Tuesday, November 30

The Christmas Shoes Scam

As a public service to my loyal readership, I offer you this warning, just in time for Christmas.  It concerns a confidence scam that surfaced last year, and by all accounts, will be even more popular this year.  It is being dubbed The Christmas Shoes Scam.
This is how it works:
The scam usually is pulled at a busy department store or mall, usually at times when there are large crowds mingling.  A young child (usually, could be a trust-inspiring early teenager too) will linger around the checkout, holding an item of clothing he makes obvious he wishes to purchase.  While the item is usually a pair of womens shoes (hence the scam's name), it can be anything really.  The main characteristic is that the item is NOT something the child would purchase for his own wardrobe.  While holding the item, the child will look sad.  This is done to lure in the victim.
It is an inactive scam, meaning that the child will wait until approached.  Once approached by a concerned (meaning: vulnerable and/or Christian) adult, the scam artist will begin with the waterworks, crying softly at first, moreso as the situation demands.  When asked what's wrong, the child will lay the base of the scam.  Usually the child will say something to the effect that a family member (usually a Mother) is very ill, and is in fact about to die. Perhaps even this very night.
If the victim bites, then the scam artist will continue on with a story that usually implies how he'd love the dying family member to wear the article of clothing that he is buying.  He may say that, when well, the dying family member expressed delight regarding that specific piece of clothing.  Unfortunately, the child doesn't have enough money.
If the victim has stayed this long, it is pretty much a certainty that the victim will offer to pay outright for the article of clothing.  Tearfully, the scam artist accepts the generosity and allows the transaction to occur.  With purchased item in hand, the scam artist thanks the victim, then runs off to, he says, his dying family memeber.
A day later, the child (or, if part of a Christmas Shoes gang, it's usually the 'guardian' who) returns to the store and receives a full cash refund for the item.
In a busy mall at the height of Christmas shopping a good Christmas Shoes scam artist can rake in a thousand dollars a day.
Read this testimonial for an actual account from a victim:

It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line, tryin' to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood.  Standing right in front of me was a little boy waiting anxiously, pacing 'round like little boys do, and in his hands he held a pair of shoes.
His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe.
And when it came his time to pay, I couldn't believe what I heard him say.

“Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please.  It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size.  Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time.  You see she's been sick for quite a while, and I know these shoes would make her smile.  And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight.”
He counted pennies for what seemed like years, then the cashier said, "Son, there's not enough here". 
He searched his pockets frantically, then he turned and he looked at me.

He said “Mama made Christmas good at our house, though most years she just did without.  Tell me Sir, what am I going to do?  Somehow I've got to buy her these Christmas shoes.”

So I laid the money down. I just had to help him out.  I'll never forget the look on his face when he said “Mama's gonna look so great.” 

I knew I'd caught a glimpse of heaven's love, as he thanked me and ran out.  I knew that God had sent that little boy to remind me just what Christmas is all about.

This guy was sucked in big time.  Let it be an example to you.  So, as a warning, please be careful this Christmas when approached for money.  It could be a scam.

Muppets, Mel and Me

Speaking of Muppets, I haven't really enjoyed their antics much since Jim Henson died.  That they've carried on the characters that he voiced (that he *was*) is sad to me, but I understand, from a corporate greed angle, why it must be done.  Kermit is, quite simply, not Kermit anymore.  I cannot enjoy what these characters do or say, because I cannot see them as the entities they were.  They are impersonators.
I could handle the Dick York/Dick Seargeant switch on Bewitched because, even though they were playing the same character, Dick2 didn't try to copy Dick1.  He played the character in his own way.
I was equally frustrated when the Warner Brothers kept the Looney Toons franchise going after Mel Blanc died.  Bugs, Daffy, et al just didn't sound right.  I'd occasionally see some post-Mel cartoons and would get upset at the voice-work and ultimately decided not to watch any more.
Sunday, Looney Toons Back In Action was on, and I half-heartedly decided to check it out for a minute (to see how long it'd take before I got frustrated at the voices and angrily changed the channel).  Well, I was pleasantly surprised.  The new guy they got to do the voices has nailed many of them.  Daffy sounds like Daffy again.  Bugs is back to being Bugs.  Yosemite isn't so good, but overall, I was impressed.
Enough to watch the whole movie.  Which was okay, by the way.  I'm always cheering for Brendan Fraser to succeed.

Sunday, November 28

Behind The Music: Grover

This is pretty funny.
Grover was always my favourite Muppet.  I never stopped to consider the cost of that fame and celebrity.  Grover, the monster at the end of that book wasn't just you.  It was ego and vanity and need and the desire to be loved.  The monster at the end of that book was all of us, my friend.

