Friday, May 30, 2008

Lost Finale

Let The Theorizing Begin

Last night's Lost finale capped the best season of the series since the show's first. In typical fashion, the answers given created new questions.

This AP article sums up the finale well, though there isn't much theorizing, which I'll be on the look out for. I take a spectator's role in all of that, mostly because offering possible explanations for the last four seasons has been mostly a foolish game.

The criticism of Lost is that it asks far too much from the audience. The most critically lauded dramas, The Sopranos or The Wire, asked the audience to pay attention too. The idea that Lost is asking for too much is the reason someone should just watch CSI or another show that is suitable Background TV.

Lost hasn't lost me, but the shows that take little care in building their characters have, which is the reason I watch little TV these days.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Good Movie?

Unbelievable What a Review Can Do

After reading Gabriel Powers review of the critical failure Rambo, I actually want to see this movie despite knowing it's a piece of shit. Powers says:

Rambo is effectively an independent film, and the closest we've gotten to a real deal '70s exploitation in a long time. The classic grindhouse has found its way into the modern public's pop knowledge and lexicon in the last ten years, but most of the new films derived from the original films are homage rather then genuine. Films like Kill Bill, Grindhouse, The Devil's Rejects, and Haute Tension are call backs and send-ups, which quote and respect the grindhouse, but are so distinct in their homage and subversion that they don't generate the same effect. The 'torture porn' subgenre, specifically the Saw films ( Hostel, is too steeped in homage), kind of cover things for horror, but action films have sort of defaulted into a mess of CG spectacle (a different kind of exploitation film), and have generally lacked that punch drunk grit since the end of the 1980s.
Stallone isn't subtle about anything this time around. There's no room for gray shades in this film, there's simply no time for them. The whole thing is streamlined to the point of sprinting (the entire film, minus credits, is about an hour twenty), and the dialogue is the first thing to go. In the grindhouse tradition we're told as much as we can be through simple and relatively wordless scenes that speak their volumes as plainly as possible. Sometimes Stallone oversteps his glorious simplicity by not knowing when enough is enough, especially when jack hammering the point on his villains. We get that these guys are bad from the first scene, and we're clear on their intentions from their second scene, adding a short sequence that makes the lead baddie's sexual tastes clear (little boys) is unnecessary, and ends up straining the suspension of disbelief because of its cartoony nature.

A grindhouse film of this year? Maybe Rambo isn't so bad after all. I'll probably grab this when the DVD drops to a low and acceptable price, flip it on and know what I've come to see.


Good Music

My Morning Jacket

I recently discovered My Morning Jacket. I know, I know: It took this long?! But it did.

And in my search of the Internet for MMJ material, I came across their performance at SXSW this year. It is definitely worth a listen!


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Politics Today

Are Politicians Failing Our Lobbyists?

In The Know: Are Politicians Failing Our Lobbyists?



Must-See CBC

CBC Announces Fall TV Plans

I'm terribly excited about CBC's fall plans announced yesterday:

The public broadcaster did announce a full slate of miniseries and specials, including Céline, which chronicles the career of Quebec chanteuse Céline Dion; Everest, which tells the story of Laurie Skreslet and Pat Morrow, the first two Canadians to summit the world's highest mountain and stars William Shatner and Beverley Hills 90210's Jason Priestly; and another iteration of Test the Nation called Test the Nation: Canada, eh?, which brings together six teams made up of weathercasters, former Reach for the Top contestants, new Canadians, Canadian Forces personnel, tour guides and American-Canadians to see how well they know Canada.

The Dion miniseries plus a Shatner-Priestly team-up? I hope these don't go up against my soaps as I wouldn't want to make a hard decision.


Cup Update

Whoa, Am I Looking Foolish?

OK, Pittsburgh chances to win the Cup are quickly becoming remote following their second loss of the series, another shutout. I based my Pens-as-champions prediction on the the team's superior playoff record in comparison to Detroit. But the Red Wings have used their advantage in experience to great effect; they look unbeatable.

