Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Plagiarism Here

"Liberals accuse Harper of plagiarism"

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?


Celebrity Crap

Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling

And I wonder why I watch less and less TV.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

He's Good

John Kerry Doesn't Stammer on John McCain's Hero Routine



Saturday, September 27, 2008

Milan Derby

Sheva vs. Mourinho

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

What? Huh?

Is This Real?

Watch CBS Videos Online


More Wrestler

New York Mag on The Wrestler

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.
2. Kurt Cobain is a pussy.
3. Marisa Tomei is lookin' good.
4. Nintendo!
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

Hockey Tonight

TSN is Desperate

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.


Yes, Prunes

America and Prunes


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Junot Diaz

Diaz Comes to Toronto; CBC Podcast

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

The Elections

Explaining Interest in the U.S. Election

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?


DK Meaning?

Jonathan Lethem Writes About What The Dark Knight Means

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

DFW Appreciation

On David Foster Wallace

Ed Champion's Reluctant Habits has my DFW appreciation along with many others. It's a great piece, and shows Wallace's reach as a writer of not only compelling fiction but illumination journalism.

Definitely worth a read.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Roth Retires?

Library of America Publishing Schedule Reveals Roth's Retirement?

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

The Wrestler

Darren Aronofsky Talks The Wrestler

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

ACC Renovations

The Air Canada Centre Gets Refreshed

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.

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.
None of these celebrations will include a Stanley Cup victory one.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Dennis Lehane

The Given Day by Lehane

Browse Inside this book
Get 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.)


Kingsley Amis

Kingsley's Granta Letter

Context: "Writing to one of Granta’s first assistant editors in 1979, Amis declined an invitation to appear in the magazine."


Blue Jays

Team Goes On Win Streak, Begins Dreaming

From today's Star:

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.

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.


Calling Bluff

Russia Calls the U.S.'

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

Crazy Miller

Frank Miller Provides Further Proof He Has Lost His Mind

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

Stephenson's Anathem

Michael Dirda Reviews New Sci-Fi Doorstop

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:

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.

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.


Go, Joe

Joe Biden at the Podium

I hope Canadian pols can match these guys.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Bryan McCabe

Leafs Send Him to Florida

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.


Google Chrome

The Best Reason Not To Use It

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

Love Palin

McCain's Veep Pick Looks Worse By the Day

TPM provides a fantastic summary of the Saga of Sarah Palin:

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...
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?