Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Simple math

I'm currently listening to Matthew Good's new disc, Hospital Music. Considering it's largely based on the near total mental collapse he had last year, it's about as cheery as you might expect, especially considering it's Good. And yet, I'm oddly captivated by it so far.

A couple of links to stories that caught my eye today.

1.
The first
has to do with a web chat J.K Rowling gave the other day about Harry Potter. It's interesting to see how eager Rowling is to discuss details about the characters in the book and what happens next in their lives after they leave school. She obviously has it all thought out, but the fact that she's willing to blab it like this (and the Potter Encyclopedia that she's apparently working on, proceeds to charity), I really think she really believes she's done with the characters. It might change in 10 years time, but for right now, I believe her when she says she has no more plans for them.

Obviously, proceed at your own risk as there are major spoilers.

2. I very rarely mention the bottom feeding celebrity whores on this blog. I always felt the more attention you give to the Hilton's, Spears's and Lohan's of the world, the more oxygen you're giving to them and the media that seems fascinated by them. It's best to just starve them (not really much effort required, when you think about it) and hope they eventually fade away.

And yet I thought of them after reading an article in Newsweek and a blog post by Wil Weaton. They both mentioned that Danica McKellar has a new book out.

Who is McKellar? Well, she used to play Winnie on The Wonder Years and was the crush of many teenager boy in the 90s. I was always too old and never really got into the show, but I still appreciate what she's trying to do with her book - Math Doesn't Suck. Seems after the show finished, she went to UCLA, got a degree in mathematics and actually has her name on a math equation.

The book is to help make young girls realize that math isn't hard, give them tips, make them find their voice and has profiles on other women mathematicians.

Even with all that, it might not have been enough for me to comment on the blog. But then there's this quote from her...

"When girls see the antics of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, they think that being fun and glamorous also means being dumb and irresponsible," says McKellar. "But I want to show them that being smart is cool. Being good at math is cool. And not only that, it can help them get what they want out of life."


And later...

"I want to tell girls that cute and dumb isn't as good as cute and smart."


God love her. I mean, the book isn't perfect and certainly won't be for everyone. But hey, at least she's trying. And the more stories that focus on this rather than the unholy trio, the happier I'll be.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Time flies

This time last year myself and Cathy were setting off to do some exploring around San Francisco. It was, as I recall, a nice day bumbling around Fisherman's Wharf, followed by me getting a sunburn because I failed to wear a hat, cued up by dinner at a restaurant where Cathy had to explain to the bartender how to make a Caesar.

As ways of celebrating your first wedding anniversary go, it wasn't a bad way to do things. Certainly much better than how we're celebrating our second anniversary, which is to say being celebrated by a couple of thousand kilometres. We knew ages ago that it was going to work out this way. Still, it kind of sucks. I tend to make a bigger deal out of events like this than she does (although to her credit, she remembered the anniversary. She'll be the first to admit she has a terrible memory for dates), but I think we both would have liked to have been together today.

Not that there would be a big gift exchange or anything like that. We likely would have just had a nice normal day, gone out somewhere nice for supper (which we'll do this Saturday when I get home) and have just generally been content in the knowledge that two years in our marriage seems to be going pretty well. And that makes me pretty happy.

At least we'll make up for this year for our third anniversary if all goes according to plan. We should be somewhere in Italy for that anniversary. Which isn't too shabby at all.

Oh, on a completely unrelated note, I've opened the comments section up again to anonymous comments. I know not everyone has a blogger account, and I do like the feedback. I only closed it while I was reading the last Potter book. The usual caveat, of course. If I get abusive anonymous comments then I will close it again.

Edit: I nearly forgot, we are doing 2nd anniversary CDs for a select few people. However, as it will be several weeks until some of them can get their CDs I'm holding off saying what this year's playlist is. Once most of them have their discs, I'll post it on the blog.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

More con

Sorry, I can't help myself with this con stuff. My inner geek is bursting with envy.

Anyway, enjoy this while you can as there's no telling when the studio will pull the plug on this. It's a preview of next year's Iron Man movie, staring Robert Downey Jr, among many others. It's pretty crappy footage shot by a guy with a camcorder. But it still looks pretty cool and you can hear how excited the audience is by what they're seeing.

I always knew Downey would be good choice for the role of Tony Stark. He's got the right level of charm, arrogance and wit to make it work.



Let's see, what else....how about a few people blogging about their experiences at the con that I've been enjoying - Neil Gaiman, Wil Wheaton and Bully, a stuffed, well, Bull.

For every very weird costume...



There's at least one family friendly one.




And finally, best quote of the con so far, of course, from Warren Ellis.

And the bay, which has featured military vessels from time to time. I may have occasionally stood at the window with a small drink in my hand exhorting them to turn their guns on the con center. Because you can't trust those furries. Any one of them could be Osama. Open up the big cannons on the fuckers and let their yiffy god sort them out.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Doing the splits

I haven't commented before now on the provincial government's decision to split Memorial University of Newfoundland and Wilfred Grenfell College because I kept feeling like I was missing part of the equation. As if there was more information that I wasn't getting and I wanted to have that before commenting.

Besides, the two main sides in this debate are two organizations I haven't agreed with much. Not agreeing with Premier Danny Williams and his government's decisions is a more recent thing. But I have a long history of not agreeing with MUN that goes back until at least 1988. Hell, some of the best traffic this blog has ever seen came from my horror over MUN's new logo last year.

Still, one wants to leave MUN whole, the other wants to split it. One of them has to be wrong.

But here's the thing, I haven't read a really convincing argument to split Grenfell and MUN. Oh sure, there's the grumbling about being run from St. John's and not having enough say in how Grenfell is run. But that's hardly cause to split the two in half.

And even in this CBC story the provincial government is still not offering any solid reasons on why this should happen, other than they say it's going to happen. Which doesn't strike me as being a particularly good reason for doing something.

Meanwhile, The Telegram unleashes a really solid editorial showing why this is a remarkably short-sighted and stupid idea (kudos to the editorial writer, by the way. Perhaps it's my imagination but the Telly's editorial writing has been especially good in recent months). That it would produce an unnecessary duplication in bureaucracy, that it will cost a lot more money, that it will harm both the St. John's and Corner Brook campuses at a time when it's becoming harder and harder to draw students.

Really, anyone can see this is the government trying to suck up to the Corner Brook area during a provincial election. It would strike me as a fairly obvious ploy. But then again, Williams and his government haven't been exactly subtle in their vote buying this summer. I can see how you might get numbed after being sledgehammered that often. I guess the government believes if you're not an idiot yet, then you will be after they've repeatedly smacked you in the head with all of these partisan spending announcements.

Thank god I'll only be home for two weeks of this madness. A concentrated burst of it might drive me mad.

But anyway, I'm agreeing with MUN on this one. I'm trying to recall how often that's happened. I'm not sure I'll be needing my second hand to assist with the counting...

Friday, July 27, 2007

More Nerd Prom

See, this is why you have to love San Diego. It's just the geeky gifts that keep on giving. Say, would you like a teaser trailer for next year's Batman: The Dark Knight? Here you go then...



How about a release date for the adaptation of Watchmen, perhaps the greatest comic book ever created - March 6, 2009. Which is a sucky amount of time away, but all right. And hey, here's a link to the first poster and the website (although admittedly there's not much there yet.

