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.