Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lazy Sunday # 180: Small Things Amuse Small Minds

things that entertain me

I admit to being way too ticklish.

I also apparently have a funny bone embedded too close to the surface. Even in the most dour situations, I seem to be able to find something to giggle about.

If that's a sign of immaturity or insensitivity, so be it. If it means you can't risk leaving me alone with people I should be trying to impress or who feel they're deserving of a certain modicum of respect, I understand your trepidations.

I'm sorry, I just find a lot of things funny and/or just can't take them as seriously as I'm supposed to do.

I've been elbowed in the ribs by too many dates for laughing at the wrong places in a movie -- or for laughing too hard at the right ones. And I've been accused of finding humor in things which are inappropriate, juvenile and tasteless.

Yep, that pretty much nails me.

So, of course, I need to provide a few examples.

Many of you may not find what follows funny. But I'm guessing more than a few will fight back a grin, stifle a chortle or just bust loose.

When it comes right down to it, there's just a whole lot in life that is just plain silly. And embracing the silly is much more fun than getting all judgmental about it.

Just another way to -- Enjoy Your Sunday.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Best Prayer Ever!

There's a tendency in the media to paint those who hold to a religious faith as being rigid and humorless, dour to the point of fanaticism.

And there's a lot about organized religions to give many people pause. As someone tallying the atrocities committed in the name of one God or another once quipped, "The one headline you'll never read is "Atheist Extremists Massacre Agnostic Enclave".

All of us have also been forced to endure those bland and hollow sounding pronouncements before sporting events where lives might well be lost as if invoking blessings takes the negative edge off our anticipation of the mayhem to come.

And then, along comes somebody who seems to understand the over-marketed, over-macho'd world of corporatized sport for what it is and also knows that if we really were made in the image of some Supreme Being, that's where we got our sense of humor.

Pastor Joe Nelms from Last Saturday's Nascar Nationwide Series race in Nashville, Tennessee…

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lazy Sunday # 179: The Elvis Impersonator


A couple of nights ago, the AC was blasting, the ball game was over and I still had most of a beer left, so I spun through the remote and found an old Elvis Presley movie, "Harum Scarum". Not one of his best.

But then, Elvis wasn't really known for making good movies. Maybe "King Creole"…

Still, when I was a kid, Elvis films were considered the ultimate date movie. They mostly preceded my own dating years, but my friends and I saw them as well and we all agreed that Elvis could fight pretty good, which made him okay in our eyes and worth sitting through the interminable kissing scenes.

But as his career went on, the movies seemed to get even worse. The stories were moronic and the songs were mostly forgettable. I remember wondering why somebody as rich and powerful as Elvis would allow himself to get involved in such dreck. Surely, he must have known he wasn't giving his fans their money's worth.

Later in life, I met a guy who produced several of Elvis' films. He worked for Hal Wallis for a long time and then went on to a very successful career of his own. I didn't want to ask him why all the Elvis movies were so cheesy, so I just asked what it was like working with Elvis.

He said he was a fairly down to earth guy. Polite and courteous. Came to set knowing his lines. Hit his marks. Punched a couple of guys. Sang a song. Kissed the leading lady and went home. He wasn't the kind of actor who questioned his motivation or wanted to direct. He just figured the movie people must know what they were doing, did what he was told and got on with his life.

It got me wondering if maybe Elvis was a better actor than I gave him credit for. That he just kind of embodied whatever somebody else said would make the fans happy and made that person seem as real and natural as could be.

And maybe those people telling him what to do really did understand what his fans wanted. His real fans.

During "Harum Scarum" I also found myself wondering how the American Movie Musical transitioned from lavish Busby Berkley numbers and all-singing, all-dancing casts to a string of films where just one guy did it all himself.

The way studios cover their butts and try to make sure everybody in the audience is getting something, it speaks to the power of Elvis' onscreen persona that they didn't think he needed any back-up whatsoever.

And maybe that embodiment of so much charisma is why Elvis Impersonators remain so popular today.

If you're anywhere near Collingwood, Ontario today you can take part in the largest competition for Elvis Impersonators on the planet, where in addition to young Elvis and old Elvis, you can be treated to Asian Elvis, Lady Elvis and Baby Elvis. All the Elvii you can imagine will be there for your enjoyment.

