Friday, December 30, 2005

Maclean's: Lions and Tigers and Bears!

I recently picked up a copy of Maclean's, Canada's weekly news magazine since 1905. I must admit that it's been a while since I've picked Maclean's up so what I found was alarming. What was once a stodgy but solid publication has taken a decidedly sensationalist turn. It's like calling out an old friend who used to be a Latin professor and meeting up with a drunken frat boy instead.

Recent cover headlines include:

  • America is thirsty: Let's sell them our water before they take it.
  • Elisha Cuthbert: Puck-Bunny Blogger
  • Svend Him Packing: Will the voters of Vancouver Centre please do the rest of Canada a favour? (an article on Svend Robinson)
  • The Real Stephen Harper: He's known as icy and inflexible. Up close, he's anything but.
  • What's Not to Love?: A grassroots defence of the much hated retailer. (an article on Wal-Mart)

The fear mongering, flippant mysogyny, boldly aired political slant and fervent defence of the status quo are usually the hallmarks of American news networks like Fox News. So, it was surprising to see the venerable Maclean's become equally undignified and bombastic. I puzzled over the change until I looked over the masthead and it all became clear: Kenneth Whyte, Editor-in-Chief.

Ken Whyte, former Editor-in-Chief of The National Post, has brought his "sex and violence sells" strategy to Maclean's, and the results can be unintentionally comical. My personal favourite: "Activists defend them, but the first fatal attack in 100 years shows wolves aren't so cuddly after all." Oh my!

Ken Whyte has never learned that desperately screaming for attention by appealing to the lowest common denominator is cheap. With his strategy in mind, I would like to suggest that Ken Whyte report a rise in the homeless cannibalizing white babies, yet another scientific study that suggests women are genetically incapable of becoming leaders, present an exclusive scoop on Jack Layton's secret crush on and acquiescence to Stephen Harper, and list the upsides to being a 12 year old working for Nike.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The road to success (paved in chocolate)

Put down that fork. Spit up that turkey. Christmas may be just around the corner but New Year's Day is just down the street. And 2006 is staring straight at your paunch.

Like 99.9% of the population (remaining .1% being people who are foolish enough to "love themselves just as they are"), I will make the traditional vow to lose weight. And this year, I mean what I vow.

The difference in 2006 are key motivating points:
  1. After years of dubious dieting and borderline eating disorders - all rites of womanhood, I think I have finally figured out the magic formula: eating in moderation and exercise. And if that doesn't work, I plan to combine this magic formula with gimmicks like Trimspa and the Weight Watchers, just in case.
  2. I'm getting older and the metabolism is not getting any faster. Skinnier people than me have gotten fat. That is enough warning for me. There is no need to poke my back fat with a wooden stick.
  3. I will take a cue from reality television and create my own version of The Biggest Loser. Competition and an audience will succeed where self-motivation fails. And in the end, there will be satisfaction in either being skinnier than my competition, or being able to label my competition 'the biggest loser' with group consensus.

Coincidentally, my perpetual rival, Flocons decided to lose weight - in the month of gorging, December. He is the competition that I am aiming for. If all goes according to plan, "RVD4: The Biggest Loser" will play out over the bleak winter months, hopefully curing all spectators of Seasonal Affective Discorder, and in the grand tradition of reality television, make us all better people.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas on fire!

At first glance, it looks like a UFO phenomenon or a house erupting in flames. What you're really looking at is the Christmas spirit, in all its tacky glory. Missing from the photos are a good view of the manger at the top of the driveway, complete with Baby Jesus and company, and the homeowner's shocking electricity bill.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Run away! Run away!

Just saw Aeon Flux. Everything I feared (see December 4 blog) came true. Don't see the movie. I'll just spoil it right here.

Aeon Flux has a sister (!) and Trevor Goodchild has a brother (!). The sister dies and Aeon goes hunting for Trevor, who she thinks is responsible. But the brother is actually the evil one. When Aeon and Trevor meet, they feel an past-life affinity and have sex right away. But of course: everyone is a clone and past lives are infringing on their minds. Trevor has been trying to solve the sterility problem and let nature take it's course. The evil brother wanted to continue cloning at all costs. The dead sister was naturally pregnant and paid the price. In the end, the sister has been recloned, the brother is dead with no plans to reclone, and Aeon has destroyed the cloning machine. Aeon and Trevor then continue the relationship their predecesors once had and walk into the jungle, hand in hand. Clone clone.