How about (and I think Kirsten will like this one) the poster for the Sweeney Todd movie coming out at Christmas



Karen Allen being back for the fourth Indiana Jones movie actually makes me excited about the project for the first time. And, while this picture isn't perfect, it looks like she's aged a damn sight better than Harrison Ford.



Also, don't forget to check out the Flick pool where you can see groups of fans, like these brave ladies and, of course, Elvis.



Oh, and as an aside, here's what Daniel Radcliffe thought about The Deathly Hallows. It's Entertainment Weekly, so don't expect anything too deep, but I found it interesting. And obviously, there are spoilers for those who haven't read the book.

I might try and do a review over the weekend, if I can figure out a way of posting it without ruining things for causal blog readers who haven't started the book yet. Short synopsis - I liked it, but it's not the best in the series.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Rain on me

Just before I left work at lunch time Tom Waits began to croak via my iPod "Why's it always got to rain on me?", which was appropriate enough given the weather outside. Raining again in Iqaluit. The weather has been almost unrelenting unpleasant for most of July. When there hasn't been ice lingering for weeks longer than anticipated, it's either been foggy, cloudy, raining or cold. And, in some magical cases, all of it at once. I actually saw ice back in the bay today. It's July 26. That's really depressing.

I know people like to lament about the weather. It's a grand Canadian tradition. Hell, it's apparently also the last refuge for bloggers with nothing better to talk about. I've been hearing some complaining back in Newfoundland about the summer they're having so far.

But I think it's worse if you live here. The window for summer in Iqaluit is very, very narrow. Much more narrow than Newfoundland. You have July and August. That's it. Sometimes you don't even get that. So having a sucky month, as we are right now, tends to get people down. When you have a short summer, you really savor it.

But all this rain and cold takes the joy out of things. Iqaluit is not a town at its best when it rains. It gets mucky everywhere and the roads quickly become filled with potholes. Even when it gets sunny now, there's so many standing pools of water that swarms of mosquitoes spring forth in numbers large enough to carry off a decent sized caribou.

So yes, summer 07 is a fairly dismal affair so far.

On a positive note, I finally got my Harry Potter this afternoon. The one Cathy sent me via Expresspost. This blog is being written during a short break from the book, otherwise I'm just going to burn through it and not enjoy it as I should.

The downside is my request to Chapters to cancel my order was apparently rejected another copy is on the way. It was sent five days after the initial release date. I'm more than a little annoyed by that. Annoyed enough that the book is coming home with me and is being returned to Chapters in St. John's, which I can do, apparently.

Anyway, I'm off to read some more Potter and listen to the rain pelt down.

The con is on

Right now a small frenzy is happening in Southern California as the annual San Diego ComicCon kicks into full gear. Approximately 150,000 geeks and their drug dealers are swarming the city until Sunday.

By the way, when I saw drug dealers, I don’t mean literally people selling crack and heroin, although I have no doubt there are few of those kicking around the city. No, these are people supplying geeks with the stuff to satisfy their habit. You may call them businessmen or women. I prefer to label them for what they are. They are supplying comic books, action figures, odd paraphernalia, science fiction oddities or whatever. If you’re a geek and you’re jonesing, then the ComicCon is the o.d. for your habit.

I know that many of the people who read this blog have little or no interest in comic books. However, as I believe Neil Gaiman put it, comic books are the tail that wags the dog at this thing. Gaiman, for example, is not there to promote a novel or a comic book, but rather two movies. The adaptation of his illustrated novel Stardust, which is coming out in two weeks, and for his screenplay adaptation of Beowulf, which is coming out at Christmas. Plenty of other movies will also be getting sneak peaks at the con in an attempt to build buzz before they open.

However, if you want to get an idea of what it’s like, just click on pretty much any of the links under the “Geek” section of the sidebar and you’ll get a small dose of what the insanity that is the Con is like.

And yeah, I’ll be checking out the announcements, because I am a big comic geek. The names of new writers, artists and storylines actually matter to me, sadly enough. Although my favourite announcement so far, although it’s early, is that porn star Jenna Jameson will be starring in a comic book called “Shadow Hunter” for, wait for it, Virgin Comics.

I’ll also be checking out this site.

One of the things that amuses me the most about the con are the costumes. And thanks to the joys of digital and cell phone cameras and photo websites, now everyone can get an idea of what it’s like at the con, and the types of costumes people are wearing. Yes, some of them are lame, although there’s something about the lameness that makes it endearing. The Elvis (Elvi?) Stormtroopers will no doubt show up, although the Samurai Stormtroopers from a couple of years ago are my favourite.

And, of course, there are plenty of women who think it’s a good idea to dress up in skin-tight and revealing costumes surrounded by thousands of geeks, many of whom are probably still virgins.

I really would like to go to this madhouse one day. Almost arranged it last year, but given the size of this con and how fast hotel rooms disappear, you almost need to plan a trip a year in advance. As it stands, the earliest I could see us making it back to San Diego will be in 2010. The tentative plan is to go to Costa Rica that year for a couple of weeks, and then maybe pop up to San Diego for the con and then perhaps back to San Francisco to visit friends. But we shall see. That year also marks the end of our original five year plan for the North. I suspect that’s going to be a summer of transitions for us.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for some quick amusement, check out some of the sites. If nothing else, you have to admire the enthusiasm.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

She's stealthy

Stayed home today as I woke up, felt like crap, called in sick and proceeded to sleep for another five hours. It's not often I'll sleep for 13 hours with hardly any interruption, so it's safe to say I'm fighting something.

I forgot to mention an amusing conversation I had with Cathy a couple of days ago. I'd type it up as a "Conversation with Cathy", but I forgot the exact details of who said what, just that it amused me greatly.

As I might have mentioned before, we're going on a cruise over Christmas this year. The original plan was to do a Panama Canal cruise, however that's not happening. We can't find a cruise ship going through the canal during our admittedly limited window. So we've been looking at some south Caribbean trips.

I've done some research and so has Cathy. She's gone to a travel agent in St. John's and we've narrowed it down to one or two trips. One of them starts on Dec. 24. However, her vacation time begins Dec. 20. Which I thought was a nice window to get to Florida. Weather up here in December can be very volatile, so it's nice to have the extra couple of days cushioning.

Cathy had other thoughts. Which lead to a delightfully coy conversation where she pointed out that instead of flying straight into Fort Lauderdale, we could instead, y'know, fly into Orlando. And maybe, y'know, kill a day or two as Disney or Epcott before getting on the cruise.

I laughed for about five minutes. I really can't do justice to the voice she used. Coy, sly and amused all at the same time. And really, how can I say no to such brazenness.

So it appears for the second time in less than 18 months we will be visiting a Disney. At least I'm somewhat reassured that she won't try and squeeze Euro Disney into our Italian trip next year. She's already been there and thought it sucked. And hey, at least it's not a Disney cruise.

So, barring any changes, Disney and 11 days on a cruise ship. Not a bad way to spend the holidays.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sledgehammer

Yeah, so I haven't been posting much the last few days. A small burst of inspiration around the book (as in figuring out how to start it) was one cause of distraction. The other is it's been generally a crappy day. I'm not talking a spectacularly crappy day, by any stretch. Just combinations of little things. The weather was awful today - almost Newfoundland-ish, with the cold, fog, damp, rain and wind. On top of that I feel like I've been hit with a small truck. Some kind of bug.

