December 17, 2004

Bringing Up Baby - soon!

Joy in Piddleville ... A movie I've been waiting on for quite a while, Bringing Up Baby is due out March 1st. It stars Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, and it's directed by Howard Hawks.

Yippee! (It's one of Warner's 2 disc special editions, by the way.)

December 12, 2004

Movies, top of the line

I have finally added a review of my favourite movie ... My Man Godfrey. I absolutely love this movie, particularly Carole Lombard.

It must be the season. I've come across some great movies recently, like The Terminal (see previous post). And this weekend, Hero ... which I think is absolutely great.

I also managed to a quick review of a movie I saw about a month ago, 1948's Portrait of Jennie with Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones. Not a bad movie, if you like romantic fantasy.

December 4, 2004

Waiting at the terminal

Yes, I'm finally posting again. And I'm happy to say I've added a couple of new reviews, including one of my favourite movies of the year, The Terminal.

This one doesn't seem to have come out on DVD with a great deal of hoopla, which is surprising to me. It's better than most of the other releases I've seen.

One of those others is Elf, a nice but predictable Christmas movie from 2003. It has it's charm but doesn't do much with the Hollywood Christmas movie template it uses.

November 14, 2004

Gone With the Wind

I've avoided picking up some movies on disc because I felt sure they would be released in more elaborate sets. As an example, there is the new Gone With the Wind - 4 disc Collector's Edition.

While I wouldn't wait for any movie, some are standards and "must have's" for anyone who collects. While the earlier disc was very good, the latest (this big collector's package) has an even cleaner image plus oodles of additional material.

Of course, the best part is the film. It's a dandy.

October 25, 2004

October 23, 2004

Columbo is back

Finally on DVD, Lt. Columbo! I picked up Columbo - the Complete First Season and it's great ... and no so great.

The great part is the shows themselves. It's especially interesting seeing this set with the two movies that came prior to the series. You get to see how they developed the character into the Columbo we know.

But the set itself ... No much in the way of cleaning them up. There are scratches and so on that give you the sense that whatever copy was handy was the one tossed on the discs.

There are also no features - at all.

October 16, 2004

I'm not alarmed - or am I?

I'm not so much alarmed by the fact it is snowing as I am that a Michael Bolton song is playing through the stereo and I'm almost liking it. Strange times indeed!

The snow is wet and heavy. Trees and their branches are bent in abdication, aknowledging the inevitably of seasonal tyranny. People in the street jump and gyrate as they try to elude a minefield of puddles and snowpiles.

Shall we despair? No, we shan't. And why?

We're hopeless optimists. And we're thinking, "Hey, at least it ain't Florida."

October 11, 2004

A few new old films

I managed to watch and write about a couple of classic movies over the weekend. The first is La R├Ęgle du jeu (The Rules of the Game) by Jean Renoir, 1939.

The other is Akira Kurosawa's 1952 film Ikiru.

Thumbs up on both counts!

October 3, 2004

Canadian movies?

I can't speaking with any authority about Canadian movies largely due to the reasons outlined by Dan Brown in his ramble, When it comes to movies, let's hide our national identity. As he puts it:

We may not like to admit it, but the term "Canadian movie" comes with all kinds of negative baggage. In the mind of the average ticket buyer standing in line at your local multiplex, a Canadian movie is (a) weird and depressing, and (b) cheaply made. This reputation is well earned; it came about because in the past our movies have been low-budget productions that, for the most part, were weird and depressing.
The one exception, for me, might be films from Quebec, such as Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions Barbares).

Speaking strictly for myself, I don't want to know if a film is a good Canadian movie. I just want to know if it's a good movie. If it's from Canada - fine, surprise me when I see it. But being from Canada isn't a selling point, not where I'm concerned. Being an interesting film is.

And if the truth be told, past experience has left me with the knee-jerk response that if it is Canadian it looks cheap and is hopelessly depressing. That this isn't accurate isn't relevant. It's a knee-jerk response.

September 30, 2004

My ongoing state of indecision

A state of indecision can be a problem. Do I go this way? Or do I go that? Hmmm ... Sometimes, you go nowhere.

Anyway ... I've threatened changes to - oh, how do the jolly suits put it? - "enhance my Web product" by making changes.

Which I believe I'm close to doing. And it may me a felling of the axe on certain things. Time for a new ISP for Piddleville? Perhaps, perhaps. Or possibly I should just dump the idea of a site altogether and use one of my other blogs as Piddleville.

Who knows?

By the way ... the image? That's the real-world Piddleville. I live in there somewhere.

September 26, 2004

Week of Star Wars

Yes, I picked up the Star Wars Trilogy on DVD and so the week was spent with Luke, Darth Vader and the gang.

Honestly, I was not a big fan of Star Wars when it came out. Seeing it again, I think I enjoy it a bit more but I'm stilled not overly taken by the space fantasy. The characters were always just a little bit too cardboard for me. The story is good; the characters though ... a little too namby pamby or something.

I find it interesting that George Lucas directed the first (now called A New Hope) but others directed The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. These two work much better for me, particularly The Empire Strikes Back.

September 19, 2004

Red carpet cat

The stars came out recently as Gonzo, the commoner cat, did the red carpet thing on her way to receive her award as most interesting pet.

The evening did not transpire without controversy, however. Gonzo made it quite clear she found the term pet, "... disagreeble, offensive and indicative of a patriarchal attitude that cannot and must not be tolerated."

She then proceeded to tear some very high priced gowns with her claws as she engaged in a hissy fit.

On another note, when asked who she was wearing for the evening, Gonzo replied coldly, "Me. It's called fur, moron."

September 18, 2004

The interesting cat

And the winner is ... Gonzo! Most interesting pet on the floor where I work.

Okay, so it ain't an Oscar and it ain't no Nobel Prize. But Gonzo managed to surmount the fierce competition for this coveted award to become recognized as the most interesting pet.

Frankly, we're both a bit puzzled by it given her generic, cookie-cutter cat appearance and mongrel ancestory. But we'll take it!

Actually, Gonzo is a bit of a practical cat. Her first question on hearing the news was, "And the prize? Is it money? There's no point in getting an award if there's no money attached. Where's the cash? What we talking here? Huh?"

September 12, 2004

Testosterone shot

Every now and again you want to see something silly, mindless but well made. Well, you could do worse than 1987's Predator. (But really, it is pretty idiotic.)

September 11, 2004

At last - American Beauty

I've always liked American Beauty. So I've finally gotten around to scribbling a few thoughts down. Unfortunately, it is scribbling. It's disjointed and incoherent. But at least I got something done. Maybe one day I'll revisit it when I'm more ... um, thoughtful?

September 8, 2004

Are we going to take it?

It is roughly 5 degrees Celcius outside. (That would be about 41 F.) It is expected to go down to 1 degree tonight. (And that would be 33.8 F.) We have it on good meteorological authority that we can expect snow. Don't believe me? Check the weather links here.

What I find discouraging is that not so long ago I was here, with all the blue. And when I was here, it was 37 degrees - quite toasty.

How quickly things change. Shall we take it? Must we? Against whom are we to rebel?

September 5, 2004

Speaking of hurricanes

With Frances slowly trundling over Florida, hurricanes seem to be the theme of the day and it brings to mind by favourite movie on this subject, John Ford's 1937 The Hurricane. (Of course, there's also Key Largo.)

The movie climaxes with what may be my favourite special effects sequence, certainly one of the best on film. It's all the more amazing because it's from 1937.

(It should be said, however, special effects are helped greatly by being in black and white.)

August 30, 2004

Who I was?

This was me. Or who the Internet thinks I was. Great tool for those who haven't a sense of their own identity.




