Sunday, January 31, 2010

How to Shut Up a Chatty Person

image via British Science Museum.

First, calm the person by asking them to breath deeply from a pure oxygen source. Then apply anesthetic intravenously. Keep them sedated through use of an LMA (Laryngeal Mask Airway) which sounds harmless enough (though this video indicates otherwise). Now, pull the person's tongue from the mouth with two small forceps. Once the tongue is secured inject some radioactive dye into the targeted malformed veins. Observe the route of the dye using highfalutin imaging equipment. Once you are sure you've targeted the correct veins, inject a small amount of Bleomycin into the veins. Release forceps. Retract LMA. Rouse patient in recovery area.

Wait approximately 36 to 48 hours. Patient's tongue should now be swollen so much as to impede speech and make swallowing difficult.

Congratulations. You have now successfully shut up a troublesome chatty person.

Warning: patients may substitute speaking with mewing, moaning, low-level growls or the more annoying whimpering and whining.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Swim Fan

As I had a Bleo injection in my tongue on Friday I won't be swimming for awhile. This procedure often results in punctures at the injection sites and well, lesions on my tongue. That always sounds so Old Testament, "And then did he have lesions on his tongue which did swell mightily". Needless to say, when your mouth is a skunkworks of bacteria, you don't really want to immerse it in a public pool so Thursday I went for my last swim for at least a couple of weeks. All the regulars were there.

Green Cap
Bela Lugosi
Raul Pudd
Baldy and the Silver Bullet
Dick Clark
The Hobbit
Esther Williams

…to name but a few.

Let me explain. When you go to the same pool regularly, you see the same people but you don't their name. So you assign them one based on some prominent trait.

White swim cap. Neoprene gloves. Blue fins. Swims in an odd underwater breast stroke. Occasionally swims in a butterfly stroke for about 20m then stops abruptly in a curious splayed frog pose. Thus the moniker.

Green Cap
A guy only a little older than myself. A good swimmer. Often swims two lengths doing a butterfly stroke. Then stops for a few minutes to recoup. Usually swims front crawl.

Bela Lugosi
Strange older guy. Imagine the Sesame Street puppet "The Count" has aged badly. Imagine said puppet is human, in his 70s and wearing small, wildly patterned Speedos. Yup. He's very talkative and engages in anyone near him. Especially young woman. Always young woman. Who are evidently a little uncomfortable about talking to an excitable senior wearing wildly patterned Speedos. Bela swims while wearing the kind of paddles some people wear on their hands to give more resistance, thus a better work out. This is fine when swimming a front crawl, but he often does a kind of weird back stroke/floating thing. I suppose his intention is a back stroke or maybe some kind of upside down-reverse breast stroke but it doesn't really work out that well and he mostly floats in the lane. He doesn't stop in the pool. In the change room he's always trying out his language skills on some unsuspecting soul. I have no idea of his original language. Hungarian? Slovak? Russian? It's impossible to know. Especially as he practices broken Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian on confused naked men as he asks, "fja uyafvn afii?" God only knows what he's on about. Makes me fear for my own senior years.

Raul Pudd
Just some guy who kind of looks like Paul Rudd, but not really - sort of a bizarro Paul Rudd.

Baldy & Silver Bullet
Two guys who always show up together, swim consistently in the fast lane. One is bald, the other wears a silver cap. They seem to be having interesting conversations. My other take is that they swim in some club/team which is a lot harder than the casual swim they do at Trinity-Bellwoods.

Dick Clark
An older guy, obviously looks like and even sounds like Dick Clark. Apparently a teacher who seems to have been swimming at this pool for years and knows everyone. Swims in the medium lane. A talker. Let me just say talking to other people when you're near naked is not really my deal and I find it a little bothersome.

The Hobbit
Short fellow. Looks like one of the actors who played a Hobbit in LOTR. That's it really. He runs a nearby contemporary furniture shop. We bought our couch from him and he'll often say hello as he recognizes me. One thing I've learned from having um, irregular facial features (having a face for radio) is you couldn't get away with anything, so don't try. I've come to accept that more people will remember me than I will remember. I guess that's what it's like for famous people. Yes, that's right, I'm like a famous person.*

Esther Williams
I can't figure this woman out. She wears a cap and totally darkened goggles and oddly, very bright red lipstick. She also wears one of those old fashioned one-piece swim suits with the little skirt? Can you still buy those? I guess you can. The effect is that of a 1950s extra in a techni-color aqua-musical.

