29 July 2009

32 and looking for a parking spot

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Life is like parallel parking.

Sometimes, after circling the block a few times, you find what looks like a pretty good parking space - not ideal, but worth a shot.

Sure, it's not quite big enough, kind of far from the venue, & the silver Audi in front is too far from the curb. And you give it a try, but you just can't quite squeeze in comfortably.

If you're in a hurry you probably just leave it, with your ass-end hanging out. Or you pull out and maneuver yourself in a second time - keeping in mind what experience has taught you; see if you can play the geometry to your advantage and wedge yourself in.

But sometimes you just need to say "actually, this spot sucks," and take off in search of a bigger, better parking spot, closer to where you want to be.

That's what this year is about for me: reparking the car.

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Silent Treatment - short police fiction

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Detective John Thornton pressed his knuckles into the metal table with all of his not-inconsiderable weight, and leaned across the laminated table. ‘You saw something, motherfucker!’ he shouted.

In response, the man narrowed his eyes to focus on the middle distance, and then raised his hands to adjust a pair of invisible binoculars. The policeman struck him. Hard. A moment of shock and pain registered on the man’s plump face; but almost instantly, his implacable smile returned. From his roost in the corner, Inspector Mike Connor raised his eyebrows; he hadn’t seen that knuckle-sided wallop coming. For a man that big, his new partner was surprisingly quick.

Clearly, The Case of the Strangled Statue was taking a heavy toll on the law-enforcement veteran. Sweat stains waxed from his underarms, his thinning hair stuck out at sweaty angles, and his face was an unhealthy variety of purples.

‘If you don’t start talking, I will beat you with a stack of fucking phone books,’ he bellowed, spit flying out of his gaping mouth.

Hippo shrugged and opened an invisible umbrella to shield himself from the spittle. In an instant Connor closed the gap in the narrow room. His hand flashed up, seizing his partner by his meaty wrist.

‘Hold up,’ he growled, ‘Are you crazy? He’s the Mime.’ Hippo looked at them, and held his hands up in a gesture of mock surrender.

Thornton relaxed his fist. He exhaled deeply and stepped back. ‘He knows something,’ he muttered.

Striking a Mime was a definite no-no. Because the municipal accord with the Mime community had surrendered swathes of privilege and power to the Mimes. They were now the single-most powerful special interest group in the city. And Hippo LeBlanc was their leader. If pulling him into custody wasn’t career suicide, then leaving knuckle marks in his face paint sure would finish the job.

Connor pulled his partner into the corner of the room.

‘You’re fucked.’

‘They don’t scare me. Fuck that silent intimidation shit.’ He massaged his right hand.

‘Still. You hit Hippo LeBlanc. That was stupid.’

‘Maybe so,’ his partner agreed, ‘but I am fucking sick of Mimes and Mime bullshit.’

Connor had to agree. While he respected their fluency of movement and admired their poignant ability to wrest emotion out of ordinary moments, he couldn’t stand their heavy-handed intimidation tactics. He knew their reign of silent terror must stop, but he felt powerless to do anything. He felt, in fact, as if he was trapped in a tiny invisible box.

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Etretat Holiday - Review


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How was the weather on our beach holiday?... To give you an idea, here's a list of the films we watched while curled up in bed.

Below is the list of DVDs, and a one sentence synopsis of each film. As you might expect, there are spoilers.
  • Prizzi's Honor: Hitman falls in love with, marries, kills, hitwoman.
  • Does This Mean We're Married?: American stand-up marries then falls in love with artsy Parisien.
  • Far From Heaven: Woman develops feelings for her black gardener in 1950's Hartford. Her husband's gay.
  • Around the World in 80 Days: Unflappable English gentleman bets he can circumnavigate the globe in 80 days, does.
  • The Millionairess: Spoiled bitch marries Gandhi-esque doctor.
  • Run Fat Boy Run: Loser runs a marathon.
  • The Big Sleep: Detective solves a very complicated inter-related web of crimes; the heiresses did it.
  • The Maid: Gordon Gekko moves to Paris, becomes a likable maid and falls in love.
  • A River Runs Through It: Two boys and their father love fly fishing. They grow up and one dies, the other gets old.
  • Bewitched: Remake of the TV show in which they are remaking the TV show. In the end, the movie reality is just like the TV show.
  • What I Should Have Said Was Nothing: Guy tells stories and jokes to an audience.
Most of these films were good and a couple were even great. But that's beside the point: beach holidays aren't really for watching a truckload of movies. That's what happens when Normandy weather and poor planning intersect.

