Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dion da one dat won.

I think Jack just dodged a bullet. If Rae had won I think the NDP would have been in big trouble going into the next election. Ignatieff probably would have been best for Jack, since he would have had a clear field against two war-mongering lunatics, but unfortunatley one of those lunatics would still probably have won the next election.
So, I'm pretty happy tonight to see Dion take the prize. Not only does he not spell disaster for the NDP, but his strong environmentalism might just take the wind out of the sails of those pesky Greens.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

US done, bring on the Local "race"

I was very happy to see that the Senate is in Democratic hands, even if they do need to count Lieberman to make put them over the top. I'm tempted to taunt my conservative American relatives, but I guess I can't be bothered. I hope this forces the Dems to finally come up with some solutions. I suppose politically it made more sense to stand back and let the GOP shoot themselves in the foot, but the Dems are still awfully timid. Howard Dean and John Kerry must both be breathing a sigh of relief-if they had blown this both their careers would be over. Well, Kerry's probably is anyway.

Locally, just a few days to go until the municipal election. I'm trying to decide whether to give Miller my vote. If I thought he needed it, I would, but he doesn't. Royson James has an article in the Star today suggesting sending a message to Miller by voting for one of the also-rans. Something to consider. The botched World's Fair thing was pretty pathetic. As for councillor here in Ward 18-I say let the Wookey win. I like his environmental aspirations and think he'd probably be profoundly adequate.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Politics is back

After a long summer dedicated to work and family outings, the world of politics is creeping back into my consciousness.
There were a couple of new polls out yesterday. Federally the Liberals have pulled even with the Conservatives, leaving the NDP at its usual 17%, which is disappointing. The Liberals are a mess. If there were ever a time for the NDP to take over as the real alternative to Harper, it would be now. My sister has a bumper sticker on her car that says "Jack Layton's NDP-The REAL Opposition." That might be the case in the HofC, but the message sure isn't filtering down to Joe Sixpack.
Maybe it's the stagnant polls, or Jack & Olivia's annoying meddling in Toronto municipal politics, but personally I'm becoming more shy about saying I'm an NDPer. I certainly wouldn't advertise it on my car-but good for you sis for being bolder than me.
In Ontario, the NDP has made gains putting them at 18% or so. Still, we will need to crack 20 to make a real breakthrough. I'm sick of the NDP celebrating not being annhialated.
There is talk today of ousted MP Garth Turner joining the Greens. Jack did his usual routine about crossing the floor being ungroovy, but I'd like to see it happen. I don't much like the Greens as I think they are just in the way, but I do have a soft spot for Turner and it would certainly make things interesting.
Locally, I've been wrestling with who to vote for for City Councillour here in Davenport. Incumbent Adam Giambrone has been annoying-repeatedly failing to address people's concerns on a variety of issues, including some controversial building developments and a ridiculous outhouse project that the granola munching set wants to build for the kids in the park. Do I hold my nose and be a good NDPer and vote for Giambrone again, or go for Simon Wookey, who is a lot more appealing even though he has the support of (ugh) Mario Silva. In the end, his campaign slogan put me over the top. "Let the Wookey Win". (If you don't get the reference, you need to watch Star Wars again.)
I declined to participate in the recent by-election over in Parkdale as well as the current Municipal race (where I'd be inclined to work for Adam Vaughan if anyone). Politics seems to be more of a spectator sport these days.
Lots of good shows ahead.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Odds & Ends

I haven't posted in ages, so here are some stream of consciousness thoughts...

I've been driving through the Parkdale neighbourhood on my way to work and signs have started popping up for candidates for Toronto city council.

Oops-I have to edit this post as it was pointed out that there is a provincial by-election happening. Missed that. This must be to replace Gerrard Kennedy. Silly me.

Still, I stand by my theory that the NDP should stay out of municipal politics...

Even as an NDPer, an orange sign would make me LESS likely to support a candidate in a local race. I just don't see why I would want my local city councillour having his/her hands tied by having to toe a party line.
I think independent candidate Adam Vaughan (Trinity-Spadina) said it best. The problem is incumbancy and the solution is turnover. As much as I support the NDP, I think the casual NDP clique that runs city hall is a little too comfortable and needs to be broken up by some people with some vision. Go Vaughan. Go Sewell. And Jack and Olivia-you finally made it to Ottawa-good for you-stay there.

