Saturday, December 29, 2012

In a Fog

St.Johns in the fog

Years ago there was a popular local band that had a semi-hit on provincial radio with a single called "Living in a Fog". Tonight a heavy winter fog descended over St. John's that seemed more than apt. Since landing I've been determined to remain just beneath such a fog, a stupor provided by stiff drinks, too much food and too little exercise. I thought it would be as comfortable as sleeping next to a roaring fire covered in a heavy duvet. I was wrong. Instead it has reminded me of the distance between myself and my family and my tiny retinue of friends. I can't say exactly how. Perhaps I've used the clatter of ice in a glass to say "hey - here for a good time, not a long time." in other words, don't bring me down by discussing reality. I know I've thought to myself that having another drink is easier than wondering if I should have another drink. Then I've thought, that's probably not healthy. In addition to this self-zombification (and let's face it, I always think of Christmas as a Zombie-vacation; must eat. Sleep now. Eat. Brains?) I've found it's been impossible to sleep when I should sleep and even harder to be awake when I should be awake. The alcohol hasn't helped like you would think it would.
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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The 2012 Musical Advent Calendar 

In the past I’ve made physical Advent Calendars packed with chocolates and occasionally a fun surprise, but I was never satisfied with the lack of craftsmanship or could never find a reasonably simple method of manufacture. This year, I’m embracing the virtual and hopefully virtuous.
“The World's Only Musical Advent Calendar that has hardly anything to do with Advent, Christmas or calendars.”

Here's the Playlist. Download it here. (122 MB. If using iTunes, import the tracks as you normally do and import the XML file as a playlist.)
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Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, Kids 

An important message from Santa, “Don't Dope” and I'm sure he just forgot this but don't forget to “Share the Road”.

Santa is riding across the sky with his panniers full of toys, his musette full of cookies and his bidon full of milk reminding everyone to have a safe and happy holiday.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

He Posted Early 

Now that all my Christmas Posts have been done, I can confidently say, “It's out of my hands!” Some amalgamation of couriers, national postal services and army mules will be delivering anything I've ordered or sent for the holidays. In days of yore it wasn't so, according to this public service announcement reminding Britons to “Post Early for Christmas!”

Generally speaking, I hate those e-mail newsletters from services like YouTube telling you what's new but I couldn't resist this one from BFI (British Film Institute) National Archive. What's more striking is this film from 1943 encourages you to post parcels by December 18th and letters by the 20th. That certainly trumps anything Canada Post can do. We've already passed the regular post dates for parcels and it's only the 12th.

You'd think in a world of modern communication and electronic efficiencies postal services would improve not worsen. There's probably some hidden economics at work that's meant the general degradation of the post.

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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Tony Scott Tribute 

Since Tony Scott's death there have been several retrospectives on his work. have created this tribute to the director which isn't simply a list of his films, but is also a thoughtful rumination and analysis of his work.

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Sunday, December 02, 2012

Seen in November

Escapism with escapism
The young protagonists of Hugo enjoy a matinee. Who doesn't on a dark winter's day?

Safety Not Guaranteed
In 1997 this ad ran in the classified section of Backwoods Magazine:
"Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before."
It was a joke by one of the staff. This is a film based on that joke ad. So much of the script seems to ask, "is this a joke?" The final answer almost seems wrong but much of it is right as Aubrey Plaza portrays the interning and unhappy cub reporter trying to figure out if this nut who placed the ad is crazy, delusional or something more.

The Campaign
Rather than watch actual election coverage I wanted to see a delightful parody of the ruthless manner in which American campaigns are run. Unfortunately, this film only supplies some momentary chuckles. A few chuckles a film does not make. For real electoral satire stick to The Election starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick.

I really regret not seeing this beautiful film in the theatre. Even on Netflix it was visually luxe. It's a sort of story within a story of an orphaned boy living in the clockworks of Paris' Montparnasse Station in the late 20s or early 30s. To keep the memory of his father alive he attempts to fix an automaton they were restoring together. The boy's love of film and machines help him not only find his purpose in life, maintain a connection with his deceased father but also revive the memory of an icon and leading innovator of the movies, one Monsieur Georges Mélièrs. The film is a fantastical love letter to the magic of dreams and storytelling in theatre, books and film. What's strange is just how much of this fantastical tale is based on reality.

The Master
I marveled at this eery and difficult to understand film. An alcoholic drifter, played by Joaquin Phoenix, stumbles into a 1950s cult cloaked in pseudo-science, cosmology and invented psychology. This odd group is led by the improvising mystic played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who may or may not be modeled after L.Ron Hubbard, the spiritual leader of Scientology. The truth is America has been home to many such groups (do I really have to name them?) but is the film really about the power of a charismatic man over another or is it about our own groping for some "fix" to our troubles? Or is it about our desire to try and "fix" broken people? Or… I don't know but I'm still working on it.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service
This time of year always seems to call for a Bond fantasy and with Skyfall in theaters I thought I'd catch up on the only Bond film I've never seen - the 1969 one with Aussie George Lazenby. It was good. I know it has its critics but when I think of some of the dogs of the Roger Moore years this film is closer in spirit to the Daniel Craig Bond films. This Bond uses his fists and his wits rather than gadgets. And he falls in love (and marries). Who wouldn't fall for Diana Rigg, who proves up for anything Bond can put her through (almost). In general, it's a slower paced, more realistic story and Lazenby is a lanky, physical presence. I can't say it was an Oscar performance but that's not what's required of a 1960s super spy. A 1960s super spy just has to look awesome skiing in a sky blue ski kit wearing fantastic white goggles.

Young Adult
Surprisingly funny and bitter little film about a woman who never really formed fully as an adult. Charlize Theron in the lead is still beautiful but is a damaged piece of work. Theron plays the unlikeable Mavis, a ghost writer of teen romances, who revisits her home town intent on rekindling her relationship with her high school sweetheart. Unfortunately, he's happily married with a new baby daughter. The twist at the end is the lack of redemption with both sides agreeing, "It sucks to be you."

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