Tuesday, October 31, 2006

This is a really nice neighbourhood for Halloween. The next door neighbours set up a smoke machine and most of the folks were on their porches with their candy and jack o'lanterns. I had over 100 kids, and cutest costume went to the 2 year old in an over-sized Mickey Mouse costume over his winter jacket.

Monday, October 30, 2006

I noticed a disturbing trend ever since Google bought YouTube. More and more clips are being pulled for copyright reasons. First clips from the Cartoon Network show "Robot Chicken" were being pulled. Now I hear that all clips related to Comedy Central shows, including "South Park", "The Daily Show", and "The Colbert Report" are being deleted. It's strange to see these clips, which are among their most popular "copyrighted" clips, being yanked. I'd been adding several classic Daily Show bits (Steve Carrell getting drunk on camera with Steve Carrell for a story on responsible drinking) that just aren't to be found anywhere else. Is this the end of the Golden Age of YouTube, when clips were swapped with free abandon?

It seems to be reactionary on YouTube's part; there is no actual formal charges or lawsuits being pursued, likely just a "third-party notification by Comedy Central,” telling YouTube to purge the clips and YouTube preferring to comply rather than take the time to see if they actually have to or not.

It does seem like a disappointing move by Comedy Central particularly, who benefited from the attention YouTube generated for their properties. "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" both use YouTube on their shows and refer to them in stories. And how many people realized that South Park is still funny after receiving YouTube clips of "Stuck in The Closet"?

Once Comedy Central were the cool teacher, showing "Ren & Stimpy" episodes in class, taking us outside when it was nice out and it fun to find out new things. Now they're that bitter drunk teacher who just gave you a 10 page essay to write on the long weekend and smells like mothballs. I'd show a funny clip to illustrate the point, but YouTube deleted it.

Update: TV Tattle.com says "Comedy Central says it only removed lengthy clips from YouTube. Shortened clips haven't been purged from the video Web site. Only clips encompassing full episodes were taken down. "

Slate.com examines the murky legal waters of copyright law with Does YouTube Really Have Legal Problems?

NY Times: YouTube Is Purging Copyrighted Clips

A summary of TV stuff from last week, mostly from TV Tattle.com

"How I Met Your Mother" gives Barney a brother -- Wayne Brady

"Studio 60," "The Nine," "Men in Trees" & "Help Me" have all received orders for additional scripts. While not a full season order, it's good news for these ratings challenged series.

"Sesame Street's" nostalgic DVDs are for adults only!? - The "Old School" DVDs featuring episodes from 1969-74 comes with this odd disclaimer "these early 'Sesame Street' episodes are intended for grown-ups and may not meet the needs of today's pre-school child." It turns out that "Sesame Street" added the disclaimer to protect kids from being distressed at the changes the show has made over 37 years.

NBC resurrects 2-hour Thursday comedy block with "Scrubs" & "30 Rock" - Scrubs is back earlier than planned (it was supposed to come back in January or later), and NBC is putting it's Thursday night comedy block back together again after the past few years have seen The Apprentice and Deal or No Deal filling space at 9pm. The blcok will be starting Nov. 30, and will see "My Name is Earl" and "The Office", followed by "Scrubs" & "30 Rock". Odd note: This leads to the battle of "Scrubs" vs. "Grey's Anatomy", a battle only TIVO can win.

ABC will bring back "Lost" on Feb. 7 - After a 13-week hiatus through the holidays, "Lost" will return Feb. 7 for an uninterrupted run of 16 episodes. The last new episode of "Lost" is Nov. 7th.

"SNL's" 1st season coming to DVD A move that seems to scream "See, we were cutting edge and funny once! This is why there are two primetime shows about life behind the scenes at SNL type shows!"

It's true!: "Fraggle Rock" is coming out with a movie

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friggin' sweet "Lost" video from the online show Nobody's Watching, with a funny cameo...

"We thank you for the Rock N Roll Hobbit." BWAHHAHAHHHAHA!!!