It comes down to Game Three Wednesday in Pittsburgh. If Pittsburgh wins (they'll need to score a goal first), then the series isn't over as quickly as it's progressing right now. But a loss, and anyone who claims Pittsburgh still has a chance will sound as delusional as my series prediction must seem now.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Watchmen DVDs

Double Triple-Dipping

OK, that's not exactly accurate, but Warner Bros. apparently plans at least three DVDs for their Watchmen adaptation:

The effort is also a way for Warner to get more DVD bang for not many more bucks. The “Watchmen” film, Mr. Synder said, will probably generate at least three DVDs: “Tales of the Black Freighter,” followed about four months later by release of “Watchmen” itself, and then an “ultimate” edition in which the two are edited together into one megamovie.

“The überfans of this property are going to go crazy for that,” Mr. Snyder said.

The "Tales" DVD won't be live action unfortunately, as a projected $20 million budget caused the studio to go the animation route.

Also in the story is the info that the current cut of Watchmen runs to almost three hours.


RQ 052608

Junot Diaz on Literature:

Literature is in my estimation best understood as a record of our human selves: of our frailties, of our follies, of our errors, of our limitations, of our fears, of our delusions, of our evasions and of our vulnerabilities. Literature when done right moves us beyond our myths of mastery and invulnerability and reminds us with inescapable force that all we are and all we shall ever be is human. Literature, in other words, bears witness to what it is to be human. Bearing witness to our humanity not only punctures myths and acts as an antidote to those who would dehumanise us through war, deception, the logic of capital and the daily quotidian practice of cruelty and indifference, it also helps to make us more human. And it is in this human-making that literature, like all art, excels.


Soccer Plans

MLSE Looks For A Perfect English Football Club

This report suggests a perfect fit for MLSE: Buy a poorly run English football club to add to an empire of poorly run North American sports teams. Of course the difference between Leeds United and say the Toronto Maple Leafs is that the former is horrendous on the pitch and in the bank, while the latter while failing to win a meaningful playoff series in 41 years has great financial reports.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

NHL Finals

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Detroit Red Wings: The Prediction

After my predictions for the conference finals proved correct, I pulled my prediction record to a respectable 7-7. What does that mean? Nothing at all, which means it's time for me to pick the winner of the Stanley Cup.

Pittsburgh has been the best team in the playoffs. Up against a team other than Detroit, I doubt anyone would believe the Penguins' Western Conference opponent would have a legitimate shot at the Cup. However these are the Red Wings we speak of - a team with a seemingly perfect blend of youth and experience.

The easy pick, the safe pick is to say Detroit takes this series and the Cup. But I don't believe it. I think the Penguins defy any remaining doubters. They win the Cup and realize the promise of their young superstars far earlier than anyone could have expected.


Coldplay Review

The First Review (Possibly)

The Sun paper in London has posted a review of Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends:

... I think epic is the word. The full title — Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends — should have been a clue.

The band have really pushed the boundaries of what we expect from an album, producing a beautiful, serious and sometimes testing 45-minute disc.

The reviewer goes on to comment on all the tracks but in general terms. Did he actually listen to the album? Not sure. But it's not like a plethora of bad or good reviews will stop me from buying this disc.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Reader Mail

Rare Reader Email Feedback

It's not often I hear from my readers, which probably means I have very few (but the few I do have, thank you for wasting your time here); so when I get some reader feedback sent to my email account no less (it's strange they didn't just post it in the comments section), I feel it's important to share (have you kept track of this heavily parenthesized sentence?).

Hey asshole,

You're blog is a piece of shit. The videos you post and the links you post are stupid and show how you're a fucking loser. You add nothing to anything you post and you're a dumbass anyways. Not like I'd want your shit opnion. Fuck you and go fuck yourself. Asshole.


I felt it was only time until someone called me on it, and so it took a Mr. Youradouche to point out the problems with this blog after 391 posts. I take his/her criticisms to heart and I will work hard to continue to disappoint.


Weezer Video

Better Than "Vida la Vida," Here's "Pork and Beans"


Thursday, May 22, 2008

RQ 052208

Where "RQ" Denotes a "Random Quotation"

William Gaddis in an 1980 interview:

LECLAIR: A common criticism of long books is self-indulgence, as though the writers had written at such length only to amuse themselves.

