Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Secret Life 

In these times of Twitter and online journals that amount to public diaries there is a growing fear that we've willingly given away our privacy. Not only does such openness make us susceptible to fraud or exploitation, but it's just plain annoying. Perhaps offsetting this exposure is the ability to be completely anonymous online ("On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.")

I enjoy some of that anonymity while generally keeping a pretty transparent online life (though Facebook may be the straw that broke this camel's back). I do have a secret. I download movies. I only download movies that I'd be too embarrassed to rent at our local video store. For instance, I recently rented an early Polanski film, Cul-de-Sac, considered one of his important early films (along with Knife in the Water — another film I've rented) but I recently downloaded Hancock and Tropic Thunder. Both are entertaining to a point yet if I'd rented them, I would've felt cheated of the dollars I'd spent and the time wasted. By downloading them, neither did I have to waste any money or any time spent standing in the video store trying to make up my mind. Plus, my record of video rentals remains clean (save for a couple of Will Ferrell films). You see, I know that the receipts of my rentals are my "public record" of my movie watching and cinematic tastes. Which presents a curious conundrum for all the sociologists thinking about such things. Maybe people are sophisticated enough to know that all of their "tweets" and posts are out in the public view and are really a very different person on the other side of the keyboard.

Then again, pollsters already know this. It's known that respondents to surveys generally answer as they think they're expected to answer and what they're really thinking is something quite different (see the "Bradley Effect"). Couldn't the same thing be true of our online personas?

Only time will tell or maybe time will keep that to itself.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's raining. It must be Monday. 

After three weeks trying to rest my ribs, I went back to playing hockey tonight. I felt like Howie Morenz — not the Howie Morenz in his prime but the one six feet underground. Dead. I may have mistimed my comeback. Also, let the record show that it has rained every Monday since I started.

On the way home I heard a news item about scientists trying to map the genome of a wooly mammoth from hair samples over 60,000 years old. I felt a little like those scientists tonight as I ventured out on an ice sheet desparately trying to ressurect a creature from the dead.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm Not There (and Neither am I)

One reason I've avoided listening to Bob Dylan over the years has been the hero worship of the man. It always seemed his music was shackled to his myth. After hearing of Dylan showing up unannounced at Neil Young's childhood Winnipeg home, my curiosity was piqued. What was I missing? I picked up one of those double-CD sets of Dylan tunes (part of the "Essential" series); maybe not a "definitive" Dylan, but probably a fair sampling from the Dylan canon. At the same time I also downloaded the entire 4-CD set of The Police: Message in a Box. The Complete Recordings.

I say this just for comparison sakes. When I was fourteen, The Police were my favorite band. Now, some 20 or 30mumbling-cough-cough or so years later I couldn't get through the first CD (and the first 2 CDs are their best stuff when Sting et al were still doing something kinda fresh; Punk + Blue-eyed Reggae). Needless to say, Martin Scorsese won't be doing any Police Rock-umentaries. But I can't get enough of Robert Zimmerman's nasal mumble.

They say things happen in three's so when I saw "I'm Not There", the Tom Haynes film ostensibly about Dylan, on the shelf at the video store I thought, "omnia causa fiunt" (okay, I didn't think something I can't pronounce, but I did think everything happens for a reason). I'd heard so much about both Cate Blanchett's and Bruce Greenwood's performances I thought that alone would be the reason to see this film. And it was (maybe). I still don't understand why anyone would need to mythologize an artist who has proven very able at mythologizing himself but they do. The movie is aimless, rambling, purposeless, and wholly unnecessary and impenetrable. I'm still not sure Blanchett's remarkably natural take on the grand-folky-rocker actually is worth the price of admission.

