340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Talk more, say less.

I'm continuing the process of editing & posting the 'draft' posts I wrote over the previous ten days. Slowly but surely, I'm catching up to the present day...

* * *

I've been alone for five days and I can't decide which is worse: being awake or trying to sleep. I'm bored when I'm awake; 'sleeping' consists of making slow, restless laps around the bed, struggling to find the least uncomfortable position in which to lay semi-conscious until the alarm wrenches me into another day.

* * *

Interesting article on CNN's site about the emergence of a new wireless communications technology called 'WiMax' (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access). While not exactly living up to the hype, it does promise to open up some amazing avenues for future development:
Supporters say WiMax would complement and not compete with existing technologies such as Wi-Fi, the wireless networking technology now available through countless hotspots in parks, coffee shops, airports and other locales around the world.

While Wi-Fi typically provide local network access for around a few hundred feet with speeds of up to 54 megabits per second, a single WiMax antenna is expected to have a range of up to 40 miles with speeds of 70 megabits per second or more.

The entire artcile may be found here (will launch a new browser window).

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

You read it here last.

Pat Robertson, host of Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club and founder of the Christian Coalition of America, called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Media Matters has a complete transcript and archived footage, bless their hearts.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Clever or coincidence?

When I went to see C.R.A.Z.Y. at the local megaplex, the four movie posters outside the theater were:

Red Eye (horror aboard an airplane);
Flightplan (ditto);
Chicken Little ("The sky is falling, the sky is falling..!");
Deuce Bigelow, European Gigolo (swingin' American cock through Europe);

Welcome to America.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


I feel like I've acceded to a new level of blogging: I've been spammed in my 'comments' section. Apparently yesterday's post attracted some attention from spammers 'cause in addition to something about a home-based business I got complimented on my positive outlook and laid-back sense of humour:

"Your blog is great I'm sure you'd be interested in smiling find smiling"

Cryptic, vaguely flattering and a bit of a tease. Where does marketing stop and flirting start?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."

Forty-eight hours on my own and the descent into hell has begun. Have begun addressing the plants by their full Prussian-court honorifics. Weekend project: redecorating office with stiletto heel, penny nails and ratty pink boa.

* * *

Last weekend, friends and family of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson gathered at his home to send the old dervish off in true gonzo style.

If you're looking for a soulless summary of the event, Robert Weller's AP article is full of the usual superfluous tripe that inevitably fills fluff pieces on legends better left undiscussed, but it gets the main point across.

Oh, and this rare and true piece of mutant art is Steadman's tribute to the man, the myth, the monster.

* * *

A while back, Garry Trudeau eulogized Thompson in his own unique way and gave a little back to the character who gave him so much inspiration. Check it:

Friday, August 26, 2005

T G I can link to better writers than I.

Steenblogen has a great post up about moving, carving out space, creating comfort amidst chaos and settling into a new home. I excerpt one lovely passage among many:
The house is awesome. The neighbours - especially the old lady across the street - are so nice. The furniture all seems to have a right place. The basement isn't creepy. My mom has slept better than she has in I can't remember how long. There's a sense of newness and safety emerging, and it rocks.

* * *

Twisty's also talking about moving today but in a different sense, and it's just as engrossing a read:
Ten minutes later I'm in Blanco County (which, as it is the ancestral home of LBJ, I like to think of as the ur-Texas), and not a moment too soon. It's pretty sparsely populated, is Blanco County. If you, say, went off your nut and tried to fill up the Houston Astrodome with Blanco Countians, you'd have to clone each one seven times. Which is why the second you cross the county line, it's like the acid just kicked in. The traffic vanishes, it stops raining (if it had been raining) and the sky opens up, and there's this magnificent endless panorama of Texas, Texas, some vultures, and more Texas. Non-Texans, whom I pity, are pretty opinionated about Texas, and often not in a good way, I've noticed, and the reason for this is that they've never seen the view looking north on Ranch Road 3232.

* * *

And here's the Thursday soccer crew, enjoying a brief moment of camaraderie in between furious halves. In the front row, we have (from left to right) Mike, Keshef, Raul, Sam and Jo; the back row (again left to right) is some guy who only joined us that one time and whose name completely escapes me right now, yours truly, Gary, Nasser and Hélène. Lusuturi te salutant.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Running to stand still.

Hey there, welcome back. Although this post is dated August 25th, I'm actually uploading it September 6th. See, between travelling and work and everything else, I've been scribbling down these half-started ("draft") posts but not getting around to posting them. Some people in my local blogging community have urged me to just cut my losses and accept that there'll be a ten-day gap in my posts, but I won't. I like the unbroken continuity of daily posts and besides, I have something of absolutely critical importance to say each and every goddamn day.

In any case, I'll be playing catch-up for the next little while, posting two or three days every day, if that makes any sense. If it doesn't, just stick around and you'll see what I mean.

* * *

Bachelorhood is for the fucking birds. Barely on my own for twenty-four hours and already the lustre is kind of off everything. With any luck my baby'll be back this weekend, but it may be a week and a half, so if the tone of this space becomes increasingly despondent... well, take a hike and come back around Labour Day.

I draw some consolation from the memory of the drive yesterday: although my co-workers wince when they hear about it, the truth is that had a great time. I mean, I was exhausted when I got in but the reality is that a) I like road trips; b) the weather was grand and the 401 looks good in the sun and c) the first half was an eight-and-a-half hour date with my baby. For that last reason alone, the trip was worth it: we talked, joked around, sang along with 'Bob FM' between Cornwall and Kingston (actual station ID: "seventies, eighties, nineties and whatever") and generally had a wonderful time together.

* * *

Today's Thursday, which means soccer, which reminds me that I actually have some photos of the game (and SoccerDog!) to post. I'll try & do that tomorrow...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


  • Left Montréal at 20h30 last night for Barrie;
  • Arrived in Barrie at 5h00 this morning;
  • Crashed out, woke up at 11h00, was back in the car by 11h45;
  • Drove back to Montréal, just got home.

1,200 km round trip and I am done. For details, click right here.

