Wednesday, October 31, 2007

happy Halloween
Play Movie
Just a shout out to Gina and Lucia on Halloween.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Things I've Learned from Television No.1

Re: Quicksand. Struggling just makes it worse.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

a film worth talking about

You can listen to me blather about The Lives of Others below.

Movie Review from rowdyman on Vimeo.

For some reason, after seeing The Lives of Others, I was compelled to talk about it and how it brought up memories of four other great films;
Army of Shadows,
The Conversation,
The Conformist, and
Hidden (Caché)
- following the links will take you to clips of these films so you can decide for yourself if you want to see more. Needless to say, I didn't have the same excitement after watching Blades of Glory.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

That's Entertainment

My summer movie season began with seeing Christian Bale as the unbelievably optimistic Dieter Dengler in Rescue Dawn and ended with seeing Christian Bale as the unbelievably stubborn Dan Evans in 3:10 to Yuma. 3:10 to Yuma is the straightforward Western of an honest man trying to bring a killer to justice but of course, nothing is really that simple. Russell Crowe struts his quiet but powerful charisma in the role of Ben Wade while Christian Bale gives us a desperate and honest man trying to do what? earn his son's respect? It's a great film that seems to get away with having something for everyone. It's the ruminative post-modern Western in the mold of "Unforgiven", has the shameless violent and dark humour of a series such as "Deadwood", climaxes with near Morricone-esque spaghetti-Western driven music, and ends like a kind of fable where a man can whistle and his horse would follow. That was way too many hyphens for one sentence. Let's just say it was a grand entertainment.

Despite the quality of films I've seen on the big screen, I've watched some pretty horrible films lately. Why? Simply put, BitTorrent. Because I could download them easily enough, I thought, they're free, so why not? Well, there is no such thing as a free lunch. What were these digital castoffs? There have been many, but two stand out. Evan Almighty, and Blades of Glory.

And the Lord did sayeth that NOT Will Ferrell NOR Wil Arnett NOR Steve Carrell, the three funniest men in American Cinema could save thine children from these plagues of Hollywood. At least Evan Almighty was a movie that had an arc (actually, it had an Ark) and plot and a couple of good gags. In it, God appears as a sagely Morgan Freeman to direct Steve Carell's superficial Evan to build an Ark just like Noah did but in general this ship never left dry dock.

Blades of Glory, is by comparison, not even a movie, but more like a sequence of trailers for even less promising movies. It really was like an SNL skit that went on 88 minutes too long. Perhaps figure skating is already too ridiculous to be parodied, but how a film with Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler and Wil Arnett fails to even raise an eyebrow, not to mention even it's own pulse is beyond me. I was just struck by how awful the editing was. Why did I even notice the editing? It was so bad as to be mysterious but not so bad as to be cultish. I guess that just makes it bad.

Then, when all my hopes and dreams for seeing a good film were fading to black, I rented last year's recipient of best foreign film, The Lives of Others, and everything changed. Now there's a film worth writing about.


Monday, October 22, 2007

comic book confidential

This is as much a reminder to myself as anything, but next Saturday, October 27, 3:00pm in the Studio Theatre at the Harbourfront Centre, Adrian Tomine will be interviewed by Sheila Heti. This is probably my 4th or 5th year attending the IFOA events and each one has been memorable. I've seen such luminaries as Harvey Pekar, Chris Ware, Charles Burns, Seth, Chester Brown, Chip Kidd and Jaime Hernandez and without fail, the conversations have been funny, illuminating and interesting. I'd even go so far as to say, "It's worth the drive to Acton!" (if in fact, it was in Acton). The tickets are still available and at about $17, it might seem expensive but it's worth it to hear a comic book artist have an intelligent conversation outside the circles of comic book shops or the folding tables of the "Fan" convention (that's right, they're treated like real live authors).

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Exit and Entry

Last Saturday was a bookish day. I went to the IFOA to see Rutu Modan read and present her work, "Exit Wounds" and James Sturm, founder of the Center of Cartoon Studies talk about his book, James Sturm's America.

