December 17, 2004
Yippee! (It's one of Warner's 2 disc special editions, by the way.)
December 12, 2004
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
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
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 31, 2004
Brotherhood of the Wolf (Les Pact des Loups) (2001)
The Fog (1979)
Ghost and Mrs. Muir, The (1947)
Ghost Breakers, The (1940)
Legend of Hell House, The (1973)
Mothman Prophecies, The (2002)
The Others (2001)
Rose Red (Stephen King's) (2002)
The Shining (1980)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Van Helsing (2004)
The Watcher in the Woods (1980)
The Woman in Black (1989)
October 25, 2004
October 23, 2004
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
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
October 3, 2004
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
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.
By the way ... the image? That's the real-world Piddleville. I live in there somewhere.
September 26, 2004
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
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
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
September 11, 2004
September 8, 2004
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
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
August 29, 2004
August 26, 2004
August 22, 2004
August 21, 2004
August 15, 2004
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
August 1, 2004
July 31, 2004
I haven't decided whether any of this will be permanent.
July 28, 2004
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
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
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
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
July 10, 2004
Maybe I'll take the opportunity to clean up a bit of the chaos in here. Who knows?
July 8, 2004
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
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
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
(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
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
But that's my immediate gut response. I'll have to think about this one.
June 27, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 16, 2004
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
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.
June 11, 2004
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
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
May 30, 2004
No, wait ... this one's free, ain't it?
May 29, 2004
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?
Canada Votes - CBC
Liberal Party of Canada
Conservative Party of Canada
NDP - New Democratic Party
May 27, 2004
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
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
Where does this stuff come from?
UPDATE: And then there's this - Over 100 Russian Mail Order Brides to Gather.
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
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
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
Hoping to correct that error in a few hours.
May 18, 2004
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
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
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):
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
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
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
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.)
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
(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
April 18, 2004
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
April 7, 2004
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
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
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
March 21, 2004
March 20, 2004
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
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
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
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
For entertainment value alone, I say we need these guys.
February 23, 2004
February 22, 2004
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
January 17, 2004
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
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.
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?"
"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
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
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
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
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.