Monday, September 25, 2006

Securing Luggage: Fly With Guns

A few years ago a friend and I flew to Milwaukee via Chicago. When we got to our destination, my friend noticed his suitcase lock had been cut off. There was a brief note inside about it having been cut so that his bag could be inspected.

I found this strange because we watched the bag go through the screener - why not ask us to open it then? My lock wasn't cut...

Then I found it outrageous: once the lock had been cut off, what was stopping anyone (see corrupt baggage handling mofos) from stealing his valuables? Nothing. That's why passengers put locks on their luggage. Once the bag had cleared the screening machine, why would anyone have any cause to cut the lock?

Oh, right: 'cause they want to steal your stuff.


So it was with more than a little satisfaction and interest that I read this Boing Boing post. Seems some guy figured out how to ensure your things don't get stolen out of your suitcase: pack a gun. Because of the security measures taken once you declare your firearm (see: starter's pistol), there's no way your stuff will get lost/stolen.

That's it. I'm buying a gun at lunch.

Friday, September 22, 2006

CTV airs wrong Grey's Anatomy episode

I'm surprised Denis McGrath hasn't blogged about this yet, being a Grey's Anatomy fan, so I guess I'll have to.

It's good to know I'm not crazy after all.

Following up on the Global Rock Star: Supernova snafu a couple of weeks ago, I found it interesting that CTV made a similar mistake with regards to a high-profile show.

I happened to tune in to the season premiere of Grey's airing at 8pm on CTV (it airs at 9pm on ABC). I noticed that I seemed to be a bit out of the loop. Some of the things being discussed seemed unfamiliar to me, as if I had missed something. But the episode was great. I noticed they weren't dwelling on the events of the season finale, but rather were hitting the ground running with the way the characters were moving on.

But then the ABC version came on at 9pm.


I realized right quick that the reason the season premiere seemed so interesting, and why the characters were "moving on" was because this was, in fact, the second episode of the new season. CTV played the wrong episode. Unlike Global, however, CTV didn't catch on. The whole episode aired.

And now they're taking the same shit-kicking from fans that Global did for Supernova. Considering this foul-up, their claim that they are "fans" themselves rings terribly hollow. They're also clearly blaming ABC. Wonder what ABC would say...

I gotta say: I liked the second episode as a season premiere better than the actual season premiere. That episode sucked big monkey balls - because they DID dwell on the events of the finale.

Maybe there's a lesson for screen writers here...

DRM Article: Why Do We Steal?

A friend of mine sent me a link to an article. I'm not going to tell you who that friend is, 'cause, well, other friends might give him flak for giving me ammunition.

See, I hate DRM (Digital Rights Managment). I think it sucks. I also think we deserve this kind of b.s. in our lives to remind us of how trust and honesty have gone out the window. Businesses have started looking at their customers as threats instead of patrons. Theft'll do that to you.

I don't know who Stephen Speicher is (and I'll admit to not trying to find out) but wow, is he ever asking for it. He's posted an article on the internet that touches on the subject of piracy and why some people think it's ok. That's like a Republican Congressmen criticizing Bush.

See, some people (Cory Doctorow...I'm looking in your direction...) think consumers are "entitled" to media, whether it be music or video; that somehow anything created artistically belongs to the people, not the artists and not the company that paid the artist for the right to own and distribute that given work.

This is a subject I haven't talked about for a while, because, quite frankly, it's tiresome and there's no convincing practioners that what they're doing is harmful and against long-standing business practices.

I know, I know, Cory: "come up with a new business model, then!" You first, pal. Until then, don't buy an iPod and let them know what you think.

So, I encourage any readers of this blog (there must be one or two of you, according to Clustrmaps) to have a gander at the article. Where do you stand on the moral fibre scale?

"Law-abiding, moral people do things with entertainment content that they wouldn't dream of doing with physical goods. Can you imagine walking into a restaurant which you knew to be overpriced, eating, and then leaving without paying just because the you felt the place was a rip-off and not worth the prices they charged? Worse yet, can you imagine doing it the next day also? Of course not!"
-Stephen Speicher

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Olbermann and Me

Thought this was interesting.