Which 1990's Subculture Do You Belong To?


[Another Quiz by Kris
@ couplandesque.net]

August 29, 2004

Another change coming?

I may change the template of this blog. On the other hand I may not. Can't decide. In the meantime, as I struggled with this great decision, I added Arsenic and Old Lace.

August 26, 2004

Actually, it's Bow Lake

Well, on my little ramble I incorrectly identified Bow Lake, Alberta as Columbia Lake. I knew I would identify something incorrectly. I just wasn't sure what it would be. So I've updated the pages and they are now accurate - more or less.

August 22, 2004

Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo

I managed to do a movie marathon last night. Only because while watching Get Shorty they mentioned Rio Bravo ... so I went and played it. For what it's worth, here's my take on Rio Bravo.

August 21, 2004

Why live in Canada?

I suppose at least some of my reasons can be found here, in my West Kootenay ramble. It may not be the sort of thing everyone would care for but for those who do, these are images from my part of world.

August 15, 2004

Back from West Kootenay

For someone of my limited travelling inclination and experience, I certainly covered a heck of a lot of ground in the last week.

The main stop was a few days in Kaslo, on Kootenay Lake in the West Kootenays (British Columbia). Getting there from Creston in B.C. has to be one of the coolest drives a person could make. It winds around mountains with some hair-raising turns, landslide warnings and includes a ferry ride. (On the way up we had to take the long way since we couldn't get to Balfour and the ferry - a landslide blocked the way).

But Kaslo was only one part. There was the getting to Kaslo and the return trip, by another route. So we took in quite an array of mountains and mountain lakes, deer and elk, and various grizzly bear warnings.

We drove from Edmonton west to the mountains to get there. On the way back, we went south by Creston, nudged the Idaho border, up to Cranbrook, over to Fernie where we camped, then on to the Crowsnest Pass and finally to Fort Macleod where I got off and took the bus back to Edmonton.

Of all the things we saw, I think I'd have to say the Frank Slide, where part of Turtle Mountain collapsed and slid down on a coal mining camp back in 1903 (the largest slide in North America), was the most astonishing. Any pictures I've seen of this area don't really capture it. The immensity of the boulders and the breadth of the slide are ... well, astonishing. It makes you feel very small and very fragile.

August 8, 2004

Hellboy revisited

I just watched Hellboy again. Afterwards, I watched the DVD documentary. (I should say I started to. It's still playing in the background. It's about as engaging as watching the Canadian House of Commons.)

Anyway, I had to scribble this down. It's director Guillermo del Toro:

"One of the keys to the comics is to understand that even though Hellboy is six foot five, bright red, has horns and a tail and all that, he's a regular Joe."

Huh? Are you listening to yourself? This is the problem with Hellboy. It's very well made. But it's stupid! It's dumb, dumb, dumb!

This is why I rank it with Moulin Rouge as one of the best made stupid movies of recent years. (But I still like Ron Perlman in it.)

August 7, 2004

John Ford & Liberty Valance

It has taken me a while to finally get around to picking up John Ford's 1962 western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. But I finally did and I finally got around to writing about it. Actually, I wrote quite a bit. I appear to have gotten a little carried away.

But it's a great movie. A great western. If you like these kinds of films, this is a classic. A "must see," as they say.

August 6, 2004

Butch and Sundance

I would have been 13 or 14 when I first saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I've seen it many times since. The question is, why do I like it? Why does anyone like this movie? (And why did it get so many bad reviews when it came out despite the fact people loved it?)

I try to explain why I think the movie works in my review of it. (Is it accurate to call my ramblings reviews? Maybe not but I don't know what else to call them.)

August 5, 2004

Hitchcock double dip

It looks like Warner is bringing out Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train again on September 7th - this time as a two disc, special edition set.

I don't know what's planned for the set. I would guess that, like the single disc version already out, it will have both versions - the British and the American. Other than that ... I don't know. The single disc is pretty good already, except for the fact it is dual-sided (one version on each side) and in that horrible cardboard and plastic case. Knowing nothing about what's on this new set (as compared to the single), I don't know whether it would be worth getting.

But I am intrigued.

August 4, 2004

The logo irks me

I continue to make changes here and on Piddleville overall (though the real changes I'd like to make, such as css, I haven't made since - blush - I don't know how yet. (Even though I've had the sites for years!)

The most irksome thing for me right now is the Piddleville (and Burble) logos - if that's not too lofty a word for what is really just a cheap, amateurish text graphic. I would go back to the old logo but somehow it doesn't seem to fit with the look of the site.

Don't be surprised to see the image keep changing. I'll probably keep at it till I get it right (or breakdown and ask/pay someone to do it for me).

August 3, 2004

What's up with Piddleville?

You may have noticed Piddleville is somewhat quirky these days. The reason for this is simple: I'm playing around. And I have an obsessive need to publish pages even when they aren't ready. (I'm sure a good therapist could explain why.)

Anyway ... the home page has a bit of a new look as I add or update the odd thing. For instance, since adding Google in the header I can now do searches of Piddleville. This may not be of value to anyone but it is a value to me.

And what's with the news page? No sooner do I get it up than something goes wonky with the CBC feed. Either nothing has happened in Canada the last few days or there's a glitch somewhere. (I can't even access their support site.)

That's what is up. I'll probably keep playing with things for a while. Expect to see some other quirks here and there.

August 2, 2004

Perlman in Hellboy

The movie Hellboy is kind of like a TV show with a big budget. It's entertaining in its way but not particularly memorable ... with the exception of Ron Perlman. He gives a great performance as a hero who just couldn't give a monkey's behind about anything. Very dry; very good.

August 1, 2004

Mr. Blandings a bit bland?

I appear to be alone in my opinion of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. This may be due to the fact I've never been involved in building a house. I don't know. Most reviews seem to like the movie but I found it a bit dated and flat. Go figure.

July 31, 2004

And now, the weather

I've added weather to the news page. None of this will mean anything to you if you don't live in Alberta. Well, at least in Canada. This has been added simply because I can and was curious about how it would look.

I haven't decided whether any of this will be permanent.

July 28, 2004

News comes to Piddleville

I've gone and added CBC news to Piddleville (and the Burble, I suppose, since it's a kind of bedroom community to Piddleville).

Anyway ... it seems to behave a bit oddly. Sometimes I click the link and it's there. Sometimes it isn't. I don't know if the problem is at my end or theirs but I'll live with it a while to see how it all plays out.

By the way, the news page has Arts, Canada and Alberta news.

July 27, 2004

Political collateral

I may be what is best called "political collateral damage." I've been caught in the fallout of the U.S. election race and the fevered need of Democrats and Republicans to get me to vote for their guy, despite the fact I can't since I'm a Canadian.

Still, today on the Internet I've encountered loads of pop up ads prompting me to head to the polling booth on decision day.

Hope this thing ends soon. Bad enough I had to endure a tedious Canadian election.

July 25, 2004

Am I a prude?

I don't think so. I just think Bad Santa is a turkey of a movie.

A disagreeable Mitchum

Maybe disagreeable is the wrong word since, in The Night of the Hunter, part of the evil Robert Mitchum portrays is in his ability to make people think he's a good guy when he's not.

Doesn't matter. The movie is great, though a bit odd. And maybe that's why I like it and did a review of it.

(And yes, it's been a while since I wrote anything but it's been a busy few weeks - not to mention great weather and who wants to be inside when that's going on?)

July 13, 2004

Why I quit radio

Some people confuse free speech with freedom to be offensive, even hateful. Or, as what happens more often, the freedom to be juvenile in order to get an audience, which often degenerates into being offensive.

