Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I've been slowly making my way through frequent Daily Show contributor and former face of the non-Mac Computer John Hodgman's book, The Area of my Expertise, for an age. It's one of those books containing a number of short articles and random essays, charts and graphs and segments, so easy to be interrupted and then come back to without seeming lost to the flow of the work.

The actual full title of the book is John Hodgman A Professional Writer, In The Areas Of My Expertise Which Include: Matters Historical, Matters Literary, Matters Cryptozoological, Hobo Matters, Food, Drink & cheese (a Kind of Food), Squirrels & Lobsters & Eels, Haircuts, Utopia, What Will Happen in the Future, and Most Other Subjects. So yeah...there's not much more descriptive I can give you that's not in the extended title right there. I can tell you that the text book styled comedic work may just mess up your mind forever to what is actually historical fact in many subjects. It might also cause people nearby to think you are crazy while you laugh in an out loud manner while reading the book while sitting on a bus. I encourage you to take that risk.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Did you know that there are stores where you can go to buy collected articles and pictures printed on shiny paper for your reading enjoyment? That's right, just like stuff you'd look at on the convenience of your computer, tablet or smart-phone screen, but on paper! I made a rare trip out to such an establishment today to exchange legal tender for product to get the latest Entertainment Weekly featuring the 11th Doctor himself, Matt Smith, on it's cover.

I used to read Entertainment Weekly on a fairly frequent basis, then the internet happened and magazines seemed fairly out of place. I've become such a Doctor Who geek that I wanted to obtain a copy of the magazine to add to the stack of other unread magazines sitting in my apartment going unread. The last two magazines I remember buying were a Rolling Stone with Chris Rock, Tina Fey and Dave Letterman on the cover...and another Entertainment Weekly with Nathan Fillion on the cover. Both I've had for ages, both are unread. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I've got Star Wars magazine dating back to 2005 at I've not looked at yet. Just seems much easier to read all my needed geek info online.

I think we're on the verge of a society where people question why we ever kept movies or books on shelves in our home...already seems like an out-dated habit that we are holding onto. That is until we stop chopping down all the trees and then they over-run the earth and we see the horrible error of our ways.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Managed to catch two more movies at Fantasia before having to flee back across provincial borders back to the Ontario homeland. As I said, would have loved to have seen a few dozen more, but the schedule simply did not permit it this time around. Flipping through the giant program schedule magazine, pretty much everything listed is something I wanna see. Getting to see four festival movies is better than none though.

On Friday watched a documentary titled My Amityville Horror, a real life account of one of the survivor's of the event that inspired the fictionalized Amityville Horror in 1979 and it's many sequels, spin-off's and rip off's. Despite it's interesting and controversial inspiration, this doc kind of fell flat for me. There were no big twists or shocking revelations unearthed by the filmmakers. It didn't end with proof that ghosts exist, or oppositely that it was all a big scam of a hoax. Hence, by the time the credits roll, I was left with a feeling that even though far from an expert on the subject at hand, I knew all of the stuff in there already.

When that one was over, we ran across the street for Doomsday Book, a sci-fi / horror anthology from South Korea. Chapter 1 was a mad cow disease zombie tale titled The New Generation. Chapter 3 was a bizarre end of the world epic involving unseen aliens and an incoming asteroid sized Magic 8 Ball titled Happy Birthday.

The stand-out from the two hour three part anthology was the middle chapter, Heaven's Creation. It's a haunting sci-fi commentary on capitalism vs Buddhism, featuring one of the most impressive robots I've seen in a movie in an age. I kept second guessing myself as to whether it was a practical effect of cg...I think it might have been both.

The best part about Doomsday Book, and other such anthologies that I've seen in the past at Fantasia, is the seeming randomness to them. One could argue that there was a doom quotient involved in all three of these chapters, but really they seemed all over the map stylistically. Especially the middle chapter which was slow and intense and thought provoking, compared to the rather insane somewhat goofyness of the bookending chapters.

If you get a chance to attend Fantasia, do not hesitate. If you are a movie fan, and who isn't, you don't even have to look at the schedule. Just show up and you'll more than likely luck out and see something rare and original and likely relatively insane.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Back in the day when I attended the Fantasia Film Fest more frequently, my friend and I would manage to see a good 15 movies crammed into my week visit. As a footnote, on top of watching movies in a festival setting, we would then fill our free moments at his apartment by catching up on horrible at home viewings the likes of Catwoman.

Alas I didn't manage to get that many films in, but during the two day whirlwind visit to Montreal I did get to see a couple off the beaten path gems. Unfortunately didn't get off to a good start with '11/25: The Day Mishima Chose His Own Fate', a movie that I disliked so heavily that I don't really want to write about it all that much. It was a boring modern day Japenese political war drama that couldn't have been more boring. It was two hours long and it felt like three. It was uneventful, it was cinematically dull and I kept wishing that it would just end.

