Friday, April 20, 2007

Brits and Bobs in Spring


An Inconvenient Truth
Great, important movie, well delivered, beautifully filmed. The evidence is very clear. No one should argue with the answer. Hot current event rating. Canadian government warning of massive recession (Times Colonist) if we are to meet Kyoto levels versus saving the planet and economic side benefits (Suzuki).

The Matador
Brilliant movie that I missed first and second time around. Lots of layers and perfect timing.

Hot Fuzz
Much anticipated new film from Simon Pegg. I don't think I can wait for this one, solo outing this weekend perhaps. Repeat laughs of the brill Shaun of the Dead.


Back to basics. I'm noticing that there's lots of new music that is doing a pretty good job of putting a fresh coat of third millennium paint on some classic music genres. Some examples: Fratellis (including a T-Rex redo on the Hot Fuzz soundtrack); Christina Aguilera (belting out some 50's big band-like tunes); and pyschedlic era apers like Joss Stone; The Shins, Magic Numbers and and James Morrison. And yes, all of these are on regular rotation and come recommended.

Can't wait for factor: Arctic Monkeys. Next week I think.

Electronic sounds of note: DJ Champion and the new LCD Soundsystem.

Is it me or are the lead singers for the Brit bands sounding more like the guy from the pub than a mid-western neutral sha-la-la voice of the past ? Some examples: The Twang, The Arctic Monkeys, and The Kooks.

For tracks from all these artists, a few surprises, current rotation and some guilty pleasures listen to Replanting the Seeds on tunes by PJMixer.


A good manageable amount of decent TV on these days. New series of Sopranos and Entourage are the big highlights, new finds of 30 Rock, Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares and The Hour are wonderful and crowd favourites like House rock on. Some catching up to do on Like on Mars.


Too early in the NHL playoffs right now for me, but will stock up on beer for later rounds. NBA playoffs start tomorrow for my Raptor lads against sulky Vince Carter. UEFA Champions League semis coming up soon and new home town MLS team Toronto FC off to a tough start (although they just grabbed a few new players, including Danny Dichio). (Quiet mention here that watching all the sports action at home has jumped up a few notches on the entertainment index since I finally got my fab HD TV). Thoughts of golf beginning to take up brain cache.


Look like spring finally has arrived (he says over the cacophony of birds chirping in the background).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A sad day

Could there be a more opposite of themes for consecutive blog posts ? The magic of Disney to the horrific reality of the troubles in the world today. I had debated on delaying the Disney piece and not post on the day after the Virginia Tech tragedy, and wondered what feelings should be the first viewed by regular readers. Perhaps this is the logical sequence. A short lived magical moment cut short by horrors of the modern world. How can you escape back to magical places of peace when your mind is troubled by the craziness in the world or fumbling in the dark for some explanations for what is happening today.

I think it's hard to avoid but one thing struck me as soon as the media learnt the identity of the shooter, he was immediately referred to by his race, Asian. Later on, more details became available - he was from South Korea. A legal resident in the US.

Still puzzling on why this is sticking with me. What does it say about the way we understand and feel towards one another ?

The international media focused very quickly on gun control in the US. I don't think I've heard or read a US news source even mention this yet. The US focus seems to be on the poor security measures at the school.

Will a few days distance on this latest tragedy open up a few more minds to the reasons why a person can so easily end the lives of 32 other people. Isn't there some low level genetic fibre that has hard coded the value of human life into everyone ? If not, maybe we should design and build one.

These are some of my first thoughts I've assembed today and written down. Probably a little raw, but typically the most honest !

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Magic of Disney

A long time overdue, but the fact that our trip to Walt Disney World (WDW) in January is still present in my RAM is a pretty good indication that it's worth writing about.

The adjective that keeps coming to mind that best describes WDW is magical. Disney delivers the experience so well that you can actually forget where you are. A true cure for the constant nag of your Blackberry, the water damage in your 70 year old house, or the untastly thought of facing the Amex bill on your return. This is all possible of course if you can find your inner child and let your imagination have a little bit of an unbridled vacation too.

