Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I guess Leaf fans circle Feb. 21, 2009: Vancouver plays at the ACC. Two questions: 1) will Sundin play? 2) if he does, how will he be greeted?
Monday, December 15, 2008
Awesome.Grant Morrison is indeed writing a monthly Batman book after “Final Crisis"/"Whatever Happened To…"/ "Battle For The Cowl" and the like have wrapped.
And the penciller?
DC people tell me it’s one Frank Quitely.
Quite, quite excellent. I’ve got a couple of Frank’s art pages from his previous Batbook “The Scottish Connection" hanging in my hall. I doubt I’ll be able to afford any more now.
Yes, he is already working on it. Obviously.
I'm just going to link the entire Table of Contents of this week's New Yorker: Go here.
Hell of a good line-up:
- Mark Twain
- Alice Munro
- Robert Bolaño
- Zadie Smith
- Colson Whitehead
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I've just tried (not terribly hard) to organize my books.
I hadn't realized how many I had to shelve away until it became clear that I had probably two full shelves worth too many. I don't write this to impress you with my bibliophilic character, but to say that I really a) need to get more shelving and b) need stop with the books; such space-taking things.
Perhaps this is my great weakness: If only I am so lucky.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
After more than five years using an increasingly underperforming PC, I have now returned to using a Mac. I'm a bit rusty on the Apple shortcuts, but I'm sure in time I will remember them and regain my Mac form. It is nice, again, to be using a fast computer.
The problems with my PC, which had been multiplying exponentially in the last two years, were enough for me to consider a new computer. This time, I went back to the Mac. Not sure why, but it felt right.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
From the Times:
NBC will keep Jay Leno five nights a week, but in prime time, competing not with David Letterman, but with shows like “CSI: Miami.”
The network will announce Tuesday that Mr. Leno’s new show will appear at 10 o’clock each weeknight in a format similar to “The Tonight Show,” which he has hosted since 1993.
The only question left to ask: But will this move make him funny?
Monday, December 08, 2008
From the Hollywood Reporter:
DC Comics' "Fables" is heading to ABC.I've only read about the first thirty or so issues of the series with the rest (a lot of it) piling up. It's good stuff, probably best adapted on television rather than film.
The network has handed out a put pilot commitment to the fantasy project, based on the comic book created by Bill Willingham and published by DC's Vertigo imprint.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
My old prof has a good review of a new book about the marketing of last century's totalitarian regimes in this weekend's National Post:
This obsessive control over the words, symbols and images of daily life under Fascism and Communism extended from predictable, politically loaded items, such as flags, military uniforms and modes of salute, to mundane items, like crossword puzzles and board games, comic books and buttons. And while such reach seems absurd, as does the accompanying significance placed upon advertising, marketing, image management and commodity consumption, it is entirely of a piece with the basic premise of totalitarianism itself: that the State's prerogative extends to every dimension of its people's lives.At the heart of any successful movement is a brilliant marketing/p.r./advertising plan. Look south to Obama, look east to Harper... er, that's not working out so well...
This Tuesday the Dark Knight DVD hits the shelves, which means it's a good time to look at what's the best comic book depiction of the character out there right now. Of course, I'm not actually going to anything in depth, because I'm partly lazy (some may some more than partly) and partly bored with the idea of taking a serious look at a Batman comic.
But I will say that while Grant Morrison has done interesting work on his "Batman: R.I.P." storyline, the best Bat title out there is Frank Miller and Jim Lee's All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder. I'll quote some praise from the Newsarama Blog to do my talking:
It’s bold and brassy, and when you read it in trades, it’s much clearer that Miller has a very clear plan for this series. His deliberately off-putting versions of Batman and the JLA are building the importance of Robin in the DC pantheon. The all-powerful, naïve farmboy, the caustic Greek warrior, the fearless and thoughtless flyboy, and the uncompromising, brutal vigilante, each of them show tremendous potential for heroism, yet it is the humanity of young Dick Grayson that seems destined to bring that potential out of them. Miller also seems to want readers to ask themselves questions about the influence of Batman’s violent actions, and do we really want to trust our protection to a handful of powerful beings? Plus, honestly, it’s just brutally, ludicrously over the top fun and a breath of fresh air in the nostalgia-heavy superhero market.The one thing to keep in mind about ABRTBW (I'm not sure if that is the accepted acronym nor do I care), is that it is one of the most reviled high-profile superhero series being published today. Pretty odd considering it is better than most of the superhero work being critically praised today, which I often find over-serious and puffed up with bizarre self-importance. It's a superhero comic for god's sake.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Earlier this week I listened to the new EP from Coldplay, Prospekt March; a bit light, but an enjoyable 27 minutes or so. However listening to it, I was a bit distracted by comments Chris Martin had said last month, suggesting the band would disband at the end of 2009. This suggestion from Martin changed the listening experience, sort of like if someone knew The White Album was the beginning of the end for the Beatles.
But today I came across this:
Coldplay frontman Chris Martin has laughed off rumors the band is on the verge of splitting, insisting the group will never break up.Changes things, but doesn't change the fact that Martin is an attention seeker.
Last month, Martin hinted that the band would cease in 2010, adding: "I'm 31 now and I don't think that bands should keep going past 33."
But now he has reassured fans that the band still has a lot of music left in it, and is focusing all its energy on the next album.
He tells Rolling Stone magazine, "We're proceeding as if it's our last because it's the only way to proceed.
"You've got to have deadlines, you know. What that means is we're going to pour everything we can into next year and not think beyond that. We always say that and we always mean it. But every time we say it, someone writes that it's over.
"I don't think we'll ever split up but we have to do a lot before we're 33."
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
With the hiring of Brian Burke, Leaf fans are supposed to believe the team now has the right man in place to guide them to a Stanley Cup. The main problem with this premise is that when the Leafs hired Ken Dryden, the same was said. When they hired Pat Quinn, the same was said. When they hired John Ferguson Jr. (can you believe this?), the same was said.
