Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Oscar 2007 Post-Mortem.

I'm sleepy. I'm still sleepy, 2 days later.

I know it's not Monday, but I was actually fairly immersed in something yesterday at work.

I don't think there is much to say. I would have liked my Ryan Gosling (Husband List Member #9) to have won for Half Nelson (2006), but I didn't really expect him to, even though it was an amazing subtle performance. Rent it up, yo.

I was pleased that Jennifer Hudson won Best Supporting Actress, and even more pleased that she took off that weird cloak that she arrived in.

I loved that Alan Arkin won for Little Miss Sunshine (2006). Of course, I wanted a) Steve Carell to be nominated instead, and b) it to win Best Picture, but we can't always get what we want.

That being said, I am not unhappy that The Departed (2006) won for Best Picture this year. It was a great movie, and I am vindicated that I put it at the top of my list. Thank goodness it wasn't Babel (2006). That's all I can say.

As for dresses, I was pleased with what everyone wore but Anne Hathaway, who might as well have wrapped a fitted sheet around her for all it did for her figure. Oh, and I think Cameron Diaz did wear a fitted sheet. Helen Mirren looked very refined, and I loved Reece Witherspoon and Gwyneth Paltrow's dresses. They were very different, with Reese's a strapless, deep aubergine tiered A-line thing, and Gwynnie's a sheer, fitted apricot frock with art deco lines. Those two gowns stood out most for me.

Thoughts?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Catherine's 2007 Oscar Picks.

This is the first time in ages that, for the most part, I liked the movies nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

I wasn't super hot on Babel (2006). Why do people wet their pants over intertwining storylines that all connect up at the end? Have we all not watched enough "Seinfeld" episodes? Otherwise, though, I am going to have a very difficult time putting my best pic picks in order.

The Queen (2006) was fantastic. Besides the brief ham-fisted stag imagary, it was an interesting story speculating on what was going on in Balmoral Palace those days after Princess Diana died. Helen Mirren put in a great performance of the human, but still somewhat brainwashed (in my opinion) Queen Elizabeth II. I went in to the movie not expecting much because Holly wasn't very fond of it, but I was pleasently surprised.

I think you can all guess what kind of reaction I had to Little Miss Sunshine (2006). I saw it in London when I was in England because I was afraid it wouldn't come to theatres in Charlottetown. Then it did. And I saw it again at City Cinema. Then I rented it when it came out. And I will buy it when I find it cheap enough. While I would love to see this sweet, funny, family story win best picture, I can't see it happening. Comedies rarely win best picture. I don't think there's been a solely comedic winner since 1977. Well, American Beauty (1999) was funny in parts. And so was Shakespeare in Love (1998), I suppose, but I wouldn't qualify them primarily as comedic movies. Was Driving Miss Daisy (1989) a comedy? I didn't see it. Anyhow! The point is, the Academy loves epic dramas, so, too bad for you, Sunshine.

I saw Letters From Iwo Jima (2006) when I was in Toronto this month. While it was good, I don't think I liked it very much. I'm not big on war movies, even though this one was moving and interesting. It showed a time when the Japanese army was moving between old and new military strategy. Bad timing, that's all. I wonder when the last time a sub-titled movie won best picture? There was quite a bit in Dances With Wolves (1990), I guess.

I rented The Departed (2006) this week. It was fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. I think it is now my favourite cop movie, up there with The Untouchables (1987). It was all down to strong performances, including Scorsese's direction. While it did, at times, violently sneak up on you, I was drawn into this story of rotten Boston cops, undercover cops, and an organised crime boss. I agree with whoever said that Leonardo DiCaprio deserves the Oscar nomination this year, but he got it for the wrong movie - it shouldn't be Blood Diamond (2006), but The Departed instead. Rent this movie this weekend if you haven't seen it already.


This is hard. Ok:

I'm going to go:

The Departed
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

Letters From Iwo Jima
Babel


I'll check back in on Monday for a post-mortem.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

You've Got Red On You.

It's been over six months since the last addition to my Husband List (tm). I'm happy to announce a new member. Lucky number 14. This gentleman has been on my radar for years, but I didn't hesitate once it dawned on me that he should be included.

Or should I say, "Shauned" on me? No, I shouldn't. That's lame.


Anyhow, Mr. Simon Pegg, the fourth Briton on my list, is, surprisingly, my first redhead. I have always had a thing for redheads, going back to third grade and Nick MacAvoy (what ever happened to him?), so it's funny that he's the first ginger I've included. I suppose the ginger-to-non-ginger ratio of celebrities is fairly represented on my list.

