Monday, February 28, 2005

Oscar Madness!

Okay, so I watched the Academy Awards yesterday. Had a couple of friends over, Dan, who often comments here, and Reay and his girlfriend Jackie. Or at least she was there for most of it. Like me, she is an early riser. Unlike me, her body actually requires sleep, while mine just prefers that I make some effort to get some every now and again. So, she left early. By early I mean somewhere around the 2-2.5 hour mark. And that is the problem.

Okay, new rule: Award shows for movies should not be longer than the movies themselves. I have several suggestions on how to make the Academy Awards broadcast more interesting. And surprisingly, none of them involve nudity.

  1. Get rid of some of the awards. The truth is, the average person doesn't care about Sound Mixing, or even Sound Editing. Both are crafts that are integral to our movie enjoyment, but are not necessarily of interest to the average person. Do them during the commercials (so they can still get the accolades of their peers) and show a list of who won afterwards. Post the speech on the internet for all to see. I'm not even sure editing needs to be shown.
  2. Kill the performances of the songs. Especially by the same person. It was hard for me to tell a couple of the songs apart last night, and the performances seemed more about Beyonce than the music. Don't get me wrong: if they could all be performed with the flair of "Blame Canada" several years ago, or even that song from "The Triplets of Belleville" last year, I'm in. One woman singing three songs to varying accompaniment doesn't do it for me.
  3. Don't let Sean Penn talk. Seriously. The man is not interesting. He is an amazingly talented actor, but not right for giving awards. I mean, come on, his little bit about Jude Law last night in response to Chris Rock's joke was stupid. Everyone watching the Oscars knows who Jude Law is. It was a joke.
  4. Don't say dumb things. "Hilary Swank is the first woman to ever be nominated for playing a boxer." Who cares? I mean did we mention that about the first person to be nominated for playing an astronaut? Really, who cares?
  5. Honorary Oscars - more commercial fodder. We don't care that much. That is all about the admiration of your peers - the public doesn't need to watch those.
Those are just a few suggestions - I'm sure a lot of you can come up with some of your own. The problem is, as it stands, much of this over-produced self-congratulatory fest is not fit for public consumption, and this should be changed - by the way, a couple of other things: Does anyone know what happens during the commercials if you are at the awards? Also, I must admit, I've always thought it was very nice that the academy sends a hot young actress to give out the Sci-Tech awards. Not to mention that the women usually look sexier there than at the Oscars themselves. Did you see Scarlett Johansson at the Sci-Tech awards?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Movie Manners, or, How Not to Get Your Ankle Broken.

I mentioned that the question of rude people in movies would be treated in more depth another time... welcome to another time.

I saw a movie the other day (Boogeyman - I am a fan of horror movies, although this one was not great. Well enough directed, but the ending was weak and some of the dialogue was nearly painful) and at it was shown some of the more egregious violation of movie etiquette I have seen in a while.

I was with a friend, and as is our habit, we got there well before the movie, grabbed whatever we needed from the snack bar, and went to get the seats we want. We're both pretty big guys, so we like to sit where there is a rail in front of us, rather than seats, allowing us to stretch our legs out without kicking someone else's seat. The row behind us, in the middle, was a couple. After the movie started, the male of the couple got up to go get snacks. Yes. They were there before the movie, but waited until after about 8 minutes of trailers and commercials and a good 10 minutes of movie to go get snacks. Fortunately, the theatre was empty enough that he didn't have to go past other seated patrons in his row to get out. But off he went.

Several minutes later, he was back, food in hand, and went back to his seat (bumping at least my seat, and I think my friend's along the way) where the woman, who must have been incapable of whispering, began to tell him what he missed. My friend shushed her, and her response was "I was just catching him up on what happened!" I couldn't believe it! Do you think I care what you thought was so important you had to infringe on my enjoyment of the film? If so, you were wrong. And stupid. Then, at several other points throughout the movie, they had to be shushed again. Some people should just stick with renting videos. Talk all you want in the comfort of your own home.

