Tuesday, January 31, 2006

William Hurt my butt (...that sounds bad...)


Ok, so the Oscar nominations were announced this morning and, thanks to my proximity to work, I was able to catch them before going out this morning.

I wasn't too surprised by the names read. I have seen only about half of the movies involved, but I had heard enough about the rest that I understood most of the selections.

Except one.

William Hurt for Best Supporting Actor in "A History of Violence"?!

Are you on crack?!

If you haven't seen the movie, well, part of the movie will be blown for you simply by knowing Hurt is in it, and I'm about to blow the rest for you.

So let me get this straight: a guy shows up at the end of a movie for about 5 minutes (I'd be shocked if it were 10), puts on the hokiest gangster accent, barely expresses an emotion, and gets nominated for an Academy Award over thousands of other potential candidates?

Get outta here!

I'm sorry, that's bullshit. If you've seen the movie (which actually ain't bad) then you know what I'm talking about.

Let's say that you didn't mind Hurt's performance. That you didn't think it was the worst of his career. Let's say you actually believe his accent was spot on. Do you really think it was one of the top 5 performances of the year?!

This is insulting not only to the audience, but to Hurt himself. I mean, The guy's gotta know that this was not one of his best, and yet they choose this one to recognize. If he wins, it'll be ten times worse than having Denzel win Best Actor for "Training Day", which didn't even have the benefit of being a good movie. Just like Washington, Hurt has put in a number of great, overlooked performances over the years, but that's no reason to give him this nom - this is not the lifetime achievement award.

Geez. If they were going to nominate someone from AHoV for supporting actor, it should have been Ed Harris.

There. I've said my piece.

Other than that...I was kinda disappointed to see Walk the Line get overlooked for Best Picture. (I heard Crash was crap, and the description certainly sounds melodramatic)

And as much as I liked Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman is terrific) Catherine Keener as Best Supporting? Again, little expression/range. This is not a "great" performance.

I really want to see Good Night and Good Luck. I'm a David Strathairn fan and it's nice to see him get a nomination.

I'll tell ya later if I thought he deserved it...


"I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either."
-Jack Benny

Friday, January 27, 2006

How do actors memorize lines?



I came across this post on boingboing today.

It mentions a study that was done to pinpoint how actors remember the dozens of lines they need to spout off during a stage performance (I assume they were talking more about stage than screen since an actor rarely has to remember more than a dozen screen lines at a time).

A snippet:

"To get inside the character, an actor will break a script down into a series of logically connected "beats" or intentions. Good actors don't think about their lines, but feel their character's intention in reaction to what the other actors do, causing their lines to come spontaneously and naturally. The researchers quote the great British actor Michael Caine: "You must be able to stand there not thinking of that line. You take it off the other actor's face." "

This is, more or less, how I would describe it as well. I could say a line without even thinking about it because there were other factors which triggered me: where I was on stage, where the other actor was, the expression on their face, what they had in their hand, what the lighting was like, what "state" I was in, etc. It was more like I memorized the situation through rehearsal rather than memorized the script from the page.

But there's more to it than that.

Repetition helps. After a number of rehearsals, running your lines becomes similar to singing a song. You may not know what your fifth line is off the top of your head, but you will have no trouble remembering it after getting to the fourth.

Of course, any actor will tell you that there are moments where they draw a blank. They can't remember their line for whatever reason. What do you do then?

This reminds me of when I was in the Toronto Truck Theatre production of Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap". I had been hired in the summer of 1998 as an understudy for Giles (the husband) and Trotter (the cop and lead character). I had been looking over the script at home, waiting for the producer to give me a date to come in and rehearse with the cast. One day the phone rang.

Trotter was sick. Could I cover for him - that night?

...Three hours from now.

I didn't chicken out and said yes. I drove to the theatre, stepped on the stage for the first time, and tried to run my lines as often as possible without the benefit of other actors.

That night I played Trotter. The first part was easy: I walk through the door, say hello to the guests, walk off stage. No prob. Then, within seconds, I walk back on stage and have five minutes of dialogue where I am the focus. Prob. I walked back on, looked at Evan (who was playing Giles) and drew a blank.

Oops.

I said the first line that came to mind (which was actually the second line). No major damage and everyone followed my lead. From there, the rest of the night went flawlessly.