What makes Burke different? The only thing that will make him different is if he manages the team to a Cup victory. Until he does that it's just the same old story.
Call that classic Leafs pessimism, but maybe you should watch them play: it's just saying what is.
The NYT published a couple of stories about my most awaited holiday movie, The Wrestler. I'll say there are a few reasons I'm looking forward to the movie: (1) it's Darren Aronofsky's first film since his lackluster 2006 film, The Fountain; (2) I have a soft spot for professional wrestling; (3) I have a soft spot for movies about old men trying to redeem themselves.
Anyways, in the Arts section, the Times had a story about the screenwriter, Robert Seigel, a former editor of The Onion. It's not a terribly interesting read, but here it is. The other story, from the Sunday magazine, is about the star of the movie, Mickey Rourke, and can be found here. Now if you read the mag article, you'll think Rourke is both an idiot and a liar:
By the late 1980s, in Rourke’s second act, he was a famous leading man in a string of bad movies that continued through the ’90s. What makes Rourke’s choices astounding is knowing what movies he is said to have turned down: “48 Hrs.,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Platoon,” “Rain Man,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Top Gun,” “Tombstone.” Instead he chose to star in a string of soft-core movies and tough-guy thrillers....The part about Rourke being a liar is harder to quote. Basically much of what Rourke says in the article about his life is refuted by other sources at near the end.
Still I'm interested in seeing The Wrestler despite Rourke's faults.
Friday, November 28, 2008
I'm not at all surprised that Malcolm Gladwell's new book, Outliers, took a single week to make the Globe and Mail bestseller list; there it will reside probably for many weeks, becoming an evergreen but that hardly makes it a good book -- or at least some reviews are pointing towards a failed effort.
I've only read Gladwell's first, The Tipping Point, which was enjoyable but the knocks against Gladwell, like the criticism I'll cite in a moment, are hard to discount:
Mr. Gladwell's writing style -- now sufficiently iconic that many new nonfiction authors seek to define themselves as the "Malcolm Gladwell of" their chosen topic -- may be easy to recognize but its clarity and easy grace remain difficult to emulate. Yet clarity may also be its Achilles' heel: As Mr. Gladwell reduces complex sociological phenomenon (such as the success of Eastern European Jewish immigrants or the apparent facility of Asians for math) to compact, pithy explanations (exposure to the entrepreneurial culture of the garment industry and the efficiency-demanding requirements of rice-patty cultivation, respectively), you can't help wondering whether something has been lost in the simplification. This is especially worrisome in the context of the ever-captivating sociological studies that provide much of the supporting evidence in "Outliers." Science is just not as tidy as Mr. Gladwell's explanations would seem to suggest.Having cited that, I'll say I suspect I'll read Blink and Outliers in the future. There's at the very least entertainment in them.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
From Conversational Reading:
Penguin has posted its Summer '09 catalog online (PDF format), and it includes some details as to Pynchon's new novel.
The title will be Inherent Vice, and it deals with a private eye in '60s Los Angeles. From the catalog:
It’s been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It’s the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that “love” is another of those words going around at the moment, like “trip” or “groovy,” except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite which he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists.
In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the sixties, you weren’t there . . . or . . . if you were there, then you . . . or, wait, is it . . .
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Having listened to the new Killers' album a third-dozen times, I can say it's among my favourite albums released this year. It's not bloated, it's not thin, it's just right. I'm sure some people will say how much they dislike it (sure one example, so the plural is not warranted, I know), but it gets more than a passing grade from me.
And the aforementioned Chinese Democracy (see below) is a mess of noise. I listened once: never again.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
From the, well, you know:
“Chinese Democracy” (Geffen) is the Titanic of rock albums: the ship, not the movie, although like the film it’s a monumental studio production. It’s outsize, lavish, obsessive, technologically advanced and, all too clearly, the end of an era. It’s also a shipwreck, capsized by pretensions and top-heavy production. In its 14 songs there are glimpses of heartfelt ferocity and despair, along with bursts of remarkable musicianship. But they are overwhelmed by countless layers of studio diddling and a tone of curdled self-pity. The album concludes with five bombastic power ballads in a row.Seventeen years in the making? Yeah, just a bit indulgent.
“Chinese Democracy” sounds like a loud last gasp from the reign of the indulged pop star: the kind of musician whose blockbuster early success could once assure loyal audiences, bountiful royalties, escalating ambitions and dangerously open-ended deadlines.
From the Times:
Viagra, or sildenafil citrate, was devised to treat pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure in arteries of the lungs. The drug works by suppressing an enzyme that controls blood flow, allowing the vessels to relax and widen. The same mechanism facilitates blood flow into the penis of impotent men. In the case of athletes, increased cardiac output and more efficient transport of oxygenated fuel to the muscles can enhance endurance.A number of easy jokes with this one; I'm too lazy to write them though.
“Basically, it allows you to compete with a sea level, or near-sea level, aerobic capacity at altitude,” Kenneth W. Rundell, the director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Marywood, said of Viagra.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I've been lucky this year with my concert selection. Every show I've seen has been fantastic, and a few have been exceptional including last night's Killers concert at Massey Hall.
I had seen The Killers play the Air Canada Centre last year. That night I was sitting in the upper bowl, which may explain why I felt the show lacked a bit of energy. Sure it was enjoyable, but I didn't feel a connection to the band. Last night sitting not far from the stage, aided with a raucous, sing-along crowd, that connection was there. Brandon Flowers was far more relaxed and more polished than I've seen him before.
The band played five off their new album, Day & Age, which will be released next Tuesday: "Human," "Spaceman," "Losing Touch," "Neon Tiger" and "Joy Ride." The first two new I listed are familiar, and easy to listen to; I think I'll need another listen on the other new songs before I can give a thumbs up.
Lastly, the band played all of their big hits of their first two albums and the crowd, predictably, loved them. One of the best performances though was the cover of Joy Division's "Shadowplay."