Talking is one of the worst of the habits during movies that bother me. The occasional whisper is fine. But talking at normal volume, or non stop is stupid. Don't do it.

There are also lots of other behaviours that people engage in at movie theatres that bother me, and below is a little list for you:
  • Arriving during the trailers for a movie on opening day or any day if it is a popular movie and making a lot of noise about not being able to get seats in the part of the theatre you want. Guess what? People show up before a movie starts to get decent seats. If your time is too precious to spend fifteen minutes sitting in a theatre, fine. But that means you get those seats down in front. Take them and shut up. Don't compound your self-important stupidity with rudeness.
  • Asking me to move to make room for your party who showed up late. I love movies. I will show up early to get the seat I want for a film. The exact seat I want to sit in, whether it be on the rail so I stretch my legs out, or, in a theatre where that isn't necessary, right in the centre of the screen where I can see it best. Either way, there is no way I am giving up my nice seat to you because you got here too late to find 8 seats together. I know you are more important than everyone else, and there should have been 8 perfect seats reserved for you until well after the trailers started and the theatre was dark, but since someone dropped the ball on that, live with it.
  • Don't kick my seat. Once is an accident. Twice, hours apart is an oversight. Much more than that, and I will break your ankle. And if you have a kid, and the kid is energetic and swinging his feet and they are kicking my seat, I will break your ankle, because you should have taught him better. By about the age of 12 all bets are off though. I'm just turning around, and whichever ankle I get a hold of first is going. And stop that damn whimpering. I can't hear the movie.
  • Repeating lines from the movie. You are a) not as funny as the guy who said it on the screen, so it is not funnier when you repeat the line. b) not as cool as the guy who said the line on screen, so it is not as cool when you repeat the line. c) not in charge of making sure we all heard the line. We did. Shut up. Or d) any of the above, or any other reason why you think you should repeat the line. You are wrong. Don't do it.
  • Asking the person beside you why someone did something, hoping for greater insight than you have. There are two possibilities. 1) you are too stupid to follow your average Hollywood movie. If so? Leave. Go home and read some books. It'll help, and it'll get you out of the way of people who want to, and are able to, enjoy the movies. 2) It'll be explained later, in which case the person sitting beside you has no more insight than you. So shut up.
  • Bringing children into inappropriate movies. Do you remember when The Exorcist was re-released a few years ago? Someone was there with a child young enough that they were carrying it. Hmmm... creepy music, loud sounds, swearing, screaming. Yep. Right where I want my infant. I saw Adaptation, kind of a surreal weird movie in parts, and right behind us was a father and two children of about 10 or 12. I mean, come on! The movie poster was a picture of the star's head changed into a plant pot that had fallen over and was cracked. Does this, and the fact that the writer/director has a reputation for surreality (Being John Malkovich, anyone?) scream to you that kids will enjoy this film? They were bored (they mentioned so, quietly, to their father, who didn't care) but otherwise, remarkably well behaved. But really, why put the kids in that situation?
So, there you have it. My guide to what not to do at the movies. Maybe I should start treating moviegoers like my cats and bring a squirt gun to the movies. Try some negative reinforcement. Just in case, if you are seeing a movie, and all of a sudden the side of your head gets soaked, you might be in violation of one of the things above, and that bald goateed guy with the fluorescent squirt gun glaring at you just might be me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I hope I'm not...

Okay. Here goes a new entry a mere one day after the last - don't get used to it. Today's blog, boys and girls deals with all the things that I hope I am not. The thing is, most of the people who are the things below don't know it, so I could be and just not be aware of it.

Below is the list where a paragraph starts with "..." assume that represents the phrase "I hope I'm not" if you want it to make sense.

