Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stop the mediocrity

Like diarrhea, crap seems to come in waves.

Having seen last night's season premiere of "Heroes", I have officially given up on the series. I am fed up of shouting questions at my television in exasperation. Questions like:

Did Mohinder get his doctoral degree through a correspondence university? What kind of shoddy scientist ignores experimental methodology then is surprised at the negative side effects of injecting oneself with a serum that is completely unpredictable?

Is Mohinder now the Fly or Spider-Man? Will David Cronenberg sue before Marvel does?

Is Maya's short term memory related to her mutation? She has seemingly forgotten the death of her twin brother and hours after running in fear from Mohinder's mad scientist ambitions, she has shirt-ripping sex with him on the lab bench.

Why did Claire choose to stop Sylar as he was leaving only to ask why he did not kill her? In the context of revealing the shocking fact that Claire may be incapable of dying, it makes sense. In the context of giving helpful suggestions to a murderous psycho, not so much.

While I agree that Peter's powers are hindered by a shocking lack of ingenuity, even Peter could imagine using Hiro's powers to slow down time in order to evade Claire's bullet. Yet, this never occurs to Claire. And it must not have occurred to Peter until the last micro-second because he was pleading for his life while staring down the barrel of the gun. Working in the writers' favour: this proves that the characters share genes.

What part of the bible says that angels need to work in secret? Tell me, Nathan Petrelli!

The questions never cease when I watch "Heroes", but I must turn my attention to other news in fandom mediocrity.

In the vaccumn left by the termination of the Harry Potter series, parents will let their kids read anything and kids will look for any excuse to work themselves up into a frenzy at their local Chapters.

The kids apparently really like home schooled wonder, Christopher Paolini's latest derivative fantasy novel and Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn. I'm going to assume that Paolini's book is as crappy as Eragon the movie. For Breaking Dawn, I'll take the word of Marlene Arpe, who I have trusted since her days as a columnist at Eye Weekly. Parents, having your daughters learn that they can find self-esteem through losing their virginity is not the message you want to encourage, no matter how literate they become in the process. I admit that judging material based on second hand testimony is weak but I am also receptive to defensive outrage written in my blog's comments section.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My body betraying me

My vacations are usually the kind of experience that leaves me exhausted and worse for wear. I have eased back since my trip to London, where my non-stop walking left my back so sore that coughing hurt.

Regardless of my increased kindness to myself, ever since my return from San Diego and San Francisco (anecdotes to come), I have had a steady stream of health problems. I have forgone a visit the doctor in every instance, choosing instead to refer to the internet and resort to bed rest. Chris Rock's father would be proud, if I did not live in the land of universal health care, in which case he would probably call me an idiot.

Common cold - roughly 2 weeks of recovery
Immediately after returning home, I took on the cold from hell. A sore throat quickly became a runny nose, congestion, and extreme fatigue. I amazed myself by sleeping all day, waking up to eat, then returning to bed to pass out for the rest of the night. It looked bad when I called in sick the first day back from vacation, after a civic long weekend, but it couldn't be helped. I was a wreck.

Midsummer's Night Run 15K - one week of recovery
Admittedly, this was self-inflicted; I ran 15 km after four weeks spent running 5 km at most or not running at all due to the cold. Luckily, I suffered nothing more than the usual stiff gait, reminiscent of M. Piedlourde, which amused my co-workers.

Diarrhea - roughly one week of recovery
It was hard to figure out what triggered my problems since I ate many delicious, special occasion foods the Sunday before my bout of diarrhea. I took the Monday off and my co-workers, without a doubt, rolled their eyes. For the next five days, I had the ass that would not quit. After suffering for four days, I referred to the internet, which told me that I should have checked in with a doctor two days earlier. I was also amazed to learn that large amounts of fibre and milk made diarrhea worse. I did not go to a doctor and only ate cheese once before my intestinal tract fully recovered.

Angular Cheilitis - two weeks and counting
What started out as a crack in the corner of my mouth, which I callously picked at, proved to be something more than a one time anomaly when it appeared on the other side of my mouth. I only checked the internet after suffering for a week and found out that I should be moisturizing instead of drying out the problem. The cause is usually a vitamin deficiency but only a blood test can confirm which one. I have accepted that there are mysteries in life that may never be resolved and caked on petroleum jelly.

Undiagnosed back problem - two days and counting
I walked without issue to work yesterday but, by noon, I was hunched over like a crone, unable to stand upright. Sneezing and laughing hurt, which meant that, technically, my co-workers were laughing at me and not with me, as I shuffled around the office. With a week to go before the Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon, I have finally decided to enlist the professional (and costly) help of a chiropractor, which I am scheduled to meet with tomorrow. In the meantime, I have taken another day off from work and thank the stars that I am unionized.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Worst Jedi Ever

Vader: Bow to your master.
Starkiller/Celestial Speedster: Will do! (Joy!)

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is being released today. Oh happy day!

Set between Episode III and IV, this console game focuses on Darth Vader's apprentice, the flamboyantly named Starkiller, and his mission to rid the universe of Jedi.

Having played the demo on the XBox 360, I know that I have found my calling (in my dreams). While Joe enjoyed hacking and slashing with his evil red light sabre, I found it much more efficient to force push people off the edge of a precipice or simply throw something combustible at a milling crowd.

