Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reading Update

Sky Gilbert - English Gentleman: For me, this was not an enjoyable read. It was more like a labour, and not one of love. Maybe it's because I have never read Peter Pan and have never seen any movie or play of Peter Pan. Maybe it's because we used to make fun of Peter Pan. In fact, as children, when we didn't like someone's boots or shoes, we called them "Peter Pan getaway boots." I found the massive amount of fictitious correspondence to be rather tedious, though I will admit that it was very well done. In the end, I guess I really don't care very much about the real or fake James Barrie. I was happy when I reached the last page. I give this book 3/5.

Justin Cartwright - White Lightning: I have no idea why Justin Cartwright is not more famous. His writing appears to be effortless and he's a true pleasure to read. I can't possibly give this novel the praise it deserves here, so if you are interested, I recommend this review. I give this book 4.7/5.

Geoff Nicholson - Still Life with Volkswagens: Every now and then, one has to read something funny, something bizarre, really. How about Neo-Nazi skinheads, exploding Volkswagens, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Adolf Hitler? I will have to read the first book, Street Sleeper. You might want to start with it too. I give this book 3.9/5.

Michael Winter - The Big Why: I thoroughly enjoyed This All Happened, Winter's first novel, but I would wager that this one is better. It is a thought-provoking fictional portrayal of Rockwell Kent's time in Newfoundland. Winter is someone who is clearly at ease with all facets of the English language, and one thing that impressed me is his mastery of dialogue and wit. I give this book 4.3/5.

J.M. Coetzee - In the Heart of the Country: I would describe this book as being a very challenging read, but probably one that is worthwhile. In truth, I have enjoyed some of Coetzee's other books more, but there is something compelling about this one, though it is at times a frustrating reading experience. I give this book 4.2/5.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscars, part 11

Here is a prediction. Someday, an American production company will film an Americanized version of Slumdog Millionaire, probably under the title of Redneck Millionaire. As we know, there is a paucity of ideas in Hollywood. If there is any justice, Regis Philbin will get to play Regis Philbin. Who knows, maybe he will win an Academy Award.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscars, part 10

Good night.
Oscars, part 9

Why did they drop the brief clip when nominations are read? I miss that reminder or example. Instead, we see a bunch of clips of former winners accepting their awards. This makes no sense to me.
Oscars, part 8

Best Original Song: I was happy to learn that Peter Gabriel withdrew from the Awards. He felt that the one minute allotted to him for his performance was too short, and I have to agree. They should have cut the Hugh Jackman songs and allowed the nominated songs to be performed in their entirety.
Oscars, part 7

It's Heath. No surprise there. A few sad moments here. But, my question is: why does Kevin Kline persist with a mustache?
Oscars, part 6

I will say it: the Oscars are boring this year, very boring. Hugh Jackman singing and dancing doesn't help either. His second number is painful, unlistenable really. Where is Billy Crystal?
Oscars, part 5

[Gluten-free cake break].
Oscars, part 4

Thank god count = 1.

In other news, I think my knives are too sharp. I keep cutting myself on these new ones. My old knives were so dull, it took a good deal of effort to cut anything. These ones are so sharp, I can cut myself and not feel a thing, not notice until the blood drips onto the salad.
Oscars, part 3

Tina Fey and Steve Martin made me laugh.
Oscars, part 2

The set seems claustrophobic to me, like they don't really have enough space. Why do they insist on all of this looking back stuff? No wonder the show is so long. Do we really need to be reminded of who won Oscars 70 years ago?

What ever happened to Ted Danson? I wonder this while watching Whoopi Goldberg. What's up with Goldie Hawn's boobs?

I think they might need more draconian methods of keeping the thank you speeches shorter, like maybe a trap door that winners can be dropped through should they rattle on too long, like Penelope Cruz.
Oscars, part 1

It's not over, but I can already say that Hugh Jackman's opening number is kind of dumb. Dude can sing, but I am not enjoying this at all. Where is Billy Crystal?
Red Carpet #2

Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes is brilliant casting, if you ask me. I am looking forward to that movie. I thought he was great in Wonder Boys. I loved that film.

I feel sorry for those accountants. Their tuxes just never look as good and they can't really get away with anything cutting-edge.
Red Carpet

As long as I don't have to see Joan Rivers on the red carpet, I will be happy. So far, this evening is Joan-free, and that is making me somewhat less cynical, but I am annually mystified by this spectacle of "who are you wearing?" One year, someone will walk down the red carpet with a real person draped over them. That would be something to see. Anyway, I give two thumbs up to Freida Pinto. She is quite a fetching lass.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ban Telemarketing!