[Post Script: After listening to the commentary for Shaun of the Dead, I am told by Mr. Sweet #14 that he is not, in fact, a ginger, but a brunette. He says they tried to make him a little blond to play Shaun but it turned out reddish. Now, all the other places I've seen him, he still looks quite ginger to me, but surely he knows best. (March 3rd, 2007)]

Simon first caught my attention in trailers for Shaun of the Dead (2004), and then, after I raced out to see it the day it opened, I was hooked. I bought the DVD as soon as I could, and my Hamilton roomie, Jeremy, and I watched it several times. Or maybe I watched it several times and he glanced at it on the way back-and-forth to the kitchen. In Shaun, Pegg's titular character is a ne'er-do-well slacker cum action hero/zombie killer. Never had a cricket bat been so sexy.


I think Simon first worked with Shaun of the Dead co-writer and director Edgar Wright on the TV show "Spaced." In it, Simon plays Tim, an aspiring graphic artist slash ne'er-do-well slacker cum... well, no he doesn't develop at all. That's the point. He goes on pogey after losing his job at a comic book store. For yelling at a child. Because the kid asks for Jar Jar Binks merchandise. Tim is a Star Wars purist, and George Lucas broke his heart with The Phantom Menace (1999). Edgar Wright directed this frenetic show, with Jessica Stevenson as his flatmate and Nick Frost plays his gun-crazy teddy-bear best friend.


The four hooked up again in Shaun, and again soon in Hot Fuzz (2007) (minus Stevenson, who, I see, is involved in the next HP movie!). I think the creators, like in Shaun, are basically acting out fantasies. Pegg has said he used to lie in bed and think about what he'd do in a zombie attack. Now, in Hot Fuzz, Pegg and his best mate will be armed to the teeth with cartoonishly large guns, tools which are incredibly rare in England.

Simon studied theatre, film, and television, and while one might quickly dismiss him as an actor because of the silly air of the roles, he brings a lovely sensitivity to his characters. He gives us little glances let you know that his characters are far more complex than other actors might choose to portray them. He's willing to look like a dick and play weak characters who redeem themselves by the end of the work, if not for their actions, for their earnest transparency.

Both he and Wright have a strong respect for those who have gone before them, as we can see in the way other classic movies are heavily imitated. Without seeing Shaun or "Spaced," this imitation could be mistaken for laziness (c.f. Scary Movie (2000) et al., Date Movie (2006)), but when you see the work, there is so much loving care taken to pay homage to these classic movies (The Shining (1980), The Matrix (1999), and One Flew Over The Cuckcoo's Nest (1975), to name a very few, and, of course, every zombie movie ever made), there is no doubt of the creators' admiration.

I've begun a letter-writing campaign to get "Spaced" released on Region 1 DVD, so we can watch it on our DVD players. I might just get a region-free DVD player when I buy my next one, so I don't have to fart around with crappy pirate copies on-line. If anyone else want to help in my campaign, let me know. A stamp to the UK is only $1.55, so for all the happiness it might bring me, it's a small price to pay. Right?



Here, as a bonus and testament to him being a slice of fried gold, are Simon and his best friend Nick imitating the infamous hard man photo (below) of Vinny Jones. Yellow card, indeed!






































(Havin' a larf.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

These Are The Jo(h)ns I Know: Vol 3.

Jonathan MacInnis is one of my oldest friends on Prince Edward Island. We were in Ms. Hyson's grade six class together when my family first moved to this province.

He lived about a five minute walk away, so as years went on, I spent a lot of time hanging out with him and his family. He's got an older and younger sister, and they got used to me loitering around their house. He had a dozy beagle named Missy and, later, a siamese-type cat named Gideon. I once let myself into the MacInnis' back door to find Gideon up on the kitchen counter, licking a defrosting chicken.

Jon had a unique relationship with his parents; very different from the one my WASPy family had. Jon would playfully flip the bird to his Mom, Debbie, and call his father (Rod) "Lightning Rod" and "Hot Rod."

(Jono, in grade 11, playing guitar in his room)

Jon's room was always a fascinating place. He had filled it with homages to his favourite musicians, sporting equipment, and instruments (lovingly) littered the floor. He and I listened to music with different ears. It wasn't just for the entertainment value of it - we enjoyed listening to all the layers, and Jon always had a very keen ear. He says I can be credited with turning him on to the Beatles, which, I suppose, if I do nothing else in my life, that's enough.