All in all, as cliché summarizers go, a fantastic show. I'm looking forward to the band's return to Toronto in January.
I lucked into a pair of, er, standing room tickets for the Leafs loss against the Boston Bruins Monday.
I predicted that I would be able to sit by the second period, assuming the crowd would be leaving in droves as soon as the Leafs fell behind far enough. But the team kept the game close and closed the gap further with 11 minutes remaining in the third. They did eventually lose 3-2 in a Leafs' classic: get everyone's hopes up and crush 'em.
The Leafs are a weak team prone to mistake; you can see that on television but live it's ever more comical. And a bit disappointing.
Coldplay's Chris Martin has suggested that he plans to split up the band at the end of 2009.Kind of shocking, but it's hard to believe. I see this plan more in the vain of when Jay-Z and Eminem "quit." But if it is to happen, I've enjoyed the band - including the two concerts I saw them play this year - while they lasted.
The frontman told the Daily Express that his decision was based on his view that bands should call it a day before they get too old – saying he wanted to go out with a blast by keeping as busy as possible until 2009 ends.
"I'm 31 now and I don't think that bands should keep going past 33," he said. "So, we're trying to pack in as much as possible. Up until the end of next year, we'll just go for it in every sense.
"I don't believe in time off. We've still got most of our hair, we can still fit into our musical trousers and we've got to make the most of that."
Monday, November 17, 2008
From, perhaps ironically, the Times:
The New York Times has shut down its quarterly sports magazine, Play, officials at the paper and its parent company said on Monday, marking another in a long list of contractions in the newspaper and magazine industries.--Czobit
First published in February 2006, Play won numerous accolades for intelligent, in-depth reporting and vivid photography, and this year it was a finalist for the prestigious prize in general excellence at the National Magazine Awards.
From the Times:
Nickelback seems eager to shed at least a little of its politeness on “Dark Horse,” its sixth album — by far its loosest and most jagged in years, both musically and lyrically...--Czobit
But in what qualifies as a sort of progress, here these songs are the most thoughtful. “Just to Get High” is aimed at a friend who becomes a drug addict. And two of the album’s best numbers, “I’d Come for You” and “Never Gonna Be Alone,” are about asking for a second chance. Could it be that Nickelback has seen the error of its ways and is apologizing?
Sunday, November 16, 2008
From the Times:
“Not once have we had any trouble with any of our neighbors,” Mr. Fukui said. “That’s because our second chairman was very strict in that respect.”--Czobit
So as not to inconvenience their neighbors, the Dojinkai eschewed the telltale flashier trappings of their counterparts in bigger cities.
They were forbidden to wear double-breasted suits. They were told to be circumspect while getting in and out of their cars by not lingering outside, and not to park their cars ostentatiously on the streets.
“We’ve seen how the yakuza in Osaka or Tokyo occupy the streets with their cars, but we were explicitly taught not to do that,” Mr. Fukui said, adding that Dojinkai members are also taught to exchange greetings with the neighbors. “We are stricter on this point than most ordinary companies.”
Saturday, November 15, 2008
The New York Times has a story about tonight's UFC bout between Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar, which would suggest that it's a big deal. I'll admit I know more about Lesnar than Couture, and that I know little about MMA. But despite that, I'm interested in this fight even though I can't say why. And after watching this derivative trailer below, I'm not sure why anyone else is interested:
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 09, 2008
From the Sunday Times Book Review:
“2666” is the permanently mysterious title of a Bolaño manuscript rescued from his desk after his passing, the primary effort of the last five years of his life. The book was published posthumously in Spanish in 2004 to tremendous acclaim, after what appears to have been a bit of dithering over Bolaño’s final intentions — a small result of which is that its English translation (by Natasha Wimmer, the indefatigable translator of “The Savage Detectives”) has been bracketed by two faintly defensive statements justifying the book’s present form. They needn’t have bothered. “2666” is as consummate a performance as any 900-page novel dare hope to be: Bolaño won the race to the finish line in writing what he plainly intended, in his self-interrogating way, as a master statement. Indeed, he produced not only a supreme capstone to his own vaulting ambition, but a landmark in what’s possible for the novel as a form in our increasingly, and terrifyingly, post-national world. “The Savage Detectives” looks positively hermetic beside it.--Czobit
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Here's the full video:
Quite a change from Bush, and not just because Obama speaks English. Obviously there's a lot of interest who Obama will pick to staff his cabinet. Sort of like choosing Team Canada, no? Well, no. But people are so sick of the Bush administration, a new U.S. government is intriguing.
Also intriguing is whether Obama's presidency changes how Canada participates in the Afghan war; the Star's James Travers has some thoughts on that here.
Until he takes office January 20th, I expect a more saturated news diet of Obama. That of course means a lot of it won't actually be news, just speculation.
From the B&N Review:
JM: Your books come out at a prodigious rate, but from what you say about the struggles of writing I'd imagine there's a lot of drafts and so on that prove unfruitful. How much writing do you do that doesn't see the light of publication?--Czobit
PR: There are a lot of drafts. I don't seem any longer to make false starts and write 125 pages, and have to throw it all away -- although I did earlier in my career. Sometimes I do make a false start of 25 or 50 pages and put it away; a year or two later, I look at it and I see what was wrong, then scrap most of it and start again. But by and large, it's drafts. I write drafts and drafts. Let's say that, on average, I write between 5 and 7 drafts of a book, trying to bring it to life, really. When I get to the point where I can't do anything more, I consider myself done.
JM: Have you begun another book?
PR: I've finished another book.
JM: Can you tell us anything about it, or would you rather not?
PR: I'm going to get an A in the course, aren't I?
JM: Gold star.