I've no problem with the CRTC decision to yank a station's license. When I worked in radio, too many stations thought the only way to survive and make money was to go this route. In some cases it worked. However, it's very difficult to take any pride in what you do when what you do is find new ways to appeal to young people by being vulgar, or appealing to a "mass" audience this way.

I think it's insulting to young people (though they generally have a greater tolerance for it than the old and calcified).

Anyway, I got out of commercial radio largely because it had become so mind-numbingly stupid. In the years since, it appears little has changed. Well, maybe the degree of its stupidity has changed. It's become worse.

July 11, 2004

Brando great but Sayonara weak

I watched 1957's Sayonara last night starring Marlon Brando. He is great. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie isn't in the same league. Which is too bad because it's a really good movie. It just doesn't reach it's potential. I wrote a review of it.

July 10, 2004

Transition: one platform to another

It just may be the magnificence of The Burble, as well as Piddleville itself, will be offline for a bit sometime over the next few days. I'm making the transition from one platform to another and it will involve changing DNS settings etc., uploading all the files and so on. If it is down, it shouldn't be down for long. I just don't know when or if it will happen - sometime over the next week, I would imagine.

Maybe I'll take the opportunity to clean up a bit of the chaos in here. Who knows?

July 8, 2004

Movies to squint at: The Name of the Rose

I watched The Name of the Rose last night (out this week on DVD) and spent a good deal of time squinting. While thematically a dark film, it's also visually dark. So much so you almost think you're watching something by David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, The Game etc.).

I realize a director wants to communicate certain elements (like theme) visually, but really ... is it a good idea to make a movie people can barely see? (Okay, so maybe it's not that dark.)

July 7, 2004

Brief random thought re: media and politics

I saw a new TV promo tonight where the station proudly declared it would be watching the new Canadian government (which is the same as the old one but with less power). They'll be watching for the great mob, us. But what I wanted to know was who would be watching those media clowns? Hmm? The promo implied politicians are not to be trusted but really, what idiot trusts the media? It's like that old expression about the pot calling the kettle black. Anyway ...

Gads! ... Gotta get up early tomorrow to go see the doc to make sure that during my minor surgery they didn't screw up. I don't think they have; I feel more or less fine. But we'll check it out just to be sure. Don't want to find out six months from now that someone lost their pager inside me.

July 4, 2004

Western melodrama: Duel in the Sun

I must be experiencing a burst of movie energy since I have yet another review posted.

Unfortunately, this movie is a turkey. It's the 1946 western melodrama Duel in the Sun. Some people like it for its over-the-top silliness but frankly, it's a long movie. Too long to endure for something that's just plain bad.

Apparently, at the time it was intended to be a kind of western Gone With the Wind, and you can see where they probably had that in mind. But you can also see what a bad idea it was.

The biggest problem, I think, is not recognizing most good westerns depend on a simplicity, part of which is production restraint. So when you pull out all the stops and make the movie an overblown, grandiose production, you're making something in direct opposition to the sensibility of the western.

July 3, 2004

Cold Mountain: another review

I seem to be on a minor review roll. The latest is Cold Mountain - and I loved it. Go figure.

(By the way, in the review I neglected to mention how good the music is. Not a surprise though - T-Bone Burnett, same guy who was in charge of the music in O Brother, Where Art Thou?)

July 1, 2004

New review: around the world (1956 version)

I got back from Vancouver last night - lovely time. Though I felt a bit like Tom Hanks in The Terminal. It was two days spent essentially at the airport. (That's where the hotel was and the meetings.)

This morning, I managed to throw together my take on Around the World in 80 Days (the 1956 version, not the new one, which appears to have been less than successful at the box office).

It's not a great movie, by the way. But it does have some interesting aspects to it. (Yes, I know ... that doesn't tell you a lot and is hardly the sort of thing that recommends a movie.)

June 28, 2004

Lust in the dust?

I just watched Duel in the Sun and I can't say I was too taken by it. There were a few good moments, it was nice to see Gregory Peck playing against type as an obnoxious bad guy, but overall I think I found it overly melodramatic even for a soap opera (which it is). Frankly, the movie seems kind of silly.

But that's my immediate gut response. I'll have to think about this one.

June 27, 2004

Tarzan and the movies

Yes, hard to believe but I have put up a new review and have a fistfull of other movies to watch. The review? Tarzan the Ape Man, kind of a curious little something from 1932 that led to a whole bunch of subsequent Tarzan movies.

June 20, 2004

A cottage near Rimbey

I just got back from a cottage near Rimbey. (That's in Alberta. And that's in Canada.) I don't have much to say about it. I'll let the images do the talking.

June 16, 2004

Leaders debate: canadian election

I watched a good deal of the leaders English debate last night. I have to be honest, what struck me most was how annoying the NDP's Jack Layton was. He managed to undermine his good points, including his very significant point that the Liberals and Conservatives were running campaigns about what not to vote for rather than what to vote for, by his constant interruptions and haranguing. Frankly, I found him rude and ill-behaved.

As for the rest, I thought the Liberal's Paul Martin did fairly well given that he was under almost constant attack, and the Conservative's Stephen Harper did well also managing to score points without coming across the way Jack Layton did. However, it should also be said all the candidates with the exception of the Bloc Quebecois' Gilles Duceppe appeared pre-programmed. So it wasn't so much a debate as it was recorded announcements playing simultaneously.

And the question remains: forget the leaders, what kind of parties are the Liberals and the Conservatives? What kind of people will be running the Canadian government should one of these two be voted in?

June 13, 2004

A day of day surgery

I was thinking last night about this hernia operation. In the world of medical procedures, it's not a huge thing but, when you have a dislike for anything like this, as I do, it's big enough.

I began in the Day Ward, on the first floor (U.of A. Hospital). The procedure was on the third floor, Operating Theatre 4. So I was taken on a bed ride.

It was quite cool. I kept thinking, "Steadi-cam. That's what I need - a steadi-cam." Because I was seeing it all in terms of film and how it would appear (from my prone position on the bed, head slightly elevated). It wasn't quite the frantic rush you would see on TV. Rather, it was leisurely and much more interesting that way.

Anyway ... next up, Operating Theatre 4. Frankly, I've seen too many movies. So I had far too many disagreeable images and scenes playing out in my head.

The worst: the IV thing. So I'm hooked up. And they placed the oxygen thing over my nose and mouth while putting the anti-nausea, knock-out stuff into me via the IV. And I kept thinking, "This is how they do the execution thing. Death by lethal injection. This is how they do it."

This is not the sort of shit you want running through your head. But that's what was in mine.

When I came to afterwards, it was just like coming to after fainting or a seizure - both of which I'm overly familiar with. Again, quite disagreeable. I hadn't a clue who I was or where I was or who belonged to the voices I was hearing. I know I suddenly had chills and was shivering madly and someone said something about Demerol and morphine and - poof! I was out again.

The next time I came too, sort of the same thing - minus the shivering. But I stayed conscious and quickly recalled the who, the where, the why and so on. My throat was dry and sore (like a sore throat) and I damn near died when I started coughing. You'd be amazed at how involved your stomach muscles are in everything!

And then ... the long wait to get sensible enough and physically up to scratch sufficiently so they could say, "Adios," and send me home.

Lovely day.

June 11, 2004

dear me - yeeouch!!!

Hernia operation tomorrow. Ack!!! Not something I look forward to. I don't care for doctors, hospitals and I'm predisposed to anxiety. In fact, I'd be drinking heavily right now but I understand it's frowned on pre-operation.

Anyway ... I'll be pretty geographically restricted for a few days so ... who knows? I may get Piddleville updated a bit. (Maybe another movie review or two?)

June 4, 2004

choose your poison - canadian election 2004

All the parties have slogans for the election (though for the life of me I can't recall what they are). I've come up with my own - Choose Your Poison.