... One of those guys who thinks he's funny but isn't. Or even is kind of, but no where near as much as he thinks he is. You all know him - the guy who has to tell the same joke, which no one laughs at, to a bunch of different groups of people. And laughs uproariously at it every time. Or beats a horse that is not only dead, but cremated and had its ashes spread. I mean, it takes some work to keep beating that horse, scattered about as it is, but they find a way. Or the guy who tells racially, sexually or otherwise inappropriate jokes without knowing the tolerance of those around him to them. I have more than a few friends who joke about being brown. It's equally cool for me to reference brownness in jokes with them. Do I call every East Indian I meet "Brown Boy" the first time I meet them? Nope. They might not see the humour. There are a bunch of such examples, but since we all know one of these guys, I'm just going to leave it there and let you fill in the blanks.
There are two subsets of "not as funny as I think I am guy." I'm not sure which is worse - the guy who figures that if you don't react it is because you are stupid, or weren't listening and therefore whatever it was bears repeating, or the guy who demands a reaction: "Get it?" or "Funny stuff, huh?" or "Can you believe that?" Let me lay it out for you, if I didn't react, it's because I am too polite to look at you and say "that wasn't funny." If you insist I react, that is what you will get, because you have now taken from me the luxury of sparing your feelings. You deserve what you get.

... One of those people who thinks others care about his life to a greater degree than they do. I try not to talk about my work too much except to other technical people who might care. I don't think most people care about my car problems, whether or not my newest niece can walk yet, or my hangnail. There are people who do - close friends. And billions upon billions of people who don't. Of course, there is a line here between making polite conversation and boring people out of their minds. I like to believe I know where that line is, but I'm sure everyone who does this to others who do not care thinks they do too. Some of them are so far past the line that it is no longer visible, yet they think that this is because the line is still over the horizon coming towards them. Talking to one of these people is downright painful. I hope I never inflict that pain.

... One of those people who thinks people like him more than they really do. This one is really a pisser, as it often is composed of elements of the first two. People who invite themselves to sit with you at lunch, or follow you around, joining you in whatever you do, 'cause after all you are friends. I haven't had too many of these folks in my life, and none in years, but damn, when I did, I wanted to beat them with their own torn-off arm. If I wanted you around, I'd invite you. If I didn't invite you, it wasn't an oversight. Maybe it was once. More than once, and I didn't want you there.

... One of those guys who thinks that every woman wants him. Okay, I'm bald, carry a little extra weight, and my teeth are a little crooked. But for all that, I am still not a hideously unattractive guy. There might even be a couple of women in the world besides my wife who would like to give me a go. (Sorry ladies - happily married only begins to describe my level of satisfaction in my marriage) This does not mean that every woman I speak to in the course of my life (personal, professional, or both) wants me. Some of them really are just nice people. They are just being friendly. I know, you don't get it - when you talk to a woman it is because you want her, or you have to, or she's related to you. Women and men are different that way. Live with it, and don't embarrass yourself any more than you have to. This doesn't mean you should never try, it just means that one should realize that no one is everyone's "type." Learn to properly read a woman's signals, and you've managed one of life's bigger challenges. Not to mention, you have a writing career ahead of you in Maxim, et. al.

... One of those guys who thinks he is cooler than he is. You know, who wear driving gloves, but cannot pull it off. Same with Aviator shades, and any number of other styles. I know a guy (he's brown) who wears driving gloves. But he is cool enough to pull it off. (Just in case you ever read this, yes, Ack - I called you cool. Don't let it go to your head) Here is the deal - there is a limit to what anyone can pull off. Know your limits. Don't try to exceed them, or you will be mocked, whether it be to your face or behind your back.

... One of those guys who spends an inordinate amount of time letting what others do/think/don't know drive him nuts...


Monday, February 21, 2005

Perils of a litigious society.

Okay. I was going to write a blog entry that would regale you all with tales of my impending mid-life crisis (a little ahead of schedule) where I compare what I have accomplished to what I believe I am capable of in order to determine the net value of my life. Or something.

Instead, I will use this space to rail against one of the things stopping me from being able to easily pursue some of the things I want. Litigation.

I hate many forms of it. Some forms are justified. Some are outright lies, if you have seen some of the more ridiculous ones being circulated on the 'net, please do yourself a favour and become familiar with www.snopes.com. You'll find it in my links on my page.