Denis McGrath had a post about Frank Rich's new book, which prompted me to try to find the Keith Olbermann commentary in question (I couldn't get sound off Denis' post).

I came across this one. At about the 5:30 mark he uses a quote from the Declaration of Independence which I had also used in relation to the current Administration.

Check it out.

By the way, you know that whole "independence" thing? Don't look now, but a whole bunch of that could have been called "terrorism", too - just ask the British. Ain't perspective a bitch?

Frank Miller's "300"

Holy shit, Batman! How had I not heard about this before now?

Was checking out rottentomatoes today (as I often do near the end of the week to see how the new releases are faring) and noticed a link for a trailer for 300 a new action flick based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller.


As one guy put it: it looks like Sin City meets Gladiator -- only cooler.

Check this out!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Brad Pitt to lead Mission: Impossible 4?

No way...

There's a story on that claims the Daily Mail has a story on this.

Pitt would be offered the lead for *gulp* $39.5 Million.

...Ok, so maybe that makes it slightly believable.

But how is this a good career move for Pitt? It's a tired franchise and Pitt has claimed he wants to make more "mature" flicks.

I think Mr. and Mrs. Smith showed Pitt could be a kick-ass action star, but why not use a new brand? I mean, it's not like the Mission Impossible name will draw more movie-goers than Pitt's would. So why throw a potential anchor around the project's neck?

The story goes that Pitt wouldn't play Ethan Hunt, but a new character. Hunt would "retire" to be with his wife. But the flick would still have the MIF world attached to it. Again: why?

You might as well do Mr. & Mrs. & baby Smith.

... don't think...


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Rose & Crown

My Toronto "haunt" has to be the Rose & Crown just north of Yonge & Eglinton.

I've been going there for about 7 years. The kitchen is pretty good (it used to be outstanding), the service is alright (it used to be terrific) and the atmosphere is decent (...unchanged).

I love the pad thai there. Authentic or not, it tastes great. Thursday nights: $6.99. Sweet.

A friend pointed out to me that when he checked out the website, he noticed they have a couple of webcams. There's one at the bar (where I never hang out) and one near the "rear", where I can sometimes be found having sunday brunch or thursday pad thai.

Check it out sometime, and I'll try to remember to wave.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip

I think I'm in love.

...and that means trouble.

Big Brother and Rock Star are finally over and I was thinking I might get away from my tv a little more.

Not so much.

I taped Studio 60 last night and got around to watching it today. It's freakin' great. But what do you expect from Aaron Sorkin, the mind behind the best show of the past 10 years: The West Wing?

Truth be told, however, this show is a lot more like Sports Night, the terrific but horribly scheduled precursor to The West Wing; it's a show about a show and the characters who put it together.

I wasn't surprised that I loved the West Wing alumni: Bradley Whitford and Timothy Busfield, with more undoubtedly to follow. I've always been a Busfield fan, and Whitford's Josh was probably my favourite character on The West Wing.

I was surprised I liked Matthew Perry as much as I did. He was the wild card in this for me. I loved him in the early years of Friends, but by the end he was just a drag. If the first episode is any indication, he's gonna be just my cup of tea in Studio 60.

Now for all you women out there: what did you think of the women characters? Is it true that there are no good roles for women anymore? I mean, the best characters in Studio 60 were Felicity Huffman (one-time appearance) and the P.A. girl. I didn't care much for Amanda Peet (Jordan McDeere) - she was a wash at best. But Sarah Paulson (Harriet Hayes) - wtf? You know, for this kind of role you can have a funny person with attitude, but a character with attitude who isn't funny? No thanks. Booooring.

The "show's" cast is the key here. If they're gonna have any believability, the cast has to be good, smart, funny. I mean, Saturday Night Live (the blatantly obvious inspiration) may not be as "cutting edge" as it was, but this is the same show that produced Will Farrell, Mike Myers and Tina Fey. They're still funny, interesting people. They're comedians. We'll see...