And yeah, I miss Cathy. Sue me, I'm sappy.

I also notice that I've been writing blog posts in streaks lately. Not so much sitting down every night and writing something, so much as sitting down every couple of days and managing to find about a half dozen things to write about. The downside to that is sometimes you get dry spells in having anything to talk about.

Like now, for example. This is a post pretty much about nothing. But hey, I just wanted people to know that I'm not dead. And, miracle upon miracles, Harry Potter remains unspoiled for me. As of this morning Chapters had still not sent my copy of the book. So to hell with it, I cancelled the order. Cathy put her copy in the mail this morning via Expresspost, so hopefully I should get it in a couple of days.

I know that might seem silly, but those Expresspost envelopes are ruthlessly abused by people in the north. For about $18 you can cram an awful lot into one of those envelopes. Cathy and her mom are experts at it by now. So Potter and a ton of other stuff should be arriving shortly.

All I have to do is last a couple of more days. So far, so good.

Oh, and to those people who sent me electronic copies of the book...thank you. That was most kind, but I'm stubbornly holding out for the card copy of the book. Although if I don't get anything by the end of the week, I may well cave.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Potter-free

As best I can figure, I think Iqaluit must be the only place with 5,000 or more people in it in the western world that doesn't have a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for sale. A quick wander around town this afternoon showed no copies for sale at either North Mart or Arctic Ventures and if it's not in either of those places, then it's not for sale yet up here.

I confess to being a touch surprised. I figured there would be a few copies for sale somewhere today, but the people I asked at the stores said none had come in and they didn't know if any were coming in. Yes, I know that they can't match the prices of places like Chapters or Amazon, which are selling them at well below cost. But not everyone in town can access those stores. Not everyone has internet access. And not everyone has the necessary credit card.

So in the middle of the Potter frenzy, Iqaluit remains a Potter-free zone. I suspect some of you are booking your tickets as you read this.

As for me, this is presenting an interesting quandary. I've ordered the book from Chapters, but according to the website my book hasn't even shipped yet. So while I was anticipating receiving it by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, instead I find myself faced the possibility that it might not arrive next week at all.

For those of you wondering why they weren't delivered today like most of the rest of Canada, that service wasn't available for the north. Beyond me why. It would have been easier here than most of the rest of Canada. Instead of having letter carriers running around town all day, as they did in St. John's, all the local post office had to do was open for a couple of hours this afternoon and distribute the books to the people who ordered them. Silly why that never happened, really.

This is problematic because the longer I go without a copy of the book, the greater the possibility the book will be spoiled for me. Mainstream media and others were reasonable good last week when the book was leaked about not revealing plot points. If you wanted to have it spoiled, you certainly had no problems finding places willing to do that for you. but if you wanted to preserve the secret, you could do it without too much difficulty.

But now with the book out, most people are going to assume that you will have finished reading it by tomorrow evening at the absolute latest. So the discretion in not revealing plot points is going to go right out the window. I can't go a week or more without checking news sites. Hell, it's part of my job to check news sites.

This is grim stuff. I think if I go out tomorrow and some copies magically appear I'll probably crack and buy one and donate it to the library afterwards.

It's not often I've been frustrated with some of the isolation and challenges that come with living in the north. You tend to get zen about these things after awhile or you go mad. But this is one of those times.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Order of the Phoenix review

There are spoilers for the book and movie in this post. It's also long. You are duly warned.

Order of the Phoenix was always going to be a tricky bit of business to adapt. Despite its many charms, the novel remains probably the weakest of the Harry Potter novels. I always wonder if that’s not due to the circumstances surrounding when the novel was being written.

When Rowling was writing Order of the Phoenix, Pottermania had just hit full bloom. The first three books had been popular, but it was Goblet of Fire that blew things out of the water. Then there was the making of the first movie.

That’s a lot of distractions and pressures for an author. I also can’t help but wonder if her publishers decided to just let her write whatever the hell she wanted and didn’t impose enough editorial control on her.

How else to explain the rambling opening of Order of the Phoenix? Yes, I can understand Rowling wanting to do more than just hit plot points. That she wanted to develop her characters. But she had four basic plot points to hit in those first 150 pages. That Harry was attacked by Dementors, which meant a new threat to him, the trial at the Ministry of Magic, the establishment of the Order of the Phoenix and getting him to school.

Instead we get pages and pages or Harry raging, Sirius sulking and people housecleaning. Captivating stuff.

I say all of this in the preamble to show just how tough adapting the book into a movie was going to be. There are vast swaths to purge, but also trying to retain the charm of the books. The stuff that everyone enjoys reading and, so far, enjoys watching on the big screen. It’s also why I had mixed feelings going into the movie. If it was the book I enjoyed the least, how was that going to work out for the movie?

Surprisingly well, in reality. It’s not my favourite of the movies. The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Philosopher’s Stone keep that title. But I think it’s better than Chamber of Secrets and Goblet of Fire. And a large part of that credit ought to go to the screenplay of Michael Goldenberg.

It’s not just that Goldenberg had a lot to purge from the books to make a two hour plus movie that was still comprehensible. He also took stuff from Rowling’s book and made it better. He tweaked plot points. Took stuff that I found unsatisfactory and made them work.

For example, the whole relationship with Cho and how it ended. They kind of drifted apart in the book. In the movie, it’s handled better. The DA thinks she betrays them to Umbridge and later discovers that she had no choice, as Umbridge used a truth serum on her. It's a little tweak, but it pays off nicely once the leads realize they were wrong about her and feel guilty.

Or how about the fact that a bunch of school kids couldn’t beat, or even hold off for long, a group of seasoned, vicious Death Eaters. Which makes more sense than what happens in the book.

Even the scene at the end where Voldemort tries to possess Harry is handled differently. In the book, it’s just a quick bit at the end of a climatic battle before Voldemort flees. There’s not much to it. In the movie, it is the climax of the battle, with real emotional power. Can Harry, who just lost Sirius and is filled with rage and grief, actually prevent Voldemort from possessing him?

Also a nod for Luna Lovegood, a character that did not charm me in the books as much as she does others. But a combination of his writing and a surprisingly good job for first time actress Evanna Lynch won me over. Luna is a touch otherworldly, definitely a bit crazy, but kind of sad and tragic. Yet she brings humour to the movie. That’s a neat trick.

So if the writing is so good, then what’s the problem with the movie that makes me put it in the middle? A couple of things. While I can offer up high praise for most of the acting, the chemistry between the three leads is surprisingly flat. I attribute this to two reasons. First, Daniel Radcliffe has come a long, long way. He has to because so much of the screen time his devoted to him. If he couldn’t act, the movies would be a disaster. But this is probably his best performance yet as Harry.

At the other end of the spectrum is Emma Watson, who looked surprisingly like she was reading her lines off-screen. That, along with the lack of screen time of the three of them together, kind of sucked some of the joy from the movie. The interaction between the three of them has always been the heart of the series.

The rest of the cast is, of course, uniformly excellent. Although a special hat tip to Imelda Staunton for the wonderfully evil Delores Umbridge. I’m trying to think of a better villain on screen this decade. I’m hard pressed to come up with one. When you steal villainy from Lord Voldemort, you’re doing something all right.

