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Now with 100% less Charlie Sheen.

The Shallows

Just when you thought it was safe to go surfing in Mexico.

Star Wars Episode II

The Anakin Strikes Back.

Get Out

Somebody call the TSA.

Battlestar Galactica: Season 3

My Triumphs, My Mistakes.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Life, The Universe, and Stephen Hawking

On March 14, 2018, the world witnessed the passing of Stephen Hawking, world-renowned (dare I say legendary) physicist and one of the truly greatest minds of this or any other time. To say Professor Hawking was a significant contributor to human progress is a bit of an understatement; his name is now mentioned in the same breath as Newton and Einstein as one of a very select group of individuals who has so greatly increased humanity's understanding of our universe that it seems unfathomable to the average person. There are very few people - living or dead - of whom it can be said that it was an honour to simply inhabit this tiny, blue orb hurtling through space into the unknown at the same time that they did. Stephen Hawking was one of those few.

Over the years, Stephen Hawking reached an iconic status, not just for his groundbreaking work in physics and cosmology, but also for his ambition and his ability to take his complex theories and make them accessible for a broader audience outside of academia, perhaps most notable with his most well-known work, A Brief History of Time.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

ReBoot: The Guardian Code. ReBoot's... Reboot Reimagined

ReBoot was an animated show that aired in the mid- to late- '90s that had the distinction of being a) the first fully CGI animated show and b) Canadian. Not only was it groundbreaking technologically, it was also made in the best country in the world (of course, as a Canadian, I may be slightly biased.) It expanded quite a bit narratively in later seasons, but the basic premise was simple: a bunch of digital sentient beings living in the city of Mainframe were protected by a Guardian named Bob and his companions Enzo and Dot Matrix from a multitude of threats in the form of anthropomorphized computer viruses like Megabyte and Hexadecimal as well as games being played by the user, which manifested as giant glowing cubes of energy that would engulf and endanger huge swaths of the digital city and its inhabitants.

In short, it was sheer awesomeness.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sitting on the Dock of the Baywatch, Watching a Film Float Away

As I was watching the 2017 cinematic reimagining of the staple '90s TV show Baywatch, one question kept popping into my head: Who was this made for? It wasn't a rhetorical question either. I genuinely couldn't fathom who the intended audience of this movie was. I wasn't a huge fan of the original Baywatch TV show, though I was familiar with it insofar as many young men of my generation were familiar with it as ready source of scantily clad women running in slow motion directly off the screen and into the hearts and spank banks of millions. I don't know if you could have beeen a heterosexual boy or teen in the '90s and not have Pamela Anderson be a part of your sexual awakening.

The point in danger of getting lost is that I am by no means an expert on the plot lines, characters, or themes of individual episodes. All I am left with is an overall impression of the show in general and a grudging respect for David Hasselhoff's impressive chest hair. And despite the fact that the original Baywatch TV show seemed like an excuse to show off some fit dudes and chicks in their bathing suits wrapped up in melodrama, it all seemed to be earnest in its intent. There was no satire or winking at the audience; there was no need for any of that. There was no deeper or secret meaning or commentary or metanarrative. Everything that Baywatch wanted to say was out there, barely contained and bouncing around in a bright red bathing suit.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Somewhere Over the Deepwater Horizon... Unnatural Disasters...In Search of a Villain

I'm always kind of leery about movie based on modern historical events, i.e., anything that's happened within decade or so of the movie being made about it. I think it's difficult to get the perspective needed to truly treat the subject matter in as dispassionate and objective a manner as possible, which is the goal - stated or implied - in any kind of based-on-a-true-story movie. Unless you're someone like Oliver Stone, whose movies like JFK are actually best classified as historical fan fiction, as they borrow the names of actual people, but in no way attempt to represent actual events in any effort to achieve any semblance of verisimilitude (much to the protestations of Stone himself). Don't get me wrong: I love JFK (the movie). I think it's scarier than most horror movies (something about conspiracies, when done well, creeps me the fuck out), but it's also mostly based entirely on the mad howlings of conspiracy theorists, and its wild claims are easily debunked with the combination of a few minutes of your time and a working Internet connection.

Despite my misgivings and the temporal proximity between its subject matter and its development, I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed Deepwater Horizon. The film covers the immediate aftermath of the disastrous explosion and resulting catastrophic oil spill of the titular drilling platform, depicting how the workers on the oil rig were able to survive those harrowing first hours until they were able to be rescued. It's a surprisingly apolitical depiction of the worst ecological disaster in recent memory, choosing - quite correctly if somewhat unsatisfactorily - to focus on the human cost and toll instead of taking the all too easy approach of vilifying BP, the oil company in charge of the site and ultimately held responsible for the horrific events of that fateful day, including the deaths of eleven people.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2017, A Year in Review: Is that a New Year in Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Happy to See Me

Of all the years that have ever been, 2017 was certainly one of them. Not to sell 2017 short. Well, kinda, I guess. It was relatively harmless, and not particularly earth-shattering. I suppose that's the kind of banal sort of back-handed platitude that's as meaningless as it is uninspiring, but it has the benefit of being true. Personally speaking, 2017 represented a slight upward trend; as for the international sociopolitical trend, well, I will expound on that at another time, but needless to say our neighbours to the south in the grand old US of A seem to have gone off the rails a bit.

