Monday, May 25, 2015

Pool Report: I Slept In

Allow me to explain last week’s absence.

I decided to wait until Anaheim and Chicago had played Game Two last Monday night so there’d be some kind of balance in the number of games being tallied in the pool standings from each series.

And then that game went to Triple overtime which meant that I slept in on Tuesday. And then I figured, “Okay, so I’ll only do one report this week” and then they went to double overtime on Thursday  night so I slept in again and missed that one and…

Well, it wouldn’t have made any difference anyway, since Will Dixon used last week to just kept pulling away from the rest of us. Has ANYBODY ever had this kind of lead in this pool?

I’d be on the verge of declaring him our 2015 Champ except there’s the possibility Anaheim might win one of these marathon barn-burners or Ben Bishop might take another puck to the nuts putting Uncle Willis in a tailspin.

Stranger things have happened around here.

So don’t give up hope, guys –- except for me, Brooks and Pascoe. We can all go concentrate on scaring up Italian-Armenian co-pros or something.

The standings as Round Three gets down to “Best of Three” series in both divisions – Will Dixon continues to lead with Chris Sheasgreen and Wil Zmak giving chase.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 377: The Selfie

Some social media memes utterly escape me. Taking pictures of your feet or whatever you’re about to eat are part of that list. But topping them is the Selfie.

Surprising as it might be to Millennials and their overlapping generations, taking a picture of yourself with your own phone is not something new.

There are some who believe the first Selfie was taken by five New York photographers on the roof of the Marceau studio in 1920.

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And if they weren’t the first, my dad was sometime in the 1950’s.

The last day of any family vacation was always marked by taking a photograph of all of us together. Whether we were camping, visiting some natural or historic site or simply hanging with relatives, the final day did not proceed until the photo had been taken.

But first, like Sundays before church, we all had to get scrubbed and dressed in the best clothing we had with us. As if anybody believed my brothers and I went fishing in a jacket and tie.

Then we’d find a location that had been selected as the high point of said vacation. Might be a landmark or landscape that immediately identified our location. Or it might just be grandma’s house from an angle showing off the fresh coat of paint.

Then my dad would set his camera on the hood of the car, push the delayed shutter switch and hustle around to join us before the 10 second delay was up.

Usually this took two or three tries because nobody was ever sure if the shutter had actually clicked or the framing had included all of us.

But it was still technically a “selfie”.

And yet the Selfie has become today’s most popular use of digital cameras. I’m not sure why. Perhaps, as this study reports, it has something to do with those who are insecure or narcissistic being the most active on social media.

Whatever the reason, we’re now inundated with accessories to make Selfie production even easier. Although, they don’t come without some unwanted side effects.

I can only imagine one of these in my father’s hands…

Please Selfie Responsibly.

And Enjoy Your Sunday.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 376: Earthrise

It is said of great photography – “It’s not when you press the shutter, but why you press the shutter”, implying that what makes a photo memorable is less its quality and uniqueness than its ability to touch something in the human soul.

Likewise, any wise film director grants his cinematographer the right to “print” a take that might not be deemed worthy on the set. And often in the edit suite, that unnoticed something extra reveals itself to all watching as the take you want to use.

We all have iconic photos that speak to us. But on Christmas Eve, 1968 a photo was taken which continues to astonish all who see it for the first time.

It was an image no human being had ever seen before. An image which transferred all our individual beliefs, dreams and tribulations into a different perspective.

And now, NASA technology has allowed us to experience that moment as if we were those who first saw it.

It’s an extraordinary moment.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Pool Report: Round Three

As my own pool picks dropped from my roster, all I could think about was – “Damn, this next round is going to be a doozie”!

Chicago-Anaheim, seriously? The two most talented teams in the West. Raw power vs steely consistency. It could well be one for the ages.

To the East, New York takes on Tampa. A team of deadly snipers taking on one built to defend.

Fireworks from coast to coast. As it should be.

In the Pool, Will Dixon retains his lead as Round Three begins with Chris Sheasgreen and Wil Zmak in tow.

But there are a couple of other players with rosters that could overcome all of them.

The standings as we await tomorrow’s start of Round Three:

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Pool Report: Orange Crush

corey-perry-20150510-620

Last week, the NDP unleashed what it called the “Orange Crush” on Alberta. Last night, Anaheim delivered their version.

Calgary were never really in this series. But it afforded a lot of their fans a distraction from having to pack up the F-150 and head off in search of a city with some jobs.

On The East coast, both New York and Montreal staved off elimination, delaying the CBC Sports job cuts that will inevitably follow the demise of any future Habs games.

And if you read what sports insiders have to say, that gaping arena set Rogers built for their hockey broadcasts might look a lot emptier come the Fall as well.

But Will Dixon isn’t concerned, counting as he is on living large from his Pool winnings. But Chris Sheasgreen has halved the distance between them and Wil Zmak is hanging in there as well.

By the time we report on Friday, the Second Round will be over and the picture of who has a chance and who’s become redundant will be clearer. Until then –- the standings:

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And to lighten the mood for those disheartened by the performance of Calgary or their own pool picks, here’s a video submitted by former pool player Allan Eastman.