He also agrees with me that John Mayer is a fantastic blues guitarist. I know that might not sound very interesting, but I like talking about John Mayer.

Jon was always a skilled musician, but he didn't take it for granted. He took seriously the responsibility of rehearsing. His main instrument is the saxophone, but he also plays guitar and bass, and who knows what else. Drums, too, I think! He didn't surprise anyone when he enrolled in UPEI's music program. We played together under Dr. Karem Simon in the UPEI Wind Symphony (until I quit, like the quitting quitter I am). Later, Jon continued with his musical education at Memorial, where he got his MA. Jon now teaches band at Montague Intermediate School, molding young minds. With fungus.

(Jon, right, at the Indian River Festival with the Jive Kings and Measha Brueggergosman)
For a short stint, Jon played sax with the Jive Kings, a great Charlottetown big band under the direction of Mike Ross. When I lived in England, their first CD, "Spoon For a Knife" was always in my discman and reminded me of fun nights at the Mack, dancing and listening to that great horn sound. In 2000, Jon won an East Coast Music Award for his work on "Spoon For a Knife."

Along with his dedication to honing his musical skills, he has dedicated himself to his faith as well. Jon is a Christian, and lives his life accordingly. He has a healthy understanding of how to live as a modern Christian. He never proselytises, but instead he leads by example. He also uses his musical skill to lead others in worship. When I decided/realized that I was no longer a Christian, he was one of my friends that I was the most concerned about telling, because, having been a Christian, I know how that can be reacted to. I really think it's a testament to Jon's faith that he was willing to talk it through with me, and never tries to "win me back," or any other nonsense. His long-time girlfriend, Jo, shares his dedication, and they're a great pair.

Jono is an active dude who likes mountain biking, and he used to play racquetball with my Dad, which is cool beyond belief. He enjoys playing... well, most things, as well as I can tell, and is ready to crack a joke and make fun of himself. At the same time, though, he's demonstrative with affection and is always ready to dole out hugs. Last month, on the day that Anna's father died, he was the first friend I saw in person, so when I told him what had happened while be both sat in the theatre seats at the Confederation Centre, he put his hand on my shoulder while I cried, and then gave me a big hug. Then we just sat together quietly. It was just what I needed, and I was really glad it was him.

Last winter, when I was sitting at home bored and unemployed, Jon invited me for the drive down to Halifax. He had won a musical bursary and was taking saxophone lessons from a professor there and wanted some company for the drive. We had so much fun listening to music and talking about what we heard. I am still amazed at what Jon hears in music. We listened to Beastie Boys and Eric Clapton and the Beatles and Johnny Cash and everything in between. He pointed out that Peter Galbriel's "Solsbury Hill" is in 7/4 time, which is amazing (honest!), and I had never picked up on it before. (I had sensed there was sometime unique about the song, but just assumed it was a bar-by-bar change of time signature, like in the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love.")

I feel like I've grown up with Jono, which is a nice feeling for me, a girl who moved around so much early in life. I look forward to seeing where life takes this remarkable man.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Geeksta's Paradise.

I can't wait for Hot Fuzz (2007) to be released in Canada! (Watch the trailer.) I think it'll be in late April. Oh no! I won't be near a movie theatre (with more than one screen)!

It's by the same people who made Shaun of the Dead (2004) and the TV show Spaced (which has yet to be released on North American DVD). Both are very homage-heavy. Shaun paid love to tropes of zombie movies. (And romantic comedies, too, I guess, if you think of it.) Hot Fuzz is an homage to cop-action movies. If the movie is as good as the poster, I'm going to love it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

PCing Contest.

I got an iPod for my birthday from my parents. A little one. Not the littlest. The medium one. A Nano.

I didn't ask for it. I was hinting for an mp3 player. It's like asking for a coffin and getting the Taj Mahal.

I think my sister and brother-in-law were involved in the selection of an actual iPod.

Anyway, in order to load songs from my PC onto this thing, I need iTunes. Fine. But I don't have iTunes. Nor do I have an internet connection to download it. I have my many, many songs that I collected before I was disconnected (and then some other stuff I've ripped in the meantime, and some podcasts a kind co-worker got for me).

So, as Marilyn said, it was like a kid getting a great toy at Christmas but there are no batteries available.