* * *

~trying to blog it out put up an especially engaging, provocative post a few days ago. Do yourself a favour and give it a read.

* * *


Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Twisty's really good today, great analysis of a fascinating subject.

* * *

Timesplitters 3: Future Perfect is awesome, Steenblogen is bang-on. "procrastination technique #7" (10 August) is a perfect review of the game. We had a blast playing through (even if it was too short) and I think it's safe to say we'll play it through again in 'Hard' mode.

The characters are wacky and bizarre, the levels are pretty, co-op is well-executed and wildly fun and the special competitive solo modes are a great addition. All in all, two big calloused gamer thumbs up.

* * *

That's it, that's all you're getting today. Work is busy. Thanks for coming.

Monday, August 22, 2005

See what sticks.

You read PvP? If not, you should. Anyway, here's your dose of intergenerational geek humour for the day: click it, skim it, dig it.

* * *

I've been informed that there photos of SoccerDog--I'm working on getting some copies and I'll post them up here as soon as I can.

* * *

The Tyee has more sordid details on the "Telus Idol" debacle. I swear, this just gets dirtier and dirtier.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Treading water.

It's been a busy weekend and I'm bushed, so you only get a little cross-posting action today: Pacanukeha links to an interesting article on worldchanging.com ("another world is here"). Entitled "Re-Introducing The Wild," it's about an unusual plan to save endangered African species by transplanting them to the North American prairies. No, really: Josh Donlan at Cornell University argues that
a range of megafauna once found (in somewhat ancestral form) in North America should be gradually re-introduced the American mid-western plains. Such animals include Bolson Tortoises, Bactrian Camels, wild horses of different types, Cheetah, African and Asian Elephants and, eventually, Lions. All roaming free over the American Great Plains.

Paging Dr. Moreau... anyway, it's an interesting read.

* * *

Oh, and is it just us or does American Dad really suck?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Boys & Men

Steenblogen's got another top-notch rant up this week, one well worth checking out if you haven't already. "WARNING:" is a great rant: vitriolic, insightful and justified with a quotable last line. Perfect...

* * *

... and allows me to segue neatly into point #2 for the day: we saw The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou a while back. Less character- and more plot-driven than his previous films, Wes Anderson's latest has all the standard charms I've come to expect from him: quirky details, odd juxtapositions, bucketloads of serendipity, an oddly sincere romanticism and a fixation on men and male relationships--especially between fathers and sons.

After Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, it's clear that Anderson has a need to explore these particular dynamics. Whether it's the brothers in Bottle Rocket or the mentor-student/rivals in Rushmore, male-male relationships form the core of his movies. While he's good at what he does, I'm getting a little tired of the subject matter.

Anderson has a great eye for detail and an ability to tease out the threads of the fantastical in everyday life, but the fulcrum of his movies is always this collection of vaguely pathetic men quixotically careening through their "adult" lives. The women around them are usually just ancillary MacGuffins, cardboard cutouts watching their husbands/lovers/sons be... well, quirky and charmingly incompetent.

I dunno, am I being cynical?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Trusty sidekicks.

First it was Harper in chaps, now Klein in a Lone Ranger get-up. Don't say I never did nothin' for ya...

Y'know, I like that the conservative politicians go out and get all folksy'n shit over the summer. It's nice. It's good to connect with the people and have a little fun. I'm especially happy that these two guys have arrived at that particular mental plateau which permits the individual to share their sexual peccadilloes with the world at large: it takes a certain kind of inner peace to wear one's fetish gear in public and I for one am proud of both men for having the self-possession and sheer chutzpah to say to the world, "I get off to masked leather cowboy fantasies and I'm not ashamed of it."

Good on ya, boys.

* * *

Every Thursday night, I get together with a few co-workers and we kick a soccer ball up and down a small pitch on the McGill campus. We all suck and we all have a great time.

Yesterday we were joined by a chocolate-brown Lab that--I shit you not--would grab the soccer ball in its jaws and run up and down the field with it. The game fell apart while we all laughed ourselves senseless.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Running scared.

Thanks to the sowing of mutually- and self-contextualizing cues across the spectrum of pop cultcha, Logan's Run was part of my referent collection for years even though I'd never actually seen the movie. I "got" the Family Guy joke where Brian, during a midlife crisis, has a nightmare about fleeing from a pair of Sandmen. Still, as Steenblogen often (rightfully) points out, there's 'getting it' and there's getting it, so a couple of weeks ago we rented Logan's Run and settled in for two hours of psychedelic science funktion.

Reviewing it is pretty much a pointless exercise, mainly 'cause of the reasons mentioned above. While it hasn't aged particularly well, it was significantly better than I expected and I am glad I saw it. Riffs on youth culture and the invisibility of the elderly are just as relevant today as they were thirty years ago, and Peter Ustinov is terrifically watchable as the truth-bringer dinosaur.

It was also great fun to watch Ustinov and Michael York, a couple of Shakespearean heavies, mastermind their way through their respective roles. Good stuff.

* * *

I've tried to start this blurb four times already and I've kept backspacing to the start of line. So now I've defaulted to that most tired trope of anyone suffering from writer's block: write about not being able to write.

When I first heard about the execution of Jean Charles de Menezes, the young Brazilian electrician gunned down by British police last month, my first thought was, "Just please tell me they got the right guy. Give me that much at least."

My colleagues and I spent the morning shaking our heads letting out long sighs and wondering aloud what the hell had happened in that Tube station. Early reports said that an "Arab-looking man" was tackled by police and shot in the head because he'd been wearing a bulky coat on a summer day and someone had reported seeing wires sticking out from a package he was either carrying or had slung around his waist.

I was torn: on the one hand, the guy sounded suspicious as hell. Besides, considering what had just happened in London, any sensible person would know well enough to stop if a group of bobbies start yelling "hey, you with the suspicious-looking coat." On the other hand, we were talking about a notoriously racist police force, mass panic and a public execution. Even the early reports got that part right: the murdered man was tackled and, while pinned down by several officers, shot repeatedly in the brain. That's an execution, no ifs ands or buts. You can say it was justified, you can say it wasn't--that's a whole other discussion. What's can't be argued is the nature of the act.