Allan isn’t playing this year, distracted as he is by the pending suspension of Tom Brady. But it’s a subtle reminder that even the best of us let the game get to us from time to time.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 375: What Moms Think About

For all Moms still here to hug or lovingly held in memory – Happy Mothers Day…

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Pool Report: Go Home, Minnesota! You’re drunk!

Minnesota Wild defenceman Ryan Suter watches as Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell celebrates after Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane scores during the third period of Game 4 in the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs, Thursday, May 7, 2015, in St. Paul, Minn.

In the last week and a half, I’ve built a fence, hung ducts and drywall and hammered in a hardwood floor. During the same period, the Minnesota Wild couldn’t manage to win ONE hockey game!

I believed in these guys, saw how they manhandled most of the West during this season and figured they’d easily take apart the perennially choking St. Louis Blues.

I also thought they’d have a tough time with Chicago but push it to six or seven and with the right bounces might even prevail.

I was wrong.

And now they head off to Vegas and Pebble Beach while I begin my slow slide down the standings in the Infamous Writers Hockey Pool.

Jeez, even New York and Montreal have managed to win a hockey game!

Will Dixon, meanwhile, hangs on to his sizeable –- LEAD. My God, Willis, what did you think I was going to say?

Chris Sheasgreen and Wil Zmak give chase. Followed by that idiot who picked so many skaters from Minnesota and Barry Keifl, who now begins his inevitable climb toward the podium.

Gawd, I hate the Second Round.

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Monday, May 04, 2015

Pool Report: Will Dixon Has A Good Night

If you’ve got Brandon Prust in your pool, I believe you can cross him off right now, even with at least (and probably at most) two games remaining in the Montreal/Tampa series.

The NHL operates pretty much on the Vegas model -– “What’s said on the ice, stays on the ice”. And even if the dealer was cheating, it’s your problem.

It’s become clear that the one team Montreal couldn’t beat all season isn’t likely to give one up now that the stakes are so high. That might be best for the “Centre Bell Centre” since it’ll take a while to clear the stench from that place after last night’s Habs performance.

On CBC, Strombo looked like he’d just heard the Ghomeshi news all over again.

At the opposite end of Prust’s bad night was Will Dixon’s sensational one. Twenty points for Uncle Willis over the weekend shoots him to the top of The Infamous Writers Hockey Pool, the first time anyone has piled up such a substantial lead so quickly.

Chris Sheasgreen and Will Zmak are giving chase. But it’ll take something spectacular to knock the Sage of Saskatchewan from his perch.

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Sunday, May 03, 2015

Lazy Sunday #374: Roar

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Those who follow this blog know that I’m not a fan of our government funded film industry, believing it has done more to hamstring than help Canadian Creatives.

Over the last few months, the passing of two close friends has strengthened that belief. One, a screenwriter, left behind unproduced scripts superior to the vast majority of films this country has produced in the last few decades. Unproduced simply because their setting or content didn’t mesh with the mandates of Telefilm or the CMF.

The other was a lovely and talented actress, forced from this country (as so many are) by a lack of opportunity and a dearth of producers capable of recognizing and exploiting real star quality.

And while no production system is perfect, it should be clear from Canada’s track record, especially when compared with countries of similar or smaller populations, that the one we use doesn’t work.

Put simply, if you want to do something worthwhile in this country, it might be better to forget about filling out government forms and just do it yourself.

Not long ago, I suggested here that you couldn’t go far wrong supporting a crowd-funding campaign started by Vancouver filmmakers Stuart Langfield and Dylan Rekert.

Apparently, some of you saw what I saw in these guys. Because less than 24 hours after that post went up they had secured their funding.

Langfield is an animator by trade and Rekert a graphic designer. Jobs both describe as fall back positions that supported earlier attempts at becoming filmmakers.

Last year, they decided to write a script without considering what was possible, ignoring budget, technical restrictions, etc. and just set out to write what they wanted.

Fuelled by what they felt was a lack of subtlety in current genres, they set out to find that sweet spot where Sci-Fi connects on a personal level and resonates emotionally. 5 or 6 drafts later, they had a finished script that Kickstarter transformed into a reality.

“ROAR” was shot over three days last summer with all the effects accomplished in camera.

The film was submitted to Vimeo where it became an immediate Staff Pick –- a high honor when you consider the thousands of hours submitted to that streaming site on a weekly basis.

And now Langfield and Rekert have set to work to expand on the world they have created and see where they can take it.

Without government bureaucrats and minions overseeing them (my opinion alone –- don’t take it out on these guys, Telefilm), I think they’re in for a rewarding ride. And I’m sure you’ll agree once you take a few minutes to see their work.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

ROAR from Stuart Langfield on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Pool Report: Round Two

I know this is a day late. But I lost a day in the ER getting stitched up so I’m behind on everything this week.

I told the doc I didn’t need any freezing. He could just do it like we were both at the bench in the playoffs. He allowed that was okay with him as long as I could get PK Subban to slam me in the boards for 20 minutes first to get my adrenaline up.

We settled on numbing the pain.