I went into the Mac Shop(pe?) accross from the Confederation Centre and the kind owner burned iTunes for PC on a disc for me, I installed it, and it worked! After some wrangling and trail and error, I was able to load over 400 songs on this little thing.

Yesterday, I was talking about this gizmo with my co-workers while we were having an after-work drink in at Mavor's.

When I went up to the bar to pay for my drink, the ubiquitious creepy guy who was sitting on a barstool (doesn't every bar have one?) said he overheard me talking about my iPod and my difficulties without iTunes. He insinuated I have no life because I have the time to type out the titles of songs when I rip them (iTunes does this automatically for you with an internet connection).

He then told me he has over 6,000 songs on his iPod. Maybe I didn't respond with enough excitement, or cram my tongue down his throat, or whatever he expected, so he told me it was an iPod with video, or whatever it's called. I told him I didn't need all those bells and whistles. He said he wanted all his music all the time.

I said, "Well, good! If you're ever stranded somewhere for months at a time and have a burning need to constantly listen to music without hearing the same song twice, you're set."

He said, "Yeah!"

I don't think that he got that I was making fun of him.

Am I in some sort of terrible iPod pissing contest now? Is there really this kind of culture that I don't know about? I keep hearing that people fall in love with these contraptions, feel like they're a natural appendange, and are crestfallen when they are out of commission.

While I'm glad I can take my music with me now without having to burn CDs, and I'm looking forward to taking walks in Minden in the summer, I think I'll be ok if I let the batteries run down. Oh! That reminds me, though! There was a solar-powered battery re-charger in at the Mac
Shop(pe?)! I don't know if I'll being my computer up to Ontario with me, so I might buy that for the trip!

Great. Now I'm thinking about accessorizing my iPod. I'm one step away from bumper stickers and newsletters.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Yesterday.

All day yesterday I thought it was Thursday.

Remember on "The Office" (US), season 2, when Jim worked all day to get Dwight to think it was Friday (even though it was Thursday), just so he wouldn't come in the next day? I love that. I'm glad I don't have a co-worker who (openly) hates me enough to do that to me yesterday, because it would have worked!

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and usually I have lots of loneliness issues, but, save for a short glimmer of the nobody loves me blues, I was really hyper! I got a card from my Dad, some chocolates from the great receptionist at the gallery, and 4 hours of work last night for a jazz cabaret that evening. There were tons of great old standard songs sung, like "Fly Me To The Moon," "I Could Write A Book," and "They All Laughed." I lurve old songs like that with skilled lyricists like Ira Gershwin.

I think a lot of the time, my loneliness is directly proportional to my stress level. I'm pretty mellow right now, so I'm happy being alone. I don't have to consult with anyone before I move or take a vacation. Or do most things, for that matter!

For Valentine's Day, I decided to wear my hair like Pam did in the Valentine's episode of "The Office." I put little curls in it and tied it back with a headband, and I must say, I looked super-dee-duper cute. I defy any eligable man to not ask me out when I look that cute!

(Freaks need not apply.)

(Geeks welcome.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

It Was In (My Apartment On) Bobcaygeon (Street).

I am returned.

The recon trip to Haliburton was a success. I found out that the first two weeks of the course are in the Fleming College campus in Haliburton and then the rest of the 5 months is on the work site. The work site this year is in Minden, so I decided to get a place in Minden and get a cab (or some other ride) to Haliburton those first 2 weeks.

It was slim pickins for apartments in Minden, but I got a one-bedroom place there for more than I wanted to pay. I should be nice. It should be, I say, because I didn't actually get a chance to see the inside of it. The landlord was out of town and his associate ("Jay behind the bar") didn't have the keys. Still, it was that or live above a bakery with a burly Polish baker named Marion.

Marianne and I had a pretty great time, I must say. The ride from and to Toronto wasn't all that bad, we bought some great pumpernickle from Marion, and saw some beautiful scenery in Northern Ontario. (I'm not sure why they call it that - it's only 3 hours north of Toronto.) I was very glad Marianne came with me.

Well, the town of Minden is really a great little place. I'm close to a Post Office, a grocery store, a bank and a Thai Restaurant. I think it has a one-screen movie house, too. My place is about 1.5k from the worksite, and, no matter what kind of rathole it will be, for the rest of my life, for 5 short months in the summer of 2007, I'll live on Bobcaygeon Street, planting my feet firmly in Canadiana.