I still don't understand the near deification of Dylan but if you're interested in how a skinny guy from Minnesota became the American icon, Bob Dylan, you're better off seeing No Direction Home which chronicles the years that saw Dylan become the "voice of a generation" — a raspy, carefully constructed voice of a dreaming, acid-dropping generation.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Unlimited Ceiling

weather week beginning November 17, 2008
Sunrise: 7:15 AM
Sunset: 4:51 PM
Humidity: 40%
Wind: 22 km/hr
Pressure: 101.64 kPa
visibility: 24 km
Ceiling: unlimited.
It's sunny right now, like a glorious autumn day, but that won't last. We're sealing the windows, installing the storm windows, switching the sheets to flannel. Welcome winter. You came early and we weren't quite ready. You knocked on the door and we were still vacuuming, putting flowers in water, checking the simmering supper — we haven't opened the wine yet, or checked to make sure there was ample T.P. in the bathroom, or put on any atmospheric music. You're a terrible guest and frankly you had overstayed your welcome before you even arrived.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Today was a gray wet day. One of those days when you stay inside and vacuum. The kind of day that makes "pathetic fallacy" look sympathetic. What do you do on a day like this? I buy cupcakes. Everyone knows cupcakes bring sunshine and lollipops into your day... And about 500 calories, which is why I also went for a swim. Funny thing is you can never tell how busy the pool will be. I have no idea of what Calculus to apply to such a forecast (probably because I sucked at Calculus). Take today for instance — there weren't many people there at all. Probably all out buying cupcakes.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

(no) Hockey Town

Skipped out on hockey this week just like last week. I figure I had sprained the muscles around the ribs and that clicking sensation was the contracted muscle in tension. Or something like that.

I'm determined to get back on the ice this Monday... as long as I don't sprain something watching the Grey Cup on Sunday.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Bad Time to be Poor

This song by the Rheostatics, covered here by the Weakerthans, was originally recorded over a decade ago - it feels like a knock against the Mike Harris government who while screwing over the poor also screwed over everybody else. Then after a thorough screwing, you got a kick in the nuts just for good measure - but don't worry, the idiot Jim Flaherty who did wonders screwing up Ontario's economy will bring his acumen for downloading services and destroying vibrant economies nationally. That's right. The rest of Canada gets to see what this former litigation lawyer can really do - watch him wield a calculator like a clumsy axeman. It was a bad time to be poor in the mid-nineties.

Now here we are, in the pit of one of the worst economic collapses since the 1920's and a lot more people will be finding out what most of the world's population already knows. It's always a bad time to be poor.

Bad Time to be Poor

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Wait a second. Just hold on a minute. THAT'S Andrew Upton? That guy is Cate Blanchett's husband?


That guy?

What the... I mean it's like... she's so... and he's like... c'mon! THAT guy?!


Hockey Diaries: Part 3

Another rainy Monday though it didn't actually rain on the drive to the rink. Third time out with freshly sharpened blades and I hurt myself. Just me. There wasn't even anyone near me. I was skating one direction, the pass was behind me and as I twisted and reached back I could feel my ribs buckle into my abdomen. I knew what had happened right away. It's the third time I've done it and the second time I've done it to my right side.
What's happened is the cartlidge has torn from the rib on the last "floating rib" I guess, tearing or straining the ligaments and neighbouring muscles around the bone. I told you I've done this before. Now all I have to do is wait 2 or 3 weeks.

The funny thing is a rib injury always reminds me of is Little House on the Prairie - Pa was always busting up his ribs and getting wrapped up. Then he'd ride back into town or git up on the barn roof or whatever. All I know is when you crack a rib you're more concerned about breathing than "getting back on the saddle". Then again I'm not prairie folk - I'm just a guy who twisted hisself up sumthin' bad, Ma... now let me lie still and apply the heating pad.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Now It Ends (we can only HOPE)

This year has seen the unprecedented use of attack ads in Canada by the Conservatives (whether there was an election or not) and despite claims that rivals would not take "the low road to the highest office" American presidential hopefuls have continued the fine tradition of swapping low blows. I guess as long as these kinds of ads work politicians will continue to run them. Are those ads really effective? Do sensible people watch an ad and think, "well, if that guy's adversary says so - then it's gotta be true!"

While there's still a couple of days left I thought I'd remind everyone how ridiculous negative ads can be by posting these two parodies. The one above is from Mad TV. The one below is an old favorite here at the theatre - John Hodgeman's Attack Ads.

John Hodgeman Attack Ads

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