Then we started hearing that the officers had been plainclothes, with no visible badges. Hm... troubling. Next we heard that they probably "hadn't had time" to even yell out that they were police officers. Okay, well--that changes things. Now we have a group of ordinary-looking white dudes running at someone, waving guns and yelling at him to stop. I start getting a bad feeling in my stomach.

Then, of course, the worst possible news report: the victim was an innocent electrician with absolutely no ties to terrorism--a Brazilian national on his way to work, with all of his papers in order. Oh, fuck.

Yesterday a series of documents and photographs, including wtiness statements made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, were leaked to a British TV network. According to these documents:

  • Mr. de Menezes wasn't running from the police, as had been previously reported. He was walking calmly through the station;
  • He didn't hop a turnstile as had been previously reported, but instead used his Tube pass to enter the station;
  • He had calmly taken a seat on the train when he was grabbed by the two plainclothes officers;
  • He was wearing a light denim jacket and not a padded coat;
  • He was unarmed;
  • He was physically restrained by the officers and then shot seven times in head;

How Londoners can demonstrate the remarkable calm and aplomb for which they were roundly applauded by the world media while at the same time Scotland Yard can act with such stunning incompetence is beyond me. An innocent man is dead, a family halfway across the world is deprived of their only son (who was supporting his elderly parents with his pound-sterling-paying electrician's job) and a city isn't any safer.

To say that this is just a "tragic accident" is bullshit and does a disservice to everyone involved. This was racist (Arab, Brazilian... brown is brown is brown, huh?), this was fascist (ironic that Pinochet hung out in London for so long) and this was criminal.

Jean Charles de Menezes was murdered by Scotland Yard, but I guarantee the city won't observe a minute of silence for him.

Oh, and while I'm at it: to the lazy, simpleminded 'journalists' who insist on referring to Menezes as "another victim of the terrorists," get your fucking facts straight. He was held down and shot in the skull by Scotland Yard, not blown up on a plane, train or office building. No amount of semantic acrobatics and saccharine "cops are people, too" bullshit changes that.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I subscribe to a rag, part IV.

I love my job I love my job I love my job I love my job...

* * *

Now here's something pretty cool, again courtesy of Demonseed Elite: apparently, computer viruses are beginning to attack each other. The Reuters article quotes Mikko Hypponen, the chief research officer at F-Secure, a Finnish software security firm.

The truth is somewhat less dramatic than I'd hoped, but it's still an interesting phenomenon.

* * *

Have you read backstroke of the west? I'm eternally indebted to Steenblogen for bringing this to my attention and absolutely slaying me.

Never did trust those damned Presbyterians.

* * *

Oh, happy day: Montréal's become known for something other than great bagels, shoddy road maintenance and eleven-foot snow drifts: we're now becoming a nexus for the development of invasive data-mining software for video analysis.

Today's Business section of the Gazette profiles Genetec, a local firm that employs 65 people and is in the business of creating "intelligent video surveillance software."

Their flagship product, Omnicast, "enables a system--or several systems--to be managed from a central location." Wireless connectivity and mass panic practically ensure that this stuff will be ridiculously successful.

The Gazette article will launch in a new window if you click here.

* * *

In yesterday's Gazoo, under a (sincere!) headline entitled "SUV woes: activists add insult to injury," a wonderful little story was told: remember ATSA (Action Terroriste Socialement Acceptable)? They set up a charred wreck of an SUV in Dundas Square a while back and I mentioned it at the time. Well, they're back in the news and this time it's in their home province:

SUV woes: activists add insult to injury

Patrol city streets issuing fake tickets to 'gas-guzzling, oversize vehicles'

Alex Dobrota, The Gazette - Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Montrealers who drive sport utility vehicles were dealt a double blow yesterday.

As gasoline prices surged to a record high of 114.9 cents a litre, a group of local activists placed fake $50 tickets under the windshield wipers of SUVs across the city.

The infraction? Owning an oversize, gas-guzzling vehicle, one of the protest's organizers said.

"There are a lot of people out there who are really tired of big cars that burn a lot of fuel and pollute," said Annie Roy, the co-founder of Action Terroriste Socialement Acceptable. The group calls itself a non-profit organization that aims to raise public awareness through artistic means.

All personal four-wheel-drive cars equipped with a six-cylinder engine or bigger run the risk of being ticketed.

Idling cars are also fair game for the 150 "brigadiers" who will patrol the streets of Montreal over the next month with the intention of doling out 10,000 fake tickets.

A copy of each ticket will be sent to the city of Montreal. Another copy will be pinned to a wall in what will become a massive art display open to the public, Roy said.

But concern for the environment was not the only reason for the protest.

"We're really targeting the spread of big vehicles and the publicity that brings that about," Roy said. "Visually, it lacks respect to own a vehicle that takes up a lot of space in the urban landscape."

For some participants, the exercise helped let off steam.

Louise Labelle, 43, returned to the group's base camp on Drolet St. in the Plateau Mont Royal neighbourhood to stock up on tickets after handing out the 10 she started with.

"I have to go back for that Hummer," she said, catching her breath.

"Why do people have to buy such huge cars? It makes no sense," the smiling CLSC worker said before speeding off on her flower-adorned bicycle.

But at least one SUV driver didn't enjoy the joke.

Albano Sa, who owns a fruit business on Villeneuve Ave. in the Plateau, said the protest against SUVs comes at the wrong time.

"I have enough trouble making it as it is," he said. "The price of gas is high, our delivery guys are getting parking tickets all the time, and now this."

Try as he might, the 61-year-old was at a loss to understand the motives behind the ticketing campaign.

Asked about pollution and gas consumption, Sa insisted he never drives faster than 95 kilometres per hour.

He bought the SUV five years ago, he said, to avoid being stuck in the snow in winter.

"I don't understand," he said.

"If they want money for the poor, they should come and ask me, and I'll give it to them. But why do it like this?"

Roy said the ticket is clearly symbolic and drivers are not obliged to pay it.