The other problem with the movie is the direction and look. David Yates doesn’t quite do it for me. Perhaps because the first three-quarters of the movie a bit of a downer and seems awfully grey. The light, colour and magic from the first four movies is missing. And yes, this could be a tone he was deliberately going for because the characters are going through dark and uncertain times and dealing with the bureaucrat from hell.

There’s just a lack of flare in the movie sometimes (although there were flashes, like all of the proclamations and the wall of cats). For all that I was impressed with the writing, I do wish Yates could have added more zip to the proceedings. The ending is terrific, with really tense action sequences, plenty of magical battles and a couple of emotionally devastating scenes. But the lead-up can be a bit dry sometimes.

It’s a good Potter and I hope to see it again. With some luck in 3-D IMAX in Ottawa next month. I’ll be curious to see what my second impression of the movie will be.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

80s TV flashback

There’s a danger in nostalgia television. For every old show from you childhood that you liked and has held up - say MASH or WKRP in Cincinnati - there are whole hosts of them that don’t age particularly well. It’s why I have steadfastly refused to watch the 70s version of Battlestar Galactica. It was a show that was never going to age particularly well, but I imagine now looks horrific in comparison to the recent version of the show, which is routinely cited as one of the best on television.

But I found out there are two of my childhood favourite shows coming out on DVD this week and next. And I find myself debating whether or not I need them. Not only because of the whole “how well have these shows aged”, but also that the last couple of sets we’ve bought – Space: Above and Beyond, and The Flash – have not proven to be as entertaining the second time around as they had been in my memory.



Next week we have Benson. I can’t tell you why I liked Benson so much as a kid as it was obviously aimed at adults. It was a spin-off of the comedy Soap!, which I never watched. But I liked Benson. As I recall, I think it might be because I found it funny. And that it lasted seven seasons does give some credence to that idea. It also helps that Robert Guillaume was a pretty funny actor. And his character was quite sarcastic. Even at a young age, I could really appreciate good sarcasm.

The other show didn’t last nearly as long as Benson. One inglorious season where, if I recall, NBC threw it into the death slot up against 60 Minutes at a time when that show was averaging about 30 million viewers a week. But I loved Voyagers. The premise of the show had great appeal to me. It was about a 12 year old boy who was ridiculously knowledgeable about history, got to travel through time and, with help from a buff but stupid guide, fix history when it went off track.



(One of the show’s stars, Jon Erik Hexum, achieved lasting notoriety after Voyagers ended when he accidentally shot himself in the head with a gun containing blanks while on the set of a new show. It’s just one of those things that is so unbelievably weird that it sticks in your brain.)

And it just so happened that when the show aired I was a 12 year old boy who was ridiculously knowledgeable about history and certainly wouldn’t have minded going on some adventures if it got me out of Virginia Park. So yeah, the show had some appeal to me.

But whereas I might have caught the odd episode of Benson somewhere and have a vague idea of how it aged, I haven’t seen Voyagers since it aired. Shows that last one season from back in the early 80s don’t tend to get repeated a lot. So I have no idea how well it’s held up. If I had to guess, probably not that well. I suspect a very high cheese factor. I also wonder how good the quality of the video will be.

Will I end up buying them? Depends. I suspect it will take a moment of weakness when I’m home. Still, at least the notion that the shows are out there bring back a flash of memory of crappy tv shows of my youth. I had the real roll going there for awhile, what with following Manimal, Misfits of Science, The Powers of Matthew Starr and Automan. I also remember being confused when the shows were cancelled. I liked them and thought they were cool. Didn’t everyone?

Ah, my first introduction into the wonders of network television. Just because you like something, doesn’t mean it won’t get cancelled from out underneath you. Or that it was any good in the first place, to be brutally honest.

But one DVD set I will be buying in a few weeks will be The Tick vs. Season 2. Spoooon!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

In vein

Obviously the most anticipated novel of the summer of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. And we’re getting down to hours now until the book’s release. In preparation I’ve finished rereading Order of the Phoenix (actually not as bad as I thought, although my original assessment that 100 pages could have been cut from the book and it would be a better read still stands) and I’m going through the Half-Blood Prince as we speak. So I should be ready for The Deathly Hallows when I get it next week.

This should also serve as a mention that if anyone posts anything in the way of a spoiler to this blog about what happens in the book, I will hunt them down and do terrible things to them. Things that will make their mothers weep. Just so you know.

In fact, I think I'm going to kill the ability to anonymous post on the blog from the period of time between the book's release, until I finish it, just to be on the safe side.

However, the book that I’m looking forward to the most after Potter, and it’s a close second for me, is Warren Ellis’s Crooked Little Vein. You would be hard pressed to find a book more the opposite of Deathly Hallows. This is pretty much the anti-Christ to Potter. If possible this book would sodomize Harry Potter, piss on him, kick him in the balls wall while cracking his wand in half. And it would laugh while doing it.

Lord Volemort? Pussy.

That’s where this book is.

This might be disturbing to some of you, but I so thoroughly love most of Ellis’s comic book writing that I can’t help but look forward to see what he can do with straight prose. Which, despite what some of you might think, is a different kind of writing than what you would do in comic books.

The book comes out next Tuesday, mere days after Potter. Chapters is doing weird things about its availability, having gone from Pre-order now, to temporarily unavailable to order to takes 3-5 weeks to ship. So I'm holding back and see what is going on before ordering (they just cancelled an order I had been waiting a month for, so I'm right to be cautious). If they don’t get it straightened out, I’ll just look for it when I get home.

In the meantime, if you want to see what I’m writing about, Amazon has put the first chapter online here.

Favourite bit so far…

I smiled, shook my head. “It’s just what TV does to us. You say ‘chief of staff’ and I expect John Spencer from The West Wing, you know? I don’t suppose you’re a genial man of Chicago with a drinking problem, right?”

“Hell, no. I take heroin, son.”

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Solo mission

I might have let slip once or twice that some of my friends are a touch on the unhinged side. My wife has expressed concern more than once at my casually mentioning some act of pure madness that my friends have engaged upon in the past.

And the list is long. Much too long to get into here. In fact one, if so inclined, could fill a book with it. But for the sake of simplicity, let's just pick a mild and recent act of madness, shall we?

So I get a phone call from Mr. and Mrs. Smith in Nebraska. I thought the call might be venting about the latest political outrages in the United States. Or perhaps some good news on a subject I've been sworn to secrecy on. But no, instead they had a...request.

"We want to send you something to keep you entertained while Cathy is away," they said.

"Well, that's thoughtful, but I really don't need all of Mr. Smith's old porn," I replied.

"No, no," came the some indignant reply (one suspects Mr. Smith wasn't parting with the old porn). "We're going to send you a life-sized cutout and we want you to take photos of him around town."

"Why?"

"Why not? You got anything better to do this summer?"

Fair enough point. Which is how, on Friday, Han Solo came to end up in possession. Costing more in postage, I might add, than the 40 kg TV set we bought 18 months ago.

So yeah, I now have a six foot tall cardboard cutout of Han Solo in my possession. My mission to to now take Han around town over the next couple of weeks and get weird photos of him. So here's a little warm-up of what to expect over the next few weeks.


Han posing in the living room.



Sadly, even while on vacation in the north, there's no shortage of danger, as Darth Tater has the drop on him.



But Han has some luck on his side, as jedis Yoda and Mickey are around to keep Darth Tater in line.