One more thing on an unrelated topic-not that I have anything original or insightful to add, but I was dismayed that the latest Israel/Lebanon "cease-fire" lasted a scant 5 days. To quote George Bernard Shaw, "Cease firing, damn you!" The whole mess reminds me of the Star Trek episode where two warring planets wage virtual war, with the citizens reporting to disintegration chambers as prescribed by the computer. Not that the middle east war is virtual-but it has become an accepted part of daily life, and that's not acceptable. Where's Jim Kirk when you need him?

We went to see Snakes on a Plane the other day. Pretty bad, of course. This has been one of the worst movie summers I can remember. Hopefully the Film Festival will provide a much needed drink of water after a long drought. (I'm not holding a grudge even though they rejected our film this year-the bastards).

The show I've been working on, "Patent Bending" starts airing tonight on Discovery. It's one of those rare jobs where I might actaully watch the show even if I hadn't worked on it. It started as a science show but has been moving more in the direction of a comedy. Luckily the show has no agenda other than to entertain, so we have been pretty free in the editing room to go where the material takes us.

In other news, my daughter Maja has taken an interest in making paper spiders. Off to make another one right now...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Gays are Super!

Last night I was staying up late watching the tube, and Larry King came on, interviewing Brandon Routh about his role in the new Superman movie. The original Superman was the first movie I ever saw as a kid and I am really keen on this new flick, so I decided to stay up a bit longer to watch. It was all the standard movie promo type chat, until from out of left field Larry asked Brandon what he thought of Superman's status as a gay icon. This shouldn't be a hard question to answer. He's a big muscular handsome guy in tights and a cape. Of course it's going to appeal to the gay crowd. Duh, Larry! But Routh got all squirmy and basically just said he didn't think there was anything gay about Superman, and if anyone did he was man enough to handle it. And oh, yeah, he has a girlfriend.
OK, he's just a kid who's new to the publicity machine and was caught off guard. Fair enough. But then Bryan Singer comes out, gets the same question, and handles it the same way. "Oh, Larry, that's silly. This is the most heterosexual movie I've ever made."

As we head into Pride weekend here in Toronto it occurs to me that we still have a long way to go. The rest of last night, watching TV, I noticed a lot of gay-phobic content, boiling just below the surface. Example: A bud light commercial-"Hey bro-don't toast with your bottles at the top-our saliva will touch-that's like kissing-eewwwww, just touch the bottoms. Oh no, touch bottoms? Ewwwww. hee hee hee)

With the Harper government about to re-open the same sex marriage debate (and the Americans getting nowhere with the same issue), this Pride weekend seems a good time to stop and reflect what we really think about gays. Is being gay some kind of yucky fetish, or simply a natural aspect of the human condition? If we believe the latter, tolerance is not adequate.

Let's show some genuine respect.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

End of an Era-again

I was sad to learn that a number of Festival Cinemas, including The Paradise which is just steps away from our house, will be closing at the end of June. Apparently it's just impossible to make a go of "the Nabes" these days. If I had an extra couple million dollars lying around I would be tempted to buy The Paradise and give it a go. You would need a completely new business model, but it seems like there must be a way to make these little local movie houses profitable. I think one factor would have to be really great projection and sound as well as comfort and style. The Paradise never had any of that, but I still loved to be able to go across the street and see a film on the big screen.
The Paradise closed once a few years ago and came back. I hope it can happen again, but I have my doubts. I wonder if it could be run as a non-profit community project.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Driving Slowly

I've just started a new job which requires a daily commute from Toronto to Oakville. If there is light traffic it can be done in 25 minutes, but most mornings it takes 35-40 and evenings 45-50. I have never been a commuter before and it's a real eye opener just how bad it is on the roads these days. Yesterday on the way home there was a bad crash with one car tipped on its side in the middle of the QEW. So, the daily trek is scary and tedious all at the same time.
I'm glad this job ends in September.

In driving related news, this movie looks interesting.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Better Red than Dead

I'm starting to really grow weary of seeing the Liberal leadership candidates throw their hats in the ring. Everyone gets a double announcement. First comes the "leak." Then a few days or weeks later comes the official announcement. And so far, it looks to me like a lot of footsoldiers and no generals. Mixed feelings. If I were to be a loyal little dipper I'd have to say this is good. As long as the Liberals keep stinking up the joint, it's got to be good for the NDP, right? But the other day I saw a poll that was a bit of a reality check. CONS 42% LIB 28% NDP 19%. Sure it's just one poll but it made me consider the possibility that the Liberals, for better or for worse, are the only real Tory killers in the game, and if they blow it, it won't be 90 seats for Layton and the NDP. It will be a Stephen Harper majority.
So, as tempting as it would be to hope the Libs pick Bob Rae, Mike Iggy, or somebody else equally hobbled by their past stupidity, deep down I can't help hoping they find a Trudeau, not a Turner.