But she had a message for people who worry about their wallet when they see the ticket on the windshield of their SUV: "They should instead worry about the fate of the planet."


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A smorgasbord.

So I've decided to ease off on the movie reviews for a couple of days; this blog was starting to look like an IMDb testing ground. I'm still behind though, with four reviews waiting in the wings... *sigh*

* * *

Skippy's List is old news--practically ancient by intraweb standards--but I stumbled across it by accident last night and peed myself again for the first time. If you know it, enjoy it again; if you don't... well, you're welcome.

N.B.: Link will launch in a new window and is work-safe.

* * *

Ready to get nice and depressed? Cost Of War dot com has a running tally of, well... the cost (in greenbacks) of the US invasion of Iraq. Everyone I've shown it to so far has had exactly the same response: an almost overwhelming desire to physically insert their fingers into the monitor and STOP THE NUMBERS. To see lunacy quantified like that, in real-time, is an experience both profoundly humbling and deeply disturbing. I'm actually reluctant to visit the site again.

To their credit, the COW crew provide ample context for these numbers, allowing users to--via pull-down menus--to see what the cost is to their own state and city, as well as the number of four-year scholarships or units of public housing the money could have bought.

In the time it took me to write this blurb (not the whole post, mind you--this blurb), the US government burned through $348,000.

Depressed yet?

* * *

I give you funny, I give you apocalyptic and now I give you jaw-dropping: Mint Royale's video for their remix of "Singin' In The Rain." Link will launch a new browser window and is work-safe but loud, so maybe turn your speaker volume down a bit first.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Eaters of the Dead.

On Friday, Canwest news reported that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has sent 5,000 copies of this poster to the World Youth Day festivities in Cologne. The brainchild of Reverend Jonathan Meyer, an Indiana priest who's my age, it's apparently meant to tap into young men's fascination with sacrifice, heroism and duty. Although the print is too small to see on this image, the tagline apparently reads, "The Catholic priesthood: The answer is out there--and it's calling you."

Talk about a piece of marketing genius. According to the article, Meyer believes that "pop culture can be used as a positive tool" in the promotion of Catholic values in general and the priesthood in particular. Keanu Reeves' status as a gay sex symbol is merely an ironic coincidence.

Catholic Online
has their own little in-house blurb.

* * *

Pacanukeha loaned me a copy of Life Eaters, a graphic novel written by David Brin that explores a fantastical hypothesis for the true purpose lurking behind the camps. Genocidal megalomania and raw hate isn't enough for Brin, no sirree; he needs to stir a little old-fashioned necromancy into the mix.

While the overall concept is intriguing, I'm uncomfortable with the "Holocaust-as-plot-device" trope and the implicit depoliticization of anti-Semitism, homophobia and racism. Brin's handling of the death camps was cavalier and, as far as I'm concerned, careless. I hadn't been able to articulate these feelings coherently until Steenblogen took a squeegee to my brain and broke it down for me. I'm indebted to her for the analysis and for giving me the words that you read above.

That having been said, the opening prologue is a taut, compelling, original story that's well worth taking a look at if you get a chance. Everything after the prologue, well... even ignoring the above caveats, I could kind of take it or leave it. It's kind of predictable and relies on classic superhero tropes to create and resolve crisis. Yawn.

* * *

Finally, in a fascinating piece of news that was woefully underreported north of the border, the CIA knew the Bay of Pigs was a crapshoot. First reported in the Miami Herald (which I shan't bother linking to, as it's a subscriber-only site), newly declassified information reveals that the Agency task force plotting to overthrow Castro had decided that the mission was "unachievable" half a year before the invasion was launched.

Oooohh... juicy.

It gets better: according to the report, "there will not be the internal unrest earlier believed possible." In other words, the locals won't welcome Americanskis as liberators. Sound familiar? The link above will launch a new window on the Statesman's site.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Crazy like a box.

Usually, I like to head my movie reviews with an appropriate image, but for Jean-Marc Vallée's C.R.A.Z.Y. you get nothing. Google Images only spat out posters for the seminal Melissa Joan Hart vehicle Drive Me Crazy and Adam Sandler's avant-garde but poorly-received treatment of Hanukkah, Eight Crazy Nights.

Hailed as the latest saviour of Québec film, C.R.A.Z.Y. is a period-piece coming-of-age story about a young man growing up in a traditional environment, testing... testing his limits, rebel... reb... rebelling against... *yawn* ... rebelling against the establissshhh... estab.. esss...




*snort* Whuzzah?! What--where..? Oh, right--C.R.A.Z.Y.. He's gay, he likes rock'n roll and he smokes dope. Dad's a homphobe and mom's a Jesus freak who's complicit in her husband's continuous torment of their sexually ambiguous son. Older brother is a burn-out whose eventual death serves as a catalyst for relic father and queer son to forgive and forget (but, significantly, not resolve) their differences and drive off together into the sunset.

Look, there are things to like here: Montréal circa 1960-1980 is lovingly and painstakingly re-created with bang-on costumes, props, set pieces and music (though, super-significantly, with the exception of Robert Charlebois there's not a single Québécois artist featured on the soundtrack). The characters are lovingly drawn and the acting is, for the most part, excellent--Michel Côté deserves every accolade he gets for his turn as a simple man struggling to reconcile his own antiquated worldview with the rapidly-changing society around him.

My problem is that homophobia is not a simple issue and the director treated it like it was. The characters are permitted to hate and the film doesn't reflect on that at all. I have no problem with bigoted characters; I have a problem with artists (in this case a director/screenwriter) who can't see past the ends of their noses and pull a little bit more from their texts.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Mortician, priest or taxidermist?

The Final Cut is a cerebral thriller starring Robin Williams as a 'cutter.' In the near-future world posited by writer-director Omar Naïm (channelling Phil Dick), we've created something called the "Zoe Implant," a cybernetic device which records our life as we perceive it. Working in real time, the headware stores the visual and auditory portion of our stimuli 24-7 so that when we die a cutter can extract the memories, edit and arrange them using a device nicknamed "the guillotine," so that the finished product can be shown at one's funeral/wake.