PR: I don't want to talk about it. It will just confuse the conversation about Indignation. But I just recently finished a book, also a short book, which will come out next September.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
If I were a boy
Even just for a day
I’d roll outta bed in the morning
And throw on what I wanted then go
Drink beer with the guys
And chase after girls
I’d kick it with who I wanted
And I’d never get confronted for it.
Cause they’d stick up for me.
If I were a boy
I think I could understand
How it feels to love a girl
I swear I’d be a better man.
I’d listen to her
Cause I know how it hurts
When you lose the one you wanted
Cause he’s taken you for granted
And everything you had got destroyed
If I were a boy
I would turn off my phone
Tell everyone it’s broken
So they’d think that I was sleepin’ alone
I’d put myself first
And make the rules as I go
Cause I know that she’d be faithful
Waitin’ for me to come home (to come home)
If I were a boy
I think I could understand
How it feels to love a girl
I swear I’d be a better man.
I’d listen to her
Cause I know how it hurts
When you lose the one you wanted (wanted)
Cause he’s taken you for granted (granted)
And everything you had got destroyed
It’s a little too late for you to come back
Say its just a mistake
Think I’d forgive you like that
If you thought I would wait for you
You thought wrong
You know when you act like that
I don't think you realize how it makes me look
Act like what
Why are you so jealous
It's not like i'm sleeping with the guy
I said yo
Why are you so jealous
It aint like I'm sleepin with the girl
But you’re just a boy
You don’t understand
Yeah you don’t understand
How it feels to love a girl someday
You wish you were a better man
You don’t listen to her
You don’t care how it hurts
Until you lose the one you wanted
Cause you’ve taken her for granted
And everything you have got destroyed
But you’re just a boy
(I apologize for making you endure that shit.)
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Three reviews caught my eye this morning. The first is a review of a biography of Samuel de Champlain, titled "Champlain's Dream" and written by David Hackett Fischer:
(Fischer's) thesis in “Champlain’s Dream,” which these days might be considered daring, is that Champlain was an admirable, heroic figure — a stance that runs counter to the recent trend in historiography to debunk and demean most “dead white males,” especially those who were explorers and settlers. Many of them richly deserve this opprobrium for slaughtering and otherwise mistreating the indigenous peoples they encountered. But Champlain was different. He was more interested in learning from and cooperating with Indians than in exploiting them. He treated most of those he met with “dignity, forbearance and respect,” and, Fischer writes, they largely reciprocated: “He had a straight-up soldier’s manner, and Indian warriors genuinely liked and respected him.”Next is a review of Miriam Toews's new novel, "The Flying Troutmans." The reviewer, Tom De Haven, didn't care much for it:
Finally, nothing about “The Flying Troutmans” feels authentic, not the characters and not their psychology, and certainly not the American landscape they blast through, leaving dust in the slipstream, but very little else.Last is a review from the business pages of Malcolm Gladwell's new book, "The Outliers." It sounds to me as if the problem's with Gladwell's theories are amplified in his latest:
By way of equalizing the field, Mr. Gladwell suggests grouping school classes and youth sports leagues by birth months. “We cling to the idea,” he writes, “that success is a simple function of individual merit.” We? Who actually thinks that way? Not the parents holding their late-month-born children back a year before they enter kindergarten. Not those involved in wrestling or other sports that group individuals by weight.It'll be interesting to see if book buyers think the same.
If some points border on the obvious, others seem a stretch. Asian children’s high scores at math, Mr. Gladwell would have us believe, derive from work in rice paddies. Never mind that few of the test takers or their urban parents in Hong Kong, Singapore or Tokyo have ever practiced wet-rice agriculture. Noting that math test scores correlate with how long students will sit for any kind of exam, Mr. Gladwell points to an Asian culture of doggedness, which he attributes to cultural legacies of rice cultivation. (Paddies require constant effort.)
Here as elsewhere, Mr. Gladwell promotes a cultural explanation for success no matter how indirect the causal mechanisms.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Where was I the month of October? Certainly not here; I couldn't even be bothered to post the occasional video post or to link to an article that I found interesting. I was busy, and had to ignore this blog more than I would like. It's that time of year when the wind grows a chill. This year maybe it gets colder. I hope not.
Tuesday, America votes and the world seemingly hangs in the balance. Every election is more important than the last and this presidential one would seem to be the ultimate election; I use 'ultimate' in its slang usage, not meaning the last because in four years there will be another. I haven't come across many people who would prefer John McCain win, though it may not matter for Canada who wins.
OK: yeah, right.
The result matters because if you read Barack Obama's books, if you listen to his speeches, if you get swept into his vision of the future, you must believe that if he loses Tuesday that the world will never be the same. A loss may feel like September 12th; everything changes for the worse (or stays the same for the worse); hope eviscerated; the world at its end.
Of course, all of that is hyperbole. And I have to think that if Obama loses, it may cement his legacy; a path not chosen, prosperity not realized. If he wins, the expectations of his presidency will be impossible to match with actual results. But I would be insane to care about Obama's legacy at this time. He needs a chance.
What can Canadians do? Unless they have dual-citenzenship, nothing. There is no world vote. We're left to trust a nation that has done a lot to lose the world's trust in the past eight years.
Well, I hope. I'm not confident and I wouldn't be surprised. But I hope. One election won't change the world - no matter who wins - but you have to think Obama has the best chance to do so.
Monday, October 27, 2008
My piece on comic writer Mark Millar is up at Ed Champion's culture blog:
When the credits rolled, many people watching last summer's film adaptation of Wanted didn't really know Mark Millar. The audience may have known that he created, with artist J.G. Jones, the comic book series that the film was based upon. And "based upon" is important. Despite Wanted's (potentially offensive) violence, the movie was scrubbed of some of the comic's more controversial details. But unlike Alan Moore, Millar didn't demand that his name be removed from the film. No, Millar was content to leave his name in Wanted's credits. If he hadn't, the 38-year-old Scot might risk missing out on mainstream attention...