Do You Believe In Miracles

When the USA won the Olympic Hockey gold medal in 1980, I was pretty much just beginning my anti-USA phase (USA, just get out!!).  Combine that with my philosophy-at-the-time that Canada makes the best hockey players, and if our best were ever allowed to compete, we'd win.   Unsurprisingly, I was less than impressed when they beat the Soviet Union, and to me, back then, the Al Michaels "Do you believe in miracles" cry was just typical American propoganda.  When those gold medalists made it to NHL teams, I was, deep down, hoping they'd fail.  Over the years, my stance hasn't changed much.
24 years later and the movie Miracle gets released by Disney, and I think to myself "here's a crappy, feel good movie I'll never watch."  Well, today I watched it, and I gotta say... pretty good movie, and now that I'm more mature, I can appreciate the effort of coach Herb Brooks.
Kurt Russel plays Brooks (and I think the resemblance to Bobby Orr is phenomenal) as a tough disciplinarian with the It'll-Never-Work! idea to combine the best of the Soviet and Canadian styles to create a hybrid of the two.  Apparently it worked.  I was most impressed with the "playing hockey" scenes.  Was expecting the typical staged moments of "action", but instead was surprised with the success they had in conveying the speed and physicality of the sport.  It looked like the actors actually had some skill.  The movie didn't get bogged down in syrupy sub-plots with the various players, and stuck pretty much to the nuts and bolts of the events.
I give it 7 out of 10.

Friday, November 26


Fishychips at Cedars brings forth this idea for an awful tv series. SideBar.  The original inclination was for this to be a legal drama.  Yawn.  But, when I suggested sitcom with Harvey Fierstein as the judge, well, it just seems right.

Here's what I'm thinkin'... Harvey plays a liberal-minded New York judge who, through mysterious and never-explained reasons, is made to preside over a southern state  (let's say Georgia) county court.  His big-city point of view doesn't mesh well with the small-town conservatives who live in the area.

Who else is in the show, and what do they play?

Bout Time

Finally, after however-many episodes of Extreme Boring women against men 'strategy', Survivor Vanna White Too has gotten interesting.  At least it was interesting for about the final fifteen minutes last night.  How boring has it been so far? How irrelevant have been the contestants?  Last night, with only 7 or 8 players left, I still didn't recognise the woman who won the reward challenge.  Who was she?  Has she been on the island the whole time? Or, wait, was it Bug-Eyed Eliza who won that challenge?  I cannot remember, or differentiate between, some of these forgettable people.
I've been cheering for Twyla for a while now, and I suspect it could be her and Scout that make it to the final two. Scout is a puzzle.  She hasn't come close to winning any challenge, yet she has situated herself as one of two (along with Twyla) who are now calling all the shots. 
I think Dead Man Walking Chris could make it to final three. Not that I particularly like him, but I'd love to see him win, based solely on him (being a man) being the butt of that mean and ignorant chicken-wing stunt in which all the women participated.
Of course, who wins ultimately depends on who wins immunities, and only now (now that Twyla and Scout have shown their hand)  will that really begin to matter.  I must say that I'm looking forward to the episode (next week, if she doesn't win immunity) where Puffy Ami Me-Me gets the boot.  She seems like a mean and selfish person and someone I wouldn't like in real life.
Last night's Apprentice was fairly cut-and-paste, I thought.  Here's the challenge, here's the result, here's the boardroom, here's the firing, show over.  The hundred dollar cash work incentives and the 'no pizza for you' strategy seemed so wrong and stupid.  For that alone, the guy deserved to be fired.  And that Globe of Pepsi bottle they designed was simply awful looking.

From the Reality Show Red Carpet, here in downtown Whogivesashit, this is Rob MacDee reporting.

Wednesday, November 24

I'd Follow You Anywhere, Edge

So, who saw U2 perform on Saturday Night Live last weekend?  I was up and flipping around channels at the time, and came upon them in the middle of their unexpected third performance of the evening.  I've since watched the complete performance of I Will Follow on the internet.  You can see it here, apparently
For those who don't know, U2 were on Saturday Night Live last weekend and performed the usual two songs.  Then, instead of a final awful sketch, the comedians said their good-nights to us and Bono ran over to the band and they played an "unscheduled" third song.  I quote the word because, obviously the cast, crew and producers knew it was scheduled. 

After seeing it, I gotta say, my respect for U2 continues to go up and up.  Are they the greatest rock and roll band ever?  For longevity and continued relevance, I think you gotta say they are.

Their performance of the song was not special, in and of itself. It was very good, yes. But if it was a great performance, it was so in its very ordinariness.  It is what I would expect from U2.  It was rock-steady and strong. It is what rock and roll should be like.  The performance wasn't special, but the event was.
What made it special, of course, was this was U2's response to the hubbub surrounding SNL's previous two weeks' entertainers.  The Ashlee Simpson lip-synch controversy two weeks ago, and  Eminem's rapping along with his vocal track episode last week.  This was U2 saying "look, here's how it's supposed to be done.  We'll play one of our oldest songs, one we've played countless times, one  we should be bored-shitless with, yet we're still ripping it as if it mattered".  But doing so in a totally unpretentious (to me) manner.

LIke them or not, U2 is a Real Band, and they keep reminding us exactly what a real band is supposed to do: sing and play and feel the music and have a great time doing it.  And in this world of pre-produced talent, that is becoming more and more a rare experience.


Or:  The Amazing Shut Up I Hate You I Want A DivoRace

At least there’s still the scenery. And the competitions.