The inclusion of a sister and brother are such clumsy attempts to make Aeon and Trevor sympathetic that I'm surprised they didn't add in a trusty dog and a chimp. The whole story is clichéd and the fight sequences are clumsy. The special effects are nothing noteworthy. And the whole movie looks like it was filmed in the financial district on an overcast day. Enough ranting - see blog from December 4 for more on the bastardization of "Aeon Flux", the series. Having seen the movie, all points remain the same.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Great Taste of Friends

My friends and I frequently discuss what it would take to get us to descend into cannibalism. If we were stranded in the Andes mountain by a plane crash like the rugby team in the movie, Alive, we would gladly eat our fallen comrades. If our plane had crashed during the one hour flight between Toronto and Ottawa, we would also resort to cannibalism. Hell, if there was a 15 minute takeoff delay on our flight, we would have started sharpening our butter knives. Clearly, it would not take much for us to become cannibals.

However, we are not so foolhardy as to eat strangers, what with diseases and all. We've always agreed that we would eat our beefy yet wholesome friend, Senan. Senan always laughs goodnaturedly when our hungry gaze turns to him. Clearly, we are joking.

Luckily for Senan and any fellow passengers we might fly with in the future, there is now human flesh alternative. Hufu is "designed to resemble, as humanly possible, the taste and texture of human flesh." Apparently, we taste like sweet beef. The product is vegan/vegetarian friendly, being made from tofu, and was originally intended for anthropology students "hungry for the experience of cannibalism."

In addition to serving "adventure seeking cannibal enthusiasts", the company offers a line of sea mammal meat substitutes and plans on expanding their unusual food products.

I have always found the North American diet of chicken, beef and pork too restrictive. Hufu is truly a product that will delight not only miscellaneous meat connoisseurs like me, but vegans! Noone can possibly find anything wrong with Hufu (actually, there have been complaints of insensitivity towards those who were forced into cannibalism under dire conditions but we won't get into that now).

I can't wait to buy some and shape them into a Senan doppelganger. Mmmmmmm...meaty...

Friday, December 09, 2005

Christmas fog forecasted

Every year, I try so damn hard to get into the holiday spirit and every year, it either ends in failure or it's suddenly January 2.

The failure scenario I blame on my family. As an only child, my parents probably equated Christmas with a big budget Broadway musical playing to an audience of one - a waste of time and money.

Our Christmas tradition consisted of me whining about opening my presents before December 25, and my parents fighting me simply on principle. There was no illusion that Santa Claus existed. Even as a five year old, I would desperately try to fool myself into believing that Santa existed, only to have my parents retort, "Don't be ridiculous. We paid for the presents with our hard earned cash."

As I got older, Christmas simply became a game of matching numbers. If X paid $25 for my gift, could I fool X into thinking I paid the same amount for this $10 jumper? When my money ran out, I carefully inspected gifts of Christmas past, and rewrapped them with fresh wrapping paper for a new, unsuspecting recipient.

This year is shaping up to become a Christmas that sneaks by without notice. It's a mere two weeks before Christmas, I've bought the majority of my Christmas gifts, and I can barely feel Christmas. It would help if radio stations actually played traditional Christmas music instead of painful remixes. And I'm sure I would feel more Christmasy if I wasn't afraid to stuff every fruit cake and gingerbread into my mouth (Christmasy meaning a jelly roll encased in human skin).

I know some people will suggest that I go volunteer at a soup kitchen or buy some toys for needy children to get into the true spirit of Christmas. Those unimaginative people can eat mistletoe. That's a slippery path I'd rather not follow. Next thing you know, three ghosts will be showing me the error of my ways then I'll be hoisting a crippled boy on my shoulder while laughing and crying at the same time (retch retch).

For a few magical years, the latest installment of Lord of Rings brought Christmas cheer to my cold, cold heart. But now, Peter Jackson offers me King Kong. It's just not the same.

PS That's not my Christmas tree in the photo, but it's a good depiction of how I feel right now.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Oh Aeon, I no longer know you

How can I broach this subject without sounding like a geek? I don't think it's possible so I'll just say it: Aeon Flux, the movie, is just a shadow of "Aeon Flux", the animated series.

Ten years ago, Peter Chung created an animated series for adults about Aeon Flux, an amoral secret agent whose love interest and nemesis were one and the same, politician Trevor Goodchild. Plot lines and motives were never clear and Aeon Flux died more than once, but the intrigue, paranoia, violence and sexuality were consistent characteristics of the series.

Ten years later, Hollywood has been mining comic books and the like for ideas. It's easy to see how highly marketable Aeon Flux is; a hot female assassin in a skimpy outfit. But Hollywood appears to have done away with just about everything else that made Aeon Flux different. Admittedly, I base all my malcontent on the trailer so I might well be eating humble pie by next week. For now, I rant.