Lego Star Wars was fun but I found myself having to justify my preoccupation over lucre because it is not the "Jedi way". Well, screw the Jedi order; let's kill everyone in creative ways. If Hollywood movies have taught me anything, it is that evil kicks ass in a way good never can.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ready to hibernate...in front of the TV

Torontonians like to complain about six months of winter and how miserable it is. Another way to view winter is to see it as six months of guilt-free indoor activity. The weather is still mild outside but I can't wait for it to get frightful, especially with the TV line up this season.
True Blood
The series was heavily promoted at Comic Con 2008 with massive posters advertising a synthetic blood drink product, a free comic book tied into the main story, and tank tops with 'Fang Banger' printed across the chest. I was ready to write off True Blood thanks to the agressive marketing campaign and my prejudice against vampire stories. But a positive preview of the series in Vogue convinced me that it could appeal to audiences beyond the usual angsy suburban goth tween. Come to think of it, the show's association with HBO and Alan Ball should have clued me in on the hilarity and the nudity. The premiere episode confirmed both. Excellent.

The new J.J. Abrams series is promising because Abrams has decided to produce a show that will not cause its viewers to bleed from the ears while attempting to understand the storyline. I was impressed with the acting and characterizations shown in the pilot even if the plot borrowed too heavily from The X-Files conspiracy bag. Anna Torv was vulnerable yet respectable in her understated depiction of an FBI agent. John Noble played the crazy scientist convincingly while remaining sympathetic. And Joshua Jackson was believable as a grown man. Who knew?

Flashpoint started as a scab to the Writer's Guild of America strike but the show has won my respect for a number of reasons; a solid series that does not hide the fact that it is shot in Toronto (ie CN Tower and TTC are clearly shown, Toronto streets are referred to), with Canadian actors in lead roles (former Headstones frontman, Hugh Dillon and the martian boss from Galaxy Quest, Enrico Colantoni), and a preference for non-violent resolution to every crisis. Finally, a Canadian series with all the positives and none of the cheap lighting and hammy acting (jPod, Sophie, Heartland, fuck CBC Television).

So You Think You Can Dance Canada
Joe and I have been hooked on the American series, So You Think You Can Dance, for the past three seasons. Unfortunately, the premiere episode of the Canadian competition demonstrated the downsides of its location; the famous Canadian reserve means there is less crazy on display during the auditions but also fewer fiery performances. Plus, I hate the host, Leah Miller. She has none of the warmth and social acumen of the American version's host, Cat Deely. I'll keep watching but may well abandon ship if someone doesn't show some unbridled passion soon.

I know very little about Dollhouse since I was shut out from the panel discussion at Comic Con 2008. What got me excited about the show is simply the fact that it reunites Joss Whedon with Eliza Dushku, and features that hunky Canadian actor from Battlestar Galactica. The Whedon magic begins in January 2009, just in time to distract me after the Christmas lights and shopping are done.

And it goes without saying that I will be watching Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Chuck, Dexter and House. So many shows, so little time to build a nest, pack on some pounds and grow a warm coat.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Meanwhile, in Canada

The push towards an, as yet, uncalled federal election is on with the recent surge of Conservative ads. While America gets to enjoy the soap opera of Sarah Palin, we get the comedy of Stephen Harper.

The most recent Conservative strategy is to turn Stephen Harper into a Mother's Day card. Sentimental music plays in the background while Harper prattles on to a mysterious senior citizen couple in a Canadiana living room.

My personal favourite is "Family is everything." Harper tries to make us forget about the robotic handshake he gave his kids a few years back by mustering as much enthusiasm as he is capable of regarding being a parent. Apparently, Harper is out to destroy the outdoorsy stereotype of Canadians by spending recreational time indoors with his kids; they play cards, watch movies and pretend to be the Partridge family.

The kicker is the sense of contented defeatism that ends the ad. Harper's folksy end quote is, "You know, the time is precious but, uh, but it's, uh, being a father is the best experience of my life." Then, "Canada. We're better off with Stephen Harper" flashes on the screen. While Harper tries to convince us (and himself?) how worthwhile fatherhood has been for him, his party touts him as the lesser of two evils. Like if you were given the choice between two STDs, you secretly hope for herpes because you would be better off with it.

Normally, I would look forward to the political satires but can you parody something that is already so clearly a comedy?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Who's the baby daddy?

John McCain's vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin has confirmed that her 17 year old unmarried daughter, Bristol is pregnant.

Palin has indicated that Bristol plans to keep the baby and will also marry the father of the baby. Otherwise, Palin has asked the media to respect the family's privacy on this matter.

Speculation about the identity of the baby daddy has been met with protests that it is "none of our business". On the contrary, I think it is the public's business since Palin decided to make the personal, political - when it benefited her.

Palin was proud to hold up her five children, including a Down Syndrome baby, to the spotlight as proof of her pro-life stance. Now, with Bristol's unexpected pregnancy, Palin reveals that Bristol is ready to follow her mother's political beliefs then retreats to the safety of 'family privacy' before questions become too uncomfortable.

If Palin is going to make a play for one of the most powerful positions in U.S. politics, she should stop acting like a Hollywood star and take the heat. Answer some questions like:
  • Who is Bristol's baby daddy?
  • Was Palin too busy shooting animals to teach Bristol about abstinence?
  • Will Bristol have to stay married for at least one term if Palin becomes Vice President?
Answers to these questions are as important as Palin's Down syndrome baby, family values and rifle collection. The unwashed masses want to know more!