Sunday, November 29, 2015

Lazy Sunday #404: Invaders

Home invasion agendas are generally up to the invader. But anybody knocking on my door today will be handed a paintbrush or hammer and forced to do some construction work no matter their inclination or Do-It-Yourself talents.

I’ve been living in renovation chaos for the last couple of weeks and it ends today. Well, more accurately probably Monday or Tuesday, but I like sounding focused and determined.

So today’s post is short. As is the home invasion short appended below. A very funny little film by Jason Kupfer.

It’s also got a Thanksgiving theme for those still working off a Turkey binge, revealing that even in chaos my thumb remains on the pulse of the culture.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Invaders from Jason Kupfer on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

You Too Can Be The Prime Minister of Finland

A wise man once said, “Never be afraid to see what you see”. In other words, if the Emperor has no clothes, you shouldn’t be loath to point it out.

But a lot of people keep quiet on what they see because someone on Anti-social media might imply merely for making an observation makes you a neo-con/racist/bigot/xenophobe/chauvinist/whatever.

There’s a growing desire among some to make sure everybody sticks to an accepted narrative, even if that narrative isn’t logical -– y’know like actual narratives are supposed to be.

Consider the current Trudeau government edict that Canada will accept 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2015. A process they have decided to complete within six weeks.

Now, before anybody gets sideways, I have absolutely no problem with bringing in Syrian refugees to make a fresh start. Don’t care if their religion is Muslim, Christian, Jew, Yazidi or Jedi.

Just want somebody official to have a chat with them and be more than a little certain they’re not a criminal, fanatic, gay-basher, former ISIS combatant or fond of female genital mutilation.

It might be worth pointing out 25,000 is only a couple of hundred more refugees from Iraq and Syria than we took in under the evil, heartless and incredibly insensitive Harper Government.

Indeed, Canada now offers a safe haven to 1 of every 10 legitimate refugees annually rendered stateless around the world. Not half bad for a place we’ve been repeatedly told became a despised international pariah in the past decade.

So – why the rush? And why the “You’re a racist! You’re a Xenophobe!” rhetoric directed at the 67% of Canadians not in favor of rushing.

Again –- that narrative thing…

We have a new government intent on proving it’s completely different from the last one, meaning they’re kinder, gentler and far more accepting of just about any world view.

To that end, Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland appeared on “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday night clearly eager to show our American cousins how much further evolved we are on the subject.

During one of my professional sojourns in Los Angeles, Bill Maher had a similar current affairs and comedy show called “Politically Incorrect”. And I was a regular member of the live audience.

Whether or not you share Maher’s sense of humor or his politics, you have to grant him two undeniable characteristics. He doesn’t allow political correctness to cloud his judgement. And he doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

Freeland delivered the current Canadian narrative and in the process set herself up to receive the brunt of both those Maher barrels.

What was revealed in this discussion (if you were open to seeing it) was that Ms. Freeland’s commitment to the “we’re so progressive” narrative overwhelmed any deeper thought into what the implications of bringing so many into a very different culture might mean – to both them and the existing culture.

And what may happen if you don’t think such things through?

Well, you could end up like the Prime Minister of Finland…

Similarly driven to prove his progressive cred, Finnish PM Juha Sipila offered up his own home to incoming Syrian refugees. He was probably looking forward to a “Sunny Days” photo op with a tearful single mom or doe-eyed orphan.

Instead he got this guy, who claimed he was just an normal 17 year old kid…

Now, I understand that whenever you invite a crowd you’re going to end up welcoming a few douchebags. But even as a proud Canadian, I have to admit, we’ve got a lot of douchebags already. Do we really need to import a whole bunch more?

Finland shares a lot of similarities to Canada. Climate, love of Hockey, etc. And Finland is already seeing a lot of problems from their own influx of Pre-vetted by the United Nations refugees.

Since we’ll be on the hook for Billions of dollars through this effort, shouldn’t we at least make sure we end up with people who truly want to be here -– and maybe embrace the Canadian values all of us want to see more of in the world?


As I posted this the Trudeau government updated their refugee policy. Now, they’re only bringing in 10,000 by year end with another 15,000 arriving by the end of February. And most of those will be privately sponsored.

Interestingly, the government will not bring in single males. So one of the most persecuted groups, gay men, are out of luck.

And so is the Syrian father whose drowned son sparked the entire refugee debate in the first place. He still can’t come to Canada as Trudeau had insisted during the election campaign.

But then, single males, the ones causing most of the security concerns, won’t be entirely left out. NGOs, churches and mosques (even the radical ones) can still bring them in privately.

I don’t want to issue a douchebag alert just yet. But let’s just say it won’t surprise me. And I’m sure Chrystia Freeland will find a way to justify it in a way that doesn’t upset the narrative.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lazy Sunday #403: Master of Suspense

Few directors have influenced the way films are made as much as Alfred Hitchcock. The shots. The cuts. The sequencing. Lighting. Music. Performances.

Pretty much everything the man did has been built on or outright copied by the generations of directors who have followed him.

But one thing he did always annoyed the crap out of me.

The director’s cameo.

Oh, it was harmless at first. When nobody knew who he was. Just some tubby, balding gentlemen among the faces in the crowd.

But later it became a “thing”. Each new Hitchcock film was preceded by questions about how the director himself would appear on screen.

Even Hitchcock was aware that this was the kind of thing that momentarily kicked audiences out of the story and broke the willing suspension of disbelief to remind them they were just watching a movie.

So once he was well known, those moments usually occurred early on, before the plot had begun to take control.

