340 meters per second

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

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Monday, October 31, 2005

'Tis the season.

I can't remember the last time we had a Hallowe'en this mild; I can think back to trick-or-treating with my winter boots on! I think the mercury was around 12 degrees tonight...

It was an all-around good Hallowe-en: we went over to friends' and carved pumpkins, handed out treats to neighbourhood kids (who didn't know quite what to make of a group of giggling adults sitting around holding fat bags of candy) and went for a nice long walk around Beaconsfield Ave. Good times.

* * *

Speaking of monster-centered cliques, who knew Vancouver had such a hot little horror-movie community? The Tyee delivers Hallowe'en-themed content in a report on the burgeoning low-budget horror movie scene in BC.

* * *

Last night, C and I got into the holiday spirit and rented the fourth (and possibly last?) installment in Romero's "dead" series: Land of the Dead.

As post-apocalyptic horror goes, I'd rather have re-watched 28 Days Later, but this movie wasn't terrible. Predictable in a by-the-numbers kind of way, but you kinda know what you're gonna get when you rent a Romero movie and that's half the fun.

Leguizamo is the only high point, bringing his usual blend of snap-crackle-pop delivery, wiseacre charm and fluid physicality to a role that's beneath him.

The make-up effects are very good: the zombies look fresh and deliciously nasty. All in all, a decent example of the genre but nothing to write home about.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Caaaaake... must... eat... caaake...

I always have the best birthdays and this year was no exception: C. & I spent most of the day in bed, playing Mercenaries, eating the spice cake she baked me and cooing over how great I looked in the retro CBC shirts she got me: the 50s design is on a soft, comfy lined tee, and the 70s "exploding pizza" logo looks great on the warm, long-sleeve blue cotton one.

Later, we met my folks for a quick supper at Mesquìte and giggled ourselves senseless over the "pulled pork" before heading home to watch Hallowe'en-weekend zombie movies. Now that's a birthday.

* * *

Conventional wisdom around movie remakes is that, by and large, they suck ass. Securing the rights to an older picture is usually expensive, which means that a big, creativity-crushing studio ends up footing the bill. Alternately, a studio remakes a product it already owns, in which case it's invested in protecting the sanctity of its brand. Either way, the audience is usually left with a tepid, half-assed collection of ironic winks and over-produced garbage.

Not so with the 1990 remake of the 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead. Starring Patricia Tallman, Tony Todd (of Candyman "fame") and Tom Towles, this version is a crisp, smart version of the now-archetypal story. All of the original's tense pathos is maintained while the social commentary is actually ratcheted up slightly: closing shots of lynched zombies surrounded by hollering rednecks are lingered over instead of hinted at, and the transformation of the 'Barbara' character from withdrawn, mousy victim into a take-charge, rifle-carrying, no-bullshit protagonist both speak to a new social context that nevertheless shares many of the same concerns that fuelled the original movie. In fact, this version does what the best remakes (and cover songs) should do: it reminds us of the original's timeless qualities. If you dig zombie movies, I'd definitely suggest checking out this updated classic.

Plus, it's got Patricia Tallman: perhaps better known as 'Lyta Alexander' on Babylon 5, she's a career stuntwoman and member of the Stunt Woman's Association of America. She also co-founded the Galactic Gateway, a sci-fi web portal and works closely with Penny Lane, a Californian children's charity. Pretty cool.

Oh, and here's some interesting trivia: it was directed by Tom Savini, who was hired by Romero to do the makeup effects on the original (1968) Night of the Living Dead. Neat, huh?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

It's my party and I'll slack if I want to.

Today's my birthday and since I'm turning 29 on the 29th, I'm told it's going to be a good year. I've got a feeling it just might be, at that.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Not exactly rocket science.

Ready to have your world rocked? Are you prepared for some real apple cart-upsetting shit? Okay, then get this: Maher Arar was tortured by Syrian security forces. I know, I know--implausible and even fantastical, but nevertheless true:

Ottawa engineer Maher Arar was tortured while in custody in Syria three years ago and he still suffers from the aftereffects of his treatment, a fact-finder appointed by the Arar inquiry concludes in a report released Thursday.

"I am convinced that his description of his treatment in Syria is accurate," Stephen Toope wrote after conducting 10 hours of conversations with Arar and comparing his testimony to that of other Syrian-Canadians who say they were tortured by Syrian interrogators.

Read the CBC National story here. You can also visit the official site of the Arar Inquiry here. Both links will launch in new browser windows.

* * *

Y'know, I actually feel kinda bad for Harriet Miers: she had no business being thrust into the spotlight like that and I have to wonder how much pressure her boss put on her to "volunteer" for the job. Anyway, she's withdrawn her nomination, which is clearly in everyone's best interests.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Think it through.