GADDIS: In JR, Gibbs complains about Schepperman's having to sell blood to buy paints and about Van Gogh's cutting off his ear. Hyde says, "Who asked him to paint?" That's a central question. If you're going to write a book, who asked you to? It is, in fact, quite an act of ego to sit down in a room, while others are getting on trains and subways, and put one's vision on paper, and then ask others to pay to read it. Not only to pay but say, "Isn't he brilliant." It's an act of audacity.


Them Similarities

Orson Scott Card vs. J.K. Rowling

A few weeks ago, science fiction writer Orson Scott Card criticized J.K. Rowling for suing a fan. Here's an excerpt:

Rowling "feels like her words were stolen," said lawyer Dan Shallman.

Well, heck, I feel like the plot of my novel Ender's Game was stolen by J.K. Rowling.

A young kid growing up in an oppressive family situation suddenly learns that he is one of a special class of children with special abilities, who are to be educated in a remote training facility where student life is dominated by an intense game played by teams flying in midair, at which this kid turns out to be exceptionally talented and a natural leader. He trains other kids in unauthorized extra sessions, which enrages his enemies, who attack him with the intention of killing him; but he is protected by his loyal, brilliant friends and gains strength from the love of some of his family members. He is given special guidance by an older man of legendary accomplishments who previously kept the enemy at bay. He goes on to become the crucial figure in a struggle against an unseen enemy who threatens the whole world.

This paragraph lists only the most prominent similarities between Ender's Game and the Harry Potter series. My book was published in England many years before Rowling began writing about Harry Potter. Rowling was known to be reading widely in speculative fiction during the era after the publication of my book.

I can get on the stand and cry, too, Ms. Rowling, and talk about feeling "personally violated."

Card also provides a link to a page devoted to revealing other inspirational sources of the Potter books, though we shouldn't trust it because it's hosted on Geocities (and I need to add that Neil Gaiman says the claims made on that site are false.)

More from Card:

Once you publish fiction, Ms. Rowling, anybody is free to write about it, to comment on it, and to quote liberally from it, as long as the source is cited.

Here's the irony: Vander Ark had the material for this book on his website for years, and Rowling is quoted as saying that when she needed to look up some 'fact" from her earlier books, she would sometimes "sneak into an Internet cafe while out writing and check a fact rather than go into a bookshop and buy a copy of Harry Potter."

In other words, she already had made personal use of Vander Ark's work and found it valuable. Even if it has shortcomings, she found it useful.

That means that Vander Ark created something original and useful ? he added value to the product. If Rowling wants to claim that it interferes with her creativity now, she should have made that complaint back when she was using it ? and giving Vander Ark an award for his website back in 2004.

Card criticizes her quite a bit more, but that's for you to read. I agree with Card though that Rowling's lawsuit was without merit. A writer should be flattered someone, anyone was so inspired by their work to spend years creating an encyclopedia about it.

(Though I criticized it yesterday, I still take when it's good; via.)


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On Writing

Stephen King and Jonathan Franzen on Writing

From the new New Yorker litblog, Book Bench, blogger Ligaya Mishan writes about Stephen King's writing memoir, On Writing (not sure why a seven-year-old book is ripe for material other than someone has a quota to meet):

There are some authors who have no problem meeting their daily word count. Stephen King, in his hybrid memoir-manual On Writing notes vaguely that he's written "thirty-five or so" novels and wonders, somewhat impatiently, what exactly writers do with their time when they're not writing:

Knit afghans? Organize church bazaars? Deify plums? I'm probably being snotty here, but I am also, believe me, honestly curious. If God gives you something you can do, why in God's name wouldn't you do it?

What do writers do when they aren't writing? Trying to not become a hack? No. I like King; I read him voraciously as a child. And I do have a few unread King novels to get to in time. But from this short passage perhaps I'm wrongly under the belief that King is saying writing is easy. People who say that have likely not tried it, or when they have, haven't written anything of worth.

