Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Susan Sarandon's Wagging Finger Of Shame Versus The Vampire Bunnies

So you've decided against your better judgement to watch the Oscars. Well, these things happen, don't they? Now you're settling in, watching the big show. And soon enough, it'll happen. You're going to be looking at your watch, and thinking, why is this taking so long?

It's an awards show. It's supposed to take a long time. Weren't you paying attention in my last blog?

All right, calm down. I know, you're in a tough spot here. You've got that ceremony in front of you, and maybe your significant other wanted to watch it, so you don't have a choice. I'll give you that.

So what can you do?

You can always slip out of the room, perhaps for a drink, and simply not come back. Go off and do whatever you like. Odds are, you won't be missed. Your significant other will be so engrossed in the ceremony that they won't notice your four hour absense from the room. Good. You're golden.

On the other hand, you might be missed. In which case, you're screwed. You'll have to come back into that room, subject yourself to watching the interminable awards show. Yes, I know. It's painful. Short of faking a heart attack (probably only to be used as a last resort), you'll have to put up with it. That brings us to today. I'll be making some presumptions of what to expect at this year's Oscars, and ways that the Oscars can be improved to make the ceremony less tedious.

Without watching the ceremonies, I can make some casual predictions of things that will take place.

At least two starlets will be wearing the exact same gown from the exact same designer, which for some reason is some big faux pas.

Nic Cage and John Travolta's hairpieces will be even more ridiculous then usual.

At least on seven different occasions, a winner will shed tears upon accepting their Oscar.

Joan and Melissa Rivers will be camped out somewhere, trying to pretend they're still hosting a red carpet special.

The evil ones (Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, and the rest) will be gushing over stars to no end, pretending like they're close buddies, basking in the glow of fame, and thinking they're famous too.

When the dead of the last year scroll across the screen, inevitably there'll be someone important missing, a fact screamed about across the web the next day.

At some point, the camera will pan on Jack Nicholson, who will be sitting in a daze, wearing sunglasses.

Susan Sarandon will wag her Finger of Shame (patented in 1994 by Susan Sarandon Enterprises) at the Republicans.

Someone will make a political speech. Kanye West will bitterly come on stage and say that George Bush doesn't care about Vampire Bunnies.

At some point during the night, Anne Hathaway will make a joke to James Franco, something like this one. You know, James, I kind of feel trapped by a boulder right now, just like you in that movie, and why did we agree to host this again?

Kanye West will storm the stage when Colin Firth wins the Oscar for Best Picture, and launch into a diatribe. Yo, Colin Firth, Imma real happy for you, but Eddie Murphy totally deserved this....

The Oscars will go very long over the expected time.

So, those are the reasonable assumptions about what the Oscars have in store. What if you're one of those poor sods condemned to watch it? What about you? I offer you, and the Academy, some ways to make the show more entertaining. Lord knows it needs it.

Halle Berry and Adrien Brody are positioned on stage, ready to make out with every single winner.

Jack Black and Roseanne Barr streak naked behind the Lifetime Achievement winner.

Cut out the performance pieces. You'll be saving an hour, and the sanity of the audience. Who cares about the choreographer who's been working for months on a ballet performance by vampire bunnies? I mean, aside from the choreographer, who for some reason does care?

I know, Academy, you've tried to coax winners who go on and on off the stage by having the orchestra start up. That doesn't always work. Some type A stars think that doesn't apply to them. So, have a firing squad on stage, rifles at the ready, with the understanding that they may open fire if anyone chatters for more then a minute.

Have Brad Pitt present an award. And have him say the following words: I know there's a lot of people out in the tabloid field who seem to think that there's still some hope for a former relationship I had that ended years ago. But really, I haven't spoken to that clingy, desperate idiot for years, and I'm quite content with my life now. So why don't you find something else to report about?

Oh, and it's essential  that the camera show Jennifer Aniston's reaction. It'll be priceless.

