Now that Christmas season is...over...maybe I should finally post this video I created about how there is a right and a wrong way to perform this Christmas carol.
For those keeping track, it's not discussed here, but the "rock version" of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is totally wrong as well.
Now that Christmas season is...over...maybe I should finally post this video I created about how there is a right and a wrong way to perform this Christmas carol.
With "Idle No More" lunacy gaining steam, Cory Morgan decided to take a look at how well the Red Indian is managing the money he receives courtesy of the Canadian taxpayer (for reasons that make no sense).
The result isn't pretty.
Live from the shittiest city on the globe, it's the 100th Grey Cup, liveblogged right here on Third Edge of the Sword!
For the next three hours and change, we'll live the excitement that is a game featuring two crappy teams that never should have gotten this far. As the festivities progress, I'll try to cover all the bases. Be aware, food and drink and the possible mid-game arrival of a pretty blonde may interfere with these plans.
4:08pm: I just watched the crappy pre-game concert. I napped rather than watch more of Milt Stegall and Matt Dunnigan talking about Grey Cup games they've lost due to their own boneheaded moves, and turned in just in time to see...some dude in ugly red pants trying to rile up the crowd. Really? They couldn't have gotten a real band? This guy kept asking the crowd to "come on!". They never did.
4:11pm: We've started hearing our first signs of frog-talk. This isn't quite as outrageous as it being spoke out west, but Montreal's not even in it this year! Can't we tell them to go take a hike? Or should I say, voyager une grande promenade sur le petite jetee?
4:23pm: Ricky Ray got a huge cheer, since he led the Argos, almost single-handedly, to the Grey Cup. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.
4:31pm: Burton Cummings sings the national anthem. Well, half of it. The other half, he was mumbling something in French, probably surrendering to some nearby Germans or something. He is also, let's note, a better performer than the opening or halftime show.
4:32pm: "Now, let's meet our officials for tonight's game. The guys who were temporary refs during the NFL lockout this year! Have fun everybody!"
4:37pm: These images of Pierre Trudeau acting like the arrogant asshole he was are brought to you by Martha Hall Findlay.
4:42pm: Ricky Ray's first throw of the game and it's an interception (his second in Grey Cup history). This could be good news for the team from Cowtown.
4:49pm: Argos strike first. Team I Hate: 7 Team I Hate Slightly Less: 0
5:12pm: Almost time to put in the nachos
5:16pm: Kubota ads during the Grey Cup...that's almost as awesome as herbicide ads during hockey games.
5:17pm: TSN is discussing how Toronto is shutting down John Cornish. Can we learn how to do that? He killed us all year.
5:18pm: Second quarter starts off with Kevin Glenn throwing like a pillow biter.
5:19pm: Another super-weak girly throw by Glenn results in a Toronto interception and touchdown. I mean, that was one with distance at least, but was horrible. Which Stampeder was within a light-year of Horne on that play?
5:31pm: Damn you Ricky Ray. Argos are yards away from another touchdown. I thought Calgary had a stifling defense?
5:36pm: Calgary defense has held the Argos to a field goal. They pretty much need a touchdown now though, 9:04 on the clock in the second quarter. They can't sit and watch Bieber while this far down.
5:40pm: It's really hard to get into this game. Really, this is just an excuse to sit in front of my big screen, eat nachos, and drink beer.
5:44pm: Lewis breaks through two tackles and almost a third, to do a 61 yard run off a short pass to make it look like Calgary might make a game of this after all.
5:47pm: Cornish moves to the 3 yard line, and the 3 minute warning sounds. Numerology says Calgary will have to settle for 3 points.
5:50pm: Big loss of yardage for Calgary on a Glenn sack. Hey look, Calgary has to kick...one day I'll tire of being right. 17-6 for The Big Smoke.
5:58pm: Argos challenging a weird play...I don't think the ball crossed the line, but there's a good chance the refs are going to award it based on some of the screwball angles TSN is showing us. Even if not, Toronto's on the 1 and I don't think they'll have to settle for a field goal like Calgary just did.
6:01pm: Argos had to play from the 1 yard line. Ray is oddly in the game, and his handoff didn't quite do what it was supposed to.
6:02pm: Ray's in for a reason: his throw is good, Toronto scores yet another touchdown before going into the shitty shitty shitty halftime show.
6:06pm: Calgary almost throws a Hail Mary. Toronto almost gets an interception. Toronto almost suffered a pass interference call which would have led to Calgary screwing up a play from the 1 yard line.
6:09pm: Girly just showed up...this will likely be the last liveblog entry until later tonight.
I would like to take this time to announce that I am not running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada at this time.
I maintain my hard and fast rule, and will continue (despite pleas by the teeming masses) to reject membership in any political party that will not let me, upon my victory, enter the convention hall to Shawn Michaels' entrance music.
From the "Things You Didn't Know Were Offensive Department"...
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Victoria’s Secret has apologized for putting a Native American-style headdress on a model for its annual fashion show, after the outfit was criticized as a display of ignorance toward tribal culture and history.If you think this is a ridiculous controversy, you ain't seen nuttin' yet!
The company responded to the complaints over the weekend by saying it was sorry to have upset anyone and that it wouldn’t include the outfit in the show’s television broadcast next month, or in any marketing materials.
“We sincerely apologize as we absolutely had no intention to offend anyone,” the company said.
Thousands of people have commented about the outfit on the company’s Facebook page. Some praised Kloss’ attire as artistic and urged those offended by it to “get over it.” Several expressed appreciation to Victoria’s Secret for halting its marketing of the clothing, and others reached back in history to explain their feelings.I'm frankly not sure which quotes on here are the most offensively retarded? Is it Erny Zah's blathering about 'spitting on' Indian culture here? If this is your "mockery" buddy, just wait until you become a Republican and see what happens to you on The Daily Show.
“We have gone through the atrocities to survive and ensure our way of life continues,” Navajo Nation spokesman Erny Zah said in an interview Monday. “Any mockery, whether it’s Halloween, Victoria’s Secret — they are spitting on us. They are spitting on our culture, and it’s upsetting.”
The Victoria’s Secret stir follows a string of similar incidents. Paul Frank Industries Inc. and the band No Doubt ran into criticism earlier this year for their use of headdresses in clothing and parties, and in a cowboys-and-Indians-themed video, respectively. They offered apologies as well.
Last year, Urban Outfitters Inc. set off a firestorm of criticism with its line of Navajo-branded clothing and accessories — particularly underwear and a liquor flask, which the tribe said was “derogatory and scandalous.”
Jennie Luna, who is Chicana and Caxcan, said society largely is ignorant toward indigenous spirituality and doesn’t understand what should not be marketed commercially. She and others say more education about Native American cultures is needed.
“We are people; we’re not a fashion statement,” Luna said. “We are people who are facing serious issues, and for them to further perpetuate the type of stereotypes and disregard for a community’s way of life is unacceptable.”
ReGina Zuni’s advice to companies looking to market Native American culture is to hire Native Americans who have knowledge of tribal traditions, cultures and customs.
However, her reaction to hearing about the Victoria’s Secret headdress wasn’t outrage about the clothing itself, but about the lack of attention on health care, education, housing and other issues in Indian Country.
Or perhaps its Jennie Luna's concern that wearing a bunch of feathers is showing we are "largely ignorant towards indigenous spirituality" and don't "understand what should not be marketed commercially." Riight...is she going to attack the soccer logo used in Northern Ireland next? Or is it her turn to be outright ignorant here? If so, I notice she went first and nobody followed.
For my money of course, its the shocking revelation that there are "health care, education, housing and other issues in Indian Country". Geesh, maybe it turns out Attawapiskat is more representative of an inherent failure in Indians than some sort of statement about Stephen Harper? Who knew?
In the final analysis though, probably the most offensive thing to the Indians about Karlie Kloss wearing a headdress during a fashion show is almost certainly that it has never been worn on somebody while they were working...