If you can think of other adventures for Han to have in town, or if you wish to participate in his adventures, drop me a line and let me know.

Crazy time

I've checked and apparently there's no full moon this weekend. We've got another week until there's a full moon.

Understand, I know that with this much daylight the odds of me actually seeing a full moon are pretty much non-existent. However, I believe there is something to the theory that people get a little crazier when the moon is full, even if you can't see it. I don't know why that's the case, but I've spoken to a few mental health professionals in my day and they certainly dread full moons.

So I guess the recent craziness has to do with the daylight. I tell people things get a little nutty with 24 hours of daylight, but they never really seem to grasp it.

Granted, so far this weekend we haven't had the zaniness of last weekend. No gunfire, so far as I know. Here are a few takes on that.

I managed to avoid most of that, but I guess they've migrated down by way this weekend. It got started with a drunk woman stumbling around screaming "Fuck!" and awful lot, and weaving in front of vehicles. The RCMP eventually picked her up and carted her away. Which I thought was the end of it, until I awoke to her dulcet tones of "Fuck you, you motherfucker. I just got out of jail" this morning around 9 a.m. A quick glance outside indicated just that and apparently a night in the jail had made her no more sober.

This evening got rolling with a fight outside my window with some guy, once again, screaming "Fuck!" a lot (If I could have dollar for every time I've heard it said this weekend, I would march into work on Monday and promptly quit), throwing a few "Whore" and "Slut" just for good measure. There was also an exchange where he insinuated the woman he was screaming at had fucked his sister and given her an STD and that she has also, in fact, fucked everybody in Iqaluit.

As you can imagine, that was a bit of a surprise to me. I felt like yelling out the window and correcting him, but it's often wise to just stay our of these matters.

And now I have 10 year old kids running around outside screaming and shouting "fuck" an awful lot. It's about midnight.

So far, knock on wood, the car remains unscathed. That might not hold, but I really do believe the volume of cameras on the outside of the building helps.

The mayor of town, in the CBC story, blames the increased daylight, saying people are staying up later and creating more mischief. And she's right, of course. It's the sun, not the moon, driving the loons. Still, it does require a degree of patience when things are getting a touch on the ridiculous.

I'm compensating by rereading "Order of the Phoenix" and listening to Patton Oswalt's new comedy CD "Werewolves and Lollipops". Because really, if I have to listen to someone scream "Fuck!" a lot, then at the very least they can be funny...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Scrabbling about

I've come to the conclusion that it is not Facebook alone that will destroy my life. No, I like it, but up until recently I wasn't spending hours and hours addicted to the site. Certain the fact that work blocks Facebook helps as I suspect many of my friends who manage to waste hours and hours on the site do so at work.

No, is is now my ability to now play Scrabble on Facebook that will destroy my life. It's the first time I've been able to play a game in years since Cathy hates it.

Early in our relationship, after a particularly disastrous game of Trivia Pursuit, myself and Cathy came to an agreement to not play games where one person has a clear, vast superiority in skill. Because it sucks to be constantly losing with no hope of victory for years. So we do not play most versions of Trivia Pursuit or Scrabble because of me and we don't play Disney Trivia Pursuit and Monopoly, where she is an evil, ninja wench. For awhile Guitar Hero was in danger of falling into that category, but Cathy's skill has improved considerably to where we're now evenly matched.

But Scrabble is proving to be addictive. It's been at least three years since I've had a game. I'm in the middle of three right now at the same time. And yes, one friend is beating me soundly in my first game, and the second game is stalled until OM can get more reliable internet access.

But the other day I put down "tea" for 23 points in a game with two friends and I was still cackling hours later. Because hell, 23 points isn't much, but it's where I put it down that makes me ever so happy. And let's face it, 23 points on "tea" is still pretty damn good.

But it's not that I can now play Scrabble with friends that will ruin me. In a face-to-face game, if you spend more than 10 minutes trying to come up with a word, you will get surly looks. As one friend said, if you go 20 minutes, people will just get fed up with you and either quit or start forcing tiles down your throat. But playing it online like this means you can literally spend hours trying to find the perfect word in the perfect spot. Because the game is likely going to take days to complete anyway, so why not take your time with a move.

This is bad. Trust me.

Clearly I need help. Especially if I want to get going on that novel. Hopefully the weather will suck this weekend and it will force me to stay in and write. And that everyone will be too busy to play...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Why don't you listen?

OK, so clearly you people have not listened to me about the whole Tara Oram/Canadian Idol thing. I asked you, heck even begged and pleaded with people, to just ignore the show. Turn it off, go out and have a drink. And if you felt any guilt about not being there to support a Newfoundland girl in her attempts to get fame and fortune...go downtown and watch a band play. Or go buy a Colleen Power CD.

Then again, you should all be buying Colleen Power CDs anyway.

But noooo, you went and sat in front of the TV and watched Idol and then scrambled off to payphones or whipped out your cell phones and began the same doomed campaign that’s happened each year for the past five years – trying to get a Newfoundlander to win a reality TV show talent contest.

Good on ya, she’s in the Top 10. I now wash my hands of all you. Go begin your silly campaign to have her win the show. Organize your little armies to make sure as many Newfoundlanders as possible can vote for her. Be sure to call VOCM’s Open Line when you can’t get through and darkly mention conspiracies against Newfoundlanders by Aliant, CTV and Stephen Harper.

"It's bad enough he doesn't give us the offshore revenues, Randy, but now he won't even give us an Idol winner."

And God help us all if she makes it to the final two and loses. By all means, feel free to lose your shit and please make sure it gets picked up by national media who will once again wonder if we’re not all retarded for believing our identity as Newfoundlanders is some how tied to the success of a person on this show.

This is the best part, though. When she doesn’t win, promptly forget she ever existed and repeat again next summer with the next helpless victim of this show’s grist mill. How are Craig Sharpe and Jason Greeley doing these days? Buy many of their records lately?

I despair sometimes. I really do.

Not getting better, in fact getting worse

When I was reading For Better Or For Worse last week I knew that somewhere out in the great wild Internet, there were thousands of hardcore fans collectively losing their shit. After years and years of building up that this was coming, Lynn Johnson finally dropped the bomb and hooked up Elizabeth and Anthony. The blind could have spotted this coming years ago, but still I knew there would be people shocked and horrified.

Although I don't get how you could be shocked. It's a four panel strip that runs daily. There are limits to the format and Johnson welds foreshadowing with all the subtlety of a drag queen using eye shadow.

I debated going and looking for the howls for cheap amusement. Fortunately, you can just go here and get all the links. Howehttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifver, if you have to read just one, then Shaenon Garrity’s is top of the class for committed and detailed ranting on the subject.

Oh, and there's also this.

I’ve written about the unhinged nature of FBOFW fandom (I think it’s actually supposed to be FOOB and fans are FOOBies, but that’s a path I simply can’t wander down) before so that fans are going batshit is not a surprise. And I guess I shouldn’t mock too hard. People can be very protective over their comic strips. And this one has been going a lot longer than most. People are pretty deeply invested in the characters.

And least we forget, in the geek hierarchy, they're not even that scary. We're not talking furries here.

But man, do they hate Anthony. There are Jews who hate Hitler less than some of these fans hate Anthony.

