. Really. New site launch soon to prove it.

Posted by skooter at 8:25 PM
Tags: Movies

Go Penguins!

Out of a sense of morbid curiousity for the future of Jon Stewart’s career I’m watching the 2005 Academy Awards something I have never really done before.

Lo and behold I tune in just in time to see the award for Best Documentary and it turns out to be March of the Penguins bringing a joyous smile to my amply penguin-ed household. Yay penguins!

My vote for Best Picture, incidentally, is Crash, not just because I’ve seen it but because I saw it twice and both times found something new in it to admire, learn from and think about. It’s a very well made, and well written movie. This is where my fetish for film lies.

It’s my suspicion that Brokeback Mountain will win, but it’s also my suspicion that the movie is an overly sappy romantic picture in which the two lead characters just happen to be gay. While I loved The Shipping News everything else I’ve read by E. Annie Proulx has been this way, and the movie is massively overhyped.

Just remember: a vote for Crash does not make the Academy (or anybody else) homophobic. I’m sure there’ll be a hue and cry if Brokeback Mountain doesn’t win though.

Posted by skooter at 6:24 PM
Tags: Movies, Penguins

February 26, 2006
Neil Young: Heart of Gold

Faced with the rather depressing prospect of a Sharon Stone Triple Bill on Bravo for the evening, I instead fled for the Fifth Avenue Cinema to see the newly released Neil Young: Heart of Gold.

The film was directed by Jonathan Demme and feels much more like his Stop Making Sense concert film than, for example, The Last Waltz which has more of a documentary feeling. It opens with scenes of Neil and his frieds speaking about the concert, thir past and the Ryman Auditorium in Nasville, Tennessee where the Grand Ole Opry was filmed for many years.

Next comes the music.

I only really discovered Neil Young’s music a few years ago, which is surprising because it fits very well into a mold that I’m quite fond of — once best described by a lovely young lady as Anything with a Twang.

Music has a power to move the soul and Neil’s music speaks to a place deep inside. If rock and roll embodies passion and anger, with Punk and Heavy Metal at the cliche extremes and country embodies heartache, with the sanitized sounds of performers like Garth Brooks embracing this cliche wholeheartedly there’s a place in between where music that comes from a deep, honest place.

This is the place that this movie plays from.

The music in the movie lives on a bridge between these genres. Not quite rock and roll, and not quite country it is, simply, amazing music.

With Neil on stage only weeks after having been diagnosed and had surgery for a brain aneurysm, and only two months after his father passed away the pain and anguish he exposes is visible at times. Surrounded by friends and loved ones the songs on the Prairie Wind album come alive.

Emmylou Harris — a woman with a voice so pure it could only come direct from the heavens and a beauty to match — sings backup and accompaniment on many of the numbers here. Emmylou’s last album Stumble Into Grace lived in my ears for a long time after I bought it. Her presence on this stage and in this film could not be more welcome.

As a movie, this fairly straightforward concert film could have been different; I’d like to have seen a bit more of Neil speaking, to get a feeling for his state of mind. even without, it’s a film that’s well worth seeing.

Posted by skooter at 9:19 PM

Serenity (Again)

Lest anybody doubt what I have said in the past about Serenity read Orson Scott Card’s review of the film.

Posted by skooter at 9:42 AM

February 22, 2006
Calvin & Hobbes

According to today’s Calvin & Hobbes (which I have on my desktop thanks to a Yahoo! Widget) I’ve been spelling a word incorrectly for some time now.

From here, out it is no longer Bleh it is now Blehhh with apologies to any and all who were offended by my misuse of the English language.

According to Google News, Pope Benedict annointed two Americans as Cardinals today. Where’s my fancy hat is what I’m wondering? It’s exactly this kind of holier than thou attitude that people don’t like about the modern catholic church.

Posted by skooter at 9:13 AM

February 11, 2006
Steve Fossett & Richard (Dick) Branson

Steve Fossett has now flown a plane for the longest ever continuous flight. With Dick Branson waiting for him at the landing.

These guys are supposed to be rivals, aren’t they? This got me thinking: just how much money have these guys spent in this never ending contest of mine is bigger than yours?

