Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I have no class

Vicki of Of No Import recently did an online quiz called The Classic Dames Test that determined she was Katharine Hepburn thanks to equal parts wit, flair and class. I was not so lucky:

Barbara Stanwyck
You scored 30% grit, 28% wit, 42% flair, and 4% class!

You're a tough dame, a bit of a spitfire, and you can even be a little dangerous, but you do it with such flair that almost all is forgiven (and even when it's not, you're still the most interesting woman in the room). You can be witty and charming, all right, but you have a tough streak that keeps you focused and sometimes deadly. You've had quite a climb to get where you are, but you're a hard worker and you mostly deserve all you get...and then some. You might end up destroying everything around you, but you must admit...you've got style. Your leading men include Henry Fonda, Fred MacMurray, and when you forget yourself, Gary Cooper.

How you compared to other people your age and gender:

  • You scored higher than 83% on grit
  • You scored higher than 63% on flair
  • You scored higher than 42% on wit
  • You scored higher than 0% on class

Friday, January 27, 2006

The many postures of Avril

Avril Lavigne is so easy to attack that it makes me feel lethargic just thinking about her. But, having conquered girl power pseudo-punk, Avril is apparently intent on expanding into fashion and even acting. She is just asking for a cuffing.

When I first heard her career launching first single, "Complicated", I pictured a 20-something coffee shop country singer. I was dumbfounded when I finally saw Avril Lavigne in a music video, acting tough and dressed in the latest punk styles from your neighbourhood mall. There was an amazing disconnection between what was coming out of her mouth (easy listening rock) and how Avril was being marketed (sexy tomboy with attitude). Yet, a lot of people seemed to eat it up, buying her albums and dressing up like her. Musicians seemed eager to write music with her, from hippy dippy Raine Maida to manufactured pop product Kelly Clarkson - the latter was literally shoved aside by Avril before their secretive collaboration.

Recently, Avril appears to have become possessed by the spirit of Stepford. She has started wearing frilly goth dresses and dyed her hair blonde. It became hard to tell her apart from the various other pop princesses she once distanced herself from, although Avril had the Shirley Temple look down better than either Britney or Christina Aguilera. During this phase, I did not see Avril's rendition of rocking out, "Sk8ter Boi", or the angst-ridden "Nobody's Home". I imagine it would have been like Dakota Fanning doing any Good Charlotte song.

The latest development is Avril's entry into high fashion. Avril is featured in the February issue of Harper's Bazaar (pretty photo seen on the left) and attended the Chanel Haute Couture show on Tuesday. She is clearly commited to this new Barbie direction having signed with Ford Models.

One photo that is missing from this blog is of a 13 year old country-loving Avril: afro perm, no makeup and country stylings. I've seen it before but I can't find it in any of the Avril fan sites. It's too bad that Avril's nerdy pre-pubescent self is not embraced by Avril nor her fans because I suspect that it is closer to the true Avril than any of her angry posturing or current elegant preening.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Not bad, not bad at all

Meet your new Prime Minister, Canada: Stephen Harper! But all is not lost. I am breathing a sigh of relief.

Mr. Harper is in power and therefore, accountable for everything his administration does. But, with such a weak hold on power, he really has his hands tied.

Everytime Mr. Harper tries to do something wacky like create a two-tier health care system, or flog the same sex marriage issue like a dead dog, Liberals and NDPs will quickly swarm his head before attacking eachother over Harper's unconsious body. The Bloc Quebecois will simply laugh genially while insisting, "It's not about you, Canada. It's about me. I just need time apart to become a better sovereignty."

Just wait until Harper meets George W. Bush for the first time as Prime Minister! Ha! Hilarity awaits.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Lust for crap

Underworld: Evolution is coming out today and I'm giddy with anticipation. Underworld was absolute crap so I have high hopes for this latest installment in the franchise...let me explain:

About ten years ago, in the throes of teenage angst, I was a big time art film enthusiast. If it had a limited release, or was loved by the critics, or had subtitles, I was all over it. Some of my favourites were Jesus of Montreal, Orlando, and Lilies.

As I get older, I have acquired a taste for blockbusters the way most maturing adults acquire a taste for jazz and old cheeses. Film connoisseurs ask me, "Have you seen Nobody Knows/Russian Ark/Manderlay?" and I retort, "No! Have you seen Underworld/Aeon Flux/Fantastic Four?"

It's not that I've become a total Hollywood enthusiast but there is something fascinating about big budget awfulness that overshadows critically acclaimed dramas just about every time. Recently, I saw Broken Flowers and 2046, and neither of them entertained me as much as The Transporter 2. When the main character flips his car in the air to allow a hanging metal hook to take out a bomb strapped to the bottom of the car, how can Bill Murray's aging lothario beat that? The caddish writer of 2046 may be breaking hearts but The Transporter is breaking people all over Miami.

Underworld will always hold a special place in my heart for featuring a character called Kraven (!!!) who acts like a tight-assed police inspector/college dean of the vampire world, raging with lines like, "You can't do this, Selene. It's against the rules" or "You're out of control!" or something like that.

Another personal favourite is XXX where Vin Diesel does everything short of whipping out his member to show he's 'down with the kids'. Then there are the scenes where uttering "Bitches, come!" prompts a parade of girls to dance happily into a room and an overly ripe woman writhing all over a four poster bed is greeted with "The things I'm going to do for my country" instead of a can of Raid. This is the stuff of dreams.

So, I'll probably see Underworld: Evolution very soon. I enjoy TVO documentaries and CBC radio as much as the next person - probably more than most - but high fibre needs to be supplemented with doughnuts and gravy from time to time.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Fingernails, candles and Firewall

I am still alive and boy, do I feel it. I'm stress out about a fast-approaching deadline on a project, so I'm pretty much sleep-deprived and angry all the time now (it's a vicious cycle).