This year’s pack of The Amazing Race contestants seems to be
rather, um, rude, selfish and immature. So much anger and hatred among the couples. There seems to be no middle-ground when it comes to anger between
team-mates. They’ll be all lovey-dovey,
then next scene they are over-the-top Pacino mad at each other. And angry at seemingly trivial things. Yes, I understand it’s a race, and there are
pressures associated with that, but, come on, people. Show each other some respect.  Not knowing whether to turn right or left at the next intersection is not reason enough to declare, in a rabid rage, a desire for divorce.

The apology between the older couple was sweet and
genuine. Really, there’s nothing to
dislike about them so far.

By the sheer outlandishness of his temper and ego, it’s
becoming quite apparent that Johnathon must be trying to create this “most
annoying reality show contestant ever” character. What a disappointment, if it’s true. It takes all the fun out of hating him. Obviously his wife is in on the act.

Other things from last night’s show:

Bolo the Monkey seems to get awfully winded for a so-called
professional athlete.

It’s true. People
falling down on their bums is funny.

Will Hellboy discover and/or announce his homosexuality
before he gets Philiminated?

The New York Girls were a pretty inept team. They deserved to go. And they did. Won’t be missed.

Who will win it all? I’m placing my bet on the team that contains actors and/or models.

Tuesday, November 23

Say "Cheese"

Scene:  The Heavens
Lights up to reveal a few and sundry spirits, including God, lounging around on a cloud.  The Virgin Mary enters.
Virgin Mary:  Well, I'm thinking about making another appearance down on Earth.
God: Is that really necessary?  Do you really think it will help?
Virgin Mary:  The people need to be reassured.  Faith is wavering.  I can feel it.
God: (sigh)  Very well.  How will you manifest yourself?
Virgin Mary:  I'm going to show up on a grilled-cheese sandwich.
God:  Grilled Cheese.
St. Peter:  That's very "Warhol". 
God: Wouldn't an appearance as, you know, a flesh-and-bone human be more convincing?  Toss a miracle or two their way and voila, you got the majority of the world absolutely convinced in us.  Simple and easy.  In and out.
Thomas:  Yeah, that worked so well with Jesus.
God: In hindsight, I don't think it was the best timing with Jesus.  Probably the different areas of the world were too isolated from one another two thousand years ago for an effective world-wide promotional campaign like that.
Mark:  That's what I've been saying the last two thousand years!  I mean, Jesus gave good sound bites, but, really, who heard him when he was there?  A few thousand people at most, and the majority of them thought he was loco.  Even with all our work after his, uh, death, the word was slow to get out.  But now, with CNN and MSN Messenger , I really think a "Jesus Appears To Save Us All" headline would take off.  Like, globally.
Luke:  As long as it doesn't get usurped by other headlines.  Robert Blake's trial is coming up, you know.
Mark:  I could get working on a Powerpoint presentation, if you like?
God:  That won't be necessary, Mark.  But thank you.
Virgin Mary: Well, I really think if I manifest as a visage on a grilled cheese sandwich, that'll grab them good, too.
Luke (dismissive):  Yeah, that'd be good.
God:  Do it if you must, Virgin Mary.  It's your call.
Virgin Mary:  Well, I will.  I'll appear on a grilled cheese sandwich.
(Virgin Mary exits)
Luke:  She doesn't really "get it", does she.
Thomas:  She's too...theatrical.
Mark:  Stunt appearances like that do more damage than good, God.  I mean, bleeding walls, cloud formations.  It's ridiculous!
God: You know who I feel sorry for?  The poor schmucks who are unfortunate enough to see these images.  Get labelled as 'nutso' or 'crazy' and are ridiculed and persecuted for the rest of their Earth-bound lives.
Luke: All it'd take, God, for Earthly peace, is one smart visit from you.  Show 'em you're serious, and - Bang! - we got, what, four BILLION new subscribers.  Guaranteed.
God:  Well...let's just see how Virgin Mary's grilled cheese sandwich works out.
Luke:  You're the boss.
Lights down.

WotD: Panjandrum

The Grand Panjandrum of our artistic community was at it again.

I'll Drink To That!!

Here's the story, apparently true (and let's say it is even if it isn't):
The President Bush Girls and two Secret Service bodyguards, go to Freemans, a restaurant in NYC, to have dinner.  Maitre'd tells them the restaurant is full and would be for the next 4 years.
Patrons erupt in cheers and all order a round of shots.

Monday, November 22

Vera, Chuck and John Madden

When I get older, losing my hair...
I bet Paul McCartney never thought, when he wrote "When I'm Sixty-Four", that he'd be head-lining the Pizza Hut Presents the Tostitos (Nothing Goes Better With Tostitos Than Pepsi) SuperBowl Fed-Ex Half-time Budweiser BudBowl Show, sponsored by The US Army (an army of One).   While I'm a huge Beatles fan, I am not such a fan that I am blinded by McCartney's lack of popular music relevance for the past twenty years, and, therefore, I'm pretty blase about his appearance.  I can pretty much imagine exactly how the performance will go.  It won't be exciting.  It may be fake-exciting, manufactured excitement.  But it won't be exciting.
Obviously, the decision is a result of Janet Jackson's boob job from last year.  They're going Super-Safe this year.  But I'd love it if Paul would reach back into that history of his and resurrect some of the balls and brashness he and the other Beatles have shown.  I'd love him to do something with some raw punk attitude -like stopping in mid-performance, flash a big boner - let's see if Paul Is Dead - to the whole world, flip a bird to the crowd and then walk off.
Actually, that would be awful.  Instead, let's have him sing a medley of his hits (the more 'rockier' ones, please), including the first single from his (I must imagine he has one coming out in January) newest album.

