Wednesday, December 31, 2003

LOTR: Finally King, Still Brooding ('cause it's sexy)

I sat in a theatre full of Ring-Nutters a couple of weeks ago (at midnight) to watch the final installment of the LOTR saga. To make matters worse, I was surrounded by LARPers. (Un)Forunately, none of us decided to show up with our boffo weapons.

ROTK was great fun and very satisfying, but I still fell asleep in parts. I've managed to fall asleep in all three films, not because it's boring, but three hours is a long time to be watching any film. Fortunately, Rodrigo was able to jolt me awake before my snoring became a problem.

But in the interests of taking advantage of ROTK fever, I present to you this list of things to do while watching the movie. Thanks be to ShakeyLegs (pronounced "Me-Shell") for providing this list (although he's not really sure where it came from originally either).

Tips for watching LOTR, Return of the King

1. Stand up halfway through the movie and yell loudly, "Wait... where the hell is Harry Potter?"
2. Block the entrance to the theater while screaming: "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" - After the movie, say "Lucas could have done it better."
3. At some point during the movie, stand up and shout: "I must go! Middle Earth needs me!" and run and try to jump into the screen. After bouncing off, return quietly to your seat.
4. Play a drinking game where you have to take a sip every time someone says: "The Ring."
5. Point and laugh whenever someone dies.
6. Ask the nearest ring-nut if he thinks Gandalf went to Hogwarts
7. Finish off every one of Elrond's lines with "Mr. Anderson."
8. When Aragorn is crowned king, stand up and at the top of your lungs sing, "And I did it.... MY way...!"
9. At the end, complain that Gollum was offensive to Ethiopians
10. Talk like Gollum all through the movie. At the end, bite off someone's finger and fall down the stairs.
11. When Shelob appears, pinch the guy in front of you on the back of the neck.
12. Dress up as old ladies and reenact "The Battle of Helms Deep" Monty Python style.
13. When Denethor lights the fire, shout "Barbecue!"
14. Ask people around you who they think is the next "Terminator" sent from the Middle Earth of the future to assassinate Frodo Baggins
15. In TTT when the Ents decide to march to war, stand up and shout "RUN FOREST, RUN!"
16. Every time someone kills an Orc, yell: "That's what I'm Tolkien about!" See how long it takes before you get kicked out of the theatre.
17. During a wide shot of a battle, inquire, "Where's Waldo?"
18. Talk loudly about how you heard that there is a single frame of a nude Elf hidden somewhere in the movie.
19. Start an Orc sing-a-long.
20. Come to the premiere dressed as Frankenfurter and wander around looking terribly confused.
21. When you see Sauron's eye, stand up and yell, "It looks like a flaming vagina. I hear penecillin is good for that".

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Monster Tunes

Thanks be to Deniz for this charming little ditty sung by monsters about the Internet. She found an MP3 of a song taken from a broadway musical called Avenue Q.

After searching for a bit, I found video clips to go with the mp3 she found (song entitled "Internet is for Porn"). Don't worry... these video clips are entirely work-safe since they only feature the puppets and their puppeteers.

After the Simpsons broke down the cartoons-only-for-kids barrier, the next logical step would be to have cute and cuddly puppets singing about contemporary issues.

I've had the "Internet is for Porn" ditty in my head all day. Not that I'm into that kind of thing... *cough*

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Back Home Again

Made it back to Montreal without incident. The house is still standing and the cat is relieved to have me back (more food!). For some reason, I was really worried about being away from my new house over the holidays. I guess I'm not quite settled and comfortable in my new surroundings.

This year, Holiday Loot from my family included a new biz suit, some matching shirts, dress pants, and new spit-shine shoes. I also got a set of matching oven mittens from my sister and a chinese tea set from my Dad. I got my Dad a bottle of my favorite Porto (Taylor Fladgate), I got my mum some body lotions and bath salts, and I got my sis the Norah Jones DVD/CD set.

My sis and I also got Mum three sessions at the local spa and we got Dad a laser-guided Stud Finder (sorry ladies, it's not what you think, although the detector kept activating every time I held it).

I also managed to get my hands on a Folding Corona, which was an antique that my mum has been hoarding for years. The Folding Corona is a portable typewriter, patented June 1917, that folds upon itself for easy carrying. You can think about it being the first generation laptop. Considering my chosen profession, I think it's a beautiful antique. Whenever I look at it, I keep imagining myself as a bustling reporter, fedora pushed back, furiously typing away at my next article.