But, other than that first one, how did I manage to remember all those lines? I had no rehearsal, no visual cues, no familiar faces to read (I met the cast that day). Did I simply "feel" the character? Maybe.

The fact is that I am a visual person. I didn't have the actors' expressions to cue me, but I did have the script. You see, you could rhyme off any line from that script and I could tell you exactly where it appeared on the page. I could picture the script. I knew that a long passage was followed by a short reply. I could visualize the length and location of the line and - boom - it came out of my mouth.

So, yes, actors do memorize lines based on emotional state and visual cues from other actors and situations, but everyone has little tricks, too. I'm sure not all actors visualize their script the way I do, but it works for me if I hit a snag.

Sure the Stanislavski Method helps actors with their lines. But I'm not sure I buy the conclusion that it has every day applications:

"The key, the researchers have found, is a process called active experiencing, which they say uses "all physical, mental, and emotional channels to communicate the meaning of material to another person." It is a principle that can be applied off-stage as well as on. For example, students who studied material by imagining conveying its meaning to somebody else who needed the information showed higher retention than those who tried to memorize the material by rote. "

Uh...ok...I would call this understanding your material rather than simply memorizing the words. It just makes sense that those folks "process" the material better and thus retain it. Not a great leap in logic, there. But to say, "what they found could potentially be used by elderly individuals whose cognitive abilities are declining", is a bit of a stretch. How does Stanislavski help you tell the nurse you need a bedpan?


Acting is the most minor of gifts and not a very high-class way to earn a living. After all, Shirley Temple could do it at the age of four.
-Katherine Hepburn

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Protesting (and the United States) at its finest


Right the f**k on!

This is how you do it, folks. Powerful, peaceful, with minimal disturbance and maximum effect.

From boingboing, of course:

"Alberto Gonzales spoke before law students at Georgetown today, justifying illegal, unauthorized surveilance of US citizens, but during the course of his speech the students in class did something pretty ballsy and brave. They got up from their seats and turned their backs to him. (...) additional students came into the room, wearing black cowls and carrying a simple banner, written on a sheet."

Ben Franklin would be proud.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Conservative minority: a contradiction in terms?


You know, I was consiering letting this one go and sparing the reading audience from another anti-Conservative political rant, but, at my friend Kristen's request, I'll post.

The Conservatives, led by Stephen Harper won a minority government last night.

That stinks, expected as it was.

But at least we're not completely screwed, as we would have been had the right-wing (remember folks: "right is wrong") party cleaned up and earned a majority.

The Conservatives ran a much better campaign, as I have noted before. Harper kept his nose more or less clean, convincing enough people that he wasn't a complete redneck and dodging the tough questions about his stance on gay marriage and abortion. You'll note that the vast majority of the seats were won in ridings outside Ontario - where many people have never heard of Mike Harris, let alone remember the destructive and arrogant provincial government he and his crony Ernie Eves ran a few years back.

On the plus side, Jim Flaherty won his seat in Whitby-Oshawa. For those unaware, Jim is my brother-in-law's uncle. I met him at my sister's wedding and played golf with him the morning of (we were almost late for the wedding as a result! Men.). Although I'm pleased to see that Jim's political career is being revived after a brief hiatus, I would be much happier if he weren't a member of the Harper klan...oops, sorry, clan.

Looking at the big picture, though, you have to wonder what this government is going to manage to get done. They'll need support from other parties to pass any bills, which, if I understand correctly, may not be too difficult for things like election reform and government accountability, issues the NDP supports as well.

But what about a budget? I mean, it's the first order of business, really, and it's a confidence issue. If the government's budget is defeated, the government is defeated. It has to pass. What kind of budget can the Conservatives pass? It would have to appease at least one of the other parties (not including the Bloq, if you know what's good for you - yes, once again Quebec voters have managed to shoot themselves in the foot). So much for the right-wing agenda, right?

Not so fast. See, the Liberals are going to be doing some soul-searching and house-cleaning for a while as they try to elect a new leader. This will take time. Once the new leader is in place, they'll need time to establish themselves as a viable option to voters. This will take more time. Bottom line: the Liberals won't be looking to pick a fight anytime soon. A quick election could be disastrous to them.

