Friday, May 26, 2006

X-Men 3 opens today!


If Mission Impossible and The DaVinci Code weren't indicative enough, today makes it official: the summer blockbuster season has begun.

The reviews are mixed so far (it's straddling the rottentomatoes 60% fresh/rotten meter), but there's no doubt I'll be going to see X-Men: The Last Stand this weekend.

This has the potential to be the smartest and best of the three films as our heroes (and villains) struggle with their very nature when presented with a potential cure for the mutant gene. Personally, I think I'd rather keep the wings/laser vision/healing factor.

I avoid written reviews and even trailers like the plague when I know I'm going to see a given movie because I don't want any of it spoiled for me. Unfortunately I couldn't avoid listening to a trailer the other day (I averted my eyes) so I know too much already (ditto with the Superman Returns flick). Even the millisecond glimpses I've had flipping through channels have revealed too much.

I must see this movie asap before all the surprises are spoiled.

Who's with me?

Review to follow...

"What do they call you? 'Wheels'? This is the stupidest thing I've heard."
- Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in X-Men

Thursday, May 25, 2006

This job would be great if it weren't for the people

*WARNING: Bitch session ahead*

So I'm really starting to hate my job.

First of all, it's pretty administrative which I find boring and, quite frankly, beneath my capabilities. No offence to you admin types out there, but I consider myself a little too bright to be working at what amounts to an office assembly line.

I hate the fact that I sit in front of a computer all day. I told myself that I would never have that kind of job, but here I am.

It's 9-5 which I also swore I would avoid, but the upside is that I never have to bring my work home with me - another vow I had made myself.

Today this lady who is in a more senior position really pushed my buttons by being rude. See, I've never much respected authority and I don't think the fact that someone has a longer title than me means they can cease being polite and decent. I'm a pretty principled person and I won't allow myself to be trampled upon. This has made me quit more than my fair share of jobs over the years. This was a more mild case of rudeness, so I bit my tongue while I seethed inside. The problem is that this sort of incident reminds me of all my vows and how I'm terribly disappointing career-wise; to myself, if no one else.

So what's a guy to do? I check all the media-related job boards every day, but I gotta tell ya, nothing's really striking my fancy. Something tells me Ry-High was a bad idea.

I've thought about starting my own business but it all comes down to "what are you passionate about?", which is even more depressing: nothing. The closest thing I can come up with is movies and sports. So what, I should open a video store? No thanks. And since I'm a little too old to be taking up a sport as a profession, my well of "passions" is running dry.

How would I describe my dream job?
- I don't sit in front of a computer all day
- I have little if any interaction with the general public
- I don't have to sweat it in my sleep
- Pays the bills
- Requires little if any ass kissing
- Requires half a brain
- Contributes to society as a whole
- Allows me to take some measure of pride in my accomplishments

So I put it to you, avid readers: what job would you see me doing?

I swear I'm just gonna start whoring myself out...

A goal without a plan is just a wish.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Tale of Two Companies

I thought I would use today's post to sing the praises of a couple of businesses: Mystic Muffin and Discount.

I walk to work and I rarely eat breakfast before I leave in the morning. I actually prefer to get a little something on the way and eat it at my desk. I used to stop in at Tim Horton's for a muffin, but the one closest to my house is small and crowded. The one on my route to work is in a gas station and the service is slower than Paris Hilton.

...or is she "fast"?

Just beyond my workplace, however, is an independent place called Mystic Muffin. I had an aversion to the place initially, because a certain instructor of mine at Ry-High used to torture the class repeatedly with daily references to the shop: the owner had been featured in a project the year before and the instructor wouldn't shut up about it. I took a chance one day, though, and haven't regretted it. The young lady behind the counter must have the world's best memory. I haven't had to repeat my order since. In fact, if I want something different, I have to stop her from cutting the sesame seed bagel that she snags the moment I walk through the door. It's amazing. I've felt like a regular ever since.

Now that's good business.

Now you wouldn't expect that I'd be singing the praises of a rent-a-car shop, but I thought the Discount Car and Truck Rental operation at Queen and Jarvis deserved an honourable mention. I'll spare you the long story, but suffice it to say there was some confusion about the number of free kilometres available to me for a cargo van rental the other week. I went back to discuss the bill. I was expecting to have to put up a fight and summon some righteous indignation, but to my surprise the manager listened to my story attentively, was very courteous and polite and with a quick check of his computer offered to refund the difference. I didn't even have to frown. And, oh, I was ready to frown.

Now that's good business.

See? Now those businesses have recos from me on the internet. Good for them.

Now run along and tell two friends, and so on and so on...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

10 Things I Hate About Commandments

The funniest mash-up to date!

I don't think I'm supposed to be laughing like this at work, am I?

10 Things I Hate About Commandments for all you John Hughes fans.

But check out the moron in the comments section:

Karst (1 day ago)
"The sad thing is I actually saw the movie that this was parodying. I liked it."'s the f***ing Ten Commandments, Karst! As if seeing one of the most famous epics of all time was an odd thing.

