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Showing posts from December, 2005

dubious achievements of the year in public speaking

a lot of us are familiar with the notion that when you open your mouth, you should have something of value to say. but it looks like some people could use some instructions on what exactly "of value" means. here, courtesy of the fine folks at media matters, are the most outrageous quotes from 2005. second biggest surprise? george w. bush didn't make the cut. biggest surprise? bush's mother, barbara, also didn't make it, despite her completely idiotic statement that refugees from hurricane katrina were probably better off crapping in the hallways of the superdome, since they were used to living in poverty.

if something like that doesn't make the list, how bad are the quotes that did?

you've been warned. proceed with caution.

happy new year, baby

happy new year to all of the regulars and passersby here. i look forward to more of more like space in '06, since i'm enjoying the blogging experience thus far.

a very special new year's wish goes out to dave and michelle and tava, their new addition, who arrived safely this morning!

the love that dare not speak its name

movie revieww::brokeback mountain

much like the world of military films (see my review of jarhead), the world of cowboy movies has always been lost on me. being a city girl through and through, looking in on a world that lacks restaurants and toilets that flush holds little appeal. on the other hand, the notion of using one of the most traditionally masculine and conservative settings- the american midwest (played with striking beauty in this film by alberta)- for a gay romance is a perversion of the natural order i simply can’t resist.

this was a film no one wanted to make. jake gyllenhall, one of the leads, was tapped for his role eight years ago, when he was sixteen, at which point he wanted nothing to do with the project. over the years and with the eventual handing off of the film to director ang lee, gyllenhall and others came around. smart move for jake, who, between this performance and his equally excellent turn in jarhead, has established himself as the first standout acto…

the secret of immortality

soleilmoon is taking preorders on "speaker of turkish", the first entirely new album by muslimgauze in almost two years. what's remarkable about this? bryn jones, the sole proprietor behind muslimgauze, has been dead almost seven years now. and he still releases more music than artists who are among the quick.

how does that work?

when he was alive, jones released more music than seemed humanly possible and he hasn't let his metabolically challenged state interfere with that release schedule very much at all.

how does that work? i struggle for weeks to get a single short story written. in that time, this guy would have three albums ready and he's DEAD.

to be fair, muslimgauze music tends to be a little repetitive (multiple versions of the same track on an album) and some of the stuff he was putting out even before his untimely demise sounded unfinished to say the least. but his good stuff- and there is a lot of it- is beautiful and haunting.

how lucky for all of u…

year's best couple

if i have to hear one more thing about jessica simpson and her boy band husband, or about brangelina, or any of those other celebrity couples, i'm going to have a seizure.

so here is my vote for my favourite pair this year: owen and mzee, united through tragedy, they are, unlike most celebrities, still together after a year.

if this story doesn't make you feel warm and fuzzy, you're not even human.

fumbling towards empathy

movie review::munich

you knew it was only a matter of time until movies about the middle east and the history of terrorism started cropping up in hollywood. the subject has been strangely verboten, but this year, it seems that directors are gradually stepping up to give their version of events. jarhead tackled the effects of the first iraq war on the troops who were sent there, syriana tried to give a global perspective on the flow of power and money through the middle east and now munich steps up to look at the violent fallout from a particular historical event.

steven spielberg is not a favourite of mine. other than ron howard, i find him the worst offender for routinely hawking the most overwrought and trite emotional pieces, where good and evil are too neatly defined. munich is a very different sort of a film for him, because those clear definitions are precisely what gets thrown out the window. the result, however, is still seriously flawed.

for starters, since the audience i…

recovery mode

for all those of you who, like me, were contemplating suicide as a viable option to having to sit through another christmas carol (my own personal nadir this season came with the carpenters' version of "have yourself a merry little christmas"), here is a little playlist which, listened to as a collection, will get your humbug working and have you ready to face the world again.

boyd rice\ hatesville:: after having to listen to weeks of phony warmth and maudlin sentimentality, it's nice to give equal time to the opposition. here's someone who wants you to know that it's ok to want to carve up your annoying druncle and serve him for dinner.

foetus\ ramrod:: hell yeah! puts your fists in the air and sing along to the soundtrack to everyone's trapped-among-the-rednecks nightmare. wallow in your own superiority, a completely un-christmaslike thing to do.