So, in an attempt to prevent ranting and keep Xiao Pangzi educational, I'll ask for some reader feedback on some questions that have plagued my mind.

1. Why do some men have long fingernails, especially on the pinky finger, or the thumb? When I see that sort of thing on a woman, I attribute it to a fashion trend. It's tacky but understandable. But on men, where's the fashion precedent?

2. What do most people use candles in their bathrooms for? I was always under the delusion that people used candles in the bathroom to create a relaxing ambience for masturbating in the bath. Now I find out that it's even dirtier than I thought: I've been told that candles are used to dissipate fumes after a Number 2. So, all those people I thought were being hippies were really hiding what they had for lunch?

3. Does anyone else get offended when they see movie posters for the new Harrison Ford movie, Firewall? The movie has yet to be released so its exposure to the public is still quite limited but there are a few posters at Bloor Station. The poster features Harrision in the forefront, anxious but ready to save the day. His family, including Virginia Madsen, huddle in the background. Virginia Madsen doesn't get top billing though. Harrison and Paul Bettany are the names listed above the title. Instead, Virginia is reduced to an unidentified "mother of the children". And why is this union even considered normal? Harrison is 64, Virginia is 42. She's considered an older woman in Hollywood but does she have to be a geriatric's love interest?

My apologies, #3 is definitely a rant but I'd like to get some feedback on it anyways.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Tagged: 5 weird things about me

I've been tagged by Dymaxion World and now I need to list five weird things about myself. Never one to refuse the opportunity to talk about myself, I will proceed:
  1. I am the same size now as I was when I was 12 years old. I've been the same size for over 15 years. When I tell people this, they look me up and down and say, "Boy, you were a big 12 year old." Then I shrug nonchalantly and reply, "Well...you're a fatty. So, there!"
  2. I am almost never caffeinated. I rarely drink soft drinks, coffee or tea. This makes me feel superior as I stumble around, babbling incoherently.
  3. I easily make any social situation strained and uncomfortable. This is a result of early social development with inanimate objects in the safety of my bedroom - until the age of 19 when I was released for post-secondary education. At the University of Toronto, I naturally became a fixture at the campus newspaper, The Varsity.
  4. I consistently injure myself in unheroic ways. I've sat on a curling iron, fallen down a flight of stairs, fallen off a bike going at top speed, and tripped and fell on nothing. In each instance, I honestly had noone to blame but myself.
  5. If I don't get enough sleep or enough to eat, I get grumpy. Okay, I've run out of weird facts about myself.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Be still my heart

It's been reported that Jon Stewart of The Daily Show will be hosting the 78th Annual Academy Awards. I am cautiously excited.

Last year's host, Chris Rock, failed mostly because pressure to cater to a family audience and kotow to Hollywood made Rock look like a eunuch. I love Chris Rock and it made me crinch to watch him take drunken swipes at people who are just asking for a beating.

Several years ago, David Letterman's Oscar hosting stint became a showcase of temporary senility. The man whose obvious apathy and disdain for celebrities usually makes for good television was reduced to babbling, "Oprah...Uma...Oprah...Uma" on international television.

The heavy burden of Oscar's self-importance has broken all potential shit-disturbers thus far. The few hosts that have been widely commended on a job well done have been the pleasantly innocuous: Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Whoopi Goldberg.

It would make all my wildest dreams come true to see Jon Stewart spank the Hollywood elite like he spanked Tucker Carlson on that infamous episode of Crossfire. Stewart pissed on guest protocol when he attacked the show, its hosts, and its whole reason for being, while a hapless Carlson begged Stewart to "be funny."

Here's hoping that Stewart doesn't cave under Oscar pressure like so many others.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bob and Judy from Dubai

My friend Flocons recently returned from a trip to China full of stories of exoticism and mystery. I find myself reacting with skepticism. How exotic can China be when just about everyone from Toronto to Moscow has access to a local Chinatown, or at least, a Chinese takeout?

As a country playing catch-up with the United States in fast forward mode, China is becoming increasingly familiar to me. McDonalds, European designer knockoffs, and Hollywood blockbusters are all readily available in major Chinese cities. A booming economy has helped create a Wal-Mart hungry middle class. And even the growing taste for fast food has brought about obese Chinese children that could easily be mistaken for fat little North Americans.

I would argue that exoticism and mystery in 2006 are exemplified by places that do not embrace the West wholeheartedly. Contrast China with a place like the Arabian Penninsula. Within the countries of the Arabian Penninsula are all the modern luxuries that money can buy, but implemented under the watchful gaze of Islamic law.

The Arabian Penninsula is like a black hole that never ceases to fascinate and scare me:
  • In Saudi Aradia, public theatres and cinemas are forbidden. Saudi courts impose capital and corporal punishment including floggings and amputations. In 2002, the Mutaween, or the religious police, prevented schoolgirls from escaping their burning school in Mecca because the girls were not wearing headscarves. Women still cannot drive in Saudi Arabia. Westerners in Saudi Arabia live in armed compounds, under a constant state of vigilance for kidnappers.
  • The Kingdom of Bahrain granted women the right to vote for the first time in 2002. However, women are still expected to cover themselves from head to foot. Michael Jackson now lives in Bahrain.
  • The United Arab Emirates includes the relatively westernized Dubai, which features the Burj al-Arab, a luxury hotel that is reputedly the only 6 star hotel in the world. The helipad at the top of the Burj al-Arab was converted briefly into a tennis court for Andre Agassi and Roger Federer (seen above).

Cat meat openly sold at market and large scale DVD piracy just pale in comparison.