Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Take a Gander, Why Don’t Ya?

April 9, 2008

I watched the movie ‘Flight Plan’ on TV last night.  Well, most of it, anyway.  I missed the beginning.  Normally, Jodie Foster’s presence in a movie automatically lends it a certain quality.  It can usually be assumed to be a cut above.  Not this time.  There was a glaring mistake so bad it insulted both my intelligence and my national pride.

If you aren’t familiar with it, the story is about a woman whose daughter goes missing in a passenger jet mid-flight over the Atlantic Ocean and her subsequent struggle to find her and convince everyone else on board that she was ever there.  The plot thickens as it twists and turns then at some point the decision is made to make a premature landing in Newfoundland.

Initially, I was impressed by how perfectly the characters pronounced “Newfoundland”, with the emphasis on the last syllable and virtually eliminating any vowel sound from the second syllable.  Most Canadians west of the Gulf of St. Lawrence don’t even say it right, enunciating and emphasizing the middle syllable instead.   Gander was later mentioned by name.  “Well”, I thought, “they seem to know their stuff.  Here are some Hollywood types who actually took the time to find something out about Canada.  At last, a little respect”.

All that came to an abrupt end when the plane landed at Gander, Newfoundland,  and dozens of FBI agents were waiting for it.  FBI agents!  What are FBI agents doing in Gander, Newfoundland in the middle of the night?  What country is Newfoundland a part of?  And what country is the FBI an agency of?

This is cultural imperialism aimed at Canada, plain and simple – a complete and utter lack of respect.  You know as well as I do that if the plane had landed in Britain, MI5 or MI6 or MIwhatever agents would have been waiting.  But, we don’t even rate our own federal agents in the movies.  What, they’ve never heard of the RCMP?  Everybody’s heard of the mounties.  And, when it comes to airport showdowns, they taser with the best of them.  They always get their man, necessary or not.

Maybe the producers went even further and simply annexed Newfoundland and Labrador for the U.S.  Maybe they figured that would make the plot simpler.  Maybe they’re not even aware it’s in another country.  The movie industry already considers Canada a part of the U.S.  We’re included in the ‘domestic’ market by distributors.  Why not just extend that into the plots of movies?

Ms. Foster, I’m officially over my ‘Taxi Driver’ crush.  Having said that, if you’re ready to respect me… call me.

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Doing the Right Thing and Hating It

March 17, 2008

As St. Patrick’s day arrives, I’m reminded of one year ago today when I was in a Main Street bar not too far from here.  I’d been stopping in for a month or two to watch the Canucks games and have a few beers.  There was a beautiful server who had caught my eye.

I found myself looking in her direction.  I’m sure she noticed.  We talked a little every time I saw her.  I complimented her every time, telling her she looked beautiful.  She didn’t seem to mind, despite having a boyfriend.  In fact, I think she liked it.  She even thanked me for the encouragement when I made what I thought was a pretty ordinary comment about her career ambitions.

Another great thing about her – as I watched her talking to a co-worker at the end of the bar, I saw her doing the same crank up the middle finger thing that I’ve been known to do.  Others have done it, of course, but I was the first.  I stole it from Tom Waits in ‘Rumble Fish’ before them.  Obviously, we thought alike.

On that St. Patrick’s day she looked extra good.  She wore a green patterned halter style top, her loose blond curls tied up with a stick or pencil through them.  Every time she turned her back to me to enter her orders on the computer terminal, I admired her delicate back.  There were two exquisite dimples near her shoulder blades.  I couldn’t help looking.  They were too beautiful and fascinating.

On my way to the washroom, I stopped at the terminal and told her she had these exquisite dimples in her back.  Worried that this latest in a growing line of compliments may have been too much, I said, “Sorry, am I embarrassing you?”  “No, you’re OK”, she replied.  She clearly appreciated being appreciated.

I don’t know if she didn’t hear them enough, or even at all, but one night she responded to my compliment by saying something like, “I’ve never really thought of myself as being beautiful.”  Shocked at her modesty, I asked “Why not?”  She replied, “I don’t know, I just don’t.”