As usual, we've got another election that sort of works like negative opt-in. We'll be voting for what we don't want, rather than what we do. In other words, we'll be voting against something.

What are our choices? With the three major English Canadian parties they seem to be corruption, incompetence or the tooth fairy.

Personally, I wouldn't have a problem voting for Paul Martin. I wouldn't be enthusiastic about it, but I could do it. Unfortunately for Mr. Martin he leads a party that makes Enron executives look like choir boys. They are so morally bankrupt Machiavelli would be proud.

While Steven Harper might not be so bad, you can't really tell. He always gives me the impression of a guy who's doing handstands trying not to say anything but the prerecorded message that has been implanted in him. He also looks like a dentist, so there are some negative associations. And again ... the leader is one thing, the party another. To put it kindly, the Conservatives don't inspire confidence. They also eat their own. All parties do, of course, but they do it publicly and with glee and relish.

With Jack Layton, I still think he looks like a used car salesman urging people to come down to the "Weekend Blowout! Everything must go!" As for the party, they still think it's 1975. It's wonder they know how to use computers.

So where's that leave us? Bored and disgruntled and wondering if there could be a third option. You know, like some award giving organizations have: "We chose not to give an award this year as no one was deserving of it."

You also have to wonder if the anti-monarchists are wrong-headed. Given what we get to choose from in elections, would rule by a foreign king or queen really be so bad? At the very least, could it possibly be worse? You have to wonder.

June 1, 2004

into the west

Ever since seeing The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King, I've had that damn song "Into the West" playing in my head. Great song - but I don't want it in my head all the time!

I hate it when this happens.

May 30, 2004

wahhh!!!! everybody has a better blog than me!!!

It's true. I saw someone had visited my other blog, Writelife, and they came from Good Grief! Geez ... everytime I go to someone's blog it's a better looking blog than mine. I want my money back!!!

No, wait ... this one's free, ain't it?

May 29, 2004

election rant - how can I care if I can't stay awake?

For anyone outside of Canada not in the loop, there's currently a federal election going on in this part of the world. For those of us within Canada, the tedium you've noticed dominating the news is the election - yes, we have one going on though it's hard to keep your eyes open through it.

One of the questions the media and others keep asking is, "Why don't young Canadians care?" My question would be, "Why would anyone care?"

The level of disinterest among young Canadians has caught the eye of a number of people. There is a fairly high level of disinterest amongst all of us but it seems particularly heady with Canada's youth.

But how could anyone begin to give a monkey's hind end when all we see or hear is the prepackaged political pablum of the marketing strategies? And poor strategies at that, unless the point is to put us all to sleep.

This isn't about an absence of sensationalism. It's about an absence of anything remotely of interest to those of us who live here. Of the leaders, the only person that raises even a half-hearted eyebrow is Jack Layton, leader of the NDP - New Democratic Party. He seems to be saying to voters, "Look at me - I'm an ass. But I'm okay with it!" Jack, if we want clowns we'll go the freakin' circus.

And then there are the Liberals with current Prime Minister Paul Martin at the forefront. I call this the MBA campaign. It's characterized by business school thinking. You know the kind - PowerPoint snippets created by people who haven't been out of a boardroom in 20 years. The campaign's connection to people is non-existent. Those clowns wouldn't know a Canadian if he walked up and shat on their boots.

And what kind of communication strategy do these guys have? It's like a wrong-headed take on a drip campaign. They release announcements weeks ahead of the official announcement. Probably to find out how the thing will fly. Then they release it again. And again. And again ... usually with slight variations.

By the time they make the "official" announcement (like the recent revenue sharing of gasoline taxes with cities and towns), who in the country cares anymore? Our eyes are glazed over; they've numbed us with repitition. We just want them to please shut the hell up and move on.

Finally, there are the Conservatives with manikin man Steven Harper at the helm. They give a whole new meaning to the word drab. And to the phrase one-trick-pony. Their position seems to be summed up by the phrase, "We're against everything." They seem to suffer from the affliction most conservative people and parties suffer from. Despite the merits of their positions, they put everything in negative terms. I can't image a drearier, more depressing world than the one envisioned by the right. Are these people ever happy? Is there anything they don't dislike?

The left, for all their idiocies and whining, at least have a few positive moments and smile on occasion.

And yes, there is the Bloc Quebecois. However, in my end of the country they aren't part of the equation. I'm not sure how they come across in Quebec.

Anyway, if I see one more election hopeful stutter and flounder as he or she tries to say something without saying anything, I’ll scream. And while these are the early stages of the campaign, I hope someone, somewhere, in some party gets the radical notion of saying something substantive and take a real position on something.

At the very least, could we find someone who doesn’t look like an alien life form struggling to mimic the sounds and gestures of a genuine human being? Could we fire all the strategists and handlers?

Links:
Canada Votes - CBC
Liberal Party of Canada
Conservative Party of Canada
NDP - New Democratic Party
Bloc Quebecois

May 27, 2004

got it - the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Yes, I picked it up today, watched it and am now awaiting the extended edition (though I keep wondering how much freakin' longer could it get?).

But the thing is ... so far, the extended versions emphasize the characters a bit more than the theatrical versions, where the focus is on action ... and for me, that gets a bit tedious. How many times can you watch an orc get chopped up? Anyway ... I liked it the movie, though I have some reservations. When I think I can at least attempt an articulation of them, I'll post a review.

But for now ... it's the best current DVD out right now. So what are you waitin' for?

May 25, 2004

be fairly warned

Foreknowledge can be a handy thing in terms of proactivity. (Heavens ! Have I just made up a new noun?)

Yeah, it's a dumb ass opening but the point is this: I'm in the mood to start rearranging the Web furniture so do not be surprised to find this and my other sites in various stages of disarray, dishabille, and general visual and usability distress.

I wanna different look. Too much sombre blue and grey.

May 24, 2004

russian brides?

Good grief ... I can't remember what blog I found this on, but this appears to be a kind of mail order type site for Russian brides (warning - numerous pop ups).

Where does this stuff come from?

UPDATE: And then there's this - Over 100 Russian Mail Order Brides to Gather.

there's always something

It seems whenever I do something and think I've got it taken care of, something else pops up that needs attending before I can say, "Finished!" In this case, I can't test the feed I've set up because my reader (FeedDemon) doesn't accept Atom yet (well, there's a beta version that does but I can't get that for at least a week).

Even so, there's a feed (http://www.piddleville.com/atom.xml). Of course, what's that worth if the content sucks? Hmm?

That's the downside of personal blogs. Except for yourself, who give's a monkey's behind?

May 22, 2004

feed for the burble

I've added a feed for the Burble using Atom. I don't have a clue if I did it right or not - I'm still working it out. But we'll see.

broad comedy

I love the movie Just Visiting. I don't know why I didn't give it more stars.

It's pretty silly as movies go. Some of the scenes are priceless, they're so funny. The humour is pretty broad and slapstick and while some of the jokes may be coarse it isn't vulgar. Just ... well, silly.

For me, it's also a certain kind of movie - I don't have a name for it yet. But it's one of those films I go back to again and again when I can't figure out what I want to watch. It almost always works for me; I don't seem to tire of it.

May 20, 2004

GBU - restored, remastered and in my hands

And last night I finally did pick up the restored, remastered edition of GBU (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly). Unfortunately I couldn't watch it. Hell, I had to see the Flames make it to the Stanley Cup, didn't I? So hopefully tonight ...

The packaging of GBU is pretty cool - a nice box that includes the two discs, an eight page booklet (done widescreen style - in other words, landscape orientation), plus some movie postcards in cellophane wrape. It's very nice. My only reservations? The box is a little awkward to open because the lid fits so firmly and, because the packaging is largely white the box, it will acquire a dirty, used look easily (especially given the lid issue).