In fact, there was some pleasant weather, and I did manage a dip in the ocean. We also did some driving around the coast and some soaking up of la vie de Normandie, but it just wasn't the beach holiday we were looking for.

Why did we go to Normandy for a beach holiday? I don't have a good answer for that. But I do have a review...

  • Beach Holiday in Normandy: Instead of hanging out at beach, married couple spend most of their time watching films in bed. Some excellent moments, but ultimately unsatisfying.

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    28 July 2009

    Flunky on Film

    Imperfect though it is, the prodigal Flunky took some tentative steps into the limelight of the projector light. And it was good.

    As you may know, my friend Bernardo Camisao (who is a film-maker) and I (who is also a film-maker) have been collaborating on a short black film called Flunky. As the poster suggests, it is darkly humourous.

    The film was screened last night for some of the cast and crew. The event took place at a little bar called The Crazy Donkey.

    This was the first public showing, and it was not the final version. It is by no means perfect - sound quality was bad, sound levels were off, some shots still need to be tightened up etc... But still, after months of hibernation and long hours of editing (on Bernardo's part) we brought our baby out to be inspected and cuddled by some of the family.

    They were pleased and proud, as they rightly should be. We all were.

    And as our little piece of cinema grows up to become a fully grown short film, it develops the trappings of adulthood.

    Where once there was a blog, there is now a website.

    The website, like the film, is also growing and developing. Pounds of respect to Krensky for masterminding and delivering that. We're working on some more stuff for it, so it's a work in progress.

    By the way, he's Australian, but he lives in Toronto now. I hope Toronto makes him feel more welcome than he already does. Do it, T.O., do it.

    And the poster you see above is missing all the credit-y things on the bottom that are part of film posters, but it's still slick as all anything. Creative, representative, and inspired by the film, and striking. The kind of hotness you would expect from Shortcut Kid.

    Expect more news on this project here, and also here.

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    16 July 2009

    Etretat, Normandy, Gentlemen Thieves

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    Saturday Chiara and I will be taking our little car from Brussels, Belgium to Etretat, France. Google says this will take 3 hours and 54 minutes. We'll see about that, Google. We'll see...

    It will be here, in a little cottage in this sleepy village, blocks from these breathtaking cliffs, that we will be relaxing, unwinding and just generally taking it easy.

    There are beaches, pools, cafes, courtyards, and a 10-pin bowling alley where we can while away our seven days.

    Needless to say, this is awesome.

    As a bonus, Etretat is the home of gentleman thief Arsène Lupin, grandfather of popular anime character (and gentleman thief) Lupin III.

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    13 July 2009

    Ryan Millar Skateboarding

    This guy shares my name and love of skateboarding. But this Ryan Millar is from Winnipeg, and rips shit on his skateboard, all over town, all the time. He has a big bag of tricks and a beard. That's how you tell us apart.

    Ledges, mini-ramp, gaps, industrial pipe, dumpsters, you name it, he skates it. Click through for the video.



    Apparently, this Ryan Millar wants a little skateboard sponsorship.

    So c'mon whoever, flow him some decks and stuff.

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    09 July 2009

    Drum Kit T-Shirt

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    Sure, you are often wearing a t-shirt when you rock out. But that's it. That's the extent of your t-shirt's involvement in your rocking.

    Fuck those days - they are over.

    Click through for the video of the electronic drum kit t-shirt in action.



    I suspect the novelty might wear off eventually, but then again, it might not.

    Don't take the chance. And thanks Ben for the tip.