Pacanukeha has a great post up this week wherein he busts out a series of links relating to the ethical implications of genetic testing at the workplace. Specifically, the articles to which he directs readers highlight the major talking points in the debate swirling around the use of genetic information to screen potential employees. Should a sports team be allowed to reserve the right to deny a contract to a player who has a genetic predisposition to a weak heart? Does a corporation's obligation to its shareholders trump ethical concerns regarding the use of someone's private medical information? Is it even an ethical issue or is genetic data no more (or, interestingly, less) sensitive than other types of information?

Thought-provoking stuff. I won't waste any time regurgitating the info here; suffice to say that Pac's links will send you down a rabbit-hole of information and his comments on the whole thing pretty well mirror my own.

* * *

So C. and I have finally caught up on season two of Battlestar Galactica. This weekend, we bit the bullet and settled in for some serious viewing, gobbling down the remaining five episodes (206 through 210) in no time flat. I think we're becoming obsessed... I
can't remember the last time I was this involved in a TV narrative. We sit breathlessly in front of each episode, silent until the closing credits when we explode into frenzied bouts of "ohmig--did you see wha--I can't belie--will they--shut up, it's back on!"

I can't wait for the second half of this season to start in January.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Okay, how the fuck did I miss the story about Seven Of Nine's sordid divorce? Or that she was Miss Illinois? Geez, I feel so out of the loop...

In case you missed the story, here it is in a nutshell:
  • First of all, yeah--Jeri Lynn Ryan was Miss Illinois 1989. Not particularly relevant, but odd.
  • Secondly, she was married to Jack Ryan, an Illinois politico, for eight years (not the Clancy character, but an actual, real guy--this is a necessary caveat given the surreality which follows).
  • Thirdly--and here's the juicy bit--when she and her husband divorced, the court records of the proceedings were sealed.

According to CNN.com:
Several Chicago media organizations had sued for release of documents relating to the Ryans' divorce, saying the public interest outweighed their concerns about privacy and the possible effect on their now 9-year-old son. Friday [June 18th, 2004], a judge in Los Angeles, where their divorce was litigated, agreed to unseal portions of more than 360 pages of documents, although large parts remained blacked out.

Apparently, Mr. Ryan tried long and hard to convince Mrs. Ryan that they should do their 'Mister+Missus thing' in a nightclub. According to court documents she filed, he "took her on three "surprise trips" in the spring of 1998 to New Orleans, New York and Paris, during which he took her to sex clubs." I swear I couldn't make this shit up if I tried. The entire CNN story can be found here.

One final interesting twist is that Mr. Ryan, a Republican, was going up against Barack Obama, a Democrat, for the Illinois Senate seat. In 2004, Obama was already a whispered presidential contender... the plot thickens, no?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Badgers? We don't need no stinkin', rotten, decrepit, worm-eaten badgers!

If you're looking for a quick chuckle and haven't heard a good necromantic joke in a while, check out Lucy Snyder's classic "Installing Linux on a Dead Badger: User's Notes": it's a timeless bit of geek comedy that'll only take you about three minutes to get through.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Working the line.

Meredith Erickson is the publisher's assistant at Maisonneuve magazine and I think "Sex in the Kitchen: Three female chefs explain why men are still on top in the kitchen" is her first article. If so, I hope it's not her last: insighful and concise, it's a quick assessment of the unique challenges faced by female chefs.

One of patriarchy's clever chiastic contrivances is to relegate a certain kind of labour (say, cooking or sewing) to the status of 'women's work' as long as it's in the home and unpaid, while simultaneously restricting women from participating in the upper echelons of the paid version of that work: sewing is women's work, but all the best tailors, cobblers and fashion designers are men (so the myth goes).

Erickson's piece is hardly revolutionary (or even original), but it does lay the situation bare and includes some delectable quotes from successful female chefs: "“The hours are fucking terrible, I am always sweaty, hot and tired,” says Nancy Hinton, chef de cuisine at L’Eau à la Bouche in Ste. Adèle."

* * *

I erred yesterday: C. actually said that Leslie Feist rocked out like Chrissie Hynde, "channelling" her energy, vivid physicality, magnetic stage presence and throaty vocals--not just that she sounded like her. Mea culpa.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


I've come to realize that this blog is for me, not you; no offense.

* * *

C. and I went to see Broken Social Scene play the Metropolis this weekend and it was fucking fantastic. I've seen the Stars, Do Make Say Think and Raising the Fawn play live but the whole, as they say, is greater than the sum of its parts.

