Saturday, January 31

"The Ladykillers"

Film actors must just salivate at the opportunity to act in a Coen brothers movie. Tom Hanks looks wonderfully funny. The movie looks very promising.

Thursday, January 29

CBS - Censoring Bush's Spending

Here's a link to the MoveOn dot org Voter Fund 30 second television commercial that CBS won't allow to be aired during the Super Bowl.

Be careful, though. You might see something that makes you think just a bit.

Wednesday, January 28

Next Year's Oscars

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's Oscar time in Blogland, and everyone's got a post or two about the nominations.

But here's one that I bet is different. See, I'm very much looking forward to seeing (I'm assuming they'll perform) Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara perform "A Kiss At the End of the Rainbow" as Mickey and Mitch.

That got me thinking:

What five artists would you really like to see perform at next year's Oscars?

Here's mine, off the top of my head (artists are real, songs and movie titles, obviously made up):

Rufus Wainwright singing "Babelfish" from the movie "Fountain Lake"

Dwight Yoakam singing "Texas-Size Hole" from the movie "The Appellate"

Liz Phair singing "Guy Homme" from the movie "Augmented" or singing "Augmented" from the movie "Guy Homme"

XTC singing "Beat Up" (from their new album) from the movie "Stone-Dead Churchill"

Tom Waits singing "Hambourg Whore in the Land of Gin and Tonic" from the movie "Uncle Auntie"

I'm sure if I gave it more thought, I'd come up with a better list, but I think the above five performers would make a kick-ass Oscar telecast.

I'd also love to see the movie Stone-Dead Churchill, especially if XTC was involved It'd be the hit smash, hot new movie import from Britain's newly discovered Tarantino. Also, I expect Uncle Auntie would be good. Maybe it's a Robert Altman comedy. Guy Homme must be some sort of period piece, maybe Guy is a french foreign legionairre? Renee Zellwegger would star as the squinting Monsieur Homme. The Appellate sounds like some southern legal drams bullshit starring Cruise and Paltrow. Fountain Lake would be a psychological thriller starring Harrison Ford and Nicole Kidman as husband and wife. Yes, husband and wife.

<em>Enthusiasm</em>, Curbed (somewhat)

I love Curb Your Enthusiasm. I've been enjoying it more and more each season as it's run on The Movie Network. Sad to say, however, that last season (I believe the series' third) may have been the high-water mark. Specifically, the episode where Larry David talks to rapper Krazee Eyez Killa and laments the effort and hard work required in orally pleasing females. To me, that one scene, in a very funny season of very funny scenes, is the definition of comedy.

The first four episodes of this season have seemed progressively more forced and false. While still very funny and still some of the best comedy on television this year, it seems the show has fallen into the trap of having David's character *dictate* the wackiness of a scene or episode, rather than allowing his character to *discover* the wackiness. In the past, Larry David would stumble into his troubles. Now it seems as if he's seeking trouble out. It's a subtle difference, and one that I'm sure I've not explained well enough, yet I'm not going to bother or bore you all with trying to explain further.

I'm not giving up on the show. Not by any means. It, combined with back to back reruns of The Sopranos, makes Tuesday night the only night of television I currently look forward to.

Tuesday, January 27

Action Movie Manifesto

For those of you who are planning on producing an action movie, here is my handy-dandy list of do's and don'ts: (please feel free to add your own)

My action movie:

- Will have bad guys who can shoot weapons as accurately as the good guys.

- Will not have any scene where the hero, or anybody, must frantically download or upload something. Also, I will not attempt to build tension, or waste screen time, by showing somebody typing information on a keyboard.

- Will not show a woman sitting in bed, with the sheet pulled up over her breasts. Also, when a woman turns over in bed, or reaches for something, the sheet will not move with her, as if it’s taped to her breasts.

- Will have vehicles that conform to modern-day physics and laws of gravity. When a flying-through-the-air car lands hard, damage will occur. If the damage is serious enough, the car will stop running.

- Will have a bad guy who is not compelled to divulge his plan/genius to the trapped and/or defeated hero. If the hero gets caught, he will most likely die.

- Will have bad-guy-lackeys who are capable of free-thought. That is to say, not all bad-guy-lackeys will be willing to die for whatever the bad guy cause is.

- Will have characters who are indeed dead when the other characters believe they’re dead.

- May have vehicles crashing into other ‘civilian’ vehicles, into glass buildings, and even into fruit stands. But my movie will give such incidents real weight and repercussions. Having the Lieutenant yelling at the yahoos responsible is not enough.

- Will have characters who are at least as smart as the people in the audience. If we can figure something out, given the same information, so can the characters.