Found on TV Tattle.com
Makings of a good night:
  • Streetcar gets me home by 6pm.
  • Take the dog for a long walk.
  • Stop off to pick up piping hot fish & chips.
  • Get home and munch on said fish & chips, and chase them down with a bottle of Mill Street Brewery Coffee Porter beer.
  • Watch funny re-run of The Office.
  • Read new Terry Prachett paperback while listening to music and picking kittens off my sweater.

Say you put a man on a plane, flew him around for hours or knocked him out A-Team style, so that he had no idea how long or how far he flew. Then have the plane land in Hamilton. And have 500 of your closest friends in Hamilton speak with a Scottish accent all day and drive on the left side of the road. Would the man assume he was in Glasgow? If you got dropped in the middle of Glasgow, with 500 hosers and a Tim Hortons on every corner, would you be able to tell the difference between Glasgow, Scotland and Hamilton, Ontario?
A story came up that I had missed: Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip Dilbert, lost his voice 18 months ago. I mean lost, as in completely, utterly, permanently. The part of his brain that controls speech essentially crashed.

Good news came this week as, despite the odds, he seems to have found a way to reboot that part of the brain and he regained some use of his voice back. It's an odd and fascinating tale of losing something you take for granted, and then trying any way possible to get it back.

Scott Adams :: A Good New's Day

Scott must have millions of fans, just based on how many office cubicles have some Dilbert cartoon stuck up on the wall ("Must ... control ... fist ... of death!") With the outpouring from fans and friends alike, Scott says "I am more touched than a congressional page." At least the funny bits of the brain are still there too. All the best Scott!


Found on A List of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's getting pretty brisk out there, with the temp down to the single digits most days. This reminds me of Halloween when I was growing up in Calgary. It was usually cold around the end of October, with an early frost or some snow. We'd put on our winter jackets, put our plastic Woolco/K-Mart costumes on over that. With all the layers we looked like fat versions of our characters. We'd look like Fat He-Man, Fat GI Joe or Fat Pirate. It never occured to my brother or I to go out as Fat Albert.

Back in the 80s, most of the Halloween costumes you could buy were cheap plastic masks and coveralls. You could only get one night's use out of them. The fun fact is that when the temperature drops down enough, those plastic costumes and mask would break apart. That's how we knew we'd been out more than an hour: my Mer-Man mask would start to break apart and then I was just Kid in Winter Coat with Plastic Pieces Clinging To Me. My fantasy about filling a pillow case or a garbage bag would never come true, because those costumes would disintergrate at the stroke of 7pm.

Everyone has their own favourite candy or treat, the thing that would be your "Score" of the night. Usually it was house handing out chips or cans of pop. You always heard there was a house handing out full-sized candy, but I always thought that was an urban myth. Until I found the Hershey household.

For me, it was always mini O-Henry bars. My Dad always loved those rocket candies, my brother liked the Coffee Crisps, but I always liked the O-Henry's. We used to pool all the candy at the end of the night and split it, then end up trading with one another for our favourites. By the end, there was always that leftover pile of stuff nobody wanted, usually those rock-hard stale toffee candy wrapped in Halloween wrappers and Sun-Maid boxes of raisins that have congealed together. That's the stuff that would stay at the bottom of the Halloween Candy horde until the end of March.

Happy Halloween everyone, and try not to be the a-hole handing out raisins, toothbrushes and floss this year.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

On the McSweeney's site, Glen Weldon has gotten it from the King of the Sea, first hand:

Aquaman, King Of The Seven Seas,
Has Fucking Had It With You, Man.

Hail to the King baby. He doesn't talk to fish. He commands them. Period.

I found this link on Everyday Is Like Wednesday, who found it somewhere else, etc. etc.

Monday, October 23, 2006

My pet-sitting gig in Toronto has brought me into contact with all manners of creatures:

Ranger is a mopey dog. He's about 7 years old, starting to show his age as he takes the stairs slowly now. He's half Labrador, half Rotweiller: a good regular and well-behaved dog. I think he misses his owners, because he's been moping about the house like some cheese-eating emo boy, er.. dog. He picks at his food, sleeps all day. I should see if he has some Cure albums hidden about the house. At least he cheers up when it's time for a walk. If I need to do a few extra blocks and that takes us past these nice bakeries and cheese shops in Leslieville, well so be it. That's the sacrifice I'm willing to make for the happiness of a dog.