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Newsarama has a good first interview with Grant Morrison discussing the best Superman story in many years, All Star Superman:
I’ve told this story in more detail elsewhere but basically, we were trying to figure out how to “reboot” Superman without splitting up his marriage to Lois, which seemed like a cop–out. It was the beginning of the conversations which ultimately led to Superman Now, with Dan and I restlessly pacing around trying to figure out a new way into the character of Superman and coming up short...
Until we looked up to see a guy dressed as Superman crossing the train tracks. Not just any skinny convention guy in an ill–fitting suit, this guy actually looked like Superman. It was too good a moment to let pass, so I ran over to him, told him what we’d been trying to do and asked if he wouldn’t mind indulging us by answering some questions about Superman, which he did...in the persona and voice of Superman!
We talked for an hour and a half and he walked off into the night with his friend (no, it wasn’t Jimmy Olsen, sadly). I sat up the rest of the night, scribbling page after page of Superman notes as the sun came up over the naval yards.
My entire approach to Superman had come from the way that guy had been sitting; so easy, so confident, as if, invulnerable to all physical harm, he could relax completely and be spontaneous and warm. That pose, sitting hunched on the bollard, with one knee up, the cape just hanging there, talking to us seemed to me to be the opposite of the clenched, muscle-bound look the character sometimes sports and that was the key to Superman for me.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
When you read an author regularly, your expectations for their latest work are typically high. I came to Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book knowing though it was a children's book (advertised for the 9-12 crowd) that there should be some level enjoyment for an older reader. That wasn't the case.
Gaiman's previous youth novel efforts, chiefly Coraline, were critically acclaimed for their ability to hold an audience of any age. I found the The Graveyard Book ponderous at 300 pages. Gaiman constructed the novel as a series of connected short stories, and I wish some of those stories had been shorter. Perhaps a serious cut would have given the book greater forward momentum. Instead The Graveyard Book is a laborious read.
I haven't read any other reviews of the book, but I hope the target audience enjoys The Graveyard Book more than I did.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
Director Zack Snyder told IESB that Frank Miller is writing the graphic novel that the movie's sequel will be based on. Events will take place between the Battle of Thermopylae and the Battle of Plataea, the battle that narrator Dilios (David Wenham) is at the end of "300." There's a whole year between the two battles and plenty of room for more story.
Completely unnecessary save for the people who organize the Sens' pre-game entertainment.
From the Guardian:
There's much more in the link above.
JK Which one is Simon Bird [Daily Mirror's north-east football writer]?
JK You're a cunt.
SB Thank you.
JK Which one is Hickman [Niall, football writer for the Express]? You are out of order. Absolutely fucking out of order. If you do it again, I am telling you you can fuck off and go to another ground. I will not come and stand for that fucking crap. No fucking way, lies. Fuck, you're saying I turned up and they [Newcastle's players] fucked off.
SB No Joe, have you read it, it doesn't actually say that. Have you read it?
JK I've fucking read it, I've read it.
SB It doesn't say that. Have you read it?
JK You are trying to fucking undermine my position already.
SB Have you read it, it doesn't say that. I knew you knew they were having a day off.
JK Fuck off. Fuck off. It's your last fucking chance.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
The New Yorker's editors have published their endorsement for the 2008 Presidential Election, titled "The Choice."
It's a magnificent summation of the importance of this election, and definitely worth reading.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
From the Globe:
Nearly half of Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's 2003 speech urging Canada to send troops into Iraq was copied word-for-word from then Australian prime minister John Howard, Liberal MP Bob Rae charged this morning.Normally I would shrug my shoulders - figuratively, literally would be too much work - but Rae brings up a good point:
Mr. Rae said the copied speech is damning evidence of the fact Canada is losing its own voice in foreign policy under a Conservative government. The country has become a parrot of right-wing interests from the U.S. and other foreign countries under Harper's Conservatives, Mr. Rae said.It seems bizarre that while the U.S. may finally turn to a more liberal choice as president this year that Canadians seem destined to give a right-wing party a win in its parliamentary election.
The Globe article continues:
"How can Canadians trust anything that Mr. Harper says now?" Mr. Rae said during a speech in Toronto. "Stephen Harper's government has taken Canada down a foreign and defence policy path unworthy of our great country."Who trusts anything any politician says?
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The Inter-Milan game this Sunday is the one true football match of note this weekend (though I still have my eye on Barcelona's game against Espanyol). Why The interest in the Milan derby? Let the Guardian explain:
Jose Mourinho might still be Chelsea's manager had the arrival of Andriy Shevchenko not undermined his relationship with Roman Abramovich. Then again, had a different coach been in charge at Stamford Bridge when the Ukrainian moved there from Milan two years ago, he might have continued scoring the sort of goals that saw him voted European Footballer of the Year in 2004.
On Sunday night Shevchenko will have the chance to settle old scores at the San Siro when the Rossoneri take on their city rivals Internazionale in what will be Mourinho's first Milan derby. It had seemed that Shevchenko would be a substitute — a role that became all too familiar to him during his two unsettled years under Mourinho in west London — but a thigh injury to Marco Borriello means he is almost certain to be in Milan's starting line-up against the Italian champions.
Yes, I posted half the article, but I had to give you context, no? I hope Shevchenko gets some measure of revenge, but I expect him to find himself on the bench and ineffectual if he actually appears in the game.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I still haven't seen a trailer for Darren Aronofsky's new film. If you visit the movie's website, you find little information about the film. Besides the great reviews the movie received after it screened here and in Venice, I don't have much to go on... until now! (That was incredibly cheesy.)
As you read above, New York Mag wrote about the movie, giving a list of ten things to know about the movie. To read the full explanations, click here. Here are the top-lines:
1. They get the wrestling right.--Czobit
2. Kurt Cobain is a pussy.
3. Marisa Tomei is lookin' good.
5. Wrestlers can act.
7. Don't worry: There are no orgies.
8. God, Nicolas Cage would have been terrible.
9. You'll never believe who the movie is dedicated to.
10. Seriously, you're totally going to cry.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
It's quite clear that nothing at all must be going on in sports because TSN will air tonight's pre-season game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Game time is 7:30 ET, and I can't wait to turn on the game and have my hopes crushed.