xiu xiu\ clowne towne:: what your friends really think of you. a sugar-coated cynanide pill from one of m…

onward and eastward

well i'm off for a few days to head back to halifax for the holidays, where i will hopefully, eventually, be able to enjoy my mother's christmas dinner.

that means no blog and no email until i'm back (i'm scared).

enjoy some down time over the holidays. in a culture completely obsessed with productivity and work, relaxing is one of the most revolutionary things you can do.

worst. diet. ever.

i still can't keep anything except bread and crackers down. even that is questionable at certain times.

just to make things more frustrating, i was lucky enough to be the recipient of a few nice holiday baskets at work. (the place where i used to work wouldn't let us keep our baskets, for fear we'd be corrupted with the cans of candied peanuts and wedges of cheese.) i can't touch the stuff in them, other than the crackers, so i'm spending my work days staring at a mountain of stuff i desperately want, but that will probably kill me. gradually, i'm parceling this stuff out to coworkers, who appreciate it more than i do right now.

one thing i have never understood is why people are compelled to share their own nausea stories when they know you're sick. at the best of times, hearing about how your daughter had diarrhea for a month would qualify as too much information. at this point, it's enough to turn me off my crackers and crackers are all i have right …

love kills

movie review::king kong

peter jackson is remarkable. i’m still puzzling over how the director of trash-cult fare “meet the feebles” and “bad taste”, or the art-house staple “heavenly creatures” managed to convince a studio to give him the equivalent of the GDP of a small country to make a film version of lord of the rings, which most people would have considered an unmanageable proposition. but few would argue that he executed his vision with skill and that the money (from a business perspective) was well-invested.

so it should come as no great surprise that he was happily handed another tonne of money to go remake, king kong, the grand poobah of monster movies, released originally in 1933 and remade (badly) in 1976.

like lotr, this was a labour of love for jackson, who is, as always, deeply respectful of his source material. although the movie is double the length of the original, it incorporates all of the elements fans will remember from it. he even gives little winks to the ori…

unclear channel

tell clear channel to get with the program and allow the campaign for america's future to use the advertising space they paid for without censorship. you can modify the form letter they provide if, like me, you live outside the US but still think wal-mart is a cancer.

while youre at it, don't forget to rent wal-mart: the high cost of low price. i've now seen it and was surprised that, even though following the swath of destruction laid by wal-mart is sort of a hobby of mine, there were still nefarious deeds that i didn't know about.

ALBERT ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!

driving in toronto is the certain path to road rage at the best of times and when it snows, it's like they released the entire population of about seven lunatic asylums and gave them all cars. however, despite the snow and slow progress, i made it home fine, thanks in large part to the fact that i have albert as my intrepid silver steed. (please note, the photograph is not albert, but a reasonable facsimilie.) yeah, i anthropomorphise everything, but sometimes, you just have to form a bond with the machinery in your life.

my spirits are up already

sometimes, you can justify your existence on the planet through one single act. i'm not saying that giving jerry falwell a comeuppance is the only good thing this man has done. but i'm saying that he could have been a complete waste of space for the rest of his life and he still would have been judged a worthy man by his peers.

i only wish that it had been more money involved. might have shut falwell up...

my thermostat is broken

my internal thermostat, i mean. the one that regulates my body temperature.

i normally don't write about things at work, but i'm feverish and i can't help it. i sit in an office that has a door (a useless door that doesn't open, which i'm glad i found out this week as opposed to, say, during a fire) to the outside. the door has a draught coming through it that basically turns my office into the arctic circle. so after a couple of days of cold snap, i went to complain about this.

the response was succinct. "we know, we were wondering when you'd bring that up."

really? while you were wondering about it, did it occur to anyone to take some elementary steps to fix the problem? it's a draughty door frame, it's not like it requires a team of mechanical engineers.

so i got a space heater. the space heater blew out the power for me and my entire department (taking out someone's power while they're working on a presentation that's taken them…

and another thing

i've completely had it with christmas music.

every year, i try to stay out of stores until the need is dire and even then i find it difficult to cope standing in these places listening to the crap they play to try to create a mood. what mood are they going for anyway? the one that makes people show up at malls with automatic weapons?

look, i happen to think that some christmas carols are beautiful, as are many pieces of music written when the composer is high on god. that sort of mind set tends to get the creative juices flowing. similarly, i think that a lot of the pre-christian songs that have gotten sort of lumped in with the carols over time have a lot of merit.