I’ve been following the strip for decades and I’m fairly ambivalent about this turn of events. It’s not like you couldn’t see this coming and while I like the strip, I’m not really that inclined to get deep into the psychology of Johnson on why she choose to hook these two back up again. In fact, if I had to get upset with anything Johnson’s done in the strip recently, it would be the two weeks prior to the Liz/Anthony hook-up, where readers were subjected to an agonizing two week lecture on why it is bad to make fun of disabled children, especially if you’re in high school, and that we should treat them with respect.

I’ve been kicked in the balls with more subtlety. It was that, more than anything else, that made me think that Johnson needs to wrap things up real soon now.

It’s a hard thing to know when to wrap things up and to do it gracefully. For every Bill Watterson who knew when to walk away from Calvin and Hobbes, there are dozens more than outstayed their welcome. I think Johnson has outstayed her welcome.

That makes it all the more pity that things aren’t going to wrap up cleanly. When she first announced that she was wrapping up the strip, then I was a touch sad, but felt that was fine. It had a great run, why not end things on her terms rather than hiring someone else to write and draw it.

Now it’s my understanding that we’re going to be doing a recap strip. A panel of Michael and Liz looking at a photo album and remember back to when they were kids, and then reprinting strips for 20 years ago. The characters will also cease to age.

It’s her strip and Johnston can feel free to do what she wants with it. However, once the last original strip runs, I think that marks the end of my morning ritual or checking in and seeing how they’re all doing.

I’ll miss it, but at least I’ll leave it with my sanity intact. The same can’t be said for some of the other people who have followed the strip over the years.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A stroll along the beach

So Monday was Nunavut Day. And while there were plenty of activities going on, I tended to stray away from them.

No doubt this will fire up some of the "only children are damaged" debate, but I get like this when I'm solo as I am right now. I'm happily married, however it's been a long, patient struggle on both myself and Cathy's part to overcome my loner tendencies. I very much value my privacy and time alone. Some people can't handle being alone and have to be out and about. I couldn't be more comfortable being on my own. I have endless things to entertain me.

So when I swung over to the Legislature looking for a muskox burger (alas, I arrived too late) and then headed over the the Cadet Hall to see what was happening, I actually got a touch uncomfortable with all the people there.

It's a basic introvert vs. extrovert thing. I could have overcome my introvert tendencies, stuck around and mingled with people and played a few games. But it honestly would have meant dipping into my reserves and to hell with it, it was a day off.

So instead I found myself strolling down towards the beach to see if the ice had cleared away from the beach. It hadn't. In fact, talking to a couple of people, I found it the barge tried to come ashore at high tide, but the little remaining ice in the bay shifted and range aground near the beach, making it impossible.

The sealift folks must be going crazy. the vessels have been offshore for the better part of a week now. The bay is mostly ice free. It's just what's left is stubbornly hang on around the beach, making unloading impossible








The next hour or so was just a pleasant stroll down the beach, taking photos of things that caught my eye until I made it to the breakwater. It was a nice, relaxing afternoon. Perhaps not the most social, but I was relaxed when I got home. Plus, I think I got some nice pictures.




































Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sunset

I missed the best of it. By the time I looked outside and saw the colours, they were already beginning to fade, but I still managed to grab a couple of quick shots.

Is there a greater bane to photographers than goddamn telephone wires?





Your mid-day links…

1. I love this woman. Two bears in as many weeks. The thing that sells it is the quote. "I went over and said, 'Ooh, my God, you little devil — not saucy, I know, coming around the camp when [I'm] working.' " Brilliant. I wonder what the odds are of her landing the trifecta…

2. This week marks the 50th anniversary of the greatest cartoon ever made (although I have a soft spot for "The Rabbit of Seville") – "What's Opera, doc?". The Toronto Star has a lovely story talking about the impact of the cartoon and how they managed to get away with producing it back then. And, quite rightly, that the odds of it getting made today is very, very slim.

For as long as it lasts, here's the video.





3. This couple travelled from Boston to come and see the White Stripes. Other than admiration for their dedication, the link is also noteworthy because they have some pretty nice photos and video of the concert. That alone makes it worth a quick hop over to their site.

4. In case you needed more proof that the new pope is a dick.

5. Somewhere Donnie Power is going "I could have told you that years ago". I imagine he's already deep into his research that an at work beer or three can also greatly enhance productivity. Remember Donnie, if it's less than five beer, it's not binge drinking.

6. Why Blu-Ray will win the high definition DVD battle.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Blindingly obvious

So yes, obviously there's a new design to the blog. Why? Well, it had been awhile since I had made a change to the blog and a bit of freshening up was needed. Also, I wanted to add a picture to the top of the blog. A picture really didn't work well at the top of the blog with the old format, so what the hell, let's just shuffle the whole thing up.

Having said that, I'm still not 100 per cent happy with how it looks. The picture on the top is ridiculously large and my best attempts to shrink it to a more manageable size have only been marginally successful. Let's put it this way, that picture is cropped and shrank to about five per cent of it's original memory size and it's still that large. I might play with it some more or find a different image. We'll see.

And yes, I know it's a scene from the North for a blog called Townie Bastard. If I was better with Photoshop, I'd work some magic and combine an image from here and one from St. John's. But alas, such magic is currently beyond my abilities.

I'm also not completely happy with the sidebar, especially how Flickr and the Blogrolling aren't properly aligned.

Are there any other changes planned? Well, I'm trying to get more photos up on Flickr. I'm not bothering putting too many up on Facebook. My pics are on Flickr. If you're desperate to see pics, that's where they are. I see no need to duplicate things.

Anyway, feel free to let me know what you think. Of the blog. I already have a pretty good idea what most of you think about me.

WTF?

Is The Express back?

The reason I ask is that I was checking links last night and clicked on The Express one for the first time in ages, just to see if Transcon had wiped out the page completely. Much to my surprise, there is new content on the site from someone called Albert D Barr doing something called "24 Days of Beer". There's also the insinuation that he has a female boss of some sort.

There also appears to be, I think, "new" copy under the Food and Drink section and the Home and Garden one. I put new in quotes as I recognize the source and so should most people in the media. We all get these magazines with discs. Metro Express, I think is the name. It contains advertorial copy that papers can use when they have space to fill. "Looking for the perfect electronics gift for Father's Day?" along with a help list of suggestions that advertisers have paid for to have placed in the copy. Papers tend to use it when they're short of time or copy in special suppliments like Christmas, end of school, gardening season, etc.

I don't know if this is just an online thing right now, or if there are printed copies out there somewhere. This is starting to look suspiciously like an ad rag. I was upset when the killed The Express back in March, but had made my peace with it.

Christ, it will suck if they bring back the paper and it's this thin shell of a thing, where even the copy is designed to sell adds. It feels like fucking a corpse or something....

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Holding out for Harry

So with less than two weeks left, Harry Potter mania is beginning to build. There’s no shortage of articles coming out (including this one yesterday in the Globe and Mail) discussing what might happen in the last novel (The Deathly Hollows) or the fifth movie (Order of the Phoenix). I quite like Harry Potter, so I’m looking forward to it. I’m quite curious about the movie, as Order of the Phoenix was by far the worst of the books. It was bloated and in dire need of an editor. But there was a good story in there.