  • Charlize Theron is beautiful and statuesque but her pale skin and the vulnerable expression on her face kill the character. Charlize apparently drew the line on wearing Aeon's skimpy, binding thongs with thigh-high boots. So, now Aeon Flux wears full body a mime...a deadly mime. All the better to hide Aeon's tanned and sinewy muscles.
  • Trevor Goodchild has also undergone a transformation. Whereas his pale appearance once highlighted him as Aeon's rival and balance, the new version of Trevor Goodchild looks like a European accountant - stylish but boring.
  • Aeon now claims to be a rebel who "fights in the name of the disappearred."It used to be that Aeon's motives were unclear since she was one of the priviledged in a restrictive society and a shitdisturber at the same time. To claim she fought for the oppressed is like forcing Aeon to wear Mother Theresa's sari.
  • Aeon Flux laments with lines like, "I had a life once, now all I have is a mission." In the original series, she seemed pretty happy with her life, whether she was lying around in a skimpy outfit with Trevor Goodchild or trying to kill Trevor. I guess appearances are deceiving.

There have been no press screenings of Aeon Flux, which is usually considered a bad sign in the industry. If I ever get a chance to see Aeon Flux, I'll be sure to write a brief review.

One final note: originally, Aeon Flux was to be portrayed by Michelle Rodriguez, seen in character on the left. The hair looks a little limp but the outfit is definitely correct. Rodriguez's hard edge is probably closer to the character than Charlize Theron's soft touch as well.

Before finding out this little bit of trivia, my friends and I had brainstormed about the best person for Aeon Flux. Weirdly enough, Rodriguez's name had come up, but only as a runner-up to Angelina Jolie. Sadly, having wasted herself as Lara Croft, two cartoon characters may be one too many for Jolie.

Katamari above all else

Acknowledging the problem is the first step to recovery: I'm addicted to We Love Katamari.

It's a PS2 game that involves rolling a sticky ball to collect various items. You start out collecting small items like hair pins and then you're collecting umbrellas, and then people. Soon, you're ravaging whole countries and you're cackling maniacally the whole time. It's funny when the people scream and wave frantically as they get shot into space. You had to be there to understand.

But this insidious game has ruined my life in the past week. I have become seriously sleep deprived and that has lead to a downturn in various other aspects of my life such as the ability to function. As I go about my day, all I can think of is how to collect items faster and all the prizes I could get (like a Giraffe hat or, ooh! a long fake nose!). When customers at work interrupt me from my reveries, I'm snippy - obviously, withdrawal symptoms.

I've taken the first step by admitting to the problem and now, I'm trying to find other outlets to allow for a healthy separation. Like tending to my blog. And writing about We Love Katamari. Sweet, sweet$,,,,,,,,,,.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sayako vs Paris

Two weeks ago, Japanese Princess Sayako gave up her title and all its priviledges to marry a commoner. In a fast tabloid media of misbehaving celebrities without merit, this story has stood out and intrigued me.

In a move reminiscent of Paris Hilton in "The Simple Life", Sayako has decided to leave a life of priviledge to join the common schmuck. She'll be shopping at a grocery store and washing clothes for the first time in her life, at the age of 36.

But unlike Paris, Sayako has made a commitment to commonality for life. From the looks of Sayako, she doesn't seem to hold divorce as a backup.

A crass American journalist has expressed amazement that Sayako would give up being waited hand and foot to serve a Tokyo bureaucrat. In contrast, I am amazed that Sayako has lived quietly for so long within the tight confines of the Imperial family. Weaker willed royals like Princess Stephanie of Monaco have broken out like cold sores, enjoying their money without feeling the responsibility. Sayako's sister-in-law, Crown Princess Masako, a former commoner, was so stressed by the pressures of royal duty that she took a year off from public appearances.

In a time when wealthy American princesses like Paris Hilton can do whatever they feel like without consequence (make a porno video? make a mockery of the working poor? why not?) it is perplexing that similarly wealthy Masako has not rebelled in any obvious way.

Masako has given up her part-time job as an ornithology researcher to become a housewife. Her submissiveness is nothing to aspire to, though it is probably a sensible decision on Masako's part to dedicate herself full-time to the coming culture shock. It is endearing to think of the former princess learning to wield a toilet brush in the privacy of her new one bedroom apartment, and not in the freak show arena of prime time television.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Spot the tragedy

On Sunday, the body of Private Braun Scott Woodfield was returned from Afghanistan to Canada, escorted by a full honour guard. It's a story that has been covered by all the news outlets and I don't understand why.

Aside from the fact that he was serving in Afghanistan and riding an armoured vehicle, Pte. Woodfield essentially died in a car accident. No heroics, no enemy fire, not even friendly fire. There is no depth to this story.