Despite having experienced dozens of shows there, I'd almost forgotten what a great venue Metropolis is: good acoustics, large yet intimate, good visibility and a reasonably professional staff. No complaints.

We picked up a copy of the new record at the merch booth and as eager as I was to hear the new material, I was a little concerned about being left in the dust by songs I hadn't yet developed an attachment to. Fortunately, they played a good mix of material so we got the best of both worlds. I was actually a little surprised at how much of You Forgot It In People they played: early on, a crisp "Cause=Time" provided a nice mid-tempo break from the raw noise of the new material; "Stars and Sons" was a crowd favourite, inspiring a perfectly-timed clap-along; "Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl," one of our all-time favourite BSS tunes, was a big surprise and one of the night's high points.

I could go on and on, but I know how tedious a concert play-by-play can be for people who missed it. I leave you with an observation from C.: when she rocks out, Leslie Feist sounds an awful lot like Chrissie Hynde.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Feels sharky to me.

Associated Press and ABC News report on a really, really close call today:
Megan Halavais had a strange premonition just before a 14-foot shark sunk its teeth into her leg and pulled her beneath the Pacific on Wednesday.

"The water was really glassy, it was weird," Halavais, 20, said. "I was out there thinking this feels sharky to me."

* * *

I wonder if the audience in attendance at the long-term offender trial for human trash Frederic Dompierre had a similar intuition before his lawyer, Lynda Bureau, opened her mouth:

No sometimes means yes, lawyer in rape trial argues

The Gazette, Oct. 22, p. A10

Women who say no to sex sometimes say yes at the same time, the defence lawyer in a brutal sexual assault case said yesterday.

Lynda Bureau's comments, which came during arguments about whether Frederic Dompierre should be declared a long-term offender, were immediately questioned by the judge.

"I just want to remind you that that no longer holds in the law, or in relationships," Quebec Court Judge Denis Bouchard said.

Dompierre was convicted of luring a 14-year-old girl two years ago to a riverside park on Montreal's South Shore, raping her twice, then trying to kill her by bashing her head with a rock before she escaped by swimming to an island in the icy St. Lawrence River.

His co-accused, Steve Lapointe, has been sentenced to seven years. The Crown has asked that Dompierre be declared a long-term offender, meaning he'd be closely supervised once he's completed his sentence.

Bouchard is to rule on Nov. 25.

Last month, Bureau said the victim was partly to blame for the attack because she agreed to go to the park with the boys. "It's very discouraging to hear something like that," crown prosecutor Julie Beauchesne said yesterday. "Especially from a female lawyer."

Friday, October 21, 2005

Knocking off early.

Went for a nice walk around the neighbourhood last night and I was reminded--as I am every year--of how much I like NDG in the fall. Ever since the rain broke last week, I've been finding excuses to go for evening strolls down to Sherbrooke, just to feel the wind on my face and watch the dead leaves swirl around parked cars.

Ironically, one of the best parts of these forays is coming back home to a warm house and snuggling up with my baby, a couple of cats and a cup of tea.

* * *

Bitch Ph.D. gives us a little something to feel good about.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The burden of responsibility.

I am so far behind on my TV-watching, I can't even tell you. The second season of Battlestar Galactica has ended, and C. and I have only watched the first five episodes; the other five are sitting on my hard drive--but who has the time?

We also have the entire first season of Deadwood sitting here gathering dust and I still haven't seen Firefly, though I'd really like to before Serenity leaves the theaters.

Finally, even though the season finale left me breathless, I've only gotten around to watching one episode (the second-season premiere) of Lost. It took me a few scenes to get back in the groove, but now I can't wait to sink my teeth into the next few episodes, which are also sitting on my computer like ripened fruit on the tree.

What I need is to get a really bad flu and spend a solid week off work...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Labouring under illusions.

Just cause someone lowers the bar, you don't have to limbo along with them.
- Synner

A few days ago, Vidanges du Diable wrote about the Québec government's plan to offer tax rebates on the purchase of 'environmentally-friendly' vehicles and the stunning mendacity of automakers who mis-represent their products in order to qualify for these rebates. Lesson for the day: anything can (and will) be subverted, so stay sharp.

* * *

NK has a beautiful pair of posts up where she writes about her own personal "History of Smoking," using one particular aspect of her self--in this case, an iteration of addiction--as a lens through which she refracts her life and, choices she's made. Check out parts I and II, then ask her for more.

* * *

The Globe & Mail reports on the latest developments in the BC teachers' strike: a much larger one-day labour strike shut down the provincial capital...

The dispute is beginning to spread beyond the teachers' picket lines into a confrontation with the province's entire labour movement.

B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair called yesterday's organized-labour protest in Victoria, which shut bus service, mail delivery and many other government services, just the taste of things to come if the conflict is not resolved.

