Tuesday, May 29, 2007

D is for Directors

So, I may have found a new television addiction to replace ... well ... pretty much everything that I watch now that the regular season has ended. On the Lot has captured my interest!

I was very grateful that this week, they actually showed all of the wee films (a mere one minute long this time) that the contestants made. Last week, we only saw a few of the entries, and not in their entirety, either. Very interesting and entertaining, on the whole.

There really were a few rather good wee films. My favourites? Danger Room, Dance Man, and Lucky Penny (while the latter was somewhat predictable, it was quite charming and the little old lady at the end was so darn cute).

The judges made me laugh. Carrie Fisher trying really hard to be kind, even when she wasn't impressed. Gary Marshall mentioning his sister at every opportunity, and talking endlessly about the "woman's point of view". Ha!

An interesting note: All three of the directors who got the boot this week? Directors originally from "overseas". Hmmm... I hope the American voting public doesn't realize that Vancouver isn't actually in America!

D is also for dates (which I was eating a moment ago), dance (like the recital I attended the other day), and "del Toro, Guillermo", the director of recently viewed movies for me, Pan's Labyrinth (sweet mother, what a good movie) and Cronos. I've also got The Devil's Backbone (which would be listed under "D" in alphabetical order) waiting to be watched.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

C is for Cars (and the troubles associated therewith)

Today I got into the car. I closed the door, turned the key, and started it. I lowered the windows a bit, due to the stifling heat and generally oppressive mugginess in the tin box of the cabin, and turned up the fan to get a bit of a draft.

Then I turned the fan up another notch. And another. And then all the way up.

I pushed empty cup-holder into its little nest so I could actually see the dials. Yes, it was turned up to 4. Yes, the directional selection was on "Vent" (though it had a little picture, not the word). No, no air was coming out of the aforementioned vent.

The "blower motor" (a term which seems far too simplistic for a car part) has blown again, but not in the way it is intended to do. This is the second time for this vehicle that I will need a replacement on that particular part. I'm not impressed. That means no regular fannage, and no air-conditioning. Not only does it come at a hot, muggy time of year (and driving on the highway to work with the windows down is not a pleasant task, to be honest -- in town, fine; highway speeds, not so much for me), but also at a ridiculously busy time of year. Now I have to figure out when I can get it in to be fixed.

You may or may not know that I seem to have a history of car troubles, though not usually of a mechanical nature. No, I seem to be cursed with a magnetic car which attracts damage. Allow me to share some highlights from the past several years.

Back in the day when I had a white Taurus, some kids at Hallowe'en decided to squirt it with blue paint. Permananent paint. I just accepted that there would be speckles and moved on.

When that car died, I got a wee Dodge Colt (made by Mitsubishi, by the way, and identical in every way -- except the Dodge symbol -- to an Eagle Summit at the time, something I discovered one day when I returned to my car after a rousing stint as a shopper at an appropriately-named drug mart to find one parked immediately beside me). The first weekend I had it, someone keyed its side while it was parked in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was later backed into by a dear friend of mine, who shall remain nameless (though her name does begin with a B and ends with -etsy).

My next car was an old Ford Tempo. Sadly, this car was parked on the road by a friend's house (I won't say whose house it was, except to say that I've already mentioned her once in this post, though not by name) and someone across the street backed into it, crushing the front fender area so badly I couldn't open the driver's door.

Then I got my current vehicle and, upon parking it in what is apparently a terribly accident-prone neighbourhood, it was hit again, by DIFFERENT neighbours, destroying my driver's door. It has been scratched and dinged at every turn, though my "favourite" ding occurred on the aforementioned door less than 48 hours after it had been replaced. Of course, this car has also had a rock thrown through its window, so that young Hallowe'ening hoodlums could get at their tempting prize ... a bag of paperwork from work (not the laptop they presumably thought was sitting on the seat).