But here is the thing: I can't send ideas to the people who should pay me for them, because they are afraid that if they use them, I will sue for infringement on intellectual property. What if I send an idea for a cool limited series to a comic book company, and they have someone working on something similar? They tell me no, a year later, they release something similar. I sue them for making money off of my idea. The thing is, it is a risk I'm willing to take. My favorite idea for a comic story is predicated on using characters who have 50 years of history or more with DC. Who else am I going to write that for? It won't work anywhere else. They can have the idea, and pay me for it if they think it is any good. Or don't. Whatever. I just want a chance to impress them with my brilliance.

But they won't even read it.

Similarly, I have some ideas that I think could improve Walt Disney World, quite often my destination of choice for vacations. Ranging from very broad suggestions, to very specific comments. I managed to dig up the mailing address for the guy in charge of Park and Resorts for the company, and sent him the package, stating in the covering letter, that these ideas were offered to them with no expectation of remuneration, on the other hand, if they'd like to hire me due to their uncommon brilliance and insight, I'd be amenable. They came back, unread, I presume, with a letter from a lawyer for the company. "Thanks, but we can't read these, as they are technically 'Creative Ideas' which we will not read unsolicited." Again, this is predicated on the Walt Disney World setup. Without it, the ideas are useless. Take them! Hell, some of them would make my stay more enjoyable, so take them and implement them just so I can enjoy them!

But no. Instead, both the world of comics and the world of Theme Parks is denied my contributions, because somewhere out there, (by which I mean West Virginia) a woman was awarded $2.2 million ($1.9 million of that is punitive) for hurting her back while opening a pickle jar at the convenience store she worked at. Or because some guy who changed his name to "Jack Ass" (I kid you not) is suing Viacom, who own MTV for the damage the show Jackass has done to his reputation and defamation of character, as well as copyright infringement. That's right. They have defamed his good name, the name "Jack Ass." He changed his name in '97 apparently to "raise awareness about drunk driving." He is looking for $10 Million in damages. More details on the Jack Ass suit here.

And so, because of people like this, and the steadily increasing "punitive" component of these kinds of suits, companies can no longer accept unsolicited submissions. And most of them are not soliciting by looking at blogs, so this won't help.

But hey, it's my blog, and lets me get things like this off my chest.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Valentine's day? Bah! Humbug!

Okay, so at the risk of appearing misogynistic between this and my first entry, I have to speak out about Valentine's Day. It is the worst of the made-up "occasions" there are. Except maybe "Sweetest day" which thankfully hasn't caught on up here in Canada yet.
I have several problems with Valentine's Day.
  1. Shouldn't men be showing their partners how they feel on a regular basis? Does it require one special day to do so (or two if you count Sweetest Day)?
  2. Cards. Cards are crap. I think women really like them - I'm not sure what the attraction is, and I know many men who would agree. One of my best friends has a girlfriend who thinks cards are an integral part of any "occasion." I don't get it - for Christmas, I have already spent time and effort buying a great gift, do I really need to go and buy a card that some company mass-produced? Now, were I him, would I do it? Yep. Not because women are always right, but because it's never wrong to try (for either gender) to make your partner happy. Doesn't mean I would understand it any better, though.
  3. Unevenness. I mean really. Let's see, for most guys, cards don't do much. Flowers even less, and chocolates will not be savoured, in fact we'll end up "sharing" them with the very woman who gave them to us. We might get sex on Valentines, but unless there are other issues in your relationship, that is neither reward nor gift, but something that happens with some regularity. Lingirie falls in to much the same category - I mean, if it is only worn on Valentines day, then she really doesn't like it and shouldn't bother anyway. Otherwise, if she wears it regularly, then it's hardly a "special treat" now is it?
I don't want to try to stop people who like this kind of occasion from celebrating it, but my wife agrees it is crap. She brought it up. It was back when we were saving for a place of our own, and she figured that putting the money I'd normally spend on such things towards the down payment was a better choice. Then she found that she didn't miss it, and has since decided it is crap that we shouldn't even bother observing. The only problem is, her best friend is regularly aghast that I don't buy her things for Valentines Day, taking this as an indicator there is something wrong with our relationship. I have made my wife cry with Christmas presents, and we have been together for almost 13 very happy years. But because we don't buy into an exuces for flower, chocolate and card companies to soak us for money, there is something wrong? Hardly.