This might have the NDP salivating, though...The left may swing to them if the Liberals don't have proven leadership in place by the next election. Jack Layton might look a lot stronger given a neophyte Liberal leader.

And just who will be that Liberal leader? Some are saying Ralph Goodale, but how about Belinda Stronach or Michael Ignatieff? Forget the fact Stronach is a total MILF, she has a head on her shoulders (ambitious as it may be) and knows how to speak her mind in front of a camera. Besides, I have no qualms with her floor-crossing (I myself am socially liberal, fiscally conservative - no, that doesn't mean I try to woo women into a threesome using cheap wine) so long as she is honest about her reasons for doing so (Harper being just a little too far right). Of course, that would be a pretty big hurdle to overcome and may detract from the campaign. She might want to wait for the next go-around.

So, for now, I figure we don't have too much to fear besides the prospect of having to listen to Harper on a regular basis and having his portrait hang forever in the Parliament some time down the road.

Prime Minister Harper....ugh.

He won't be able to cram through too many anti-humanity bills; he won't have the power. But you can bank on the fact that he'll be around until fall 2007.

Until then, strap on your seatbelts - it's gonna be a rough ride.


"Hold onto your butts."
Samuel L. Jackson, Jurassic Park (1993)

Bursting the Bubble


I like Mark Cuban. Anyone who is willing to stir up some sh*t is fine by me. Kudos for the gusto.

Cuban is the owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and has long been known for being an entrepreneur and champion of new ideas.

But I gotta tell ya, I completely disagree with his latest venture.

You see, Cuban is one of the promoters of the rather unusual release strategy for Steven Soderbergh's new flick "Bubble" on January 27th. It'll be released in theatres, on DVD and aired on pay-per-view tv on the same day. Wow, what a wild idea, huh?

Except, while this is great for DVD rental outlets and perhaps the ppv market, there's no upside for the theatre owners and they are, understandably, balking at the notion of screening the film.

Cuban has started blasting the head of the National Association of Theatre Owners, John Fithian, for ringing the alarm bell as to what this sort of release strategy could mean to the theatre industry. ("It’s the biggest threat to the viability of the cinema industry today")

To which Cuban replied:

"How sad is it when the President of the National Assoc of Theater Owners doesn't think his members can create a better movie going experience than what we can see in our houses and apartments? Guess what John, I can whip up a mean steak, but I still like to go to restaurants. Because I enjoy it. I enjoy getting out of the house with family, friends, who ever."

That's sweet.

To a certain extent, Cuban's argument works: If King Kong came out on tv and in theatres at the same time, I might be willing to pony up the $10+ to see it on the big screen, knowing that the size and sound would make a huge difference in my potential enjoyment of the film. But when it comes to the next Julia Roberts romantic comedy? Not so much.

Theatre owners need to get butts (and lots of them) in the seats or they go out of business. How do you get butts in the seats? Well, yes, one way is to put on a show which must be seen on a 20-foot screen and in surround sound. But another way is to have exclusivity. If an Oscar flick is getting rave reviews and everyone is talking about it around the water cooler, then you're more likely to go see it in theatres and not wait for the DVD release, months down the road. But if that same movie is available for $5 on tv in your home, why in the world would you go out and pay $10+ (per person) to see it?

And while Mr. Cuban can go out and chat it up with his friends at the local steakhouse, if he tries to have the same social interaction while I'm sitting behind him in the theatre, you can bet I'm telling him to STFU, billionaire or not.

Look, making movies costs money, and those who produce these movies are taking a financial risk in doing so. If they make millions of dollars, good for them. Not all movies make huge bank. The more revenue is lost, the more likely it is that crappier movies will come out (either low budget or sure-fire crappy tv remakes) since no one will want to take a risk on a script that pushes the envelope. Personally, I'm willing to pay $10 to see a good film and not have the ending spoiled for me with water cooler talk. And that's the balance that exists: charge me more and I'll wait for the DVD. Put out a crappy film and I'll wait for the DVD. Get rid of the exclusivity window and I'll rent the DVD.

But all things being equal, I'd rather see the film in a theatre. I don't want theatres to lose money and go out of business.

There are a ton of people who will take advantage of a simultaneous DVD release, burn copies and distribute these "pirated" versions. Who pays the price? The theatre owners and the film producers through lost revenues. (you want to know why DRM exists? Don't give them a reason to be paranoid)

So why in the world would a theatre owner support Soderbergh's film?