... while at the same time,

[A] special prosecutor was appointed to determine whether criminal contempt charges should be laid against the B.C. Teachers' Federation and its members.

In court yesterday, special prosecutor Len Doust said it is already apparent that some of the teachers' conduct "comes perilously close" to criminal contempt of court.

Whatever ends up happening, this entire debacle has clearly had an impact on the British Columbian (and, to a lesser extent, Canadian) labour movement.

Ms. Sims was right when she stated that the provincial labour movement "will not be broken": the show of solidarity in Victoria served as a powerful reminder to the government and civil society at large that when push comes to shove, organized labour can and will get each others' backs. Meanwhile, the BC Supreme Court's ruling--which effectively froze the union's assets--demonstrated that while the traditional issues of wages, conditions and hours remain largely the same, the methods of fighting these battles have evolved. Should be some interesting times ahead...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

...and I feel fine.

In a thinly-veiled critique of the Evangelical stream of Christianity popular in the U.S., the Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland have published a document which warns Catholics--and, by extension, Western monotheists everywhere--against literal interpretations of the bible. The Gift of Scripture focuses on Genesis and Revelations, the fire-and-brimstone coda which has fuelled an entire cottage industry of crappy, low-rent eschatological melodrama like the Left Behind series (which seems to have made a virtue of self-righteous schadenfreude).

Some Christians want a literal interpretation of the story of creation, as told in Genesis, taught alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution in schools, believing “intelligent design” to be an equally plausible theory of how the world began.

But the first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which two different and at times conflicting stories of creation are told, are among those that this country’s Catholic bishops insist cannot be “historical”. At most, they say, they may contain “historical traces”.

The authors of the paper go on to argue that, when taken literally, the Bible can be (and has been!) used to justify the most virulent anti-Semitism and anti-intellectualism. Duh.

Thanks to Pacanukeha for posting the link.

* * *

In the same vein, Aislin wonders if Bush II's crusade may alienate some of the world's faithful, perhaps even chasing them into the cold arms of godlessness:

* * *

Naturally, I was going to talk about DC Comics' Y: The Last Man at some point, though it won't be today--it fit in with the apocalyptic theme I had going, so I figured I'd mention that I'm reading it.

I'm though the first book and skimmed the next two; so far, I'm interested, but only just. The art is crisp and clean, but not particularly compelling. The dialogue seems a little forced and I'm totally turned off by the sidekick device manifesting as a "surly male helper monkey" named Ampersand.

I'm not panning the series--like I said, I haven't really read it yet. Once I have, I'll talk about it in a little more depth.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Now that BBQ season's over...

If the entirety of your labour-dispute attention span was invested in the burgeoning general strike in BC, you may not be aware of the pickets outside Lakeside Packers in Brooks, Alberta. Fifteen hundred meatpackers are demanding a fair contract after going a year sans any collective agreement.

CBC's story omits any recent context, but gets points for bringing up the fact that a majority of the labourers are immigrants, mostly African--a detail that the National Post glossed over, for instance. Both outlets neglect to mention the fact that Lakeside Packers processes one-third of Canadian beef.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Gone fishin'.

Pacanukeha informs us in his post today that Mssrs. Jib and Jab are, as a matter of fact, hypocritical dickheads. I would tend to agree.

It's a shame, really--that stupid novelty version of "This Land" was kinda catchy.

* * *

Somebody named "MasterCard" sent me a credit card in the mail.

How am I glutted with conceit of this!
Shall I make spirits fetch me what I please,
Resolve me of all ambiguities,
Perform what desperate enterprise I will?

- Doctor Faustus, Act I

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Nobody's home.

After days and days of puddling my way through a perpetually damp and chilly city, I finally got to enjoy a nice fall day: crisp, breezy and bright. There's something wonderfully clear about autumn air, an unforgettable lucidity that you can only enjoy for a few weeks before the humidity of December roils in and mucks it all up again.

Today's a perfect day to go for a walk and not think about stuff.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Does anyone else like Angelina Jolie?!

Steenblogen sent out this great link: it's 'Red v. Blue' explaining the difference between real life and the internet. Too fuckin' funny.

* * *

The Tyee has all the information you need on what could be the biggest labour disruption of the decade. David Schreck writes:
If The Honourable Madam Justice B. Brown ever retires from the bench, she should consider teaching university courses in lateral thinking. Her ruling on the contempt of court charge against the BC Teachers' Federation stumped the pundits and was described in glowing terms. She essentially put the teachers' union into trusteeship while reserving the right to levy further heavy penalties. Her explicit reference to denying the $50 per day strike pay infuriated the rank-and-file teachers and might contribute to renewing their resolve to remain on the picket line several more days at the risk of enormous fines for the union.