In an interview at B&, Jonathan Franzen comments on the current craze of cellphone novels from Japan:

As for those Japanese novels: most new novels published anywhere in any given year are, strictly speaking, bad. And, in my experience, the natural tendency of all beginning writers is to produce thin, formulaic, clumsy, posturing, clichéd, sentimental, poorly crafted work. It's possible that one of those cellphone novels is good, and it's possible that beginners writing in Japanese are vastly more accomplished than beginners writing in English. But it doesn't seem very likely.

What's important from Franzen's comment is the acknowledgment the quality of most writing. I disagree with the idea that the best writers are the ones who publish book after book, almost on yearly schedule. I think writers, novelists and non-fictionists (I'm coining a new word), would be better off if they stepped back and didn't rush to complete another book (though this isn't typically a problem associated with non-fictionists). Why would you want to have your name on something lacking any worth then the time you hastily wrote it in?

People who want to be novelists often make the mistake of dreaming about writing many great novels. It's rare an author will write one let alone one. It would be more refreshing to hear a newly published writer say they're not sure if they'll write another since the first one was just so damn hard.

Of course that's not to say doing something hard a second time shouldn't be attempted, but I prefer a writer who admits the difficulty of the task rather than envisions his or her next new dust jacket.


Coldplay Video

"Violet Hill"

I've seen better. And the new iTunes/iPod ad is worse.


Hobo History

John Hodgman Teaches Us



TSN Headlines

Is It Just Me Or Is This Just Stupid?


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

McCain Myth

The Greatest Threat to the Democrats Hope for the White House; OK, After Hillary

Much has been made about John McCain being some type of Republic Maverick. In a fantastic piece in the upcoming New York Review, Michael Tomasky writes about McCain and his myth:

Those few who bothered to try to lift the curtain noticed, especially as the Bush years progressed and he began to prepare for 2008, that there were aspects to McCain's personality and career that didn't quite fit the myth. There are three main ones...

First of all, we have the matter of his famous temper. This has received press attention from time to time. But it hasn't really hurt him, because it's so easy to spin "violent temper" into "passionate beliefs" and make it sound positive. In fact it's not too much to say that a trait that might have mortally wounded other politicians has been described as a strength: "The flip side of 'temper' is feistiness," The Economist explained in a typical assessment from 2007....

The second issue is more substantive and deals with McCain's policy record—both his votes as a senator and the positions he's taking as presidential candidate. In many matters, it is far from consistent. Schecter's The Real McCain chronicles, in fine-grain detail, McCain's votes and positions, showing that they often seem to reflect hypocrisy, flip-flopping, and pure expediency, rather than the political courage for which he is famous....

There is a final matter about McCain, the new and reinvented McCain, that the press hasn't quite taken in. The McCain of 1999 and 2000 was running a campaign that was also a movement. His most famous quote from those days, which he used repeatedly, invoked the idea of public service and usually went something like this, from a commencement speech at Boston College in 2006:

Those who claim their liberty but not their duty to the civilization that ensures it, live a half-life, having indulged their self-interest at the cost of their self-respect. But sacrifice for a cause greater than your self-interest, and you invest your lives with the eminence of that cause, your self-respect assured.

My view on McCain is that he would be a far better president for the U.S. than Bush has been. But that opinion is based on the old McCain, which if you read the criticism of today, is man who doesn't - or perhaps never did - exist.


Monday, May 19, 2008

When? Never

A Superhero Movie Destined for Pre-Production Hell

David Goyer is working on a script for superhero movie titled Super Max:
In Super Max, Green Arrow gets framed for murder, stripped of his super identity and imprisoned as just plain Oliver Queen, in the Super Max Penitentiary For Metahumans. He will be incarcerated with many of the hardened criminals that he helped put behind bars.

So what is the prison like? Latino Review got a quick look at the first part of the script and an report that Super Max is constantly changing its size and shape. Apparently it changes every night to disorient the prisoners. All of the prisoners are separated into groups: mortals, metas and geniuses. There is another group of criminals that are in permanent isolation.

Latino Review also spills that the prison is filled with tons of classic DC Comics villains, including the Joker, the Riddler, Lex Luthor, Blockbuster, Shock Trauma, Gemini, Icicle, Split, Djinn, Tattooed Man, Multiplex, Cascade, Merlyn, Floronic Man, Count Vertigo, Calculator, Iron Cross, Heatmonger, Pied Piper, and Backlash.