Let's make the winning and losing interesting. Take a page from the Mayans. Their winners were champions. The losers were put to death.

Speaking of death... come on, let's face it. Jack's been getting on, hasn't he? They prop him up in the first row every year, and for some reason every host has to give the man a nod. As if he's the Godfather or something. I would suggest to you this: Jack Nicholson's been dead for years. He only appears animated because his body is under the control of a voodoo doctor. Well, Academy, it's time to bring it out into the open. Halfway through, take that voodoo doctor out of the auditorium. Then wait five minutes until Jack's corpse keels over onto the carpet and January Jones starts screaming in horror.

Now that would be a classic Oscar moment.

Friday, February 25, 2011

And The Oscar For Best Original Screenplay Goes To.... Aggghhhh!! Vampire Bunnies!!!

It happens every year.

The Oscars comes onto television screens, celebrating the best in the past year of films. Stars prowl the red carpet. Entertainment "journalists" (among the lower evolved among homo sapiens) fawn all over them. Awards are handed out to the most deserving (not always). A host (or two) either bombs or kills (not literally). A list of the dead are displayed, and those who are well known are applauded by the audience while those who are less well known are given the final humiliation of not being applauded. Some star will inevitably use the occasion to speak up on their political cause of the week (Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, feel free to admit to it anytime you wish... you know that this year it'll be Solidarity For Vampire Bunnies). Jack Nicholson sits up front, wearing sunglasses.

And inevitably, it goes on. And on. And on. And on. Without end.

I don't watch the Oscars. The whole self-congratulatory tone of any awards show is like fingernails on a blackboard to me. Some years I'll agree with an Oscar choice- last year for The Hurt Locker, which both deserved the Best Picture and gave that idiotic Avatar a well deserved slap. Oh, if you're an Avatar fan, I'm sorry to have to inform you, but I'll have to set the hounds on you. It's more merciful that way, believe me. Why anyone loves a film that should have been called Dances With Smurfs is beyond me.

Other years, I don't agree with whatever the Academy fogies come up with. Let's just say that Forrest Gump winning any Oscars was a travesty. No, travesty's not really sufficient a word for it. It's like calling Lake Superior a pond. Still, it'll have to do.

Still, I don't care about the red carpet or who's wearing what, or the whole tediousness of a four or five or six hour marathon of people telling each other how wonderful they are. The damned ceremony goes on, and on, and on, filled with interminable speeches (I'd like to thank Billy Bob, my drug dealer, for the great cocaine, and my parole officer for teaching me how to roll joints, and Charlie Sheen, for being my inspiration) and pointless performance pieces. It may only be four hours, but it must feel longer.

Therefore, the point of this blog (and I do have a point)....

What can we do to fill the time that the Oscar takes?

Yes, you can always watch a movie or two. Maybe three, if Jane Fonda starts really ranting about the plight of vampire bunnies (all they need is human blood, but the Republicans won't let them!).
Other ways?

Play a game of golf. Go back on the green and play another. And another, just for good measure. You'll be having drinks in the clubhouse before the Oscars are over. Just don't invite me. My dislike for golf is well known.

Give birth to a baby. Come on, labour will be done and over by the time the Oscars are finally finished.

Take a stonemason's apprenticeship. You'll get your papers by the time the credits roll.

Run for President. Or Prime Minister. Or Supreme Majestrix of the Universe. Just as long as you're willing to follow my orders.

Start a revolution in North Africa. You'll sack that dictator before the Best Picture is named.

Climb a mountain. Just watch out for the vampire bunnies above the treeline.

Set out on that round the world sailing voyage you always wanted to do. By the time you're home, the Oscars will still be running. Oh, and watch yourself around the Indian Ocean. Those are dangerous waters these days, after all.

Kidnap Barney.

Send ransom note to PBS.

Frame your idiot brother-in-law for the kidnapping.

Watch the police arrest your idiot brother-in-law.

Write the definitive scholarly work on the Vampire Bunny (Lepus Vampirus).