It belonged to her grandmother, but she's been keeping it in a bag in the washing room for years. After years of begging for it, she finally let me take it. When I get my new set of shelves for the living room, it will sit on display for all to see.

When I moved into the new apartment, I discovered an old Underwood typewriter in one of the cupboards. I'll probably put that one somewhere else on display to offset the Corona.

And I have yet to find a proper place for my antique detonator. What to do, what to do...

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Speaking of which...

Here's my list for the season. Depending on who you ask, I either deserve everything on this list or nothing on this list except a boot to the head. You just can't please everyone...

1. Everything on my Amazon Wish List.
2. A kilt with the family tartan (Irish).
3. Anything from here.
4. My own wand from Ollavanders.
5. A date with Drew Barrymore that involves a top hat, a swing band, and digital camera (with batteries that don't give out at a critical juncture).
6. A better digital camera (like this one).
7. Many new contracts in 2004.
8. More storytelling gigs that have me travelling around the planet.
9. An animation cel from "Hillbilly Hare" signed by Chuck Jones.
10. I always need more bookcases.
11. Some wheels would be nice (of either the four-wheel or two-wheel variety (like this or this), or both).
12. A box of Smurfs and a mallet.
13. A round trip ticket to Ireland, Alberta, New Orleans, Scotland, Halifax, or Whistler (for the skiing).
14. A strengthening of faith through personal experiences and acquired knowledge.
15. More focus.
16. More discipline.
17. Less despair.
18. Less fear.
19. More achievements.
20. Fewer disappointments (for myself and from others).
21. A completed first draft of *any* of the various novels, plays, or screen plays I`ve started.
22. More time with my friends and loved ones.
23. A Fabrege egg ("I'll tell you when I've had enough, dammit!").
24. A Folding Corona (My mum has one and I'm currently negotiating its release).
25. An evening of pints with you.

Yule has come and gone, but there are plenty of festive opportunities for you to show me how much you care. So get cracking. Nobody likes an underachiever, especially when it involves my holiday loot.

Then again, who needs a festive occasion? Just give... you'll feel better.
The Adventures of Oblvio

I was running errands yesterday in town and I was searching for a place to park. Middle of the day, not good. I drove up an alleyway and noticed some parking spaces, so I immediately took one. I got out and started making my way down the icey alleyway towards the street. The last thing I saw was a fella in the Copie Express standing in the window on the phone.

About 15 feet from the truck, both feet started sliding forward and completely slid away from me. It was one of those classic vertical to horzontal exchanges that ended with me smacking down hard upon ice and pavement, knocking the breath from my body and having my noggin' bounce solidly upon the ground.

I could feel the slush seeping instantly into my clothes. I let out a pronounced groan and wrapped my two hands around my head, trying to keep my brain from rattling out. I looked over to the Copie Express and I noticed that the guy in the window was gone. I started to pick myself up when I saw him running towards me. I was getting ready for him to offer to help me up when he stopped short and said "Are you going to the Copie Express?"

*blink* Surprised, I turned on my side and looked at him, as if reclining on a sofa. "Er... No."

"Then move your truck. You're parking in my lot." He pointed to a sign I had not noticed before that read Reserved for Clients of Copie Express.

"S-Sorry," I stammered standing up finally, clothes soaked and head aching. "I'll move it right away."

"Thanks. Happy Holidays!" With a flourish, Oblvio the Copy Guy whirled around and disappeared. Sighing, I found another parking space and got on with my day.

I can see how people can get cynical when you get exposed to folks like this. As usual, I struggle against being like that. I fed a few expired parking meters that day and felt better.

But if this guy ever ends up stranded on the side of the highway, I hope it takes a few hours before someone stops to help him. But knowing how the Gods enjoy mocking me, I'll probably be the one who pulls over and helps him change his tire. They really think stuff like that is funny.

Chortle chortle.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Thoughts, Actions, and Years

Today is Yule (aka the Winter Solstice): it's the longest night of the year and after this (although we may not really notice it when we're freezing our keisters off in February), the days will be gettting longer until the end of June (the Summer Solstice). I'll be lighting candles tonight and thinking about the opportunities coming up in 2004.

The year is showing much promise, but I need to have the courage to step forward and grasp the opportunities that are presented. My company is doing relatively well and there have been a few leads I need to follow-up in January. It's scary, it's formidable, but I won't get anywhere if I back away.