- Will not have a character who is near retirement.

Sunday, January 25

Chink's Restaurant

Okay, so apparently there's a popular, well-known, well-established restaurant in Philadelphia called "Chink's Restaurant" and it's one of the best places in the city of brotherly love for Philly cheese steaks. It's been in business under the same name since the mid-1940's. Its original owner was a guy nicknamed 'Chink'. He was non-Asian. Over the years, it's changed owners several times, is no longer associated with the family of the original 'Chink', yet has continued to build a solid reputation with the name.

Last year, a woman (non-Asian) who lives in Philadelphia yet had never heard of Chink's, suddenly became aware of the establishment. She became deeply offended by the degrading racial connotations of the name, to the point that she is now trying to get the 'Chink' removed from the establishement's name.

To me, this is an interesting problem. On the one hand, the name-recognition that Chink's has built for itself over 60+ years of business is invaluable. To force them to forfeit that name would undoubtedly cost them some business. On the other hand, there's no doubt that the name could be offensive to some people.

Should the current owners be forced to change the name of their business?

Wednesday, January 21

49 Per Cent

With only one game left in the NFL season, the best I can hope for in the online football pool that I'm in is to reach 49% accuracy in my picks. Right now I am 130-136, which the site tells me is 48.9% correct. I am ranked 2028th out of 4560 players.

That might sound pretty bad. I am, after all, an avid football fan, and I think I have a pretty good grasp of the abilities of each team, relative to each other. While I don't scour the wires each week, looking for trends, tips or tendencies that might influence the outcome of each game, I put a bit of thought into the picks. Theoretically, I didn't even do as well as I might have if I had simply guessed. Yet when I look at the leader of this site, I see his (I assume 'his') stats are 158-108 for 59.4%. So, the best of the best of these 4560 football fans only guessed correctly 10% more often than I did. And, looking at the statistics of so-called 'professionals' on sites like ESPN or CBS Sportline, or FOX, they seem to hover around the 50% to 56% range. From practically all accounts, to be over 60% is out of the question.

Obviously, guessing the outcome of NFL football is pretty tricky, and for those really into it, the results are little better than guessing. More than ever, the phrase "on any given Sunday" really does apply.

I guess this is the result of parity; of the salary cap. I'm not sure I like it. This is now, and has been for a decade or more, a league where teams that are pretty bad one year (two years ago the Panthers were 2-14, this year in the SuperBowl) can prosper the next.

I kinda like the concept of the dynasty. I like the idea of building a team over a number of years, striving to implement a 5 year plan to reach the top. Knowing that the bad team on your schedule next year will be pretty much as bad as they were this year; that the tough teams will be tougher next year. Now, it's too now-or-never. Players switch teams like they were underwear. Everyone is striving to win it next year. It certainly makes for exciting games, and choosing who wins is pretty much the flip of a coin, but in some way, it's not as fun being a fan of any particular team. Teams are built too much now on chance.

Of course this is coming from a guy who only guessed right 48.9% of the time this year.

They Were The Stars In Our Eyes

Today I thought to myself "What song would I be embarrassed to admit I like?" The first song that popped into my head: Patio Lanterns by Kim Mitchell.

I'm not sure why I'm embarrassed to like this song. It's not a song I think about often, if ever. I don't have it in my music collection. I hear it about maybe once every 3 or 4 years, I'm guessing. It's not a bad song, has nice harmonies, invokes pleasant memories of adolescence. Yet, I am. I am embarrassed to admit I like this song. And what is astonishing to me is how immediately it answered my question.

Those of you trying to figure me out can add this bit of trivia to your theses.

And what of you? What song are you embarrassed to like?

Monday, January 19

Oh, Lotta. I Can Hear You Even Now

I think it's over at Delta Tango Bravo where there was a post about great names.

One of the greatest, I think, has to be Lotta Hitschmanova, she of the USC television ad from the CBC of the past.

Before peaking at this website, or any other documentation, who will be the first to correctly post the address that will be forever associated with Lotta Hitschmanova.

The prize for posting the correct answer is the respect and admiration of an entire blogging community (yes, I can speak on behalf of us all).

Saturday, January 17

Were I A Cartoon Character, But For One Day...

This is entertaining: Cartoon Laws of Physics

And, in something of the same vein, this (from 1990) is too: Coyote V. Acme (although I also seem to recall seeing something like this earlier than 1990, in National Lampoon)

Friday, January 16

And The Nominees Are...

So, this’ll be my longest post so far, maybe ever. I’ve looked through the list of all 254 films eligible for nomination for Best Picture of 2003 Academy Awards and picked out some I think might receive some form of recognition. This list is alphabetical.