Friday, April 21, 2006

CFC, Not 4 Me

A couple weeks ago I had an interview for the Editor's lab at the Canadian Film Centre. It is a program where you basically pay 5 grand to take half a year just practicing the art of dramatic film editing. I was hoping the interview would be a chance to learn a bit more about the program but it turned out to be a pretty one sided affair, where I was expected to sell myself to a panel of 8 people or so. I thought I did a reasonable job, but my misgivings must have shown through, because yesterday I got a call telling me that they decided I wasn't right for the program. Fair enough. I'm inclined to say the feeling is mutual. But I do wonder just who the program IS for. Several years back a friend of mine was similarly rejected, presumably for lack of experience. At my interview they suggested I had too much. The thing is, now that I'm at a point in my career where I'm working steadily, albeit on mid range doc TV shows, it is a pretty big deal to put that aside for six months and actually pay for the privilege of practicing what I'm already well paid to do. The Film Centre folks never really sold me, so perhaps I'm lucky to land in the out pile.
One irony is that while I make my living editing documentary TV, the few times I have cut drama I have found it much easier than docs anyhow. It ain't rocket surgery!

On another topic, I go so long between posts that I often have to sign back in to post. Trouble is I usually can't remember my password. But the strange thing is that just by clicking the "forgot password" link, and then clicking the link they email you, access is restored without ever having to actually type in the password. Not exactly secure, not that it matters.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Filming Finished

Yesterday my wife Irena and I finished our second weekend of shooting our short film. It was a real eye opener how much work it entailed. This was the first dramatic film we've made in about 8 years and, unlike back then, we did it more or less "properly" by hiring a cinematographer and a sound recordist to make sure it looks and sounds like a real movie. It was very satisfying to get it done, but there were a lot of things we learned for next time. The main lesson was to schedule less to do in a day. The technical aspects were so demanding that our actors were left somewhat to their own devices in terms of motivation and the nuances of their performance. Next time we'll split up the work and have one of us dedicated to the actors and the other to the visual aspect. Luckily for us our actors were uniformly excellent and the footage turned out really well in spite of our challenging schedule.
Thanks to all who participated. Or attempted to participate.
If anybody is looking to shoot a film I highly recommend Pasha Patriki as a DOP and Rob Turi as sound recordist. They are highly professional while still accomodating to people like us without a lot of on set experience.

In other news, I have an interview next week for the editing program at the Canadian Film Centre. I think it would be cool, and a possible way into the world of cutting feature films. On the other hand, it would cost a lot of time and money. $5500 in tuition, which is a fraction of what it would cost for 5 months of not working. So I'm on the fence at this point. Not that I've been accepted yet anyway. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Almost bought an iPod

Today I was feeling bored, with a couple hours of free time and an old Future Shop gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket. So, I almost went downtown to buy an iPod. I have always resisted the ubiquitous iPod, not being the type who really enjoys listening to music while walking around. I prefer to actually experience the world as I move through it. Still, having recently noticed that prices are getting pretty low for the entry level models, I have to admit I was tempted. They just look so slick and tiny and cool. But it's a slippery slope. Once you buy in, this things got more accessories than a Barbie doll.

I'm reminded of the old Neil Young (or is it CSNY?) song.

Almost bought my iPod.
But I didn't, and I think I know why.
Gonna let my freedom flag fly.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Lord of the Rings, Toronto style

Today I went with my wife, father and brother-in-law to the matinee of Lord of the Rings, at the Princess of Wales Theatre. This was a Christmas present to the family, and we attended the show in shifts to accomodate the kids.

This was a preview performance, and as such it's not quite proper to write a review, but dammit, we spent several hundred dollars and 5 hours of our lives, so, if not a review, at least some impressions.

The first thing that hits you is the spectacle of it all. There is a very complex rotating stage, with lighting effects and sets that take your breath away.

Then Gandalf shows up.

And he....


I mean, really, really sucks.

Astonishingly poor.

We're talking 3rd grade Christmas pageant level acting here.

This is Brent Carver, a highly accomplished and acclaimed actor. But inexplicably, his Gandalf is absent minded, soft spoken, and has about as much gravitas as a used paper cup. It doesn't help that he seems to barely remember his lines, often pausing in the oddest places until he can think of what to say.

Oh well, one actor that doesn't work. Moving on, the show gets more spectacular as it goes. It dazzles you for a while, until the spectacle starts to get just a wee bit redundant, and you find you are thinking about some of the other aspects of the show.

