Archive for November, 2009

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Keep An Eye Out For Prawns

November 29, 2009

Traffic cameras in South Africa captured this raging fireball a few nights ago as a celestial body entered Earth’s atmosphere and exploded. Nobody was hurt and no significant damage was reported at first, but officials would later reveal that every print of the hit 2009 film District 9 was mysteriously erased.

Attempts to reach District 9 director Neill Blomkamp were unsuccessful. Sources say Blomkamp had travelled to British Columbia, Canada, to visit District 9 star Sharlto Copely on the set of the new film The A-Team. Both men had yet to return from lunch. On Wednesday.

“It’s been several days,” first assistant director Ann Acton told Weather Station 1 reporters. “We’re starting to get worried.”

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Mean Girls 2

November 27, 2009

I quite enjoyed the movie Mean Girls. I didn’t see the Lindsay Lohan/Rachel McAdams hit for years, because I assumed it was some stupid teen comedy, but when I finally saw it a couple of years ago I liked it. I particularly enjoyed its insight into the social mechanics of teenaged girls. They plot, they scheme and they maneuver in a way that makes you say “It’s, like, Machiavellian.”

As it turns out, those behaviours never go away, as a great woman of my acquaintance just learned. She’s an independent and dynamic 88-year-old Scots woman who recently underwent some surgery, and has spent several weeks in a long-term care facility as she recuperates. It was felt that she needed to be near 24-hour care, and while she normally lives on a beautiful farm in central Ontario, she agreed to take the time she needed. We call her Mums.

On her first day, she was told there were two seatings for dinner. She picked the early seating. When she entered the dining room, using her walker (a temporary post-surgery requirement), a woman spotted her and pruned up. This busybody marched over to Mums, waggled a finger, and said: “You’re new!”

“Aye, that’s right,” said Mums, who has the finest Scottish accent you’ll ever hear, and looks 25 years younger than she is — in other words, just a little bit younger than the way Lindsay Lohan looks now.

“New people don’t get to come to the early seating,” Busybody said. “That’s for people who’ve been here a long time!”

“Well, I’m here and I’m hungry,” said Mums with a sniff. Mums’s sniffs have been known to make grown men cry. This one time, she sniffed as a police officer wrote her a speeding ticket; later, he quit the force and became a florist. Anyway, Busybody shook with anger as Mums ignored her and found her seat.

  • (We’ve all known people like Busybody. Whether teenaged girls or older women, they’re a type of bully specializing in social stigma, rather than physical force. They want things their way, they have to be in charge, and they are very, very hard on newcomers.)

Before too long, Busybody joined Mums at her table, sitting beside her. “You can’t leave your walker beside the table,” said Busybody, her nose in the air. “You have to leave it over by the door. That’s the way it’s done.”

Mums turned and surveyed the 40-odd feet to the door, then turned back to Busybody. “If I leave my walker there,” she said, “I’ll never get back to the table!” Busybody huffed and hemmed and hawed, unable to counter this bit of obvious logic.

A while later, during the meal, Busybody suddenly stood up, reached over, and grabbed Mums’s purse from her lap. Mums’s hand shot out, and her iron grip locked onto Busybody’s wrist.

“Just what do ye think ye’re doin?” she asked.

“I’m just going to put your purse on your walker for you,” Busybody stammered.

Mums’s keen eyes locked onto Busybody’s, her gaze like a drill, and she delivered the line that has made her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren stand up and take notice for decades: “That’s enough o’ yere nonsense!”

Busybody sat down and shut up. That night, Mums made arrangements to take her meals in her spacious and lavish private rooms. On Sunday, she heads back to the farm, where she’ll be dancing and laughing and probably forgetting all about the little old lady who tried to bully her.

Some bullies never grow out of it. But it’s always fun to see them brought down a peg.

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Manly Tips 3: Books & Reading

November 26, 2009

Men don’t read. Not if they don’t have to. Magazines are okay, as long as there’s a truck, a soldier or a bikini on the cover. And repair manuals are all right, as long as it’s a last resort.

But books? Not a good idea. As an acquaintance (who was in the process of joining a biker gang) once asked me, “Why are you reading that? Who told you to?”

This was a hard thing for me to change. I like books. I like reading. Hell, I’ve written tons of them, some of which have been published, just with someone else’s name on them, because I didn’t want to admit to writing books. Yeah, that’s what it was.

Roaming packs of extremely macho teenagers have been known to slap the Chuck Kloostermans out of hipsters’ hands at cafes and ripped the Vonneguts out of books carried by non-showering college boys, just for spite. Bring a Dan Brown to your softball game to read between innings? You might as well join the ladies’ slo-pitch league.

I do offer a solution.

Go to the nearest used book store. You probably know where it is, and it’s okay to say so here, but don’t tell the guys when someone asks where to pick up some cheap Berenstain Bears for his new girlfriend’s kid. Anyway, buy a bunch of those men’s series books: The Executioner, The Destroyer, The Terminator (not the Arnold one, the earlier one), Able Team, Stony Man, The Persuader, etc. Take them home. Remove the covers. Trust me, you aren’t doing any harm to our literary culture and history. Glue those covers on the book you actually want to read. And you’re good to go.