Posted by skooter at 6:33 PM

February 6, 2006
Why Try?

First it was Brad and Jen and now Lance and Sheryl

What is the world coming too, and is there any hope for the rest of us?

Say it ain’t so Lance. Say it ain’t so.

Posted by skooter at 7:32 PM
Tags: Brad Pitt

February 5, 2006
Televsion's Fracturing Audience

It’s become a cliche to talk about television’s fracturing audience. Since the mid-80s arrival of subscription based cable channels that mostly carried movies, TV stations have blossomed. This has, in Canada, been helped in part by CRTC rules that wind up creating stations like Fox TV Sport Canada with the Canada appended hanging by that thinnest of threads as a sign that this particular station will, in fact, play hockey games occasionally; maybe some curling.

Some of these stations make no sense at all, though.

CTV NewsNet was perhaps the most bizarre cable licence ever issued: a regular diet of news served up in repeatng 15 minute bites, it was as if NewsNet was defined and determined not to have content. Isn’t news supposed to be about depth? Not here.

The History Channel Canada (that dangling nationalism again) is another I can’t figure out. In the last two days they have shown two movies: Murder at 1600 and Outbreak, neither one of which purports to be based — even loosely — on actual historic events. If the point of the channel is to Bring History Alive why are we watching this kind of tripe?

Examples are endless — I can’t figure out how the TV Series Street Legal or the Hollywood file A Life Less Ordinary, both airing on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, tells the story of Canada’s Aboriginal people — and sadly so.

All these channels and nothing on; makes me wonder if downloading TV shows to an iPod makes more sense than I thought it would. One step close to the dream of having only one channel, with only stuff I want to watch on it.

Posted by skooter at 12:31 PM

February 3, 2006
Only in China

Ticket madness at Disneyland become an issue meriting a national response, according to the illustrious old grey lady.

Mickey’s Ticket Mistake: Hong Kong Disneyland Is Mobbed
By KEITH BRADSHER
Published: February 3, 2006

Even the Hong Kong government issued a statement late Thursday calling on Disneyland to improve its ticketing and guest entry procedures.

Posted by skooter at 4:34 PM

January 24, 2006
Pixar: R.I.P.?

Disney has purchased Pixar. Steve Jobs is now the single largest Disney shareholder.

Is this the end of an animation legend?

Disney films have, if memory serves, been somewhat lackluster lately. There was a brief second golden age with Alladin, The Lion King and a couple of others, but recent releases have been weak.

Pixar’s Finding Nemo, Toy Story and other films have been strokes of genius. Witty and well written, and critically acclaimed. The Incredibles was just about the most amazing thing to come across screens in some time.

These films have, until now, been independently produced by Pixar and distributed by Disney. This has meant that Pixar, and its staff, have had complete creative control while Disney has made a fortune in exchange for putting its formidable marketing machine into work.

Here’s hoping that things stay this way. We need more of this work.

Posted by skooter at 7:52 PM

January 13, 2006
King Kong (2006)

The New York Times offers a well worded criticism of King Kong (2006) in an article about Terence Mallick’s The New World

These are signs of a director so enamored with his own clever accomplishments that he sacrifices the pacing of the film. Snipping a few seconds here and there would have made it a little shorter and much sleeker.

In particular, the dinosaur chase scene ran far too long. The fight between Kong and the Tyranosaurs Rex could have been shorter. The scene with the bugs was very creepy, but should have been shorter.

I still say it’s an eight dollar movie, not an eleven dollar one.

Posted by skooter at 11:08 AM
Tags: Movies

December 31, 2005
Revenge of the Sith

I’m finally watching Revenge of the Sith on DVD (borrowed.)

So far, I’m fairly unimpressed and unmoved. Two lines of Yoda’s dialouge provide a great example of why.

“A prophecy, that misread could have been.”

“I hope right you are”

Even George Lucas has just fallen into the trap created by the cliche’s of his characters. He’s writing reverse Yoda speak more often in this movie than in the originals.

It’s really quite tragic.

Then there’s this little lightsabre battle where the emperor jumps out from behind his desk as well, flying towards three jedi knights - including one master. Two die immediately, as the Emperor runs his sabre right through them while they don’t even move.