It's really really hard to get rid of a monkey infestation.
On a completely unrelated note, hey how did the U.S. election go tonight?
Six more days, America.
On behalf of people who believe in human dignity freedom and prosperity across the world, who have lived under governments which follow President Monkey's socialist ideals and have endured the losses that inevitably stem from that, you have one last chance to save your nation.
As Mark Steyn notes, Mitt Romney may not have what it takes to restore America. Barak Obama definitely doesn't.
A message for all the whiny feminists who are going on and on about "rape" (which, naturally, includes providing statistics that lump in sexual congress the woman later decides she didn't 'mean' to agree to):
There's currently a minor movement by some Conservative tweeters to have the mildly retarded and highly offensive Stephen Carter fired from his job with Hill & Knowlton Strategies.
Speaking as somebody who:
a) Wouldn't yell "stop" if he saw a bus careening towards Carter
b) Has a regular job in which he doesn't want to have a boss constantly called every time somebody is offended online
Can I just say that this mini-movement is backwards and wrong? I don't want to see Stephen Carter fired from his job at H+K. I want him fired from his job working with the Premier of Alberta. By Premier Danielle Smith. Who would then exhile him to Ontario on pain of death were he to enter our borders again.
But he should still be able to take telecons from H+K, unless they fire him for something actually related to his job, not related to concerns that they have to bear responsibility for his political views. Sorry guys, I cannot abide this means of attack. There are 50,000 good reasons for getting Carter (and his boss) fired from their current gigs at the Legislature. None of them are good reasons for trying to push his private sector employers to turf him too.
Besides, if we decide for his crimes to make him pay restitution to the citizenry of the Republic of Alberta, it might help to keep his net worth on the high side.
PolitiFact has a hilarious article "fact checking" a Paul Ryan statement to Congress in 2011:
They pointed to several documents that shed light on the claim. One was the CBO’s analysis of Ryan’s own budget "roadmap," published in early 2010.Oh, well I guess everything is hunky dory.
The report compared Ryan’s proposal to a CBO model that takes the current baseline budget numbers and adjusts them to account for a number of policy changes, most of which are expected to be enacted. This can be considered an approximation of the status-quo.
Analyzing this status-quo model, the CBO wrote that "it is not possible to simulate the effects … after 2058 because deficits become so large and unsustainable that the model cannot calculate their effects." (The CBO went on to write that, compared to the status-quo option, Ryan’s plan did a better job of bringing down the debt and promoting economic output.)
Still, the year this economic model essentially blows up, according to CBO, is 2058 -- 21 years later than what Ryan said in the CNN clip.
Look, if the Republicans were claiming the economy was going to collapse in 2037 and required a massively painful series of government cuts to avoid that, while the Democrats were instead making a series of painful government cuts to hit the target date of 2058, this quibbling might be worth something. After all, the 2058 date means that a plan can be less severe, achieving the same goals but with a longer period to do it in. It's the flip side of RRSPs: the longer the timeframe you have to build up your money, the less money you have to put into it to achieve the same result. Start your RRSPs at 53 and you're hooped. Start them at 19 (as a girl I was out with today has done) and you're in like flint.
The problem, of course, is that the Democrats are going full speed ahead on government spending, ballooning the deficit by over a trillion (that's trillion, with a "T") dollars a year and contributing to the $16 trillion national debt which is so chillingly shown in this video:
As a result, it really doesn't matter if Ryan is forward or backward a decade or two on the specific date: he's talking about it and is trying to come up with plans to deal with it. The Democrats aren't.
The model Ryan is referring to is based on the assumption that no policy changes are made to reduce the debt.Not to harp on this point a lot, but this "unrealistic" view that politicians don't want to make the changes is actually what's happening right now. Here are a look at the two plans to reduce the deficit:
Even though lawmakers have typically been loath to touch the main drivers of the nation’s debt burden -- entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare -- some economists said that it was unrealistic that politicians would simply let the economy implode rather than making changes to stave off that fate.
President Monkey's plan
Paul Ryan's plan
Now Ryan's plan itself isn't particularly harsh: as I implied above though, it's the harsher plan. When your harsher plan isn't harsh enough, does it make any sense for your opponents to criticize it when their plan isn't even remotely harsh?
So where does this leave us? We’ll start by listing the exaggerations in Ryan’s statement.So the first point may have validity..so what about other CBO models? When they do mention their models (they aren't publicly visible, we rely on politicians like Ryan who do read the to tell us) there typically isn't that much fudge factor. Read their report on President Monkey's budget from last April for example. Meanwhile, did Ryan specify that he was looking at a bad-case scenario number when the CBO produced a likely scenario number? Or was Ryan's the likely and 2058 is a best-case scenario? See, two can play at this game.
First, he implies that there’s only one CBO model, glossing over the fact that the agency uses multiple models that have produced varying results. Second, Ryan predicts a collapse in 2037, but there’s considerable variation in the doomsday year depending on the model the CBO uses and the data it plugs into its calculations.
Third, Ryan’s statement assumes that no change will be made from current policies before a collapse -- an assumption that’s unlikely. And fourth, his claim that the CBO’s "computer simulation can't conceive of any way in which the U.S. economy can continue" strikes us as an overstatement. In fact, the CBO finds lots of unpalatable scenarios if things get bad enough, but the agency doesn’t go so far as to suggest that the economy will simply cease functioning. Economies are far more complex than any single model, so just because a model stops working, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the economy will bring us back to hunter-gatherer days when the model stops working.
As to their second point, the key bit that Ryan is trying to make public that is being glossed over in this election is there is a fucking doomsday year!. Shouldn't this be something Americans worry about? All the college students today who will be in their mid-40s when the Ryan doomsday year comes about and in their mid-60s due to retire when the CBO doomsday year comes about are still out their flagging their useless demagogic race-baiting huckster of a failed President! This is maybe something that deserves more than a half-assed "fact check".
We already discussed the third point: between PoliFact's opinion of what politicians will do and the reality we can see today of what they actually do do, I think Ryan is justified warning us about the future. After all, until politicians are pushed to fix this it won't be fixed, and half the U.S. political spectrum denying that this is even a problem may just throw a wrinkle into this analysis.
As for their new fourth point, in 2008 we saw what impact a single failing sector of the United States economy -- residential real estate -- had on the economic success of the entire globe. I'd say the United States government, which under President Monkey is going to spend a quarter of the nation's economic output and under Romney/Ryan will spend "merely" a fifth, would have something of a negative impact on the economy if it shut down completely overnight. You think consumer confidence corroded when people's homes dropped in value? Imagine what will happen when the 47+% of Americans who are dependent on government suddenly run out of cash? If you think the Occupy Wall Street fleabaggers were a social problem, what happens when their numbers swell to more and more who got so used to free government money that they cannot function without it? What happens when the U.S. Treasury tries to take more and more money from citizens in the years leading up to doomsday to (too late!) try and hold it off? What happens when the "moral" argument for taxes falls apart: to wit that you may be getting raped by Uncle Sam every two weeks but at least we're using it to help the poor and create a Just Society? When that statement doesn't hold true how many taxpayers will suddenly find the burden an outrage?
"The issue is simply that under current law, the debt-to-GDP ratio soars so high that economic models break down," said J.D. Foster, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "The truth is that nobody really knows what would happen as the debt-to-GDP ratio pushes through 100 percent on the way to 200 or 300 percent. The models certainly are not capable of anticipating the effects. But you don't have to have an economic model to appreciate the clear picture of fiscal Armageddon."So the guy saying Armageddon is coming and (possibly!) exaggerates the date in a plea to avoid inaction, and PoliFact says it was half true inasmuch that the day I suppose is coming after all but so long as Congress acts in accordance to the demands of Cassandra Ryan the Half Truther it won't entirely be true.
Generally, then, Ryan’s oversimplifications and exaggerations lead us to downgrade our rating, but his broader point about the perils of the debt for the nation’s economy remains accurate. On balance, we rate his statement Half True.