So, it seems the tv gods are conspiring against me. I'm gonna be hooked on another show. Add it to the list.

Crap. I just saw a commercial for a new Dana Delaney show with Timothy Hutton co-starring (Kidnapped). I think I'll be able to avoid getting hooked, but geez, Dana Delaney? I'd watch her with the volume off anytime...

And then there's James Woods in Shark. Love that guy. With Jeri Ryan as a co-star. ...Yeah, that wasn't enough for me, either.

Oh crap: and now Not Another Teen Movie is on.

Damn you, tv gods.

Danny Tripp: I have no reason to trust you and every reason not to.
Jordan McDeere: Why?
Danny Tripp: You work in television.
- Bradley Whitford and Amanda Peet in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Reality show wrap-up: Big Brother & Rock Star Supernova

Ok, so to follow up on my previous posts: (for those who care)

Mike Boogie won Big Brother All-Stars while hometown boy Lukas Rossi took home the Supernova gig.

First off, I'm glad Boogie won. He deserved it way more than Erika. It's been my experience however that the deserving person rarely wins these competitions. Survivor almost always rewards the wrong person. Tina over Colby? What the heck are these people smoking on these islands? They always take it personally and rarely reward the best player.

I'm glad that almost everyone involved was in agreement that Will and Janelle were the two best players and that Chill Town ran the show. I love those boys. I want the t-shirt.

Lukas Rossi as lead singer for I dunno....

To be honest I think they made a mistake. I was kinda pulling for the hometown boy, but I gotta say I think Toby would have been the best choice. The chicks dig him, he can write, he's got presence, and his voice is strong. Lukas has showmanship, but I think his "moves" would wear on me real quick. Jason Newsted better whip that boy's voice into shape or no one will ever understand that kid.

I also love how they didn't explain to Dilana why they didn't choose her - especially after heaping so much praise on her. The answer to me seems fairly clear - Gilby didn't think she could contribute anything to the band other than her voice, and I truly believe the band didn't want a female lead singer. They kept her around because she was awesome and she was good for the show. (I actually think they would have kept Storm around longer than, say, Magni, but unfortunately for her she was up against Dilana and Lukas on her elimination night)

And shame on Global Television for not pulling a mea culpa and admitting that they messed up the finale broadcast. In case you missed it, Global played the wrong episode at 8pm - for a good twenty minutes! That's some kind of quality control they got there. When they finally played the right feed, Magni had already been eliminated. They replayed the entire correct episode at 10pm - when the results were already known. D'oh!

**update: apparently, it came from the source, says Global...but considering the snafu only lasted a few minutes on American channels... (check out the mock Global explanation - nsfw)

...and that's all I gots to say about that. No more "reality tv" talk. I'm done. I don't watch Survivor, I catch only glimpses of The Amazing Race and I won't watch any of the Idol shows.

Now, it's House, Prison Break and...oh yeah...oops...Ultimate Fighter. Ok, one more reality show.

"This is truly an all-stars season, because I'm astonished by your game play here. Now a lot of you have come up to me and said 'Will, you don't really seem like you're into it, you don't really seem like you want to play.' And you said 'Why?' I said to myself, I don't know, I don't know why, I can't understand it. So I had a heart-to-heart with myself, and I said 'Will, what is the reason? Why are you having such a hard time playing?' And this is the truth. Season two, the season that I won, there was a lot of people that I hated. And it was easy for me to motivate and find individuals that I disliked, and it gave me power. It gave me a reason to want to play, it gave me a reason to want to fight, and it gave me a reason to want to remove people from the game. Then I thought, so why haven't I had that motivation? And I thought it was because I really like everyone here. But then I realized it was the opposite of that. I can't find an individual to hate, because I hate you all! There's no one I hate more than anyone else.

This is what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna ask to be removed from the game by you all. Now, if you refuse to kick me out, I will be throwing every competition, I will throw every HoH, I will throw every POV, and I will throw every food competition. George is on slop, and I will do the best I can to ensure that we are all on slop, unless you get together, have a big group meeting and vote me out.