The next movie we went to was The Mechanical Bride, a fascinating and overtly creepy documentary about artificial companions...aka life sized mannequin style sex dolls. Like watching Trekkies kicked up to the Nth degree, this doc explored the psychological mindset that would resort to a human being not only having sex with but faking a relationship with an inanimate object. It was handled respectfully, but none-the-less fell under the 'it is so bizarre I cannot take my eyes off of this train-wreck of a human being's story' category. Any problems that you might have in your life pale in comparison to a person so mentally destroyed and anguished and afraid of companionship that they resort to having an expensive hunk of plastic as a girlfriend. It was a very similar style of pick by the fest programmers as the amazing Tiffany stalker doc 'I Think We're Alone Now' that I saw at Fantasia four or so years back.

It was the perfect bizarre, never-heard-of-it, lil indie documentary to see at an awesome film festival. The Mechanical Bride is something that you get to see at a setting like Fantasia that you would be very unlikely to find at a video store (back when they existed more readily) or on TV (back when people actually watched TV). As the credits rolled, I leaned over to my girlfriend as the and exclaimed "Now THAT is a Fantasia Film Fest movie!".

Friday, July 27, 2012

I had a bit of a worry in the back of my mind that I would get to the box office to pick up my Muppets tickets and there would be a screw up and they wouldn't be there. Then I would panic and have a meltdown and be dragged away by security and my life would fall into shambles and I would never get to see The Muppets live.

Luckily, my tickets were right where they should have been, and all was well with the world. When they were in my hands I got another rush of disbelief that I was moments away from seeing Muppets in a live theatre setting. Despite my overwhelming anticipation, I had been trying to not get my hopes up too high. I thought minimally they could have Kermit and a handful of other Muppets introducing human stand-up comedians, and that's it. Before the show began, some kind of Just for Laughs big-shot came out to introduce the show, he was ecstatic, but I was a bit confused as to what he was rambling on about. He said something about how we were going to see behind the curtain of the Muppets, and that we were in store for something unforgettable. Then a warm-up guy did a bit where he started as a member of the crowd, then ended up in a multi-shirted strip-down to Prince's 'Let's Go Crazy'.

Then the curtain parted, a familiar bit of music started up, and before me were Kermit and the gang on a mini-reproduction of the set from the opening of the Muppet Show. And, not so surprisingly, I had somewhat of a complete mental breakdown (as did a large portion of the crowd I think). Luckily I wasn't the only grown man openly weeping at a puppet show. Then it came to light what the intro guy meant by seeing behind the scenes. After the opening song, the Muppet performers walked out and continued along with the show. In full view of all, dressed in black with headband affixed microphones, Muppets on their human arms up over their heads. And seeing everything as such did not detract from the Muppet magic in the least.

They sang a very funny Canada song, there was a Muppet Labs skit where Beeker turned into the former Expo's mascot, the Sweedish Chef made poutine, Kermit and Piggy did a duet, and Rowlf filled for time by singing an impromptu song (amongst other Muppet fun). To add to the old school Muppet Show feel, every so often Kermit would introduce a human comedian who would come out and do a set. And all of the comedians seemed honoured and a bit shell-shocked that they had just been introduced by Kermit or Fozzie or Gonzo. Even Walter from the latest Muppet incarnation and Pepe from Muppets Tonight in the 90's made an appearance.

They did a really good job of making it seem like the show was over, until out of the corner of my eye I noticed a swampy looking set being quickly cobbled together. I looked at my girlfriend and my mind was so overwhelmed with joy that I am not quite sure what I said. Something about how I was about to have a complete emotional breakdown...but with less English words. Then they started singing Rainbow Connection, and the night truly gained a 'one of the best night's of my life' status...if it hadn't already.

In conclusion, if you ever get a chance to see the Muppets in a live setting, do it. Doesn't matter what other things you have to do, or if it's too expensive, or if you have to work, or if you're getting married that day, or whatever other excuse you might have...drop everything and get to that theatre. Then prepare to laugh and weep and revel in all of the joy that came out of the wonderful mind of Jim Henson and all the others who built the Muppet universe to the brilliance that it has become. If you are anything like me...it will mostly be the weeping.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hopping the ole' Greyhound and headed towards the exotic land of Montreal for a pair of awesome events. First there is my grand reunion with the Fantasia Film Fest, which I haven't been to in a number of years thanks to my annual Blues Fest gig. This year I guess Fantasia is happening a little bit later, and hence I can attend. What's even better, is that thanks to my Mayfair association, I get in on the free! The only horrible thing is that I can only stay there for a couple days, but I'll get in a couple of viewings at least.

Secondly, I am going to a live performance from the Muppets at Just for Laughs. My brain has been at a constant state of trying to accept that I am in fact going to something that is more or less The (actual) Muppet Show. If my heart doesn't explode from pure unbelievable joy, I will write of that event soon.