I was under the impression that all of the Leafs pointless, boring and unwatchable-for-a-great-length-of-time pre-season games were being broadcast on Leafs TV, but it turns out TSN couldn't resist a game between Canada's favourite team to hate and Sidney Crosby (and those other guys he plays with). Leafs are 1-0 in pre-season action, which is impressive if you're impressed by facts that are meaningless.
Alright, another five hours to go... Gotta get in my zone.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Google Alerted me to a new CBC podcast with Junot Diaz, an author who I keep my eye on ever since I read his collection of short stories, Drown, and his novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; the latter won the Pulitzer.
The podcast can be listened to here, which also has this interesting note:
"Lsteners (sic) in the Toronto area can catch Díaz at the International Festival of Authors next month."
Don't mind the typo. I'm sure they mean...
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Kerry posted this two days ago:
In a somewhat embarrassing display of idealism and naivete, I have decided that it’s perfectly acceptable to be mortified by the fact that Canadians are more interested in the U.S. election than the Canadian election.Having finished reading Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope yesterday afternoon, it's fair to say I'm one of those Canadians more interested in the American presidential election than the one here quickly boring the populace. I've read far more about the U.S. election, including two books total about or written by the candidates.
Of course, writing that I've read more cumulatively about the U.S. election doesn't mean much considering how long the American's campaign is. But since the announcement of the Canadian election, my interest in our politics has increased only slightly. Does that make me a potential uninformed voter? When you say potentially, then yes.
Here's a question: Why is the U.S. election more interesting than the Canadian election? Is it the same reason why I have the Chelsea-Manchester United match turned on right now and would not do the same if it were a Toronto FC game? You know, one is exciting, good; the other, boring, trifling?
That's not completely my view. The Canadian election is important but when looking at the world at large, its importance is overshadowed by the election in the U.S.
It's far easier to be content about Canadian politics when you are mostly content about the situation of the country. Yes, obvious statement but it's worth acknowledging that despite our problems - and I know we have them - the middle-class existence in Canada doesn't create anxiety. The danger is ignoring this election and allowing for a result that may set the country back, that may make the middle-class existence a cause for anxiety.
That's why I know that while I've been mostly transfixed by U.S. politics for the past year, I need to become familiar with my country's issues. And quickly. Otherwise, what good is my vote?
From the Times's op-ed page this morning:
In its narrative gaps, its false depths leading nowhere in particular, its bogus grief over stakeless destruction and faked death, “The Dark Knight” echoes a civil discourse strained to helplessness by panic, overreaction and cultivated grievance. I began to feel this Batman wears his mask because he fears he’s a fake — and the story of his inauthenticity, the possibility of his unmasking, counts for more than any hope he offers of deliverance from evil. The Joker, on the other hand, exhibits his real face, his only face, and his origins are irrelevant, his presence as much a given as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, or Fear Itself.The above offered without comment.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Having finished Philip Roth's new novel, Indignation, I came upon the About the Author page at the end of the volume. The final sentence, in reference to the Library of America editions of Roth's writings: "The last of the eight volumes is scheduled for publication in 2013."
The key word in that sentence is 'scheduled' (things can easily change) but if that date is accurate, it would mean Roth's last work would be published in 2012 or early 2013. At his current pace - one novel each year - that means Roth is down to four, maybe five, novels. Of course, as someone who admires Roth's novels a great deal - and I can only offer uncritical praise for Indignation - this news is not welcome but understood: Roth is 75. By 2013, he'll be 80.
(Note: I'm not sure if that 2013 date had been known before Indignation was published but it's the first I've seen it.)
I don't have much of a review for Indignation (other than go read it), but Ron Charles enjoyed it:
Copies of Indignation, Philip Roth's ferocious little tale, ought to be handed out on college campuses along with condoms and tetanus shots. This cathartic story might vent some of the volatile self-righteousness that can consume the lives of passionate young people (and, yes, old people too). It's not that it breaks any new ground; the author's favorite themes are all here -- the comic sexual frustration of Portnoy's Complaint, the assimilation anxieties of the Zuckerman books, the enraged grievance of The Human Stain-- but with Indignation, Roth presents his most concentrated parable of self-destructive fury.Also the LA Times has an interview with Roth: here.
And according to the all knowledgeable Wikipedia, Roth's next novel, to be released next year, is called The Humbling.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
It's the buzz of TIFF, and incidentally before all of the hype, the one film I wanted to see at the festival: The Wrestler directed by a favourite director of mine, Darren Aronofsky.
The director speaks about the film:
Peter Sciretta: You come from New York and so [wrestling] must have been all over the place?
Darren Aronofsky: I wasn't a huge fan as a kid. I went to one match at Madison Square Garden with my best friend and my dad. I remember we all lost our voices from screaming so loud. Hulk Hogan was a bad guy and I remember Tony Atlas lifting up Hulk Hogan and dropping him on his balls on the top rope. We went crazy, it was great. I think I went to a couple of other little matches at veterans halls. So it was in my head a bit, but I was never a crazy fan. It was like a small window, and it was before the Hulk-mania, so it wasn't so big. It was still kind of in the early 80's. So it wasn't quite the phenomenon that it became. And by the time Hulkmania came out, I wasn't interested in it. But I thought that the boxing movie is a genre film, and there's been thousands of boxing movies - who knows how many. But no one has ever done a serious wrestling film. No one has ever done a serious film about a wrestler.
I hope to see the movie when it's released later this year in regular theatres.