So George, please don't use the power of veto on me. I want this nomination to stay in place. I encourage you to use it yourself. You know why? (Clapping, pointing at George.) This man is a bad-ass! He went up against the five wickedest, freakiest Big Brother players, and he whooped their ass! Don't use it.

Vote me out."

- Will the Puppetmaster gives the speech of the year (and stays) on Big Brother All-Stars

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Whenever I question the reasoning behind a boss' request or shake my head at how things are done, I often reflect on a quote from Lord Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade":

Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.

Some of you may know this work from watching The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and hearing Geoffrey's "Cannons to the left of them! Cannons to the right of them!" speech.

I always liked that piece of writing, but until now I never knew the real story behind the inspirational events of that day. Well, I came across it today and thought I'd share.


Read a book!
-Handy from The Tick

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Future of Terrorism: Beyond 9/11.

Five years ago today I was working as a temp at the Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology (I think that's what it was called). I remember hearing a rumour about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. Probably a Cessna, I thought. Weird, but not unheard of.

Then the details came slowly but surely and I was glued to MSNBC for the rest of the day until we were finally able to leave.

No, it doesn't seem like yesterday, but five years? A sixth of my life? Time flies.

So where are we now? Where did we think we'd be, five years ago, by this point? Safer? Terror-free?

The War on Terror is an interminable battle, with no victory possible. That's because terrorism cannot be defined merely by the combatants. You could wipe the Middle East off the face of the Earth and terrorism would survive. It doesn't belong to any one government or region.

Terrorism is simply war by other means. It's the poor man's battle ground. Eradicate Islam (no, I'm not even coming close to suggesting that) and you'd still have someone, somewhere willing to kill to oppose an unjust power.

Timothy McVeigh, the IRA, South American guerrillas, Chechnyan separatists...

Madmen? Freedom fighters? Terrorists?


So, since terrorism won't go away, let's try to figure out where it's headed. For a very long time, the answer has seemed obvious to me, and a Boingboing link reminded me.

"Second Life has disclosed that an intruder broke into the Second Life database through the company's web servers -- and customer information was compromised. Potentially exposed data included Second Life account names, real-world names and contact information, and encrypted account passwords and payment info. To minimize risk, the company has invalidated all account passwords. Users will have to create new passwords in order to log in."

Hasn't anyone seen the ending to Fight Club? We're becoming so dependent upon digital/internet/electronic formats for communication/banking/daily life stuff that at some point the target will be way too juicy to pass up. Why train to become a pilot and run the risk of exposing your network when you can wreak havoc from a Lazy-boy?

Don't get me wrong: I'm not trying to give anyone ideas here, just slapping a few people in the face who put too much faith in the electronic establishment and might need a wake up call. The other day I got an invite from Rogers that would mean paying my bills via internet alone, with no more paper bills - uh... no thanks. If some shmo can steal your Second Life ID, think what a really motivated hacker/terrorist could do with a few million bank accounts.

Can you spell "economic anarchy"?

Man, I really hope I'm not re-reading this blog five years from now...

- Chicken Little.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Back to Reality - Rock Star: Supernova

Okay, okay, I watch Rock Star: Supernova, too.

Ya got me.

I won't watch two minutes of the Idol shows (holy crap are they terrible), but this one gets me because it's different: the competitors are vying for a specific spot in a specific band - it isn't about who's the best singer, it's about who's best for the band (INXS got it right with JD - he's got Michael Hutchence's voice down cold). To boot, these aren't snot-nosed kids walking in from Smalltown, Kentucky - these are seasoned club singers looking for the big break and the big gig. Every night is a min rock show and the talent is pretty darn good.

At least now that they've eliminated some of the crap. There was some dead wood there for a while.

(oh, right, and she's on it - there's that reason, too...)

But now it's down to the final four: Magni, Toby, Dilana and Toronto's own Lukas Rossi.