I will also be visiting some ex-Ottawa Derby family who have moved to Montreal, but I cannot lie that all that is on my mind is Muppets. Watching The Muppet Show on a lil' black and white TV is my earliest memory, people involved in the production of Muppets are heroes to me, and I have Kermit tattooed on my arm. I am a lil' bit excited.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Did a chunk of the Mayfair paper route today, delivering August calendars to the Elgin Street - Arts Court - Ottawa U areas. I can never pick only one movie that I want to see most off the monthly list, but I will split up my most anticipated viewings into a new mainstream, new indie and old. From over in in blockbuster Hollywood-land, I don't think there's a better summer action adventure film than The Avengers. From the indie side of filmmaking I'm looking very forward to Derby Baby, as presented by our friends in the Rideau Valley Roller Girls. From the vaults, and under the category of 'I can't believe that I have never heard of this movie before', The Swarm. How was I unacknowledged to the fact that Michael Caine starred in a 70's disaster movie where he fought bee's!? I am shamed and movie geek demerited.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Finished reading The Complete Peanuts 1977 to 1978 a couple days ago. Happy to report that unlike the last volume that I read, there were no uncomfortable racist remarks from Peppermint Patty in this one.

Monday, July 23, 2012

I think that Sarah Polley is a true talent, and I find it very admirable that she is sticking to her Canadian homeland to act in others films and to direct her own. She also doesn't shy away from non-artsy indie fare, and she really won me over after I saw her in a number of interviews in regards to the Dawn of the Dead re-make wherein she spoke about how there was absolutely no way that she could be kept away from participating in such a thing.

Tonight I watched her latest directorial effort, Take This Waltz. As I predicted, it was a very well made film, and it left me feeling depressed and infuriated. Not so surprisingly Michelle Williams turns in another impressive performance, but by stories end I just wanted to grab her character by the shoulders and shake her and yell at her for being such a selfish horrible person. It's always the tough line in telling a story like this one where the central character goes through a journey of unlikeability, smashing through more pleasant characters that you are rooting for along the way. No one here does a bad job, and there are some very smart directorial touches. The films also features Seth Rogan and Sarah Silverman in supporting roles (two favourites of mine), both getting to show off some dramatic acting chops. A well worth seeing film, much better than any standard Sarah Jessica Parker romantic comedy, with the only warning being that you might stumble out of the theatre with some faith in humanity lost.

After that feel-good, ringing endorsement I'm sure you'll be glad to know that you have two more chances to see Take This Waltz at the Mayfair, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7pm. A lovely evening of frustrated depressing anger at the cinema, perfect for a date night!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Watched the Psycho double-bill this-afternoon at the Mayfair. Psycho is of course unarguably a cinematic classic, and is one of my favourite movies of all times. It's one of those movies that you wish you could walk into right after you zapped yourself with one of those Men In Black mind-erase devices. I can barely imagine what it would have been like to walk into this movie back in 1960, without the knowledge of all the twists and turns about to un-spool in front of you up on the big screen. Like Citizen Cane and Old Yeller and Empire Strikes Back and The Crying Game...it's one of those movies that by now we pretty much collectively know the surprise. None-the-less, even knowing every single thing that is going to happen, even after repeat viewings, it never stops being edge-of-your-seat entertainment.

The real pleasant surprise in a Psycho / Psycho II double-bill is that the sequel is really quite good. Despite the rampant complaint that movies are nothing but sequels and remakes and re-imaginings, people seem to forget that unoriginality really isn't anything new. In 1983, the year that Psycho II hit theatres, other unoriginal fare included: Jaws 3-D, Porky's II, Smokey & the Bandit 3, The Sting II, Superman III, Twilight Zone, Strange Brew (spun off from SCTV), Sudden Impact (another Dirty Harry film), and the biggest film of the year, Return of the Jedi.

Especially when undertaking a sequel to one of the most respected and famous films ever made, it's nice to see that those involved actually make some effort at telling a good story. Psycho II is just that, a very good mystery thriller about a man getting out of prison after two decades, going home and trying to re-start his life. What follows is a well-crafted mystery where-in you are never quite sure whether or not Norman Bates is back to his killing ways, or if he's being framed...if he is reformed and deserving help, or if he is delusional and capable of murdering again. It would be easy to phone it in on a sequel like this, so it's nice to see that starting with a script from Tom Holland (who went on to write and direct Fright Night and Child's Play) and through production and the return to the role for Anthony Perkins all gel together so surprisingly well.

If you come out to see the encore presentation of Psycho / Psycho II on Tuesday night, be sure to stay for both. Now I really want to see part III (directed by Anthony Perkins), and part IV (mostly a prequel, from the writer of the original). If only all sequels could be so impressive, movie-goers would have much less to complain about.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ottawa residents be sure to drop everything to get to tonight's Rideau Valley Roller Girls double-header at Barbara Ann Scott Arena (2250 Torquay Ave). Doors open at 6pm, with the first bout getting under-way at 6:30pm. First up, RVRG's Slaughter Daughters take on the Venus Fly Tramps from Kitchener, then RVRG's Riot Squad battle the Disloyalists from Kingston. There is nothing that you could possibly have on the agenda for this-evening that will be more awesome than an evening of derby. Nothing! Promise.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tonight at 9:30pm the Mayfair hosts the Ottawa Premiere of Indie Game: The Movie (followed by screenings on the 21st and 22nd at 8:30pm).