Yes, it's quibbling ... Overall, it seems quite nice. But what about the discs? I'll find out tonight ...

May 19, 2004

good, bad, ugly - extended, remastered version

Where has my mind been? What could I have been thinking? The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - extended, remastered version - came out yesterday and I still don't have it.

Hoping to correct that error in a few hours.

May 18, 2004

what am I doing?

I'm being redundant. I've posted some items on two sites as I figure how what the hell I'm doing. I've started another blog, Writing for Your Life, and using it to test another blog service.

Yes, yes I know ... Ungrateful bastard! But they had some tools I wanted so I thought I'd test it out. Anyway ... for the moment I have some posts appearing in both blogs. But I'll stop doing that soon. Honest.

May 17, 2004

please don't start your copy with a question

I hate copy that begins with a question. It could be the start of a radio ad; it could be the beginning of a Web page. It might be TV; it might be print. Questions that begin the copy drive me crazy.

I don't know whether this is just a personal dislike or if there is actually data to support this as a rule. But my gut tells me that if you begin with a question you're inviting a response - a negative response. Such as, over the radio:

"Do you want to save a $1,000 on your next car?"* (see footnote below)

"No - I want to spend twice as much as anyone else!" (Sarcastic voice accompanied by the sound of a radio being retuned.)

Okay, so maybe not the best example. But I think the idea ia there. And while I don't think everyone is quite this outwardly responsive to a question, I suspect most people do have some internal negative response, especially if the question is as smarmy as this example.

The idea is to get the person hearing or seeing the copy interested in what you are writing about - a product, a service, whatever. I like to assume my audience is 1) harassed by marketing messages and therefore predisposed against me, 2) busy with their lives and thus not willing to give me their time, 3) despite 1 and 2, willing to pay attention to something that is genuinely interesting, acknowledges them and their experience, and is presented in way that contains worthwhile information in an intelligent, not necessarily creative, way (though creative is a big help).

It's not always easy to do, particularly in offline ways (like radio). The conditions under which you write don't allow it. You don't have the time - it has to be written quickly. You have too many things to write (there is only so much good copy you can write in a day). You don't have enough information or, more often, the information you're being asked to convey is excessive, in the wrong medium or both. (Again, like a radio ad. A good example is local car dealer message where you get information that is great for a newspaper ad but not much help for a radio, especially when the client wants a grocery list.)

Yes, it may just be a personal gripe of mine. But I've seldom seen or heard copy that began with a question that didn't elicit a negative response from me, usually something vulgar or profane.

(* This is both badly written and written well. It is incorrect to say "...save a $1,000 on your next car," because it is read aloud as "... save a thousand dollars on your next car." To be correct, it should say whether it is one thousand, two thousand or whatever. "A thousand" just ain't right. However, the phrase is written well in the sense that this is how people talk. Sometimes, at least in business/commercial writing, it is more correct to be incorrect.)

May 16, 2004

boring copy - writing as decor

If you're going to use copy have the good sense to make it stand out. Have it say something. And if you're using it as wallpaper save money and effort by buying actual wallpaper. Don't do what these clowns are doing ...

Seth Godin points to this fine example of pointless copy - he speaks of it as copy as decoration. It certainly can't be intended to be read. For one thing, it's a reddish brown font on a golden brown background. Not exactly a high contrast presentation that allows you to read the text or, for that matter, even to notice it.

And what does it actually say? It says this (caps as per the sign):

Savor the
Finest Coffee
Grown,
Selected, and
Roasted
Especially
For Your
Enjoyment.


Supposing you actually noticed the words and were bored enough to read them, what does this tell you? What do the words do?

Nothing. First of all, I've never been to any coffee place that didn't claim to have "the finest coffee." (And it's always "finest," never another word since coffee drinkers are presumably a pretentious group, or so marketers believe.)

It would certainly get my attention if it announced second-rate coffee, but it might have a negative effect on sales. As it is, the copy is all cliches, redundant phrases used a billion times over for selling coffee. It has no meaning. They may as well have a sign saying, "For all your coffee drinking needs."

If you're going to write something and you're going to make the same damn claim everyone else is making, at least have the good sense to find some new words or phrases. At least it will then have something to distinguish it. But if you want it to really work, say something different. With a gazillion coffee places in the world, why should someone go to yours? What makes you different? What makes you better?

Finally, if you write something ask yourself how you would respond to it. If it does nothing for you it sure ain't going to do something for someone else.

(Yes, this post states the obvious but it's worth repeating since so much writing makes this fundamental mistake.)

May 15, 2004

new project

I've been delinquent with updates etc. lately because I'm in the process of imagining, creating, figuring out a new project that will include another blog.

But I have seen a few films, including Kill Bill Vol. 1 which surprised me - I liked it. Wouldn't have guessed that ...

May 11, 2004

new look blogger

Quite unexpectedly, when I went to Blogger to enter this post I came upon a new look - quite a new look.

Gut response? Better, much better ... However, that's based on the look. But for this post, I haven't used it so I don't know yet if the usability is improved. It seems as if it has, but the final verdict is still out ...

May 9, 2004

writing and the web

I've just done a brief scan of the Web looking for sites about writing. I was actually looking for blogs on writing - I'm sure they must exist - but didn't have great deal of success. When it comes to Web searches, I'm something of a bonehead.

The sites I found, most of which were not blogs, shared a few things in common. Despite using some terms and phrases about "online writing" and "Writing for the Web," most seemed to be by clods who have just discovered 1) the Web, 2) writing or 3) both.

There also seems to be some confusion. For those who haven't noticed, there is more than one kind of site on the Internet. In fact, there is a great deal of variety out there. The way you write is not conditioned by the Web, or at least not entirely. While it's crucial to be aware of the way people read online - scanning, rushed and with lowered comprehension levels - it is just as crucial to understand why they are reading.

In other words, people online are task oriented. So it's important to know what that task is. In some cases, the task is to read. (I'm not, however, arguing for loads of text. You seldom go wrong being brief and concise.)

So ... On some sites, such as business sites (product information, e-comm tools etc.), they are looking for information or looking to buy. On other sites, however, they are looking for news, sports stories, etc. Sometimes, such as in blogs, they are looking for people and ideas. And on some sites, such as galleries and so on, they are looking for images.

Some of these sites will have quite a bit of text; some will have very little. Some will be dry and direct; some will have personality and humour (or even crankiness).

In all cases, most general writing rules apply - just as they do anywhere else. But they are informed by the fact the text is a vital part of the layout. The visual impact of a page, more so than in other media, helps or hinders a person's desire and ability to read. As mentioned above, writing rules are also conditioned by the way people behave online - impatient, lower comprehension levels etc.

(By the way, have you noticed how the first two paragraphs of this bit are completely unnecessary? Or how I could have trimmed this thing down to half the length it is?)

I hate the word rules, especially when related to writing. In many ways, I don't believe in them. As soon as someone says, "The rule is ..." I want to break it. But ...

The good thing about developing and learning rules is this: they can be broken. However, it's only in understanding why the rules exist that you can break them without looking like an ass. This is because, if you're smart, the way you break a rule takes into account the broken rule's "why." You may also find, in the situation where you are trying to break the rule, that it cannot be done.

And that's my off the cuff musing about writing, the Web and rules. (And whatever else I may have thrown in here.)

ice sculptures worth seeing

Here are some ice sculptures that have the "wow" factor to a big degree. They're from the Harbin Snow & Ice Festival. (Thanks to R. Todd King's site.)