Check it out.

Oh, and:

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Uncharted territories.

Insomnia is oh teh nos!

* * *

Lisa Hale has an article on trespassing (AKA 'urban exploration', a much more innocuous name) over at The Tyee. It's basically just a primer on the subject, but she slides in a brief eulogy for Ninjalicious, the mascot / moral compass / unofficial hub of Canada's UE movement. That's worth reading.

* * *

I used to adore trespassing (sorry, not a big fan of the UEphemism), but it's a passion I haven't indulged in years and, truth be told, had almost forgotten about. I used to keep detailed logs of my forays; maybe there's a place here for those texts. Hm.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Disaster looms.

Interesting article in the Globe & Mail yesterday on the recent spate of natural disasters in the world and the tendency of the news media to jump on the local or 'sexy' disasters, reducing coverage of others which in turns leads to fewer charitable donations. In addition, there's a real risk of mass burnout among staffers at relief agencies, which is something I've become personally interested in over the summer.

Coming on the heels of tsunamis, several hurricanes and various other natural disasters, the earthquake that struck northern Pakistan and India has aid agencies worried that their staffers are burning out and that less publicized crises are being overlooked.

Large catastrophes that draw a lot of media attention, such as the Indian Ocean tsunamis, tend to draw large donations. However, there are fears that less prominent crises are being neglected by donors.

The repeated crises have also left a toll on the staff of many agencies.

"The strain is an emotional one. It takes something out of all of us. . . . We've had to be on the ready constantly," said World Vision Canada president Dave Toycen.

The link at the start of this post will launch the complete article in a new window.

* * *

Couple days ago, Vidanges du Diable had a good post up about a new state law passed in Florida. Apparently, Jeb Bush thinks (and I use the term 'think' in its broadest ppossible sense) that allowing his citizens to return fire rather than retreat from an assailant is a good idea. Now, if a Floridian feels that they may be shot while attempting to escape an attacker, they may justifiably choose to return fire rather than flee.

The Washington Post summarizes it thusly in this article:
Florida law already lets residents defend themselves against attackers if they can prove they could not have escaped. The new law would allow them to use deadly force even if they could have fled and says that prosecutors must automatically presume that would-be victims feared for their lives if attacked.

While Vidanges makes an excellent point about the impact this could have on escalating gang violence in Miami and Tampa Bay, I also see it as a response to Katrina.

Florida is constantly battered by hurricanes over the fall months and statistically it's only a matter of time before another monster like Katrina (or 1992's Andrew) rampages across the state. Given the existence of a similarly large population of poor black citizens in their state--and a similarly shameful history of entrenched racism and a deeply segregated population--Floridian lawmakers may have been afraid of seeing a repeat of Louisiana's post-hurricane descent into Third-World lawlessness.

Given the opportunity to learn from experience and adopt a more foresighted evacuation plan or look at the sustainability of low-income housing in their state--or even, say, think about systemic racism--they instead decided to change the law so that people could more easily escape arrest for shooting each other--a sound decision in the country with the highest number of per-capita gun-related deaths in the Western world. Fucking brainiacs, these guys.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I subscribe to a rag, part V.

There are no persons capable of stooping so low as those who desire to rise in the world.
- Lady Marguerite Blessington , "Desultory Thoughts and Reflections," (1839)

The story around Michael Ignatieff's political ambitions haven't really penetrated the periphery of my thinking; his trajectory will likely take him--for better or worse--deeper into my consciousness during the next few months, but for now the narrative is just noise to me. The only signal that I've really been allowing in has been emanating from Hurricane Eye, who's parsed it better than most.

To be frank, every time I've tried tuning in to Ignatieff's signal I've been hit with a blast of pretentious static so thick it almost (almost, mind you) drowns out the squawking pundits who're practically molting, they're so fucking excited. To wit: the editorial in today's Gazette from one Barry Cooper, outta U of C: "World lost a scholar when Ignatieff became an intellectual."

I don't blame Cooper for the stilted, meandering article I read: frankly, it comes off like the result of an editorial hack job, all gristle and giblets with nothing edible left clinging to the bone. I'm sure the original draft actually had a, y'know, point. Cooper seemed to be drawing an interesting distinction between the 'scholar' (navel-gazing and vaguely pretentious but ultimately benign) and the 'intellectual' (ambitious, superficial and potentially dangerous), but the article kinda starts to collapse about halfway through and is pretty well mush by the end. What a waste of three minutes of my morning commute.