At one point in time I was deeply entrenched in video game playing and culture. I went to arcades (back when they existed in a more commonplace manner), had multiple video game platforms, even had subscriptions to video game magazines (back when people still read magazines). It wasn't a conscious decision to stop playing, but I think somewhere around college life just started getting excessively busy and something had to give. In a perfect world of no day-job or chores or only having so many hours in the day to watch movies and read comics, I'd likely still play. The only time I do play video games now-a-days are rare occasions of social interaction game playing of stuff like Mario Kart or hockey...but that happens very few and far in-between.

Despite my neutrality towards video games in general, I none-the-less found this documentary fascinating. It was expertly crafted together by the film-making team, and they had the luck of the documentary fates upon them. The 'characters' were all enthralling in their quests for independent video game design glory, the the story-line paths they went down were more interesting than most scripted Hollywood fiction.

Roger Ebert stirred up some controversy and debate a while back with his statements in that he didn't think video games were art. One of his arguments was that video games weren't art because they could be finished or not finished. My first thought at that train of thought was that books, movies or songs could be finished or not finished as well. You could be just as likely to read half a book and leave it behind out of disinterest as you might be to not get through the last level of a video game. More perplexing is that I think the problem might be that Roger doesn't like video games because they don't come from a distinct voice. Which is quite perplexing even more so since Roger reviews movies for a living, which of course are made by writers, producers, actors, a director (or two) and not one singular distinct voice.

Especially after seeing Indie Game: The Movie, any rants against the artistry of video games seem to be a kin to classical music aficionados being up in arms in anger over that rock n roll music stuff that the kids are all to not actually being music. Plus, lest we never forget that he gave positive reviews to not one but two Tomb Raider movies. It will also make you feel like giving up all other pursuits and instead just playing video games endlessly from all day and night. Even with nerds as central characters instead of a skin-tight wardrobed Angelina Jolie, Indie Game is way better than and Tomb Raider cinematic adventure.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

One of the blessings and curses of being a geek who likes geeky things is that people give you their old geeky stuff that they find around their houses and they don't want it anymore. Most of the time due to aforementioned geekyness, and because I am weak and cannot resist the treasure, I keep said stuff instead of refusing and telling them to just throw it away or drop off at Value Village.

Often what this means is that I get given a big box of tattered comics that someone doesn't want filling up space in a closet. Or if not their closet, more correct of a statement would be that they are a box of tattered comics filling up space in their parents closet. I can't stand the thought of a box of books hitting the recycle bin, so I scoop them up. Often I already have most of the books second handed along to me, especially if they're coming from a friend of the same age. The box will have a lot of McFarlane Spidey, X-Men books, Lobo, Death of Superman, early Image stuff and other completely valueless collector's items that didn't turn out to be that. I end up re-gifting these to friends kids who will appreciate the reading material (when kid friendly...Lobo doesn't work so well to pass on to an 8 year old).

Sometimes though you get handed a true piece of modern pop-culture treasure in these situations. A friends of mine was cleaning out some stuff from her parents place, found something awesome, and was kind enough to pass it along to me. In the bottom of a toy box, possibly unopened for decades, was a Muppet Show board game. The box alone makes it worthy to keep on a shelf, but as an added bonus it has all of it's pieces. Meaning that I can actually play the thing! I've never been the kind of geek to keep toys in their boxes, so sooner or later this board game will indeed be played.

If you find any similar treasure hiding in the bottom of a long forgotten toy box and don't want it anymore...maybe something in an A-Team or Battlestar Galactica board game motif...please feel free to let me know. I will take it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I am a square, and hence I was pretty much naive to the existence of the band LCD Soundsystem. In retrospect, I do remember having seen front-man James Murphy on The Colbert Report, but I may have skipped over the musical performance portion of the show.

A couple of months ago a good friend of mine demanded that we get the concert documentary about the band's farewell gig at the Mayfair. If they can be made a reality, my friends movie programming wishes are the Mayfair's command. Luckily in this case the movie was made available to us.

Went to the Mayfair tonight, my grand return after having been away for much too long thanks to Blues Fest work eating up my nights. It was an excellent night to make my comeback, and I'm very glad that my friend has hipster music knowledge that my geeky brain lacks. We got a really great turn-out, even though you would think that much of the interested patron base would be currently not here university folks. Since there was such a big crowd, I did a lil' intro and got a nice ego boost that a couple of statements got laughs and I got a nice round of applause at the conclusion of my bit.

The movie opens the morning after of the band's last concert, with the singer and mastermind crawling out of bed, taking congratulatory messages and walking his adorable puppy. I am not a fan of the straight-forward concert doc's. I find just watching music performed on the big screen with no interview or behind-the-scenes breaks tends to leave one feeling a little restless. Thankfully this movie was not that.

