Monday, November 30, 2009

New Moon: sparkling young flesh on parade

New Moon was number one at the box office for a second week in a row and I kind of contributed to that. Technically, I did not pay to see the movie since a friend kindly provided a movie pass but I was in the audience, and, boy, did I have a good time! I laughed until I cried.

I had fears for my safety when I saw the pack of tween girls unloading from a stretch limo outside the cinema but the 9:30pm showing proved to be the smart choice. Half the audience in attendance were also treating the movie as a comedy, including a group who cackled loudly even when the only thing on screen was a character standing in a field, while the other half were probably fans of the series who were too ashamed to express outrage. Nevertheless, we sat in the back row to prevent anonymous vigilante justice from coming down on our heads.

Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) continues to be the worst literary role model for young girls as she spends the whole movie either pining after pedophile vampire, Edward (Robert Pattinson), or sending mixed messages to underage werewolf, Jacob (Taylor Lautner). Ageism is added to Bella's many neuroses on her 18th birthday as she expresses fear of looking like a "grandma" to the perpetual 17 year old, Edward or acting the "cougar" to the 16 year old Jacob.

New Moon takes any cheap opportunity to have an overly ripe Lautner parade around topless: a cut to the head, a heavy rain shower, joining a pack of werewolves. The fact that the movie sexually objectifies men would be refreshing if Lautner was not truly 16 years old, thereby making any viewer over the age of 19 feel like a pedophile. The alternative is Pattinson, a safe 23 years old, but whose skinny, pale chest drew sounds of pity rather than desire from the audience.

I will admit that the bigger budget is reflected in a better looking movie, but more importantly, New Moon exceeded my expectations, which after the first movie, were quite high. The second installment delivers all the inane conversation and psychotic wish fulfillment of the first one but adds young flesh and romantic suicide to its list of goodies. How can anyone hate this series?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Better than Christmas

The One of a Kind Christmas Show and Sale starts today and runs until December 6.

My response towards this event has been muted because the recent acquisition of a house means I won't be able to run around the Show like a kid on Christmas morning. I have decided to go to the Show anyways but have already demonstrated more restraint than usual by choosing to leave work early instead of taking the day off. The prospect of being forced to purchase something at the Show both thrills and worries me. If there is no followup to this post, readers can assume that finances have not been 'unexpectedly' diverted.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Home Hardware - fail

As a downtown inhabitant, my reaction towards big box stores tends to be contradictory: I rail against their wasteful parking lots and sometimes shoddy customer service and yet, I plan day trips into the suburbs in order to explore the wide range of products that big box stores offer.

Recently, two fruitless expeditions to Home Hardware reminded me of the frustrating retail status quo that existed before the dominance of the big box stores; you would search for equipment or supplies at your local hardware store only to find out that they did not carry it and could order it in for you with a projected delivery time of a few weeks.

I found out that an item that we needed was on sale in the Home Hardware flyer (priced at less than $20). I took the flyer with me to Wiener's Home Hardware (432 Bloor St W, Toronto), and was told that they did not carry the item, but they offered to order it in for me. I turned down the offer, assuming that I could easily find the item at another store. I then went to the College Home Hardware (306 College Street, Toronto) and was again told that they did not carry the item. This time, they did not even bother offering to order it in.

There are still two more Home Hardware stores within walking distance but I am quickly losing patience. It is ridiculous of Home Hardware to advertise an item that two of their downtown stores do not even carry, and never even considered stocking, if only for the duration of the sale or the holiday season.

In contrast, a recent visit to Lowe's (Warden Ave. & Eglinton Ave. E., Toronto) required a 30 minute bus ride but was made worthwhile by a helpful employee named Mycal who gave us an equivalent product at the sale price when the sale item was out of stock. Wow!

I usually prefer to purchase items in boutiques and smaller stores because they tend to carry unique products and it feels good to support local businesses. However, when it comes to a hardware chain that markets itself as a neighbourhood store and functions just as inefficiently as one, I prefer to put my money in big box stores.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Latest obsession: Dragon Age

BioWare has invested heavily in advertising so chances are, anyone who watches TV has seen the ads for Dragon Age: Origins, which are pretty enticing. However, I remained skeptical because the last time I played a RPG (The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion), I became frustrated by the plodding story line, weak characters, and realistic consequences of being a kleptomaniac.

I started playing Dragon Age: Origins last night and, next thing I knew, it was 2am. Besides looking gorgeous, the game can boast engaging characters - even the minor ones - interesting dialogue, and a well-paced storyline. Touching on a personal pet peeve, the outfits have not been ridiculous, though the hair styles could be improved.

While Joe and I were playing the game, on two separate computers, I noted aloud that it was the first time since September that we were able to completely forget about house related worries. Joe had no response because he was too busy killing darkspawn.