I suppose sometimes I wonder what their description of me would be. "Funny looking guy. Swims pretty hard. Spends a lot of time fussing with his goggles. Absolutely, under no circumstance, will he put his bare feet on the tile floor, going to great lengths to avoid it."

Hmph, I say, shrugging my shoulders. To each his own.

*I completely forgot this but last weekend I saw 3 small "c" celebrities in one city block of Queen West West. Kenny Holtz from Kenny vs Spenny, Christie Blatchford, Globe & Mail columnist and Sora Olah, host of a local food show who served me coffee at a local coffee shop.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Life is Too Short for Long Films 

Image from Sparks by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

When you live in a thriving city full of cultural events happening every night of the week you try to take advantage and drink it all in. Or not so much. The couch is pretty much where this particular metropolitan usually finds his sorry self. In fact, "drinking it all" is not something I do with anything other than beer and "taking advantage" of anything is entirely too effortful. Yet, I somehow found the energy tonight to pull my metropass from my pocket and board a downtown bound street car. Against all odds, I sat quietly for fifteen minutes or so and walked first to a pub, then onward some 200 metres to the theatre.

Not just any theatre, but the taxpayer owned NFB theatre. Every third Wednesday of the Month the Canadian Film Centre hosts a program of short films. As Kai Pindal used to say (or at least his t-shirt did), "Life is too short for long films." Too bad Tartovsky never learned this.

What follows was tonight's program.

Taron Lexton | USA, 2007 | 7 minutes

When Joel spies a beautiful woman, his heart might have been instantly stolen, but it's his chest that's struck by a very noticeable arrow. He tries dating a parade of other beauties with his extra inches, including Kelly Preston (Jerry Maguire) and Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg), but it's nearly impossible when love has made other plans for you.

Hattie Dalton | UK, 2008 | 14 minutes

Howard (Sir Derek Jacobi, GLADIATOR, GOSFORD PARK) and his wife have lived a very ordinary life. But none of that matters on Judgment Day, when a small mix-up in paperwork causes an otherworldly bureaucratic experience. Parody meets superb performance in this classic British satire.

Tom Everett Scott | USA, 2008 | 12 minutes

A promising new secret agent is dying for his first assignment. Waiting by a phone that doesn’t ring, his dreams of spy super-stardom comically dwindle.

Kirsten Smith | USA, 2008 | 12 minutes

Judy Curtis (Anna Faris, THE HOUSE BUNNY, OBSERVE AND REPORT) is a suburban mom who dreams of being an actress. After a pretentious community theatre director crushes her hopes, she gets one more chance to nail her dream role. Absurd comedy abounds in screenwriter Kirsten Smith’s (THE HOUSE BUNNY, LEGALLY BLONDE) directorial debut.

Rob Kirbyson | USA, 2007 | 7 minutes

Stuart (Tony Hale, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) is an office loner who keeps his feelings and thoughts to himself. When he discovers that a broken computer keyboard can undo his mistakes, he wastes no time in letting his co-workers Ben (Zachary Levi, CHUCK) and Elizabeth (Emy Coligado, CROSSING JORDAN) know what he really thinks of them in this funny look at chancy second chances.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt | USA, 2008 | 24 minutes

Smooth talking private eye Joseph (Eric Stolz, PULP FICTION) has a few questions for former rock’n’roller Robin (Carla Cugino, SIN CITY) who may or may not have burnt down her late husband’s Malibu villa. Adapted from the Elmore Leonard short story, star Joseph Gordon-Levitt (BRICK, THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN) writes and directs this sexy, updated film noir.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Eat. Run. Swim. Sleep.

I just spent ten minutes on the bike. A mere ten minutes. It was still a significant achievement. That's because yesterday I ran 3.2 Km in 19 minutes. Not great numbers. Then I swam 700 m in 25 minutes. More not great numbers. Then I went 3.4 Km in 15 minutes – on the street car. The original plan was to run to the pool, take a quick dip and run home, then maybe do a 15-20 minute cool down on the bike. I left the pool and knew I was a beaten man. I dragged myself to the nearest street car stop and crawled up the steps and sat sullenly until my stop. Not a pretty picture. A guy suited up for a run sitting quietly on a street car. "Don't worry folks, I'm wearing a GPS unit… just trying to pad my stats."