But maybe the original was a master impersonator as well…

Samples of Young Elvis and Old are offered for your consideration. Young Elvis from his first full musical "Loving You" and footage from one of his final concerts. In both, the incredible talent beneath the characters shines through.

Enjoy your Sunday.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Dark Secrets Of The White Lady


On August 1st, 2011, an enchantingly beautiful tall ship bearing the equally enchanting name "Esmeralda" will enter Canadian waters to begin a two week visit to the cities of Victoria and Vancouver.

Her four masts and 21 sails stand almost 160 feet above the water. Longer than a football field and carrying a crew of 390, she is the second largest sailing vessel still plying the oceans of the world.

A training ship for the Chilean Navy, "La Esmeralda" comes as a guest of the Canadian Government and the Canadian Navy. And a lot of Canadians are requesting that both change their minds and order her to turn back.

For although she is affectionately known as "The White Lady", Esmeralda has a very dark and horrific past.

From 1973 to 1980, she was one of the primary places where Chilean political prisoners and innocent civilians caught up in the web of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet were taken to be raped, tortured and ultimately "disappeared".

Now let's be clear. This magnificent ship had no say in what happened aboard her. And most of the men who sail in her today weren't even born when those crimes against humanity were committed.

But more than 30 years after The White Lady's last victim was slipped over her sides to an unmarked watery grave, no one has been called to account.

Despite detailed investigations conducted by Amnesty International, the US Senate, and the Organization of American States, and despite Chile's own Truth and Reconciliation Commission which all detailed and documented what happened aboard the ship, the Chilean Navy has refused to acknowledge having any part in what was done, let alone name which of their officers and men participated.

At the end of May, despite this continued Naval Blockade of the Truth, the Chilean Government finally charged 19 retired senior naval officers. But no one knows when or even if they will ever be brought to trial.

Last week, the Mayor and City Council of Victoria unanimously requested that our Federal Government and Navy rescind their invitations to "Esmeralda" and similar motions are expected from the cities of Saanich, View Royal and Esquimalt (Home of the Canadian Pacific Fleet) whose shores the ship will have to pass to reach Victoria's Inner Harbor.

It's the height of tourist season in a part of the country that thrives on tourism and with massive cruise ships arriving daily no one wants to wear the stain "Esmeralda" inevitably trails in her wake.

For if she does arrive, she will be greeted, as she is in virtually every port, by crowds of Human Rights activists, protesters and vivid street theatre re-enactments of her past. In Victoria, she will also be met by several members of the clergy, even the normally straight-laced Anglican ones, wanting to know the fate of their fellow Episcopal Priest Father Michael Woodward whose last known whereabouts were in a torture room below Esmeralda's decks.

Yet, plans are afoot for the usual Pomp and Circumstance. Naval bands will parade. Ceremonial cannons will fire. And local dignitaries will go aboard to dine with the Captain.

I don't know if they will visit the rooms where hundreds of young women, many with no political affiliation whatsoever, were brutalized, gang raped and murdered. But I do know they'll cross the deck where chained and naked men were battered by the water from fire hoses until their flesh was flayed. They'll most certainly get to see the masts around which others were handcuffed for days, left to the elements and beaten with rifle butts if they tried to sleep.

Allowing "Esmeralda" to visit a Canadian port on a "Good Will Tour" is on a par with taking one of the Auschwitz ovens around the Summer BBQ circuit. And those responsible for that latter obscenity were at least brought to justice.

Although the Chilean Navy rationalizes the various visits of "Esmeralda" as an opportunity to move on, the revelations of her past and the work of those trying to bring her former sailors to account are making that more and more difficult. She has been banned from several ports already and unceremoniously escorted out of others "for her own protection".

Maybe we too need to ask "Esmeralda" to go home and wash the last of the blood from her decks before welcoming her as a guest in our country.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lazy Sunday # 178: MFCEO!


The cardinal rule of advertising is to make the public aware of and interested in purchasing your client's product. By and large that's by making their products appear essential to your well-being and future happiness.

We all want to deal with providers of goods and services who purport to respect us, deal in quality and take their business seriously.

Oh, sure, from time to time one ad or another will have a little fun at the client's expense, maybe even imply that nobody really buys that respect, quality, responsible malarky. But we all know they're really just kidding the way only truly respectful, responsible and quality people do.