Last year I saw ten movies at TIFF, but was priced out of the festival this year. OK, maybe not so much priced out but I was feeling kind of cheap and I didn't think I'd have enough time to enjoy the festival; I'd be rushing around to just see movies. Maybe I'll get back to it next year on a lighter schedule.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
From the Globe:
The arena, which is approaching its 10th birthday in February of 2009, is in the early stages of a $50-million facelift, and the most noticeable change for this season is the addition of high-definition video screens to the scoreboard.None of these celebrations will include a Stanley Cup victory one.
The rest of the ACC renovations and an addition will be finished for the start of the 2009-10 NHL season. By then, the Leafs will have added a 20,000-square-foot atrium to the front of the ACC's west side and completed a host of renovations to the arena itself.
The atrium, which will cost $25-million, will have a 50-by-80-foot video screen on its outside wall, which will overlook a plaza that will be used for parties and other celebrations.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Browse Inside this bookGet this for your site
(I partly added this to see how this preview would look on the blog. I've only read Lehane's Mystic River, but if The Given Day is as good, then I'll be happy when I get to it.)
(Update: Wow, that's shit.)
From today's Star:
I'm certain now that with Gaston talking about a playoff berth, the Jays' win streak will end this afternoon and they'll lose the majority of their remaining games. Toronto teams love to raise hopes.
A few minutes after last night's game in Chicago was postponed due to rain, Jays manager Cito Gaston put staff ace Roy Halladay on notice.
With the Jays' eight-game winning streak intact and a longshot playoff berth still a possibility, Halladay was told that he will pitch Sunday in Boston on three days rest if the team is successful in the Windy City.
From today's Times:
The Bush administration, after considerable internal debate, has decided not to take direct punitive action against Russia for its conflict with Georgia, concluding that it has little leverage if it acts unilaterally and that it would be better off pressing for a chorus of international criticism to be led by Europe.I'm not surprised about this decision after I read last week George Friedman's piece on the Russia-Georgia war in the New York Review:
The Russian invasion of Georgia has not changed the balance of power in Eurasia. It has simply announced that the balance of power had already shifted. The United States has been absorbed in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as potential conflict with Iran and a destabilizing situation in Pakistan. It has no strategic ground forces in reserve and is in no position to intervene on the Russian periphery. This has opened an opportunity for the Russians to reassert their influence in the former Soviet sphere. Moscow did not have to concern itself with the potential response of the United States or Europe; hence, the balance of power had already shifted, and it was up to the Russians when to make this public. They did that on August 8.
This is the result, partly, of waging unneccessary wars.
Monday, September 08, 2008
If the embarrassing and disappointing clips of Frank Miller's The Spirit adaptation were not enough for me to believe Miller may have lost his ability to make creative decisions (at least in film), then Miller's suggestions for the next Batman film all but confirm my worries:
Miller still wants to see a movie version of his groundbreaking graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, and he thinks Sylvester Stallone should star. He told the LA Times:
"Just that mouth of his, the scowl and the way it would look in a mask. I loved 'Rocky Balboa.' This wounded warrior, that's what Batman is in 'Dark Knight Returns.'"
This is the same Stallone who to the best of my knowledge doesn't speak English any more. At least not proper English. English grunts, yes. Coherent sentences? Yes, if you watch him with subtitles.
The good part about Miller offering his opinion on the next Batman film is that it's so never-gonna-happen that there's not a chance Warner Bros. would actually turn to this guy to continue the Batman franchise now that the latest rumour is Christopher Nolan is finished with the character.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
I managed to get my hands on an advanced copy of Neal Stephenson's new novel, the 937=page Anathem. And I managed to read it (mostly during weekends) over the last month. Naturally I've been interested in reading any reviews, though I didn't expect many mainstream ones considering this is a science fiction novel, or as Stephenson prefers, a speculative fiction novel. I'd call it a novel, but then that wouldn't fit with our desire to label everything.
Getting to the point, I came across a mainstream review of the book: Michael Dirda of the Washington Post pans the novel:
As much as I would like to disagree with Dirda - after all I read the novel for free and it's damn long - I can't. Stephenson deserves praise for his vision, but when a novel has a page count close to War and Peace's, you expect the author has written something that pushes you to finish. Instead I felt exhausted when I turned the last page, and I'm not sure I would grab another of Stephenson's doorstop novels.
Alas, I can't even lope slowly alongside the herd. Oh, Anathem will certainly be admired for its intelligence, ambition, control and ingenuity. But loved? Enjoyed? The book reminds me of Harold Brodkey's The Runaway Soul from 17 years ago -- much anticipated, in places quite brilliant, but ultimately grandiose, overwrought and pretty damn dull.
That's an awful thing to say about a novel as formidable as Anathem, but there's no getting around it. The made-up language is rebarbative (though often clever), the plot moves with elephantine slowness, and much is confusing (the process of decipherment actually drives the book, as characters and the reader Try to Figure Things Out), and every so often we just stop for a long info-dump or debate about cosmology, philosophy, semantics or similar glitzy arcana. For the most part, Stephenson's prose lacks any particular grace or beauty (at least to my ear), and while he can be mildly satirical at times, these precious moments are few. On the other hand, the descriptions -- of buildings, machines, events -- seem to go on for millennia. Sex is referred to, but never actually seen.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Yesterday the Toronto Maple Leafs finalized the Bryan McCabe trade to Florida.The Leafs had to include a fourth-round draft pick in the 2010 draft, and received defenceman Mike Van Ryn from the Panthers.
For all Leafs fans who were tired to see #24 in the line-up, the trade comes as a relief. But then Damien Cox goes and ruins this moment of jubilation with a column on how the trade was another bad deal made by a Leafs GM.
And I'll go and ruin the jubilation, too: sending McCabe to Florida and adding Van Ryn does not change the Leafs hopes. The Leafs will miss the playoffs again this season. McCabe or not, that wasn't the team's problem.