* * *

Meanwhile, on the same page I get to savour a blistering dressing down of the self-righteous jagoffs who've been gleefully nipping and barking at Kate Moss' heels for the last few weeks. Dianne Rinehart, former associate editor of Flare, rips these jerks a new one in a good-to-the-last-drop rant about hypocrisy and the filthy intersection of Sexuality St. and Commerce Blvd. Those with glass bongs shouldn't persecute the stoned...

Rinehart manages to finesse a tight, lucid and witty essay out of her indignation; in the spirit of the best rants, she sublimates her anger into something wicked and superficially casual.

I'll leave the entire text here for a few days:

Don't blame Kate Moss

Supermodel Kate Moss knows what the industry wants.

One of my favourite lines in a movie is delivered by Sean Young to Kevin Costner in the movie No Way Out as they are going through security gates to attend a high-powered Washington political party.

"Good thing this isn't a bullshit detector," says Young of the metal detector, "or none of us would get in."

She was talking about life in politics, but she could just as easily have been talking about life in the fashion industry if super model Kate Moss's dramatic fall from the catwalk, over her alleged snorting of cocaine, is any indication.

This is not about defending drug use. Snorting drugs is nothing to sniff at, clearly.

And, of course, no one wants a fashion icon portraying drug use as chic to her young fans, do they?

Hello? That's what she and countless other super models have been being paid to do for the last couple of decades.

And how loud were we screaming when some of the biggest names in the fashion industry in London, Paris, Milan and New York were hiring the biggest names in the advertising world in London, Paris, Milan and New York to deliver the biggest names in the modelling world in London, Paris, Milan and New York, looking like they were stoned out of their minds?

And how much are we all spending on perfumes variously named Opium, Addict, Crave, and Rush? Did we think they were named after flowers or birds?

No, it's not what Moss was doing on her own time that was selling the idea that doing hard drugs is chic. She actually looked scuzzy snorting coke through a 5-pound note, and ironically might now - with a reported $9 million U.S. in annual contracts at stake - become the poster child for Just Say No.

It was what she was hired to do during her working day by some of the very fashion houses that are now pretending outrage; that is the height of hypocrisy.

Here's an idea: how about any one at a fashion house who demanded an advertising agency deliver a "heroin chic" look to a fashion spread or television ad resign?

Aren't they the ones - not Moss - promoting heroin chic? (Not to mention starvation diets.)

And how about those icons in the advertising industry who put together the bids that the fashion houses bought. And what about those who promised that "heroin chic" sells, and promised they could put together a team of art directors, photographers, makeup artists, stylists - and, oh yeah, models - who would deliver the dilated-eyed, slick with perspiration, crazed I'm-ready-for-sex-because-I'm-too-stoned-to-say-no look that the powers that be in London, Paris, Milan and New York obviously feel sells a lot of clothes for a lot of money.

And why would anyone feel that Moss should be fired as a bad influence because of her drug use when we have Parti Quebecois leadership favourite Andre Boisclair admitting that he used cocaine when he served as a cabinet minister and U.S. President George W. Bush leading the world's most powerful nation - and powerful youth cultural influence - although he has never come clean, so to speak, about repeated news reports alleging he used cocaine.

No, it's no surprise that some people in the fashion industry - like some of those in our cabinets and boardrooms - do drugs.

What is a surprise is the hypocrisy.

Which reminds me of former U.S. presidential hopeful Gary Hart who denied he was having an affair and challenged the media to catch him - and they did on a boat (why is truth stranger than fiction?) called Monkey Business, indulging in some ... monkey business.

How about some shots of the heads of those fashion houses or their art directors doing what they do in their spare time? Why do I think it's not going to be playing croquet while sipping yogurt drinks?

Moss is a beautiful and talented model - it takes talent to look beautiful for hours as you are pinned, prodded and poked by stylists and photographers - who has had a penchant for abuse. And it is nothing to be admired or imitated.

But it was widely known. And it was sometimes why she was hired. What better person, after all, to deliver the I'm-drugged-out-of-my-skull look than someone who knows what it feels and looks like?

No, the big surprise is that anyone who fired her could pretend they didn't know about her reputation (she entered rehab in 1998) before they hired her and then went home and sip, swallow and inhale their own drugs of choice without choking.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Pacanukeha links to 59 optical illusions. Sorry to hijack your productivity this morning.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Sing a little song.

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is rightly considered a classic of English Literature, combining a brilliant critique of 19th-century gender roles with a realistic, lucid examination of the multiple purposes of (and entry point into) marriage.

Bride & Prejudice is a Hollywood-ized version of a Bollywood version of Austen's novel (got it?).