Some time after the Canucks’ playoffs came to an end, I was in the bar again and had one or two more than usual.  As I was leaving, I came across her sitting outside, her shift over.  We spoke a little, as usual.  In my case I spoke a little too much.  When she got up to go back inside, we hugged and I said something I shouldn’t have.  Then I kissed her on the cheek.  Again, if she minded, she didn’t show it.  She may even have subtly pulled herself closer.  It doesn’t matter.  Compliments are one thing, but I crossed the line.  You don’t mess with another man’s woman.  “I’ll see you real soon”, she said, and went inside.

If something is alright for you to do, it’s alright for everyone to do.  Otherwise, you place yourself above everyone else.  If we all just took what we wanted, we could also have anything taken from us and we’d have no right to complain.  That’s no way to live.

I did the right thing and stayed away.  There has been no reward, in kind or otherwise.  No positive ‘karma’ has come my way, and don’t even think about telling me my reward will be in ‘heaven’.  If any good came of it, it was an infinitesimal increment in collective co-operation.  One more person tried to do the right thing.

Maybe she was interested, too.  Maybe if I’d persisted she could have been mine.  Maybe she was unhappy, or not happy enough, with her boyfriend.  Maybe she continued living with him for security or financial reasons, even though she hoped for something better.  Maybe she was afraid to live alone.  I don’t know.  It doesn’t matter.  I did the right thing, and hate it, but the right thing has to be done.

Sometimes I wish I was more selfish.

Go Ahead, Wreck Your Home

March 14, 2008

Do government agencies use subliminal advertising techniques?  For months now, the Lottery Corporation has been running commercials to promote their ‘play on-line’ service.  In other words, they’re promoting on-line gambling.

The commercials are ostensibly humorous.  One features a middle aged suburban man teeing up in his living room and driving a golf ball through the sliding glass patio door, shattering it.  Another has a woman rolling her bowling ball down a wood-floored corridor, which then crashes into the wall at the end and damages it.  Both end with the corporation’s web address and a voice-over telling you to “Play at home”.

The images in the ads seem to go beyond humour.  They appear to appeal to the habitual gamblers’ deep, dark desire to destroy their lives/homes.  It strikes me as unethical and very hypocritical, given that subliminal advertising is supposed to be illegal.  I guess the government will look the other way when they are benefiting from the revenue generated.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, subliminal advertising refers to using techniques or tactics in advertising that suggest something subconsciously.  There is always a grey area, of course, because much of an ad’s work is to create an image to appeal to a target market.  This is usually not achieved via directly spoken or written information.

A famous example of subliminal advertising is the image of popcorn or drinks on a single frame of film inserted into a movie in a theatre.  The audience doesn’t consciously notice it, but they suddenly feel the urge to buy some popcorn or a soft drink.  This would have been commonly done back in the days when there was an intermission.

These lottery ads remind me of the screaming faces airbrushed into ice cubes in liquor ads.  Those ads tapped into the fears and insecurities that the alcoholic feels.   Although the lottery ads don’t have hidden images, there does seem to be a subconscious message, appealing to an addict’s self-destructive tendencies.

This gives an indication of how much government depends on lottery revenues and begs the question, which is a higher priority for them – revenue or society?  Should government prey on its own people to generate revenue?

Just a thought.

Beijing-Style Censorship in Canada

March 1, 2008

Yesterday, there was a story in the news about changes to the Income Tax Act that will allow the government to deny tax credits to Canadian films it decides it doesn’t like, after the fact.  The bill, C-10, is now in the Senate, having been passed by the Commons unnoticed.  Now that it’s become public knowledge, some opposition MPs who voted it through the minority government first house are suddenly protesting.  It makes you wonder if they even read the legislation they vote on.  It also makes you wonder why the media didn’t pick up the story before it was passed.

This bill is a form of censorship.  There aren’t any criteria to determine which films will be rejected.  It will be entirely at the discretion of a panel set up by the government.  David Cronenberg says it’s the kind of thing you’d expect from Beijing.  This is clearly open to abuse to further political or social agendas.  For evidence you don’t have to look any further than who takes credit for making it happen.

Charles McVety is a clergyman and the president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, a fundamentalist evangelical group that seeks to restore “Judeo-Christian moral principles” in Canada.  He seems to be as interested in American social politics as Canadian, if not more, because on his Word.ca website you will find an ad for his new book, rather grandly entitled ‘Earthism’, which appears to claim that the disgrace of fellow clergyman turned gay crackhead Ted Haggard fits nicely into the ‘great falling away’ prophesied in the bible.  It doesn’t seem to matter how hypocritical and wrong these people are shown to be, they’ll still find a way to claim it proves they’re right.