Friday, November 19

Rob's "Reality" Show Recap

So's I'm watchin', like, a few so-called 'reality' shows and thought I'd give my important opinion about them.
Let's start with Tuesday night's The Amazing Race 6
I've mentioned here before how much I love this show (although apparently I don't love it enough to give referring links back to those previous mentions).  Tuesday last was the first episode of the 6th season of the show, and I expect it's gonna be another good season.  I am a little troubled by the way it seems they seem to be focusing more on getting so-called 'pretty people' to be contestants.  Some good characters already:  the well-named Hellboy; Bolo (the monkey), the, um, professional wrestler; and Johnathon, whom I swear will (if he sticks around long enough) go down in the history of television as the most hated contestant ever.  Seriously, he is the worst.  Bile-tainted rage rises to my throat whenever he speaks, and it takes all my will-power not to scream and throw a fit at his obnoxiousness.
Yes, The Amazing Race 6 should be good.  Again.  It's the best of the bunch, by far.

Thursday night gives me Survivor: Vanuatu.  It's been an awful, boring season so far, and I expect it to continue as such.  Yet, I watch.  The women-against-the-men thing was immediately boring and has only percolated more boredom.  Other than Twyla, I really don't give a shit about any of the players.  I kinda liked Sarge, but, well, he's a guy so he's gone.  That's about it.  Oh, and I thought the "give the girls two chicken wings and force the guys to suck on discarded chicken wing bones" trick was one of the lowest moments of Survivor history.  And there's been a lot of low moments.  Guess I'll stick it out to the end.

Following Survivor is The Apprentice.  At the beginning of this season, I decided not to get involved this year.  But The Donald got me about five weeks ago and I've become hooked again.  I actually like this show (my desire not to watch it is based on my strange need to have Donald Trump not succeed with the show, I think).  And this year, I quite like Trump's throw the rule-book out the window attitude.  Last night, he fired two contestants instead of the usual one.  He's a loose cannon, that Trump, I tell's ya.

Not a reality show, but it's on Thursday nights, so I thought I'd end this post with a bit about ER.  I ignored the show the first few seasons, got heaviliy into it for a few more seasons.  Last season, I all but gave up on it as I didn't really like the Luka and Carter in Aftrica thing.  This year, I swear, I'm only tuning in to see how terribly, callously and illegally the staff at the hospital treats their patients.   If I was a lawyer in Chicago, I'd get so rich on the lawsuits I'd bring against the doctors and students at this hospital.  Every week, they're breaking some sort of code or law and people seem to die from their 'reckless but caring' attitude as much as they live.  This is, without doubt, the worst hospital I can imagine going to in America.

WotD: Denouement

I hope the denouement of my life doesn't end up like so many Stephen King novels.


"Don't think I ever saw those pants on you before, son."
"That's because denouement."

Thursday, November 18

My Damn Man-Purse

I thought I had found the perfect shoulder bag to carry my notebooks, papers, scripts, pens, and most importanty, my cd/mp3 player.  I bought it at Chapters in Moncton a month or so ago.
It's made of a tough feeling heavy nylon.  Lots of pockets, some zippered, some open, for all sorts and sizes of items, and a special cd player pocket with a special opening for the headphones wire.  Easy close velcro flap makes access to all a quick pull away.

Well, after using the bag for a while, my infatuation has been quickly diminishing.  First of all, I like a bag that maintains its rectangular shape, but this one kind of folds in to itself, so that it kind of hangs like a shapless blob.  This takes away from the ease of entry, since I have to kind of unfold the bag before I can open the velcroed flap.  Second, the velcro on the flap has begun to rip the inner fabric on the flap.   Now when I pull the velcro flap it simultaneously pulls against the tear on the flap and the  anti-velcro on the main bag side of the bag (if you know what I mean).

Those two faults may be enough to make me orphan the bag from everyday use.  Damn, and it had such potential.
I'll have to see if I can repair the rip, and perhaps put something light and inflexible in the bag to help it keep its shape.

WotD: Clerisy

While I certainly don't try to exclude the clerisy, I do try to write comedy sketches with the general public in mind.


"I don't speak French.  Ask that lady what time it is here."

Wednesday, November 17

Media Pimps, Whores and Johns

I think it's wrong for a guy like that guy who lost 7 children and a wife to fire to be made to feel obligated to talk to the media.
I think it's wrong for the media to advertise, promote and present, in a "tonight at 11" way, coverage of his grief.

I understand that many people feel sorry for him, and that creates a *need* to make his story a news story, but I believe the way to respect his soirrow is to let him be alone with his friends and his faith.