Despite the weird fact that the leader of this particular band took upon the rather bizarre decision to leave on the verge of possible super-stardom with only a couple albums under his belt, his character is not what you might think. He's not some artsy diva out to stick it to the man. He's just a guy who somehow stumbled into a bit of fame and popularity and at middle-age kinda-realized that he would rather do without it. He's rather likeable and endearing in his interviews and interactions with other people on screen, and you really feel for the guy throughout. You also (or at least I also) completely can understand his dilemma, and identify with how he might feel in his unusual situation.

The doc is very well edited together in a non-linear fashion, features rather beautiful cinematography, and maybe the most important features a bunch of great music. Us unlucky ones who are much too late to jump onto the LCD Soundsystem bandwagon will never see them in a live setting. If you're in Ottawa or another city with a theatre cool enough to get a hold of this limited release, at least you have one more night to see them do their show amongst a crowd on the big screen. One last chance to see the LCD Soundsystem and pretend that you are in NYC at Madison Square Garden seeing them off with a grand concert farewell.

Shut Up and Play the Hits - Thursday July 19th - 9:30pm - Mayfair Theatre

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I don't watch a ton of tv. In fact, I don't even have tv per-say. I mean, there is a rather nice tv in my living room, but it is used mainly for watching the occasional movie or tv program on disc. That and talk shows, a whole bunch of late night talk shows.

Not that I don't enjoy tv, I'm always quick to come to it's defence as a showcase of excellent entertainment whenever some jerk looks down their nose at the medium and claims to not watch tv because it's all garbage. Now, there is indeed a lot of garbage on tv. We are in the midst of some of the more horrible, dumb and offensive programming ever produced. We are also strangely enough in a golden age of some of the best written and produced tv shows ever.

There are in fact so many great shows that I think it's pretty much impossible to keep up. Keeping up with tv is pretty much impossible I think...unless you drop everything else, read no books, watch no movies, and manage to push aside all family, social and career obligations and only watch tv. If you can do that I envy you, because I still have to catch up on Rescue Me, Mad Men, Big Love, Spartacus and a few dozen other shows.

One of the few shows that I'm up to date on is Breaking Bad, of which I watched the fifth season première last night. Breaking Bad is episodic television at it's best. It's not where you should go for feel good moments at it's best, but for storytelling and character development and insane cliffhangers I don't think anything on television can match it.

Bryan Cranston made a claim on David Letterman a few months back that the season four cliffhanger would blow our minds. And he was not wrong in that statement. The long months in-between seasons has been worth the wait, and the latest episode was another prime example of television at it's best. I have a feeling sometime in the near future Bryan will be on a talk show again telling us that our minds are going to be blown, this time by the series finale, and he will again not be lying.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Finished listening to the audio-book version of Peter Biskind's Star, the biography of Warren Beatty. I don't care about the overwhelming and unavoidable sex and gossip portions of Beatty's life, but I am always interested in behind-the-scenes movie stuff. I also seem to remember finding Biskind's other movie themed books like Easy Riders Raging Bulls very interesting.

When I think of Warren Beatty I think of Ishtar. I am fairly neutral on the movie, but I have a friend who counts it as one of his all time favourites. It's one of the go-to examples I use in my believe that movies are subjective and not objective in their good / bad status. I also think of Dick Tracy, a very good comic book movie that Warren should have stayed behind-the-scenes on. Look at a Dick Tracy comic strip, look at Warren Beatty, those two images do not mesh up.

Warren Beatty's career is an interesting one to track, from pretty boy leading man to respected award filmmaker. Like many an artist no matter the medium, it's also a bit of a tortured, messed up and sad one. He seems like one of those type's who you'd want to shake by the shoulders and tell to chill out.

His train-wrecks also greatly outnumber his cinematic successes. Financial successes like Heaven Can Wait and Shampoo seem like a long time ago when compared to the likes of Love Affair, Town & Country, and the aforementioned Ishtar. Then the critical successes like Reds made no money, and Dick Tracey seemed to be on the heels of and overshadowed by Batman.

The good news for Warren is that he has stepped out of the spotlight into a pleasant life of marriage and fatherhood, and of course has enough money in the bank so he doesn't have to worry about landing that next gig. The bad news is that he may be doomed to a legacy of diva fits, lack of professionalism and stumbling out of what could have been a legendary career.

Especially telling is when you consider an actor turned filmmaker of a similar age to Warren like Clint Eastwood. Unlike Warren, Clint continues to make films and shows no sign of slowing down, having directed, produced and acted over a dozen projects in the last 10 years alone. Clint also has a reputation for being laid back with his crew and only making actors do two or three takes. All while enjoying box office success and awards well into his 80's.