Kids these days....

Entertain me: Mission Impossible?

So this weekend I went to the movies. Originally, my friend and I were debating whether to see The DaVinci Code or Mission Impossible III.

We were both quite curious about The DaVinci Code, but decided to go with the summer escapism flick instead - that, and The DaVinci Code was sold out.

I gotta tell ya, we got our money's worth - well, no, not really, considering a flick is $13, but you get my meaning.

Mission Impossible was, if nothing else, entertaining. I had been telling friends that the first MI movie was better than the second because it had a supporting cast - it wasn't all about Tom. Well, the third instalment went back to its roots. I had no idea going in that the movie had such a great cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Billy Crudup, Laurence Fishburne, Johnathan Rhys Meyers, Ving Rhames, Keri Russell, Simon Pegg (Shawn of the Dead) and Michelle Monaghan. When actors who are normally stars of a movie are mere afterthoughts, you know the screen is packed.

Sure, there's a healthy amount of cheese in this flick but that's to be expected. All in all, I'm surprised that MI:III is sitting as low as 70% on rottentomatoes. What did these people expect?

Which brings us to The DaVinci Code. WTF? What's going on there? It's sitting at 21% on rottentomatoes, including an abysmal 9% from the "cream of the crop". That's worse than Van Helsing, The Tuxedo and Alien Vs. Predator!

Of course, that didn't prevent it from making $77M at the box office...

Maybe Opie ain't so dopey.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Movie mash-ups

You know, I didn't like Brokeback Mountain as much as say, my sister did, but I can always appreciate a good movie trailer mash-up.

So here's a little something to put a smile on your face and brighten your day.

Brokeback to the Future

and Star Wars: The Empire Brokeback

...or if you want to get your heart racing: Sleepless In Seattle - The Horror

Monday, May 15, 2006

Season finales: Smallville, West Wing, Survivor, etc.

'Tis the season for season finales.

This past week (and yesterday in particular) saw a plethora of season finales appear on the boob tube. It was quite odd, really, to read the tv guide and see just how many shows were having their big send-offs last night.

The big one for me was the series finale of The West Wing. It has been the best show on television for some eight years now, though the quality ebbed a little after Aaron Sorkin's departure. Personally, I tuned out a little in the past couple of years because for some bizarre reason the picture quality of NBC on my tv was practically unbearable and, for some bizarre reason, CTV wasn't airing it anymore.

It was a sad but high-quality finale that hit all the right notes. It was somewhat reminiscent of the M*A*S*H finale - sentimental but classy. But where the show was particularly effective was in the fact that the sentimentality was all from the characters' points of view - while they were somewhat saddened, the White House marched on, sweeping out the old administration and ushering in the new, like clockwork. It was powerful because while it may have seemed painful to these characters that we had grown to love, it was so true. It was the cap to their time as public servants; you don't do it for the glory - you expect nothing in return.

I thought it was beautiful. And although I hadn't been the most faithful of viewers recently, I'd have to say I'm really going to miss that show.

Who will pick up the torch? Which show is the big dog now? ER has long fallen to the wayside and will not be missed nearly as much. When CSI has run its course, will the audience miss the show and its characters, or will it be easily replaced by the next sit-drama (like Law & Order - not so much about the characters as it is about the case)?

I'll miss Smallville, too, though not for the same reasons. In many ways, it is the polar opposite of The West Wing. It didn't have to earn its audience - the popularity was built in. The writing has always been atrocious and the acting not much better. I thought this year was supposed to be the last, but word on the street is that the show is being picked up by a new network. The show has definitely crossed some major lines, though and has reached a point of no return. The storylines (and writing as a result) evolved exponentially in recent episodes. I believed it was because the show was ending. Anyone who saw yesterday's finale, though, knows this is not the case. Still, I'd rather see the show go out in a blaze of glory rather than sputter as it had. Let's hope next season is it. Personally, I was kinda hoping for a two-hour Smallville MOW send-off.

Survivor wrapped up again. And yet again, it would seem the person who won was the undeserving one (it happens almost every year without fail). Terry was clearly the best player in the game, but he didn't make the final two - Danielle made the right decision there. As it turns out though, Danielle wouldn't have won either way. I have the finale on tape (I didn't watch it yesterday) so maybe I'll go back and see how Aras pulled it off. I hadn't been watching the show enough to know if Aras' victory over Danielle was a foregone conclusion, but it seems to me that whoever beats the king should be the king (or queen).

So what's there to watch now? Well, there's always the Stanley Cup playoffs - those never seem to end. Will Edmonton be in the finale? Let's hope so. I can't see myself or too many others being drawn to a finale that involves Carolina, Anaheim, San Jose and/or Buffalo...

...of course, maybe I should just stop watching so much bloody tv, eh?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Urban Planning For Dummies

Ok, today I am determined not to write a blog about Stephen Harper or George Bush or anything else that is an easy target and ain't gonna change until someone holds an election.