So there you have it. A long and sad history of mishaps.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

B is for Bjork

So I just got Bjork's newest CD, Volta, along with the CD of music she wrote for boyfriend Matthew Barney's Drawing Restraint 9 artsy-fartsy film. So let's talk Bjork, shall we?

I completely understand why some people can't handle her music. I really do. It's odd and experimental (particularly in the past few years...getting harder to sing along and more soundscape-y on some tracks), but I must admit I'm a fan. I was listening to Volta in the car today (and finding "Earth Intruders" much more catchy than I probably should) and thinking, "Something else my neighbours wouldn't get about my life." (I'm convinced they're already freaked out by the odd hours I keep ... particularly when I'm in a show or working a lot at the restaurant ... about my jungle of a lawn, about the time I was dressed as Riffy on my way to see Rocky Horror in Toronto ... the list goes on).

Highlights of her genius? Huge chunks of Vespertine, which include, among other things, tracks on which Inuit throat singing feature prominently (as does a track on Drawing Restraing 9). Pretty much the entire Selmasongs CD from Dancer in the Dark (see below), including a brilliant piece whose lyrics are only numbers being counted. "It's Oh So Quiet", which, while written by someone else, is performed with such great abandon. Really, I quite marvel at her quirky Icelandic self.

Then there's Dancer in the Dark. Oh my. What a fantastic movie. I started watching it and, in the first ten minutes, I was a bit worried that I wasn't going to like its style, then BOOM! I was sucked in and love it. She really put in an exceptional (and, in many ways, exceptionally simple) performance. I periodically make friends watch it and then three days later, they call to say, "Thanks a lot. I'm still thinking about that movie."

So there you have it. Bjork. I'm a fan, though I won't judge those who aren't.

And I thought the swan dress was brilliantly funny. People need to learn to laugh.

(I also like bananas, books, and Bowie.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A is for Adams

It's clear that I lack some sort of innate impetus for writing this lovely wee FOWLA*, and due to my already-well-established procrastinatious nature, I have decided to structure my entries alphabetically. That way, if I really have nothing to say, I can force myself to write something random on the letter of the day.

Today, as the observant among you will notice, the theme is A is for Adams, as in Richard Adams. I'm a bit of a fan of the author, and his most popular book, Watership Down, is among my favourites. I've read it a few times and still enjoy it thoroughly. Try telling people, though, "Yeah, it's a book about rabbits looking for a new warren" and they tend to cock one eyebrow, fight the urge to sneer, and say, "Rabbits?" Like The Little Prince, though, it is really an analogous story about human nature. And, like The Little Prince, it's often put into the children's section of bookstores, though I'm not sure it quite qualifies as such. No matter, though, I first read it when I was young and still enjoy it as an adult.

But I've spent far too much time on Watership Down and you, as a result, have spent too much time reading about it. Get the book. Read it. Enjoy it.

I haven't read all of Richard Adams's books, but I'm getting there. Next to the aforementioned book about rabbits, which is really about human nature, my next favourite would have to be The Plague Dogs which, while far from being a jolly little romp, was a satisfying read. I'm particularly thankful to The Plague Dogs for helping me get through a rather long traffic jam (read: two-and-a-half-hour stand-still) a few Christmas Eves ago when I was stuck with nothing but a book to read and a big tin of almond bark. (Thank you, Jenn P.!) Shardik, a curious and rather epic story about a bear believed to be a divine incarnation by some, was my laundromat reading for some time.

Then I came across The Girl in a Swing and was, at first, taken aback when it was described as "a novel of erotic beauty, terror and suspense". After a very long and detailed introductory section of the book -- I came to know more than is reasonable about the English pottery trade -- I came to quite enjoy it, much more than the movie (a bit ill-conceived, in my opinion, despite starring the delightful Meg Tilly). To quote from that book, "Yes, that's right."

So there you have it. A. Adams, Richard.

Now lay off, I've written in my FOWLO.