And that's especially been true in the realm of Product Placement. Advertisers provide some product or service to a television series or film and in return the production works what's being sold into the storyline.

When that works well David Caruso is slipping on a pair of wire frame Maui Jim's. When it doesn't, Donald Trump's Apprentae are hawking Whoppers in Times Square.

Seamless is good. Implying a character the audience likes or wants to emulate uses a product they should purchase makes everybody involved happy.

Nobody wants a character shilling their product who's vulgar, morally reprehensible and utterly without redeeming characteristics.

At least that used to be the case…


Until a few days ago, K-Swiss, a leading manufacturer of athletic wear, was happy to sell its wares much like most of its competitors, with fast paced colorful ads filled with happy, smiling young adults playing sports and working out.

Sometimes their ads featured well-known pro-athletes and celebrities.

But this week they signed a spokesperson who is a well-known pro-athlete and celebrity only in his own mind, Kenny Powers of HBO's irreverent series "Eastbound and Down".


For those who haven't been paying attention, Kenny Powers is the warped demon spawn of screenwriters Ben Best, Jody Hill and Danny McBride. McBride also portrays him onscreen.

In the world of "Eastbound and Down", Powers is a failed Major League pitcher relegated to substitute teaching back in his home town. In Season Two, he attempted to restart his career in Mexico and will return in Season Three making a hard final charge for the fame and fortune he is certain he deserves, lack of definable athletic talent notwithstanding.

From a comedy point of view, Kenny is a brilliant creation; a racist, foul-mouthed, self-centred dickhead that even the most crooked used car dealership wouldn't let anywhere near their late night horror movie spots.

So, of course, K-Swiss has just made him their new brand spokesman.

According to the company's VP of Marketing, Chris Kyle, "Some people see us as that company that makes conservative, white tennis shoes and some of the kids today don't even know that much. Here's their wake-up call. This is who we are now.".

I'm not exactly sure what that means. But then I'm not fully conversant in marketing talk.

But I have had to integrate products into a dramatic storyline. Or, massage a moment to reduce the stress levels of an advertiser whose viewing of a rough cut made him break out in a cold sweat.

The K-Swiss/Kenny Powers marriage may mark the moment when the world of product placement and celebrity endorsement got a little less onerous for everybody involved.

Or, if it doesn't go well, it may signify a lot more writer room angst in the years to come.

However the scale tips, one thing is certain. Kenny Powers first outing for K-Swiss is jaw-droppingly hilarious.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Shaggy Dog At The Beach

sheep beach

It was a lovely Summer day here yesterday. So I took my Sheepdog down to the beach.

She ran around for a little while. Splashed in the water. Then she started digging at something in the sand.

I went to see what had gotten her attention and found what looked like a tiny silver gravy boat.

But as I rubbed away some of the dirt, smoke began pouring from its spout. It wasn't a gravy boat at all. It was a tiny magic lamp.

The Genie who popped out of the lamp wasn't much bigger, fitting easily into the palm of my hand.

He introduced himself and acknowledged that he wasn't a very big Genie. Therefore he could only grant me one wish, so it had better be a good one.

I thought about asking for fame and fortune and then came up with something even better.

I told the Genie my wish was to live forever.

He kind of slumped and shook his head. He was a little Genie. Such a wish was simply beyond his power to grant.

I thought for a minute and said, "Okay, so let me live just long enough to see Canadian television networks program nothing but Canadian content."

The Genie's eyes narrowed and a tiny smile touched the corners of his lips as he said, "You sly sonovabitch…"

genie one

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lazy Sunday # 177: The End Of An Era

The last Space Shuttle launched this week.

There was a time I dreamed of going into space, maybe even making it to the Moon or Mars. That once seemed like a very possible reality. Now it seems a little less likely.

And somehow "Space Tourist" doesn't have the same ring to it as "Astronaut".

Shortly after the launch, I heard that NASA was letting 3200 people go and that 25,000 will eventually lose their jobs because there's no longer a Shuttle Program or something even grander and uplifting to replace it.

25,000 high tech jobs that required enormous education, dedication and intelligence -- all disappearing as Atlantis makes its final flight.

Maybe we'll find a new goal. Maybe all that talent and expertise will find a place somewhere else.

I hope so. All of us need the kind of excitement and delight and inspiration that "boldly going where no one has gone before" provided.