In true bolly-style, the costuming is lavish, there's a musical number every fifteen minutes and traditional gender tropes are firmly reasserted in the closing scene. That having been said, director Gurinder Chadha took some interesting chances with the adaptation and managed to remain faithful to the spirit of the original while still highlighting some important truisms about contemporary India (and America). Much of the original text's humour is situational, with fish-out-of-water scenarios playing themselves out in rural England; in Chadha's remake, the spaces are small-town India, urban India and southern California. The class and cultural divides are vividly illustrated and discussed by the characters, with the axes wealth, race, ethnicity and gender brought into sharp relief.

I had a great time watching it, and I fuckin' hate musicals.

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Steenblogen and Pacanukeha both showed me that when it comes to publicizing the horrific effects of war on the lives of children, UNICEF doesn't fuck around.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Healthy and wise, anyway.

For some really interesting and though-provoking health-related news (in a Canadian context, natch), go check out Steenblogen today.

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Family's here for Thanksgiving weekend--yay!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Commercial art.

Couple of movies for you today:

  • David Harter, a Leinfelden-based visual artist, came up with a unique 'business card' to advertise his skills to potential employers. iArm: Cybernetic Parts is a clever and beautiful piece of work, integrating hyperreal animation with a "real" actor.

  • Toxic Design Studios produced this commercial for the Oslo Gay Festival. It's aah... well, it's not graphic at all unless you think about it, in which case it's the most explicit sexual imagery I've seen in a long time.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

If you want to try threatening the recalcitrant innkeeper, turn to page 179.

Game Girl Advance posted a link to something called "The 11th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition," which sounds pretty cool. From IFComp 2005's official site:

For the last eleven years, the readers of the Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.int-fiction have held a yearly interactive fiction competition. For fans of the old Infocom games as well as for newcomers to the genre, the competition is a chance to enjoy some of the best short adventure games available anywhere.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

If it's creepy, we'll rent it.

I hadn't seen any of de Niro's pictures since 2001's The Score, but this summer C. and I inadvertently played a little catch-up: we saw Godsend, Meet The Fockers and Hide And Seek.

An atmospheric thriller set amidst the fall foliage of upstate New York, Hide And Seek also stars Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen and Elisabeth Shue (whom I also hadn't seen in a few years, not since her tour-de-force as a nuclear physicist or whatever in Hollow Man). de Niro and Fanning play off each other well and their mutual alienation is totally believable and sympathetic: he clearly became a father late in life and relied entirely upon his wife to raise the child. Now a widower, he and his young daughter have nothing to say to one another. Fanning is great (of course), but I can't wait until she's old enough to break away from the precocious/vulnerable binary she's been milking since I Am Sam. de Niro hits all the right notes, but it's an easy song and I'm looking forward to the end of this 'coasting phase' (Meet the Fockers, Shark Tale, Godsend, Analyze That) and start doing some real work again.

To her credit, Shue keeps it simple and thus plausible. Janssen also does well (especially considering her character's sketched so loosely): she delivers a compelling, believable performance as a family friend balancing her empathy and personal investment against her professional instincts.

I was pleasantly suprised by the movie and didn't predict the "twist" ending until well into the third act, which is kinda what I want in a whodunit: I like figuring out the secret right before the protagonist does. Overall, a worthwhile rental.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


God, I love syntactical humour.

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Strange Horizons, if you don't know it, is a "weekly speculative fiction magazine" that houses a huge assortment of wonderful stories, essays and reviews. It's a great archive of quality SF and worth a visit.

Yesterday, they published a beautiful essay by Athena Andreadis entitled, "We Must Love One Another Or Die: A Critique of Star Wars." It's a feminist critique of an entire mythopoetic / pop-culture tradition disguised as a movie review... sample:

Just as the boys in Star Wars are given the false choice between glory or love, the girls are given the thankless task of being feisty but unthreatening, without any guarantee of clemency for good behavior. Worse yet, since there is only one female per Star Wars trilogy, she has to be mother, sister, and lover at once to her fellow characters. That, of course, is a no-no because it blurs the sacrosanct divisions between virgin and whore—and also because it implies dominance (to underline the transgression, Padmé is explicitly older and of higher rank than her tercel boy-husband). The girl is a threat to the boy's purity of purpose, an Eve in the making; when she crosses the sexual and emotional boundary, she is speedily dispatched, abandoning her defenseless children—the girl condemned to be left untrained in her power, the boy slated to undergo the brutalization already meted out to his father. Once again, Mr. Lucas is swift to punish those who partake of the fruit of knowledge and threaten to become independent moral agents.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Cross your fingers.

Canada used to sell nuclear materials to India. In 1974, India used parts of a Canadian reactor to build and test a nuclear weapon. We stopped supplying them with materials immediately and formally protested the misuse of our products.