Maybe it's the slow grind towards middle age, but as the years go by, I can't help but feel a little bit of Groundhog Day syndrome, where it feels like I'm stuck living the same year over and over again to a certain extent. I suppose 2017 is what I might term a baseline year, in that nothing truly extraordinary was added to my own personal history, but it is necessary to help establish a point of reference against which to weigh future experiences.

So once again, I will raise the metaphorical glass and tip the metaphorical hat to a year gone by. 2017 did some heavy lifting; she deserves her retirement.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

What's in a Car? A Sedan By Any Other Name... Ode to a Family's First Wheels

In August of 2006, my wife and I drove off the lot with a brand new 2007 Kia Magentis and a huge debt. On Tuesday, November 14, 2017, that same car was dropped off at a different dealership in a different town, most likely to be stripped for parts, then scrapped, with maybe some obligatory junkyard sex in and/or with the backseat. (Listen, I'm not sure what kind of kinky sex stuff the average junkyard owner is into, and I'm not going to judge. All I know is that a man can get lonely out there in the scrapyard, and there's no shame in a man doing what he needs to do to stay warm on those long, cold, winter nights.)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Get Out, Like Literally

Full Disclosure: I am not black. This is not meant as a political or social statement, simply a statement of fact. I am not black. I have no idea what it is like to live as a black man in America (Full FULL Disclosure: I am also Canadian). Or anywhere else for that matter. I do know that in the Western world, the lived experience of black people and other minorities is very different from my own lived experience as a (handsome) white male. I know this mostly because of Dave Chappelle.

No, Dave and I don't hang out on weekends, reminiscing over a cold Samuel Jackson and avoiding car rides with Wayne Brady. He's a world-famous comedian, and I'm just a regular, handsome, charming, talented, soon-to-be-discovered literary savant. No, back in the halcyon days of 2005, I was introduced to a little piece of television history known as Chappelle's Show. It was obviously a brilliant work of comedy from Dave Chappelle, but more than that, it was a commentary on racial issues, which to a young, white man who grew up and lived the first part of his life in a relatively homogeneous culture, was eye-opening to say the least. I would go so far as to say enlightening, but I wouldn't want to be accused of hyperbole.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Horse Named Terry

"Do you want to come and meet Terry?" Her brown eyes wide. Sparkling. The embodiment of child-like wonder. If ever I'd had cause to use the phrase, this had been it.

"Sure, kiddo." This was not a request to be refused. Hearts of stone would crumble from the look in those eyes. Ravaging marauders would have given pause at the look on my daughter's face before continuing their rampage. The village would be burned, but that skip in time, that temporal record scratch, would have marked the moment forever.

I followed my daughter through the stables to the very end of a row of stalls, past other horses, to find Terry, the smallest of the lot, and my daughter's mount for the previous week. More of a pony, really, than a horse. A dwarf amongst giants. But when my daughter had ridden him a mere twenty or so minutes before, her head had practically been obscured for all the clouds so high had she sat.

Some familiar smells: the hay, the manure, the wood from the old barn, hide and hair. A thousand different odours combined that most people knew as "the farm smell:" a brown sludge. But to those versed in such things, there was an entire palette there with all kinds of data ripe for the collating. I'd grown accustomed to my (sub)urban environment and the accompanying smells, but some things would not--indeed could not--be forgotten, and I still had a vocabulary for such things, limited though it was.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Future is Now: The Good, The Bad, and The Irreversible

If ever there was a movie for which the phrase "Your reputation precedes you" has applied, Irreversible is it. Written and directed by Gaspar Noé and released back in the halcyon days of 2002 in complete defiance of all that was ever considered good and holy, Irreversible quickly established itself in the cinematic cannon among cinephiles of all varieties, amateur and professional alike, as a rite of passage. Especially in the circles in which I travelled, it was considered required viewing, on par with other emerging and cult classics like Memento and Donnie Darko, part of a dark ritual of initiation. For whatever reason, it was a rite that I had never performed until fifteen years after the fact, even delaying nearly a year after picking up a used copy of the DVD (in pristine condition) at a local shop that deals in such wares.

Well, it wasn't for whatever reason. Irreversible is known for two things even by people who have never seen it: the reverse chronological structure of the narrative and that scene. You know, the scene where Monica Bellucci is brutally raped. Yeah, that scene.

I'm usually not squeamish when it comes to all varieties of fucked up shit portrayed in cinema. But something about Irreversible curled itself around my brain and wouldn't let go. As is usually the case with these things, my mind took those small kernels, planted them in the fertile earth of my imagination, watered them with ambiguity, and watched the Legend grow.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Life, Death, and Aliens... The Arrival of Something Bigger Than Ourselves. Also, Weird Spider Monsters

Perhaps one of the oldest questions that has plagued humankind throughout the ages is the question of whether or not we have free will. Well, I guess considering the totality of human history, it might be tied with "What the hell is this thing that's killing me?!" The free will question seems tantalizing specifically because it's intangible. We may not always have known what was killing/eating us, but there was always concrete evidence of death, whether it be a plague-riddled corpse or some bones in mound of lion shit. Free will is "fun" to speculate about because, currently, there's no way to prove it either way. The significance is clear: are we free agents, forging our destiny and boldly splitting infinitives where nobody has split them before, or are our lives and the choices we make merely the end result of forces beyond our control? In our relationship with the cosmos, were we pitching or catching?

It's a tough question to square away, what with the lack of any current means of quantifying it, but it's also kind of central to our lives as sapient beings. It's also kind of a loaded question. The implication in most cases is that having free will is preferable to not having free will, and that in the demonstrable absence of free will, we would lose any sense of agency and accountability.