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    New Liberal Arts Coursebook

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    Snarkmarket and Revelator Press have designed a theoretical New Liberal Arts course book. It's a timely idea, extremely well executed. Revelator explains on their blog:

    "New Liberal Arts, a Snarkmarket/Revelator Press collaboration, is the beginning of an attempt to describe topics, disciplines, and methods of inquiry essential to any 21st century education. Ranging from "attention economics" to "video literacy," New Liberal Arts is a glimpse into the course catalog of an idiosyncratic new school — a liberal arts college 2.0."

    I downloaded a copy and suggest you do the same. I loved perusing the proposed topics. It's fascinating and relevant - if you're into having thoughts provoked.

    As a bonus: it's extremely concise; in fact, one of the proposed courses is on brevity.

    If you want to own a hardcopy. Too bad. There were only 200 and they sold out in 8 hours.

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    06 July 2009

    Working Man's Day Off

    Today is my day off and yet I've been at work for over an hour. Did I mention it's my day off? I had the whole morning off, and I ran errands and things, but then I 'had to go into the office', and... here I am.

    Yeah, I'm leaving in a minute, but I'm still here - I've already done the thing I came here to do, and yet, I'm still physically present in the office. Underdressed, but otherwise totally appearing to give a shit.

    And I will totally staple, email, scan, or feign interest in anything you want me to. As long as it happens in the next ten minutes, because then I am out of here. That is your window. Use it or lose it.

    Why did I come in at all? Why do I care?

    I guess it's just that I'm such an awesome person that any corporation, office, organization, company, factory, branch, institution, conglomerate, outpost, or whatever, would be fortunate to call me 'employee'. Although, if this was Starbucks or a Wild West saloon - then you would call me 'Partner'.

    But seriously: don't get hung up on nomenclature, instead get hung up on my selfless dedication and near-constant physical presence in the 'productivity zone'.

    Anyway, my ten minutes is up. Workworld you are welcome.

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    01 July 2009

    Happy Canada Day... or else!

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    Canada is big. And not just geographically - although it does have ten provinces, three territories, and nearly one Alaska. Any way you look at it, it is fucking huge - and definitely not to be fucked with.

    How big is Canada? Canada is so big we need appropriately enormous food, like the gigantic perogy pictured above. This mega-dumpling is in Glendon, Alberta, Canada; a small town with a giant perogy on a giant fork. The rest of the world has zero giant perogies combined, which means: Canada 1, Rest of World 0. This is known as the 'perogy advantage'.

    Not content to rest on this sizable technology gap, Canada has plenty of other massive objects: a huge hockey stick, a colossal coffee pot, an incalculably unwieldy ballcap and so much more.

    Consistent with the expansive Canadian style, the country isn't content with having just one language. It has a proud bilingual history of speaking both a type of English, and something called Québécois - which is French that sounds like it is being spoken by a cartoon pirate. These swashbuckling buccaneers of yesteryear captured ships on the world's waterways. Nowadays, pirates focus on Somalia. It is even more dangerous there than Canada.

    Barely.

    Speaking of waterways, Canada has more lakes than any other country. Some of them are so great that they are universally known as "Great Lakes." This is yet another reason why Canada is so feared and respected on the world stage. Although Canada is frequently lumped in with America by European and Asian journalists and statisticians, this is just because these pencil-necked sissies fear to stare Canada in her cold, hard face. Canada is the Medusa of nationstates.

    Canada has many nicknames. America's Hat, America's Little Brother, Mexico North, The Great White North and Beavertown are just a few nicknames meant to soften the image of this lunatic land.

    Lunatic? Yes, Canada is so nuts the dollar coin is called the 'loony'. Everybody in Canada calls it that, and nobody cares what you think. The paper money is also out of control. It comes in all kinds of crazy colors; a veritable rainbow of who-gives-a-fuck dangerdollars.

    When people think of Canada they often think of ominous mountain peaks, sinister evergreens, or the deadly beaver, Canada's national symbol. Canada chose this industrious and fearsome rodent as fair warning to other countries.

    Until people were worried about angering Canada, "You mess with the beaver, you're gonna get the teeth," was a common expression in many other weaker countries.

    Today is Canada Day. You better start celebrating - if you want to live to see tomorrow.

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