Saturday, August 30, 2008

More Palin

James Wolcott Weighs In

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.


On Palin

Or: On Cheap Political Ploys

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

Obama's Speech

Forget Palin, Watch Obama

I live in the U.S., right?


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hillary Clinton

Worth the 23 Minutes to Watch


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Preacher Dead

The Comic Adaptation is a No-Go at HBO

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

Cartoon Skeletons

"An exhibition at the natural history museum in Basel, Switzerland, imagines what may lie beneath the skins of cartoon characters"




Great Writing

The Star, Again

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

Laura Stone
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.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fair Press

Another Strike Against Obama

From Frank Rich's Times column today:

What Obama also should have learned by now is that the press is not his friend. Of course, he gets more ink and airtime than McCain; he’s sexier news. But as George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs documented in its study of six weeks of TV news reports this summer, Obama’s coverage was 28 percent positive, 72 percent negative. (For McCain, the split was 43/57.) Even McCain’s most blatant confusions, memory lapses and outright lies still barely cause a ripple, whether he’s railing against a piece of pork he in fact voted for, as he did at the Saddleback Church pseudodebate last weekend, or falsifying crucial details of his marital history in his memoirs, as The Los Angeles Times uncovered in court records last month.


Allen's Diary

Woody Allen's Spain Diary - Filming Vicky Cristina Barcelona

From today's Times:


Scarlett came to me today with one of those questions actors ask, “What’s my motivation?” I shot back, “Your salary.” She said fine but that she needed a lot more motivation to continue. About triple. Otherwise she threatened to walk. I called her bluff and walked first. Then she walked. Now we were rather far apart and had to yell to be heard. Then she threatened to hop. I hopped too, and soon we were at an impasse. At the impasse I ran into friends, and we all drank, and of course I got stuck with the check.


Sheva Returns

Andriy Shevchenko Returns to AC Milan

It's taken seemingly forever, but Andriy Shevcheko, barring a failed medical, will rejoin AC Milan tomorrow.

Before Sheva went to play at Chelsea, he was my favourite striker. That changed over the two years he spent at the club. Calling the move to London a disaster is a fitting sport cliché/hyperbole.

I hope that Shevchenko's return to Italy will also mean a return to form.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Read?

Tobias Wolff in the New Yorker

I planned to suggest reading Tobias Wolff's short story, "Awake," in this week's New Yorker.

Hell, it's only three pages and takes at most 10 minutes to get through. I know 'cause I read it.

I planned to suggest reading it, but it's nothing special. Maybe if you're interested in reading a writer who can be incredible serve a story that is far from it, then you should read it.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Media

A Smart Group of People

From an interview between Ken Silverstein and Chris Lehman:

1. I've seen many recent headlines about the alleged "feverish speculation" about who the vice presidential nominees are going to be. Is the public really all that interested in these sorts of campaign issues at this point, or is the fever largely confined to the media?

The reporters and editors who are composing these inane pieces are pretty much talking to each other. I saw a Washington Post headline the other day, "Who's No. 2? Obama Keeps Everybody Guessing." No—the "everybody" in that construction is you. Imagine if you were covering the baseball playoffs and you wrote that there was massive speculation about who was going to win. It's manifestly moronic because you're writing about a scheduled event that is going to take place on a known timeline. You're contributing nothing. It's the opposite of news; any useful public information is entirely missing. But that's the way the press bubble operates. Not only do reporters write about what they're talking about, but they're writing about each other. Notice the passive construction in these stories about "rampant speculation" and ask yourself, "Who's doing the speculating?" It's the reporters who are; most voters, being sane people, might think about it for a second but then they move on to the next thing in their day.

The rest here.


Michael Chabon

Q&A With the Author

Up on the Hero Complex blog is an extended version of a Q&A Scott Timberg had with novelist Michael Chabon:

Timberg asked Chabon what the consequences were of this bias against genre, and the author responded via e-mail with this:

I think the worst consequences are:

1) Wonderful, serious, sophisticated writers who would appeal to a broader audience get stuck in the genre ghettos where "mainstream" readers seldom venture.

2) Writers of "mainstream" fiction whose taste as readers runs to genre fiction (SF, horror) feel shy or hesitant about attempting to write what they love, for fear of being dismissed or, perhaps, perceived as dabbling.

3) The range and depth of literary criticism is narrowed and reduced; after nearly 50 years, people are still talking about Kingsley Amis' "New Maps of Hell" as if there were something remarkable in a "serious" critic writing about [science fiction].

4) Less fun is had.

The rest is here.


U.S. Doomed

Does Obama Have a Chance?

From a New York Times article about the U.S. presidential election in a stateside look:

Ivan Stickles, a carpenter, worked on his motorcycle in his driveway in Hopewell. Mr. Stickles, 57, is not taking what he sees as a gamble on Obama.

"There's this e-mail that he didn't shake hands with the troops," Mr. Stickles said of a rumor that is false. "I don't have the time to check out if it's true, but if it is, it's very offensive."