I don’t think much will numb the pain that’s coming for fans in Calgary this week. Their game one with Anaheim was brutal to watch. And I imagine every deppaneur in Montreal is out of Aspirin this morning. “Deux avec Pepsi, s’ils vous plait”.

But there will be survivors, including those hobbled but proud within the ranks of The Infamous Writers Hockey Pool.

Will Dixon has once again regained the lead with Wil Zmak shooting past me for 2nd place. At the bottom of the pile, Will Pascoe has made Mark Leiren-Young a very happy man.

The standings after Game Ones across the 2nd round…

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Pool Report: A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times…

It was the worst of times…

Ottawa, I know you’re feeling bad this morning. But you fought hard and you earned a lot of respect from hockey fans coast to coast.

And that showing plus Montreal and Calgary going forward might be giving the Brendan Shanahan and Trevor Linden a rebuilding hint –-add some red to the uniforms.

Minnesota and Chicago came through round one this weekend, so we only await tonight’s battles between Washington and New York’s Islanders as well as Detroit  vs Tampa to round out the brackets for Round Two.

Here in the Infamous Writers Hockey Pool, somebody who gave up on the Blues after three seasons and bet on their rivals pulled into the top spot with Will Dixon and Wil Zmak following – for now.

Now I don’t expect any plaudits for this. In fact, just treat me the way the Habs treated Carey Price last night after he led them to the next round…

The standings as of this morning.

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 373: The Bull Rider

We’re coming up on Rodeo season in Canada. These are also the same months when most Canadian film and television goes into production. For me, the two have always been related.

I grew up around cowboys and rodeo. When I started doing theatre I noticed something standing in the wings before the curtain rose.

There was the same buzz. The same adrenaline. The crowd on the other side of the velvet fabric was a challenge. They roiled with energy, excited at the possibility of being entertained.

A bull in the chute exudes the same energy, fully aware, its senses reading everything around it.

The rider is like the actor (or the writer, or the director, or the stage crew), charged with guiding that electricity through what’s to come, knowing a truth coined by cowboys but lived by every Creative person, “You can fool everybody but the bull”.

If you’re not up to the task, the bull (the audience) will know. And while the human version may not desire to stomp you into the dirt, they are more than willing to toss the unskilled aside.

As are the critics, the network execs, the producers…

You sold your saddle for this ride, neither you nor they can go home unsatisfied.

But the analogy does not end there. The comparison goes so much deeper. A depth explored by filmmaker Joris Debeij in his wonderful character study of Bull Rider Gary Leffew.

As you begin your artistic endeavors over the coming Summer, make time for a working day-off to take in a rodeo.

And Enjoy Your Sunday…

The Bull Rider from The New York Times - Video on Vimeo.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Pool Report #2: Winnipeg, My Winnipeg

As I stated somewhere else this week, any town with fans who think this is how you drink beer deserves to see their team go out in four…

I’m truly sorry, Winnipeg. You used to be where I went to have fun. Thank God one of us grew up.

But seriously, this is just in time. The snow around Portage and Main is almost gone. Meaning one thing. It’s mosquito season.

winnipeg mosquito

The fate of two of the remaining three Canadian teams will probably be sealed over the weekend. How’d you like the way Kesler played for Anaheim, Vancouver? Are you thinkin’ maybe you shoulda traded the Twins instead? Be nice to have some men on the ice vs Calgary, wouldn’t it?

I can’t be as hard on Ottawa. They’re trying. And they already have to live in Ottawa. But by Sunday the Flea Market will be back in the Canadian Tire parking lot with Sens merchandise going cheap.

For the most part the first round is turning out to be fairly predictable. That would certainly seem to be the case if the Infamous Writers Pool is any reflection.

Will Dixon hangs onto his slim lead with Wli Zmak, Chris Sheasgreen and yours truly barely a point behind.

But that could all change in the next couple of days. It’s still far too early to determine how this season is going to play out.

Pop another twist top and enjoy the weekend. And if you love your team, skip the Winnipeg shampoo.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Pool Report Week #1: Once More Into The Breach

Shakespeare in Sports

But we in it shall be remember'd. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…”

Okay, so maybe the playoff picture is really hard to read this season. Maybe everybody’s really busy. Or maybe the long winter has made most of North America not want to look at sheets of ice anymore.

Whatever it is, we’ve got the smallest clutch of players we’ve ever had for the annual Infamous Writers Hockey Pool.

But will that stop us? NO!!!

Will that dampen our enthusiasm? NEVER!!!

Will that make our champion any less worthy of respect in the annals of hockey pools? Well, maybe…

But we’re still gonna have fun! Which is most of the point.

Half the teams in the first round are three games in as we begin Week 2 of the 2015 Stanley Cup, with only one looking like it might have a stranglehold. But since nobody in the pool picked a single player from Ottawa who cares, right?

And see, that alone is a tribute to the hockey wisdom and prognosticative skill that has always exemplified this particular band of brothers.

So “Game on”! Here are the standings as we enter the heart of Round One with Pool Founders Will Dixon and myself leading the way and Chris Sheasgreen right there with us.

A third of the pool in a virtual tie for the lead. Now that’s what I call competition.

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