And where the hell is Harbin? China. To be specific, Harbin is the capital of China's Heilongjiang province. (That's upper right on a map - or north east quadrant, if you prefer. Near Siberia).

Speaking of Siberia ... It's about seven hours now since I wrote the above. I woke to a day registering -3 on the Celsius thermometer. Good grief! (It should be between 15 and 20). Believe it or not, there is an upside. The predicted snow didn't appear.

May 8, 2004

copywriting basics

From Debbie's blog ... This is Copywriting 101: answer a few questions before starting. The same advice has been offered in about a gazillion forms but it all boils down to the same thing. It seems obvious but, in the rush to get things done, is often neglected - thus ensuring a project takes twice as long as it needs to.

(Nope ... this entry has nothing to do with movies. It's about one of my other interests and, yes, I do have more than one.)

May 1, 2004

busy busy busy

Well, maybe not so much busy as pre-occupied with things like warmer weather. It's been too nice recently to spend time on computers. But I have been watching movies ... but nothing that's really struck me as exceptional. But then I seem to be experiencing a lull.

April 18, 2004

the grapes of wrath

I noticed at Chapters someone screwed up. They had Master and Commander on the shelf as well as The Office (second season), both of which aren't due to be out till Tuesday (27th). However, I didn't care enough about either to pick them up.

But I did pick up The Grapes of Wrath (Fox, special edition). Now there's a movie with images I have burned into my brain from childhood. I don't know why, but they've stayed with me. I'm not sure how many times I've actually seen it. Quite a few, I think.

But it's been a long time since I last saw it and I'm looking forward to seeing - tonight! (To hell with hockey.)

April 10, 2004

what have they done to vampires?

I rant about the decline of vampires in my take on Underworld, the worst review I've given a movie in quite some time.

April 7, 2004

the matrix revolutions on dvd

I finally saw The Matrix Revolutions last night after picking up the DVD. For some reason the store threw in posters and buttons which immediately found their way into the recycle bin once I got home.

Early opinion? While better than The Matrix Reloaded (no eight minute car chase though the Wachowski brothers still insist on action sequences that go on longer than Oscar award shows), it struck me as a largely forgettable movie.

The movie certainly captures comic book/anime imagery but as others have said, who were the characters and why would anyone care about any of them? There’s just no sense of any involvement with what is happening on screen.

In the end, The Matrix movies may end up being a lesson in what happens when you hype the pee out of something: a lot of fuss over nothing.

April 3, 2004

frank capra & mr. smith & mr. deeds & jean arthur

This week I decided, on a whim, to watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Then, having seen that, I decided the next day to watch You Can't Take It With You. And the day after that, it was Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

For some reason, Frank Capra movies were what I wanted to see. Well, Jean Arthur too.

Despite their sentimentality, I always enjoy Frank Capra films. My favourite, I think, is Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. (I've never been able to bring myself to watch that Adam Sandler thing. Who knows? Maybe it was okay. But Sandler in a Gary Cooper role? I don't think so.)

Not sure how long I'll be on this Capra thing but I do know the on-deck circle has Lost Horizon and Arsenic and Old Lace. Maybe tonight ...?

March 28, 2004

it's a curious thing

For some reason it seems my movie watching runs oddly thematically. Not profound themes, mind you. But they seem to have something or someone in common. Recently, it appears to be Joan Crawford.

I've never cared one way or another about her; I neither like nor dislike her. But suddenly, there she was in Grand Hotel and then in Mildred Pierce (which, by the way, is a great movie).

A little while ago it seemed I was suddenly watching Cary Grant (The Awful Truth, Topper, Father Goose and so on. At another time, it was Barbara Stanwyck.

I find it very puzzling. What does the universe have in mind?

March 24, 2004

usability - an entry for me

I haven't had a link to my Usability Links page for quite some time. So this entry (specifically the link) is here because I can never remember the file name (the URL).

March 21, 2004

be merciful

I just noticed I put a few reviews up without proofing/editing them. And I won't be able to get them fixed for a while as I'm off to do whatever it is people do on Sunday afternoons. So ... don't be surprised to see major typos and/or sentences that make no sense.

setting a limit

I've decided to limit the number of reviews under "new reviews" (at the right). It's now down to the ten most recent. The list just seemed to be getting too long. All of them can be found under reviews. But I think that needs to be rethought soon too. It's getting a bit unwieldy.

March 20, 2004

the western

For no particular reason I found myself watching westerns this week. One was the well-thought of The Ox-Bow Incident with a relatively young Henry Fonda. Very good movie.

The other was 1968's Bandolero! with Dean Martin, Jimmy Stewart and a youthful and fetching Raquel Welch. This, too, was quite good. But if you don't like westerns it won't be your cup of tea. It's very representative of a certain type of middle-of-the-road western Hollywood was making in the late 1960's.

But I liked it anyway!

March 16, 2004

does not include trousers

I hate writing headlines. And I hate writing titles. It's not in my skill set as the tedious corporate drones like to say. (I just overheard someone discussing some projects and saying, "Maybe we could find some synergies." Who the hell talks like that in real life?)

Anyway ... headlines. Or titles. Hate them. Don't they have people to do that sort of thing? Regardless, I'm testing out the current title ("does not include trousers"). I'm going to see if I can come up with three or four general ones I can use when a genuine title doesn't make itself immediately available. Here are a couple of other possibilities:

- politicians found in pantry
- aren't those my socks?
- deconstruction deconstructs; no video available
- pronouncing Clytemnestra on-the-go

Yes, yes ... I know. Needs work.

March 14, 2004

back pain

Although I've posted reviews, I haven't been diligent with The Burble ... for various reasons. It's the usual too busy, too distracted sort of thing but mainly it has been due to my back.

Not sure how, but I buggered it up about two weeks ago and have been off to the physiotherapist and so on as I try to get it restored to proper working order. Over the last little while I've been hobbling around like a little old man - sort of like Artie Johnson's dirty old man from the old Laugh-In show.

I have been watching movies though - see the column to the right under new reviews.

February 29, 2004

waiting with anticipation

This week I seem to have been focused on relatively recent movies like Runaway Jury and Under the Tuscan Sun. Your basic Hollywood material. (Both enjoyable, both good, neither great.) The latter, Tuscan Sun, is as bright and sunny, story and look, as the DVD cover to the right suggests.

But I'm looking forward to next week ... If I'm lucky, sometime mid-week Amazon.ca will have shipped my first order for 2004: In a Lonely Place (1950), The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), Gaslight (the original 1940 version plus the 1944 George Cukor version), The Song of Bernadette (1943) and, yet another for my Howard Hawks collection, I Was a Male War Bride (1949), with Cary Grant.

As you can see, I'll be back into the older movies very soon.

February 27, 2004

why we need Canada's new Conservative party

I don't care much for the political scene. It's either too tedious or too irritating. Frankly, I don't like any party. But there are those who do and as long as they stay away from me, I say "live and let live." But for those who really dislike the new Conservative Party (aka the Alliance, aka the Reform Party), I say, "Settle down." Where else can you find a leader who wishes a "Happy India Day" to Canada's native community?

For entertainment value alone, I say we need these guys.

February 23, 2004

if it's not news, it should be

Well, here's one of my favourite stories: All the news that's fit to fool (Thanks to Doc Searls, who thanks whoever this originally came from.)



February 22, 2004

a teasing time of year

Even as the other end of the country cleans up after the Maritimes' "weather bomb" of last week, here in Alberta we're being teased by intimations of spring.

Snow and ice are melting. The days are clear and warm and delightful (and thankfully) longer. There are even magpies outside my window building a nest. (Not a good thing as anyone familiar with magpies will attest. They make a racket 'cause they're chatty buggers.)