Would you have paid to see "Erin Brockovich", "Solaris" or "Traffic" in theatres given a cheaper at-home simultaneous alternative?

Neither would I.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Two coaches, one city, no defence

These are sad times for the sports teams in Toronto.

The Argos and Jays aren't playing, so forget them.

The defending champ lacrosse team, the Toronto Rock, haven't won a game yet.

The Leafs are hurting and in a tail spin which will only be compounded when they get smoked by the run-and-gun Ottawa Senators again.

But the distinction of worst team in Toronto is reserved for those perennial bottom-feeders: the Toronto Raptors.

Wow, do they suck.

Last night, in Los Angeles, the Lakers overcame an 18-point deficit to defeat the Raptors, highlighted by a near-record performance by Kobe Bryant, who poured in an incredible 81 points (second all-time only to Wilt Chamberlain's 100 in 1962).

Forget the fact that Kobe only had two assists and is arguably the greatest ball hog of all time (honourable mention to Tracy McGrady) - 81 points is just nuts. This historic event, however, merely goes to prove one point: Raptors coach Sam Mitchell has got to go. If you're playing a team that is feeding the same guy the ball all night, and that same guy is taking all the shots and you can't stop him, then you don't know how to coach. If you can't adapt to that then you have no business leading an NBA team. Sam Mitchell is all about motivation. It's been demonstrated that he doesn't know a thing about stats or game analysis. He's all talk. And if he can't talk his team into doing better than that, then he is useless.

Buh-bye.

For the Leafs, however, having your coach on the hot seat is a recent development.

I can't remember the last time anyone talked about Pat Quinn's job being in jeopardy. Maybe that's because he used to be the coach and GM and wasn't likely to fire himself. When Quinn was asked to choose one job and he decided to hand over the GM duties to that 75 percenter, John Ferguson Jr., I thought it was a mistake. Quinn seemed to be able to get guys into Leaf uniforms thanks to his reputation, but I'll be damned if he knew how to coach defence. For years, end zone coverage has been the main weekness for this otherwise Stanley Cup contending team, and yet no improvement has been made. The Leafs' defence is atrocious. Until now, they could hide that fact with good goaltending and a fair amount of goal scoring. But with Mats Sundin sucking big donkey you-know-what and with star goal scorers Eric Lindros, Darcy Tucker and Bryan McCabe on the sidelines, the Leafs are dead meat as soon as they step on the ice.

I like Quinn. But he can't coach. I think Ferguson is a moron. So, I have a solution: fire Ferguson, give Quinn his job and then hire a new coach - one who knows how defences should operate.

In a major market like Toronto, there's no defence for being this bad.


Skip: You guys. You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Larry!
Larry: Lollygaggers!
Skip: Lollygaggers.

-Bull Durham, 1988 (the greatest sports movie of all time)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

I don't wanna turn this blog into a link source for various sites, but this one I just had to throw in 'cause I found it fascinating. (via a Boingboing article)

I didn't know which I felt more: admiration for some of the hilarious concepts (I love the ad for the family car), or disgust at some of the blatant rip-offs.

You'd think you'd be able to chalk up alot of these similar ads to coincidence, but many are just so similar that a rip-off is the only explanation.

Would it be ok if they were created by the same ad firm...?

(Either way, this site almost makes me wanna get into advertising...almost)


The Death of Advertising? I think that's in the book of Revelation. It's the day when people everywhere become satisfied with their weight, their hair, their skin, their wardrobe, and their aroma.
- Jef I. Richards (Advertising prof)

A blog by any other name...

Came across this article on Boingboing. In it, some dude bitches about the use of the term blogger and how, in the end, it's a silly distinction. Here's a snippet:

"And it occurred to me that there is no such thing as blogging. There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing -- writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology. Even though I tend to first use Microsoft Word on the way to being published, I am not, say, a Worder or Wordder. It’s just software, people! The underlying creative/media function remains exactly the same. "

Whatever, pal. I'm not 100% sure I agree, since the distinction clearly has to do with the medium (a website on the internet) and not what the person does (writing- which a "newspaper reporter" - or "author", or "5 year old" - might do as well) but it got me thinking about some of the conversations I have with my housemate Dan.