Which is actually why I decided to go for such a run in the first place. Obviously, I like gadgets and I like to keep active so when Mike gave me a watch that is paired with a sensor that goes in your shoe I had to try it. When I then discovered it tracks , maps and records your runs and you can even post your times I thought "this is great". Of course, you have to use it, which is proving more difficult.

Today I could barely walk. Really. Aerobically the run was fine, but my thighs are on fire - over 24hrs later. It feels like they were injected with some kind of weird hot Novacaine. I was locking up my knees to keep standing and grabbing hand rails going up and down stairs. I passed on playing hockey tonight so I could spend ten minutes on the bike. Ten minutes that loosened up my legs enough that I just may be able to stand tomorrow.

By the way, please note that at 8:58 PM EST January 18, 2010 the last crumb of Mom's Christmas Cake Shipment (pound cake + cherry cake) was consumed. The winter blahs have officially begun. 

…and on a Monday no less!


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Slump Ends, Mediocre Life Continues

Be it noted that on Monday, January 5, 2010, an unbelievably and embarrassingly long scoring slump ended when your modest author netted three goals; one from a fortuitous rebound, another from a fortunate deflection off of a defender's skate and lastly from a lovely pass and redirection.

We now return you to regular programming.


Sunday, January 03, 2010

A Week of Sundays

I know you saw this coming. I say it almost every year. The one thing I don't like about the holiday is it feels like a week of Sundays, and the "Sunday-iest" day of the year is New Years Day. You're never sure what's open or what's closed. Can you eat out? Maybe. Can you rent a movie? You can go to see a movie which is what we tend to do. Still, it's an odd no-man's land kind of day. Not to mention the atrophy that sets in, both cerebral and physical. Ever notice it's harder to do a crossword during the holiday? Today, I went for a swim, but on the way there I ran to catch a street car. Almost killed me. It's like I've been in hospital for a week, recovering from cake, liquor, and chocolate ingestion.

When we were kids, we often took down the Christmas tree on January 2nd (though one year I remember it coming down on New Years Day). This year our tree is getting a brief reprieve – the city tree-pickup is on Wednesday so there's no reason to take down the tree only for it to lie on the lawn for three days.

Another tradition that has me thinking this year is watching a World Juniors game. Tonight I watched Canada beat Switzerland 6-1 while at the same time the bodies of 5 Canadians killed in Afghanistan arrived in Toronto. As a Canadian hockey player took an emotional penalty I thought, "dumb move, kid" and it occurred to me that these players really are kids, aged between 17 and 19. Two of the soldiers recently killed were only 24 months older. When I was 21 the Berlin Wall opened up and we thought we were on the cusp of a new era of peace. The great enemy had collapsed, and the cold war had ended, right? Except it was really the start of this new more erratically violent time we find ourselves in. My biggest worries then were passing Calculus, paying rent and what best grit sandpaper to use on Bondo (auto body filler – don't ask).

I think I'm officially starting to sound like Andy Rooney. Excuse me, I have to go trim my eyebrows.


Seen in December

Image via The Auteurs

Not a great movie month but more of a TV month mostly because we spent so much time watching Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 7 & Mad Men Season 3. Most of my Christmas picks were rented and the ones I managed to get were generally dreary European downers still here's what I saw in December.

5th - 2012
Too many fake endings can make a man crave the real one. Spectacular effects but proves that, as a rule, actors are only as good as their material and the acting wasn't that good.

13th- Fantastic Mr. Fox
The affected lo-fi approach may not win over professional animators but a lot of people loved the throw-back style. This film is the only recent one still in my head. Whether for the art direction, acting, music and all the magical moments, this might be one of my favourite films of the year. Reminded me of an old BBC version of Wind in the Willows. For once, the script and Anderson's style meshed perfectly.

25th - A Christmas Tale
I don't get the French and I really question why such a simple story full of inconsistent artifice is considered "genius". It was alright but nothing to write the academy about.

26th - The Wild One
They should've called this one The Mild One. It's a B-movie at best. Second Rate.

28th - the French Connection 2
Another disapointment. None of the pace or grit of the first French Connection. Gene Hackman revives Popeye Doyle but the direction and music anethetize the audience. Some interesting hand held POV shots that look almost like Super-8 but otherwise a dud.

29th - On the Waterfront
A great American film. Great script, acting, directing and score.

30th - The King of Comedy
Highly under rated Scorsese comedy with excellent performances from De Niro, Sandra Bernhard and yes, Jerry Lewis. Foreshadowed our obsession with celebrity and instant, undeserved fame.


Friday, January 01, 2010