Watching his pain doesn't ease his pain. 

Maybe I'm a bit too "Don't photograph the Amish" in this regard.

WotD: Supplant

There are reports that the military has supplanted Kim Jong-il in North Korea because he's gone into seclusion to mourn the loss of a concubine.  Crazy.


What supplant doing on the dining room table?  It's far too big.

Tuesday, November 16

The Incredibles

I and the family went to see The Incredibles last night.  I left the theatre claiming that it was the greatest movie I've ever seen.  Yes, that is quite a statement.
This morning, I still can't come up with a movie I've enjoyed more.  There have been films I've appreciated more, perhaps, but I think The Incredibles is the greatest movie I've seen.

WotD: Louche

One of the sketches we performed early in our summer run was, perhaps, somewhat louche. There was mild disagreement within the group as to whether we should revise it to make it more palatable to the general public.

For Al:  I can't wait for the day I lose enough weight so that my pants hang louche off my waist.

Monday, November 15

I'm A Rocket, Man

I saw this on IFilm a couple of weeks ago, and now I see it linked on MetaFilter.  I don't like linking to IFilm, so I'll provide the link that was on MetaFilter.
The year is 1978, and William Shatner is on stage at what looks like some award show or something, performing/reciting the Elton John/Bernie Taupin song Rocketman.  It is an incredible performance.

Seriously, if you never click on anything else that I offer, you have to check this out.

I need this to be a joke.  I cannot exist in a world where a man would be so full of himself to do this seriously. My only hope is that his tongue was planted firmly in his cheek.  What an actor!!!

WotD: Chortle

At a recent TAIPEI meeting, the Sketch 22 video sketch "Island Eye For The From Away Guy" was presented.  While I expected some of the stuffy-stuffs to chortle, word is that Mrs. Premeir was beside herself with laughter.

For Al:  Since he didn't do a very good job, initially, with raking the leaves, I demanded he continue with  the chortle every leaf in the yard was in a garbage bag.

Why I Hate That Canadian Tire Guy

When I was in grade five at Parkdale Elementary, the school came up with a school-wide fund-raiser project:  students from each grade would submit stories, poems, pictures, some of which would be compiled in a booklet which parents would buy.
Nice idea.
I believe I had a poem selected for inclusion.  But the surprising thing was that a drawing I made was chosen by Mrs. Ross to be on the cover of the booklet.  Surprising because I didn't consider myself an artist at all  (class-mate Stephen

MacInnis was the real artist in the school).  The drawing, which was a mix of crayon and pastels, was of an Island landscape: water, fields, cliff, etc.
Needless to say, I was flattered.
One day Mrs. Ross told me that since the drawing was a medium of crayon and pastel, it wouldn't copy very well for the numerous booklets we were publishing.  We'd have to trace the colourful drawing and use that black and white tracing as the image.  No problem, I said.  She told me Perry (I forget his last name) would be the tracer, since, apparently, he was very adept at tracing.   ???  Ok, no problem, I said.
To celebrate the publication of this booklet, the school organised some type of event to get the parents to the school.  Many parents bought a copy of the booklet, and I personally overheard numerous comments on how lovely the picture on the cover was.
How lovely the picture on the cover was, and how smart a boy this Perry must be for coming up with it.
But it's my picture!!
Seems that Perry, when tracing MY PICTURE, signed his name to the tracing.  Perhaps the tracing was his artistic interpretation of my original artistic masterpiece, and perhaps he was legally justified to do so, but in my mind, he was a forger.
He received credit and praise for copying my artistic imagination.
In my mind, he stole my glory.
I've hated him ever since that day.  My hatred was pure and just.  And it still is.
My hatred for Perry went unmatched for many, many years.
Unmatched until I saw that smug prick from the Canadian Tire tv ads.  Now, when I see him in the numerous ads he's done hawking Canadian Tire products, my fury and anger bubbles, barely able to be contained.  Sometimes I scream at the television.

I just figured out why I have such an adverse reaction to that bearded arsehole.  And it's the same reason why I hated Perry so much.

Both of them take credit for other's ideas.  The Canadian Tire guy seems to believe, just because he owns and is aware of the various products, and just because he tells his neighbours about them, that he is part of the team that actually comes up with the ideas.
But he's not.
He's just a guy who traces the ideas.

Friday, November 12

But I Am Spartacus

For about a week, I began to torment my son by saying, at random times in random voices "I am Spartacus".  This, of course, is in honour of the great scene in the Stanley Kubrick directed, Kirk Douglas starring Spartacus (1960) when, after finally being defeated by the Romans, the Roman General demands to know which of the assembled defeated slaves is the one they call Spartacus.  "Spartacus come forward or you all die!"  Douglas comes forward, knowing it means his death (but their salvation maybe), and declares "I am Spartacus".  Then, one by one, his defeated colleagues come forward (even though it probably means they'll die) and each say "I am Spartacus" in an attempt to save their heroic leader.  A great scene.
Then, co-incidentally, I saw a torrent link for the movie and I thought he might enjoy watching it.  I soon discovered that it wasn't the Kubrick version, but an updated 2004 version starring Goran Visnjic (Luka from ER).  I procured it and we watched it yesterday.
It was okay for an afternoon with nothing better to do.  Kind of by the numbers, though, and perhaps missing a spark or two.  The guy (Angus Macfadyen, who played Robert the Bruce in Braveheart) who played Marcus Crassus (the bad guy) was fun to watch.  As soon as Spartacus dies, though, the movie should have been over, yet it spent another 20 minutes or so meandering through, clearing up a couple of subplots.
Anyway, I was waiting the whole 3 hours (yes, three hours) for that great "I am Spartacus" scene.  It didn't happen.  Instead, Spartacus dies, kind of anonymously, amid a pack of anonymous Roman Legionaires.
Disappointing.  And now my son probably thinks I'm crazy for my thousand "I am Spartacus" recitations.