Huh? Aren’t these supposed to be the highly trained Jedi Knights? The most powerful force in the universe? They couldn’t at least have swung a blade once and parried at least one attack?

This is closely followed by a 30 second transformation of the young, virile emperor into the one we’ve been familiar with as he blasts Samuel L. Jackson with energy from his body and ages before our eyes.

What exactly was the point of Yoda being seen off by two wookies, with the extremely obvious “Goodbye, Chewbacca”? Given that it wasn’t relevant or apparent from the subsequent storyline that these two knew each other, I presume this was simply George Lucas showing off his cleverness.

Not so much, as it turns out.

Bleh. This is a silly cliche ridden poorly written movie. It doesn’t close loose ends at all, it just comes across as a collection of random events.

The truly sad thing is that the twin light sabre battles that occur at the tail end of the movie — one between Obi Wan and Anakin and the other between Yoda and the Emperor — are truly exhilirating, recalling the glory of the original. I still remember (as all people my age do) seeing that and the feeling of excitement it left in me.

These movies were so much a part of my youth, and have fallen so far from being anything relevant.

Posted by skooter at 6:11 AM
Tags: Movies

December 22, 2005
Serenity

Serenity for some is a state of mind, for others a goal.

Having achieved all of that in recent months in my life, Serenity remains for me the best movie I saw this year, and the best forward-looking fiction that I’ve seen since The Matrix Some people label it a science-fiction western. This is not inaccurate, but really it’s a well written story about compelling characters. Nothing less.

Serenity been released on DVD, and if you haven’t bought it yet you should.

Posted by skooter at 10:36 AM
Tags: Movies

December 20, 2005
King Kong (2006)

King Kong was on the agenda last night, and it provided reasonable — if somewhat lengthy — entertainment. This thing clocks in at about two and a half hours in length. Be prepared.

I don’t mean to spoil the movie for anybody who hasn’t seen the original — one of the most famous films of all time — but at the end Kong dies. As people poured out of the theatre into the tribute to capitalism that ‘s represented by Burnaby’s Metrotown mall, tears could be seen streaming down cheeks. Actual tears.

Was it really that good?

Jack Black

Everybody loves Jack Black. His kinetic energy brought such films as High Fidelity to life, and he’s one of the best comedic actors in Hollywood. There’s a problem: Kong is not a comedy. Jack Black does a fine job, but fails to stretch the role and fill it. He plays it fairly straight faced for most of the movie, and the rare moments of comedy completely waste the actor.

Dinosaurs

I had forgotten that Skull Island was occupied by dinosaurs, and the iconic fight between Kong and the dinosaur had completely slipped my mind.

These scenese are substantially longer than they are in the original, and provide a movie within a movie of sorts. While the action is generally slow moving up until this point, these scenes simply fly along. Peter Jackson loves his CGI, and uses these moments to return to his shock horror roots — long forgotten by those only familiar with the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

That Great Big Ape

Kong is the star here, obviously, and he’s not even in the first hour of film. When he does appear — amidst a scene with Island natives chanting, dancing and bouncing around a natural amphitheatre temple — it’s impressive. The first scene itself is impressive enough, and the CGI generated Kong doesn’t fail to impress.

Overall, there’s something missing here though. The magic isn’t there. That sense of wonder and amazement that exuded from the original, created by the painstaking and remarkable stop motion photography technique. This movie by contrast seems so…normal.

Today is the DVD release of Serenity so none of this is going to matter. I suspect I know what I’m doing tonight, when I get home from work.

Posted by skooter at 6:26 AM

December 7, 2005
Can't Forget That Great Theme Song

Stallone is filming a new Rocky movie.

A long time ago, I remember him talking about this. It’s been forgotten in the subsequent cheese that Rocky won an Oscar for Best Picture. Stallone mused at the time that if he were ever going to be honoured by the academy again, it would be in a picture where he played an old character again and Rocky was used as an example.

Good luck with that Sly. I’ll be waiting on pins and needles.

Posted by skooter at 7:18 AM

December 6, 2005
A New Model for TV?

My iPod is not of the video variety, having a lowly black and white screen. This doesn’t bother me, as I kind of want less TV in my life rather than more anyway.