Some of the movies have suffered, and I’m thinking of Goblet of Fire here in particular, because they cut so much out of the book, by necessity, to get the story on screen. But Order of the Phoenix might work quite nicely as a movie if it can cut strhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifeamline much of the meandering of the book.

However, I have a problem. I’m in Iqaluit.

Let me explain.

Cathy does not have a problem, as she's in St. John's. So she can go to the book and then go home and spend half the night reading the book. Although sadly not at the Granny Bates launch as they're not doing a big party this time, which is really too bad.

I, on the other hand, cannot. Unless it changes and NorthMart or Arctic Ventures brings in a bunch of books, there is no midnight launch in town. Nor will Canada Post open on Saturday to do special rush deliveries from Chapters or Amazon.

Originally this was going to be a moot point. Myself and Cathy had originally agreed that there was no need to buy two copies of the book. That I would wait until I got home in August and read that copy. However, I've since reconsidered. The notion that I can go two weeks while Pottermania is in full swing and not break or manage to have the ending spoiled is impossible. Plus, I don't want to spend my two weeks home frantically trying to cram in the last book. I'd just as soon go out and do things.

So my order to Chapters will be going in shortly. Hopefully I'll manage to get it a couple of days after its released. I should be able to dodge spoilers that long.

On the upside, the movie is going to open here this coming Friday. Although knowing it’s playing on IMAX in Ottawa is mildly torturous. There are some movies you want to see on the really big screen and that would be one of them.

However, even though it's opening here, I’ve learned my lesson. Never go see a movie opening weekend in Iqaluit. The audiences are just horrific in the amount they talk, carry on or bring small, crying children into the theatre with them. No thanks. I can wait a few extra days.

Oh, and for the record, I think Harry lives. And that Snape is on the side of the angels. And I'm not completely convinced Dumbledore is dead. I'll find out soon enough.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Just go out next Tuesday

I haven’t said anything about Canadian Idol the last couple of weeks. I haven’t been watching much television the last week or so. When I do flip it on it’s to either watch a movie or play some Wii. So Canadian Idol has blissfully slipped off my radar.

Until yesterday.

I’ve been meaning to post a “Do not vote for Tara Oram for the sake of Newfoundland” rant, but between forgetting and just hoping that natural selection would take its course it hasn’t happened. I guess I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, she would get voted out all on her own and I wouldn’t have to be a cruel, evil man. But no, she appears to be lingering.

But then I read this story on VOCM. The first paragraph pretty much told me she survived and I made a passing mental note that maybe next week I needed to put up the anti-Oram screed.

But it was the second paragraph that got me. It’s the paragraph where “Reg” called Open Line to express concern over his inability to get through and vote. So now he’s wondering how many votes Oram might have lost. It’s a slippery slope until we’re once again getting to conspiracy theories about how CTV and the phone companies are out to get Newfoundlanders and I fear this is the first step.

So once again, just to save potential embarrassment and national mocking down the road, could we please just not vote for her? Yes, I’m a mean bastard, dashing the dreams of a young woman trying to make it the music business.

Hello? Have you seen the name of the blog. Bastard is there for a reason. Besides, if this is the worst that happens to her the music industry – a blogger campaigning, and hopefully succeeding, in getting her voted off a reality TV show - then she’s leading a miraculously charmed life.

Besides, if you’re feeling that guilty, go to Fred’s and buy some local music. Or head down to the Ship and see a band. It’s what I plan on doing to ease my conscience when I get home next month.

In the meantime, it’s July. Why not just go outside next week instead of staying home and voting. You’ll be doing the province a favour in the long run. Trust me.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A death in the north

Two stories buzzing through town today - one not so serious, the other obvious very serious.

The less serious one is that the ice is finally breaking up in the bay and vessels are beginning to come in. An ice breaker escorted in a fuel tanker, followed by a cruise ship yesterday. So we had tourists briefly mingling around town yesterday. Granted, I have no idea how they got off the cruise ship...by a smaller boat, I guess. But there was still a fair amount of ice around, so I can't imagine that was a pleasant jaunt.

Today saw, what I’m fair sure, are the first two cargo vessels of the year, getting ready to unload sealifty goodness to a waiting populace. I suspect they’re still going to have to wait a bit...the ice is breaking up in the bay, but there is still some lingering close to sure. I can't see the barges being able to operate in it and there's no way an icebreaker can work that close to shore with the tides being what they are.A good high tide and some wind might take of that in the next day or so.


The more serious news is that Canadian media are reporting that one of the soldiers who died in Afghanistan on Wednesday - Cpl. Jordan Anderson, 25 - is from Iqaluit. that obviously generated a pretty big shock in town. But the odd thing is, nobody seemed to know him.

You have to appreciate how odd that is. This is a town of 7,000 people. Everybody is connected somehow. I'm hardly well known in town, but if my car blew up with me in it tomorrow, enough people know me to at least acknowledge that I lived in town. But that no one had even heard of him, let alone know him or his family is downright bizarre.

This CBC story clears things up, however. It seems that while he was born here, it looks like he lived most of his life in the NorthWest Territories. He's the first soldier from the north to die in Afghanistan. What a thing to be known for.

My condolences to his family.

I’ve always been a supporter of the Afghanistan mission despite its unpopularity with most Canadians and the increasing body count. Afghanistan needs help in rebuilding and becoming secure. As one of the leading democracies in the world, I’ve always felt we have a responsibility to try and help. We should have done more in Rwanda and didn’t. That inaction cost millions of lives. Thoughts like that haunt me when I hear talk of leaving Afghanistan. How many women and children will be slaughtered if NATO leaves?

And really, will the world mourn fewer Taliban? That’s cruel and heartless and I try to respect human life when I can. But you get groups like that and you wonder why bother feeling compassion for them when they clearly can’t be bothered feeling the same.

And unlike the colossal clusterfuck that is Iraq, I’ve always felt Afghanistan can be saved. Na├»ve and foolish, perhaps. But with the right work, effort and resources something akin to stability could happen.

But you get days like Wednesday and you wonder how much longer Canada is going to be over there. We’re not used to body counts in this country. Haven’t had them really since Korea. That's a good thing, by the way, not getting use to those kinds of numbers. I think Americans have almost grown numb to the number of dead coming back from Iraq. I doubt that will ever happen with Canada and Afghanistan

We might be there until 2009, but I don’t think we’re going to be there once our commitment is over. And it changes from day to day with me on whether or not that's a good thing.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The joys of diminished expectations

I'm in a rare confluence at the cinemas where there are actually movies I want to see. I saw Pirates 3 and Fantastic Four 2 so far this week, and I still have Knocked Up and Surf's Up to cross off my list. And Transformers is opening here on Friday. So there are plenty of movies to keep me busy while Cathy is away. It would be nice if Ratatouille was opening this weekend, but that doesn't appear to be happening.

The thing about Pirates 3 and FF2 was that I had very little hope for them. With Pirates, I really didn't care much for the second movie. It was just as rambling and all over the place as the first one, but with fewer of its charms. And while I liked the first FF, it was one of those "I like this movie although it's clearly terrible." It was to the point I was wondering if I might have suffered a blow to the head either right before or after the movie that clouded my judgment.

Plus the reviews for Pirates 3 and FF 2 were vicious. Kind of hard to get enthused about seeing movies like that.

And yet, lo and behold, I enjoy both. They're both flawed, but still amusing.