More than 3.3 million numbers were registered on the national Do-Not-Call List within a few days of it going live. So many people tried to access it, that it crashed only a few minutes after opening on its first day!

The CRTC projects that 60% of Canadians will eventually add their numbers to the list. I assume that many of the remainder are simply too busy or lazy to add their numbers. You know, like those who failed to exercise their democratic right to vote in our last election. All of this leads me to a not-so-radical solution, which is to ban telemarketing, or to make it opt-in only.

Let me repeat, 60% of Canadians are expected to add their numbers to the list. We allow a party to govern that only won 38% of the popular vote. Far more people are opposed to telemarketing than are in favour of the current government, so what's the problem? The mad dash to the Do-Not-Call list is a de facto referendum on the practice. Canadians have rarely been in such agreement about anything at any time.

Of course, I added my number, and was informed that it will take some time (I can't remember how long) for the number to be really added. Oddly, the number of unwanted calls INCREASED immediately. I have had more calls from telemarketers than before I added my number! WTF? If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd have lots to say about that.

Personally, I hate telemarketing more than spam (the unsolicited email, not the dubious canned meat).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Shining 'cross this dark highway where our sins lie unatoned

It was cold yesterday morning, but not too cold. Minus 4 degrees Celsius, if I remember correctly. That's a fine cycling temperature. It's a hell of a lot better than plus 30, that's for sure. One sweats in those conditions, and risks arriving at work in need of a shower. Yeah, it's gross. On those days, I ride slowly, slowly. But yesterday, the roads were clear but not because the City of Toronto finally managed to properly clear the roads. The warm weather had intervened and returned the roads to a more cycling-friendly state. They were flat, ice-free, open.

At this time of year, I think people start hankering for spring. It's a bit too soon. Yesterday morning, I saw a guy cycling with no gloves and wearing only a fleece for warmth. Clearly, he suffers from delusions. Later, waiting at a traffic light (something many cyclists don't bother to do), I heard some music. At the next light, I realized that the music was coming from a car right beside me.

I guess he thought it was spring. The windows were down, the cold air flowing through his hair. If one is going to blast the tunes with the windows down, certain musical choices have to be made. Some music just doesn't work, especially in association with certain automobiles. I mean, you can't blast Madonna...well, unless you are driving a PT Cruiser or a VW Beetle or maybe even a Mini Cooper. I don't think it is OK to drive a muscle car are treat the neighbourhood to the musical stylings of ABBA, for example.

So, I look over and notice that this dude is driving a nondescript American-type car. Out of his windows came My Father's House, from Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska album. I was actually quite stunned. Most people on the planet consider Nebraska to be one of the most boring albums ever made. Not this guy: he had it cranked. But, I realized that his car agreed with the music.

This morning it is snowing again and the roads are being dusted in white.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

PR Stunt?

I would say yes:

There are rumours that he is working on a mockumentary.

Friday, February 13, 2009

4 Day Weekend

I spent day one cleaning. I vacuumed the whole house, mopped the floors, ran the dishwasher, cleaned all of the crap out from under the kitchen sink. The bathroom awaits my attention. I also went grocery shopping and made a trip to get light bulbs, of all things. Oh, and I am cooking dinner right now. I would call this spring cleaning, except that there is no spring. I might have to do laundry too. But, that would lead to ironing, and I am not sure if this is a good day for that.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Since my blogging enthusiasm is awaiting a reboot, I offer an update on some recent music acquisitions, in short, non-grammatical utterances.

Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes: Seattle dudes. Quintet, harmonic, baroque-ish, pop. Maybe Bob Dylan meets the Beach Boys.

The Most Serene Republic - Underwater Cinematographer: Not Venice. Milton's most famous band. Milton's only band? Indie rock.

David Byrne & Brian Eno - Everything that Happens will Happen Today: Electronic gospel? From two icons, the father of ambient music and that new wave dude. Good track, this one.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


For those of you who are wondering, yes, he is still alive, so stop worrying :-) We exchanged email today. Perhaps one day, he will make a reappearance, like New Kids on the Block did this year.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Grammy's, part 10

Album of the Year: Raising Sand :-) That's a good choice.
Grammy's, part 9

Paul McCartney with Dave Grohl wasn't too bad, I have to say.
I might get a hat, after seeing Jack Black sporting a hat. Why have I avoided hats for so much of my life? Why do the Grammy's wait until everyone is dead before giving them a lifetime achievement award?

Male Vocal Performance: bunch of garbage, but John Mayer is probably the least offensive.