Nonetheless, this caught my eye with great interest:

NBC Universal programming now available on the iTunes Music Store spans from the 1950s to the present, including NBC’s “Law & Order,” “The Office,” “Surface,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” the USA Network’s Emmy Award-winning “Monk” and Sci-Fi Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica” as well as classic TV shows including “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Dragnet,” “Adam-12” and “Knight Rider,” on the iTunes Music Store beginning today.

Could Steve Jobs have actually found a new, workable model for TV distribution?

Initial shows available on the iTunes Music Store were limited to those broadcast on ABC, a network owned by Disney. There was a great deal of speculation that Disney was caving to Jobs’ request simply to maintain their distribution deal for Pixar films, which have made them a boat load of money (a really big boat, incidentally.)

With NBC jumping on board, the story gets very very interesting. An awful lot of people thought this would fail, for some very good reasons. Looks like like maybe not so much.

Beware that reality distortion field though. It’s always hard to tell how much of an effect that has.

Posted by skooter at 10:32 AM
Tags: Apple, Battlestar Galactica, Television

November 25, 2005
Manufacturing News

A fascinating article in today’s New York Times about the horrible baloon accident (how do you make a baloon accident sound horrible?) at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

NBC Stuck to Sunny Rebroadcast of Last Year’s M&M’s
By ANDY NEWMAN
Published: November 25, 2005

NBC did not interrupt its broadcast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade yesterday to bring viewers the news that an M&M balloon had crashed into a light pole, injuring two sisters.

The article goes on…

At 11:47 a.m., as an 11-year-old girl and her 26-year-old sister were being treated for injuries, the parade’s on-air announcers - Katie Couric, Matt Lauer and Al Roker - kept up their light-hearted repartee from Herald Square, where the parade ends.

Ms. Couric, advising the audience that it was now looking at old tape, riffed on the balloon’s concept of M&M’s in distress.

“Now, because of today’s windy conditions,” Ms. Couric told viewers, “these characters are on video, and if we told you they were not in a panic, we’d be full of hot air.”

And the broadcast signed off:

“It’s obvious the three of us have had a great time today,” Mr. Lauer concluded, “and we hope all of you did as well.”

And people wonder why most Americans get their news from a comedians such as Jon Stewart. With CNN completely devoid of content and the major American networks entering the realm of providing nothing but entertainment is there any hope for substantive television anymore?

Posted by skooter at 12:26 PM

November 10, 2005
Trooper? You've got to be joking

From today’s Globe and Mail

The boisterous debate has attracted all kinds of voices, including Ra McGuire, the lead singer of the rock band Trooper, known for the song Raise a Little Hell.

Mr. McGuire, who has been living in White Rock for 16 years, fiercely opposes the development.

“In Trooper, I play in every city, town and village in Canada,” he said. “There are so few places left like White Rock in the entire country.” It’s a “cool place” that shouldn’t change, he said.

Trooper? What’s next - Platinum Blonde in the federal cabinet?

My favourite part is that last comment about White Rock not changing. Of course it shouldn’t change - why should cities, towns and communities change? The less change the better, right?

Umm…wait a second…the average age in White Rock is something 60. North Vancouver suffers from the same problem. Change will happen whether Mr. McGuire wants it to or not: people are dying.

The funny thing about White Rock is people are either really old or really young. I like the town personally - great place - but there is a huge age gap noticeable when you drive around the streets. It’s just weird.

Posted by skooter at 8:58 AM

November 9, 2005
Maybe California Makes Sense After All

From today’s New York Times:

Schwarzenegger Is Dealt a Stinging Rebuke by Voters
By JOHN M. BRODER
Published: November 9, 2005

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 9 - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was dealt a stinging rebuke on Tuesday by voters who rejected all four special election ballot initiatives that were the basis of his efforts to change the balance of power in Sacramento

I doubt this’ll last. I still feel like I’m taking some kind of hallucinogen everytime I see Schwarzenegger on TV.

Posted by skooter at 7:49 PM

November 7, 2005
French Riots

The French are storming the Bastille again, and Slate Magazine provides a great summary of how to torch a car.