Star is an interesting story, and by the time you finish it up you learn the simple and valuable lesson that things turn out better for you if you are not a jerk.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Blues Fest came to a close with a performance from Metric. I've worked or been on the Blues Fest crew the last number of years, so I've gotten to watch the rise in popularity and fame of the band. Years ago they were an indie Canadian band performing in the middle of the afternoon on a small stage in front of a handful of fans. Now they have songs on the soundtracks of big-time Hollywood movies, play the main stage and headline festivals

I didn't get to point a follow-spot at them this year, I was occupied working on tearing down the B stage as they performed. Meaning that I got paid while getting to hear pretty much the whole concert perfectly. Much of the set-list was from Synthetica, their latest album. Sometimes that might piss off a listening audience, but it was a great show all around. Someday maybe I'll get to go and actually sit and just enjoy a show from one of my favourite bands. But I can't complain too much about getting to listen to them on the free, while getting a pay-cheque to boot.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Edgar Wright's next production has found a distribution home with Universal Studios. Kudos to Universal for doing so, since the last Edgar Wright film that they were involved with was Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Although Scott Pilgrim was not only my favourite film of 2010 and one of my all time favourites, it did not make any money. The film joins the like of Citizen Kane, Fantasia and Fight club as amazing, ground-breaking, fan favourite film that turned into box office poison. And since film studios like making money, you would think that Universal might want to distance itself from another Edgar Wright offering.

It's so rare to be happy about something that Hollywood has done, so it's nice to see the powers-that-be care about quality over box office every so often.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The bad news is that my co-worker friend and pseudo brother-in-law is fleeing the Blues Fest gig to continue along touring with his day job. His day job isn't some 9 to 5 sitting in a cubicle job, but involves being on the road with the band Hey Rosetta. In the next few days the ongoing tour will bring him to Quebec City and then out west. After that, who knows what wacky adventures and strange places the driving of the Hey Rosetta bus will take him?

The good news is that I was introduced to the band Hey Rosetta. I admit to not being on the cutting edge of musical knowledge, and hadn't ever heard music from the band. I was very impressed. In fact, I think it was the best show that I've seen over the entire fest. If you are unfamiliar as I was, do yourself a favour and check 'em out. If you see 'em live there's an added bonus that almost puts them to Alice Cooper like levels of gimmickry - three words: awesome confetti cannon.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Next month Kevin Smith will drop into Ottawa for one of his stand-up / q&a / podcast mash-up shows. Fans of potty humour, comic books and Star Wars jokes will be able to spend a night out at the theatre with their geeky former corner-store clerk on the verge of retirement (maybe) foul-mouthed hockey jersey clad movie-making hero.

We at the Mayfair have tried in the past to get Kevin to drop by for one of his live shows or to introduce one of his movies in-between one of his tours. The closest we have gotten is a bit of interweb communication, where Kevin said he'd drop by if his touring ever brought him nearby.

So now we are in the situation where Kevin will be near by, and we are not shameless enough to not resort to guilt tripping and spreading the word to the Kevin Smith fan-base army. We put out the word on the Twitter, and it even got a 'like' from the man himself.

We shall see. If Kevin Smith actually follows through on the offer made to drop by I will be very impressed. I just hope he lets us know with enough time to book one of his films. Ideally I think it would be great to show Clerks and Red State, his debut and his most recent work (and I think his best). If not he might just have to drop by and introduce The Room or Rocky Horror or something else decidedly non-Smithian.

If you know Kevin, please feel free to peer pressure him on our behalf.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I, like any rational and sane music listener, am quite the fan of The Fugees. A couple years ago I got to work a Wyclef Jean concert at Blues Fest, and last night I got to work a Lauryn Hill show.

When I saw her name on the Blues schedule a little while back I was quite surprised. I was pretty sure that she had given up on the business and had retired into the life of being married into the Marley musical family. I don't really care about celebrity gossip, but have since learned that she may be in some tax trouble, hence she may be working a bit more now than she has in the past decade or more.

Lauryn has a notoriously bad reputation for being difficult to work with. Evil as it is might have been of me, I was not hoping exactly, but anticipating that the show might be a bit of a train-wreck. Maybe with a little bit of hope as long as it didn't effect me in any way. I was not disappointed or wrong in my prediction. She came out a good half hour late, berated members of her band during the show, was overly and continuously distracted by a fan at her feet (a machine...not a person), brought the show to a halt by bringing her kids out, and many of the songs were so changed from their original form they were completely unrecognisable.

I'm paraphrasing, but I remember seeing an interview with Wyclef years ago where he commented on the difficulty of working with her. He very logically stated that making an album is a lot of work, and happens over a lot of days and weeks. And if he had a choice of working with any number of other talented musicians and Lauryn Hill, working with more pleasant human beings wins out over spending an extended period of time with her. He wasn't mean about it, and seemed genuine in thought that he wished that that wasn't how things were.

It's too bad she's a diva, broke up one of the all time great bands, but Wyclef's statement is a very understandable one. You only have so many hours in the day, so if the opportunity is there, much better to spend them working in positive situations with people you like.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I was looking forward to Sam Raimi and company to get another kick at the Spider-man cinematic universe. The third Spidey film wasn't anyone's favourite of the series, though I didn't have an overwhelming hatred for it that many a nerd had. I think any mistake that the film had seemed thanks to the studio forcing in one too many villain and an unneeded love triangle aspect to the script. Too many characters and too much greed to sell a few more action figures. There was also no real wrap-up of a trilogy ending, which made me really want to see how this team would have wrapped things up if allowed to produce a fourth film.