Wednesday, November 10

Thank You

Thank you
For signing up
And thank you for reporting
For getting on the ship that took you there
And for never coming home

Thank you
For your wet socks
Your frostbite toes and broken limbs
For the friends that you've seen die
And for sleeping in a hole

Thank you
For pulling the trigger
And for all the awful that entails
For your hard dreams and memories
And for coming home alive

Thank you
For crying
For laughing
For digging
For fighting
For hating
For shooting
For saving
For giving
And forgiving

Thank you

I HlAoTvEe My Blog

One full year of typepadding, plus many months before that of blogspotting.
Over the past month or so, I've been wondering whether or not to continue with this enterprise. 

I'm getting tired, people.
But I do like having a place to record these stupid pieces of nothing.

At the moment I have an "I expect I'll continue, what the hell, why not?" type attitude.

Aren't you lucky.

Tuesday, November 9

News You Will Only Find Here

The excellent and safe Firefox browser became 1.0 today.  If you don't use it, you really owe it to yourself to get it and have it forever replace Internet Exploder.
Congratulations to Steven Garrity's design team and the whole Firefox crew for the time and effort put into giving us the much needed alternative.

The Dolphins (Good-)Bye Week

The Miami Dolphins have played nine games so far this season.  They won one and lost eight.  In all my years of being a DolFan, I beleive there's only been one losing season.  So, I'm unaccustomed to cheering for the team that's the worst in the league (although being a Habs fan and Expos fan certainly gives my some practice) and a butt of Jay Leno Monologue jokes.
After the first two losses, I made a prediction on the Dolphins newsgroup:  Coach Dave Wannsdedt will be fired the day after they lose the game just before their bye week.  Well, I was wrong.  While the Dolphins did lose Sunday's game just before this week's bye, Wannsdedt was not fired yesterday.  Nor was he fired today.
Today, Dave Wannsdedt resigned. 
So, in this week of bye, we DolFans say "Good-bye" to Coach Wannsdedt.

Monday, November 8

Once Around The Park

DaveS and I came up with this title for what would no doubt turn into an awful movie:  Once Around The Park
Below is my synopsis of the movie.  See if you can come up with a worse (better?) version.

Once Around The Park
Rich, bored socialite Katherine Bringham (Gwyneth Paltrow) is in an unhappy (but for complicated business/family reasons, necessary) engagement to power attorney (future d.a.?) Daniel Harris (Matthew McConnaughey).  The only person it seems she can truly confide in (and to whom she can 'be herself') is her chauffeur,  Bennie (Brendan Fraser).
Through their post-date drives back to her apartment ("once around the park, first" says K each time), Katherine and Bennie talk and enjoy themselves, and fall in love. Of course, she tries to deny their love, and remain committed to the engagement, but love defeats all, right.
She comes clean to Daniel and he seems to take their breakup well.  However, he begins to anonymously torment Bennie, using his power attorney power to wreak havoc on Bennie's good name and nature.  Bennie loses his job, his relationship with Kathreine sours (because of well-conceived lies from Daniel) and the true-love couple seem to have lost, relationship over.  No more do they see each other.  Bennie's distraught.  Katherine's heartbroken.
Daniel is there for her.  Maybe she was wrong about him, he seems to be nicer now. They get back together.
Just before the wedding (on the way to the wedding), Katherine is somehow forced to hail a cab.  It's Bennie, in his new job as a cabbie.  He tries to explain the situation, but she'll have none of it.  He drives her to the church.  Just before the wedding, Daniel says something that causes her to realise that Bennie was telling the truth.  At the climax of the wedding, she runs out of the church and into the cab (Bennie is still there).
They ride off, in the cab, into the sunset.  But first they drive one more time, Once Around The Park.

What's your version?

Thursday, November 4

Six Answers About Me

Asked for ten. Got six that I figure I'd answer:

Nils asks: What are you working on that you don't tell anyone about? And why don't you?

Answer: I assume you ask this about my creative pursuits and not, say, about the next level on Grand Theft Auto on which I’m working. I am currently writing sketches for next summer’s run of Sketch 22. (No, Frankie, there is not gonna be a Christmas show. Maybe something in February?). But that is not something I don’t not tell anyone about. Secret-desire creativity would include a for-theatre Kids Show For Grown-Ups (which I have told a few people about). It would look and feel like a show for kids, but would involve adult themes. Probably a good show to go to stoned. Also, I’d love to do a one-man show that most people would hate. It would start like this: I drive a malfunctioning Harley Davidson onto the stage, keep it revving, and then proceed to tune it up for an undetermined period of time. If anyone is still around after that, I’d move onto my next bit: The Flinging of the Shit Sock… etc.