Dan is a cybergeek who can wax eloquently on the subject of all things computer-related. Since I am a person who still uses a VCR and can remember when the general public had never heard of the Internet, Dan often refers to me as "an old man" and "lame".

Sometimes, Dan will be giggling like a little girl about some new technology or toy or Internet service while I have my head cocked to the side, like a puppy trying to understand why the human wants it to pee on the newspaper.

Dan will shake his head and repeat the same techno-babble statement, explaining why this innovation is so fantastic. He'll use cybergeek-speak. I'll try to make sense of it. He'll call me lame. I'll wonder how he ever manages to get laid.

I seem to recall having such a conversation about podcasting. Dan and Tristan have gotten into it recently, and the term is all the rage with cybergeeks, it seems.

Finally, I'll say something like, "...so it's just audio or video that someone puts on a website? But that's been around forever, so why is everyone suddenly 'podcasting'? 'Podcasting'? That's stupid."

Semantics? Maybe. Unnecessary "cool speak"? Definitely.


Words, words, words
Hamlet (II, ii, 192)

Monday, January 16, 2006

A Wie little problem...



Ok, let's see how this flies...

I have an issue with Michelle Wie competing on the PGA tour.

It's not a sexist thing - I don't mind women and men competing together if they are of the same calibre - I just don't like what it says about the LPGA and the double-standard being set.

I mean, if the argument for having women compete on the PGA tour is "well, if they can hang with the best of 'em, why not?", then we are explicitly acknowledging that the LPGA is the weaker sister (pardon the pun) of the two professional tours.

The PGA becomes the major leagues and the LPGA the minors.

Let's extend the argument: if Michelle Wie, who hasn't made a cut in any of her 7 attempts with the men, is allowed to compete on the PGA tour with men for PGA Tour money, then why can't a struggling male golfer "drop down" to the minor leagues, the LPGA, and try to win bigger bucks there?

Isn't that only fair?

Some folks have actually threatened to do so and got ridiculed for it. I say go for it and settle this issue once and for all. What's the answer? Scrap the LPGA and have co-ed tourneys across the board? Yeah, the LPGA would love that - it'd be the end for them.

I say keep the PGA (which isn't called the MPGA only because when this thing was created it kinda went without saying that it was only for men) and the LPGA separate and have some co-ed tourneys thrown in for fun maybe four times a year.

Look, the fact is that even Anika Sorenstam (who is the top female golfer in the world) can't play with the big boys - and she is the Tiger Woods of women's golf. But that's besides the point - every time someone challenges the definition of the PGA it bumps some guy out of the money - how would it go over if suddenly 20 male golfers "dropped down" to the LPGA and bumped 20 women out of the money?

Something tells me they would be treated as utter pricks.

But they'd just be playing it by the new rules.

Right now, I'd settle for having Wie prove she can even win on the women's tour...but it appears she can't win there either (something like 0-25 and counting).

But, geez, she's just a kid.

Which is another reason she steals the thunder from other folks on the two tours...you know, the ones who win these things.

(At least Tiger backed up the hype. For now, Wie is all hype.)

So, despite his famous British Open collapse, count me as a Jean Van de Velde fan.

The man knows how to make a point...as a woman.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Jeff Foxworthy: Stephen Harper Fan Club President



You know, every once in a while, just when you're thinking "maybe, just maybe I could see myself voting for the Conservatives 'cause the Liberals are such morons," Stephen Harper appears on the news, pulls down his collar and flashes that crimson red we know exists beneath.

In today's Toronto Star, Harper is quoted as saying (amongst other things) that he would be willing to revisit the idea of a US-proposed missile defence shield.

AAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Someone please, PLEASE assure me that this guy isn't going to be our next Prime Minister. It would be worth forty sponsorship scandals not to have this sort of ideological terror running the show.

Is it possible to get every disillusioned Liberal supporter to vote NDP at the same time? I doubt it. The vote will get split, the Conservatives will take advantage, sweep the 905 and we'll all be over the barrel for four years.

Lord help us.


"You see this? This is us."
Brad Pitt, Seven

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Cat is sleeping with the fishes


Today's Toronto Star reports that the Cat/Breeze/Spirit of Ontario has finally died...again.