*Fount of Wisdom Located Online

Sunday, May 13, 2007


So, I spent a decent portion of the day dealing with gardens and the lawn. Yeeha. Although I spent three summers as a gardener, I've found that the appeal is somewhat lessened when not being paid for it. And lawn mowing and trimming has never been appealing for me. I'm sorry. That's just the way it is.

The front lawn is completely infested with Creeping Charlie, and I'm of two minds about it, quite frankly. At this time of year, it's quite lovely with its wee bluish-purple and white flowers. It smells nice when cut. I'm not a huge "Give me a lawn that looks like a golf course" person and I'm not in any mood to start dropping nasty chemicals on the lawn. It was once touted as a ground cover, after all. Still, it's rather ... um ... aggressive, so keeping it out of the gardens is fun. It's reputed to be quite a pain, so at some point I may have to dig up my lawn and get rid of it all. We'll see...

Now on to the Survivor Finale. They really make me laugh (and shake my head) with their overly dramatic nonsense. Perhaps the most gag-worthy moments of each season come when the finalists do their memory walk. The fact that good ole Jeffy uses phrases like "You will honor their memories" (and, yes, being American, he would say "honor" with -or rather than the more elegant "honour" with -our) and "fallen comrades". Yikes. They were voted off the island, not sent off to die in battle. Then, to top it all off, they set the torches on fire and send them out to sea... Who creates this sappy crap? THEY'RE GOING TO BE AT TRIBAL COUNCIL and THE REUNION SHOW! Cheese, I say.

I also enjoyed noticing how the number of torches on the boat kept changing between shots, belying their editing jobs. Then, of course, I had to be put off by the black, oily smoke which rose from the burning pile. Who knows what nasty flammable chemical was poured all over the wee boat to make sure it burned dramatically into the evening.

Highlights of whacky behaviour from the final Jury session? How about Alex's freakout session, not letting Cassandra say anything? What about Lisi, trying to be dramatic and funny with her Eenie Meenie game. Not working. And the water shoes comment? Jeff’s face just said, “What the heck is she talking about?” Then she tries to be pompous and asks Dreamz how many zeroes are in a million, which was both insulting and pointless since he knew there were six. I did enjoy watching Jeff’s face change to amusement with her at this point.

Then there's Rocky, who just tries far too hard to be tough and manly, doesn’t he? He certainly seems to have something to prove. Wouldn't it be amusing to find out that he's really a closeted gay man who dreams of owning a dance school or something? I just wish he'd not try to be Sylvester Stallone, because that makes no sense on a hundred levels.

Boo's appeal to Dreamz as a Christian Man, and Dreamz avoiding at all costs. Despite what Dreamz insists, I think he just can't fess up to the fact that he had a moral dilemma and chose for himself rather than for Yau. It's easier for him to insist that he was playing it all along, but quite frankly, I don't think he's that good an actor. He really thought he'd take the moral high ground until push came along and said, "Pardon me, but I've got to shove now."

So there you have it. My tirade du jour. And nary a mention of pickles in sight.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Lolly Lolly Lolly

There are many commercials out there that I don't much care for, but now and then I come across commercials which irritate me to no end, because they have dreadful implicit messages, many of which seem counter-productive to their own goals. This evening I came across one such commercial.

You see, the commercial in question (whose creators I would like to shake) is for Rogers Cable On Demand. Here's the basic gist of it:

We pan through a room in disarray whilst the sounds of bickering children are heard. Finally we settle on a dad with his three kids (daughters all, I believe) and he puts on Fairly Odd Parents (which is a surprisingly enjoyable little show, by the way). Everything grows quiet and mom arrives to ask how the day was, and dad says fine, or somesuch. First of all, there's the stereotype of a dad whose kids run free until he slaps them in front of a TV. Heaven forbid we should encourage real parenting in which we actually address behaviours rather than just shutting them up. But here's the real clincher, which makes me wonder what they're really trying to say is so great about their product. As the kids watch that brilliantly on-demand programming, they are literally slumped there, unblinking and slack-jawed and essentially in a walking coma. Seriously. If you get a chance to see this commercial, pay attention to them. It's not exactly a glowing advertisement for stimulating pasttimes. What are they thinking? "Get Rogers On Demand so you can fall back on ineffective parenting, limited familial interactions, and to undernourish your intellect." Idiots.