AMERICAN SPLENDOR – I didn’t see this movie. Yet based on other’s opinions, I think it has a chance at a Best Picture Nomination. However, in lieu of that, Paul Giamatti will get a nom for Best Actor instead.

BAD SANTA – Won’t get close to a Best Picture nomination. Billy Bob may have a small chance at a Best Actor nom. There’s an even slighter chance for a Supporting Actor.

BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM – This movie was so long ago, I think people will have forgotten about it. If it had come out later in the year, there might be a ‘Greek Wedding’ surge to nominate it, but it ain’t gonna happen. Good movie, though.

BIG FISH – didn’t see it. Too many unsatisfied reviews to get it a Best Picture nod, but I think it’s within the realm of possibility for a Best Director choice. Won’t happen, though.

CITY OF GOD – Didn’t see it. Another movie that’s been out too long and lost the buzz? May still get on the Best Picture list. Will it win Best Foreign? Yes.

COLD MOUNTAIN – Didn’t see it. Don’t really want to. Will probably get some nominations: Best Picture, Actress.

THE COOLER – I think this might be a long shot for a nomination or two. Maybe a supporting actor for Alec Baldwin. I doubt it though.

ELEPHANT – Made it up high in some ‘best of’ lists. I don’t think it’s the Academy’s cup of tea, though. Wouldn’t surprise me to see it nominated for Best Picture. Won’t win though.

FINDING NEMO – If there was no ‘Best Animated’ category, this might make it into Best Picture. It’ll be in, and win ‘Best Animated’.

IN AMERICA – Didn’t see it, kinda scared/tired of the poor irish experience. But pretty much all accounts rave about how moving it is. Should get a Best Picture nom, and maybe a Supporting Actress for one of the kids.

INTOLERABLE CRUELTY – I liked this movie quite a bit, yet don’t think it’ll make it into many Oscar categories, if any. But you should never underestimate the fans that the Cohen brothers have in Hollywood. A longshot for winning anything, slightly less so for being nominated.

KILL BILL – VOL.1 – I wonder if this’ll get any nominations. I doubt it. Afterall, it’s a movie, not a film.

THE LAST SAMURAI – Didn’t see it. Will likely get a Best Picture, Best Actor nomination.

LAUREL CANYON – Maybe a Best Actress for Frances McDormand. Didn’t see it.

TLOTR: TROTK – Should get a Best Director, Best Picture nomination. Plus will win pretty much all of the technical awards. No acting nominations.

LOST IN TRANSLATION – Will be up for Best Picture, Best Actor. Maybe Best Director, not likely Best Actress.

LOVE ACTUALLY – Might get up there on a nomination or two. Maybe a supporting Actor or Actress. Nothing more.

MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD – I’m guessing a Best Picture nomination, a Best Actor nomination, maybe Best Director, plus some technical nods.

MONSTER – It might get a Best Picture nod. It will get the nomination, and win the Best Actress award.

MYSTIC RIVER – Likely best Director, Best Picture, Best Actor nominations.

OWNING MAHOWNY – Likely too small and too far in the past to be remembered, but I’m guessing Philip Seymour Hoffman will get nominated for Best Actor.

SEABISCUIT – Likely nominated for Best Cinematography, maybe Best Picture, but it was such a long time ago this year.

THE STATION AGENT – A long shot for anything, but might slip through to grab a nomination in something.

THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE – Will get nominated for Best Animated Film, but will be hard-pressed to beat Finding Nemo.

And, to put it all on the line, here is my pre-announcement guess for what will get nominated for Best Picture. This is not necessarily what I think should be nominated, but what likely will get nominated:

Best Picture: The nominees are:

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Mystic River

Lost In Translation

In America

Thursday, January 15

My Son, Bat Boy

A few days ago, at the supermarket checkout (or 'cheque-oat' for our Candian friends) I saw the front cover of the Weekly World News. It featured a picture of BatBoy. I forget the exact reason BatBoy was featured, but I would assume that he was being accused of being involved in or responsible for some current-day story.

Anyway, this got me to thinking that perhaps there was a way for me to gain, financially, from the ever-expanding BatBoy phenomenon. See, I have a 10 year old son who likes to put on shows, to act. I'm quite confident that the folks who do Extreme Makeovers would be able to reconfigure his features so that he closely resembles BatBoy.

Teach him how to make up gibberish and we'd travel North America and beyond, looking for stories and events at which BatBoy (the real, with honest to God photographic proof, BatBoy) could appear. Or, maybe, you got an event that you want after-the-fact publicity for? Just give me a call and we can ensure that the freak of nature BatBoy shows up and, depending on your wishes, causes havoc or hands out awards. Either way, it's publicity, guaranteed.