In fact, the story brings to mind other topics and questions:

  • Pte. Woodfield was the eighth Canadian to die in Afghanistan since 2002. How many Afghanistan citizens have died in the same time period?
  • Would Pte. Woodfield have seen more combat action in Toronto this past summer, the setting of unprecedented gun violence, than in Afghanistan?
  • How much notice would the death of Pte. Woodfield have received if his vehicle had swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle and rolled - in, say, Kingston or Petawawa?
  • Does the news service bring Pte. Woodfield's death to our attention because it is the correct thing to do, even if it is not remotely newsworthy?

Feel free to comment.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Nagging and bitching pays off

I have been a member of a car cooperative called Autoshare for over a year now and I have nothing but praise for the organization. It really has been a convenient and cost-effective way of having regular access to a car.

So, I started spreading the word about how great Autoshare is. In part because I really believed what I preached. But also because Autoshare offers a cash-back offer of $50 to you and to every new member who is referred to Authoshare by you.

In the summer, I worked extra hard because Autoshare was having a special: $100 for every new referral. Flocons was a prime candidate for the Autoshare special: he had a new girlfriend, no car, and liked to save money. As his new girlfriend drove him around, I would wag my finger at him while mouthing, "Autoshare." But he remained stubbon. Like a jerk.

Flocons eventually grew a sense of decency and decided to join up with Autoshare...two weeks after the $100 referral rate had expired.
"Well, at least we can each get $50." I said through clenched teeth.
"Well, my girlfriend and I are going sign up as a couple (slightly reduced rate) so we don't need the $50 cash back"
With his girlfriend present as I witness, I couldn't kill him. So, I nagged him to death instead.

Nearly half a year later, my latest Autoshare bill has come in and the fruits of my labour have arrived: a $50 credit. Thanks, Flocons. Thanks alot.

The moral of the story is: don't make me come after you or you'll regret it. Join Autoshare and tell them I sent you (contact me for my membership #).

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Buy Nothing on November 25

Friday November 25, 2005, is Buy Nothing Day. The idea is to show that you have enough strength not to be a consumer for a single day. It's tougher than it sounds.

I plan to take this year's day of anti-consumerism seriously. I have already postponed a planned purchase of a sports bra from Friday to Saturday. In the end, I'm still buying a sport bra, but if enough people postponed their shopping, a blip would appear on the financial records of the retail industry. It's the equivalent of an overly firm handshake, or an uncomfortable silence, or a faint whiff of urine in your order of soup.

For some, politely ignoring the problem is not enough - only shit disturbance will do. AdBusters suggests a few ways to culture-jam. My favourite is:
  • Don lab coats and quietly push empty shopping carts up and down Wal-Mart aisles. Or fill your carts with junk and buy it all."On buy nothing day?" you ask. Yes. Did you know that Walmart has a guaranteed return policy? (under $25.00) Get your refund and start again. And again. And again. The line-ups can get a bit long, but hey, it's a great opportunity to talk with shoppers.

All this before the biggest consumer frenzy of the year. But AdBusters has thought of the holidays, too. They have available for download a Holiday Gift Exemption Voucher from the Buy Nothing Committee, which two people can fill out to make the the exchange of gifts officially void.

I think this takes things a bit too far. It's a thoughtful gesture to exchange gifts, and not all gifts need be bought. For instance, I would like a nice homemade scarf, about 3 feet long, quite wide, not itchy, bright colours (hint hint).

Friday, November 18, 2005

As requested: On my gastrointestinal tract and insomnia

About 15 years ago, my father had his gall stones removed. The experience was a turning point in our household. Before the surgery, my father would eat crap like an average North American. After the surgery, my father passed the fat onto my mom and me instead.

So, I ate TV dinners (for breakfast), fried chicken, and Whoppers, while my father ate brown bread with marmalade, canned beans, and high fibre oatmeal. The high fibre oatmeal was especially important.

Whether the gall stones had come about or not, I figure my dad was bound to become obsessed with fibre eventually. With advancing years comes a hypervigilant attitude towards your health. My obsessive personality has fast-tracked me to an obsession with my colon and my sleep patterns 30 years ahead of schedule.

My fibre obsession started with All Bran cereal bars. They were tasty and portable but provided a mere 4g of fibre per serving. Then came All Bran Strawberry Bites cereal, which looked and tasted delicious, and provided 5g of fibre per serving. One day, the store was out of Strawberry Bites, so I bought All Bran Original, which provides 12g of fibre per serving.

I once scoffed at my uncle, also obsessed with his colon, who claimed to have a bowel movement three times a day. Yet, with 12g of fibre in me, I became a believer. It became a game of numbers: how could I increase my fibre intake? Most recently, I added brown rice to my lunch and it was like a colonic. I have never felt so clean in my life.