However ... This is Alberta. And we know (or should know) it's only a tease. Winter has a few more wallops to smack us with; this is just a set up. (Unless this a is very unusual year.)

February 21, 2004

more westerns

I like westerns and I especially like Clint Eastwood westerns, even the ones that are not considered the best.

One of those, Two Mules for Sister Sara found its way to my DVD player last week. It's not Unforgiven or The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, but it's pretty good nonetheless.

It was directed by Don Siegel, one of the people Eastwood credits as being an influence. I don't think Two Mules has a huge budget, but that's okay. Siegel, like Eastwood, puts the emphasis on his characters and their story.

(In non sequiter fashion ... also watched a number of Coen brothers movies this week, including The Big Lebowski.)

February 15, 2004

needing an editor

It's embarrassing, you know. I keep posting things and forgetting to proof them. So I go back later and see some incredible howlers. You'll see a number of them in recent reviews like Trouble in Paradise, Intolerable Cruelty, and especially in My Fair Lady and Lost in Translation.

Some of the mistakes are typos. Some are spelling and grammar. And some are just bad and/or incomplete writing. (In one I referred to Frederick March though I meant Ronald Coleman when the correct actor was William Powell.)

Wow. I need an editor.

February 8, 2004

loving and hating musicals


I've never been big on musicals. I dunno ... they just kind of seem silly and, quite often (especially with older ones) really long.

Like My Fair Lady. Now that one is long. But ... I like it. Go figure.

I can't say the same about two of the recent musicals, Moulin Rouge and Chicago. Some of the older ones though, the Hollywood classic musicals, I do like some of those.

As you can tell by what I am writing here, filling up some space, I really don't know what the hell to say about musicals. As a general rule, they just don't register with me. I find them the hardest films to write about. (For instance, look how lame my review of West Side Story is.)

This prompts the question: why write about them at all? Must ask the management about that one.

February 7, 2004

lighten up - a Canadian fiasco

One of the things I like about Don Cherry is his ability to create a political correctness schmozzle that highlights some of the extremities of Canadian 'niceness." It makes for great comedy, sort of like Peter Sellers in The Party or Being There where the protagonist creates chaos without even being aware of it.

What did Mr. Cherry do? Between periods of a hockey game, on national television, he went on a rant about visors in hockey (something he often does) and claimed they were mainly used by Europeans and French players, whom he called "French guys," implying something not so good about Quebec and other French Canadian players.

From the reaction you would think he was the raging mouthpiece of the KKK.

Cherry is, for Canadians, a trickster character. As we blithely go about being correct about everything to an almost embarrassing degree, Mr. Cherry still refuses to censor himself and says what he thinks, whether he's right or wrong, and voicing what are often the sentiments of an older generation of Canadians (and sometimes not so old). Some equate him to a kind of right wing blatherer but I personaly don't see anything terribly political about him. He doesn't strike me as either right or left but as someone who is frustrated by politicized bureaucracy and dumb-ass policies.

He's often the voice of the knee-jerk response as opposed to the usually sanitized and treacly opinions we hear from other quarters. This doesn't mean his opinions are right. Quite often he is not. It simply means they are expressed and often represent what a number of others are feeling too, others who feel their voice is largely silenced by Canadian political propriety.

The latest mess has created some wonderfully Stepford Wives comments like, "The government will not tolerate statements that create dissonance in our society and disrespect for others, " from Jean Augustine, the Liberal government's junior minister for multiculturalism. (Now there's an Orwellian title with a fitting quote to match.)

From the leader of the federal NDP, Jack Layton, comes the comment, "I'm in shock." Really now, if you'll forgive the syllogistic flim-flam here, if you're Canadian you are surely aware of hockey and if you know hockey you must know Don Cherry and if you know Don Cherry, how the hell can you be shocked by what he says? That's his schtick, Jack. You've got to wonder how Canadian our Canadian NDP leader is if he can make a statement like that with a straight face.

Finally, from the mother corporation itself, "CBC Television categorically rejects and denounces the personal opinions Mr. Cherry expressed during the segment. Comments such as those expressed during the show cannot be repeated and will not be tolerated." That's from Harold Redekopp, executive vice-president of CBC Television. That's the voice of outraged bureaucracy. Why can't that Cherry fellow be a nice gray cipher like the rest of us?

Is it any wonder the CBC is so dreadfully dull? I use to love and champion them but there is no getting around the fact it has become largely a waste of air waves (not to mention the money). I don't mind my taxes going to a public network. I do, however, object to paying the salaries of idiots.

January 31, 2004

a wintry week

Geesh! What a week! It began with termperatures so low the numbers had to be dusted off from lack of use. Two days ago, pipes blew in the parking garage - because of the cold. Around the city, fire crews have been running their arses off putting out fires in minus forty (-40) temperatures at night. (The aftermath of one looked like the end of Dr. Zhivago with the ice built up from hosing down flames.)

And the week wrapped up yesterday with slightly warmer temperatures - and snow. All day! And it's freakin' snowing again this morning. Where the hell did El Nino go? Hmm?

I'm thinking I'll watch Kostner's Open Range tonight so I can see what Alberta is supposed to look like. (It was shot down Calgary way.)

January 26, 2004

rules for winter

There are certain rules for winter and I'm a bit annoyed that no one seems to be following them this year. I'm thinking specifically of this rule:

When it's freakin', bone-numbing cold there is no wind!

Today, we have a bracing -33 degrees (Celsius). But the wind chill is -45! Why is there wind? Don't these people know the rules? Doesn't anyone enforce them?

I should listen to my doctor and move to Hawaii.

endless winter

I can't remember a year when I was so anxious for spring to arrive (and it's still a long way off). This winter seems interminable.

I've become a recluse as I wait for weather that is less inhospitable. All I want is to be able to open windows and let air in. So far, whenever it begins to warm a bit and become a little less hostile, whammo! Another blast of Arctic air moves down and shuts us back in a deep freeze.

The older I get, the less amusing this winter thing becomes. Geesh.

January 24, 2004

le stink

I don't think I generally waste time writing about bad movies, but every now and again I see something that prompts me to post a review of a stinker. Like this week and the unfortunate Hollywood Homicide, which is actually a well made movie that suffers from being mind-numbingly boring.

Someone asked me the other day why I don't have a lot of caustic reviews. They wanted to see some sarcasm and so on, the sort of thing generally reserved for really bad movies. I suppose there are two reasons.

The first is simply that I can't be bothered wasting time writing about something that isn't very good. I would rather just put it down to some time wasted and move on to something better and worth talking about.

The other reason is my own distaste for those reviewers who seem intent on demonstrating their pompous wit. The reviews seem to be more about, "Hey! Look at me! Aren't I something?" than about movies and the why's and how's of what makes them work or not.

Mainly though, I prefer talking about something that has impressed me than something that hasn't. (Like, for instance, The Postman Always Rings Twice.)

January 18, 2004

terror, disaster and a few laughs

Watching football ... Meanwhile, I've posted a few more reviews, including Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (from 1960). To be honest, while I admire the movie it isn't at the top of my favourite movies list.

What else was added? Let's see ...Oh yes, Woody Allen's Hollywood Ending (a pretty good movie, by the way), and 1953's Titanic. (Not the best of the big boat movies, and definitely not one of Barbara Stanwyck's better performances.)

Oh would you look at that ... Peyton Manning just tossed an interception. Must run and see how all this turns out.

Toodle-oo!!!

January 17, 2004

home again

Returned last night from a few days in Vancouver. Wasn't quite ready for the chilly temperatures. It was warm (for Edmonton) when I went to the west coast. It was even warmer in Vancouver. But when I got home?

Godfrey Daniel! My knackers were knockin'! Someone make it go away!