Yes, the Meek will inherit the Earth. But I always thought that was because the rest of us were going to the stars.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

"Summerworks": Censorship Or Sumthin' Else?


Last week, one of the guys who convinced me to start blogging, Denis McGrath, wrote a heartfelt piece on his more-or-less mothballed website, "Dead Things On Sticks" entitled "One More For A Good Cause: Why Censoring Summerworks Means No More Flashpoints".

It was a passionate post decrying a recent denial of Federal funding for the Toronto "Summerworks" Theatre Festival.

As Denis laid out the scenario, "Summerworks", an important showcase for new talent and the place where he'd gotten his start as a dramatic writer, had been denied $40,000 in essential funding barely a month before the festival opens and that loss of financing threatened the very survival of this Summer's edition.

On that point, I couldn't agree more. I got my own start in theatre festivals not unlike "Summerworks" and for many years served as a board member of a Toronto theatre company intimately involved with similar enterprises as well as "Summerworks" itself.

Promoting unknown artists and experimental work is always a crapshoot. Arts Bureaucrats, audiences and especially the media don't really know what they're being sold or which shows might be worth an investment of their time and money, so it's an uphill battle to fill seats. 

Yet a lot of great work has come out of "Summerworks". Given the nature of the beast, there's been a lot of crap too. But like all artistic endeavors, you try to learn from the bad while hoping the good will erase all memory of the other stuff as it builds and inspires your audience.

So "Summerworks" was given a steep final hill to climb after already running a full marathon with heavy packs. And being the kind of gung-ho, generous guy he is, one of the few in Canadian showbiz who consistently walks the walk, Denis ponied up $1000 to help them out, begging others to pitch whatever they could into the hat.

And that is magnificently admirable.

But a couple of other things in the post are not.

And since they have been picked up and parroted elsewhere by no lesser cultural luminaries than Jian Gomeshi of CBC Radio's "Q" (audio here) and expanded upon by Globe & Mail TV critic John Doyle here

I gotta call "Bullshit!".


I have three major issues with what's been said.


Midway through his essay, Denis fingers the villain in the "Summerworks" shortfall -- The Artist-hating Harper government.

"…draw your own conclusions, but to me this feeds into a nice long narrative about what the Conservative Government does to organizations that espouse (or whom they say espouse) points of view that don't gibe with the good Conservative mindset".

But if you look closely, there's no concrete evidence that "Summerworks" was censored by anyone. Oh, there's a little smoke, but mostly the kind that somebody has to manipulate with a few mirrors to come to such a conclusion.

Back in 2009, "Summerworks" produced a play called "Homegrown" by playwright Catherine Frid, which profiled a member of the "Toronto 18" convicted of being part of a terrorist plot.

When asked for a comment, a spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office who hadn't even seen the play stated, "We are extremely disappointed that public money is being used to fund plays that glorify terrorism”.

Later, PM Harper, when queried on the same issue, said he was "concerned" about the play.

That's it.

They were "disappointed" and "concerned".

Kinda like Maple Leaf fans at every trade deadline.

But that's all anybody in power said officially.

Or did.

Nobody halted the original production. Nobody banned the play. You could still put it on pretty much anyplace you want anytime you like.

Interestingly, nobody has.

Even though many theatre luminaries stepped forward to declare how important "Summerworks" was in the creation of their own seasons, and how much damage underfunding it might cause, not one has mounted another production of the play.

Maybe because it really wasn't really worth a second look?

Even the Toronto Star, which hates Stephen Harper pretty hard, warned their readers away from it…

star review


I know the approved narrative is that Stephen Harper is this really scary man with a secret hidden agenda, just itchin' to let a buncha crazed fundamentalist Evangelicals and gun owners who wear ass-less chaps to work every day loose on the delicate hothouse flowers of the Canadian Arts.


His government just guaranteed ongoing funding for the Canadian TV and film industries.

And since he's been in power, he's insisted on keeping Canadian troops in Afghanistan so women aren't beheaded in soccer stadiums and girls can go to school there without having to duck flying acid.

He's dispatched Canadian jets to bomb the shit out of a dictator bent on slaughtering his own people in Libya.

He's been the first guy to speak up against the UN putting Syria in charge of its Human Rights Commission and having North Korea head the one on Disarmament.