I seriously doubt this will be made anytime soon.



New Verve

The First Single

When I saw the Verve play Ricoh earlier this month, the band closed with this song, which I've learned will be their first single off their new album. It's called "Love is Noise."


Sunday, May 18, 2008 Huh?

What's Wrong with the Web Team at Chapters?

Taking a break between seeing the Pittsburgh Penguins move closer to the Cup final, I browsed and came to the page for the paperback of Richard Dawkins God Delusion.

Apparently the standards on Chapters website are so low they use images from Amazon:

Kind of makes no sense, no?


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Blockbuster Coward

Why Can't I Just Watch?

After I saw Iron Man three weeks ago at the start of the summer blockbuster season and the film defied my expectations, I told my friend that I'd try to see all of this summer's blockbusters. But I lied to my friend.

What Iron Man had was a majority of good reviews; the "summer blockbusters" that have followed (what do you call a presumed summer blockbuster that bombs?) have not.

Take for instance, Speed Racer. The Wall Street Journal said, "This toxic admixture of computer-generated frenzy and live-action torpor succeeds in being, almost simultaneously, genuinely painful -- the esthetic equivalent of needles in eyeballs -- and weirdly benumbing, like eye candy laced with lidocaine." Do I want to spend money to see that? No and I didn't.

Then this week, the second Chronicles of Narnia movie, sub-titled Prince Caspian wasn't torn apart by reviewers, though less than three years ago, views of the first film were better. I won't see Prince Caspian in theatres (or at least I don't plan to) but I'll probably see it on DVD.

Two questions must be asked:

1. Am I film snob?
2. Why do I rely so much on reviews?

To answer the first, I would say that I appreciate good movies, no matter the genre or time of year they are released. That I try to stay away from movies that aim for the l.c.d. and accept clichés as well as unbelievable narrative twists is hardly what I would call snobbish behaviour.

This year I've seen the following in a theatre:

Funny Games
Iron Man
The Savages
There Will Be Blood
Vantage Point
The Visitor

I've only disliked Vantage Point (and I disliked it more than just a bit). I don't think the above list says I'm a film snob but I probably wouldn't use it as evidence that I'm not.

My answer to the second is that my bank account is not self-replenishing and I value my time a bit more than spending it watching crap. Reading reviews and seeing those films that have earned multiple good ones is my way of spending money and time wisely. I don't understand why anyone would waste time watching shit. Unless it's shit that they happen to enjoy.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

New Blog

Harper's Refreshes Homepage with New Mason Blog

The new Harper's homepage went live a couple of days ago. Near the same time, the site added Wyatt Mason's new blog, Sentences.

So far, Mason has written about Josiah Mitchell Morse and the Martin Amis-Saul Bellow connection in a particularly interesting post.

Who's Mason? One of the best literary critics around. Always worth a read.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Starred Roth

The First Review of the New Roth

Publishers Weekly has posted its review of the new Philip Roth novel, Indignation, which will be published in September. It's a starred review:

Philip Roth. Houghton Mifflin, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-547-05484-1

Roth's brilliant and disconcerting new novel plumbs the depths of the early Cold War–era male libido, burdened as it is with sexual myths and a consciousness overloaded with vivid images of impending death, either by the bomb or in Korea. At least this is the way things appear to narrator Marcus Messner, the 19-year-old son of a Newark kosher butcher. Perhaps because Marcus's dad saw his two brothers' only sons die in WWII, he becomes an overprotective paranoid when Marcus turns 18, prompting Marcus to flee to Winesburg College in Ohio. Though the distance helps, Marcus, too, is haunted by the idea that flunking out of college means going to Korea. His first date in Winesburg is with doctor's daughter Olivia Hutton, who would appear to embody the beautiful normality Marcus seeks, but, instead, she destroys Marcus's sense of normal by surprising him after dinner with her carnal prowess. Slightly unhinged by this stroke of fortune, he at first shuns her, then pesters her with letters and finally has a brief but nonpenetrative affair with her. Olivia, he discovers, is psychologically fragile and bears scars from a suicide attempt—a mark Marcus's mother zeroes in on when she meets the girl for the first and last time. Between promising his mother to drop her and longing for her, Marcus goes through a common enough existential crisis, exacerbated by run-ins with the school administration over trivial matters that quickly become more serious. All the while, the reader is aware of something awful awaiting Marcus, due to a piece of information casually dropped about a third of the way in: "And even dead, as I am and have been for I don't know how long..." The terrible sadness of Marcus's life is rendered palpable by Roth's fierce grasp on the psychology of this butcher's boy, down to his bought-for-Winesburg wardrobe. It's a melancholy triumph and a cogent reflection on society in a time of war. (Sept.)