Gee, almost every line seems to be pure exposition. Hmm, none of the songs are too memorable. Heck, my butt sure is starting to feel numb.

There are positive thoughts as well. Gollum is great. Galadriel certainly can sing, if not act. The wind that blows over the audience as the Balrog rises is exhilarating.

Then near the end of Act 2, a major problem causes an unscheduled intermission, and all momentum is lost.

Act 3 is a long slog to the finish line. There are still plenty of "wow, how'd they do that?" moments, but for me, the prevailing thought is "I'm hungry and I'm ready to go."

This was, as I said, a preview, and there are many aspects of the show that will surely improve over the next weeks. But, bottom line, it just doesn't work as a piece of storytelling and I suspect it never will.

That's not a review. Just an impression.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dick, Wayne & Buzz

It's very amusing seeing "Dick Cheney Shot a Guy in the Face-Gate" unfold, especially on the Daily Show. It is sad though that he gets in more hot water over an accident than for all those thousands of people he intentionally killed through his warmongering.

On Gretzky-I'm not a big hockey fan, but I find it really annoying that the press won't give Wayne the benefit of the doubt. After all he has accomplished I think he deserves better. Bring home the gold, Wayne, and then toss it in the lake tell 'em to choke on it.

And it's been a few days since Buzz was kicked out of the NDP. I was happy about this at first, and mainly still am, but it does create some food for thought. If Buzz goes, shouldn't David Miller be kicked out too? He has endorsed Liberals in the past, and posed with Martin for the "handgun ban". Sure, Miller was less explicit in endorsing strategic voting, but he's still culpable. And Bob Rae has mused publicly about becoming Liberal leader. Maybe he should be kicked out too. (Actually, that would be awesome, but anyway...) Maybe the NDP should have just had Buzz soundly beaten by some burly-union guys.

And finally, we might be days away from a massive CUPE strike. I wonder if we would be in this situation if Sid had won is seat in Oshawa. And he might have won, if not for Buzz. So, if CUPE goes on strike, that's Buzz's fault too.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tagged by Cameron

Check out Cameron's blog, which is well worth the visit. He's tagged me with that 4 vehicles/jobs/places/vacations meme that's been sweeping the blogosphere.

I'll answer the questions, but I hope it's not bad etiquette to decline to tag others. I think this one is on its last legs, especially if it has finally found its way down to little old me. Plus I don't think I could think of 4 places to tag that haven't done this already.

4 Vehicles I've owned:
lots of bikes
razor scooter
1986 BMW, which was an old beater but still had a feeling of luxury-when it ran.
2001 VW Golf, which is our current car. I just took it in for a tune-up and ended up spending $900 on new brakes. Owning cars is kind of a drag. I'm looking forward to the transporter beam.

4 Jobs I've had:
Clerk for the auctioneer who lived across the street when I was a kid.
Carnie worker at Lake Ontario Park in Kingston as a Queen's student
Staff at Trinity Square Video in 1996-97-This really gave me my start in the film/video world.
Freelance film/video editor-still goiing strong

4 places lived:

Bancroft, Ontario is where I grew up. My parents are threatening to move down south. It will be weird to have no reason to visit Bancroft anymore.

Kingston, Ontario-the Queen's U years. I lived in about 6 places in 4 years.

Vancouver-did a brief stint out West. It didn't take.


4 Vacations I have taken:
East coast Canada tour, 2001
Eastern Europe Honeymoon, 2002
North side of Cuba, 2005
South Side of Cuba, 2006 -next month (I guess that's not "have taken", but close enuff...)

OK. that's it.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The House floor carpet must be getting ragged by now...

So, another opportunistic politician shows his true colours.

It looks like the NDP will have the balance of power after all, just barely, now that David Emerson has crossed the floor to join the winning team. (Assuming Liberal Peter Milliken is retained as Speaker, which seems likely.)

This seems pretty short sighted to me. The Liberals will be back. My guess? Emerson won't.

It just goes to show that Liberals and Conservatives are interchangable. The NDP position is that there should be a by-election if someone wants to cross the floor. We should really make a big fuss over this, because if there were a by-election the NDP would have an excellent chance of winning our 30th seat, since we are the only party without the stink of betrayal all over us. (Just don't run Svend, for God's sake!)

Despite Emerson being a major disappointment, this is very good news for the NDP, both now, and in terms of pointing to this despicable behaviour in the next campaign.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

It's a "Miracle"

Today I read that the Catholic powers that be have scrounged up a "miracle" that they can attribute to Pope JP2, paving the way for his eventual sainthood. It seems a nun prayed to the late Pope and her Parkinson's disease inexplicably went away.