The ferry service running between Rochester and Toronto was put out of its debt-accruing misery after two I'd-laugh-if-it-weren't-so-pathetic years.

Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea?

Rochester? ROCHESTER?!

What in the world would Torontonians want with a ferry service to a backwater US town like Rochester? There was no plus side for the Canadian tourists. Apparently, the service took as long to get across the water as it would take a driver to find their way to the same point going the long way around - except this excruciating boat ride would cost you a pretty penny. And then you had Rochester to look forward to...

When the ferry service sprung out of nowhere a couple of years ago I was stunned. Not only did this seem like a no-win situation, but it was coming at taxpayers' expense. Wow.

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

I for one will not mourn the passing of this ridiculous idea: as it stood, it had two too many lives.


"I...have had...enough of...you!"
-James Tiberius Kirk, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

...So the Election said to Martin, "Blow me."


Uh boy.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is how NOT to run a campaign.

I can't believe it, but it appears the Conservatives are headed towards an election victory. And perhaps even a majority one at that.

Yikes.

You know, as this campaign goes on, I'm liking the Liberals less and less myself. There is obviously a great deal of incompetence at the top, at least where the campaign decision-making is concerned, which is perhaps indicative of the lack of leadership overall.

I've never been a fan of Paul Martin's. I don't think he's a strong PM. I didn't like the way he so plainly made it clear that he wanted Chretien's job all those years ago, and I figure he got what he deserved when Chretien essentially kicked him out of politics for a couple of years. I'm also a firm believer that one should be elected to the office of Prime Minister, not simply become the party's choice when it's time to replace the retiring PM (see John Turner or Kim Campbell - who, to me, were never Prime Minister - and Ernie Eves in Ontario). Eventually, Martin won his first election, which raised his stock in my eyes. Good for him.

Looks like he's completely blowing this one.

The Liberals have clearly gone negative. There was no need. You don't go negative against the Conservatives; their policies should speak for themselves (hello? the guy took out a treasonous ad in the Washington Post saying we were wrong and Bush was right about Iraq!!!). Going negative with the ads simply put the Liberals in the spotlight as mudslingers. They've made Harper the victim.

Big mistake.

If Harper wins, watch out: we'll likely all be victims of his redneck pro-Bush policies.

If only Layton were a viable alternative...

Friday, January 06, 2006

Pool of money

Whoo-hoo!

The results are in from the office NFL pool and I managed to grab second place in the final week by a mere two points!

That means a cold hard $75 in my wallet. Booyah!

Maybe this will be my "lucky year" after all.

"I'd rather be lucky than good."
-Lefty Gomez, New York Yankees

Shut up and eat


My housemate Dan sent me this link, knowing that I eat a lot of salmon (yum, yum).

It seems that scientists can't decide if the cancer risks associated with eating farmed salmon outweigh the coronary benefits of salmon's omega-3 fatty acids.

I'm really pretty tired of all these "scientific reports" that contradict each other. One says bran is good, one says it's bad. One says eat this, the other says eat that.

Here's my response: shut up and eat what you want.

You'll live longer if you stop worrying.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Racism is bad. PERIOD.

Ok, so today's the day I touch upon the ultimate taboo subject: race.

Sure, it probably isn't too smart to talk about it on a blog and it may kill any political aspirations I might have had, but screw it. Today I came across an article in the Toronto Star that really hit a nerve with me. As my RTA classmates can attest to, racist talk gets my blood boiling.

Maybe it's because I was raised in a bilingual, multi-cultured, (multi-faithed!) Catholic school in Canada and was not exposed to racism as a child that I have this idyllic view of race relations. Maybe it's because I just graduated from Ryerson University which, on top of being poorly run, actually promotes reverse discrimination that I get angered by talk of race.

In any event, I will summarize my view of racism in the world this way: I think all races are equal. Period. No one should be treated with any favouritism, no one should be treated with any disrespect, and no one should get a leg up based on the colour of their skin for any reason. Even if it is in the name of making amends for historical inequities or wrongdoings.

In case you've been living under a rock, there was a shooting in downtown Toronto on Boxing Day wherein several people were injured and one 15-year old female bystander was killed while shopping with her parents. 2005 had been dubbed the Year of the Gun long before this occurrence, but this certainly put the exclamation mark on it. Politicians have been scrambling.