Pirates 3 suffers the same problems as the first two - the plot is overly long and needlessly complicated. And yet, this one has its joys. Yes, Johnny Depp tends to steal things when he gets on screen, but not as much as previous movies. The real joys are Geoffrey Rush's Barbossa and, this floored me, Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Swann. Rush isn't a surprise. He was a blast in the first movie and it was a good decision to bring him back for this.

But Knightley? She was entertaining eye candy for the first two movies. But she's tremendous fun here. Taking charge and taking crap from no one. And I have to say, the Oriental Pirate Queen look works for her.

Also helping is that while the first hour or so drags, the last hour is about as exciting a time as you're going to have at the movies this year. Stuff happens. And this is the best part, the movie ends well. Stories are resolved, but left in a way that they can be continued if chosen. I like where the characters all end up.

It's damn hard to land a movie at the best of times. It's very hard to land an ending for a trilogy. Yet, they planted the sucker. Nice job.

I think I also have FF 2 figured out. It's not really a good movie, and yet I like it, just like the first one. It's quite odd. But it fills a niche. For all the super hero movies over the past few years, most of them have been very serious affairs.

That's fine for me. I like that a genre I grew up with and loved is being treated seriously. I like that when they're making these movies, they're taking into account what the fans of these characters expect. They want something serious with Batman and Superman. They're expecting something a bit lighter with Spider-Man, but they still want the character treated with respect.

But these aren't "fun" movies. I honestly can't see young kids liking the most recent Batman and Superman films. They're more for adults. So the Fantastic Four fills that niche. It's a family movie. There were kids at the showing I saw and they went "Cool!" several times.

I know some hardened FF fans hate this. But hell, the first super hero comic I bought back in the 70s was an issue of the FF (with them taking on the Salem Seven, #187 I belives, just to display a terrifying level of geekiness) and I've loved the characters ever since.

The heart of the movie is in the right place, even if the brains are lost in Oz somewhere. It's a movie about four people who are essentially family, who love each other, but don't necessarily always like each other. And that's the comic books in a nutshell.

Yeah, it would be nice if the movie were smarter, if the Thing looked better, if there was more of the wow factor around Reed's gadgets. And I know many are ticked off with how Galactus looked in the movie. However, I think Peter David had it right - Ghostbusters pretty much ruined the idea of giant men stomping around New York.

Besides, the original story was never going to work on screen. Galactus, a 100-foot tall man in purple armor - arrives and threatens to eat the planet. The FF defeat him when Reed sends Johnny into Galactus's spaceship and steals the "Ultimate Nullifier", a device that would not only destroy Galactus, but the Earth and the rest of the Universe.

So yeah, the heroes threatening to destroy the universe is going to go over big with audiences. The writers were stuck with a hard way to end the movie. It wasn't great, but it was ok.

The biggest problem with the FF movies is that The Incredibles came out first. That movies owed a lot to the original FF comics and director Brad Bird admitted as much. That was a great family movie featuring super heroes. They don't come along all that often. FF 2 pales in comparison to The Incredibles, but that doesn't mean it's bad. It's light, frothy and fun. Kids will like it.

And unlike Pirates 3, at least it isn't almost three bloody hours long. Ninety minutes, short and sweet.

And I don't even think I suffered any head trauma before or after the movie. So I guess it's ok after all.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Surviving Bush

It's odd that I have so many friends all around the world and yet, very few American friends. It's not any silly anti-American bias, just one of those odd lucks of the draw.

And yet, it was my one American friend, who is a very cool chick, whose sanity I was concerned about yesterday. Granted, she's a Democrat living in the deeply Republican mid-west, so on any given day I wonder if she isn't going to snap.

But this story caused me to wonder if she might not go around the bend. I remember when Libby was first charged getting an email from her filled with joy. And when was found guilty I swear I could hear the screams from up here.

I can't imagine what it's been like living in Bush America these past six years, especially if you're of a moderate or slightly left leaning bent. And by moderate, I mean Stephen Harper moderate. Jack Layton is a pink-o communist in most parts of the US.

Anyway, it's been brutally hard. I have an idea of what it's been like for her. There have been few solaces during that time. Bush is now lame duck and Democrats controlling Congress does help. But it was Libby was going to jail that seem to offer some hope. That maybe, just maybe, he might take a few senior White House schmucks (Hi Karl Rove and Dick Cheney) with him before going to jail.

Now that isn't happening. Libby has gotten away with a crime and there's no chance in hell that anything is going to happen to Bush officials while they're in office.

As always, John Rogers has it spot on. It's not so much that Bush believes Libby is innocent and got railroaded. That's one thing. Bush knows Libby is guilty and just doesn't give a shit.

(Rogers is also putting his money where is mouth is. He's getting a lot of traffic with that post, from both supporters and haters. So he's offering to match donations to Fisher House, which helps families of soldiers wounded in Iraq. He also has an amusing take on that as well.)

That's what's so frustrating to Rogers, my friend and many other Americans. That this is a president that just doesn't seem to give a fuck what people think any more. That Paris Hilton got more jail time than Libby says something. What, I don't exactly no. If I dwell on it too much I will go mad.

Seventy per cent of the country thinks he's doing a terrible job. And Bush just doesn't give a fuck anymore. And if you don't believe that, then you're not seeing what this decision is all about.

And that's why I feared for me friend yesterday. Because honestly, there's only so much of that you can take from your government before the only option is to go mad. However, she seems to be all right. And I'm glad to hear it.

Fortunately she has option #2. She's married to a Canadian. And after days like yesterday, I wonder how much longer she can last before fleeing up here.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Post Canada Day

So the massive anti-Newfoundland nationalist rant didn't appear yesterday. I have it written and it is a lovely piece of ranting, if I do say so myself. But I choose to spike it. Couple of reasons for that. One, I was feeling a touch mellow yesterday. More on that below. And two, I read this post by Dups on the anniversary of him becoming a Canadian citizen.

Much of my rant was about how if you want to appreciate Canada, talk to someone who choose to give up their country and previous life just to be here. I suspect many immigrants few Newfoundland nationalists as insane, and they wouldn't be far off base. No, read what Dups has to say and, if you feel so inclined listen to the Outfront piece I did about the big day. I had a few technical problems playing it, but maybe it's my computer. And maybe it's just as well. Christ, my narration sounds forced and awkward.

That's the best rebuttal I have. Canada is a great country, warts and all. People in Newfoundland need to chill the fuck out.

As for the reason for being mellow was Cathy and Boo's departure yesterday. They arrived in St. John's safe and sound and two hours late thanks to Air Canada, but they're home. Just in case you're looking for them.

So this marks our annual month apart and I was feeling a touch...down, yesterday. I know there are people who have it worse. Those with a spouse in the military who have to deal with six month tours. Those who family in Alberta dealing with six weeks on, two weeks off. And those with spouses on Hibernia or Terra Nova who have the three weeks on, three weeks off to deal with. Plus, this is voluntary. Cathy could stay here for the rest of this month if she wants.

But it's best for both of us in the long run that she goes home, as staying here would result in her going mad from boredom. Iqaluit is a nice enough town, but if you've been here awhile and have hours and hours a day to kill, every day, it'll test your sanity.

So she's home and I was missing her yesterday. I'll enjoy having the place to myself for the next week or so, and then I'll start looking forward to heading home at the beginning of August.