Posted by skooter at 9:43 PM

October 25, 2005
Here We Go Again

That most famous of Canadian shows, Da Vinci’s Inquest is no more. It is now Da Vinci’s City Hall

I loved this show. For a while, when I lived in Charlottetown, it was a bit of a lifeline back to Vancouver. I watched an entire episode that was shot within a kilometre of the place I was living. It’s fun when dead bodies wash up near your house.

That was before it started to wear thing on me.

Da Vinci’s Inquest was set in the downtown east side, known to some as Canada’s poorest neighbourhood (and to others as its most entertaining.) Week after week, it broadcasts an image of Vancouver to the world as home to the homeless, the lost, the drug addicted.

It also, by association, portrays an image of now Senator Larry Campbell as its saviour.

In three years in office, Larry Campbell managed to fulfill quite a few of his commitments in spirit at least, if not in full. He held a referendum on the Olympics, putting the Vancouver bid at risk. He opened a safe injection site, although we don’t yet know whether it’s working the way it was supposed to (how could we? These people have been addicted for years - is three years really enough to get them off?) He supported slot machines at Hastings Park - oh…wait…that wasn’t a promise.

And now, we have to endure the public airing of three years of this stuff? I’m watching it, but I’m not sure I can stomach it. The show itself has a selective history, which does a nice job of glossing over the realities. There’s never been an episode where somebody’s house was broken into by a crack addict, while the police were unable to find them. There’s never been an episode with people walking down the street screaming at random people. There’s never been an episode where people used an ATM vestibule as a washroom. All of these things happen here everyday.

I love Chris Haddock’s writing; I’m just not sure I like his view of history.

And, by the way, I’ve been too City Hall and - this is no offense to people who work there - very few people are that good looking.

Posted by skooter at 9:09 PM
Tags: 2010, Larry Campbell, Politics, Vancouver Olympics

July 24, 2005
Lance

Go Lance Go

Nike has pulled their See Lance Ride commercial from the web, which is deeply disappointing. It was a beautiful piece of work as marketing, and a beautiful message from Lance.

So Lance has won his 7th Tour de France by playing a defensive game. Sure he won the prologue and yesterday’s time trial, but for the rest of the race he sort of just held in place.

Lance is an amazing guy, and much of what he’s done would have seemed unbelievable until he did it. He deserves a lot of praise for this.

He is not, however, going to be remembered in cycling circles as the greatest cyclist in history, although I’ve no doubt that the United States will hold onto this image.

Eddy Mercx was races through his entire career, and throughout the entire season. That he won the Tour at all is amazing, given the effort he exerted throughout the season.

Lance’s approach was surgical - he focused on one race a year, partly because it was the only race that really mattered to his American sponsors, partly becuase athletic training has arrived at a point where only a specialist can win an event with the intensity and duration of Le Tour.

A couple of years ago Outisde Magazine published an article about Lance that painted a great picture of the man - a man who was an outstanding athlete, despite long odds, and in the face of the failure of his marriage (something no one enjoys) and questions about his personal, not professional future. I wish I could find it - that’s the Lance I respect.

Posted by skooter at 10:09 AM

July 22, 2005
Long John Baldry

Long John Baldry died last night, at only 61 years old. For those who don’t know him, this may be meaningless but Long John was a blues legend, and classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and performers such as Elton John admired him.

My favourite Long John story came from my friend Al Graham who told me once about him singing at Al’s 40th birthday party. Al sings in a blues band, and knows everybody on the Toronto scene. He’s a bit of a legend himself.

Like all legends, his music was less appreciated than it used to be by people not in the business. Now’s your chance - get online and steal some while it’s fresh in your minds, you might just find something you’ve missed without even knowing it.

Long John, you’ll be sadly missed by all.

Posted by skooter at 10:27 PM
Tags: Blues, Obituaries

Best Picture: Crash?

Crash was the title of a horrible, heartless film by Canadian David Cronenberg some time ago. Coming on the heels of a horrific car accident in my family, I didn’t see it for years. I wasn’t missing much.

This year, a new film titled Crash was released and it’s quite different.