So, a (no doubt fruitless) conference of some sort was held amongst the three levels of government. This bothered an activist group and here's the quote from the Star explaining why:

"The Coalition of African Canadian Community Organizations — made up of more than 30 groups — questioned at a news conference yesterday whether politicians would have reacted as quickly if a black youth was slain. More than 40 black youths died from gun violence last year, but the coalition said it took Creba's death to move politicians to act. "

Like I said, guns had been a massive issue in Toronto long before this shooting, but regardless, I would think one might attribute the conference, not to the fact that a white girl was shot, but that SEVERAL INNOCENT PEOPLE WERE SHOT OUTSIDE A TORONTO TOURIST ATTRACTION AT RUSH HOUR ON BOXING DAY!!!!

Even for the Year of the Gun, that was a new one.

Memo to all activist groups: pick your fights wisely or you will lose all credibility. Jumping on every issue that even has a whiff of relevance to your cause looks desperate and unreasonable. It's the lobbyist equivalent of crying wolf: pretty soon, people stop listening to you.

You want to end racism? Stop accusing the world of being racist, you bigot.

You're right: a meeting is being held because a near-massacre of holiday shoppers only killed one white girl? Hell, they MUST be racist.

Give your head a shake, CACCO.

You want everyone to be treated equally? Start treating everyone EQUALLY.

Period.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What do people REALLY think of you?

I've often said that you can tell what someone really thinks of you by how quickly they misinterpret something you say.

If you say something sarcastically, for example, and they jump down your throat thinking you are being serious, or if they just completely miss the mark on a comment you make and ramble on for half an hour, bringing up past statements or misdeeds to support their argument, well, it tends to reveal that they actually don't think much of you. Not only that, but that this negative opinion has been brewing for a while.

Yes, this has happened to me several times.

But these guys have come up with a new way of testing someone's true colours - whether they intended to or not. This was a very successful but very dangerous prank. (I haven't watched the video yet, since I'm at work, but the story is hilarious)

See, these friends used the TiVo to record the lottery numbers from the previous draw. Then, they went out and bought a ticket with those numbers. Finally, they sat down with an unsuspecting victim while the TiVo spouted out the recording, as if it were live tv.

Needless to say, the victim went bananas.

Great prank. Could have backfired MASSIVELY, depending on the dynamics of the buddies involved and the circumstances surrounding the actual purchase of the ticket. It would have been especially dangerous had a workmate or employer been in the room. Imagine telling your prick boss to eff himself, only to find out those millions you thought you'd won didn't exist.

Oops.



"Relationships based on extreme circumstances rarely ever work"
-Speed (1994)

Coldplay gives cold shoulder with new CD

Wow. Wow. Wow.

For once, Cory and I might be in complete agreement.

This is quite possibly the most insane over-reaction I have ever seen.

On Boingboing, Cory puts up a post about the new Coldplay CD and the absolutely brain-dead "rules" that come with it.

The inside label explains that the CD comes with DRM technology which might render it unplayable on many CD players, DVD players, computers and car stereos. And of course, that this DRM tech has been added to ensure the quality of the listening experience by preventing piracy (they hope).

...???

Are ya shittin' me?

This is nuts. Especially since, being on the inside label, you don't see these rules until after you've purchased the CD and opened it up.

Oh, and the kicker? "Except for manufacturing problems, we do not accept product exchange, return or refund."

Wow. Wow. Wow.

Cory's Apocalypse

I'm back at work, which means back to being bored, which means more time for Boingboing surfing!

Today got off to a good start with a post from my favourite whipping boy, Cory Doctorow, about a new sci-fi book. In it, the internet has come crashing down and bloggers are left wandering the streets like zombies, waving around sheets of paper, desperately trying to be heard. Here's a snippit:

The recognition was plainly one way. Doctorow's crazed eyes betrayed no familiarity with my face. I was only another potential flesh-and-blood "hit" for his "site."

Doctorow carried a mud-splattered messenger's satchel over one shoulder. From this bag he now removed an old-fashioned wirebound spiral notebook and pen. He made a tick mark on paper, recording my "visit." Then he launched into his spiel.