In 1998, India successfully tested two more nuclear devices and its neighbour Pakistan tested one of its own. The two nations have fought two previous wars over disputed territories and the world lost its shit at the prospect of mushroom clouds over Delhi and Islamabad.

Since then, India has committed to International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring and maintained separate military and civilian nuclear programs. As a result, Pierre Pettigrew (our nattily-attired Foreign Affairs Minister) has decided its about time to resume sales of nuclear materials to that nation. Lloyd Axworth (who used to have Pettigrew's job) declared that Canada is "abandoning its 40-to-50-year traditional diplomatic approach" to addressing nuclear issues and that "we are witnessing a major sea change in attitudes towards nuclear proliferation." I agree wholeheartedly--so why did this story escape the notice of every major editorial page in the country?

Sure, some stories were run here and there (kudos to the Ottawa Citizen) but there hasn't been any commentary and no in-depth reporting at all. There's been no attempt to publicize the story more widely or provide the public with some context. There might very well be some perfectly good reasons to sell this stuff to India--it'd be nice to hear them, and if the government isn't offering those reasons, it'd be really nice to see the media demanding them.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Guilt's a funny thing.

He must have killed a lot of men to have made so much money.
– Molière

Like Steenblogen, I'm absolutely enchanted with Mercenaries. Aptly subtitled "playground of destruction," it places the player in the role of a 'private contractor' (one of the many euphemisms attached to your profession) operating in a near-future North Korea. A coup has upset the delicate balance of power on the Korean peninsula and a you're tasked with tracking down General Song before he can launch his recently-acquired nuclear missles.

The narrative's really nothing to write home about, but when it comes time blow shit up, the game delivers in spades. Clearly, the developers identified a key frustration among gamers--immersion-breaking indestructible environments--and essentially set to design a game whose sole purpose was to address this deficiency. For this, we are grateful.

Mercenaries panders unequivocally to the (admittedly juvenile) desire to rain fire down upon those who've slighted us. What other game permits--nay, encourages--the player to call in a laser-guided airstrike wherever and whenever the mood strikes? Your 5.56mm NATO rounds not up to the task? How about 2,000 lbs. of yankee ordnance dropped from 10,000 feet? Hell, you can radio for a bunker buster out of spite.

Can't beat that.

* * *

So last night I posted my review of The Longest Yard. It was late, I was exhausted and really, all I wanted was to get the damned post up so I could go to bed. These are my excuses for not addressing some of the major problems with this movie, namely the homophobia and troubled race issues.

It might be tempting to dismiss the homophobia in the movie as just a 'real' or 'accurate' representation of prison life and locker-room culture, but that doesn't wash with me: it was all too shallow and facile. "I'm just being honest" is an excuse I've gotten so fucking bored with, I can't even begin to tell you. Let's be clear: this movie is not trying to convey anything remotely resembling an accurate portrayal of American prison culture and the faggot jokes are there to titillate its target young, male audience--period. The overall feeling was one of extreme discomfort, all nervous giggles and clannish fag jokes.

As for race, I was impressed by the movie's suprisingly creative and unique approach to racism and xenophobia: a whiter-than-white lead male hooked up with a wisecracking black male sidekick and the friendship they shared served as an example to the other inmates, who set aside their differences in service of a larger purpose. What a novel plot device.

I'm not charging the Longest Yard with racism; just pedantic, self-conscious, "we're-all-the-same-underneath," fire-and-forget, feel-good fantasy. Cartoonishly racist guards, athletically gifted (and smartmouthed) black men, well-intentioned white men... stop me if you've heard this one before.

Oh, and Courtney Cox is featured just long enough to show off her postpartum tits. "Look, she has C-cups and you can see her breastplate! That's hot!"

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Distant replay.

I gotta confess to never having seen the original version of The Longest Yard, but by all accounts it's not a bad little movie. Steenblogen & I rented the sequel tonight and it almost made me want to see the original.

Less a typical Adam Sandler vehicle than an ensemble piece, The Longest Yard is also both more and less funny than I'd anticipated: the gags are fewer and further between than I expected, but individually they're funnier. Prison life is actually shown with a little grit and it's not all chuckles and knee-slaps behind the walls of the penitentiary.

The movie's paced well, Chris Rock does what he does best and the real-life football players acquit themselves well, demonstrating that pro football does teach you something about acting. James Cromwell, whom I still think of as the kindly farmer from Babe, does the 'vicious warden' thing just fine (two points if you can namethe last movie he played a warden in) and the choice to get Burt Reynolds in to play Michael Conrad's role from the original movie was a nice touch.

All in all, better than we expected: good, brisk comedy with some well-shot football scenes thrown in.