But like everything else he did, Hitch’s cameos became an approved method for other directors to get in front of their own cameras. And a lot of them didn’t give a lot of thought to what the impact on the overall story might be.

“Hey, here we are building to the climax and there’s Quentin Tarantino!” (for example)

Now the vast bulk of most audiences would never have a clue who most of these guys were. But put yourself in the place of a TV series producer with a stable of directors appearing in dailies four a five times per season per director.

It always knocked me out of what I was trying to accomplish in the edit suite. And that drove me nuts.

Of course there was one guy who insisted in doing his appearances in the nude. But that’s another story.

Responding differently -- Hitch’s cameos became the jumping off point for a new homage to the great man by filmmaker Fabrice Mathieu.

In “Master of Suspense” Mathieu has built an entirely new story from all the elements that made Hitchcock the creative genius he was.

And this time Alfred Hitchcock is not just some background player. He’s the star.

Perhaps its what the master and all those other directors doing cameos wanted to be all along.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Master of Suspense. Short Film. from Fabrice Mathieu on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 402: The Roadie

Three separate pieces make a rock concert. The band. The audience. The Roadies. Take away any and the show ain’t on.

Yeah, the band could carry in their own instruments and amps. But the set-up wouldn’t be as good and would take a lot longer. The music wouldn’t be balanced or sound the same in all parts of the venue. The players wouldn’t have the same energy. The crowd would invade the stage or otherwise misbehave.

Nope. Roadies are essential. They do the grunt work. They make sure all the technical problems are solved. They protect the band and the music. In many ways they love what the band does more than the guys getting all the adulation.

Roadies drive all night. They go without sleep so the band can rest. They do the drug buys. They comfort the Groupies who don’t get chosen after the show.

Roadies get electrocuted. They are swept away by windblown set pieces and light stands. They are crushed under trucks and collapsing stages. But nothing deters them from the task at hand.

They are willing to take a bullet for the music.

Friday night, Nick Alexander, a member of the road crew for Palm Desert’s “Eagles of Death Metal”  was among the first to die in Paris’ Bataclan Theatre

His grieving family issued a short statement taking comfort in the fact that Nick died “doing what he loved”.

Other than acknowledging that no one else among their number or from their opening act, “The Deftones” was hurt, the “Eagles of Death Metal” have been silent since the attack.

Tragedies of this magnitude can kill a band. The notoriety alone might do that. Which would be a shame. “The Eagles of Death Metal” are one of the finest rock acts around right now. They’re a joy to see live and darn good fun to listen to anywhere anytime.

Their music is so infectious, you can have no doubt that the last living moments of Nick Alexander and the rest of those murdered in that Paris theatre were filled with happiness.

ISIS will one day die. Rock and Roll not so much.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 401: Common Sense

This week I had a lot of people bemoaning somebody else’s lack of common sense. Common sense about money. About driving. About relationships.

Now everybody has their own definition of common sense. Einstein once described it as the collection of prejudices you acquire by the age of 18. And we all know what works for you doesn’t necessarily work for anybody else.

But the reality is on a certain level common sense is not quite so common.


My own definition would go something like –- there are things I take for granted based on experience. And that experience comes from seeing the outcomes of actions. No decision ever stands alone. And if you think enough steps ahead, you’ll get to the point where negative consequences may outweigh the positive. Then you need to decide if the original decision is worth the risk.

So I guess common sense comes down to –- how far ahead are you thinking things through?

Friday night, Bill Maher had a great line about all those fed up with politicians who want somebody not part of the “political establishment” running things. “If their kid needed brain surgery, would they say “Not that guy, he’s a medical insider!”.

Common sense says sometimes you need to get past your agenda or at least think it through a little farther.


And this week I found a place where you can do that. A place where you can take a hard look at your prejudices or beliefs or whatever you think makes sense –- and take your thinking maybe a step or two further.

It’s called Prager U and you can find a bunch of their “instructional videos” here.

Here’s a taste. If it makes sense, try some more.

And –- Enjoy Your Sunday.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 400: Writer’s Block

I can’t believe I’ve done 400 of these.

The “Lazy Sunday” posts started 400 weeks ago apparently. I haven’t really been keeping track. But I don’t think I’ve missed any Sundays since they began.

The original idea was to post a video I’d found online which I found interesting or inspiring or just fun.

They went up Sunday mornings to keep my traffic numbers up at a time when that was somehow important. The post was also either void of text or had only a minimal introduction -- symbolizing taking Sunday off and just lazing around like most normal people do.

But all things change over time.

And yet I’ve still maintained one rule. It’s all stream of consciousness that flows from whatever video I’ve found by the time I get around to doing that on a Sunday.

Sometimes that search only takes a few minutes and then I type for a few minutes more. Sometimes they get sweated over for a couple of hours. And there have been days when I just don’t have nothin’. But I get something up anyway.

So, in some ways the “Lazy Sunday” posts have been a writing exercise. You got space to fill, kid. A commitment. Like it or not. Ready or not. Write something.

And to be honest that’s the whole point of writing, making something from nothing.

A few years ago, the filming of a Bryan Cranston movie, “Cold Comes The Night” was brought to a halt by Hurricane Sandy. Cast and crew were stuck in a hotel waiting for the weather to clear.

Bored, Cranston started a contest among the production assistants, promising to produce the best short film one of them could come up with. Brandon Polanco and Spenser Granese won with “Writers Block” and three hours later Polanco was directing with Cranston starring.

Something from nothing. Even with writers block.

Enjoy Your Sunday.