The cats are a handful. The momma cat and two kittens are playful, with the two kittens taking turns playing follow the leader, which leads into wrestling and more chasing about the house. Last night the games continued into bedtime. As I started to doze off, I heard the faint sound of a little collar bell growing louder, and then ZOOM over the top of my head and then gone again. I forgot how weird cats can be.

And lastly, a word on the raccoons in downtown Toronto. These guys are hardcore. I have 2 different restraints on the garbage bins to keep the little buggers out, so they found a new way to entertain themselves. I woke up to find that the defunct BBQ in the yard had been wiped the hell out. From the quick look this morning, it seems some critter knocked over the BBQ last night (no propane tank) and took the BBQ apart, with the grill, the element and the lid scattered on the patio. I didn't see any footprints, because my other suspicion was that someone had tried to stand on the BBQ in order to climb up to a window, but I saw no footprints and there were other, more stable footholds to be used (regardless, the alarm didn't go off).

raccoons killed the BBQ. That's just mean.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

blech. been home sick for the past few days. I got soaked in the rain last Wednesday and I've been down with a cold ever since. I've been sticking to the South Park cure for SARS: chicken noodle soup, DayQuil and Sprite. I'll write a bit more later. I'm back downtown for the next few months on a housesitting gig, so I hope I'll have more to write about once I'm back in Toronto.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Through various reasons on Wednesday, I didn't eat much. I wasn't particularly hungry, just busy at work and distracted by other things, so I didn't pay attention to what I ate. This is what happened:

Breakfast: Cafe Latte and a cheese croissant
Lunch: Cheese and crackers
Snack: Coffee and a pumpkin spice donut
Dinner: Homemade soup
Concert: 4 beers
Aftershow: Fries and sausages

Can anyone tell me how I didn't drop dead from malnutrition? That was one of the most unbalanced days I've had, but the odd part was I felt fine (yes, even after 4 beers at the concert with nothing substantial in my belly). But looking at that menu is a surely a reminder to me to look after myself better. Hence today's meals:

Breakfast: Bagel with peanut butter, cup of tea
Lunch: Half a chicken wrap and a fruit salad

That's more like it. That's how an adult should eat, not like the "university student during exams" menu from yesterday.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What happens if you throw your favourite wrestling stars into a World War 2 German prison camp? Why hijinks a plenty of course. From Robot Chicken, the twisted toy-based show where the acting is as plastic as Melanie Griffith, we present Hogan's Heroes.

UPDATE: Awww damn. YouTube pulled all the Robot Chicken clips due to copyright. Hope it gets sorted out with legal.I became a fan of Robot Chicken because of all the great YouTube clips my friends and I traded through emails and blogs, so I would think it benefits them to keep up the viral marketing.

Hulk: "Roddy, we need your stealth. Go take out that guard."

Yes that really is Rowdy Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan doing their own voice work, no that isn't Iron Sheik or Macho Man Randy Savage doing their own voices, and yes, Macho Man is indeed on Season 6 of The Surreal Life.
"...they soon got used to the unsteadiness of their existence."

Rohinton Mistry
A Fine Balance

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canucks. Seems like the perfect type of fall day for sitting inside, watching football, and eating until I pass out from turkey, pumpkin pie, and the inevitbale box of wine someone dug up. I'm looking just as forward to the leftover and very Atkins-unfriendly Turkey and Stuffing Sandwiches. Gobble gobble.
The Spartans are the original underdogs. They were not the largest army in all of Ancient Greece, but they were the best trained, bravest, and most feared in all of Greece. Their pivotal last stand came during the Battle of Thermopylae, when 300 legendary Spartans held off the mighty Persian army of about a quarter million in order to buy time for the Greek city-states to mobilize against the invaders. That epic battle is used as a rallying cry whenever a team is faced with insurmountable odds, and now that battle is recreated in The 300. I have the YouTube version of the trailer here, but do yourself a favour and check out the large screen versions for The 300 on the Apple website. It's bloody gorgeous.