Those are just some of the ways you can better fill your time during the Oscars. However, some of you might still, for some inexplicable reason, wish to watch them anyway. And so, tomorrow, I'll continue this discussion with a simple question:

How can the Oscars be made more interesting?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

E Is For Eternal Torment

A note to new followers: you might want to click on Sesame Street down below. I've been at this a long while, and it's something of an ongoing story....

The seventh circle of Hell, a ghastly, desolate domain of the damned, one level up from the eighth circle of Hell, residence of lawyers and accountants. The deceased mutant Mammomax, formerly of the Brotherhood of Mutants, walks on his own through the corridors. He hears a sound behind him, and turns. Standing there, on the floor, is a small red muppet. It's Elmo, and the little red menace is staring up at him.

Elmo: Are you related to Mr. Snuffy?
Mammomax: Wait. Who's Mr. Snuffy?
Elmo: He's the wooly elephant who killed Elmo.
Mammomax: Sorry, I don't have any relatives named Mr. Snuffy.
Elmo: Oh. Elmo was wondering if you might be related to Mr. Snuffy.
Mammomax: I'm a mutant who looks like an elephant. Not an elephant.
Elmo: Elmo just saw those big ears and that trunk and Elmo just assumed.
Mammomax: Look, kid, don't just assume anything, and... who are you?
Elmo: Elmo has already told you who Elmo is. Elmo is Elmo.
Mammomax: Oh, terrific. You speak in the third person?
Elmo: Of course Elmo does that. Why doesn't everyone?
Mammomax: *sighing* I really am in Hell.
Elmo: Elmo doesn't know why Elmo is here.
Mammomax: Kid, my name is Mammomax.
Elmo: What kind of name is Mammomax?
Mammomax: It's the name I chose to use.
Elmo: Oh. Elmo thinks you made a mistake.
*A bald man comes down the corridor.*
Lex: Hello, Max. You made a new friend?
Mammomax: Lex Luthor, that kid's Elmo.
Lex: Elmo? The little red bastard muppet?
Elmo: Why do people call Elmo that name?
Lex: You must not have Sesame Street in your dimension, Max.
Mammomax: Oh, we do, just that I've never bothered watching it.
Lex: Consider yourself blessed. This infernal twit took it over in mine.
Elmo: That's mean! You're not a nice man, Lex Luthor. And you're bald.
Lex: A fact I've been told many, many times, and I'll thank you not to say it again.
Mammomax: Kid, he's a little touchy about the whole male pattern baldness thing.
Lex: I'd heard that Elmo Prime was down here in Hell. It must mean that every Elmo in every dimension vanished forever with his demise. Oh, what a glorious day that would have been. No more of that cackling laugh, no more taking away on screen time from more established characters. I would have loved to see that day, but here I am, stuck in Hell with no way to get out. Have I mentioned that I find that really annoying?
Mammomax: Lex, I didn't know you were that big a fan of a kid's show.
Lex: A very handy thing to watch in between planning world domination.
*A man in blue tights and a red cape comes towards the trio.*
Mammomax: Well, look here, Lex, it's your old nemesis.
Lex: Another pain in the neck. Elmo.... this is Superman.
Superman: Go **** yourself, Lex.
Elmo: That's a very naughty word.
Superman: Go **** yourself, kid.
Mammomax: Shocking, you think?
Elmo: Why did Superman say that?
Mammomax: He's apparently always had a foul mouth.
Superman: Damn right. Just like Ma and Pa raised me.
Mammomax: He was the greatest hero in his dimension.
Lex: And my arch foe, the man I hated above all others...
Superman: Awww, wah wah wah, poor ****ing Lex Luthor.
Elmo: But why does a hero spend all his time using no-no words?
Superman: Like I said, kid, I was raised that way. My Ma and Pa were the biggest ****ing dope growers in the Mid-West. They cursed all the ****ing time. They also grew some really premium weed, let me tell you. Real good to smoke that ****. Then one day, I'm minding my own business, and a gigantic elephant man comes through a dimensional wall and enters my world. One of those damned clones of yours, Max. One of those damned MegaMammomaxes. And what makes that even worse? That thing has Kryptonite coursing through his bloodstream! I ****ing died because of a giant elephant man! That's no way for a ****ing hero to ****ing die! No way at all!
Mammomax: Listen up, my clones are not my fault.
Lex: Wish I'd thought of giant elephant man clones.
Mammomax: That was a project by Mister Sinister.
Superman: What kind of ****ing name is Sinister?
Mammomax: All I am saying is I'm not responsible!
Superman: Oh, it doesn't matter anymore. I'm dead.
Lex: And he doesn't have any powers anymore either.
Superman: Damn you, I told you to go **** yourself!
Elmo: Elmo thinks that Superman is just as nasty and mean as Luthor.
Superman: Superman thinks that Elmo can.... damn! Now I'm doing it!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Winterlude: Over Already? That's Not Fair!