Regarding insomnia, I happily admit that I have rarely been afflicted with it. Recent studies claim that 1 in 7 adult Canadians suffer from insomnia. What the studies don't tell you is that the remaining 6 adult Canadians are sleep deprived, and their resulting poor judgements are the stuff of bad days. Because those 6 in 7 adult Canadians choose to watch TV in bed, nurse their caffeine addiction, or stay up late for no reason in particular, they will later cut you off on the road, stand in the middle of the escalator, and fall asleep - either at the wheel of their car or on your shoulder in public transit.

Please, people, get more sleep! That way, you'll be easier to tolerate as I stumble around, groggy and tired.

PS I realize that I wrote about my colon and not my gastrointestinal tract but what do you want? A rambling anecdote or a scientific paper? Come on, people! (I need some sleep)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Anyone? Anyone?

Writing this blog is like writing in my diary...oh wait, I don't have a diary. Is anyone reading/enjoying Xiao Pangzi? What topics would you like me to tackle? What terrible secret would you like me to reveal?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Killing me softly

From time to time, when life gets a little too hectic and stressful, I start craving a steadier life. A life where I work 9 to 5, Mondays to Fridays, get paid an average wage, track my retirement savings, discuss office politics and fixate on paint colour for my new condo.

But it's a slippery slope from living comfortably to having one foot in the grave.

My office co-worker is a mere 22 years old but she might as well be 62 years old and thinking about retirement. Let me run down her life for you and see if you can spot the 22 year old.

Mondays to Fridays:

  • Wake up at 6am, get driven into Toronto by husband then take TTC and arrive at work at 8am.
  • At work, call mom, call brother, call husband, coo at baby niece, call sister-in-law, call husband again, call mom again, dream about trip to the Caribbean, eat lunch, repeat all calls, check prices on trip to Caribbean, eat afternoon snack, get off work at 5pm.
  • Travel by TTC to mom's place, wait for husband then drive back home.
  • Prepare dinner, watch prime time television while doing laundry/preparing lunch/ironing clothes.
  • Do some last minute housework before going to bed.

Saturdays and Sundays:

  • Wake up early to vacuum and dust the house.
  • Go visit parents and various relatives.
  • Help out at in-law's small business.
  • Go shopping at the mall, stock up on miscellaneous sale items.
  • Do some last minute housework before going to bed.

My 22 year old co-worker is content. But as I sit beside her at work, listening to the office radio playing the latest hit single from the latest Canadian Idol winner, I can actually feel myself dying.

The latest Canadian Idol winner is 17 year old Melissa O'Neil (pictured above with boring idiot, Ben Mulroney). She sings about wanting to "run with reckless emotion" while snoring her way through the song. Melissa claims to "feel alive" but she provides the kind of numbness that usually signals the grim reaper.

I have some recommendations for Melissa, my co-worker, or anyone who has become too comfortable:

  • get really drunk - being forced to focus all your fearful concentration on keeping the puke down puts you in "the moment"
  • do something illegal - nothing like the feeling of being chased down by the armed and dangerous to make you feel really alive
  • take on an obsessive hobby - the single minded pursuit of rare collectables, physical exertion or American infidels cuts the fat and turns your life into a refreshingly sharp pin point

Admittedly, any of my recommendations are liable to put you in the grave but at least you fall in kicking and screaming as opposed to being lulled in by Melissa O'Neil, one soft shoe shuffle at a time.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I Love Art

I was walking home one afternoon, saving money on public transit and feeling my Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) when I passed the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (952 Queen West). It was free admission so I went in.

Most of the works on display were interesting enough and I watched a video installation for a good half hour. But at the back of the Museum, I came across the most fantastic bedroom: a queen size bed covered in fake white fur, with a video screen hanging overhead. Weird, robotic ambient music was playing and lighting was provided by a pair of large dangling pods.

I couldn't quite make out what was playing on the video screen because it was aimed towards the occupant of the bed. Then I saw a small sign beside the bed: "Please remove shoes before mounting the bed." My shoes were off in half a second and I made myself comfortable right away.

Rifling around in the fake fur bedspread, I found some remote controls. One controlled the pod lighting, one controlled the massager inside the bed, and one controlled the video screen. The screen displayed other parts of the Museum. With the touch of a button, I was able to manuver the camera and spy on other visitors.

So, there I was, alone in a white bedroom, spread out on fake white shag, enjoying the soothing buzz of an in-bed massager, cackling as I monitored unsuspecting humans. It was one part Howard Hughes/Monty Burns and one part Barberella.

The installation was called Cyborg Living by KC Adams and I'm sorry to report that it ended November 6. I fully intended on returning with someone to join me in bed but things came up and it slipped my mind.

As great as all this sounds, I know people will adamantly argue that Cyborg Living is not art. This small-mindedness regarding the definition of art infuriates me but I will keep my argument short.