With a small cast rounded out by Mira Sorvino, James Caviezel and Mimi Kuzyk (Of "Blue Murder" fame), this movie focusses on details and small, nuanced moments. With an intriguing concept and room to maneuver, The Final Cut had great potential. Unfortunately, uneven execution and uninspired performances from the primaries squanders some of that potential.

Robin Williams' recent spate of dramatic roles (Insomnia, One Hour Photo, Jakob the Liar) has provided some memorable performances but also, it seems, a template: slightly withdrawn, socially awkward, calculating, brittle, anonymous--in other words, the opposite of everything we've come to expect from Williams. While this worked wonderfully in Insomnia, it's getting to be a tad repetitive and I would've liked him to dig a little deeper for The Final Cut.

While I missed that big movie Caviezel starred in a while back, I liked him well enough in The Count of Monte Cristo and he turns in a decent performance as a conflicted antagonist with a past. Mira Sorvino isn't given a whole lot to work with but she acquits herself well, finessing her limited role into something more complex than I think Naïm envisioned. Mimi Kuzyk is sharp and crisp, delivering her lines with a particular relish; her character's professional veneer allows her to bite off snappy retorts while maintaining an air of cool detachment:

Alan Hakman (Williams): I need to speak to you alone.
Thelma (Kuzyk): Michael, why don't you go down to the store and buy some cigarettes?
Michael (Fletcher): We got eight packs already.
Thelma (Kuzyk): Well, bring them back then. We don't need so many.

Although the premise for the movie is fascinating, it gets a bit muddled during the execution, with a polluted little love story unevenly stitched in and a cutter culture hinted at but never fully explored. For the record, I'm not necessarily opposed to romantic subplots and even in The Final Cut, the relationship between Sorvino and Williams' characters had potential--it was just badly played out.

I'd recommend he movie for its gorgeous cinematography and fascinating premise, but don't get your hopes up too high.

Friday, August 12, 2005


When C. and I saw the trailers for Cursed, we were pretty excited: Wes Craven helming a werewolf movie? How could we go wrong?

Cursed follows a familiar formula for the genre: protagonist encounters strange "wolf-like" predatory animal, suffers superficial wound, begins developing a taste for raw meat, experiences heightened libido and lowered inhibitions, exults in newfound abilities and ultimately faces a choice between accepting amazing power (at the price their humanity) or rejecting it in favour of love, friendship Judeo-Xian ethical memes.

This was Craven's first project since 2000's Scream 3 and he teams up with the same writer, bringing the same tongue 'n cheekiness: this is a self-conscious trope-heavy skim through werewolf legends, with the scariest moment being a toss-up between the editing (horrifying) and Christina Ricci's violently protruding collarbone (disturbing).

While we liked the quick pace and cool-looking werewolf (very Garou-like), the movie showed signs of severe re-writes. The plot felt collaged together, with dangling threads and inexplicable dead-ends. The acting was on par for the genre and the effects were acceptable. Although Craven is definitely capable of better, C. loves creature features and I dig werewolves, so ultimately we had a pretty okay time.

* * *

From an article in The Epoch Times:
A photo of two peculiar dragon-shaped objects taken from a plane flying over Tibet’s Himalayas piqued many users’ interest when displayed on a Chinese website. The photographer is an amateur.

On June 22, 2004, the photographer went to Tibet’s Amdo region to attend the Qinghai-to-Xizang Railroad laying ceremony, and then took a plane from Lhasa to fly back inland. When flying over the Himalayas, he accidentally caught these two "dragons" in a picture that he took. He called these two objects "the Tibet dragons."

Thanks to Demonseed Elite over on the Dumpshock Forums for passing this one around.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Stories that make me happy.

ROTFLMFAO (work-safe, unless blistering schadenfreude is verboten at your place of business.).

* * *

Pacanukeha points us to a wonderfully creative fundraising effort: authors auctioning character's names in forthcoming novels & comic books in order to benefit the First Amendment Project. Neil Gaiman's site breaks it down for us and includes links to the eBay page with all the relevant info.

In a nutshell, the FAP is "a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition" (from their site). As you can imagine, the recent chilling of press freedoms south of the border has taxed their resources. As a result, they found themselves in dire financial straits and a group of authors have banded together to help them out. People as diverse as Stephen King, Amy Tan, John Grisham, Lemony Snicket and Dorothy Allison have offered to name characters and places in their forthcoming works after auction winners.

You bid, and if you win you could be the first person to get chewed up by rabid zombies in King's next book; Neil Gaiman will put your name on a tombstone in an illustrated scene from his next children's book; many of the other authors offer up minor characters for the auction. All of the proceeds go to the First Amendment Project. The auction site is here (will launch in a new window).

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I like it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It's so fuckin' heroic.
- George Carlin, Brain Droppings

It amazes me, the will of instinct.
- Nirvana, "Polly"

I read this story on the bus and for some reason, was really affected. Can't exactly put my finger on why, but it's something about instinct and inevitability. I haven't formulated any solid thoughts on it yet, but maybe I'll return to the subject in a future post. Anyway, here's the story:

Teenagers perform caesarean section on dead cat, save kitten

Alex Hutchinson - CanWest News Service

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Two teens improvised a caesarean section to rescue the kittens of a dead cat they stumbled across in a New Brunswick forest last week.

Monica Castonguay, 15, and her cousin, Kim Quimpere, 13, were walking in the woods near their homes in the town of St. Quentin when they saw the motionless cat, which belonged to their neighbour.

"Her eyes were all black, her mouth was wide open, and her tongue was blue," Castonguay recalled, speaking in French. "I said to my cousin: 'We should take her farther away, because she'll start rotting.'"

But when the girl touched the cat, she found it was still warm, and realized there might be time to save the kittens. Although neither had any previous experience, even of biology dissections, they decided drastic action was needed.

Quimpere ran home to get an old sweater, a knife and some cotton swabs while Castonguay tried to figure out how to approach the operation.

"I said to Kim, 'Should I cut her there?' But she didn't know any more than I did," Castonguay said.

"So I felt around, and figured: "OK, I'll try here."