Does it make any logical sense that a guy committing that much blood and treasure to oppose totalitarian regimes also harbors a desire to throttle his own artistic community? A community most of the country doesn't pay much attention to anyway?

Much less sledgehammer a play nobody apparently wants to see…?

But that kind of logic has no place in an artistic community that has been taught their only path to survival comes from constantly advertising how threatened they are, be it from other cultures, changing technology or the disinterest of their own population.

So there's no evidence of censorship whatsoever.

But -- there's a lot pointing to either administrative incompetence or bureaucratic favoritism.

In his post, Denis states that the Sun newspaper chain "ginned up a bunch of controversy" about "Summerworks".

By that he means journalist David Akin, who discovered that elements within the Heritage department not only ignored their own funding rules, they actively backdated correspondence and even filled out their own forms to make sure the 2010 "Summerworks" grant application met all the required criteria. (More here).


In the real world, those activities amount to fraud, so it's unfair to brand Akin as having an ideological axe to grind.

Prior to his current Sun Media gig, Akin spent six years as the theatre critic for Thompson News. Maybe he finally succumbed to seeing one too many bad shows and went rogue, but in an email to me after the above post he affirmed his commitment to Canadian theatre:

"There's never enough money for theatre artists in this country and yet, if you want the public to support your work, you better be prepared to respond to a) challenges to the work itself and/or b) challenges to your claim to the money!"

In other words, nobody has an inalienable right to be supported and financed and above reproach.

So -- could it be that "Summerworks" simply once again botched its paperwork or didn't have anybody inside willing to help it through the process this time?

Maybe the previous embarrassment led to tighter internal controls at Heritage or some bureaucrat just didn't want to risk the wrath of his boss after the tongue lashing he got the last time around.

Maybe this is the kind of self-censorship that comes from ass-covering or just wanting a problem to go away.

And perhaps this whole media controversy is about deflecting blame rather than admitting to shortcomings.

More on that in Point Three. But first…



Denis makes the point that Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern, the creators of CTV's hit series "Flashpoint", met during "Summerworks" and their series would not exist had it not been for the festival. What's more, without further editions of "Summerworks" there could well be no more "Flashpoint(s)".


Can I first say how grateful I am that my mom and dad met in a coffee shop during WW2?

Because if there had been no WW2, they wouldn't have ended up in that coffee shop and I would never have arrived and then gone on to write and produce about 10 times more hours of prime time television than the current total for "Flashpoint".

I'm not saying we should have more world wars to ensure our creative future, however…

I did once meet one guy with whom I did many hours of prime time Canadian television in a strip joint. And a little more Federal funding for strip joints might not only lead to an uptick in creativity, but it could also help out a lot of single moms, under-employed dental hygienists and U of T students trying to get through that tough final year of Law school.


I think it's fabulous that Mark and Stephanie met at "Summerworks". They're terrific writers more than deserving of their subsequent success.

But let's not forget that because Federal funding went to "Summerworks" and not to similar ventures in Halifax, Saskatoon or Chicoutimi, several other Marks and Stephanies did not meet and projects that might have equaled or surpassed the exceptional qualities of "Flashpoint" don't exist as a result.

All around this country, worthy plays and films and other artistic works don't get created because there's only so much money to go around.

Lack of financing bedevils Artists everywhere. But the problem is particularly acute in Canada because virtually all alternatives to State sponsorship have been eliminated. If you don't get money from the Public purse for your show, you're almost certainly not making your show.

Even the boot-strapped, self-funded plays in "Summerworks" only have a forum because somebody in government pays for the venues and the advertising and almost everything else that draws an audience.

Like me, Denis has long argued against the government funded "favorites" who continue to churn out work that attracts neither prestige nor box-office returns nor ratings, but who keep going back to the well to find another full bucket waiting for them.

You can't alter that philosophy to protect a "favorite" who benefited you or your friends. Because in doing so, you are almost certainly stopping someone else from getting the opportunity they deserve.

Maybe what all this really boils down to is that we all feel "our" entitlements have more value than anyone else's.

And that's a game nobody wins.



John Doyle, the Globe and Mail critic, used the "Summerworks" affair to vent his displeasure with the Canadian Walk of Fame celebration, an annual exercise in which plaques bearing the names of Canadians famous for one thing or another are embedded in Toronto sidewalks.

It's pretty much a social season circle jerk tarted up as a celebration of excellence designed to attract tourist dollars by spending Public ones.