By the way, while in Vancouver I picked up a few more discs, all older films: The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946 - "Their love was a flame that destroyed!"), The Master of Ballantrae (1953 - another Errol Flynn film) and 1953's Titanic.

January 11, 2004

new reviews added

I've added two new reviews: the 1962 John Frankenheimer film The Manchurian Candidate and Steven Spielberg's 2002 Catch Me If You Can.

So why do I do so many reviews after the fact? Well, I do them when they are out on DVD, for one thing (though I don't often comment on the DVD aspect). For another, I like older movies, many of which have few reviews available on the Web - at least not as many as new movies have. While I do reviews of new movies (new when out on DVD), everyone else does reviews of them as well and while I may occasionally have some interesting comment to make it's not as if I'm adding anything new to what everyone else is writing.

Finally, if you look at my comments on Catch Me If You Can you'll see that first impressions are not always the same as second impressions, especially when those second ones come after viewing a movie some distance from when it originally comes out.

Hope that made some sense.

looks like Steve Buscemi

Would the real Steve Buscemi please sit down?

I suppose there might be a vague resemblence, but really ... when you look at the two of us I don't think there is anything similar beyond the gaunt, skull-like appearance of the head. And I'm pretty damn sure that our bank accounts down look anything alike. (I'm assuming he's in the black as opposed to me ... My accounts sport a different colour.)

Despite this, I constantly get, "Hey ... do you know who you look like? That guy ... You know, he was in Reservoir Dogs? What's his name?"

"Steve Buscemi?"

"Yeah, that's him!" Blah, blah, blah and so on. Anyway, for Buscemi fans, I understand he's in Tim Burton's latest, Big Fish.

January 10, 2004

submitted to BlogsCanada

I've submitted The Burble to BlogsCanada. I hope it's not too confusing for anyone paying a visit. The Burble is the blog portion of Piddleville, which is mostly about movies. The blog, however, tends to ramble about everything and anything (none of it terribly profound).

There's also the problem of a very ramshackle architecture to Piddleville. One day (I keep telling myself) I'll organize it properly.

But geez ... that involves so much work.

January 5, 2004

happy perihelion

Oh my ... It's back to work today. There is a definite lack of enthusiasm on my part. However, once back and doing a few things maybe the blood will start flowing again and sheer activity will lift me out of this lethargic morass.

It has been dark the last few weeks, which is to be expected at this time of year. But it has also been freakin' cold. So the desire to leave home has been nil. The result?

I discovered on the Web (on the Doc Searls blog) that today is the sun's perihelion. Or, given time zones, maybe it was yesterday. I dunno ... But if the earth and sun are closest today, I've got to wonder: Why's it so ding-dang damn cold here?

For all intents and purposes, I have been a recluse over Christmas. Come to think of it, I've been a recluse over the last few months.

This needs to be adjusted in 2004. The sooner the better.

I have just noticed I've been peppering this entry with catch-phrases and cliches: "for all intents and purposes," "come to think of it," "the sooner the better," and so on. This is indicative of a mind working at less than 50% efficiency. I am dull, I am dull ...

I noticed to that awards were given out a while back for over and ill-used phrases and words. Terms like "metrosexual" and "bling-bling" were highlighted. I believe that once I've been back in the office for a few hours I'll be able to add more than a few myself. (Currently, I have erased all memory of the Land of Cubicles and Processes.)

January 4, 2004

tourists on mars

This image is appearing on Web sites everywhere so there is really no need for me to post it as well. So why do it?



For the same reason the image is showing up everywhere: here is something our planet is doing that may have actual value. This is an image sent back from the Spirit rover, part of the Mars Exploration Rover Mission.

I'm no science guy but I do have intelligence enough to recognize space exploration is about our future. It's a small little light on an otherwise dull horizon.

Imagine what we could do if rather than running around and sounding off about why the other guy is wrong, or spend our lives working on trivialities in order to "increase shareholder value," we put our minds and resources into something useful like this.

Space exploration, while about long-term survival, is not only about long term survival. It's also about the absence of borders on human imagination. It's about lives less ordinary.

Exploring space is important if only because it is interesting. And God knows this planet has become a very dull, self-obsessed place. (Speaking of God, he or she must be bored witless by us.)

Correction: the planet is not dull and self-obsessed. We are.

January 1, 2004

rehashing an old year

This could have been a rarity along the lines of flying pigs. It was intended to be a letter, of sorts. Not only that, it was to be disguised as a personal letter. It began with a version of this opening paragraph, and continued so:

I may be playing fast and loose with the term personal; this is a kind of form letter. But it’s a personal form letter individualized, if by nothing else, its seasonal nature. It is also very modern as it doesn’t make use of paper. It makes use of the electronic medium which, in truth, is another bit of fast and looseness. It is really another form of indolence along the lines of individualized form letters. Being electronic, no stamp licking is required and there is no need to hunt down a mailbox.

My laziness is not total, however. I did some research into what to put into a letter such as this. While there was no consensus among the people I asked, many responses favoured a year end cap. “Tell them what happened to you in 2003,” these people said.

It seemed a sensible idea. Unfortunately, as I found when I first attempted this, nothing happened.

Yes, 2003 was characterized by a disturbing void. It was distinguished by an absence of anything resembling “something.”

But you can’t let such things get you down. You need to examine them. I did. As with deciding what to put into my seasonal form letter, I did some research. It produced astounding results.

It turns out things did happen in 2003. However, at birth I was granted a memory commonly referred to as a “sieve.” It is not that it retains nothing but that it retains the irrelevant and discards the significant. Therefore, while I remember what I was eating when I first watched the DVD special edition of “Bull Durham,” I have completely forgotten the incident last February when I was taken prisoner during a home invasion by a group of Western independence Alberta feminist-terrorists. (Don’t worry, the RCMP tell me the affair ended peacefully, though I don’t recall this.)

I have since made inquiries and discovered some of the things that happened in 2003, at least in my world. I can’t, however, completely vouch for their veracity because of my poor memory. I am taking all this on faith though I question some of these.

As with many, I did some travelling in 2003. I did not go terribly far afield. Except for one trip, I restricted my movements to Canada, particularly western Canada. So at varying times I was in: Calgary and Red Deer, as well as the environs of both Red Deer and Caroline, all in Alberta. I was in British Columbia, including several visits to Vancouver where I enjoy infuriating the locals by gazing goggle-eyed at the rising buildings and shiny downtown streets while saying in an awe-struck voice, “Gee, this is great! It’s just like being in Toronto!”

(Head gear is recommended if you choose to do something similar.)

I think I was in a few other places in B.C. I have a vague recollection of boats and rather steep snow-capped hills but this may be an image confused by the Paramount Pictures logo.

I also went to Seattle, which was green and lush and filled with amazing seafood. This was the best trip. I was even in a kayak on a great sweep of lake where water planes terrorized us by landing without regard for people or sailing craft that may have been there first. They dive-bombed us as if it were Pearl Harbour.

I just remembered: I spent some time in Ontario, in cottage country, the Lake Huron area. I was with relatives and friends and met an amiable dog named Murphy (named after the family name on my mother's side). This is probably my favourite place in the world.

Well, that was as far as I got with my 2003 rehash. I’ve never been very good at looking back and remembering things. Sometimes it feels as if nothing happened and perhaps this is the case. But I don’t think so.

I often run into friends who say, “Do you remember when we ...?” And I reply, in some amazement, “Oh yeah. We did that, didn’t we?”

So I can throw out any notion of ever doing personal memoirs. What could I write about if I can’t recall anything?

On the other hand, I could make it up as I often do. Fiction is much easier to write, at least for me, because you’re not straight-jacketed by facts.