So does that mean when somebody is apparently a liar, their statement is probably 100% true? According to PoliFact, yes, yes it is. If you don't believe me, take a look.
Huffington Post last month showed us a bunch of celebrities who are shilling for President Monkey's re-election.
What on earth do they see in hi--oh, nevermind. I know what they see in him. Of course, that's all they see, and it's why he should be turfed next month: so we don't have to endure more comments like this:
My God he has so many more [supporters].There are many who have given dinners for him,some as high as $50,000 per plate.He will win again ,it is destiny,he is a modern day moses.Diana Ross daughter Tracee Ross stays on the battle field working for him,and sarah parker raised so much for him
Unrelated: A photo of Beyonce showing the part of her body that she's talking out of when giving out Presidential endorsements.
Question: Can a girl wearing only panties and an Oilers jersey ever not be hot?
Answer: No, not really.
You can watch the video below...
Or you can watch this (better) lockout song, tragically though, no hot hot Vicki Shae:
Can you actually believe this classic joke is nowhere to be found on the internet? Okay, so I have to post it here then:
A man from Vancouver was traveling through rural Alberta on business, and while examining some machinery in Tofield a piece of equipment landed on his foot and severed his big toe. He ended up in emergency where the doctor was unable to reattach it.
Hoping to raise his spirits, the doctor joked "well that's ironic isn't it? You come to visit Tofield and you lose your toe!"
The man nodded. "Good thing I wasn't in Cochrane or Balzac!"
This year I attended the Toronto Film Festival, and watched the world debut of the movie Thale. Thale tells the story of a pair of crime scene cleanup guys in Norway (whom I shall name "Liam Neeson" and "not Liam Neeson", for semi-obvious reasons), who show up at a house where evidence of a cold case was discovered...while cleaning, they uncover a dark secret that the now-deceased resident was holding: in his basement he had tortured and imprisoned a young girl. As they wait for the police to return, they discover...the girl is still alive, kept in a respirator inside a bathtub.
Thale is a hard movie to review, partly because it defies plot description. It's like reviewing Lucky Number Slevin I suppose: in order to properly convey what the movie is like, you have to give away huge parts of the plot and spoil a lot of the shock and surprise for the reader. Alternately, you can skim through the plot points and give a half assed review that barely touches over anything substantial about the movie.
I guess you can scroll down this review of see that I wrote enough to fall firmly into the later category: if you don't want to learn the details and the mystery and the dramatic tension present in Thale before you see it, you should probably go down to the next blogpost. I promise it will be exciting and dynamic and probably feature me attacking President Monkey for something.
Anyways, Thale is an interesting but occasionally disjointed mess: not Liam Neeson isn't actually a crime scene cleanup guy, he's a friend(?) of Liam Neeson, brought into the sick world of cleaning up blood splatter and littered entrails and torn flesh long after the CSI guys have gone home. He's not very good at it, throwing up profusely. More critically, after they get to the main crime scene he's notoriously bad at disturbing things even though it's pretty clear that he's being told not to do so and the horrible consequences thereof. This is a man in his 30s for crying out loud, not some 9 year old kid who has issues with doing what he's told. You have to figure if you're going to crime scenes after the fact the police expect you to stop and get out if you find anything serious worth reporting. Liam Neeson, of course, also waits way too long to get the real cops in there. He may not realize there is a ticking clock present (we'll get to that later) but still, things are quickly exposed as very very very bad and not something two idiots should be getting into.
Regardless, not Liam Neeson explores and discovers the weird underground lair: an old cassette player has been recording for years and never stopped, there are photos and organs in jars and creepy bloody tools everywhere. There's a safe which of course is unlocked and a bunch of weird pipes going into a tub. As Liam Neeson goes out to get a better signal (I assume) not Liam Neeson messes with the stuff far more than he should have....and then he unleasehs Thale.
When she escapes from the tub, we can see pretty quickly that she's the infamous tortured girl. Not Liam Neeson figures the smartest thing he can do is try playing all the old torture tapes for her: Liam Neeson on the other hand just tells the cops to hurry up...but something mysterious is watching him from the bushes. At this part of the movie, we're exploring strange things about this girl: they find a long weird tale in the safe, they get odd sensations and flashbacks from her life when they touch her, and she seems to know about whoever is watching them from outside.
Creepy old dead Norwegian guy on the tape is talking about why she needs to be kept safe, and it turns out she's....not human. Playing the role of Mr. Exposition, the dead guy (who was killed, probably by the sisters but that's never 100% clear) talks about how millions of years ago humans broke into two species: homo sapiens (that's us: well, you at least, I'm no homo) and....oh, well I guess they never came up with a cool Latin name for what Thale is, though the promotional material explains that they are called sirens in Norway and are absolutely not trolls even though they have tails just like trolls have tales. Anyways, this movie isn't about trolls, it's about sirens, who I'm guessing the target audience (Norwegians) understands. In a way it feels like I'm feeling what a Somali blogger would face if he was reviewing The Don Cherry Story: they have to explain so much that what I'm dealing with that its hard to really bite into the movie as a movie.
So when Thale and her sisters were younger, creepy old Norwegian guy rescued them, or captured them, or rescued Thale, or captured Thale, or something. He decided to raise Thale like a normal girl rather than a siren, tussling her hair and clothing her and giving her dolls and a bed and all sorts of nice things like that. Meanwhile, inexplicably her sisters remained wild and feral and evil and camped out in the woods by their house. Since the sisters can sense each other's presence and constantly were trying to kill Thale or creepy old Norwegian guy or something again that isn't really explained, they had to hide in the bunker. But eventually the sisters would find them, so ultimately Thale was put into the respirator unit, dropped into the tub of milk, and hidden from the world.
I am left assuming that the tub of milk is what made Thale look human, because her siren relatives most certainly were not: they looked like the creatures from District 9 meets Gollum. After stalking Liam Neeson for a spell they successfully attack the bunker and decapacitate the cleaning crew with their evil spirit breath. Or something.
Okay a brief pause here: why did the sisters not enter the lair before today? Yes I know they can usually sense Thale and were able to attack as soon as she was out of the tub. But the sirens seem pretty powerful and amazing, so its not like they really had to be scared of creepy old Norwegian guy. We can assume they are at least moderately intelligent (seeing how Thale seems at least somewhat intelligent, but to be fair we`ve never heard her talk: creepy old Norwegian guy talked to her, but I've talked to plants and animals and even NDP supporters before, it doesn't necessarily mean they're intelligent), and they clearly already live in the woods right by the cabin, so why haven't they already found Thale? When you kill the creepy old guy or see him die or stop seeing him around, and you stalk the house and can sense your sister but haven't sensed her in a while, maybe it's time to do a little bit of exploring? Not Liam Neeson found her within a matter of minutes, and he wasn't aware she existed to be found. As the guys succumb to the evil gypsy breath curse, the movie goes off the rails. I'm sorry: it was sort of interesting and engaging to this point, but then things went crazy with a capital-K:
Not Liam Neeson wakes up tied to a chair out in the woods. Some evil governmenty/corporatey villainous guys with guns are there, and they've put bags over our heroes' heads and are explaining to us what the gypsy breath curse is all about, and now we learn that there's a big conspiracy out to...do something..to the sirens. Find them or kill them or capture them or something. Or is it just Thale? It sounds at first like the siren sisters in the woods are their employers, but then the siren sisters kill all the conspiracy guys and they are never seen or heard from or thought about every again! And they leave the two cleaning guys...why? Well, I guess so we can have the happy ending. Thale eventually comes and rescues them, and oh by the way Liam Neeson has cancer and some weird glow makes him feel better. Then she's gone, and they're at the police station filling out a report, and the report even mentions the siren possibility so obviously the conspiracy is neither powerful nor something to fear.