And while the argument can be made that the entire event could easily be financed by the banks and elite law firms listed as supporters and thus Public money could be better used by "Summerworks", that's not an argument that's going to get us very far.

The sad reality of this country is that any self-respecting executive at RBC is going to support a sidewalk ceremony or film festival where his wife can rub shoulders with a movie star long before he'll ever actually approve a bank loan to a Canadian producer trying to make a film with that same star.

There's no percentage to doing otherwise.

Like a lot of things, our culture is more about appearances than content. So it's pointless to argue that one Arts event, tourist attraction or industry has priority over another when it comes to accessing tax dollars.

Because that money can always be spent more intelligently or on those more deserving.

Should any money go to the theatre when many aboriginal Canadians still don't have access to clean drinking water?

How many dialysis machines can you buy with what it apparently costs to put brass plaques in a sidewalk?

Who most deserves government largess, the fella with the best idea, the partner of an influential consulting firm or the guy who can write an air-tight grant application?

In any given year somebody will bellyache about the Calgary Stampede getting a half million dollars when a local Pride parade gets nothing or when the government cuts a big check for Stratford to do some old chestnut by a dead European White Guy versus a pittance for somebody who has distilled the voice of his generation.

None of us ever get what we think we deserve.

Some douchebag is always getting something he shouldn't.

And there's never enough to satisfy everybody.

If you ask me, the solution to all this is for all of us to get off the government teat and do exactly what Mr. McGrath did, put our own money where our mouths are.

You want to park a slab of granite marked Ryan Gosling next to a sewer grate? Go Nuts! Where's your money?

You want a play about aboriginal lesbian urban planners that can only be performed in the back of a moving taxi? Cool. Don't forget to bring the money.

You can't have a legitimate, vibrant culture if you're constantly standing around waiting for somebody else to pay for it.

If everybody who'd gotten a break from "Summerworks" had kicked in $1000, the festival would have been solvent in an afternoon. And then who gives a fuck why it didn't get any government support.

Let's go. On with the show.

Instead, we've become a country that expects others to pay for what we want, instead of a people who find a way to get it for ourselves.

We got that way by allowing our governments to make our decisions for us, instead of demanding they follow our lead and try to keep up.

I won't be in Toronto for "Summerworks", but I'm making my own commitment here and now to match Denis' kind and thoughtful donation by buying tickets to a theatre or two or three in another part of the country.

Backing the things we believe in is the only way to put an end to all the "I'm not getting my fair share" whining that takes up most of what passes for artistic discourse in this country.

Maybe if the government wants to both help out as well as alleviate some of the rancor Arts funding engenders, they just need to calculate how much they pump into the Arts plus what they budget to staff their funding bodies, get rid of all that and give us an equivalent tax break for supporting the arts.

Yeah, maybe a lot of that "individual choice" money would end up going to clog dancing and fiddle contests, but a lot of it would go to places like "Summerworks" as well.

It's a model that's worked in this country before.

In what's known now as the "bad old tax credit days", the Canadian film business was primarily populated by hustlers and dentists looking to shelter revenue. But it also saw the creation of some of the best movies we've made and spawned companies that were able to keep making them.

Maybe the answer is as simple as getting rid of entertainment taxes so it costs 25% less to go to the theatre or buy a ticket to a Canadian film. Because if you don't have a large bureaucracy of consultants and deciders to support, you don't need to take in all the money it costs to keep one going.

The main thing is, we've got to find alternatives to the current Artistic Welfare State. It nurtures nobody. It creates regional, cultural and personal animosities. It breeds conspiracy theories and divides us by class and taste and spheres of influence.

That system creates the opposite of what Art is supposed to do, driving us apart instead of bringing us together.

And the more shattered we become the less the chance we'll ever create anything that makes all of us proud.

And then there really will be no more "Flashpoint(s)" or anyone even wanting to make them.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Lazy Sunday # 176: Ssshhhhhhhhhh…


Summer brings a lot of big movies to theatres. Movies with big stars and big explosions. And for the most part, Summer movie fare doesn't spend a lot of time telling complex stories or fleshing out multi-dimensional characters.

But you still have to pay attention or you'll miss something.

And that's a problem.

Because Summer movies also attract big crowds. And the basic rule of thumb for big crowds seems to be -- the more people you have in one place, the greater the chance some of them will be morons.