It proved a good guess, and she found the placental sac with two kittens inside. After cutting the umbilical cords and rubbing the kittens' noses to clear the mucous, the young surgeons were rewarded with loud mewing.

Another cat that had recently had kittens was persuaded to adopt the orphans - and though one of them died later, the other seems to be flourishing.

Their feat drew exclamations of surprise - along with cautions of "don't try this at home" - from veterinarians.

Dan Rodgers of the Alta Vista Animal Hospital in Ottawa said a caesarean section "usually requires someone with a fair amount of experience, so these kids have done very well to have done that."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Come on Eileen / At this moment, you mean everything.

Commander Eileen Collins began military pilot training for the Air Force in 1978, the same year that NASA opened the Shuttle program to women. She later became the first woman pilot of a Space Shuttle on the first flight of the joint Russian-American Shuttle-Mir program, and now the first woman to command a Shuttle mission.

(These facts excerpted from Cmdr. Collins' official bio on NASA's site)

And this isn't some run-of-the-mill shuttle flight, either: it's the first since the Columbia disintegrated over Texas and it's safe to say the future of NASA was riding on Discovery's back.

Speaking of back, Cmdr. Collins performed a unique maneuver: in a feat of aerial acrobatics reported around the world,

Collins took manual control of Discovery and pitched around in a backflip about 600 feet below the ISS [International Space Staion].

While a feat of orbital acrobatics, the backflip – known as the Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver (RPM) – was pivotal highlight of Discovery’s flight. During the maneuver, Collins slowly flipped Discovery in a circle to give the Expedition 11 crew a clear view of the heat-resistant tiles lining its underside.

(quoted from Space.com's article)

The LA Times has a nice video of the maneuver.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Nosy neighbours.

Got a real smorgasbord of privacy/identity stories to talk about today, so let's not waste any time. First, if you don't know what RFID technology is try this article on Wikipedia (your browser will launch a new window).

Canwest News Service reports that the US has set a firm start date for its "tag and release" program: yesterday. Scheduled to run through to next spring, the program is designed to "see if the antennas at the crossings can pick up the signal from the chips. Once that has been determined, border agents hope to begin using the system at their checkpoints to identify travellers."

My flogging arm is worn out and besides, the horse is looking seriously worse for wear. Fortunately, EPIC (the Electronic Privacy Information Center) has tireless arms and a large stable; you can read their relevant brief to the US Department of Homeleand Security here (the bureaucratese is a bit dense, but the salient point can be pulled out with a quick skim).

EPIC echoes my concerns around RFID: namely, that the tags (contrary to DHS' assertions) can be cross-referenced to databases containing personal information and are indiscriminate in their broadcasts. What this means is that although the tags themselves may not contain any personal data, they will contain enough markers that private, personal information (SIN, drivers' license, residence, age, etc.) can be quickly located in other government databases; and that any RFID receiver can liaise with these tags, retriving the information contained therein. DHS may intend these things for use by Immigration and Naturalization Services, but the DEA could access the information, as well as the FBI, state troopers and even local law enforcement. Heck, private security companies and businesses could access the tags as well, if they knew what to look for. The potential for abuse is obvious and should be enough to justify kiboshing this plan.

From the Canwest article:

Foreign travellers and landed immigrants crossing from Canada through select U.S. border checkpoints will have to carry a radio chip that will identify them when they leave the U.S. or return to the country under the same visa, U.S. officials announced yesterday as they kicked off a pilot program to test the new technology.

Embedded into a letter-envelope-sized piece of paper, the chips were introduced Thursday at five land border crossings from Canada and Mexico into the U.S. They will be handed out to all people travelling through those crossings using what is known as a Form I-94 during the nine-month trial period. Form I-94 specifies how long the visitor can remain in the country. It doesn't apply to Canadian citizens.

E-mail me if you'd like to read the rest.

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Jennifer Stoddart, my personal hero of the day, flipped out like a ninja on Jean Lapierre. As Federal Privacy Commissioner, she has the unenviable task of being employed by a government that (apparently) has no interest in listening to what she says. Nevertheless, rather than get discouraged or resigned, she gets pissed. Check out this devastating volley of righteously-indignant rhetoric: "[this list] represents a serious incursion into the rights of travellers in Canada, rights of privacy and rights of freedom of movement." Okay, so it's not exactly sturm und drang--it's still a harsh indictment of a government policy designed more to appease our southern neighbours than to actually make Canadians safer.

In case you haven't been following any of this, the "list" is a 1,000-name 'no-fly' list created by the Canadian government and set to be put into practice next year. Its only saving grace is that it's shorter than the open-ended American list, but that's damning with faint praise: 1,000 names would barely cover the known list of violent terrorists in CSIS' hands at the moment.

This idiotic proposal (again, set to come into practice next year unless enough hell is raised between now and then) is just a distraction. A no-fly list wouldn't have helped Bali, Madrid, Moscow or London. A no-fly list doesn't help our electrical grid, water-filtration systems or schools. A no-fly list is a gross abuse of our civil rights and an indication of how completely clued-out the Transport Ministry is on this issue. Jean Lapierre needs to extract his head from his ass, ditch this ridiculous plan and start getting his shit together; there's actual work to be done.

The CBC's article is here and, in a surprise move obviously intended to lull me into a false sense of complacency, the Gazette editorial page contained this shockingly lucid response. Excerpt:

There's no appeal, no way to find out why you're on the list or who put you on it, and no way to check if it's a mistake. You're stuck. Even allowing security personnel to ransack your luggage and conduct full body searches will change nothing.

Transport Minister Jean Lapierre insists that this little mid-winter nightmare will never happen when Canada introduces its no-fly list next year. He told The Gazette's editorial board yesterday that the list will be short - no more than 1,000 names - and will have "no good guys" on it.

We are not convinced.

Monday, August 08, 2005

A room of one's own.