I don’t like to tell people of ideas too much, because to me the telling is the doing. Once an idea is voiced, then the desire to continue on with it begins to immediately diminish.


Wayne asks: If given the choice, who would you best like to have dinner with? (deceased accepted-with the understanding they would be alive for the occasion)

Answer: The joke answer is: anyone who pays. The “I went to university” answer is: I’d like to have dinner with the members of the Algonquin Round Table. I probably wouldn’t feel confident enough to add my witty banter, but I’d love to experience a session of their repartee at its height. My real answer (the one I’d give to the genie offering me this chance), though is: Jesus Christ. I’m dying to know if he had a sense of humour.


Coda asks: What do you most want to accomplish in your life and why?

Answer: It’s kind of pathetic perhaps, but I don’t like to set goals to accomplish. I see it as both a positive and negative way to live. Positively, I think it allows me to enjoy the moments of my life more. I am living for right now, not for the goal that’s a week, month, 20 years away. Negatively, I think it hinders one’s ability to achieve. It also is a way to avoid failure, which also had good and bad effects.

Generally, I want to be debt free at some point.

I’d also like to accomplish the goal of owning an iPod. If anyone would like to help me with that goal, just email me.


Tim asks: If you were appointed ruler of the universe, would you be a fair and benevolent leader, or would you become corrupt with power?

Answer: I think, if I was appointed ruler of the universe, first thing I’d do is destroy those who had it within their power to appoint me. Getting rid of them would likely make the job more of a permanent one. Once that was done, I would rule as fairly and benevolently as possible. Of course, there’d be periods of time when I’d be petulant and selfish. My goal would be to make the people of the universe treat others in the manner in which they’d like to be treated, and to take responsibility for themselves. Just like a parent.


Dave S asks: what's a favourite word?

Answer: I like ‘cartilage’. And ‘bueno’.


Graham asks: Have you ever been in a fist fight. What is your current hand-to-hand melee combat skill. Do you think you can take me. well do'ya ?

Answer: Yes, I have been in a fist fight. A couple, actually. The last time was in junior high, grade 7. Me and friends were walking home after school, and a couple of tough-guy grade 8ers were throwing snowballs at us and taunting us from the other side of the road. One too many hit me, so I dropped my Adidas kitbag, crossed the street and started laying into one of the kids. I got him down on the ground, got on his chest and started flailing (not unlike Ralphie in the fight scene in A Christmas Story). I went crazy. After a few minutes, others pulled me off him. I wasn’t bothered again in school.

In my university years, and for a few afterwards, I’d occasionally get mouthy when I was at an appropriate level of drunkenness. My mouth got me into a few almost-fights, where I’d be chased. I wouldn’t choose to fight. I was a provoker, not a fighter.

I imagine my current hand-to-hand melee combat skill to be pretty good. It is totally untested, and I think I'm relying on instinct-plus-crazy to get me through any tussle, but I expect I could handle myself.

And, yes, Graham, I have no doubt that if we were to fight for real, I’d take you.

Wednesday, November 3

Dubya Dubya III

I was going to call this post "Kerry Defeats World War III" as an homage to the infamous Truman/Dewey headline and the hope I felt earlier last night that was dashed in Florida.

Instead, I think Dubya Dubya Three better sums up where I think George will take us all in the next four years.

I saw this map on another site, and I liked it:


Good luck and hang tough all you Americans who suffered through the loss.

Tuesday, November 2

Ten Questions about Me

Because I am such an interesting person, yet so shrouded in mystery, I've decided to let you, readers, interview me. Assuming there are at least ten people who read this and are curious enough to post a question they'd like me to answer about myself, I'm willing to answer.

So, fire away. What would you like to know? I'll compile the questions and answer as best I can in a future post. You can ask more than one question, but I'm only going to pick one per person. Also, I reserve the right not to answer questions I'd rather not answer.

This, of course, is the post, through lack of questions, in which I realise that nobody really cares. :(

Monday, November 1

Lest We Forget

At lunch today, I saw a big banner. I think it was hanging on the ATC building. It said: "Remembrance Day - Lest We Forget" A fairly common notion this time of year, to be sure.

But seeing that phrase at that moment got me thinking out loud, which caused DaveS and myself to spend a few useless minutes wondering out loud. What I thought was "will there be a day when the word 'lest' is no longer used?" DaveS assured me it would be around for the rest of our lives at least. I figured that, for the people who are/will be confused by 'lest', we'll one day change 'lest' to 'in case'. In Case We Forget.

Wondering about the appropriateness of that word led to the perceived appropriateness of the whole phrase.

In the end, we decided that the word "lest" would remain forever, but "we forget" would succumb to various interest groups and political correctness.

"We" is far too inclusive a word. What about those people/groups who prefer to forget, or who accidentally forget? Surely there are anti-veterans groups around. Should they be forced to be included under the blanket-umbrella of 'we'? Surely not.