  • “Whatcha got?”
  • “The new Mack Bolan. He kills forty guys, then lands a Russian MiG at the Washington Monument and tells the hot blonde woman to get him a sandwich.”
  • “Cool …”
  • “You wanna read it next?”
  • “Fuck, no.”

You can get away with this. Other guys will not understand, but will accept, your love of gruesome action fiction. And they’ll never know you’ve got The Kite Runner in there.

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Bad Ideas In Television: The Second Hundred Years

November 26, 2009

A crotchety old man discovers that his father, long believed lost in the Arctic, has been found frozen in a glacier and is still alive … and hasn’t aged. Now the two of them — and the third generation, a posh young businessman — must learn to adjust to their changed reality.

There’s a bit of high-concept science fiction there, but this was a sitcom, so the whole idea was played for broad, hard-earned laughs. The show was The Second Hundred Years — Dad is 100 years old, but looks 30, get it? — and aired in 1967. It struggled from day 1, and didn’t do well, which you will understand if you start watching it.

I can see how it could have worked. Arthur O’Connell mugs to the camera on a regular basis, something that can be annoying but works for him somehow. And Monte Markham — a familiar face, a well-known character actor — does pretty well playing both the old prospector and the young slickster. But the idea of it is just so stupid, and you can see the actors wondering what they’re doing. For this kind of silliness to work, the cast has to buy into it, and that wasn’t happening here.

But you have to admit — it’s a neat idea, and would do well to be revisited at some point.

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Sarah Palin vs. Marg Delahunty

November 25, 2009

Sarah’s on her book tour, hawking Going Rogue in bookstores across the U.S. She’s getting a lot of attention for her memoir, which was apparently written in an afternoon, by a 21-year-old ghostwriter who’d never met her, while drinking Corona and watching SpongeBob out of the corner of his eye. Well, that’s what I heard.

Among the highlights of the reaction to her book was the Associated Press’s decision to dedicate a team of 11 reporters to the book, picking apart its “facts” and finding mistakes, alterations or historical revisions that prove to opponents that Sarah Palin has no business in politics, no business being a public figure, and no business sticking her nose into Canadian issues.

Wait, let me back up: Sarah was signing books the other day in Columbus, Ohio, when she encountered a Canadian TV journalist. Marg Delahunty had travelled south to quiz Palin — who has hinted at running for president in 2012, possibly with Glenn Beck — but was manhandled away from the signing table and ushered outside by beefy security guards. It turns out Sarah doesn’t answer questions.

The question, as Delahunty reported later: “We told her we’re from Canada, and we’re just looking for a few words of encouragement for the Canadian conservatives who have worked so tirelessly to destroy the socialized medicare that we have.”

Delahunty stuck around, and when she and her crew spotted Palin outside, they went after her.

“Hey, remember us, we’re the Canadians! We came all the way here from Canada!” Delahunty calls in the footage, which aired Tuesday night. “When we asked you that question, we didn’t hear your answer.”

Palin stopped and shared this nugget with Canadian TV watchers: “Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit.”

Okay, so Sarah favours privatized health care. That’s no surprise. And I am one of those Canadians who treasures our public system, but I also see its flaws, so I would not be averse to exploring change. I’m not going to get into a health-care debate here. I just would rather Sarah Palin kept her nose out of Canadian affairs. We have enough uninformed, stupid conservative politicians of our own to deal with; we don’t need her.

Even if she can see Canada from her house.

When her interview aired Tuesday night on CBC Television’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Delahunty mused aloud, wondering why Palin doesn’t answer questions at her book signings. Here’s why: She isn’t very bright. If you need an example, just consider that she allowed herself to be interviewed by Marg Delahunty, who looks like this:

She’s a comedian, Canada’s Mary Walsh, a bit of a national treasure to some. She’s been playing the super-conservative pundit Delahunty character for a long, long time, dressing up in a version of the Xena, Warrior Princess costume to ambush our public figures with ridiculous questions. Everyone in Canada is in on the joke, and it’s always funny to watch Marg corner the prime minister at some gala and spar with him, the silly questions generating equally silly answers.

I can’t show you the Palin footage, but here’s Marg congratulating our Prime Minister Stephen Harper on winning an election:

Anybody who thinks Steve is a bit of a stiff should watch that clip.

While Marg wore a slightly less ridiculous version of her armour to talk to Sarah Palin, it should have been obvious to everyone around her that this is some sort of comedy … but Sarah didn’t clue in. This isn’t the first time a Canadian has tricked Palin, and I’ll bet you it won’t be the last.

Now you know why they keep her away from reporters.

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Zombie Chris Pine In Sex Tape With Vampire Lady Ga-Ga

November 24, 2009

Are you reading this? Wow, it still works.

Maybe I should start selling ad space here based on my ability to attract many, many readers to empty content with just a few key (and salacious, and also imaginary) words. That would free me up to finish my series exploring the ethics of transferring prisoners to governments we know will torture them for information. Writing that would take me weeks, and six people would read it. This took three minutes to write. You can probably tell.

I blame the Internet.

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