Quick note: I can accept Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as entertainment and I can even understand lining up outside of big box electronic stores the night before the game's release, but who are the idiots who decided to dress up in battle fatigues while waiting outside of Best Buy at Bay and Dundas? Playing at war while Canadian troops are dying overseas is borderline tasteless but dressing up like a soldier to show your enthusiasm for a war game during a time of war is the tipping point. Congratulations, COD cosplayers, you are officially ignorant douches.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Old and hot

Between the declining health of my son (read: cat), Rusty, and the acquisition of a mortgage, I feel the need to focus on silly things so you have been forewarned about this post.

I have been sporadically watching "Battle of the Blades", the CBC competition show that has paired retired NHL players with retired figure skaters. What sounds like a freak show arena has actually been a surprisingly sexy showcase of mature athletes.

For a while, it looked like Tie Domi, the freakiest competitor, would coast through the competition on his hockey skates, having refused to challenge himself by using figure skates like the other competitors. Thankfully, voting viewers came to their senses, and the final three are all deserving of their place. Craig Simpson and Jamie Salé appear to be the front runners due to their combination of good looks and solid performances, thanks to Salé's task master approach. Shae-Lynn Bourne and Claude Lemieux have also demonstrated great chemistry and solid technique.

However, my favourite pair is Marie-France Dubreuil and Stéphane Richer, who were, inexplicably, in danger of being eliminated at the beginning of the series. Dubreuil is unbelievably sensual and she has brought out the romantic side of Richer, resulting in smouldering performances that made me blush at the level of intimacy on display. It has been refreshing to watch sexy men and women in their thirties and forties performing, since the majority of athletic performance and reality television are dedicated to adults barely out of their teens. There is something to be said for mature adults who exude easy confidence, based on experience of both success and failure. Intellectual reasoning aside. when Richer easily lifts Dubreuil's lithe body over his head during a routine, that's hot!

Speaking of old and hot, Viggo Mortensen is doing the press rounds to promote his latest movie, The Road. Joe knew better than to change the channel or distract me when Mortensen was on "The Hour" recently. The actor is a Habs fan, politically aware, and drives himself into Canada to promote his movie. Intellectual reasoning aside, that nude bath house brawl in Eastern Promises was hot!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

My cat, Rusty

My cat, Rusty has been in questionable health this past year, having developed diabetes and the neurological damage that can accompany the disease. When his condition deteriorated rapidly this past week, we rushed him to the vet and was forced to seriously consider euthanasia. The need to make a life decision on the spot was traumatizing, to say the least, and in the end, we decided to take Rusty home in order to make a clear headed decision. Fortunately for us, Rusty appears to be doing better with a higher dose of insulin, as he is eating, sleeping and moving comfortably for the time being.

To say that I was devastated at the prospect of losing Rusty would be an understatement. While I am able to maintain control of my bodily fluids, I thought that I would share what has made the last 14 years with him so enjoyable.

The thought has occurred to me that if Rusty were a human, I would not like him very much. Without a doubt, he is a handsome cat, and he appears to be very aware of it since he maintains his coat impeccably. However, Rusty has a trigger temper and suffers from the absence of a sense of humour, which has often made him a source of amusement. When laughed at, Rusty becomes indignant, lowering his head slightly and pulling back his ears. The next step is for him to stand up slowly and display his body in a threatening manner. It is at this point that I usually smack his bottom, then laugh some more. No matter how many times he has been teased, he always appears shocked to have been insulted this way, his eyes widening and his whole body thrown back slightly. He quickly starts swearing in his own language. It is usually at this point that I have to encourage him to walk it off, before the situation escalates to violence (ie Rusty attacking my ankles).

Rusty's short temper, especially with visitors, is infamous, but few people have been exposed to his gentler qualities. Rusty has always preferred being petted on the head. Though he dislikes having his body touched, he will patiently tolerate it after running to greet you at the front door. His need for dignity and independence should not be confused with an antisocial nature. He enjoys hanging out with people, just out of reach, and will act sulky (ie refuse to greet you or be petted) if he is left alone at home for more than 12 hours.

Rusty was briefly an outdoor cat. In one summer, he brought back two mice and a robin still flapping in his mouth. However, after staying out until 6am one night, my mother vowed never to let him out again. I regret that Rusty did not have a more stimulating life. When he was younger, he was always trying to get someone to play catch with him, dropping a stuffed mouse in front of you and whining about it. However, the activity was always more work than the usual game of catch since you had to both throw and retrieve the mouse; Rusty would only exert enough energy to 'kill it' then position himself expectantly for the next throw.

I took Rusty from a friend's litter at the age of five weeks, and have often taken his presence in my life for granted. Now, as Rusty enters his twilight years, I expect to adopt another cat sometime after he is gone, but I doubt that I will know another like him again.