And what about the term "forget". Couldn't the implication of forgetting be hurtful to those who do forget?

How about this as an alternative to Lest We Forget:

Lest Those People Who Knowingly And Willingly Make An Effort Not To Be Memory-Challenged In Regard To The Remembrance Of Those Who Were Or Are Impacted By Either National/International Combative Situations And/Or Peaceful Representation Of And For Their Country Do In Fact Become Memory-Challenged In This Regard.

Justin and Britney Married

I am having a hard time pinpointing the exact date.

Can anybody tell me when Britney Spears' recent marriage to Justin Timberlake took place?


For about a week or so, I've been anticipating tonight and tomorrow night.

Tonight, Sketch 22 (or the Island-bound members at least) are getting together for our first time to begin writing our second season show. I'm greatly looking forward to hanging out with the crew. By the way, rumours of a Christmas Sketch 22 show (which we may have started) should by now be quashed. There will be no Christmas show. We do want to put something on stage over the winter though. Not sure what it'll be. At any rate, looking forward to getting the creative juices flowing again, and to being with buds.

Also, despite it being the worst season so far for the Dolphins, I'm anticipating the MNF game tonight, Miami v. NY Jets. While I fully expect the Jets to blow the Dolphins out of the water (clever), I must admit to expectations of upset as well. Last week's surprise victory against the Rams (sorry J.P.) has caused the embers of hope (I thought they were fully extinguished this year) to begin to glow ever so faintly in my fanatical devotion to the Dolphins.

Then tomorrow night, it is US election night. I love watching election coverage, and have been anticipating the spectacle of this particular election night for a couple of years. The only thing that will ruin the fun and excitement of election night viewing is a Bush victory. But, according to the pundits, there's not much chance for that, right? (the post's title is, of course, an homage to Heinz ketchup)

"The End" by 2033

I figure my son will be 40 years old when he finally watches the end of the movie "Halloween". This is an admittedly unscientific and quick calculation based on how much more of the movie he watched this year than he did last year. About two minutes more than last year, for those keeping score.

I think Halloween is the epitome of suspense and tension in movies. Blood and gore, my son can handle. The occasional fright, no problem. But Halloween has beaten him, two years in a row now.

Last year, I was skeptical about having him watch the movie. But my eagerness to have him grow up, coupled with his persistance that he's old enough for it, won out. So, I had him and his friend Keaton watch the movie with me. We all had built the movie "up" in the days before we watched it. I kept telling them how it was going to scare the shit out of them. Not "like other movies" scared. But really scared. I had them anticipating and dreading the viewing. I told them we'd stop the movie at any point either of them wanted it stopped, and that there was no shame in being too scared to watch it. "whatever" was their opinion of that idea. "Just wait and see" I said. They were so primed to be scared.

We made it about 40 minutes into the film, I'm guessing. Just to the point where the girl goes to the laundry-room (who has a laundry room as a separate building, by the way?) to wash her buttered clothes. She gets stuck. Michael Myers is at the door! "Stop the movie!" they agreed. "Are you sure?" I asked, keeping the movie going. "Just wait a sec." I admired them for wanting to charge ahead, and sure enough, they got past that scene, and onto the next segment where the buttered girl takes her babysitting charge over to where Jamie Lee Curtis is sitting. As soon as the Halloween tinkling piano music started again, though, that was it. "Turn it off!" No going back. They were done.

So, that was my son's first foray into Halloween.

Over the course of the past year, I asked him a few times if he wanted to watch the rest of Halloween. "Not right now". "Maybe next Halloween" I allowed. "Okay".

So, this Halloween, after the trick-or-treating was done: "Do you want to watch Halloween?" "Sure" he said, emphatically. I think his willingness to watch it was partly based on the fact that watching it would mean he'd get to stay up past his bedtime. On a school night.

Movie starts. The first appearance of the creepy tinkling piano makes him moan slightly. A few more occurrances of the theme and he begins to say things like "I hate that music!" "I know, isn't it great" is the type of reply his mother or I would respond with.

As the movie begins to grow in suspense, he starts getting a bit agitated, in a "this is exciting, I'm getting kind of nervous and agitated at this movie again" kind of way. I offer "we can stop the moive any time you want. Just say so." "No, I want to see more of it than I watched last year." Okay.

So, we make it to the point where we stopped watching last year. "This is where we stopped last year" he says.

Next scene: Girl is going to drive to pick up her boyfriend. She is singing as she goes to the car. Door is locked. She goes to get the keys, singing all the way. No worries. She comes back to the car, opens the door... wait, it's unlocked now!! She doesn't realise it! How did the door get unlocked?!? Still singing, gets in the car. Singing. Notices condensation on the windows. "That's odd", she seems be thinking. THERE'S CONDENSATION ON THE WINDOWS!!! It dawns on her slowly, and she stops singing. She turns to look in the back seat. We see the white mask...

STOP THE MOVIE!!!! "Are you sure?" STOP THE MOVIE!!!

So, we stopped it. About two more minutes than last year. I'm guessing next year we watch the whole thing.