Ed Champion writes about section 11.1 of Google Chrome's terms of service:
Anyone who uses Chrome will technically own the copyright, but who needs copyright when the Chrome user effectively gives up her right to distribute this content in all perpetuity and without royalties? So if Joyce Carol Oates is using Chrome and types an email to someone, she "owns" the copyright. But Google has the right to use anything that Ms. Oates types into Chrome for any purpose. And if someone reveals highly personal information through Chrome — like, say, the details of one's sex life, an early draft of a novel, or some very embarrassing incident — Google has the right to reprint this anywhere. And not only do they get to reprint this content, but they can likewise generate revenue from it. Revenue that should, by all rights, go to the person who authored the content in the first place.I wasn't impressed with Chrome when I played around with it a bit yesterday afternoon. But knowing about section 11.1 guarantees I won't be using it anytime soon.
I wonder if using Gmail entitles Google to do the same rights? I never bothered to read Gmail's terms of service, which in hindsight probably means nothing as I've written nothing worth Google's time to republish elsewhere.
Monday, September 01, 2008
TPM provides a fantastic summary of the Saga of Sarah Palin:
When I compare the two, Canadian politics leave me tepid. Can't we have a Sarah Palin? Or at least a 72-year-old senile party leader?
On the same day that the Republicans were forced to dramatically cut back their convention activities, the Palin Meltdown unfolded with extraordinary speed. It's worth pondering the totality of what happened today, in a mere half day...
* The news that Palin once backed the Bridge to Nowhere went national.
* It emerged that Palin has links to the bizarro Alaska Independence Party, which harbors the goal of seceding from the union that McCain and Palin seek to lead.
* The news broke that as governor, Palin relied on an earmark system she now opposes. Taken along with the Bridge to Nowhere stuff, this threatens to undercut her reformist image, something that was key to her selection as McCain's Veep candidate.
* The news broke that Palin's 17-year-old daughter became pregnant out of wedlock at a time when the conservative base had finally started rallying behind McCain's candidacy.
* Barely moments after McCain advisers put out word that McCain had known of Bristol Palin's pregnancy, the Anchorage Daily News revealed that Palin's own spokesperson hadn't known about it only two days ago.
* A senior McCain adviser at the Republican convention was forced into the rather embarrassing position of arguing that McCain had known about the pregnancy "last week" -- without saying what day last week he knew about it.
* It came out that Republican lawyers are up in Alaska vetting Palin -- now, more than 72 hours after it was announced that she'd been picked.
* Palin lawyered up in relation to the trooper-gate probe in Alaska -- a move that ensures far more serious attention to the story from the major news orgs.What else will come out today? After all, there are still six hours left until September 2nd...
Saturday, August 30, 2008
From Wolcott's blog:
I'm watching the newest sensation in celebrity eyewear, Sarah Palin, in her debut campaign whistlestop performance w/ John McCain and the impression she creates is distinctly minor league, a pastel shade of sturdy but flimsy. If she were running for Congress, she'd be a perfectly credible, fully accessorized mediocrity, but on the presidential stage she looks like somebody you'd book to introduce the person introducing the person introducing the main speaker--a warm-up act for the warm-up act. Or, to put it another way, she suggests a local-news anchorperson rather than a network host, an acceptable stand-in in a pinch but not a permanent answer to anything. No bass-note intimation of depth or intellectual reflection emerges from that reedy, unwarm instrument that is her voice, and her call-out to Hillary Clinton had all the insincerity of Eve Harrington extending her bare arm in tribute to Margo Channing.
From Gail Collins column today:
This year, Hillary Clinton took things to a whole new level. She didn’t run for president as a symbol but as the best-prepared candidate in the Democratic pack. Whether you liked her or not, she convinced the nation that women could be qualified to both run the country and be commander in chief. That was an enormous breakthrough, and Palin’s nomination feels, in comparison, like a step back.
If she’s only on the ticket to try to get disaffected Clinton supporters to cross over, it’s a bad choice. Joe Biden may already be practicing his drop-dead line for the vice-presidential debate: “I know Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is a friend of mine, and governor, you’re no Hillary Clinton.”
Now give me a Canadian election to write (or quote) about.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
From the Comics Continuum:
Mark Steven Johnson, who brought Daredevil and Ghost Rider to the big screen, told The Continuum that his attempts to bring Garth Ennis' Preacher to HBO as a series were close but ultimately unsuccessful.
"We were budgeting and everything and it was getting really close to going," Johnson told The Continuum. "But the new head of HBO felt it was just too dark and too violent and too controversial. Which, of course, is kind of the point!
"It was a very faithful adaptation of the first few books, nearly word for word. They offered me the chance to redevelop it but I refused. I've learned my lesson on that front and I won't do it again. So I'm afraid it's dead at HBO.
So the Preacher adaptation gets shelved, and Johnson takes the opportunity to say the studios were responsible for his other comic book adaptations being shite.
My guess, based on his career output, his Preacher would have also been awful.
Monday, August 25, 2008
It happens more often these days: The more I read the Toronto Star, the more I'm compelled to turn to the paper's obit pages to see if a reporter has written one for the Star itself. Why? Because of reports like these.
Barenaked Ladies' Ed Robertson in plane crash
Staff Reporter and Canadian Press
Barenaked Ladies singer Ed Robertson was one of four people involved in a small plane crash yesterday afternoon in Bancroft, just south of Algonquin Park.
But unlike bandmate Steven Page, who earlier this summer was arrested on drug charges in New York state, Robertson emerged from this incident unscathed.
Question One: What does Steven Page's arrest have to do with his bandmate escaping a plane crash?
Question Two: Is the reporter suggesting drugs were involved in the plane crash?
Question Three: If not, then why would the reporter take the story of plane crash to make a dig at Page?
Question Four: Who said Robertson escaped "unscathed"? There are no quotations from Robertson or spokesperson for him that say he didn't suffer psychological trauma.
This is bad reporting, and though the story is only 10 paragraphs, running it on page 2 of the paper and the front page of the website suggests the Star feels it's important. Some care should have been taken when publishing it. Instead readers are left with a typical Star story.