Anyone know the phone number for Extreme Makeovers?

Wednesday, January 14

Once, Twice, Three Times A Lady

Checking out people who've linked to this site, and this one tells us to look around because 'she is funny'. Meaning me. I remember Matt telling me one time that someone else (I forget who) thought that I was female, based on reading these posts.

What is it about this site, or my writing, that would make people believe this?

Bonjour, Madame!!!!!!

Tonight on Great Performances, they feature French impressionist Edgar Degas. From what I understand, he does a great young Jerry Lewis.

Tuesday, January 13

You Are Ugly, and We'll Prove It

I just read in the TV Guide about a new, upcoming program, on Fox, I believe. I don't know the title, but the concept is this:

People gather to receive extreme makeovers. Then, shortly after they're healed, they compete in a beauty pageant against each other.

I don't know what the winner receives, but the losers most likely receive a lifetime of therapy.

I'll be passing on this one.

Monday, January 12

Summer Comedy, now with Added Humour

The room is booked and the scripts are being written, so I feel safe enough to make this announcement:

There will be comedy in Charlottetown this summer. Thursday and Friday nights at the ARTS Guild throughout July and August.

I'm part of a newly formed group, tentatively calling ourselves The Cable 10 Players (I'm guessing the name'll change) and we'll be presenting sketch comedy of both the theatrical and videological variety. Because it's still being written, we don't yet have a name for it.

Stay tuned for updates as they become warranted.

Exp-hair-iment: I'm A Pretty Pony

Because I know some of you probably haven't been sleeping well since I announced that gel would no longer be a required addition to my daily hair routine, I thought I'd update you all on what's been happening, follically speaking.

My hair has been growing well, thanks. In fact, it's longer now than it's been since I was, perhaps, 14 years old (although, to be accurate, my hair doesn't seem to get long. Just thick). After much consideration as to what style I'd implement (now that no-gel makes the 'parted on the side' look of the past 20 years impossible), I decided I'd go with "no style". That is to say, wash, towel dry and voila: what's left is my style. Of course, because the hair is so fine, no-style is the only style that would hold anyway, so really, it was no decision.

And how's it going? I'd say it 'works' about 58 percent of the time. About 6 out of ten glances in a mirror leave me feeling adequately satisfied as to how it looks. Maybe 2 glances of 10 leave me thinking "ugh I must change this". Yet, because I am now talking about glancing in the mirror, I fear that I am falling into a "I'm a pretty pony" syndrome and because of that, I fear that I'm losing my mind. Losing my mind under a huge unstyled head of blond hair.

Worry for me, people. While I'm mostly coping well enough with the new feel of hair on my head, and on my forehead, I do have moments where I wonder how much gel is left in the bathroom. I have moments where I hear me thinking "a buzz cut would look good, and be just as, easier, to take care of". Today, I told my wife and a co-worker that I was going to get my hair cut, and I intended to. At the last moment, though, I changed my mind, sucked up the courage to stick it out with this no-style hair for just one more day.

Tomorrow, I hope that I'll convince myself of the same again.

Just one more day.

Wednesday, January 7

Rukavina Linked to Burka Investigation

Peter Rukavina may hold a vital link to the recent investigation into the truth behind what authorities are calling the Formosa Tea House Renovations.

Monday, January 5

Lost In Translation, Lost on him

I just watched Lost In Translation and it was as great as all the buzz claims it to be.

After I watched it, I started a search to see if I could find out the final line of the movie. Then I realised that I really didn't want to know what Bob said to Charlotte. I didn't want to know because, whatever was said, was between them.

I did, however, head over to Metacritic to check out some of the reviews. One numbing review just made me angry and sad. Angry and sad because a person who is, apparently, paid to critique movies can be so damned wrong. I leave you the link to this horribly misguided review, but ask that you don't click on it.

In this way, by providing a link that nobody clicks, I feel I am somehow protesting his opinion.

Go your hands, and Please the tap

A couple of years ago, I performed improv as part of a foursome called 4Play. As the summer run ran its course, it became slightly challenging coming up with interesting and/or fun introductions, night after night.

Today, I came across this intro I wrote for one of our final performances. It was written in English, then, using's translator, translated into German, then French, and finally, back into English.