The Grange City hotel in central London is planning to open up a women-only section (This link will launch the BBC article in a new window). My initial response was enthusiastic but I've since cooled to the idea. Although the Grange seems to be moving on this with the best intentions--and I'm impressed at the amount of money they're willing to sink into a project like this--I'd much rather see them incorporate some of these ideas into their main hotel. Are their doorstaff sensitized to the needs of women travelling alone? Are all of their grounds well-lit? Does their staff receive sexual-assault awareness training? And what's the deal with every "woman's room" having a chain on the door for added security? Don't all hotel doors have chains on them?

The road to segregation is paved with good intentions and I hate to see good money wasted on a token gesture that could ultimately do more harm than good.

* * *

A few days ago I talked a bit about the Telus labour dispute. The Tyee has an update on the story: apparently, in addition to leaving their employees without a contract for five years, the management at Telus has created an environment where lascivious misogyny is, like, totally cool.

Most of the article is a dry rundown of conflicting rumours, but the juicy stuff at the beginning suggests a familiar corporate culture where any kind of respect for female colleagues is a cheap charade, dropped the moment plausible deniability ("hey, I had a few--gimme a break") is established. Pricks.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Returning from the dead.

I hope you had a chance to read John MacFarlane's article on the undead horde's invasion of Mount Royal. Originally printed in the Gazette, I'd reprinted it here but now it is gone. If you'd like a copy, you may e-mail me.

* * *

My week in purgatory is due to end in... six hours, thirty-eight minutes.

* * *

C. had never seen Get Shorty, so when Be Cool was released a few weeks ago, I rented both together so we could watch them back-to-back. I'm glad we did, because they do work better as a pair than as individual movies and C. seemed to really like the first. The sequel, well...

In a movie as self-conscious as Be Cool, it's hard to say how much of its failure is intentional or not. After all, wouldn't it break the illusion to have a sequel surpass (or even equal) the original?

Elmore Leonard is what he is and personally, I'm partial to him. When he's on, he writes whip-smart, breezy stories about clever people doing dirty things and charming the hell out of you all the while. Unfortunately, Be Cool feels laboured and a little clumsy. Part of the original's charm was the unexpected twists and turns: Chilli's wry intelligence, wit, grace and creativity were refreshing, given his archetype. This time around he seemed a little smug, like the character figured out he was being written as 'clever'.

Likewise, in Get Shorty, the Möbius-like (hey, twice in two reviews--a record!) quality of the story was just predictable enough to be logical, but enough of a surprise to leave me grinning. Here, the self-referencing was clumsier and felt forced: using a story about an up-and-coming young singer to showcase the talents of real-life up-and-comer Christina Milian didn't feel postmodern--it felt like product placement. You could argue that I'm splitting hairs with that distinction, and so be it--it still felt awkward. Also, the choice of director was odd: F. Gary Gray, who'd previously helmed The Italian Job, is a poor fit for the smooth, suave tone that Leonard's words evoke.

The saving grace of this movie is the acting: André Benjamin (AKA André 3000), Cedric the Entertainer, The Rock and Vince Vaughn all stand out in their roles. The Rock isn't a brilliant thespian by any stretch of the imagination, but his willingness to undermine his own macho image was nice and it made for some funny scenes; Cedric the Entertainer never fails to, well... entertain. The man's got comic timing out the wazoo, what can I say? Vince Vaughn's wigger pastiche was initially brilliant, then merely smile-inducing and, by the final scenes, cringe-worthy. The real surprise was André Benjamin--who knew this guy could act? Funny, engaging and totally watchable, he stole pretty much every scene he was in.

Nutshell review: not a bad movie, probably worth the rental (especially if you liked Get Shorty) but disappointing in the ways that most sequels are.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Things you're better off not seeing.

Feministing has their list of most disturbing products up and, aah... yeah. Pretty fucked up. I think the Pregnant Torso Keychain and the Child 'Pimp' Costume are the worst, with the most clocking in at somewhere between "pathetic" and "juvenile," but by all means see for yourself (link will launch a new window).

* * *

So I decided I'd continue trying to catch up on my movie reviews. I figure I'm at least four or five behind, so this could take a while.

Anyhoo... Boogeyman. Billed as a supernatural thriller about every child's nightmare come to life, this is really just generic schlock. Which is to say that it isn't irredeemably horrible; it's just woefully mediocre. Nothing about it stands out in any way, except a brief Möbian moment in a motel bathroom that sadly had more in common with Timesplitters 3 than David Lynch.

I wish I had more to say, but this flick was just a dull re-tread of Darkness Falls, itself a cleaned-up version of Tooth Fairy. The unfortunate thing about these "childhood-nightmares-are-actually-
true" movies is that they always end the same: the nightmare is some kind of supernatural entity that wants to torment and kill the protagonist and, by extension, you. Whee.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Two days ago Dr. Stephen Robinson, one of the astronauts on the latest Discovery mission, accomplished a unique feat the other day: he completed a space walk under the shuttle. It sounds distressingly banal I know, but consider the variables. Although the shuttle always looks like it's stationary, peacefully hovering in place, that's the opposite of the truth. The thing is whipping around the planet at about 28,000 kph and only looks stationary.

Space walks have become relatively commonplace now, but only along the top and sides of the shuttle--never underneath. The physics of it are completely different and according to Wayne Hale, the deputy shuttle program manager, "nobody has a very good handle on the aerodynamics at those altitudes and those speeds." A NY Times article summarizing the events in a dry but informative way may be reached here (will launch new browser window).

I just think it's pretty cool and Dr. Robinson deserves serious kudos for attempting this insanity.

* * *

So my dad's taking me out to see C.R.A.Z.Y. tonight, hailed as the latest saviour of Québec's film industry. I'll letcha know how it is, but I'm backed up on my film reviews as it is so give me a coupla weeks.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Actually, you can hate the playa and the game.

You know, I was fine at first. Work has been keeping me busy, so I came home late & tired every night. Today, though--today sucked. Three more nights...

* * *

Apparently the fine folks over at Bell Canada are sympatico (badum-bum) with the Liberal youth wing: Bell Mobility is selling a series of PimpTones for their phones. Oh, for fucking joy. Too long have I waited for the opportunity to stand on the rush hour bus and hear some dumbfuck dude's phone signal an incoming call by reminding us (in a woman's voice) that "money, clothes and hoes is all a player cares about."