This seems like a pretty weak "miracle" to me. Hundreds of millions of people pray to the Pope every day. You've got to bet that a few of those will have unexplained good things happen. That's basic statistics, not a miracle. What about all the people that pray to him but are still totally screwed. Of course, those don't count against him!

Maybe someday humanity will move on from believing in fairy tales. That would be a miracle.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Little Story about Jack & Olivia

The John Mellencamp tune "Jack & Diane" has been popping into my head all day.

I made up some new lyrics:

A little story 'bout Jack and Olivia
Two Canadian kids on the edge of political oblivion.
Jackie says he's gonna be a parliamentary star.
Olivia says without two more seats babe we won't get too far.

Oh yeah, life goes on
Long after the balance of power is gone.
Oh yeah baby, life goes on,
Long after Lorne, Sid and Svend are all done.

Twenty years ago Ed was a big left-wing badass.
Nowadays we're happy with official party status.
We've had to learn to try to set modest goals.
Woopee freakin doo we're up two points in the polls.

Oh yeah, life goes on,
Long after that guy from Barenaked Ladies has gone.
Oh yeah baby life goes on,
Long after the dream of a third place finish is done.

Rock on!


So here I sit at 2am. I should go to bed, since I'm working tomorrow, but I just can't stop clicking on the refresh button in the CBC internet window, hoping that last Liberal leading seat will go NDP so we can hit 30. Yeah, dream on.

Mixed feelings.

I'm glad we didn't get squeezed like last time, but really bummed to miss out on balance of power. I admit I had dared to dream a little bigger than this. I'm glad Harper was held to a minority, but at the same time a bit chagrinned that the Liberals did so respectably well. Without balance of power it's going to be pretty hard for the NDP to do much over the next year or two, and red vs. blue will still be the main story for the forseeable future. I had hoped they would get humiliated, not just slapped.

I am happy to see the Bloc lose support. Let's hope that continues next time.

I was stunned that our local candidate, Gord Perks, lost so badly here in Davenport. It was supposed to be close. It wasn't. Gord was a higher profile candidate than Rui Pires last time, so we should have made gains if not win. It makes me realize that ethnicity matters a lot here. Either that or Mario Silva is a cheater. Probably both. I was scrutineering today and when Mario came in to vote his own scrutineers didn't even recognize him. It kind of makes you think some mob boss ordered his goon squad out to work for Mario. OK, OK, I'm just bitter. Also very sad to see Churley, Nystrom and Sid Ryan lose.

Still, some good and some bad for everyone.

Harper won but with a pretty weak minority.

Martin lost, but not as bad as expected. He gets to leave with his dignity. Pity, that.

Jack didn't get squeezed again, but the gains were modest and he didn't get balance of power.

Duceppe doesn't really have much to be happy about, which makes ME happy.

Let's do it again in about a year and a half!

(Next time I'm not bothering to volunteer in Davenport though. What a waste of time!)

Friday, January 13, 2006

seat predictions

Still over a week to go, but what the hell. Here are my seat predictions:

NDP 30
BQ 55
CPC 140
Liberals, uh, what's left? 83

I think we'll pick up a couple in Toronto, and possibly, possibly even here in Davenport. (Although if that happens we'll be bound to get more than 30!)

Still, I long for the day that the NDP has more to celebrate than not doing as badly as predicted. Really, the number of MPs matters far less than whether we get the balance of power. 22 seats with the BofP would be far better in the long run than 30 MPs sitting off in the political wilderness.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Gr8 Db8

I'm watching the debate rerun and it's pretty entertaining television. What a difference Steve Paiken makes. The slight change in format works better too, letting the moderator steer things a bit more at his discretion.

Layton's doing fine. I already know from the other blogs there are no knockouts coming. Harper is doing really well too. Duceppe, surprisingly, is stinking up the joint and flailing away semi-coherently. Dithers is speeding through his answers and comes off as a bit desperate. Not good. I contributed the phrase "the fact is" to the NDP debate bingo card, and he's using it constantly, as always. I think the Liberal's just lost their last chance to turn this thing around.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Episode IV: A New Hope

It is a dark time for the, wait, that's Star Wars.

It's actually a good time for the rebellion, at least here in Davenport. I gleaned 2 good pieces of info off the web yesterday for Gord Perks. First, he's just opened up a second campaign office up on St. Clair, which is right in the heart of Mario Silva territory. Hopefully that will be effective in taking some support form Silva's strongholds.
Secondly, has some very detailed seat projections for this election, and as of yesterday they were calling for an NDP win here in Davenport! It CAN happen here people! Ya gotta believe!