Considering the box office success of all three films, you would have thought that something could have been hashed out for a fourth team-up. As far as I understand it, the confusing chain of event's was that Sam thought the script needed more work, Sony said there was no more time to work on a script, so they got rid of Sam and then spent an extra year or so re-assembling a creative team and new cast. Now, I'm no Hollywood mogul, but in that time could Sam not have just been given time to fix up his fourth Spidey film?

Alas it wasn't meant to be, and Sam has moved on to direct a new Oz film and produce a new Evil dead re-imagining. The Spidey re-boot found a new director in Marc Webb (who directed the excellent 500 Days of Summer), and a new Spidey in British actor Andrew Garfield.

Being a geek and a lifelong Spider-man fan, despite any hesitation or annoyance at another origin story, I was looking forward to the movie. I enjoyed the film very much, the actors all step up to their iconic comic book character performances, and Marc Webb and his fx team do manage to bring a few new things to the Spidey movie style.

It's only flaw is that no matter how good it is, now it is just another Spider-man movie. When Sam Raimi's original was released a decade ago, it was something new up on the big screen, it was a character that up until that point had been on the printed page or in mostly sub-par animation form. I'm not sitting on the edge of my seat and counting down the days til the fifth outing though. Having said that, any critiques at unoriginality aside, it was a very good film. I still can't help but geek out and enjoy fight scenes between Spidey and a giant lizard monster, and I still got choked up at the fate of Uncle Ben.

Seeing Spidey for the first time was exciting, seeing Spidey for the fourth time just isn't all that overly amazing anymore.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Yesterday got confirmation that one of my best friends and his family are moving back from the far off land of Hawaii. Good news to have him back on Canadian soil and I look forward to getting to hang out with his kids and bring them to Mayfair movies and go trick or treating and other fun endeavours.

The negative aspect is that the jerk is selfishly moving back before I had a chance to go out there and visit. Plans were under-way to do so in a few short months. The other bad news of course is that with him back in town, we will continue to enable each other in our horrible, debilitating and mind-wrecking habit of watching Nicolas Cage and Uwe Boll movies with. A viewing of Ghost Rider 2 is sadly and inevitably in my near future.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

The bad news is that I worked a long eighteen hour day at Blues Fest. The good news is that as per my hope I got to work on Alice Cooper's stage.

Alice was sharing the stage with Iron Maiden, an equally over-the-top and special effect assisted band. So on top of the usual lights and instruments and various other cases of equipment to unload off of trucks and set-up, there were also cases filled with monsters and deadly weapons.

I didn't have any real excitement about working an Iron Maiden show, especially since I had already done that a couple years ago. Their monsters and flames and Satan worship aren't un-entertaining, but they were at Blues Fest already a couple years ago. Alice Cooper is also a bit more of a cultural icon, and has a much better song library to choose from. From up in the air in the follow-spot tower I got to work / watch the show. It was excellent and just what I had hoped it would be. Alice had a snake, an electric chair, he killed a member of the paparazzi with a sword, there was a giant Frankenstein like monster, and Alice was decapitated via guillotine. Now that is what you call rock n roll.

Most importantly, as recently mentioned and hoped for, I am now one degree of professional separation from Kermit the Frog and the rest of the Muppets.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

I can't make it today due to Blue Fest work eating up my time, but if I were free I'd be heading to the Mayfair to watch Darling Companion. The movie is from Lawrence Kasdan, who helped write Raiders of the Lost Ark and Empire Strikes Back, and directed Big Chill and Silverado. On top of that it features an impressive cast which includes Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Richard Jenkins, Sam Shepard and Dianne Wiest.

The real reason that I wish I could be there today at 1pm is that the matinee is one of our bring-your-dog screenings. The event will be hosted by our across the street neighbours Wag, who will be bringing along treats for your accompanying pets. We've done screenings like this before with films like All Dogs go to Heaven and Up, and they've always turned out shockingly fine. Except for the occasional barking at big screen dog characters, the puppy's have all been very well behaved. I figure it's not all that much different for the dogs than watching a movie with their people at home.

Whether you have a dog on hand or not, head to the Mayfair this-afternoon at 1pm for what I'm sure will end up being a very fun Saturday afternoon.

Friday, July 06, 2012

This is Agnes, the new puppy member of my extended family. She was picked up by her new puppy parents today and in-between a split shift at work got to meet her and briefly hang out. There are other things I could have written about today, but how can the adorableness of picture of a new puppy be topped?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Slightly out of order, as I get my hands on them from the library, I'm making my way through the impressive Complete Peanuts series of books as published by Fantagraphics. Once the final book of the series is published, the project will have spanned over twelve years and twenty-five hard-cover books at about 320 pages each.