Okay, now I have a quick Toronto International Film Festival question: are we always seeing these movies how the director intended? Is this the film that is made before executive meddling and focus groups and all that jazz? Does Scott make a play for Meeka and fail in the Vatican in this version? Does Salt wind up captured in prison?
I ask because at this moment the movie seems to go somewhere totally different: in spirit and tone as well as direction. We cut to some new talk from creepy old Norwegian guy about Thale's need to be with her own kind and find love. Liam Neeson`s cancer is cured. And Thale is shown walking in with the rest of the sirens, who for some reason all know and accept her. It really makes no sense in the context of what creepy old Norwegian guy had done up until this point of the film. He'd seemed to do everything within his power to turn Thale from a siren into a human, and that would assume having her spend time with humans and live as a human and all the sort of things that he was seting her up for. So was this added in because of focus groups? Executive meddling? Or was this always their idea, and this is just another disjointed idea in the spirit of the conspiracy guys?
So at the end Thale is walking out with the other creepy siren monsters, the guys are...same and sound and happy, and the conspiracy guys are what conspiracy guys I don't have a clue what you were talking about.
The acting was fairly decent in Thale, the Liam Neeson actor wasn't as good as early Liam Neeson but he isn't as bad as late Liam Neeson either. Not Liam Neeson wasn't as good, but he was competent enough, as was Thale. She's good at smiling, but I think the nuances of the character were basically abandoned and left empty. Thale as a young girl actress is actually far better at conveying the character. The other actors don't apper enough for us to even know or care about their performances. The direction is good and the editing pretty well paced: the film flirts briefly with being a horror or a thriller during the discovery of the lair.
In the end though, Thale is a mess where the writing wants to explore numerous concepts without developing them fully, and introducing plot elements and layers without setting them up or ultimately paying them off. If this does go through a focus group before you see it in theatres, maybe that wouldn't be a horribly bad thing.
And now for a word about the Toronto International Film Festival itself: it's my first time attending, and I think the big mistake I made was attending the second weekend: by then, all the celebrities had left Toronto for better places to be: like Baghdad. The airing of Thale I attended wasn't really a TIFF event by that point: I paid $24 to watch a movie. And I don't like paying $11. The writers and producers and directors had already headed home, so the Q&A events that were the key draw of TIFF didn't happen. I understand this took place for most of the movies: Ben Affleck wasn't attending every showing of Argo by the end of the second week. Angelina Jolie wasn't posing for cameras by then either. It was a film festival without stars by the time I attended.
The TIFF website is also a little low on some of the 'around town' details: where do you go to see the festival itself? I was able to find little tidbits here and there: Robinson Hall was where Oprah apparently went, and that's where you could get your photo taken in front of the TIFF background like you were a big celebrity (I did too, but then of course I am a big-ish celebrity). It would be nice for some sort of guide letting people know where they could partake of this awesomeness. TIFF is supposed to lure in the out-of-towners, that's easier to do when they have some remote idea of what they can be doing for the festival and where. It's a shame to see the Jasper in January festival do a better job at this.
The works of Shakespeare, while today considered elite high culture, were not quite so at the time. The Globe theatre was filled with all classes of society, from the upper to the lower: even Queen Elizabeth was known to attend. Or rumoured to attend, at the very least.
It therefore seems an odd for the Edmonton Fringe, since pop culture and fringe theatre don't seem to go hand in hand, to feature Shakespeare's works (and rarely does it happen). In this case though, it does with a twist: it's a one-man Macbeth, told in roughly 35 minutes.
In a high octane thrill ride, NAME OF GUY dives, dances, lances, and prances playing all the major characters. It's a good and fun romp, and some of the prop choices form the major humourous elements of the story. The pacing is excellent, the acting quite good, and the story elements kept and abandoned mostly do the job of effectively condensing the story.
If there's a complaint to be made about One Man Macbeth, it's that you really really need to brush up on your Macbeth before going into the play: if the story is new or unfamiliar to you, then you won't be able to follow along much. Even a general familiarity of the story probably isn't enough. If you plan on checking this show out, make sure you know what you're going to see, or else you aren't going to know what you've watched.
Final word: One Man Macbeth is a worthy entry in the pantheon of the Bard, but first read the Macbeth Wikipedia page
...and that's coming back in five separate chunks:
I visited the University of Alberta's Week of Welcome these past couple days, introducing the young ladies who will one day be leaders of tomorrow about what a real Albertan looks and sounds like.
Also, checking out their fine fine nubile young bodies. Some examples are below, I have an album on Facebook with more of the same:
Some chick named Ashley Hebert brought her boyfriend to my city and all I got was this lousy tax bill
Travel Alberta is claiming the economic spin-off will outweigh the cost of bringing reality TV stars to the city last weekend.You're kidding me, right? I had heard that the Bachelorette girl and her fiancee were in Edmonton last week. I had assumed, of course, that they were just visiting. I couldn't have cared less, but the girls did seem sort of impressed that Ashley and JP had come to our little burg.
The province and Edmonton Economic Development Corporation dished out about $20 thousand to have Ashley Hebert and her fiance JP Rosenbaum from the Bachlorette visit Edmonton for two days, to take in the fringe festival, visit the Art Gallery of Alberta and dine at local restaurants.
I wonder if EEDC really thinks that they, or other people around the world who heard that the couple was in town, would remain impressed considering that they had to be bribed to come out here. In fact, they had to be bribed to the tune of $5,000 per person per day just to visit? Not just that, but this visit took place during the summer, during the world's second largest Fringe Theatre Festival. Geesh, you'd think we were a better tourist destination than that. "Come to Edmonton: if you very very briefly pop in during the best possible time to check it out and are paid the cost of a new car for your troubles, it's almost worth it."
Travel Alberta actually claimed "the exposure through social media" was the huge boost. Yeah, I'm sure the snark-o-sphere known across the planet as Twitter was totally cool with this nakedly shameful and ultimately humiliating PR stunt. Especially when the positive tweets are female de-empowering ones like this:
I'm literally dying that I won't be here for this.."
@edmontonjournal: Bachelorette and fiancé head to Edmonton Fringe http://edmjr.nl/Q59Lda ”
Well, I had a good fag-free run this year. Unfortunately, it all came a-crashing down around me at The Question.
I guess had I investigated I would have found the rainbow-hued logo of the production company and gotten suspicious.
So anyways, this story is about a couple of poofters (whom we shall call KindaFemmy and ExtremelyFemmy for semi-obvious reasons) who are raising the world's most unfortunate 17 year old girl. It seems this play takes place in a future (good sense implies 18+ years away, for reasons which may not be as obvious) where a mysterious man called "Dr. van der Hauk" has been performing human genetic experimentation. As the play opens, the authorities have begun to investigate his work which it has recently been revealed is a lot more extreme and less ethical than prevailing public opinion had been. And public opinion has been split.
As the play opens, Maria (the poor girl stuck being raised by a couple homos) and her friend Alyssa are going over their high school projects which seem to be revolving around Dr. van der Hauk's experimentation programs. It's sort of teased that there's a nefarious purpose to this, that the school is using these homework assignments as a method of flushing the truth out...then it's immediately dropped and never ever ever comes up again.
While the girls are talking about dancing with boys in what certainly sounds like a crude imitation of normal people's (or in this case, teenaged girls) conversations regarding sex as it would be interpreted by a flamer...which, of course, it is...KindaFemmy is concerned that ExtremelyFemmy is acting weird and down in the dumps. In a neat bit of interspacing where the upstairs and downstairs conversations alternate between "on" and "paused" the plot and its twin threads are revealed: KindaFemmy has been holding out on Maria the truth about her mother, and now it appears that ExtremelyFemmy has been holding out on the real truth about Maria's mother from KindaFemmy. It all comes to a head [thank you, ladies and gentlemen! enjoy the veal! -ed] when Maria's school project about her genetic lineage forces us to learn that van der Hauk did some fancy DNA splicing and replaced the genetic material in a woman's egg with ExtremelyFemmy's DNA, which was what the frozen sperm from KindaFemmy impregnated.