If I remember correctly, gadabout Nils Ling was in the audience this night and was spontaneously asked to come up on stage and read the introduction. Never one to extinguish an opportunity in the limelight, he combusted the following:

Very honoured ladies, and very honoured gentlemen, good evening, and make good receipt as 4Play’s “At One Fistful Improv”.
The hour is my pleasure this evening, to introduce the players of the visualization.
Upward first…he turns into, soon, to greener pastures. But, while he is always here, know that he will operate it blue. A set of the applause, for…Od Rashed.
Afterwards…it is each preferential Martian. I legend that because it is the only cultural reference it covers. Go your hands, for…Rob the MacLean.
Up thirdly…its wife could enter at any time with the work, but until this point in time comes, he will place here on the strange faces, fairly for you. Give upward, for… Rainnie Matte.
And in conclusion…the adhesive that keeps each whole…at least, therefore, he says us that its trousers are sticking. Please the tap, for…Rob the MacDonald.

It is it, the people…It is 4Play…It is “Fistful of Improv”.

I particularly like the lines asking for applause. I'll not translate the whole thing here, but will only say in reference to Matt's intro, his wife was very much pregnant and her going into labour was a distinct possibility.

Saturday, January 3

Danger! High Voltage!

For the longest time, I've actively disliked 'urban' music. It didn't speak to me, it wasn't produced for me, it had nothing to offer me. I wasn't going to expend any effort in trying to understand it, because for the most part, the stuff I heard was stuff I didn't like.

However, over the past decade in particular, it's become impossible to ignore the influence that hiphop (for lack of a better all-encompassing descriptor) has had on popular music, and I don't think it's a stretch to say that hip hop is, right now, totally dominating the music charts. As I continued to ignore it, I just assumed that this domination was because the general public has such awful taste in music. As proof of that theory, I'll just say this: I lived through the '80s.

Then, in the last year in particular, I started to regularly hear hip hop that I actually liked on the radio. Recently, I began to read end-of year 'best of' lists from various sources, and many of the critics were lauding hip hop albums and songs that I never heard or heard of. One critic in particular wrote something that stuck with me. She (I think it was a 'she' but I sadly don't remember where I read it) said that not since the era of The Beatles was music being made that is, at the same time, leading the way in artistic expression and innovation, and on top of the popular charts. Hmm, 'artistic expression and innovation'? In hip hop? Isn't it just black guys putting down women and talking about gang-shit and jewellery?

Sure, there were some catchy songs, but I began to wonder: What was I missing?

So, I made a decision last week to dive into the genre. The first thing I did was discover *cough*download*cough* a bunch of singles that were on a bunch of 'best singles of the year' lists.

So far, I'm really liking what I've been listening to. I've discovered some fantastic songs that I'm pretty sure will be permanently stored in my library. I doubt that I'll totally immerse myself into the music, and I'm pretty sure I'll not succumb to the bling bling of the culture. But I'm kind of excited about the idea that my mind is now open to the notion that hip hop music perhaps does have something to offer to me.

Unlike a born-again Christian who tries to get everyone around him to 'see the light', I'll not inundate you with 'you gotta hear this' posts.

However, I will offer this: if you're like I was, and unsure if all this noise is worth getting into, just listen to one song. Try "Danger! High Voltage!" by Electric Six for starters. If you like that (and I can't possibly imagine anyone not liking that), then try another.

Oh, and please, start calling me "Rob Boi"

Thursday, January 1

The Monty Hall Problem

Apparently, I enjoy Probability Mathematics.

Here's one that came across yesterday:

You are on a gameshow, and there are three doors. Behind one door, there is a car. Behind the other two are goats. You are asked to pick the door you hope the car is behind. You make your choice.

The host then shows you what's behind one of the other doors. Naturally, he shows you some goats. Now there are two doors left, one of which is the door you picked. Behind one is the car, behind the other, goats.

The host gives you the option of sticking with the door you picked, or switching your choice to the other door.

Now, it seems as if this chance to switch would be fairly inconsequential. It seems as if, with two doors left, it's a 50/50 chance that you are right, so what's the point of switching. Or, what's the harm of switching?

But it's not a 50/50 proposition.

In fact, if you do switch, your chance of winning the car increases to 66%.

So, if you're ever in situations like this, always choose to switch and you'll be right 2 out of 3 times.

Camper +/- Van +/- Beethoven

Ever since I first discovered them years and years ago, I had simply assumed that the band was called Camper Van Beethoven, with the "Van" belonging more to "Beethoven" so that it would be Camper (slightest pause) Van+Beethoven.

Yesterday, I had a thought. What if it's Camper Van Beethoven, with the "Van" belonging more to the "Camper", so that it would be Camper+Van (slightest pause) Beethoven?

Or perhaps each word should be given equal due?

How will this uncertainty affect my life?