I think.

I was wondering what to write about when I went by the Toronto Star website. It had a feature article on how architects are vying to save Toronto's waterfront. This has been a topic of some years, but it just so happens that I was having a discussion with a guy about this yesterday - hence, this post.

See, this guy I met yesterday is on my beach volleyball team. The team kinda sucks and the weather was atrocious yesterday for our first game, but I'm not getting into that here.

This guy is a civil engineer. I am somewhat fascinated by this line of work because it is so important to our cities, yet we hear so little about them and their plans. I mean, geez, these are the guys who are supposed to be shaping our cities and affecting our everyday experiences with them. But apparently they aren't being heard, either.

This particular guy is from New Brunswick originally but was sent to Toronto for work (he wanted to go to Boston, not that we should hold that against him). Let me tell ya, he does not have a high opinion of the 905 region (Toronto burbs).

This guy confirmed all of my beliefs about city planning in Brampton, Missisiauga and York region; it's a mess and the powers-that-be are making it worse every day. Every time I see a farmer's field disappear to be replaced by a series of Lego houses, I shake my head. "Where's the infrastructure?" I ask. The stores, the schools, the parks, the churches, the necessities of suburban life? The burbs' reliance on the automobile is getting worse by the second and the road system is going to be paying the price big time. Too many houses, too many cars going too far.

Stop building horizontally and start building vertically. You have to make land a priority. Conserve the green space and make people live in buildings and the like. No more sprawl. If I ran the show, I would put a moratorium on house contruction in the 905 and encourage apartment buildings and condos. And all of those condo buildings would have shopping areas on the ground floors so people could get their crap done without polluting the atmosphere with their cars and tying up traffic. No more waste.

...does that require an election?

As for those architects I mentioned:

"The five finalists in the $20-million international competition will present their ideas starting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday night at the BCE Place Galleria. Their drawings will be on display at BCE Place, Harbourfront Centre, Eaton Centre, Sherway Gardens, Fairview Mall and Scarborough Town Centre for two weeks beginning Monday. The winner will be announced on May 31."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Angry Liberal Guy

So I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. Not good, I guess, 'cause when you don't post regularly people tend to stop coming by your blog for a visit.

I was on vacation last week, so some form of hiatus was to be expected, I guess, but I really must get back on the wagon, despite the increase in my workflow at my 9-5 gig. Work can wait - there's blogging to be done!

So let me get back to the natural order of things with a typical anti-Bush bash. Easy target, I know, but I'm trying to get back in rant mode and it ain't easy when you're tired.

Over at Boing Boing, there was a post about C.B. Shapiro who is clearly not a fan of the Bush administration nor the general goings-on south of the border (no I'm not talking about erectile dysfunction - though he may have that problem too, who knows?).

For those too lazy to follow the link, here's the text. I like it 'cause he pretty much sums up how I feel and how every American should feel:


There’s been some ink spilled lately denigrating so called ‘angry liberals,’ that is, people who have allegedly lost their right to be taken seriously because they are ‘angry.’ And they are ‘liberal.’

Well, I hereby declare myself a charter member in the ALC (Angry Liberal Club).

Sure, at first I felt guilty -- what right do I have as a patriotic American to be angry? Or liberal? Oh, I tried to repress the ‘angry thing,’ I tried -- if I was asked, I claimed I was a ‘peeved moderate.’ Or a ‘mildly upset centrist.’ But after much work through ‘BIT’ (Blog Immersion Therapy), I stopped feeling the shame. I’m coming out of the closet to announce I am an Angry Liberal Guy. And I am pissed.

You might be saying “Man, what are you so angry about, Angry Liberal Guy?”

I’ve compiled a short (and by no means complete) list just so I could see it all in one place:

I’m angry about the shredding of the constitution…illegal wiretaps…falsified intelligence…secret prisons… use of torture as an accepted means of interrogation…Terry Schiavo…the war on science…denial of Global Warming…the fascistic secrecy of our elected officials… presidential signings that declare the President above the law…the breakdown of the wall between church and state…the outing of a clandestine CIA agent for purely partisan political gain…the corrupting influence of K Street… the total sell-out of the legislative process to corporate interests… appointments of unqualified cronies at every level of government…Harriet Miers…Brownie…Abu Ghraib… Scooter …the complete mismanagement of the war in Iraq…the lies about the complete mismanagement of the war in Iraq…the grotesque budget deficits… the pathetic response to Katrina… a civil rights division dedicated to undermining civil rights…an environmental protection agency that refuses to protect the environment… (Take a breath, Angry Liberal Guy.)

And I’m angry about a smug, simple-minded, incompetent, unqualified President, and a press that denies the obvious fact that we have a smug, simple-minded, incompetent unqualified President.

If these things don’t make you angry, I have to ask -- what the hell is the matter with you?

And what would it take to make you angry? -- C.B. Shapiro