It doesn't learn, come to think of it, from an honest expressive moment between the characters (who could explain "honest expressive" to you about as much as they could explain what boobies feel like) or from an investigative scene where the pieces fall together, but rather from a YouTube video of an old news report, which sort of screamed lazy writing. It also lends itself to the logical assumption that present day is before Maria was hatched in a lab, along with perhaps the silliest plot point imaginable.
You see, crazy ol' Doc Hauk wasn't just using ExtremelyFemmy's genetic material to make him into Maria's mother, no sir Bob. In a video we learn that ExtremelyFemmy actually got the egg implanted in him and became pregnant, a plot point that not only makes no sense scientifically but in the service of the plot as well. You see, a man could only get pregnant with something called an artificial Ectopic pregnancy, which in nature is extremely dangerous. It's theoretically possible but with great risk and relatively little reward. It's certainly not the sort of thing you would do with your groundbreaking process of making a child from the genetic material of two men: not when millions of female uterii are standing by and ready to be utilized. It would be like inventing a revolutionary and expensive new propulsion system for aircraft and then testing it on an airplane that you've deliberately dropped a bomb on first. It also would remove the control from your experiment: what if Maria came out wrong? Was it because of your crazy genetic materials swap? Or your crazy male pregnancy swap?
From the story's perspective it makes no sense either: a man becoming impregnated (and then walking around in public) would be big news. Indeed, it was big news -- KindaFemmy watched it on the actual news (or an archive thereof). So why was it that this pregnancy (which must not have happened yet in "our" world or we'd remember it too) existing and being the responsibility of Dr. van der Hauk the "trigger" that told KindaFemmy about the truth? It seems from the news that he watched (and we didn't) that ExtremelyFemmy wasn't shown on screen as the pregnant man, but knowing that there was a pregnant man and that he was a van der Hauk experiment doesn't imply that ExtremelyFemmy was the man or that Maria was the offspring. But it's the reveal, and then they talk about it, so I guess it was. So KindaFemmy didn't think it was weird that during the 9 months he didn't see ExtremelyFemmy there were news reports about van der Hauk (who was ExtremelyFemmy's boss both "then" and "now") creating a pregnant man, and then came back to a newborn baby who he was told was a result of van der Hauk's experiments and would need to be regularly studied? He never pieced it together then, when it was live in front of him, but has figured it out now? I mean seriously, that's like having a loved one mysteriously disappear during their "business trip in Atlanta" on September 11th 2001, and then figuring out in 2027 -- using nothing but 2001-era 9/11 coverage -- that they were having a secret affair in New York City and she worked at Tower Two.
So anyways, the Big Truth is revealed: a large amount of drama takes place: arguments are had, Maria gets mad and moves away, KindaFemmy walks out, and ExtremelyFemmy is left with his head down sobbing as his life falls apart entirely because it turns out everybody who isn't Dr. van der Hauk's lab assistant is pretty much creeped out by his weird genetic modification research. (A minor plot point, KindaFemmy is one of these nuts worried about GMOs, which will again be a plot point for precisely 15 milliseconds and then never come up ever ever again). As it starts to look like he may have an arc, that he may have to fess up to his enthusiastic role in the birth of Maria and accept that his new life doesn't feature his fudge packing buddy and the teenaged girl to whom he's given the biggest "Kick Me" sign in human history (oh, wait, is Suri Cruise a teenager at this point?). Or he has to eat crow, admit that what he did was wrong, and beg forgiveness or repudiate the experiments. Or try to have his cake and eat it to, give an impassioned speech about how what he did was good and right and important for humanity and encourage Maria and the other sodomite to endure the initial hardship for long term benefit.
Or, alternately, he can wake up from his nightmare and find that it's Opposite Day now: Maria is totally cool that she's a genetically modified freak without even the benefit of super powers, KindaFemmy is so proud that his daughter is the result of hugely public and reviled experimentation that is about to have its finer details poured over in the media and legal system, and everybody's one big happy fake family. No, seriously, that's the ending. The characters stopped acting like real (though badly acted) people and started badly acting like implausibly fake people. And then everybody's happy at the end, hoorah!
Hey, what about the tough questions about bioethics in genetics, experimenting on human beings, extreme genetic alterations, and what it all means to individual human beings, humanity as a whole, and the human condition (and the very notion of it) in general? Ah screw it, this is just a play about sperm gurglers being happy. So what if it doesn't deliver on its promises?
This is a play where the girls, despite their youth, are better actors than the -- men? The dialogue is clunky and awful, but at least the girls interact with each other and move about the space they occupy in what can pass for realistic. The lead actors are either so uncomfortable with the material or each other that they walk around like they have a stick up their ass and are waiting to escape to the warm light of day. [the veal was delicious, wasn't it? -ed]
Final word: Can fags pretend to act like real people? That is The Question, and the answer unsurprisingly turns out to be "no".
Well, tonight is the kickoff to this year's Fringe Festival. As always, stay tuned to Third Edge of the Sword for photos, videos, reviews, analysis, and commentary from one of Edmonton's most popular festivals.
This is the portal page for our Fringe festival coverage: feel free to bookmark this post as it will be updated with fresh content throughout the next 11 days.
For a hint of what is to come, check the 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006 portal pages.
And of course, as always when Third Edge of the Sword does the Fringe, there's one hard and fast rule:
Day 1: First night photos have now appeared on my Facebook page
Day 2: The Saints of British Rock reviewed.
Day 3: Rerentless reviewed.
A few photos.
A review of the problems with the Fringe Festival grounds
Day 4: Reviews of both Chalie Sands: A Hockey Story and Titanic. As well, my Facebook page now contains additional photos from the opening weekend.
Day 5: Reviews of both The Day It Rained Fire and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Also posted various YouTube videos from busker shows and a Fringe walkthrough.
Day 6: Reviews of both Peter 'n Chris and the Mystery of the Hungry Heart Motel as well as Gametes and Gonads
Day 7: A combined review of two plays whose only redeeming feature would have been the nudity: Sexed and Bad Girls. In reality the Fringe nudity is a bit of a last gasp anyways: why would I pay $15 to go see a play where I will see a quick glance of tit (or not, as in these two plays) when I can pay $12 for cover and a drink at Diamonds and see endless tit, some of whom are interested in rubbing it in my face? Also, a review of Power: J.S Woodsworth & W.L Mackenzie King which also didn't feature any tit.
Day 8: A review of The First Canadian President of the United States and Pest Control
Day 9: A review of The Question.
A final Facebook album has been posted.
Now this is more like it.
If you're looking for a light-hearted comedy romp that just tells a simple story well, Pest Control should be right up your alley. Gordo (James Hamilton) and Henry (Cat Walsh) are a quiet couple living in a quiet home. Until they get...a mouse.
After Gordo's attempts to catch the mouse fails, Henry insists they bring in a professional exterminator: Twitch (Trent Wilkie). Twitch's rough demeanour and insistence on lethally bringing the mouse to his own brand of justice conflicts with the quiet tendencies of the couple.
Then two things drive the story forward: the Mouse (Brett Lemay) reveals to (only) Gordo that he can talk, and Henry and Twitch fall in love with each other. What ends up happening is a bit of hilarious gags (and some neat ways of incorporating the mouse-human scale differences) where Gordo tries to thwart Twitch's more and more effective traps unaware that the longer he keeps the exterminator around the more and more he's losing his wife to him.
Brett Lemay's ability to physically portray the human interactions with him is the highlight of the play. Twitch is meant to come across as this wild and crazy politically incorrect rogue who says and does crazy things as he gets the job done, but in reality he's far more tame than most of the people I know -- indeed I know a couple of Trents alone who would put this man to shame. The CBC crowd was probably in shock, I guess.
The play doesn't linger too long on any plot point for it to become stale, and yet nothing in the play feels rushed or ill-thought out. The gag with the cockroaches at the end seemed a little forced, like the 60 minute mark was approaching and the author decided its wise to cut everything short, but other than that this was a good story told well with competent performances that didn't try to get more showy than the material allowed for.