The 300 is based on the Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name. Miller is known for such hard boiled works as Sin City and the ground-breaking graphic novel Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. The trailer looks visceral, looking to draw in fans of the battle scenes from The Lord of The Rings and Braveheart. It reminds me of The Battle of Agincourt scenes from the excellent Henry V by Kenneth Branagh, which also saw a smaller army hold off a larger opposition. I'm looking forward to The 300, as it looks like a dirtier, more vivid depiction of war than, say, Troy, which I found made everything a bit too pretty to take seriously as a comment on the brutal nature of war.

Visually this trailer has a dark and brutal beauty, which is understandable as the director is Zach Snyder, who got Hollywood's attention with his 2004 remake of Dawn of The Dead. He's currently linked to the long-gestating production of The Watchmen, based on the revolutionary graphic novel by Alan Moore.

The 300 opens in March 2007.

300 Production Blog

Friday, October 06, 2006

For the past few Thursdays, I've plopped onto the couch and watched a little TV. Around 9 I start to click between CSI and Grey's Anatomy, not really being a fan of either, but not disliking either of them. I enjoyed Grey's, but can't seem to watch a whole episode without the main character or someone connected to her irritating me enough to flip channels for a scene or two.

The fine folks at A List of Things Thrown Together 5 Minutes Ago pointed me towards the blog kept by the writers of Grey's Anatomy, and I saw this amusing post on just how much thought and planning had to go into a scene where Christina (Sandra Oh, fellow Canuck and pretty darn great actress) cleaves a chicken in half. The post is from one of the "new kids" on the writing staff, Debora Cahn, who wrote some good post-Sorkin West Wing episodes, including Leo's Funeral.

The nervous condition came and went over the first weeks on the job, but I think I officially got over it dealing with Cristina and the chicken. Cristina’s decided she’s going to help Burke get back on the horse after his hand surgery, (so sweet, so generous, so unexpected from Cristina) and she’s going to do it by having him practice operating on dead chickens. So when it came time to shoot the episode, there were long conversations with the fantastic production team about the hacking of the chicken. Was it just a chicken breast? Was it a whole fryer? The folks from sets and props had to design a cutting board that could be built into Burke’s counter top, so it wouldn’t fly off the counter, as there was a lot of concern about Sandra Oh getting hit in the face with either a meat cleaver or a chicken. The conversation continued when we hit the stage to rehearse the move with Sandra. Could she get through the bird in one hack or would it take two? (I thought it should be one. It was important to me. I don’t know why.) We had rehearsal chickens. We had stunt chickens. We discovered that the stunt chickens, which had balloons inside them instead of bones, emitted some sort of evil stinky salmonella gas that threatened to kill Sandra on the spot. It was scary. In the end, she made it through in one incredibly satisfying hack. The whole thing just made me really happy.
It's the first Friday of October, so Happy Catmas to you!

Monday, October 02, 2006

The video for Gnarls Barkley's take on the Violent Femmes classic "Gone Daddy Gone".

The arrangement sounds the same to me, more or less a straight cover of a good tune, but this video looks like Mighty Mites on acid. Possibly conceived after huffing a can of bug spray, but I can't confirm that. Or even back that up.
I know, I know: I can't shut up about how much I like the band OK Go. You seen the terrific videos for A Million Ways and Here It Goes Again (aka the Treadmill routine) here. I'm getting tickets to their show at Mod Club on Monday November 13th. You think that would be enough for me.

And then I see the ice skating bit. Somehow, I missed this evolution of figure skating, as the Canadian bronze medalists Utako Wakamatsu & Jean-Sebastien Fecteau perform their OK Go routine. If any of you figure skating fans (you know who you are) know whether this was the Nationals or which year this was, let me know please. I don't know which is weirder: that someone adapted the choreography of A Million Ways sucessfully to a figure skating routine, or that this has made me watch figure skating for the first time since the days of Elvis Stojko and Josie Chounard.