His group lobbied for years to get these changes.  His contacts included people in the PM’s office, fellow fundamentalist Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, and like minded backbench MPs.  Although he didn’t meet with Stephen Harper or Heritage Minister Josee Verner personally, the government finally agreed with the group.  Verner replied to his written materials by saying said she didn’t want to fund movies like ‘Young People Fucking’, for instance.

Conservative MP Dave Batters also cites ‘Young People Fucking’ as an example, despite not having seen it.  In a committee meeting with Michel Roy of Telefilm Canada, he said the purpose of Telefilm is to “facilitate the making of films for mainstream Canadian society, films that Canadians can sit down and watch with their families…”  He doesn’t seem to understand what a mainstream movie is.  A commercially successful movie is mainstream, because it appeals to a wide audience.  A film can be mainstream and be unsuitable for a seven year old.  Many mainstream movies have ‘mature’ content.  Although I agree the decision makers at Telefilm annoyingly seem to have their own preferences, and I’ve heard the evidence myself at trade forum seminars, this kind of censorship is not the answer.

I haven’t seen ‘Young People Fucking’ yet, but I will.  What I have read about it indicates that the title is probably the most shocking part.  It might just be shocking enough to get it noticed and help it break through to the mainstream – an achievement for a little Canadian movie in a Hollywood dominated marketplace.  Good marketing.  The easily offended moralists may unintentionally help that cause.

If McVety and the government want to talk about ending offensive tax credits or breaks, let’s talk about ending the free ride for religious organizations.  Churches and their affiliates don’t pay taxes even though they profit from investments.  Not all the money they receive is used for charity, and their idea of charity is often actually tied to recruiting new members and spreading the word.  They have also been havens for paedophiles.  Talk about offensive.

The long feared appearance of the moral right wing of the Conservative government may have come.

Why Are Women So Bitchy?

February 25, 2008

The Oscars have come and gone again.  Another red carpet parade of fabulously dressed stars, directors, producers, and other creative people running the gauntlet of media whores who jostle and compete to call them over for the privilege of asking, “Who are you wearing?”

As if that’s not bad enough, after the show the women do the obligatory ‘get the claws out’ thing and name the worst dressed women who failed to meet the required standard of perfection for such a spectacular event, as defined by a handful of European designers.  Who cares if you think she didn’t pull it off?  She got an invite to the Oscars.  Did you?  Who are you, anyway?

These women – and don’t forget our Canadian gay guy who has managed to establish himself as some kind of authoritative commentator who should be listened to, for some reason – don’t actually do anything themselves.  They aren’t designers.  But, they trash other women for wearing dresses they liked without worrying about whether the world at large would like them or even – gasp – approve!  I wonder if these ‘style commentators’ aren’t actually sounding offended at not being consulted.  After all, it’s what they do, and if people don’t think they need to consult the experts – in their magazines and style columns – they’ll have to find something real to do.

Women complain that guys don’t respect them enough or objectify them, but they should listen to themselves.  We don’t do that.  I would never dream of trashing a woman for what she wears, no matter how bad I thought she looked.  The only instance when I might have, that comes to mind at the moment, involved an obese older woman in a skirt with celullite spilling over her knee high nylons.  I couldn’t even be bothered to tell anyone about that until now, about twenty years later.

Last night the women on CTV even dug out some file photos and picked some of the worst disasters of all time.  Of course, they included Bjork and her swan dress, commenting, “What was she thinking?”  Have they ever listened to Bjork’s music?  I doubt it.  They only know of Bjork the somewhat famous person.  They don’t know or care what she sings about.  If they had listened to Bjork’s music they might have had an idea what she was thinking.

I don’t claim to be an expert on Bjork.  I haven’t heard all of her music, by any means.  But what I have heard, going way back to The Sugar Cubes, I like.  She is a true original.  She expresses what is inside her. She is an artist, not just a media personality – and certainly not a poser.  I totally got the swan.  How can you hear her pain and not get it?  If you don’t get it you haven’t heard her music, or haven’t really listened.  So, it seems women also accuse men of not listening to them, but don’t listen themselves.

I’m a guy, with a dangling thing between my legs.  I want to use it to penetrate women for carnal pleasure.  Should I really have to tell them this stuff?

Weird Search Terms

February 20, 2008

OK, who searched for “creatures that invade us for sex at night”?