I'm sure most of you have heard how well designed and managed WDW is. The fact you don't see Disney employees loitering around or moving to and from their stations, how clean the place is, the impeccable timing and ways to make the best of your time, like FastPass. All this contributes to keeping the magic alive. My only complaint really was the difficulty in finding good mid priced grub and perhaps a lack of any convenient nosh when you most need it (which was only really noticeable in the Magic Kingdom). Very good food if you're willing to step up a notch.

You walk around the parks, transplanted into whatever magical fantasy world the Disney imagineers have concocted. Whether it be a western town with an seemingly impromptu sing along with Woody from Toy Story or stepping into 1950's Hollywood at Disney MGM Studios. The atmosphere is also appropriately staged with music and "cast members" who are always in character. The whole meet-your-favourite-character was something quite new for me. I remember having my picture taken with a few classic Disney characters when I visited WDW when I was a child, but timed character appearances, photograph and autograph sessions are now a major feature for young visitors (and some older big kids). The characters now extend to all the classic princesses which of course was a major attraction for my little girl, some of the Pixar creations (you gotta see the green soldiers from Toy Story) and even live-action heroes and villains like Luke and Darth Vader (as Stars Wars is a Disney MGM movie). Part of the game is putting a name to the more unusual characters and finding out that Mary Poppins is quite strict with all little boys and girls. (Even writing this now and stepping into the Disney web site for a few references I can easily get swept away into the magic - it's like a some intoxicating drug without a Jim Morrison soundtrack).

If you just have a brief browse through the Disney web site (if you're patient enough to get some of the latest plug-ins) you'll get a good impression on how good Disney are at creating a magical, imaginary world.

Of course Magic Kingdom was, well, magical, but my movie fan side really liked Disney MGM Studios and the live stunt show was superb. This park has a the full spectrum of old Hollywood with the latest in animation and CG. The park actually hosts active studios and a few animators we met had recently worked on Meet the Robinsons. Sidenote: the new Pixar movie Ratatouille looks a winner for grown ups with all the fine dining references, looking forward to seeing this one. One of the attractions at MGM has to be the quietest place in WDW - a learn to draw studio. We sat thru 3 simultaneous sesssions, luckily getting the chance to draw 3 different classic characters. The sessions were ran by Disney animators - great stuff, my Donald effort is above.

It's easy to pick on the money grabbing big business side of Disney, but seeing some of that old video of Walt and his dream, being entertained by Capt'n Jack (the third Pirates movie is coming out next month), watching your daughter pretend feed spaghetti to her toy Lady at Tony's, coaxing your son on to the fastest ride of his life (Epcot Test Track), giving Baloo a big hug, or being enchanted by Belle, it's a lovely feeling to have. Simply magical.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Another mystery solved

Don't you just love it when you find something you've been looking for. The more important the item, the bigger the joy !

I was about to head to bed when I thought I'd have one more look.

I lost my passport about 3 hours ago.

I did have a backup plan for my visit to US in a few days, but I felt kinda queasy all night wondering where the hell I'd put it.

My logic went something like this...

Check usual place where we keep all of our passports. Not There. Double-check the draw. Think. Check work bag. Double-check. Look for hidden pocket (as this is a new bag). Think. Maybe in unchecked pocket of old bag when I did the bag move a few weeks ago. Not good enough. Need to know where it is now. Check a lot of shelves, nooks, draws. Check usual place again. Take out all the other passports and double check (George Carlin had this great old bit about losing stuff yeah found it first time). Leave it be for a while (knowing backup plan was about 90% foolproof). Still bugging me. Think. Do loop again. Noticed a folder that was in the old bag. Nope. But, the envelope next to it with old receipts that I took from the old bag - jackpot. Logical.

Another mystery solved. Good night.