I also predict it'll be a big year in the storytelling circles. I've got a few festivals coming up, the Montreal Fringe Festival in the summer, and a project that might have me teling stories in schools a few times a month. I think if I could be making a living out of telling stories and writing, that would be great.

It's amazing to me how clarity comes to you when someone asks you a simple question. I was at a Yule ritual yesterday when the group was asked to talk about what Yule meant to them. While I was waiting for the chance to speak, I thought about the new year, the birth of the Sun God (days getting longer), of untold potential being actualized through birth.

When it was my time to speak, I spoke of how at Samhain (Halloween), we think about loved ones who have passed on. It's a transitory time when we let go of the things we no longer need or want and refocus our energy towards the things we do need or want. With the arrival of Yule, it can be a time when you start to transform thoughts into action to get those things you want or need. Normally, the results of these actions take some time before they can yield results, but by keeping the momentum going, you might start getting results by the spring.

This might sound all flakey-granola to some of you, but I'm betting you're already going through the same process. After the Halloween decorations were put away, the Christmas decorations started appearing in the stores and you started looking foward to (or in dread of) the upcoming Holidays. And with the thought of the Holidays comes New Year's Eve and the dreaded New Year's Eve resolution. You become a bit introspective, looking at yourself and thinking about the bad habits you don't want, the new habits you should be picking up, and the New Year's Eve resolution you'll take. Normally, this resolution gets put into motion on January 1st. I've noticed that the make-or-break time for these resolutions is about two months, which leads us to March (pretty much the beginning of spring).

It doesn't sound that different, does it? Tom-eh-to, Tom-ah-to.

I wish you all a happy, safe, and prosperous holiday, however you choose to mark it. You're all in my thoughts and I'll be raising a glass in your honour. Overall, it's been a good year and I'm grateful that I was able to spend some of it with all of you.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Hope you're Happy Now Tristan

Tristan, a recent immigrant to Montreal sidewalks, has been complaining to me for the past few weeks that we've not been getting the snow he expected from Canadian weather. Until last night, everyone else around us seemed to be getting hit with snow, but Montreal was remaining relatively unshovelled.

I wish I could've see Tristan and Iseult's faces this morning when they looked outside and saw the street completed blanketed in white. The pic on the right is what I saw when I opened the door to the front balcony to shovel it off this morning.

It reminds me of growing up in Quebec city, getting that first big snowfall, having to dig out the front door. At night, I'd wake-up to see my bedroom filled with pulsating yellow light, hearing the beep-beep-beep of the passing snowblowers, and then not being able to see the street from my bedroom because of the eight-foot high snowbanks.

I heard on the radio this morning that six morons took their skidoos for a joyride from the south shore, across the bridge, and down on Crescent street (one was caught, four others got away).

Actually, I can't say I blame them. That sounded like fun. That first big snow will do that to people. How do you celebrate the first big snow?

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Storytelling: The Next Big Break

Onto happier news: I got word of this last week, but after a brief phone call with Mainline Theatre, it's been confirmed.

Yours truly, along with my storytelling partner Zimmerman, will be in the Montreal Fringe Festival in 2004 (June 10th to 20th).

I submitted two proposals to the Fringe Festival: a two-man storytelling show (which Zimmerman and I performed in Ottawa a few weeks back) called Jack Goes A-Wanderin' and a solo storytelling show called Thieves, Wizards, Tricksters, and Other Scoundrels. The two-man show was accepted and confirmed, while the solo show is number 4 on the waiting list (which means it is very likely to be performed in the end).

This will be my second Fringe Festival, having acted in a show a few years ago as a slimey life-insurance salesman (is there any other kind?). But this is quite a feather in my cap as a storyteller. Woohoo!

My friend Esmerata has agreed to be our producer for these two shows, so we're supposed to get together in the new year to discuss the shows and see if there are any changes we'd need (costumes, lights, music, sound, make-up, SFX, etc.).

Very exciting.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Gender Profiling

I was working this morning, listening to CHOM on the radio, when the following ad from Kids Help Phone came on and disturbed me greatly:
    I am a wall. I can't speak, but if I could, I would tell you stories. About what happens when Lisa goes to bed at night. About how her father touches her. About how she cries herself to sleep every night. I am a wall. I can't speak, but if I could, I would scream.

I am disturbed by this ad, but maybe not for the reasons you would think. Of course, child molestation is a horrible crime, but what's worse is how this ad, and hundreds more like it, portray fathers (and men) to be Ticking Time Bombs of Perversion and Evil, just waiting to go off.