BUT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP WITH THE CORNY HOLIDAY MUSIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and it isn't bad enough that every year of my miserable life i've been suffocated by these smarmy songs that seem designed to bring about suicidal thoughts in even the best-adjusted people. now you get "modern" ver…

it's going to be one of those weeks

"like a lot of you, i hate. but i hate with style and creativity." -henry rollins

ok, i'm not exactly sure what got me under such a black cloud today, but it's reached these epic proportions. it's like anyone who comes anywhere near me becomes the enemy. be happy you're viewing this over the internet, where i can't get you.

the roots of some of this go back to september. i was on a business trip and this had required me to bring a considerable amount of baggage (the physical, not the emotional kind) in the form of samples, etc. i ended up traveling with three bags that were really heavy. my strongest memory of this trip is me, struggling to get all of these bags off the carousel and onto a cart while the two men i was traveling with stood some distance off, drank coffee and giggled at the spectacle i was creating.

yesterday, i got ot see the flip side of my situation. a woman of my acquaintance, had managed to convince the director of her department to com…

movie review::syriana

just got back from seeing george clooney’s ambitious epic syriana, the latest manifestation of my increasing fascination with the middle east, its oil and the politics of the region.

under the tag line “everything is connected”, the film weaves together the stories of a rogue cia agent (clooney), a smart but naïve securities trader (matt damon), the royal family of an unnamed arabian emirate, a young pakistani worker for a major american oil company discovering the meaning of his faith and a morally conflicted lawyer trying to investigate the merger of two oil companies and to negotiate for them. That’s a lot of plot to fit into two hours.

unfortunately, the net result of the elaborate plotting is that the movie is almost incomprehensible at times, with references that never seem to get sorted out. also, the sheer number of characters who have active roles in the movie make it pretty much impossible to get any who are well-rounded and developed. instead, there is a parade of carica…

everybody's doing it

tv ads from a diy chain in germany feature the talents of blixa bargeld. for some reason, this one doesn't bother me as much as the dead kennedys thing (see rant below), perhaps because the ads themselves are just so weird and therefore do actually represent an aspect of the artist in question. i only wish the home depot would pick up this campaign...

on my list to santa claus

dental floss dispenser shaped like a pirhana. having this in the house would make me way more conscientious about the importance of flossing.

thanks to boing boing, again.

vote-o-matic

ok, it's not designed to tell you how to vote, but the cbc web site has a pretty cool thing that lets you see how your views align with the four major parties running in the current canadian election. no big surprise, i had the most views in common with the ndp. second most was the block quebecois, but i disagreed with their policies on federal-provincial relations and parliamentary reform. (i would argue that if you disagree with the bq on those two things, it doesn't really matter what you agree with them on...)

you knew we were having an election, right? and you're going to vote, right?

and on the other hand...

sometimes, there are stories you hear about bands that are just so ridiculous, you figure it's just something that the band made up to get attention, or an apocryphal story that has little basis in reality. like the one about how the members of the 80s-era experimental occult and murk collective metgumnerbone stopped recording because they were arrested for grave robbing in an attempt to procure instruments.

hey, what do you know? sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction and sometimes, those people you read about are every bit as weird as you could imagine.

the best thing about this article? seeing metgumnerbone refered to as a "weird pop group".

i feel unclean...

fridays are often frustrating and apparently today is no exception. the only reason i’m choosing to write about this particular friday is that one of those little aggravations just got under my skin.

i had to stop at a big, faceless electronics store in order to get ink cartridges for my prima donna printer. this is irritating in itself because a) i don’t understand why the printer refuses to print in black when it’s out of yellow ink and b) going to a big faceless electronics store is kind of like being transported to the third circle of hell as far as i’m concerned. could i get some service here? please? help me???? but i digress.

i had completed my task and was standing in the neverending line-up in the hopes that eventually someone would want to take money from me when i became aware of something that wasn’t quite right. at first, i couldn’t put my finger on it, but suddenly, the atmosphere had become slightly less objectionable. then it occured to me: i was hearing decent music.

pass the popcorn

listing of the 50 greatest independent films films ever. i don't agree 100%: i would have put dead man or mystery train on the list if i were chosing a jim jaramusch film over stranger than paradise. i always thought that sex, lies and videotape, while interesting, is overrated. ditto the passion of the christ and blair witch project.

on the other hand, i think there are also some films that really deserve to be on this kind of list, either because they've been unfairly neglected or because they are just that good.