‘Fess up.

You’d Better Like Oral Sex

February 18, 2008

Let’s talk more about sex, baby.  As I discussed the other day, The Georgia Straight published results of its sex survey last week.  In addition to the usual dull questions about which celebrities people would like to have sex with, there were some interesting stats.

One of the more interesting things was people’s attitudes towards giving and receiving oral sex.  First of all, my sympathies go out to the 4.1% of women and 1.9% of men who don’t know if they like receiving oral sex, presumably because they’ve never experienced it.  The same goes for the 3.2% of women and 2.6% of men who don’t know if they like giving it.

The most surprising thing is that there are actually people who don’t like receiving oral sex.  What?  How can you not like receiving it?  2.6% of men and 6.9% of women don’t like it.  Slightly more than double those numbers don’t like giving it.

Another surprising thing is that more men than women like giving in addition to receiving, which may be less surprising.  91.5% of men like going down as opposed to 81.6% of women.  Somebody tell the Sopranos.

That’s good news, actually.  If it does represent a shift in attitudes, it may just help reverse, or at least slow, the rising divorce trend.  A common complaint among couples with children is that sex suffers after kids come into the picture.  This is often awkwardly alluded to in TV shows and movies by having the kids burst into the bedroom just as mum and dad are starting to get it on.  That may happen occasionally, but really how difficult is it to teach your kids to knock before entering?  There is another way they affect the quality of their parents’ sex lives, however.

Some people won’t like this, but one of my talents is my ability and willingness to say or do what others won’t.  Think about how big a baby is.  Now think about how big a vag is.  Now force that baby through that vag.  Do you really think it’s ever going to be the same again?  The poor thing’s going to be traumatized.  I mean, have you seen pictures of women’s faces and heard their screams during labour?  The fact that they want to have children at all proves conclusively that they’re crazy.

But, while the woman’s vagina doesn’t return to normal, her man’s dick doesn’t get larger to compensate.  I know some of you guys may swear it’s getting bigger by the day but, sadly, it’s not.  That nice comfy fit you both used to enjoy just isn’t quite as comfy anymore.

How do I know so much about it?  Am I one of those vag doctors women go to?  No.  I’m a motherfucker.  Well, I have been.  I’ve had sex with two mothers.  One had had a caesarean and the other hadn’t.  Which one do you think the sex was better with?  That probably accounts for the rise in the number of women having caesareans.  Word must have got around.

So, take it from a motherfucker like me, if you want to continue to enjoy sex after children, you both better like to get down.  Sex doesn’t solve everything, but it’s probably the best stress buster there is.  Nothing like a good tumble to make you forget the problems of the day.

Explosion

February 14, 2008

Early yesterday morning an arsonist made a mess of torching a taco restaurant and blew up several businesses, badly burning himself in the process.  Half a dozen stores were damaged on West Broadway, just past Cambie.  Two were destroyed.  An office above them was also damaged.  Across the street, the windows of the London Drugs that supplied just about every thing I use in my apartment were blown in.  Most of the block is now boarded up.

I heard about it on the early evening news, just before I headed out to a seminar at Biz Books, a book store for the entertainment industry.  I’d spent the morning teaching online then reading and responding to all the comments on this blog and the de-conversion blog I posted on.

The number of readers I get has soared this week.  I wasn’t quite ready for it.  I almost doubled my previous best day.  Then I almost tripled it.  Then I did triple it, and today was quadruple.  I’m a hit!  This week’s total is already more than last month,  my first month, and I thought I wasn’t doing too badly before.

There’s a downside to the new attention, however.  It takes up a lot of time and energy, and many of the commenters on the de-conversion site are rather logically challenged Christian zealots who ramble all over the place and change the subject in desperate attempts to prove the bible is THE TRUTH, and the only truth.  I wasted my time responding to people who seemed so naive I wondered if they were children.  Maybe they are, or maybe they’re seminary students practising on me.  Hey!  I get paid for that and these guys are using me for free!  They should pay me to read and reply to their poorly formed arguments.

What I really wanted, and needed, was to sleep.  I’d taught late the previous night, too, and did some other stuff afterwards I probably shouldn’t have.  The end result is that when the alarm blasted in my ear at 5:30, I’d had two and a half hours sleep.  I’d still had two and a half hours sleep when I was listening to the soft spoken producer in the cozy environs of the book store, resting my eyes occasionally.