When asked to give their definition of art, people usually point to sculpture and painting, preferably depicting something pleasing or at least, easily recognizable. Hence, most people would readily identify the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel as art, for its beauty and its technical excellence. But back when Michelanglo was creating the fresco ceiling, he was not simply creating a pretty picture. His aim was to put people in awe of divinity - to take them out of their short, brutish lives and push the boundaries of their imagination.

I believe that art is about elevating life above monotony and the mundane. In today's fast society, it takes more than an impressive mural on a wall to snap people out of cell phone calls, reality shows, and road rage. Installation art like Cyborg Living did more to take me out of my financial worries and SAD than any pill or shopping spree. I'm still basking in its afterglow.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Hair for the ages

Let me start off by stating that I am excited about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It was my favourite book in the series - so much so that I pretty much abandoned reading the books after that because they just weren't Goblet of Fire.

But I see problems with the movie already: I just can't get past the hair.

Now, I know, kids these days are into the long, messy look of the 1970s and Harry Potter has to look like he's down with the kids. But this is getting ridiculous. Harry is starting to look like 1970s figureskating sweetheart, Dorothy Hamill (see on the left).

Ron is even worst off since the red hair acts like a beacon and everyone will be thinking, "Prince Valiant" (seen on the right), as they gaze in horror.

Styling and wardrobe can make or break a movie. If it reflects the fashions of a particular decade, while aiming to be a film for the ages, the results can be laughable. Doctor Zhivago is a swoon-worthy epic but who really thinks Julie Christie is suffering through the Bolshevik Revolution when she has a 1965 beehive along with frosted eyeshadow?

Let me be the first to predict that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire will not be a classic children's film because your children will find his hair embarrassingly "2005" or whatever derogatory thing kids will say in the future.

Other films that will not outlast their fashion sense:
  • Superman Returns - the 2006 film directed by wardrobe malfunction, Bryan Singer. I've never seen a superhero costume this bad. Go to, look at Photo Gallery of the movie. Prepare to be amazed.
  • X-Men - they avoided the pitfalls of yellow spandex for Wolverine but Jean Grey had possibly the worst dye job in film history (except maybe for Antonio Banderas in Interview with the Vampire) and trendy styling that was very 2000.
  • The Matrix - You thought the black leather trenches and the sunglasses were cool but the sad truth is that they are really a lot of pre-millenial posturing.

Ending on a positive note, films with excellent hair and wardrobe for the ages:

  • Blade Runner - it's definitely a product of the 1980s but the integration of 1930s styling in Sean Young's character was top notch
  • Lord of the Rings - Does Arwen have chunky highlights or Galadriel have high shine lipgloss on? No, they do not.
  • The Princess Bride - Aside from the fact that Fred Savage is a little boy in this film, there is nothing that points to this film's late 1980s origins.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

My time is cheap

The other night, some friends and I saw the movie, Doom. It was pretty craptacular: predictable storyline, stiff acting, passable special effects. It was enjoyable nonetheless for two reasons, because the cheese quotient was quite high, and because we had not paid for it. As the credits rolled, my friends and I were smug with the fact that we had not paid $13.95 each to see such crap.

But what about that 1 hour and 40 minutes we spent watching Doom? Obviously, we were under the assumption that our time was worth less than $9.30 per hour. Shamefully, this is not far from the truth for me.

Other ways in which I save my money by wasting my time:

  • rather than pay $2 for public transit, I will often walk up to 3 hours at a time.
  • I often prepare lunch the night before so that I don't have to buy lunch (for $3.59).
  • I wait for months for a library book rather than buy it from the book store.
  • I save coupons, wait until an item is on sale before I buy it, and do comparison shopping by foot to make sure I get the lowest price
  • I wait until I'm at work to make personal business calls rather than make those calls on my cell phone on my day off
  • I planned my wedding for 12 months before going to the dentist, getting new glasses and massages for free thanks to husband's excellent health plan

Possible future expansion of saving my money while wasting my time:

  • line up for free fruits and vegetables each night in Chinatown
  • line up for free turkey at Honest Ed's around Thanksgiving, freeze parts and eat for months
  • visit running events to obtain free drinks, runner's supplements, and massages
  • join up for time-share information sessions to obtain a free trip to Florida
  • go to jail for free room and board

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Let's have babies (yawn)

Two topics are on my mind lately: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and babies.

As the days get shorter, and what little daylight is hidden by Autumn rain, I have started to feel the onset of SAD. Exercise has fallen by the wayside, chocolate craving has increased, lethargy has set in, feelings that my life is doomed have started occurring on a regular basis.