I pre-ordered my copy a month ago, so I'm happy to read a good review this early. Yes, I'm huge on pre-publication hype.


James Frey

Bright Shining Morning Ain't Bad, So They Say

James Frey, the most famous memoirist shredded by Oprah on television, has returned to the publishing world with a novel this time, Bright Shining Morning.

I've read two reviews in favour of the novel. One from Time, the other from the Times. In the latter, Janet Maslin writes in Frey's style, concluding:

So the Bright Shiny Morning guy did it differently. He let the little vignette play out against a big, gaudy, dangerous Southern California backdrop, full of drug-dealing gang-bangers, full of schemers, phonies, rich with a history of robber barons, all of it listed here, all of it stacking the deck against any generosity of spirit. The son steals the maid's virtue? Been there, read that. They plot against the old lady? Been there too. This novelist wanted something else for Esperanza: he wanted to honor her, fall in love with her, do it with startling sincerity. He wanted to save her.

And it worked.

That's how James Frey saved himself.

Aside from picking up good reviews, Frey is also contributing to Omnivoracious this month. Though his posts, short and lacking the substance one might hope from a writer who became America's most notorious for a time, leave a bit to be desired.

Of course, me criticizing Frey for lacking substance in blog posts is like the Toronto Star calling the New York Times increasingly irrelevant. But that would never happen.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Campaign Journalism

Rich Reflects on Mailer

In the new issue of the New York Review, Frank Rich, the Times columnist, reflects on Norman Mailer's election-coverage journalism:

Mailer's take on the 1960 Democratic convention for Esquire, "Superman Comes to the Supermarket," had been an early salvo. By 1968, Tom Wolfe (The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test), Hunter S. Thompson (Hell's Angels), and, at The New Yorker, Truman Capote (In Cold Blood) had created nonfiction "novels" that upended the staid conventions of newspaper and magazine writing by injecting strong subjective voices, self-reflection, opinion, and, most of all, good writing that animated current events and the characters who populated them. Mailer's book-length recounting of the 1967 march on the Pentagon, The Armies of the Night (subtitled History as a Novel, The Novel as History), had arguably been his most well-received venture since The Naked and the Dead. His book Miami and the Siege of Chicago was its eagerly awaited sequel.[
Mailer's election-year chronicle has its progeny—most notably Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72 and Richard Ben Cramer's opus of the 1988 race, What It Takes—but its literary energy and intellectual independence remain the exception rather than the rule in American campaign coverage. For all the books churned out each election cycle, they are often throwbacks to Teddy White, not Mailer and Thompson. Occasionally a fresh voice breaks through—Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone in 2008—but much of what passes for political reportage now in print, whether on paper or on a Web site, succumbs to the same kind of small-bore pack mentality that Mailer set out to vanquish. Open up Miami and the Siege of Chicago to any page and you'll see how American journalism flowered even as the country lost its way.
I hadn't heard of Miami and the Siege of Chicago, but Rich's good words will make me add it to my list of books to read.


Free Timbit

Being Fair


Oh, and she gave away a Timbit, too? I stand by my first reaction.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Little Brother

Cory Doctorow's New Novel

I've heard great things about Cory Doctorow's Little Brother published last month. Though one review I found, was mixed. Neil Gaiman though enjoyed it:

Little Brother is mostly brilliant. It's a political polemic, a tract on privacy and information, on hacking and cracking and politics. It's set in a near-future America in which a bomb has gone off, and it's about a 17 year old kid called Marcus versus a Department of Homeland Security that's out of control.