On a more positive note, I came across this curious little on-line article today. It seems that someone somewhere has created Kool-Aid Pickles. I can't quite decide whether to be mortified or intrigued. They look so ridiculously disconcerting, with their whacked-out colouring, and I'm not sure if pickles should have cherry-flavouring at all. I will admit that I once bought these Raspberry Vinaigrette pickles, and though pleasant enough, I can't imagine eating them all that often.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Surviving One's Own Misplaced Ego

It was the penultimate episode of Survivor: Fiji tonight (not counting Sunday's two-episodes-that-are-really-only-one-episode as two episodes). Ooo, intrigue, game play, winning a truck, strategizing, whatever ... that's not why I'm mentioning it.

Let's talk Feigned Heroism, shall we?

For those who don't watch, part of the reward challenge was to take the aforementioned truck to deliver school supplies and a portable school office to a local school. Good. The kids and teachers there can surely use the stuff. Sure, it's a publicity-charity event, but hey, the students and teachers will still get stuff they need. What gets me, however, is the self-adoring false heroism of the contestants. You know what? You didn't make the gifts. You didn't buy the gifts. You didn't even choose them. You're just the pretty face to deliever them as part of your televised quest for a million bucks.

That said, I have to admit that Dreamz, of whom I'm not much of a fan, was kind of kind and gentle with those little kids, talking to them like real people (at least for the ten seconds we saw).

All of that aside, one must admit how enjoyable it is to have a fellow like Yau-Man still going at this point in the season. He's a funny little nerd-man, but here he is among the more athletic alpha-types and holding his own quite nicely. Heehee! I'd be more than happy to see him win the entire thing!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pa Bell

So, my father makes me laugh. He has a tendency to call me, as he called tonight, to tell me about people I don't really know, informing me of their connections and relationships to other people I don't really know, so that he can then tell me about their ailments and strife. I'm not belittling their ailments and strife, but it's difficult to keep track under the circumstances.

In other news, I'm a bit tired of meetings. That's all I'll say on that matter.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Super? Perhaps.

Know who I like? Whoever it was that came up with the idea of having little aliens narrating "nature films" on the topic of Bick's Pickles! Heehee! Good fun!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I don't even have a point

In the interests of making May a more productive web journaling month than ... well ... any of the recent months, I'm going to take a moment to make an entry. To that end, enjoy this random smattering of thoughts.

I finally watched Monday's episode of Heroes tonight. It really is quite a great show. It's certainly kept my interest.

I saw a recent infomercial for a GENUINE diamond ring, for just $29.95. (On the site to which I've linked, it's advertised for $19.95 USD.) Yes! A mere $29.95 for a GENUINE diamond ring, with a GENUINE diamond (surrounded by imported crystals). Again, that's a GENUINE 1/2 point diamond in there! Waitaminnit. A 1/2 point diamond? But aren't there 100 points in a carat? Doesn't that make this GENUINE diamond a mere 1/200th of a carat? Why yes! Yes it does! You can have 1/200th of carat of a GENUINE diamond for just $30. Yeeha. It's probably made of what falls off when they're cutting diamonds for good rings.

My dad arrived yesterday to stay here for a couple of nights while attending a conference nearby. Being that I worked last night and that he was at meetings until later tonight, we haven't had to do too much visiting. Still, he has managed to work in some topics of conversation more random than this posting. I don't really need to discuss his morning deodorant routine, do I? Yikes.

Be that as it may, I'll leave you with yet another literary quotation, this time from E.L. Konigsburg's T-Backs, T-Shirts, COAT, and Suit, 'cause that's what I reached behind me and grabbed off the shelf.

There was no laughter beneath their smiles.
There was no heart beneath their cleavage.