Lukas and Dilana were easily the favourites from the word go. They had presence and they had talent. They stood out. But now that there are only four competitors left and we're weeks into the audition process, everyone stands out. The advantage has disappeared.

I'm going to make a prediction: neither Dilana nor Lukas will win.

My money's on Toby. Young, single, buff-ish, moderately talented and Australian. No way Tommy Lee wants to drum for a band that has a woman, married man, or obnoxious shrimp as a lead singer. Toby represents the fun these guys are trying to recapture.

We'll find out Wednesday, I guess.

Who do you got?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Big Brother: The Will Show 2 ends

Yes, I'll admit it: I watch Big Brother.

I'm not a fan of "reality shows" (a misnomer if I've ever heard one - these are just drawn out game shows, people, get over it), but this one I can watch. First of all, it's very well edited, the shots are usually clean and well-lit, and it's rarely dull.

I wasn't hooked from the beginning. I didn't watch more than 5 minutes of the original incarnation, and thought it was a pretty silly concept - why would I want to watch these people live for 3 months? It all seemed kind of sad.

But an interesting thing happened in Season 2. I tuned in out of curiosity and noticed that the set-up seemed to be vastly improved. But what got me hooked was the best thing to ever happen to reality television: Evil Doctor Will.

Will was the suave, cocky, charming guy in Season 2. He got the hot girl, he had the goofy buddy, and he seemed to have things well in hand. This, of course, made him a huge target. The other members of the house quickly dispatched his girlfriend and buddy and they all figured Will was as good as gone.

Not so fast.

This is where Will became my hero. He played the part of the dead meat to a tee. He put up little outward struggle, threw competitions for seemingly valuable rewards and pretty soon the target all but vanished. In the meantime, he became the game's puppetmaster. He systematically dismantled the ruling alliance by pitting one "friend" against another and charming the queen bee. He played to their ego, he played to their pride and in the end he just plain played them. Understanding his circumstances, he played to the camera in numerous asides, entertaining the audience while the other competitors bored us. He was the Iago of reality tv: he used cunning and deceit to manipulate this game of trust, showmance and betrayal. It was effing brilliant. I ate it up. Big Brother 2 became known as The Will Show.

Of course I was delighted then, when Will was selected to compete in the All-Stars version of the show.

Immediately the two main brains, Will and Kaysar, identified each other as threats. But it was Kaysar who went out early. Then, one by one, the other competitors fell. Week after week, Chill Town (Will and his buddy Boogie) schemed and manipulated to get what they needed to advance. It was all working brilliantly.

You could not have taken a bet before this season started that both members of Chill Town would make it to the final four; but that's just what happened.

That's when the odds caught up with the good doctor.

I knew Will was in trouble when Boogie won Head of Household. It was only a matter of time before the puppets did what they should have done weeks prior: they spoke to one another and the scheming was exposed. With Boogie safe, the only potential revenge would come at the expense of Will. And so the king fell.

For me, the show is essentially over. At this point, the only thing that would surprise me is if by some miracle Boogie managed to win. I cannot imagine the "jury" will choose to give him the $500k over either of the other two competitors (exception: if Erika stabs Janelle in the back and Janelle takes revenge by getting all the Season 6ers to vote for Boogie). The jurors all know they fell at the hands of Chill Town, and these are not reasonable people. A reasonable person would recognize Chill Town's achievement and say, "Wow. Well played." In this game? Not likely. And so skilled, pretty, but hopelessly stupid Janelle will likely win, provided she gets to the final two, otherwise Erika will take the prize.

For me, it's a bittersweet ending. I'm sad Will is gone, but incredulous that he made it this far.

But I suppose I should not have underestimated the puppetmaster. That's what his competition is known for.

Wow. Well played.

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.
- Kevin Spacey as Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects (1995)

Friday, September 01, 2006

MSNBC's Keith Olberman bitchslaps Donald Rumsfeld

Really busy at work here, kids.

I wanted to take a sec and link this article, though. This deserves as much attention as possible.

Couldn't agree with this guy more.

There's hope, folks.


The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack. Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.
- Keith Olberman