It was busy in our 'hood, with all the Toronto FC fans clogging the street cars but somehow I made it to the talks in time. After getting my copies signed (nay, sketched in) I made a feeble attempt at conversation with the artists. Let's just say, that won't happen again. Despite that bit of awkwardness, it was still inspirational hearing authors discuss their work, so I decided to find a place to take a break, read the books and enjoy a pint. With a slight buzz of a too-quickly downed beer in my empty stomach, I again made my annual vow to write and complete a comic. I shouldn't be too disheartened at my inactivity and should know by now, these things take time. Like our friend, Gail Vanstone's recent publication "D is for Daring" which she has been researching and writing for almost as long as we've known her. I said to A. that it's been like a week out of a Woody Allen film for me. I rarely get out but in the span of 3 days I'd been to a gallery opening, an author's reading, and a book launch. That's the funny thing about T.O. - it really is a media centre, with film, TV and publishing companies here. Here here for the cultural index, I say.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

By the Way...

That line, "Batten Down the Hatches, Becky" which was rolling through my head all day Saturday, comes from this track by the Joel Plaskett Emergency, who, like any good Easterner thinks far too often of the natural calamities of weather systems.

Listen to Natural Disaster


Monday, October 15, 2007

Batten Down the Hatches, Becky

Saturday, I closed in on further winterizing the house. I added that leaf trapping mesh to the front gutters, which also allowed me to replace the storm windows. Once I knew the windows were in place, I sealed the huge gaps around the frame a la silicone. Repeated this sealing around the living room window and finally swapped out the bug screen for solid glass on the front storm door.

I guess it was appropriate too, that a couple of nights ago I turned on the furnace for the first time. It's such an act of psychological defeat to turn on the furnace. Only a week before we had +30 C temperatures on Thanksgiving! For reasons of familial schedules and a week of non-stop eating, we had a Thanksgiving brunch this year, so combining that with the weather, I feel I need a Thanksgiving Mulligan - a do-over if you will. Perhaps the dollar parity should suggest a holiday parity and maybe for a first I'll do a mini-American Thanksgiving this year to make up for the misplaced one. At any rate, now I'm digging out sweaters, turning off the water line to the back yard and bringing in the hose. It's like that point when you switch back to wearing socks from a summer of bare-footedness. Generally, I have come to prefer naked feet to besocked ones. Still, it's difficult to have it both ways. Autumn brings us stylin' scarves and po' boy caps, upturned collars and heavy footwear. I like Autumn if only for the variety. It could be warm, cool, sunny or overcast. You get it all. Including the wind off the lake that wants to seep through your storm windows and door seams.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Alive and Kicking

Well, so far so good. I had my injection on Wednesday, came home, slept, had some soup, slept, had a milkshake and went to bed.

Today? Woke up with an incredible hangover. Not sure why but it kind of soured an otherwise fine day. So I took it easy today, but tomorrow I really have to get some work done. No sign of swelling or blistering or puss or any Biblical-style sores or anything nasty.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Porch Pics
Ok, I relent, here are a couple of better pictures for your reference.


Face Lift

I was going to post a bunch of pictures of the porch, but it just seemed like overkill. Even looking at this side-by-side comparison, it doesn't look like much of a change or even show how much effort went into it. But, I'm OK with that. A lot of the fixes are kind of behind other things - a rotten facing board is behind the new fascia, rotting wainscoting in the ceiling was replaced with trimmed-to-fit new lumber,a damaged eaves trough was replaced with a matching one*, and a very poorly done molding was replaced (don't try to tell me, "they did it better back in the day." The goof-ups on our house are evidence enough that, in fact, "back in the day" some people had no idea what they were doing.) Actually, this photo probably shows how our neighbours have done a lot more than we have on the porch - check out those sandstone steps. That's for another day, right now I hear a drip that needs fixing.

*Yes, it was me that damaged the eaves trough in the first place, but that's beside the point.