Radiohead: Now that is a cool performance! I am sure this will be the pinnacle of the night.
Grammy's, part 8

Please Read the Letter is a great song. I am happy it won.
Grammy's, part 7

Stevie Wonder with the Jonas Brothers? Get real.
Blink 182 is back! Who cares?
Best Rock album: If there was any justice, the Raconteurs would have won.
That Katy Perry song is ridiculous, despite the positive message contained therein.
I wonder what people would say if I showed up dressed like Kayne West.
Grammy's, part 6

I am not a fan of the Kid Rock song (the one that rips off Lynard Skynard, but I will admit to liking the video. Miley Cyrus can't sing, or perhaps I should say that I hate her voice (even her speaking voice).

Thank God Robert Plant and Alison Krauss won. I love the album they recorded and, although I am a huge Led Zeppelin fan, I really don't care if the band ever tours again. I'd like the pair of them to make some more music, though. In other words, I am for new music.
Grammy's, part 5

Song of the year. Well, Coldplay was the best of the lot, if you ask me.
Grammy's, part 4

Speaking of musical messes, there's Carrie Underwood. What kind of ridiculous song is that? It just occurred to me that there is no host. Why? I guess I should point out that I really hate country music, so I have nothing to say about that category. Country music just sounds ridiculous to me, and I mean both in lyrics and in sound.
Grammy's, part 3

I don't hate Coldplay, but I am not a huge fan. They are OK. I was a bit mystified when I first heard Viva la Vida. It struck me as being a bit of a mess, or maybe I just didn't get it. I seriously do not get the duet with the rapper (whoever he is). The whole performance is a mess. Viva la Vida has grown on me a bit, but maybe I have just gotten used to it.
Grammy's, part 2

Whitney Houston sounds like she is on drugs.

Why do people (Jennifer Hudson, for example) thank God so much? I firmly believe that God has nothing to do with it.

Listening to Justin Timberlake sing along side Al Green highlights which one is really a singer and which one isn't.

While editing some photos, I kept one eye on the silly red carpet phenomenon. Who cares what people are wearing? Well, Paula Abdul looked ridiculous. And now, the show commences, and I will continue to keep one eye on it, because although I think that the Grammy's reward mediocrity, there are some good people nominated or performing, and I don't mean U2.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I finally got my very own MacBook :-) I wish. My laptop is having some age-related issues. I will need a new one soon. Too bad Macs are so expensive, because I'd really like one, especially a MacBook Pro.

I cycled again today on the coldest day of the year. The temperature was -20°C, or -28°C with the windchill, but probably more like -35°C with my self-generated windchill. My feet and face were kind of cold after the 7.2 KMs, but the rest of me was fine, I think.

Unfortunately, I heard a few bars of a song I loathe this morning, and now it is lodged in my brain. I really hate it when that happens.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Gran Torino

[...caution - spoiler ahead...]

I know, this movie is getting tons of love. It has won awards. It is raking in the dough. Critics say good things about it. People laud Eastwood's acting. Et moi? I am not so sure. I am not so easily convinced.

For one thing, the acting generally sucks. Someone cast a gang of actors that simply cannot act. Eastwood's acting is as to be expected. In other words, it is predictable. He speaks through clenched teeth like he is still Dirty Harry. He grunts, groans, and generally acts far cooler than is humanly possible for someone his age. But, that is not the problem.

I bet that the rest of the cast had never acted a day in their lives. It's not atrocious acting by any means, but it is wooden, stiff, and unbelievable. But, the major problem with Gran Torino is the transformation undergone by Eastwood's character. I don't buy it.

I don't buy his transformation from a racist jerk to a sympathetic angel willing to sacrifice his life for people he hated just a few days earlier. The audience salivates for a Dirty Harry bloodbath and are left wanting. Instead, we are left to ponder a huge self-sacrifice that is as troubling as it is unbelievable. And, the last sacrificial act violates one of the central tenants about the ethnic group he has come to know and understand: they don't talk, so all of the witnesses are useless and the last act is contradictory, pointless, and convenient.

On the other hand, the movie was free, so I don't feel robbed.

Monday, February 02, 2009


Normally, I would provide a detailed post-conference review in which I poke fun at librarians and what not. Instead, I will offer this, my favourite conversation from the conference:
Fellow Librarian: "I heard that your session was excellent."
ZF: "Really? Who told you that?"
Fellow Librarian: "Your co-presenter."
ZF: "She did? Isn't that an odd thing to say about her own session?"
Fellow Librarian: "She said you are a really good speaker?"
ZF: "Oh, well, in that case."
Things should have slowed down after the conference, but I have to run off and do an instructional session. It never ends.