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 clich├ęd 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$,,,,,,,,,,.