In other news, a number of my peers have become pregnant. Coincidentally, two articles have appeared in the past week about sleep deprivation in new mothers. Says one Toronto Star article: "Every seasoned parent knows this truth: Once you've had a child, sleep is never the same. Remember those blissful sleep-filled weekends before children? Those 10 to 12 hours of uninterrupted snoozing before getting up at 11 a.m., not a care in the world as you lay around in your pyjamas and read the paper? Those days are history once babies arrive."
And people wonder why the birth rate is going down?

In that poor sleep deprived new mother, I see myself: waking up to another dreary day, feeling like you're not quite awake, a whole new set of responsibilities waiting behind another set of responsibilities.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Happy Birthday Joe!

To celebrate Joe's birthday, I decided to take him to a swanky restaurant called Ultra Supper Club. It occupies the space that used to be Bamboo, on Queen West and Peter. Right up until we arrived, I was lying through my teeth about where we were going:
Me: "We're going to the Train Vietnamese Restaurant! (read: very cheap)"
Joe (pained expression): "Oh, really?" (he's all dressed up)
Me: "Just kidding! How do you feel about Korean BBQ?"
Joe: (pained expression): "Why did I need to dress up for that?"
Me: "Just kidding!"
Joe: (pained expression becoming permanent): "Are we going to The Rivoli?"
Me: (silent pause) "Is that okay?"
Joe: (see above)
When I finally steered him through the hand carved Indian doors, we were both impressed. We were seated at one of the elevated booths overlooking the dining room. The decor was very luxurious and the dim, candle lighting made everyone sexy. By the time the waiter came, money was no object.
Joe ordered us a bottle of Italian Pinot Grigio, which he sampled and declared it to be very complex. I sampled it and declared that it must be good because it didn't make me shudder.
We shared the naughtiest appetizer that I could find: pan seared Quebec foie gras, quail confit, apple buckwheat pancake, with concord grape and ice wine reduction. I have never had foie gras before but enjoyed it so much that I'll be force feeding my cat in the hope of harvesting his liver as a delicacy. (I'm just kidding. Foie gras is a cruel food and you shouldn't support it, even though it is delicious.) (No, really, try not to eat it. See here.)
For the main course, Joe had the grilled rare yellowfin tuna, truffled du puy lentils, with pancetta and cabernet peppercorn glaze. When I had the truffled lentils, I finally understood why French hillbillies were running all over the countryside after their pigs, rutting for truffles. I had the grilled wild boar loin, braised pork belly, shittake mushrooms, with sweet potato-vanilla puree and spicy pineapple tamarind glaze. The pork belly and mushrooms were especially delicious, with layers upon layers of flavour.
And for dessert, Joe had the special, the Ultra Banana Split, which looked more like the miniature of a Cirque du Soleil set. I had the Chocolate Trio: chocolate peanut butter profiterole, ancho chocolate sorbet, and warm chocolate molten cake with godiva cream. Joe enjoyed his dessert so much that he failed to offer me any. Sadly, my dessert was a let down for me, after such a fabulous (and evil) appetizer and dinner.
The waiter was professional yet friendly. He didn't even blink when I got out my camera phone to photograph the experience. ("Put that away!" whispered Joe, slaps phone out of my hand).
After dinner, we walked happily towards the subway, full of rich and expensive food.
Me: "This is nice. We should do this once a month."
Joe: "No, more like once every two months. It was expensive."
Me: "Yes." (downcast look, pout)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Just can't get enough

There are people who carry a life-long passion for a particular activity or hobby. People like Robert "Raven" Kraft from Miami, who has run the exact eight-mile run for 30 years. Or my friend, Yvette, who has done martial arts for almost 20 years. Or, my friend Alex, who has used Macs pretty since they came out, in spite the loss of self-respect.

My sole reliable devotion in life has been to treating hobbies like a cheap Las Vegas buffet. I am a lifelong johnny-come-lately, a jack-of-all-trades, or more accurately, a master of mediocrity. I admire people like "Raven", Yvette and Alex (blame the Mac and not the Mac user), but they don't know what they're missing by not spreading themselves thin.

By being able to claim a passing experience with just about anything, interesting anecdotes are always available for any occasion. Like the time I biked for eight hours straight during my biking phase, or the time I tried to provoke Dolph Lundgren to assault a writer during my stint as an editor, or how about when I skinned a rabbit behind a dumpster during my art student years - all good times sure to bring on a good chuckle and camaraderie.

As well, being a "generalist" keeps people's expectations of you surmountably low. You are constantly viewed as an ingenue in any field. Helpful experts are so busy patting your head or tying your shoe that they barely notice the knife in the back or the kick to the groin. The satisfaction you feel can only be compared in cinematic terms with Darth Vader's offing of Obi Wan Kenobi.