And now the novel, which can be bought, can be downloaded for free.


Doing Great!

Now, Now, Now, Now's Doing Fine

From Marketing Magazine's blog:

According to the Print Measurement Bureau, Toronto's Now magazine lost 57,000 weekly readers between 2007 and 2008.

Fifty-seven thousand readers lost in one year? Whoa, how awful has that free become? I regularly don't read Now; I do when I failed to bring something good to read. But I never thought 57,000 people would wake up in the same year to realize the filth and filler that is Now.

Pathetically enough:

[Something] jumped out at me as I was flipping through the pages of the venerable alt-weekly's May 1-7 issue. On page 14, right below its masthead, Now listed its weekly readership at 355,000–according to PMB 2007. Okay, fine. But PMB 2008 data indicating that Now has weekly readership of 298,000 has been available since early March.

Journalists not practicing telling the truth: That doesn't surprise me.


New Superhero

Forget Iron Man...



Conference Finals

Predictions, More

I hold Montreal most responsible for my abysmal 5-7 record after my first- and second-round predictions: why Canadiens why?

Anyways, the penultimate round starts tonight and there's no better time to make things right by correctly picking the Stanley Cup final.

Eastern Conference

Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh: While the Flyers unexpectedly defeated the Canadiens, proving Bob Gainey's risky move to choose Carey Price over Cristobal Huet was a mistake, Philly's playoff hopes run into a real-deal team, the Penguins, and the Flyers will - no shock - lose. (Thank me for my near run-on sentence.)

Western Conference

Dallas vs. Detroit: I predicted a Detroit premature meltdown in each of the last two rounds, and the team has shown to be a bit stronger than I thought. Now playing the Stars, is there any other opponent the Red Wings could play who is more familiar with their playoff hopes being dashed? Probably, but in this case, I'll say the Stars do what they're famous for since they last won the cup back in '99. Detroit, baby, Detroit.

So, it's the Penguins vs. the Red Wings come the Final. Unless of course I'm wrong, which is quite possible.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Maurice Gone

The Leafs Do the Predictable

Our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs officially blamed Paul Maurice for the team's failings, firing the head coach today.

Though Maurice had a respectable above .500 record in the two years he coached the Leafs, his team missed the playoffs in both years. He failed to get the best out of the veterans and ultimately, he failed as a coach.

I'm not hurting about this, and it's less a shock than when the Leafs sacked John Ferguson Jr (and that wasn't much of a shock). It's sort of like: Who cares?


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

FCBD Disappointment

A Return to Filthy Habits

I wrote about Free Comic Book Day at Ed Champion's Filthy Habits cultural blog:

Four or five hours passed before I put down my last free comic book. A thought balloon hung over my head. What a complete waste of time. The seventh annual FCBD was a bad haul with the effort cut to accommodate the price. I must be insolent to complain about getting forty-one free comic books, but when a company gives you a sample, the idea is to make you a paying customer. But most publishers forewent storytelling and went straight for the sales pitch. These were comic brochures...


Friday, May 02, 2008

Concert Post

The Verve, Ricoh Coliseum

Last night at around 8:30, I wondered if the crowd would show up for The Verve. It's easy to forget the band since they broke up in 1999 following the release two years prior of their best album, Urban Hymns. (If you don't recognize the name, that's the album that featured "Bittersweet Symphony.")

After the Verve broke up, the face of the band - ever since the hard-to-forget "Bittersweet Symphony" video was released - Richard Ashcroft, released three solo albums. They were all strong efforts, and I had previously seen Ashcroft play live. When the Verve re-formed last year, I knew I'd want to see the band do the same. So I was there, and many others did show up, but the Kool Haus would have been a better venue for the concert.

How was it? I enjoyed the set, which lasted nearly two hours. The crowd most appreciated "Lucky Man" and the aforementioned "Symphony."

The band didn't play much new material, and I'm not convinced what they did play was particularly strong. It somehow felt old and unpolished. The Verve is expected to release a studio album, their fourth, in August. I'll reserve judgment until then whether getting the band back together was the right decision.