So, this summer, I can watch the constellations reveal themselves one star at a time.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Herding Cats.

Ugh. Today is Art Dicovery Day (or something) at the Confed. Centre, so there were about 75 fourth graders doing activities all morning. They seemed to really like it, but I just get so overwhelmed when I'm in the presence of so many little children.

Nothing dulls the ticking of the biological clock like 75 hyper 9-year-olds.

I was shocked and saddened to see what a lot of them had for lunches. Those shitty Lunchables things were everywhere, which are poison and expensive. The fat, sodium and nitrates in those things are definitely not fit for growing children. Never mind the waste. And then there were a lot of white bread sandwiches with processed red meats. I saw one apple, and another kid has some salad which looked good.

I remember in my elementary school days, there was one fat kid. It was a quota: One (1) Fat Kid. It's not like that now.

I'm no fitness freak, and I know I don't eat everything I should, and I also know I shouldn't judge what busy parents give their children, but maybe it just makes me all the happier to not have that responsibility. Note that last sentance didn't end with the word "yet."

I'm leaving for Ontario tonight. I'm going to see Marianne, then we drive to Haliburton, then back to Toronto, then I get a train up to see Marilyn in Ottawa, and then home on Sunday night. Hopefully, I can see the campus, secure an apartment for a not-too-extortionate rate, and come home less scared about the whole course.

I might update while I'm gone. I dunno.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Healthy Admiration For A Talented Young Man.

I went to see Bobby (2006) last night with a couple of the girls in the Box Office, and I was really pleased (don't ya know). It was a good movie - especially considering the size of the cast, it was a pretty smooth story.

It revolves around the day of Robert Kennedy's assassination, and the kind of optimism he brought to America in a messed-up time. Martin Luther King had recently been killed, and race tensions were running high.

I was impressed by a lot of performances, including Lindsay Lohan and Elijah Wood as a couple of friends getting married to prevent the soon-to-be husband from going to the front lines in Vietnam. She's actually a good actress, I think, if you can for one minute push her jackass real-life behaviour out of your head. Elijah Wood is always great (rent Green Street Hooligans, if you can), and, for the first time, I saw a strong resemblence to Dan McRae, a fellow Confederation Centry. Now I can't get it out of my head. Freddy Rodriguez of Six Feet Under had a sweet character, and Ashton Kutcher was pretty funny, too. I don't know if I smell nepitiz or what, but is this going be what it's like in the future? Is Ashton going to be in every movie Demi is in? Or vice versa?

Of course, in my mind, the actor who stole the show for me was Shia LaBeouf. Shia is the youngest member of my illustrious Husband List, and it took some soul-searching to include him. Now I know I've made the right choice. He's a really great comedic actor, easy on the eyes, and, as everyone saw in The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005), a promising leading man. Of my heart.



Oh, and speaking of the title of this post, can well-meaning people stop sending me nudie pics of Daniel Radcliffe? He's starring in an upcoming production of Equus, which requires his character to be starkers. I'm ok with the pics (very ok), but let me know, for gods' sake! I keep opening them at work, and I don't want my co-workers to wander by as a naked picture of Harry Potter downloads onto my screen.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

That's No Moon.

So I was geekin' it up on Friday, trying to avoid working. I had been given the task of researching and cataloguing an unknown artist's 19th-century sketchook that was in the vault but not properly documented. It was a long, fiddly task filled with measurements and a magnifying glass, and even some German translation.

I was alternating work on that sketchbook with reading about the heirarchy of Jedis, midi-chlorians, and the Jedi Temple, and then I read up on the Great Jedi Purge of 19 BBY. I was going through all the Jedi Masters who were killed, and I noticed that a lot of the links were not to Wikipedia pages, but to Wookieepedia. Wookieepedia!

First of all, whoever coined the title is a genius, and second - can you believe this exists? I guess I can. I mean, I was curious about midi-chorians, and I know there are much bigger Star Wars fans than me. Much bigger.

After (one of the times) I saw Episode III in the theatres, an old friend sat me down and walked me through the politics of Star Wars. I wasn't really sure about all the intrigue, and it helped.

The funniest part of trolling through Star Wars stuff on Wikipedia was finding this quote: "Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (alias Darth Sidious) greatly influenced Anakin, tending to the dark fires within him and converting him to the evil order of the Sith as Your Mom. Anakin eventually fought a battle with his former friend and mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi."

It was a good reminder of what I was reading, and how unreliable it is.