My last great hobby was running a half-marathon, which came about in late September. Having achieved a little bit of success, and beaten my former running mentor, Raymond (Flocons), I was feeling a little lost during my free time. Then I remembered Raymond's blog, Who pissed in your cornflakes?. Blogging has definitely become my latest obsession. Thanks, Raymond!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Lest we forget Robot Jox

It's a great time to be a fangirl/boy. Sci-fi and fantasy films are being produced on a grand scale with big budgets by fine directors, both fanboy (Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, Joss Whedon) and more traditionally dramatic (Christoper Nolan, Ang Lee).

Therefore, it's hard to remember a time when Robot Jox was the norm. Bad dialogue, bad hair, bad acting, and a little bit of nudity - this was the sci-fi film that only hard core fanboys/girls could enjoy. (Indeed, our friend Alex rented this movie. That's right: he paid cold, hard cash for it.)

The story takes place after a World War III, when war has been outlawed. Still, the Cold War is fought out in competitions between huge, man helmed robots. Our studly American hero, Achilles, won his final fight with his Russian arch-nemesis, Alexander, on a technicality. It's a fact that Achilles's genetically enhanced protégé, Athena, is constantly browbeating him about. She's also uptight and attractive, in spite of the rat tail (read: Achilles eventually beds her).

Robot Jox is painfully entertaining. Robotic Athena strips an unconsicous Achilles nude to "examine the physique of a champion" for educational purposes; the hover crafts waver like cardboard boxes on the end of a shoestring; when Achilles is suffering the immense g-forces associated with being launched into space, it looks more like a rocking case of constipation.

I fear the return of Robot Jox when Hollywood finally tires of mining sci-fi and fantasy source material. But I encourage anyone to check out Robot Jox, Mortal Kombat, or Logan's Run. They are like the highly enjoyable near-death experiences that will make your Lord of the Rings and Firefly boxsets feel like an immaculate conception.

Sunday, October 23, 2005 the max! Epilogue

Tony not only lived to see the end of the Niagara Fallsview Casino Half Marathon but accurately predicted his finishing time: 2 hours, 29 minutes, 3 seconds. Definitely an impressive finish for someone who didn't train at all.

Tony made the mistake of starting the race with the elites and burning himself out early, but redeemed himself with the Sprint and Stumble method of running. He was friendly with a pair of ladies for a number of miles before leaving them to eat his dust when the finish line was within sight.

Tony is open to future running-related activities, like a Centurion Marathon - 42 kilometers, 42 shots of beer. In a case of deja vu, Tony's response was, "That's not hard at all." Yesssss! Stay tuned!

Friday, October 21, 2005 the max!

Roughly two years ago, I started running and sadly, five minutes was my absolute limit. At some point, I was fed up of being the runt of the litter, with the litter consisting of a bunch of naturally athletic jocks. Starting in September 2004, I started training for the Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon in September 2005. Hard work overcame a childhood of obesity and a total absence of athletic skill and I finished in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Everyone has been very encouraging and complimentary of what is a respectable time. But I can't help but notice a doubt in their faces. A look that reads: She trips and falls on nothing (all true). She has absolutely no athletic abilities. I could probably do a half-marathon in 2 hours and 15 minutes easy.

Many have thought this, no doubt. But few have been careless enough to voice it. Except my friend, Tony. Tony guestimates that he'll finish the half-marathon in 2 hours and 30 minutes. Tony has only run 1 mile, in under 5 minutes. A half marathon is roughly 13 miles.

This Sunday, we'll be putting theory to practice. I've signed Tony up for the Fallsview Casino Half Marathon, as part of an early Christmas gift. The weather promises to be nippy but the elevation is very forgiving (either level or downhill).

The majority of both stranger and mutual friends have reacted with horror at what is essentially my push to put Tony in a ditch with his pants around his ankles. But, my friend, Yvette totally agrees with me that Tony had it coming.

But you don't know Tony. He's really hardy and stubborn. I'm pretty sure he'll finish and I secretly fear he'll surpass my time.

Stay tuned! Results to come.

PS The accompanying photo is of Roger, runner extraordinaire. He also started running about a year ago and, as you can see, ran the half marathon in 1 hour 42 minutes. I'm pretty sure he has no doubts about beating me. Otherwise, his photo is a non sequitar. I just find it funny.

Down with the kids

It seems that everyone has a blog these days. I have read many a blog and even responded with my two cents once in a while. But I never felt the need to create my own blog, choosing to vent via email instead.

But things change. Work has been kind of slow while internet has remained readily available. Constantly sending random emails about nothing in particular seems intrusive to friends with actual careers.

So, I've decided to join the pop tech bandwagon and start a blog. I'll try to keep the complaining to a minimum. Thank you and come again.