There's more, but I'm not gonna waste my time transcribing them all. Seriously, this shit boggles the mind, doesn't it? I want to get the name of the genius over at Bell Mobility who thought, "yeah, you know what? These kids like that crazy hip-hop sound and they like those pimps, too. That 'Nelly' fella's even selling PimpJuice. We should offer a series of degrading cellphone rings before the zeitgeist train pulls out of the station and leaves us behind."

Don't the body's autonomous functions require an IQ of 60 to function? How are these people's circulatory systems still working? I mean, fuck.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Die Erziehungsberechtigten

There's something so wonderfully, functionally elegant about the capacity of the German language to absorb suffixes. The title of today's post is one of these engineered compound words: erziehungs (education); berechtigten (entitled). "Entitled to educate" is a clumsy translation--"those who claim the moral authority to educate." is much closer.

In Hans Weingartner's 2004 film Die Fetten Jahre sind vorbei, "die erziehungsberechtigten" is the name claimed by a small group of revolutionary pranksters (ontological guerillas, as Mr. Wayne would say).

As an interesting aside, the German title translates to "your days of plenty are numbered," a significant phrase within the script's context. Appropriate title. On the other hand, the English title ("The Edukators") is a clumsy, lily-livered, watered-down translation of the name the group actually claims for themselves (see above translation). Just so we're all on the same page.

Without a doubt the best movie I've seen this summer (yes, it beats out Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events), this is one of those wonderfully functional gestalts, a curious Tinkertoy romantic coming-of-age revolutionary heist story.

The script is spare, but the rhythm of the language is crisp and evocative. While far from fluent, I could pick up on enough of the original German dialogue to notice that the subtitles were sometimes ill-fitting and awkward. It's a testament to the writer that most of the wit, playfulness and layered pathos manages to come through the pale white lettering splayed across the bottom of the screen. Some reviewers have referred to a didactic tone, but I didn't feel that at all. Anyone who's ever hung out with (or identified as) a completely earnest twenty-something revolutionary will recognize the affectations of these kids as not only plausible, but completely faithful to the archetype. Some people might find this irritating anyway, but I didn't; perhaps that's a personal conceit. The film does not lecture, though the characters (occasionally) do. The difference is crucial and illustrates some the movie's power and charm.

Shot as cinéma vérité and avoiding long shots, the movie maintains an intimate feel throughout, even during a sequence set in the great outdoors amidst the Alps. The characters' youth is cast on a fulcrum, teeter-tottering between exultant power and fragility.

Daniel Brühl (Jan), Julia Jentsch (Jule), Stipe Erceg (Peter) and Burghart Klaußner (Herr Hardenberg) forged a dynamic ensemble and completely absorbed me into their world. The characters, drawn as archetypes, came alive at the deft touch of these actors. Whether it's the bonds of friendship that wax and wane throughout the movie, the politically-charged rants delivered from the heights of bridges, the scheming of the terrorized or the latent homoeroticism brewing between the two male leads, the cast delivers nuanced, multilayered performances.

If I have one complaint about this film, it's on the last point: the subdermal attraction between Jan and Peter is never really addressed in a satisfactory way, though it's hard to ignore the (barely-sub)text to their interactions. Free in so many other ways, these kids never question heteronormativity.

Actually, I have two complaints and here's the second: Jule, the female character. Although Jentsch does an amazing job with the character, she's essentially a plot device who reacts to events instead of acting; she only acts as a causative agent incidentally. In other words, her presence causes things to happen, but she does not. Am I making sense? Hope so.

It's a damned shame and what will keep me from giving this movie a perfect "10" on IMDb. It actually sucks even worse 'cause these characters are positioned as true idealists with the power, ability and will to buck The System(tm). Although Jule is written as adventurous, clever, funny, committed and daring, she's still denied true agency: decisions are made around and about her, but never by her.

Maybe I should give credit to the director for accurately demonstrating how sexism pervades the left, but my instinct is to deny him that kudo. My instinct is that he didn't think twice about chauvinism; it just didn't occur to him at all.

Like I said, a damned shame.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Every time I try to skip a day's post...

... some idiot has to go and say something so fucking stupid/offensive that I'm forced to comment. Every time I seem to get away from these subhuman shit-for-brains, they pull me back in...

* * *

Okay, first things last: the boneheads in the youth wing of the provincial Liberal party have lost their minds. Stéphane over at Vidanges du Diable has some interesting analysis--go check it out.

As far as I'm concerned, this is simply the worst kind of arrogant misogyny. That this level of clueless drivel would be espoused by the youth wing of a political party is disheartening, to say the least. I mean, I've come to expect this kind of narrow-minded, self-interested moralizing from the professionals--but the kids coming up the ranks? That shit is sad.

I'm not even sure what else to say, given that this represents a philosophical clusterfuck of stunning proportions. It reminds me of that dude who got loaded and decided to nail his own penis to the seat of a chair. What do you even say in the face of that kind of deep-seated stupidity?

I mean, for crying out loud... moral panic much? It's times like this I'm grateful to Twisty for adding a wonderful little neologism to my lexicon, because this is without a doubt the most fucktarded idea I've heard in a while.

* * *

Secondly (and on a completely different and unrelated note), Grad School Avenger seems to have gotten back into the habit of posting regularly, which is a good thing. GSA is not an idiot, nor a bonehead.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A week in solitary.

I had to hit the ground running at work today, so you get very little in the way of content from me. I suspect the entire week will be like this--please bear with me. It's going to be tough enough with my baby schoolin' bustas up in here.

The conference ("Re-Viewing Bodies: Embodiment, Process, and Change") is put on by the International Visual Sociology Association, one of the more intriguingly-named academic groups out there. Field reports will eventually be found here and if her recent trip to Oslo is any indication, these pan-Atlantic missives are not to be missed.

* * *

If you haven't already bookmarked McSweeney's yourself, you may have missed Isaiah Dufort's list of "Things My Boss Said to Me Without Elaborating." This situation can be rectified by perusing said list here.