I used to do volunteer work with children a few years ago (in the Scouting movement). I had to stop because my work schedule got too crazy for me to continue, but there was another level of me being tired of being looked at cross-ways because I was a single man, no kids, and I was volunteering my time to be with kids.

To make matters worse, I was a leader in the French Girl Guide system (in Quebec, men are allowed to be leaders in all girl groups, as opposed to Girl Guides of Canada which strictly prohibits this). I once told a guy from BC that I was a Girl Guide leader and, shocked, he said "If you did tried that in BC, they'd hang you from the nearest tree."

How are men supposed to feel good about themselves when they are constantly being viewed with suspiscion? The media bombards us with these images constantly: men being violent, men being perverted, men being evil. In a world where racial stereptyping in media is wrong, why is it okay to vilify men?

I know what you're going to say: statistically, when it comes to child molestation, men are supposedly more likely to commit these crimes than women. A friend of mine once told me that it would be impossible for a mother to molest her child, but with fathers, it was far more likely. She was shocked to learn later that there are a growing number of female pedophiles in the world (about a third of all reported cases in a year).

However, this doesn't get reflected in the media. I'm not saying that women should be vilified as much as men in these arenas to provide a balanced view, but the negative portrayal of men to call attention to an issue does as much damage in other areas as it strikes a chord in the targetted arena.

In terms of cultural and media perception, intimacy between and adult male and a minor female is seen as a crime while the same between an adult female and a minor male is seen as a Right of Passage.

I caught a blatant example of this while watching a rap video that had a 14 year old boy sitting on a couch with two late-20s bombshell women on either side of him playing with his hair and caressing him lovingly. This seemed to be a perfectly acceptable image to broadcast, but if the roles were reversed (a 14 year old girl with two adult men), that would be highly offensive.

I realize this whole issue is an extreme reaction to a once overly-patriarchal world, but while I believe that equality of the sexes is a goal worthy of pursuit, the vilification of men in our culture and media cannot be the answer.

It's yet another phase we've gone through in our societal development, but now it has to stop. The overwhelming majority of men are good fathers, good husbands, good people. Making sweeping statements on a group of people based on a couple of bad eggs has never done anything constructive for anyone.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

The Big Move: It's over

The move finally took 5.5 hours to complete and the movers were an hour late (the truck didn't start this morning due to the cold, so they say). Almost everything was moved into my new apartment. I went back to pick up something and noticed that the microwave is still sitting on top of the fridge. Drat. Oh well... I intend to go back in a couple of days to finish cleaning up... I'll just need to pick that up and take it with me.

Now I've found that Drew, in her Good Samaritan Zeal, put my toothbrush and razor in the medicine cabinet and failed to mention that to me. Must add that to the list.

And I can't find my sleeping bag. It must still be in the closet. Drat.

Wouldn't it be funny if I went back to my old apartment and found everything still there it their original positions? Then Rod Serling would step out of the hall closet and I would punch him in the head. Or at least slap him around a little, just for kicks.

I like my new pad. I'll like it even more when I find everything I packed up.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Moving and Hyperventilating

In the past 15 years, I think I've changed address about nine times. So far, I've spent the last 5.5 years in NDG.

Everytime I move though, there's a great dumping of stuff. I take the opportunity to rid myself of junk I've been accumulating over the years. I'm definitely a bit of a packrat, but when it comes to moving out, I don't have trouble throwing things out.

Rodrigo and Prost came by yesterday to help me pack my dishes and other breakables. Rodrigo remarked "Y'know... moving is a great time to lose stuff. How about leaving these (he pointed to some decorative bottles) behind?"

"The bottles? I can't! I know they're pretty ugly, but they belonged to my grandmother!"

"Okay... what about that?"

"My crank-record player? No! It's an antique and it still works!" I have loads of 78s I've picked up over the years, but I only play them once in awhile.

"Sigh... How about this?"

"I'll have you know that that camera was given to my father when he was 17 years old!"

Rodrigo then gave up and went back to wrapping the bottles. It was just then that I pictured my grave site. I would probably have to be half-an-acre in size so that I can take all my stuff with me.

So I'm still packing today in preparation for the hired goons who are coming tomorrow morning. I'm filled with a horrible dread though, like I won't be ready in time. I'm feeling faint from the panicked hyperventilation.

One more box... just one more box... Focus on the new place... One more box....