Many critics are touting it for Best Picture, and I certainly wouldn’t argue. The plot is rich, the characters fully developed and intertwined in ways that would be difficult to guess. Actors you don’t expect to deliver great performances - Sandra Bullock, Matt Damon and Brendan Fraser to name three. Actors you expect to give great performances deliver in spades, most notably Don Cheadle. And Jennifer Esposito? Wow.

The film is disturbing and moving. I wonder how realistic a picture of life in L.A. it portrays. I cannot imagine living a life full of such fear of violence, nor can I related to a world where guns are even a factor. These people seem to be living it constantly. I’m sure it’s as articial as any hollywood portrayal - based on reality, but highly compressed.

If you haven’t seen this, you should. It’s well worth it. If it doesn’t make you think, I’m worried.

Posted by skooter at 10:20 PM
Tags: Movies, Oscars

June 18, 2005
The Internet: God of Trivia

The Internet brings trivia to new depths, as perhaps illustrated by this excerpt from the Internet Movie Database about Top Gun:

Both John Carpenter and David Cronenberg turned down the chance to direct.

David Cronenberg? If you can get your head wrapped around the idea of David Cronenburg directing Tom Cruise in anything, try thinking about Top Gun.

Posted by skooter at 10:37 PM

May 25, 2005
star wars

I saw Star Wars (the first) in a small theatre in Trenton, Ontario when it was re-released in 1978. The film snapped during the climactic Obi-Wan vs. Darth Vader light saber duel. I remember the interminable wait for the film to be spliced back together, and the eventual disappointment when I learned that Obi Wan lost this battle.

I saw The Empire Strikes Back with my grandfather in North Bay, Ontario during a shadfly infested summer I’ll never forget. My grandfather fell asleep.

I saw The Return of the Jedi on the day I graduated from Grade 8, and went with a bunch of friends from my graduating class.

I saw The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones with my ex. There were very few clones in the second movie, and none of them attacked. I watched this movie under duress, having been immensely disappointed in The Phantom Menace.

I am making a commitment - I am not going to see the Revenge of the Sith.

Posted by skooter at 11:22 PM

January 8, 2005
What hope is there?

First Uman and Ethan, and now this:

Pitt and Aniston amicably split
Last Updated Sat, 08 Jan 2005 09:44:58 EST
CBC Arts
LOS ANGELES - Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, one of Hollywood’s most glamorous and publicized couples announced they are formally separating, Pitt’s publicist confirmed Friday.

This, of course, leads to the obvious question: if Jen & Brad can’t make it work, what hope is there for the rest of us?

And without hope, what next?

Posted by skooter at 10:56 PM
Tags: Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston

November 11, 2004
Laurie Anderson: Until the End of the Moon

I’ve been a fan of Laurie Anderson for as along as I can remember; Home of the Brave was one of the first movies Muchmusic showed, and it blew me away. As so often happens, this lead to an obsession.
Marquee at the Moore Theatre

One of the things I like about her just came back to me as I started typing this; Movable Type likes for you to attach a category to each entry. This is great, except I can’t figure out what category Laurie fits into: she doesn’t.

Music will do, but be warned of its limitations.

I’d never seen Laurie live, and this tour seemed like a reasonable time to do it; a pop down to Seattle at the historic (and quite beautiful) Moore Theatre, and the night was on.

I don’t quite know how to describe the next hour and a half; the show itself is mostly about story telling; Laurie is a compelling storyteller, and she does it very well here. The set is sparse, with only a chair, the latest iteration of the tape-bow violin and a keyboard. Stage lighting is sparse, with much light provided by an uncountable number of tea lights on the stage itself.

Laurie was NASA’s first, and last, artist in residence and much of her storytelling in this performance is based on those experiences.

Still, Laurie is from New York and 9/11 looms in her work. Laurie played a concert in New York on the 13th of September of 2001, later released as a live album. This was one of the most compelling albums I had bought in quite a while. Other artists have certainly found larger audiences, but I feel like Laurie captures the feeling of that time more than anybody else.

Of course I wasn’t there, so I really don’t know.

If you get a chance to see Laurie, do it. Do it somewhere with character though: I can’t imagine seeing this at the type of boring, anonymous square box that she’s playing in Vancouver. It just wouldn’t be the same.

Posted by skooter at 5:58 PM

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