Yes, once more Winterlude has come to an end here in Ottawa and Gatineau, and I for one will miss it. It's a festival that brings in hundreds of thousands each year to skate on the Rideau Canal, to take in the city, and to celebrate the best weather Canada has to offer. Yes, I'm talking about the winter, quiet, you summer worshippers.... Goodbye, Ice Hogs who look like chipmunks....

One of the basic staples of Winterlude is the Beavertail, which, contrary to what you might think, is neither something kinky or a part of an actual beaver. It's a flat pastry, fried and covered with a variety of toppings. It's a business that's been around awhile, here in Ottawa, and if you pay a visit here, you have to try one out. There are permanent locations in the city, and numerous booths set up for festivals and big days like Canada Day.

I only got over to the other side of the Ottawa River, to Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau, on the weekend, where I was dismayed to find that the snow sculptures were absent this year. It's actually my favourite part of the entire festival, sculpture teams from all provinces and territories carving out blocks of snow into art forms. Instead, there were a couple about in what's generally a children's play area, with giant snow slides built in the park, right beside the frozen river.

And so once again, time to put away the celebrations for another year. It doesn't mean the winter's over, of course. There's still all of March. And April. And May. And even June.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

All The King's Speech Therapists

Lionel Logue: "Why should I waste my time listening to you?"
King George VI: "Because I have a voice!"
Lionel Logue: "....yes, you do."

The Oscars are once more upon us (a blog or two about that will follow in coming days), and the smart money is on The King's Speech. The historical drama starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter leads the nominees, with nods for all three leads, Best Picture, Best Director (Tom Hooper), Cinematography, Screenplay, and Score. The film has not only been a critical hit, but has also resonated with worldwide audiences.

I first saw the film in December after its release, and found it a powerful, moving telling of the story of King George VI (Firth) and his struggle to overcome the speech impediment of stuttering during the lead-up to World War Two. I saw it again, and decided it was time to give it a proper review.

The film opens with Prince Albert, the future king, stumbling badly during a speech at Wembley Stadium in 1925, a moment which is a personal humiliation for him. During the years that follow, he tries various treatments to overcome his stuttering, but to no avail. We see the reasons for it. There's a strict father, King George V (Michael Gambon). Childhood issues such as repressive nannies, death in the family, and physical issues are all brought up. There's the complex relationship with a favoured brother, Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), always the preferred son, and really, something of a vain, self absorbed prat. There, I said it. The guy was a self absorbed prat. And a Nazi sympathizer. It's not like I'll get tossed in the Tower of London for saying that, right?

Getting back to it....

Albert's devoted wife Elizabeth (Carter) encourages him to try one more option, an Australian named Lionel Logue (Rush), living in London. Logue is somewhat unorthodox, to say the least. As time unfolds, his treatments range from breathing exercises to recordings to (in a very memorable scene) coaxing the King into cursing. Logue also probes for the causes behind the stuttering.