Final word: More fun than cleaning rats out of a Medicine Hat waste facility, but its too late for you to see another showing anyways.
2012 Edmonton Village of the Fringed Fringe Review: The First Canadian President of the United States
There wasn't much in the line of humour in this play. It's okay, it doesn't have to be a light-hearted comedy romp. But it thought there was humour, and that's its biggest flaw. Apparently it was hoped that just name dropping people would work. She went to Preston Manning College! Hilarious, why would a University educated man who was one of the primary movers of a massive political movement that is still making international waves a quarter-century later ever get a college named after him? The left may hate Sarah Palin (for being smarter than they are, typically), but even for this crowd simply saying "President Palin" isn't that funny.
The biggest reason, of course, is that the Americans actually elected President Monkey, and may yet re-elect him. You literally can't think of a less capable name for the Presidency. Corky from Life Goes On maybe?
There was only a couple of jokes in the entire show that were worth a chuckle: when Kimberley White-White (yes, that's supposed to be her name, which was supposed to be another joke) talked about her continued success leading the Conservative Party she noted that "every election the lib-left added another party", which is hilarious of course since it's true. The crowd was silent. Maybe they're still mourning the loss of the Alberta Party? Too soon, Jem Rolls, too soon! The other joke, more of a gag, is that her husband apparently had a hobby of homemade chutney, which she got so sick of that it gave her a weird compulsion. It was worth a chuckle or too, and then got massacred to death.
The writing was fairly disjointed and unimaginative, with an apocalyptic scenario where the population of the entire world has received brain implants, and the Chinese politburo is secretly sending a software upgrade to allow another person control over the personality of everybody with them. Like one-for-one? All at once? Meh, doesn't really say. Regardless, this causes President Kimmy's trusted adviser to schedule a public appearance at the aforementioned Preston Manning College to address their graduating class, and then use the newly implemented personality override to force President White-White to deliver a speech he's written talking about her rise to power and supposedly warning the world about what is to come. Priscilla Yakielashek does a decent enough job with the physical aspects of the plot, the gyrations and awkward motions as another person takes control of her body, but most of her lines are not so much delivered as much as dropped in front of your door with a sticky note from UPS asking you to sign for it online. At various points in the show the audience wasn't entirely sure with what they were meaning to see, and whether or not we were supposed to be sympathetic or outraged or what to the plight of the protagonist.
This whole nightmare scenario is supposed to be because President White-White sold Canada out to the Chinese (by "letting corporations go unregulated" which sounds exactly what Communist Beijing is all gung-ho for), but the way this seemed to happen was with the banking system being taken over by China because they had all of our money which wasn't so much us 'selling out' to them as much as being just plain old-fashioned out-competed due to our politicians ineptitude. Meanwhile the "brain chips" seemed to be planet-wide. Did the "mass murderers Canada let police their own borders with our assistance" let their citizenry get implanted with ChiCom chips too? If they already have a U.S. workforce just making their citizens cheap trinkets, and all the money on earth running through their banks, what do they even need the chips for? Is it just for the lolz?
This segues nicely into the final problem with the play: Jem Roll's laughable political stance. It makes you yearn for the good old days when Tory's were attacked for exaggerated transgressions of the past rather than completely fraudulent ones of the future. The big example of foolishness has to come when White-White talked about the Democrats and their "silly issues and policies and plans and thinking". Did Jem Rolls, having realized that Paul Ryan was the Romney VP candidate and President Monkey is going into an election devoid of all ideas and plans and ways out of the jam that he has put America into, thought "ah fuck it" and just left it in? The Republicans are full of plans: math, ideas, concerns, solutions. What do the Democrats have? Sandra Fluke's five-mile-wide vagina? Likewise the whole "selling us out to the Chinese" bit. Sorry, which President sold nuclear secrets to China in return for illegal campaign contributions again? Which President, who looks suspiciously like a monkey, took illegal campaign contributions from China online? Which party in the United States is looking to reduce the U.S. debt which is largely held by China and which could cause the Chinese banks to force the U.S. into "double bankruptcy" as the play suggests? How many more Americans than Chinamen are helped out by American businesses getting tax cuts? See what I mean here?
This all ends up just building a sloppy foundation with far-left bends on all the support beams which ends up sending the house of card which is The First Canadian President of the United States crashing down to earth. The play thinks its scoring political points when its only showing the author's own ignorance of the facts on the ground. It thinks its being funny by lazily spouting half-jokes that were barely funny to only the most hardcore leftist before the United States electorate in 2008 showed them what a real intellectual lightweight in the highest office looks like. Finally, it wants to be telling a story about a nightmare scenario going wrong in which North America is poor, everybody has lost their individual rights, and a cadre of elites tell the people what they must do at all times.
That isn't a nighmare scenario: that's what voting for the Rub n' Tug Jack Laytons and the President Monkeys of the world will bring to us. The best way the prevent a scenario like that from happening is to elect a Canadian Prime Minister who really would slash healthcare spending, reduce the size and scope of government, and bring western public debt to a meaningful level.
Final Word:Lazy, offensive, and without redeeming merit unless you sit in the front row and get to see up Yakielashek's skirt.
2012 Edmonton Village of the Fringed Fringe Festival Review: Power: J.S Woodsworth & W.L Mackenzie King
In 1925, the Liberals found themselves with only 99 seats (this used to be considered a disaster for the party), and the Prime Minister (William "Lying" Mackenzie King) lost his seat.
Perhaps inexplicably for the modern eyes, King lost his seat and his election and just decided to continue on as Prime Minister. The problem of course is that eventually Parliament was going to get around to voting, and King was going to lose a vote of non-confidence unless he got some of the other parties on-side.
Enter J.S. Woodsworth -- leader of the Independent Labour Party (which ended up forming both the NDP and the Communist Party of Canada, not that the distinction is particularly important). Woodsworth wrote to both the Labour and Conservative leaders demanding an expansion to the welfare state in return for his support. In response, King invited Woodsworth to dinner to discuss the letter.
Which is where we come in with Power: J.S Woodsworth & W.L Mackenzie King, a play that dramatizes the meeting between the two men. Okay, that phrase isn't entirely accurate, let me try it again.
A play that uses the excuse of a meeting with the two men to lay it on thick with political propaganda. Yes, that seems more in line with what I saw.
I understand that to a certain extent the two men have to explain their histories and their circumstances to the audience in a play like this: because there's no external character who needs to have things explained to them, the two men have to act as if they've never heard of each other despite both being long-standing members in the House of Commons. This doesn't, however, excuse why each of them sounds less like a human being sitting in a meeting with each other and more like a politician out on a stump speech reading his Wikipedia page.
So that's the quick play summary. I could really just end this review right here. Whenever we see two politicians talking to each other in a mix of candour and false candour the play works, the Yes Minister trappings working very well here (it helps too that the actor playing King looks less like King and more like Sir Mark Spencer who convinced Jim Hacker to 'betray' Sir Humphrey by using discoveries of government waste as a way to further cut spending). The best line in the play comes early when Woodsworth tells King he doesn't want to force the Liberals to go against their principles: only force them to act upon them. The play falls apart when the two are less jockeying for position and more going into detail about their life experiences and what their "life's work" has been: I think the final tally was that King's "life's work" was 7 different things to Woodsworth's 3. It literally got to the point that every time King mentioned anew what he has "dedicated his whole life to" I let out a massive fart. The venue was pretty smelly by the time the play ended.