Comic Movies

A Look At Why Comic Book Movies Are Popular

Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell provide a fantastic dissection of why comic book movies are so damn popular these days:

Not all genres are created equal, and they rise or fall in status. As the Western and the musical fell in the 1970s, the urban crime film, horror, and science-fiction rose. For a long time, it would be unthinkable for an A-list director to do a horror or science-fiction movie, but that changed after Polanski, Kubrick, Ridley Scott, et al. gave those genres a fresh luster just by their participation. More recently, I argue in The Way Hollywood Tells It, the fantasy film arrived as a respectable genre, as measured by box-office receipts, critical respect, and awards. It seems that the sword-and-sorcery movie reached its full rehabilitation when The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King scored its eleven Academy Awards.

The comic-book movie has had a longer slog from the B- and sub-B-regions. Superman, Flash Gordon, and Dick Tracy were all fodder for serials and low-budget fare. Prince Valiant (1954) was the only comics-derived movie of any standing in the 1950s, as I recall, and you can argue that it fitted into a cycle of widescreen costume pictures. (Though it looks like a pretty camp undertaking today.) Much later came revivals of the two most popular superheroes, Superman (1978) and Batman (1989).

The success of the Batman film, which was carefully orchestrated by Warners and its DC comics subsidiary, can be seen as preparing the grounds for today's superhero franchises. The idea was to avoid simply reiterating a series, as the Superman movie did, or mocking it, as the Batman TV show did. The purpose was to "reimagine" the series, to "reboot" it as we now say, the way Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns re-launched the Batman comic. Rebooting modernizes the mythos by reinterpreting it in a thematically serious and graphically daring way.

Read the rest here.



Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Verve Update

Now That I've Listened to Forth...

The Verve's new album, despite the bad review I read last week, is an enjoyable listen. Definitely worth checking out on their MySpace page I linked to below.

Also looking at my post title below, I realize it makes no sense considering there's no "the" in the title of the album. Um, who cares?


The Forth

The Verve's New Album Streaming

I haven't listened yet, but The Verve's new album is streaming on the band's MySpace page this week ahead of its release next Tuesday. Listen here.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Oh, Barcelona

Team Wins; The Film is Good

Before I headed to the theatre last night, I caught the tail end of the Barcelona-Boca Juniors match for the Joan Gamper trophy.

Down 1-0 a minute into penalty time, Barcelona drew even with the Argentinian side. Then it seemed like the match was headed to penalty kicks when Samuel Eto'o scored on a brilliant header ('95) to give Barcelona the win and the trophy. I'm not exaggerating that the finish was fantastic, and Barcelona's website calling the win magical is, despite the stench of sports cliché, apt. (Highlights here.)

After the win, I caught Woody Allen's new film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which is set (duh) in the city named in the title. A very good movie, and one I'd recommend.

And while I'm on this Barcelona theme, in the Times travel section, there's a page 1 story on visiting Catalonia.

(Also from the Times, a profile on The Daily Show and Jon Stewart and a take-down review of James Woods's How Fiction Works.)


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Greedy McCabe

Money First Then a Trade

From TSN:

Bryan McCabe isn't going anywhere – until the Toronto Maple Leafs pay him $2 million in an owed signing bonus on Sept. 1.

I'm not surprised if this is in fact true. However, I'm quite happy McCabe is finally willing to leave. Apparently having the majority of fans hating your guts and management desiring to trade you signalled to McCabe that yes, after all, it's better to leave. One great season, and only disappointment that followed.


Champions League

Barça Starts Strong

While the English Premier League is the first of the top domestic leagues to start its season this weekend, the top European competition continued its early rounds yesterday. This meant Barcelona was in action against Polish champion, Wisla, and crushed them 4-0.

Match report here. Video highlights here.

Wow, a team I support that wins games. Strange feeling.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Looks Worse

The Spirit Gets Uglier

Some footage from The Spirit screened at Comic-con:

When I saw the trailer, I thought this film will be bad and the clip above makes me think the movie will actually be worse.


Monday, August 11, 2008

The Celebrity

This U.S. Election Thing Is Getting Fun


EPL Preview

It's Back...!

While my football club allegiance has moved away from England to Spain, specifically Barcelona*, I'm not the type to ignore England's Premier League, which starts back up this weekend.

Of course it's hard to keep up with all the transfers and changes of the status quo during the off-season. How do I do it other than credit my bizarre, unhealthy football obsession that leads to many hours spent surfing football news pages and listening to football podcasts? Well, I rely on, um, football preview pages. One of the best is the Guardian's, which you may access here.

Thank me now and then later in the season when knowing that Manchester United was awarded more penalties last year will help you predict who the ref favours in the big game.


*I will continue to repeat this until you hate me.

Verve Review

First One on Forth

The Verve, which I saw play Ricoh in May, will release their new album later this month. The Guardian has already reviewed and panned the disc for us in advance:

The opening quartet of songs notwithstanding, this is not so much Forth, and not even Back, but Wobbling Sideways, Downwards. I doubt we'll hear a Fifth.

Okay, yeah, that's only the last sentence from the review, but it sums up the reviewer's feelings well. I, however, will come to the disc with an open mind and most importantly, an open heart. I love these guys, you know.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Kit Intro

Bayern Munich Hires Ottawa Senators P.R. Team to Introduce New Kit