With the death of their father, Edward ascends to the throne, only to abdicate for love of Wallis Simpson (though his sympathies to Nazi Germany might have more to do with it). Albert becomes George VI, ascending to a role he was never meant to inhabit, in an age where he is expected to speak. Centuries ago, it would have been enough for a king to appear, to wave, and remain quiet had he wished. Not so much in an age of mass communication. And so, in the years that follow, the King and Logue work together, their relationship sometimes tense and growling, to overcome the stutter and to build confidence. In their own way, the two men become friends.

With the coming war, the King must prepare for an address to rally the nation to the cause against Nazi Germany. Logue coaches him, helping him to deliver what will become the most important address of his life. For the rest of their lives, the two men remain close (the King knights Logue, not too bad for an Aussie), and Logue remains a calming, trusted presence in the Royal household.

The film is outstanding, and the actors are well cast. Firth brings an extraordinary dignity and strength to the role of King George, mixed with a genuine feeling of frustration that the man himself must have felt at his vocal impediment. I've seen that Firth tends to gather a lot of female admirers, a likely result of first seeing him in Pride and Prejudice, where he played the iconic role of Darcy. For my part, the first impression I had of Firth is from Shakespeare In Love, where he plays the complete bastard. It's an impression that still resonates with me, but Firth's always a fine actor, and really inhabits this role well. He makes us feel empathy for the King, to understand. It's a marvel to behold.

Rush gives Logue just the right touch of irreverence and respect. As an actor who's run the gauntlet from films like Pirates of the Caribbean to Les Miserables to Munich to The Tailor of Panama, he's got an eclectic resume, and he plays this part with quiet wisdom, occasional quips, and effortless grace. He comes away with some of the best lines in the film.

Helena Bonham Carter has long been one of my favourite actresses. From playing Olivia in Twelfth Night to voice work in Corpse Bride to her deranged Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter films, she's impeccable, professional, and expressive, a natural talent before the cameras. She lends great warmth and strength to the role of the Queen, a rock of support for her husband. If history rightfully remembers George VI as a good and indeed a great king, Elizabeth had a lot to do with it, and Carter brings off the role perfectly.

Add to that fine performances from the always strong Gambon, Pearce (one of the underrated great actors), and Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill (Kendall Protocol #56: any actor playing Churchill is obliged to chew the scenery). Mix in excellent direction, cinematography, music, costume and set work (all those nominations are there for a reason, you know) and it's a combination that deserves the inevitable Oscars it's going to get.

This is a film that captures the sweep of history and the times, while simultaneously working as a character study. It examines two different relationships: a deeply personal examination of an unlikely friendship between two men from very different worlds, and a marriage between a man and woman who were perfectly suited for each other. It's an exceptional, extraordinary film that everyone should see.

I still rate 127 Hours as the best film of the year, though this one's a worthy second. And with momentum on the side of The King's Speech, it's going to collect a lot of hardware at the Oscars.

Five minutes after posting this review, the writer was arrested by the British for insulting King Edward VIII and hauled off to the Tower of London for fifty years, for regular floggings administered by this man.

Spreading Mayhem In Other Blogs

I wrote this guest blog for Christina at the Blog Entourage; check it out:

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Giant Of A Bird

I thought I'd take a moment to give you a link. Many of you already follow Norma's blogs, but you might not know this. Last night her parakeet Sam passed away at the age of twenty one. As anyone who's had a pet pass away knows, it's a tremendous loss. They're a part of our families.

She's decided to start a new blog, one in his memory, telling us about his life. I'd like you to take a look at it:

Rest in peace, Sam.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


"Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because sometimes they take a rest."  -Alexandre Dumas

Monday, February 14, 2011

Winterlude: Art In Ice

The second weekend of Winterlude is behind us, and I thought I'd pass along some pictures gleaned from various sites, concentrating on ice sculptures this time out...

The main sculptures are on display in Confederation Park downtown, many of them beneath shelters (it's really handy for preserving them that way)....