The propaganda, of course, was laid on pretty thick: the director ran for the Green Party in 2011, if that gives you a hint as to how far from reality the people backstage for this play really were. They try desperately to make Woodsworth and King's arguments relevant to the present: "the Tory always believes ________ and does ______ and always will", "industry must change to become more democratic", etc. Unfortunately for them, we don't live in 1925. We live decidedly in 2012, and the reality of the last 75 years was that the "progressive" pro-union world of these two men (Woodsworth the bigger offender here) was a disaster: an ever expanding house of cards requiring a bigger and more intrusive government to keep the whole thing afloat. The two men sneer at Meighan, but it turns out perpetually high unemployment and loss of job opportunities for young or inexperienced workers was the end result of their schemes. These 'champions' of the poor made damned sure that their ranks would ever swell (and continue, conveniently enough, to vote for them to keep the gravy train running) and that economic opportunity everywhere was lost. Obviously the NDP and the Greens never learned this lesson, which is why their second rate "brains" from Jack Layton to Elizabeth May keep peddling this bullshit on us, oblivious as the two out-of-date characters to the dangers of not only the injustices you can see but the ones you cannot: the jobs never created because of the perverse incentives of government welfare combined with the money taken from the economy in order to fund them; workers left crying for a handout because the unions have been given so much power that they force companies into diverting too many resources towards lavish spending to current employees rather than the investment that could increase their ranks; individual liberties falling by the wayside as the government continues to grow and grow sweeping aside more and more of what used to be known as the private sphere.
The two men in history are ignorant of this. The two men in the play are ignorant of this. Tragically, since the writers are also ignorant of this we end up with a polemic piece of garbage that is pushing snake oil eight decades past its expiry date. As a whole the actors do a decent job of what they are given, and the man portraying Woodsworth has his look spot on: even in some spots though the weird clunky dialogue causes them to falter as they are trying to figure out whatever the hell they are trying to say. The play runs a good 10 minutes too long, as the script runs out of gas and simply rehashes the same bits over and over again.
The best moment in the play has to be however Woodsworth being upset that he was charged for quoting the bible in public. Yeah, go ask Hugh Owens about that, you jerkwads. Again the irony in there, for all their concern about strong-arm tactics in the 1919 general strike, they certainly didn't mind union thugs in the late 20s and early 30s. It's again the limitation of only these two characters meeting: we aren't able to look back and compare this discussion with the realities of the world they (and we!) live in. The authors of this play certainly wouldn't want you to learn too much about the real legacy of King (heavy scandals that would make Jean Chretien blush, and the fact that he literally thought his dead mother talked to him from beyond the grave with the help of crystals), nor about J.S. Woodsworth either who thought that war was so horrible that it would be better to have stayed out of WWII even after he learned the fate of those living under the Nazis. History's greatest monster, as The Simpsons would call him.
Final word: About as entertaining and as fulfilling as reading a pamphlet from the Marxist-Leninist Party.
I'm doing something a little different: combining two shows into a single page. I've always done this in the past, and tried to shy away from it this year.
But these two shows are intrinsically linked together by a common thread. Both come with warnings of female nudity. Both feature an all-female cast. Both don't show us so much as a goddamn nipple. On Twitter yesterday I was asked about a justifiable rape, and this has to come pretty damned close.
Our first show to discuss is Sexed: where three girls (who have names, but for obvious reasons will be described as hot brown, decent white, and fat white) pretend to give sex education relevant to the current generation of Lady Gaga-inspired women. Inexplicably, the actresses/writers (they are one and the same, so no blame can be passed off) are operating under some weird fiction that women aren't being encouraged enough to be comfortable with their bodies. Obviously they have never been at the Gas Pump on a Friday evening. Anyways, the girls try to explain how traditional sex education isn't cutting the mustard: the only gag here that works is when a couple puts a condom on a banana (as taught in class) and then start having wild unprotected sex in the theory the banana is somehow protecting them. It's about this point they break into three distinct characters to show each's sexual awakening. It's apparently the "three primary achetypes" of female sexuality, which inexplicably are "prude turned into cautious yet enthusiastic sexual creature" (Decent White), "naughty girl who spent so much time pleasing men she never paid attention to her own needs" (Hot Brown), and "girl who had a bad sexual experience and turns dyke" (Fat White). Well, all right then.
The play itself isn't so much bad, as just doesn't really go anywhere: just like the infamous Sex in the City, it doesn't do what it sets out to do and ends up just cementing everybody's pre-existing idea of what women as sexual creatures are like. Oh, and speaking of justifiable rape, it brings up the classic "soft date-rape" case: where she and him fool around, she doesn't explicitly say "yes" at every single millisecond of the sexual encounter, and then afterwords feels bad and decides that he committed a criminal act. If this is the picture of rape that they really want to push forward, I recommend that the maximum sentence for rape henceforth be a $250 fine. Likewise their (obvious) anti-life abortion message: "it's your choice, not his." This blog has torn that argument apart enough times its hardly necessary for me to do this again. Real edgy fringe theatre you folks are running!
Total nudity: Hot brown girl at one point pretends to masturbate and you briefly get a glimpse of her panties. I think I saw more underwear than that at the beer gardens...which were almost deserted.
Our second play, Bad Girls, isn't actually a play as much as four unconnected skits. It opens up with the sexiest scene you can imagine: an old housewife (complete with apron) complaining about a babysitter using vulgar language for apparently no reason complete in a Jersey accent. After a bit of very stylized dialogue, the ultimate result is a massive reset button putting both characters back into the situation in which they began, a process that was at least 3-4 minutes too long.
The second skit tells the tale of a swashbuckling pirate girl (who apparently sailes from the pirate haven of...Ireland) and her encounter with the wife of a man she...well, had some sort of situation with: by the end you've given up trying to remember which tales are true. The skit starts out entertaining enough, with the hottest member of either cast in revealing wench clothes, drinking rum (or...Irish Whiskey?) and bragging about her swordfighting skills. "Not one in 10,000 men can best my steel, and I don't see 10,000 men here". Since this is another all-girl cast, let's just all pretend we don't see the plot twist that's a-comin'. Anyways the wife (or fiancee? Seriously, I stopped trying to keep track) bests this girl amazingly easily, and then..surrenders...because of something the hottie said about her husband? And then after another bizarre change of story from hot girl, followed by another change of story from hot girl, then hot girl also surrenders? And then join forces, only they don't, only then they do because the fat wife is really a master of the Dyke Jedi arts. Hot girl is actually surprisingly good here, even if her highly stylized dialogue (are you noticing a trend?) delivered in a thick "drunk person accent" started to wear on the ears after a while. The worst is the girl who played the wife/fiancee/sapphist, whose acting was so bad and so wooden and so uninspiring that I felt like asking her if she was from Slave Lake. Again, this skit went on a good 6-7 minutes longer than it really needed to, the same lines and concepts kept getting jarred about back and forth by the end.
Our next skit was called "FUCKING SATAN" and involved the second hottest member of this cast (third overall) talking about her sexual relationship with Beelzebub. She inexplicably seems to be dominating the Dark Lord (the skit isn't called, please note, "GETTING FUCKED BY SATAN") and using and abusing his body to the extent that he's cuckolded into cleaning up the stage for the remainder of the play. This one didn't last long past its best-sell date, and did feature a decent enough looking striptease...culminating in the girl stripping down to a negligee.
In between were two burlesque-esque [that's a lot of que's there! -ed] dances. One featured old housewife chick, and the other girl from the first sketch as well, who stripped down into only her panties and no bra...only to have giant devil-faces covering her nipples and inexplicably the crotch of her panties too.
Our final skit involved two hookers offering a 2-for-1 deal in meter rhyme, and their dismissal of our housewife actress from the first skit dressed up like a man. Look we know you don't have any actual dick on your casting call folks, its okay if you dress her up as a man to have her be an ACTUAL man...there was literally no necessity in making this girl look so manish only to have her turn out to be a carpet muncher. Again the stylish dialogue (though it makes sense with the rhyming concept at least) as the girls brag about their abilities in the sack being worth $100. Really, that's all? I know the U.S. economy is in shambles, but do visiting troupes actually live in a place where a hot prostitute is worth only fifty bucks? This skit at the very least (partly because of the rhyming) had a stable energy about it, with the pacing being much more even than the other skits. As the lesbo is chased off and the hookers resume their spiel, the play ends. So four skits: two of which went way too long, and one that ended with yet another "this play contains nudity" cocktease. Most of the stories (minus the second) never really progressed anywhere. Most of the stories (minus the fourth) lost their energy at some point. Finally, most of the stories (minus the third) were absent of even the hint of nudity.