Anyhow, if you enjoy the day, great. But take a step back and look at the "holiday" (Hallmark's description - I'd like the day better if I got it off of work) and see it for what it is - a money grab that plays on women's desires and abilities to make men's lives miserable.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Clear! The aggressive way to bring back some life to courtesy.

Okay, you've all heard it before: Courtesy is dead. Maybe it has flatlined, but if we've learned anything from hospital shows on television, all you have to do is get out them paddles and look determined, and anyone or anything can be brought back.

Of course, the problem is, that my instinct when faced with someone who is discourteous is to be even more so back at them. For instance: there is a local strip mall that has a convenience store in it. This store is somewhat larger than your average store, and includes a bakery and deli. It sees a fair amount of business. But it is in a strip mall, so there is a parking lot right there. The nearest spots are about 30 feet from the door, and the next row of spots about 20 feet past that. Now here's the thing. People are always stopping right in front of the door. I guess they are more important than everyone else, who has to walk those 50 feet. Nope, they are so important that not only should they not have to make that walk, but they even feel its okay to block the door so the rest of us have to walk around their car/van/SUV/whatever.

I'm not typically the kind of person who believes in vandalizing others' property. But I swear, it is hard for me to resist the urge to leap up onto the hood of the vehicle and stomp my way across it in taking the most direct route to my car. You see, as mentioned above, this is the dilemma: the most tempting way to deal with discourtesy is to be even more discourteous right back at them. And of course, who would get arrested? Mr. Stopped in everyone else's way, or the guy who damaged someone's property? Yep. Not the guy who should.

And this pattern goes on. Everywhere in life, there are people who think they are more important than those around them. Line jumpers, people who stop in one lane of a busy street in rush hour to drop a video in the return slot, people who talk during movies (which will one day be a rant all unto itself, believe me) and anyone else who puts their convenience or whatever they feel like doing over everyone else's pleasure and convenience.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we should all be softies who let people walk all over us, but seriously, let's go back to the Golden Rule: If you don't want someone to stomp on your hood (and maybe stop to take a leak halfway across) don't be an idiot.

Or something to that effect.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Did I miss the memo?

When did it happen that women were declared to always be right? Not that I think men are always right, but come on! Let me give a few examples:

The toilet seat. I mean, sure, it sucks to put your ass into a cold toilet bowl becuase the seat is up in the middle of the night. There are a lot of other things that sitting in sucks too. So you look before you put your ass down anywhere. Especially if your ass is naked. Why is one way better than the other? 'Cause women say so.

Sex in relationships. Bill Maher once did a riff on the relationship therapists idea of "exploring your mutual fantasies." He pointed out there is no such thing. I don't remember the exact quote, but to paraphrase, it went something like this: There is no fantasy that starts out with Prince Charming bringing roses and weight-gain-free chocolates to sweep the woman off of her feet, and take her to his perfectly clean home, only to have him come on her face. And he is right. How often do you hear people giving advice to men about creating romance. Do you ever hear a relationship cousellor say "the problem is you don't put out like a porn star. That'd keep him happy. And next time you're in the mood, bring your hottest girlfriend home too." Nope. The women's way is "right" and guys are perverts who should change.

Anything else in relationships. Why is it most women I know a) don't recognize the value of a weekend day where you do nothing, and b) can't do whatever it is that stops them from doing nothing alone? I want a new book or DVD, I'll go out and grab it. A woman wants it, why even though she knows exactly what she wants and where to find it, she needs someone to go with her. And of course, I'm the insensitive one if I don't go. Why? 'Cause someone decided the woman is always right. Or at least that is the way I see it.

But then, having a penis, I'm probably wrong.