The latest one that I checked off my list was the 1973-1974 volume, which included the above hockey themed comic strip between Peppermint Patty and Franklin strip. So, now instead of thinking that Peppermint Patty is a lesbian icon, I will forever think she is a insensitive and kinda' racisty lesbian icon.Look at poor Franklin in panel number four...shocked and stunned, hockey playing hopes and dreams shattered. Not cool Patty...not cool.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Today I began my annual Blues Fest gig, where I help unload stuff off trucks for bands, and then point lights at them. I'm booked every single day between today and the 15th, happening between a couple days of set-up before and a couple days of tear-down afterwards. Meaning that the social life and free time aspects of day to day life will all but completely disappear, but at least I'll have a lot of money in the aftermath to spend on comic books and tattoos.

This is actually the first time in years that there isn't someone one the line-up that I'm highly anticipating and excited to see for free. The last few festivals have been a virtual check-list of my favourite bands: Metric, White Stripes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Joan jett & the Blackhearts, and Weezer. Metric is back this year, and there are other bands like Dragonette that I have seen before, and Lauryn Hill who I will be glad to see 'cause I thought she was essentially retired.

On the main stage tonight was Tangerine Dream. To my untrained musical ear they sounded like a psychedelic record skipping and looping over the same three or four minutes of music over and over. On the B stage, which is where I will spend most of my time, we hosted Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea fame. Not to offend any of my East Coast Canadian friends, but I am not a fan of his musical styling's.

The head-liner on the main stage who closed out the night was some DJ, a genre the fest seems to be greatly embracing this year. My friend who I'll be working alongside for the next couple weeks and I were on our stage looking over at the full-blown DJ-ing chaos happening over in the distance. From out of nowhere a couple of groupies showed up, they were so cliché that they looked like characters from a bad SNL sketch (yes...I know that saying bad before SNL sketch is a redundant statement). That was our cue to get out of dodge.

If there's one performer on the list that I would say is the one to see, it must be Alice Cooper. If only because he was on The Muppet Show, which means that if I work on that stage that I'll only be a couple of degrees of professional separation away from none other than Kermit the Frog.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The latest in my never-ending and likely futile attempt to try and catch up on movie library viewing was Battlestar Galactica: The Plan. Battlestar is great science fiction, but specific genre aside, also happens to be one of the best television shows in recent history. A rarity in which the remake is leaps and bounds better than its initial source material. The original Battlestar was nothing more than a wannabe 70's Star Wars clone, the re-make leaves it's predecessor in the dust.

The Plan is a weird bit of a tv movie amongst the modern Battlestar continuity. It definitely doesn't stand on its own, and would be complete confusion for anyone who hasn't watched pretty much every episode and knows them well. And for fans who have watched religiously, The Plan is pretty much an unnecessary series of plot points and doesn't help shed lights on any important unanswered questions or mysteries. It's also not a prequel or sequel, but more of an inbetweenquel, which makes it even more puzzling as to how to watch it in the over-all aspect of an ongoing (though now gone of course) television series.

If unfamiliar with Battlestar, this would be a horrible place to jump in. If you are a super-fan, you could watch it, but don't really have to. Though seeing the universe for the first time in a while did make me look forward to the next Battlestar tv movie, which I think comes out next year. Hopefully it is a more worthy addition to the re-make legacy.

Monday, July 02, 2012

This is not the first time that I have extolled the virtues of Cabin in the Woods on my lil' blog, and in all likelihood it will not be the last. I'll have some other excuse to do so in the future, like when it comes out on blu ray, or when I read the novelization or a behind-the -scenes book or something.

My current round of gushing praise is due to the film being screened at the Mayfair tonight and on the 3rd and 4th. I would have gladly waited to see the Joss Whedon / Drew Goddard modern horror masterpiece on home turf, I just happened to get a hold of an advance screening pass though. Hence I went to see it at the evil multiplex...I'm sorry, I could not resist! It was free! I thought I might get to win a shirt or something!

If there is any perfect setting to see a film such as this though, it's at the Mayfair. As an added bonus tonight, the film is hosted by fellow Joss Whedon fans, The Ottawa Browncoats. They'll be on hand to publicize and sell tickets for their September charity screening of that other Joss masterpiece, Serenity. And yes joss fans, we are keeping our fingers crossed that we can get our hands on the upcoming Much Ado About Nothing.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Happy Canada Day! Because I live in our nation's capital, I have no real interest in heading outside to walk around downtown all day amongst a few thousand patriotic folks followed by a fireworks conclusion. Not out of laziness, but I've just been there and done that. And as much fun as fireworks are to some, I figure that there seem to have been no advancement in the entertainment science of it since they were created. If you've seen one set of fireworks, you have kind of seen 'em all in my humble opinion.

Instead some friends and I will get together and watch a couple of Canadian content comedies, Strange Brew and Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters might not seem like Canadian cinema at first glance, but do remember that it's written and directed by Canadians, and two of the four Ghostbuster actors hail from our homeland. And really, is there ever that good of an excuse not to watch Ghostbusters?

Wear some red, get together with some friends, have some fun, eat some food, and celebrate the bestest country in the whole wide world.