They said on the news that the explosion was so powerful it could be felt two kilometres away.  I live about two kilometres away.  But, I didn’t feel or hear a thing.  I was deep in the midst of the only two and a half hours sleep I would get.

Passport To Everyday Life

February 5, 2008

I just went to get a passport photo.  I even put on a tie, a rarity in Vancouver.  Although I don’t have any immediate plans to leave the country, you never know when you might.  Hey, it’s possible that I could win a fabulous vacation somewhere warm and exotic.

Imagine it happens to you – and you don’t have a passport.  What if your prize has to be claimed within a limited window of time?  Or you want to take it before winter is over.  Have you seen the lines of people at the passport office?  Have you heard how long it takes these days?

Ever since the Americans decided that Canadians would need a passport even for day trips, there’s been a huge backlog.  That kind of annoys me because if I did  go somewhere, it wouldn’t be to the U.S. – not without a specific reason, anyway.  No offence to any American readers, but it’s just not exotic enough.

Florida?  Seen too many pictures of other people ‘relaxing’ there.  Vegas?  I spent the longest week of my life in a casino here, one night.  The thought of a whole city like that makes me appreciate other possibilities all the more.  Hawaii?  Hmmm… maybe, but if you’re going to go that far, why not carry on to Tahiti or some other Pacific paradise?

It’s not really a vacation if you go some place you see every day.  The U.S. is all over the media.  It’s in the papers, on TV, in movies, on the internet.  Shit, I even just excused myself in advance because I assumed they would be reading this.  If I were to go on vacation, it would be to get away from ‘them’.  Is there a corner of the world that hasn’t heard of them yet?  Some place that doesn’t cover the entire year long campaign before they actually hold an election?

What the fuck is a primary, anyway?  And why the fuck should an American even care, let alone me?  Why can’t they just get down to it like civilized people and say, “Here they are – Asshole #1, Asshole #2, Asshole #3, and Asshole #4 –  pick one.”

Anyway, as I said, I have no plans to go to the U.S. or anywhere else, right away.  But it seems we need photo ID for so many other things these days, and my old passport expired.  So I have to spend ten bucks on photos and another hundred on the application, just in case I ever need it.

Beware the Ever Present Bogeyman

February 3, 2008

A couple nights ago I watched another movie on TV that I’d avoided on its release because I’d expected religious propaganda – with good reason.  M. Night Shyamalan’s previous film ‘Signs’ was a very bad, blatant attempt to say that keeping faith in god will save you.

But ‘The Village’ is a much more intelligent, thought provoking, and honest movie.  The story is set in what appears to be a nineteenth century Mennonite type village.  Life is simple, people are innocent and respectful, and old world values are adhered to.  A council of elders are in charge and their edicts are abided by.

This may seem idyllic but the village is in an isolated valley, surrounded by woods inhabited by hostile creatures.  Only the elders seem to have been around before the current truce.  The rest of the community takes their word that there was trouble in the past.  To keep the creatures away, the colour red is banned because it supposedly attracts them.

There is a metaphor here for religion and politics.  There is a clearly defined boundary at the edge of the woods which must not be crossed.  When Lucius Hunt wants to visit the outside world for medicine that would benefit the community, he is forbidden because he would have to pass through the woods.  Medicine?  Science?

One day, Lucius ventures into the woods and is seen by one of “those of whom we do not speak”, as they are referred to.  The red-robed creatures invade the village that night and leave red warning symbols on doors.  This provides the elders an opportunity to reinforce the rules and the consequences of breaking them.

Later, the village idiot stabs Lucius out of jealousy over the legally blind woman they both love.  She volunteers to go to ‘the towns’ to get the medicine Lucius needs to survive.  The elders allow it and, when she asks what she should do if she encounters the creatures, one of them reveals an astonishing truth.  There are no creatures!  It is the elders in costumes who terrorize the village.

We later discover that the elders, all traumatized in the past, had established the village as a shelter from the outside world.  They invented the creatures as a way to control the people and prevent them from leaving or seeking the outside world.  In the end, the elders decide to continue the lie.

A hierarchy creates a bogeyman to instill fear, control people, and preserve a way of life that suits them.  The colour of passion is banned, innocence is emphasized.  Science cannot be pursued if it challenges the rules.  Sound familiar?