Saturday, December 30, 2006

Still from this year's card
Originally uploaded by rowdyman.

New Year's Eve approaches, the Christmas tree is drying out, Saddam has been hanged by the chimney with care - maybe not your typical Christmas. Unfortunately, we don't really have any note worthy Christmas pics to post yet. Maybe I'll get to it tomorrow-ish. The Boxing Day sales are done and gone. The stack of movies I rented for Christmas week have been watched and there's a pile of dishes I can't bear looking at. Thus begins the long cold walk into winter. Atrophied muscles and swollen stomachs are no way to start 2007 so here's a list of recommended flicks we've just watched that might make the winter go by easier.

George Clooney takes one for the team in a pretty gripping, though slightly baffling drama of Big Oil interests forcing American foreign policy. Don't worry, the DVD extras tell us it isn't a "political" film. Sure, and Michael Moore isn't a fatso in a cheap hat. For the squeamish, the torture scene can be rough. By the way, I did a "Syriana" on my big toe going up the stairs last night - not fun.

A film noir mystery set in a contemporary high school. There were never kids this cool in my high school - though I'm sure they thought they were. Fun slang throughout the film, such as, "I'd tip the bulls, but they'd probably gum it, so keep your specks on for me will ya?" Translation: "I'd go to the police, but they won't take it seriously so keep your eyes open for anything unusual." - or something, who knows? Who cares? Not recommended for those who hate Film Noir or high school kids.

The Searchers
Apparently, one of John Ford's best Westerns and a classic of the genre. I don't know about that, but John Wayne is sure one tough sunnuvagun. Personally, I couldn't get by the cheesey acting and Italian-Americans as North American Indians but if irony-free gun slingin' is your thing, this is one to watch.

I, Robot
I, uh...can't remember anything. Terrible movie, inconsistent effects and visuals and Will Smith isn't so charming that you'd watch him sleep walk for 90 minutes.

Grave of the Fire Flies
A late '80's anime film about two orphaned siblings in post-war Japan. Too sad to watch, too beautiful not to. If you have one of those old-fashioned human hearts, this film might be too hard on it. Not recommended for anyone who has a sibling or parents - certainly not a Christmas movie.

Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece. Imagine King Lear set in 19th century Japan, because that's what it is. Beautiful cinematography, incredible battle scenes, gorgeous costumes, operatic acting, scheming ladies and lots of horses and swords. 160 minutes you will not regret.

We also saw Stranger Than Fiction (a fun 'Being John Malkovich'-type of thing) and Casino Royale - best Bond since Dr. No. Daniel Craig makes Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan look like maitre d's of over-priced out-of-date posh restaurants.

Going to some friends' place for dinner tonight. No plans for New Year's Eve (though there are some good movies still to see). New Year's Day is beyond a doubt, the most disappointing day of the calendar year. There is nothing 'newish' about it, in any way whatsoever.

Sigh, Angela's already started planning for next week when her classes begin.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Altruistico, or how Hollywood gave "giving" a bad name

Now that the Christmas commercial onslaught is going full tilt, I thought you'd like to hear this surprising segment from KCRW's, The Business, in which they discuss the largesse (or more correctly, excess largesse) of Hollywood stars, agents and moguls and their ludicrous gifting protocols. This segment runs about 13 minutes (the file is around 12MB, depending on your connection you may have to be patient).

Click on the icon to hear the segment, or download it here


Friday, December 01, 2006

Advent Calendar
Originally uploaded by rowdyman.

Not too long ago I was having the last two eggs for breakfast when I noticed how the container, once empty, reminded me of a depleted tray of chocolates. Taking this notion further I thought, if you trimmed the box a certain way, you'd be left with a tray with 24 compartments. For some time I'd wondered how there might be a way to easily make a customized Advent Calendar and here it was. Fill an empty egg carton with chocolates, and make your own box.

Unfortunately, I spent too much time making the box and getting the contents that I left precious little time to create the fun part - the cover. so I nicked some artwork from J. Otto Seibold (author of Olive the Other Reindeer and other fun stories). Still, something tells me penguins will be popular this year. Et voilĂ , just in time for the first Advent Sunday, I've managed to produce a couple of these things.

Hey, I'm not going to break Nestlé's tenacious grip on the Advent Calendar market or World Famous Chocolate's fascistic hold over scholastic almonds covered in shellacked waxy chocolate, but I just thought I could squeeze a couple of Advent Calendars out of my magic workshop.

I only had time to make one to mail it out in time for Sunday so that one went to Lucia in Seattle, and the other one, well, it may not be really sturdy enough for Canada Post's mauling mitts, so that one will be hand delivered to Gina. A third (forming a Trinity, if you will) will stay here in our T.O. manger - for there is no room at the inn.

Hopefully, this will begin a month long deluge of chocolates, licorice, cakes and tarts (but no hard toffee, I hate hard toffee - to hell with hard toffee - it's Christmas for God's sake, do not force me to put that English, tooth rotting gunk in my mouth!)

So this is Christmas...and what have you done? I made an Advent Calendar, what have you done, Mr. Lennon? Didn't think so.

By the way, click on the image above to see a few more pictures of the Advent Calendar

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