"Welcome to a directory of wonderful things, my friend! Get ready to be amazed, thrilled and astounded! I'm going to show you stuff you never believed existed, stuff that will brighten your life, enhance your senses and enlighten your consciousness! For instance -- "


A smile crept across my face. Beautiful.

It kinda sums up my thoughts about the internet and blogging. It also brings up an argument which has been rattling around in my head for a while now, but which doesn't seem to get much media attention: how long will it be before the terrorists of the world turn their attention to the net? I mean, if I'm from some backwater Middle Eastern dust town with a mad-on for the western world, I know I would be gunning to sock it to the West in a big way by crippling the information superhighway, electronic banking operations, etc.

I mean, hell, they did it in Fight Club...don't terrorists watch movies? Savages...

Of course, you probably wouldn't be able to bring the WHOLE thing down, (that's kinda the point of an internet) but you could do some serious damage, and maybe enough that people would avoid using the thing. We've seen viruses do quite a bit of damage - if some Saudi gabagillionaire bankrolls a bunch of ubergeeks, don't you think the internet could come crashing down much like in this sci-fi tale?

Personally, I find our dependence on the net to be more than a little frightening...

"Flashback humour..."
- Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Why I think Toronto is better than Montreal



Heh heh...if this doesn't get my sister Michelle to post a comment, nothing will...

So, yeah, like I said, I spent Christmas in Montreal where my mom and sister Michelle live (along with my grandmother and some aunts). I used to spend Christmas there as a kid quite often, so I have some sentimental attachment to the place when it comes to the holidays.

It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't wanna live there.

Look, it's got its pros:
-a strong identity (cultural isolation will do that)
-strong artistic scene (if you're into that sort of thing, of course)
-a ton of strip joints (if you're into that sort of thing, of course - which, for the record, I'm not...particularly).

But it's got a bunch of cons, too (figuratively and literally):
-the road system sucks (it used to be a relief to cross back over the border for that reason alone)
-the health system sucks (from all accounts - though, thankfully, I have not had to use it)
-the subways are tiny and the stations seem devoid of wheelchair access (though the stations are HUGE which is great and the bus system seems reliable)
-it's damper than Toronto, which is good for your skin, but bad for your overall warmth. And considering that the vast majority of "houses" (mostly duplexes) in Montreal seem to be old and poorly insulated, comfort seems to be at a premium.

...and a new one I noticed this time:
-The Bloc Quebecois is everywhere. I saw one Jack Layton/NDP sign and not a single one from the Libs or Cons (though I did see a Green Party sign, oddly enough). I swear the Bloc had signs every 50 feet or so - I kid you not. It was nuts. What are these guys spending? Of course, I find the mere existence of a party like the Bloc to be ridiculous. Electing a party like that only works in minority government situations, and then only if the ruling party chooses to seek their suport to pass legislation (not likely, given then heat any such cooperation would draw). Otherwise, they get no decision-making voice and, consequently, the constituents are shut out of the government process. If the voters of Quebec are going to continue to elect the Bloc, why in the world would the ruling party want to waste their time trying to please them? Much as Quebec voters may hate the ruling Liberals (which seems ironic, given the fact that all the sponsorship scandal money went to Quebec firms in an attempt to curry favour) they really need to break the Bloc cycle. They need to indicate that their vote does matter and that the big parties need to court them.

It'll be interesting to see what happens after the upcoing election; will Quebec be on the agenda?

So...yeah...that was my roundabout explanation of why I like Toronto more than Montreal: roads, subways, health care, political frustration.

Clear as mud?

(for the record: my other sister lives in Vancouver and I would consider living in that city)

New year, same ol' story


Welcome to 2006. Grab a drink, settle in and enjoy.

I don't know about you folks, but I'm looking forward to a year filled with new beginnings and some serious changes in fortune.

Things have been looking good leading up to the end of the year - I got 5 out of 7 numbers in the Super 7 lottery...which only got me $150, but that's still pretty darn good and about covers how much I spent in lottery tix over the past year or so.

When I get back to work I should get the final results from our office football pool - I think that'll be a good barometer of what to expect from Lady Luck down the road. I was sitting in third going into the last two weeks, but with playoff spots sewn up and lots of back-ups getting action, it's kinda hard to pick the victors these days.

I've got my fingers crossed...might get uncomfortable if I have to spend the whole year with'em that way...