Tuesday, 24 November 2009

and we're back

For some reason my computer has not allowed me to access blogger.com for the last couple weeks. Another couple of websites too, but blogger is the one that matters to you. I should have addressed this problem AT ONCE, but I am not an AT ONCE kind of guy, and let the problem slide and slide. And then yesterday morning I plugged in the computer and -- on a whim -- typed in my website and hit up blogger and got in. There's a lesson there, but I don't really know what it is. Leave things alone and they'll get better, I suppose. I should have posted RIGHT AWAY but, like I said, I am not that kind of guy. Anyway, here we are, finally.
So how have you all been? It's been a while. Hope no one has died or got ill or lost their job or been turned down by someone they asked out, or spent a lot of money on a watermelon that turned out to be lousy. That happened to me a while ago, and it sent my whole day into a downward spiral.

Let's do movies. I saw two recently, and they illustrate something. I'm not sure what. Maybe it'll come to me as I type. First was Away We Go. That's the one with John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph travelling across America, sampling bits and bites of culture and personality as they look for the right place to start their own family. It's a good movie. I'm not as big a Krasinski fan as my Office loving daughter, but he does a fine job. Rudolph is an even better. Together they make a totally charming loving funny couple. You want to be them. The sad and odd weirdos they meet along the way are all well conceived. The dialogue is spot on. Everything works.

You think there's a but coming, don't you. But nothing. It's a good movie, like I said.

So why did I like Bad Lieutenant Port of Call New Orleans so much more? It is a flawed movie. Nicolas Cage is out of control. The ending is wrong -- an odd mix of cop-out and kick in the head. The dialogue is not perfect by any means. Even the title is sort of dumb. I may not have it right. But damn it the movie is watchable. Cage is absolutely mesmerising as he chews the scenery. The action builds and builds. The visuals are stunning, from the opening shot of the snake swimming through filthy water to the break-dancing soul of the drug kingpin. There are drop-jaw moments - the singing iguana (that's the scene in the picture) and Cage roughing up an elderly lady come to mind right away. For all its imperfections, Bad Lieutenant is a memorable piece of film making.

Maybe that's the point I am trying to get at. Away We Go rolls smoothly along. It's a good movie. Bad Lieutenant stumbles, falls, gets back up and totters towards greatness.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

master of all I survey

This just in from the never believe a survey front. Last month, in what would have been a moment of drunken idiocy, except that I was sober, I agreed to participate in a broadcasting survey. (What can I say -- I got the phone call while my pot of potatoes was boiling over. Somehow it was easier to say yes and hang up than to say no and hang up.) The next week, the booklets arrived. Three booklets. One for me, one for Imo and one for Ed. (Somehow it was easier to tell the truth and say there were three people in the household at the moment than to lie and say only one.) I put the surveys on the counter, ignored them for a couple of weeks, and then began to feel guilty. Another week or so went by, and I figured we really should fill in the booklets.
The kids protested but I insisted. And, I said, there's a twoonie taped to the back page for you. Which was enough incentive. We opened our booklets together.
The survey wanted a record of age, marital status, ethnic background, and income level as well as radio listening patterns for a week. I spent a half hour on mine, trying to remember when and for how long I had listened to what station. On a scale of one to ten for accuracy, I would score my survey a seven. Imo and Ed finished their booklets in slightly less time, and went off to the convenience store to spend their twoonies. I mailed the surveys off in the envelope provided, and forget about them.
Yesterday I got a phone call about Imogen's survey. She wasn't around. I explained that I was her father and asked how I could help. The market testing guy wanted to know about a radio station nicknamed "The Bear's Den," which Imo claimed to have listened to a lot during the test week. I told him that it was an oldies station (now, for some reason, it was easier to lie than to tell the truth and say I had never heard of it. Though the picture up there looks more heavy metal, don't you think?). He thanked me and hung up.
When Imo came home I asked her about her survey. She told me how she'd filled it in, and I began to laugh. Not only were all the radio stations made up, so were the personal data. Imogen claimed to be widowed, of Polish descent, and 87 years old. Oh, and her income last year was $475, 000.
What the analysts will make of a well-to-do elderly east-European widow listening to oldies rock and roll I do not know. Especially since their verification source is her (presumably at least centenarian) father. Personally, I wouldn't trust any of their conclusions.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

halloween past and present

So Halloween has been and gone. My kids take it more seriously than I do. Indeed they take most things more seriously than I do. (I was reading a mystery story the other day, and one of the guys in it said that he had kids who were older than he was. I knew what he meant at once. )

Thea went to Kingston to visit Sam, and the two of them ended up at the same party. Both decided to cross dress this year. Thea went as "Babe" Lincoln, complete with beard and mole (permanent magic marker, which she had trouble getting off the next day) and Sam and his friend Simon went as the musical couple Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. Sam was Courtney Love. He has the wild blonde hair to begin with, and he wore, Thea told me, the tightest skirt she had ever seen. Gosh I am sorry I missed that, I said, not completely meaning it.

Ed worried and worried about his costume. He wanted something memorable, but not too memorable. He didn't want it to look like he'd worked at it. Cool means not trying to be cool. It's the hardest thing in the world. I think he succeeded in the end (not in not worrying -- but in not appearing to worry). His friend Mark works at McDonald's, and Ed simply borrowed his uniform and name tag, and went to the Halloween party disguised as Mark. His costume won second prize. (I can't help wondering what it would have taken to win -- maybe if he had been Mark?)

Why do they take Halloween so seriously these days? I don't know. It isn't the candy. Is it the concept of identity, of being someone you are not? All I know is that I have not been to a costume party since seventh grade. (I was a mummy, wrapped in rolls and rolls of toilet paper that unravelled when I spilt Coke on myself. A sporty brunette named Robin, whom I rather fancied at the time, laughed her head off at me, and I ran away to the bathroom and wept the bitter tears of twelve years old.)

Geez, that took me back. You know, at that precise moment in my life I think I would have comitted a major crime to be someone I was not. Maybe my kids have the right idea. If I had climbed back into the saddle in Grade Seven, donned a pirate costume, or dressed up as Janis Joplin or Grace Jones (Ha ha, can't help laughing at that picture) maybe I would be better adjusted now. Hmmmm. Maybe it's not too late. You never know, do you? Next year?

Sigh. Sometimes you know.