I don't know why people talk during movies. I mean, people in the audience. People talking on the screen kinda comes with the territory.

But they do. And now they phone. And text. And update their facebook status and send tweets.

"I'm twenty minutes into Transformers 3 and still no Megan Fox! WTF???"

Most theatres make symbolic efforts at curtailing these practices. But they know anybody who really wants to enjoy a film in its totality has already installed a home theatre and pre-ordered the DVD from Amazon.

And no pimply-faced first timer in the job market usher is going to risk having to go get his braces readjusted by getting in the face of somebody who probably rolled somebody for their iPhone just so guys like me can attempt to willingly suspend our disbelief.

Except for one place…

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas.

Talk or get on your smart phone there and you won't be coming back.

And they mean it.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Happy Birthday Pretty Lady!


It's Canada Day! Our national celebration of being one of the best places on the planet and pretty much the official start of our summer, whether or not it has actually arrived.

It's a day for hanging with friends and family, beer, BBQs, music and fireworks. A day we all set aside whatever differences we might have and admit we're pretty damn happy with one another.

That's particularly noticeable this Canada Day over at the CBC, where they've corked the endless negativity and pulled out all the stops to celebrate our Colonial past. Not our own actual Colonial past, but the past in which we were subservient to the British Monarchy.

Gosh, things were just so much more proper then.

Yes, Will & Kate have come to visit and it's a "Your Turn to Curtsy, My Turn to Bow" gush-fest at the national broadcaster, where things that seemed so very important just days ago have been forgotten in a rush to embrace past glories -- even if they weren't really our own.

You don't hear much about how the very existence of the CBC is threatened by the current government today, given that the Minister of Heritage has granted them "Exclusive coverage" of the big birthday party on Parliament Hill, at which the recently wed Duke & Duchess will attend.

Our private broadcasters aren't even allowed access to the location, despite it being pretty much the signature event of the day.

Maybe Canada Day is now gonna be like the Superbowl, passed around from year to year so everybody gets a taste. If it is, I'm sure that when CTV or Global has it next time, all that "This Government just wants to kill the CBC" talk will be back at full volume.

Being able to forget that "other Canada" that emerged on another broadcast entity during the 2010 Winter Olympics seems to suit the CBC and has silenced some of their other carping as well.

A couple of week's ago, the Prime Minister taking a Government jet to Boston to root on the Vancouver Canucks was pitched on CBC's National News as an outrageous misuse of taxpayer funds. But yesterday we had Peter Mansbridge proudly pointing out what might have been the very same aircraft bringing Royalty still two generations removed from any actual throne or constitutional significance to Canadian soil.

So far, I haven't heard anybody on CBC mention that the cost of this whole trip would've paid for about 425 "Summerworks" festivals or approximately 3 dozen for every city the young Windsors won't visit.

Indeed, the CBC seems intent on spending its own taxpayer stipend on hyping the fact that not only is Kate wearing the duds of Canadian designers but she Honest-to-God-I'm-not-even-kidding-actually-dresses-herself!!!

Seriously, a 29 year old woman who can put on her own clothes is noteworthy! Jesus, how inbred are these people?

So far, the highpoint for me was Will making a speech praising Canada's contribution in Afghanistan, words met with overwhelming gratitude by reporters visibly tucking away those "Afghan War Crimes" memos and who've appeared on the CBC following virtually every Canadian casualty in that war to assert that the time had finally come to cut and run.

It frankly had me giggling into my first Bud Light of the day.

So, I'm going to turn off the CBC now, skip the exclusive party and Monarchist love-in, and go celebrate with actual Canadians, most of whom weren't even born here, but who love this country as much as I do.

We'll burn some burgers, play some baseball, bean our dogs with frisbees and probably drink a lot.

Then when sundown comes, we'll be hammered enough to safely handle some explosives and light up the skies while sending the aforementioned dogs scurrying for cover under the deck.

That's the Canada I know and love. The real Canada that long ago evolved from needing to tug our forelocks in the presence of our "betters".

And while that part of my country will always be courteous to entitled fops and those who fawn after them, we also know that they are definitely not our future.

I look forward to the day our national broadcaster wakes up to who their audience really is.

Until then. Happy Canada Day! I hope you have a great one!

mountain fireworks