Total nudity: Hot swashbuckler showed a lot of panty -- the same girl in the 2-for-1 skit had a pair of crotchless nylons ending in some sweet sweet love nest action that was pretty nice. The Satan-fucking girl got into negligee as discussed, and you saw a braless girl showing less boob than my bra-wearing date on Thursday night was showing. At the end, many of the girls bow with the same fried-egg emblem covering their chest as was shown in the movie poster. So yes, another show with no actual nudity. Monty Python cartoons showed more than these two plays.
Final word: Don't be fooled by your Fringe program: these two chick plays make you yearn for the day when we didn't let them own property.
The Facebook coward syndrome continues.
Leftists can't win when their arguments are refuted. So they delete comments they can't handle. Like chickenshits have done throughout history.
Mostly unrelated: What's in a name?
The notion of sperm as dispensable foot soldiers is hardly a new idea, but I don't think anybody has taken it as far as Gametes and Gonads: a one-man show where both sides of the great battle between sperm and egg come to life and borrow a few dramatic cliches along the journey.
On one side: the military-ready sperm pilots of the left testicle. On the other, the...egg undergoing menstruation for the sake of...the...Goddess...who demands a sacrifice...to better the others?
I guess the quick thing to admit here is that there is no good metaphor for the female side of the equation: why she sheds an egg every 28 days isn't well explained in the play, and let's be frank: it doesn't make a lot of sense in real life either. The egg is almost a MacGuffin in this scenario, a goal to which the sperm must achieve. Which is why the female side of this play remains its weak point: it's really hard to find a good dramatic structure to explain all of this.
The play is billed as "Star Wars meets your genitals" and the poster even shows sperm coming after the Death Star. There's a bit of a bait-and-switch involved here though: other than a single Death Star joke and a 45-second spoof featuring a briefing led by Admiral Ackbar, there is no real Lucasfilm-inspired content. Instead, the sperm training is a basic 1950s war movie pastiche, with the training scenes and briefings providing far more screen time and drama than the actual battle.
Through it all, Jeff Leard plays a wide range of characters: not quite 473,957,155 but pretty gosh-darned close. He manages to fit in not one but two romance subplots, a Scotty character whose strong accent is strangely present in his brother, and a lot of physical depictions of what special effects would usually provide (including one very very long "deploy the collector" montage where a control panel appears and a device charges up which the crowd found hilarious and I had no idea what the hell it was supposed to represent).
Leard jumps, dives, and even somersaults into scene and character changes, and its a very impression one-man show that starts strong and doesn't end for 45 awe-inspiring minutes. The actual story isn't particularly strong (and the android-egg love story will leave you baffled and bewildered), and every once and a while the work looks like its leaving comedy aside for exploring a deeper meaning or understanding only to be thrust back into "one-eyed Jack" jokes and necrophilia humour. It works, and its funny, but the work ultimately lacks a heart. Though to be fair, there's never much coordination between the heart and the genitals.
Final word: If you want a Star Wars themed romp you'd best stay away, but Gametes and Gonads does pack a lot of spunk.
2012 Edmonton Village of the Fringed Fringe Review: Peter n' Chris and the Mystery of the Hungry Heart Motel
The murder mystery is one of the most reliable, practical, and effective story structures known to exist. It's spanned subgenres from the detective story to the slasher flick.
Since this is the Fringe Festival however, Peter 'n Chris and the Mystery of the Hungry Heart Motel turns it neatly on its head. At the very beginning, a hunchbacked little man comes out and introduces the plot...including the identity of the killer.
What struck me right away is that giving away the name of the killer isn't quite the huge faux pas the play implies it is when it opens up. You see, there's this little thing called Dramatic Irony whereby the tension is caused by the audience understanding fully a situation while the characters themselves are in the dark. In this case, Peter and Chris don't start off knowing the identify of the killer, and there is an inherent drama in such a situation.
Anyways, this just kicks off the play: Peter and Chris are driving when they suffer a serious yet oddly non-injurious car accident, and are forced to stop in at the eponymous Hungry Heart Motel, where it turns out that people are dying under mysterious circumstances. Eventually the two learn the killer's identify (okay, so the dramatic irony bit was only applicable for the opening 20 minutes or so) and the balance of the play is their wacky attempts at escaping.
Okay those same opening 20-30 minutes that actually contain the dramatic irony also turn out to be the dullest: the first half of the play serves more as a demonstration of how lead actors Chris Wilson and Peter Carlone are really really good at theatre sports and if you have a performance that requires bigger-than-life acting these are your guys. Their fourth wall breaking gags go from charming to boring remarkably fast, and the plot takes a little while getting up to speed. This play is extremely meta, and while that's the flavour of the month in a world where people actually go to watch Ted and then recommend it to friends, it doesn't register much beyond an "oooh" moment here and there.
Once the manager is openly revealed as the killer (see how I waited there?) the play actually picks up a bit, as the duo tries to escape with varying degrees of success. Clever cutting to other scenes with other characters lets us recharge a bit...and see the prolific nature of the manager's crimes as he offs a half dozen one-note characters in a couple of minutes.
Eventually he catches up to Chris, and then Peter, and just when everything looks to be at its lowest point...the actual story twist pops out of nowhere in a manner that would make Manoj Night Shyamalan feel a little guilty: a story twist that oddly is kept up as a pretense even after the play is over and Peter gives his post-play talk to the audience thanking them for coming and suggesting other Fringe plays.
As a whole the play is an entertaining enough romp: in the latter half some good physical acting takes place, and some of the "look what we can do" setup earlier pays off here. I guess when your play is that self-referential you can pull off gags like that.
Final word: You'll have a fun and entertaining stay at the Hungry Heart Motel, just be prepared for full-on-meta humour.
I posted earlier today on Michael Mann's Facebook page:
Let's see how long it takes the coward to delete it, as he most certainly will the post below mine. To paraphrase Malcolm Reynolds:
Update, 10:46am: And... as we suspected. The coward deleted it.
Later today in Edmonton there will be a vigil planned for Jack Layton who died a year ago today.
Edmonton's two most offensive politicians will even be in attendance: Rachel Notley and Linda Duncan. The vigil will be held at Grant Notley Park.
Park? That sounds kind of boring. Notley Park is where homeless people hang out: the kind of lazy shiftless losers who the likes of Duncan and Notley love to milk for votes until the cows come home.
Surely somebody else is doing something special for Jack? Well your luck is holding up, there is!
While the boring people have their candlelight vigil in Notley Park, the real celebration of Jack Layton's life is going to be held up in the city's northeast.
Take a look!
For those who want a real-life celebration of Jack Layton's achievements, here's the real website. While 6510 118 Ave may not be 787 Dundas Street, it is likely a pretty sweet massage, seeing how the gang whose numbered company owns the parlour had a previous parlour under a different numbered company at the same site a few years back that gave some damned good specials.
The following are the videos I've collected from the opening weekend of the Village of the Fringed International Edmonton Fringe Festival:
There's a hilarious webseries that tells the story of famous movies using bunnies. Here's them doing Star Wars: A New Hope. Well if you go to see Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at the Fringe festival this year, you get to see the tale of America's 7th President. Based on the off-Broadway rock musical of the same name, this tale is entirely told by...
There's a lot of good stuff building up to the ascension to the Presidency: Jackson finds love and basically kills everybody else (including the crippled East Indian girl providing the narration) in order to do what he thinks is correct. He founds the Democratic Party (in one of the hilarious historical whoopsies, they reference having to fight against the Republican Party, which is funny since that party never existed during Jackson's lifetime) and rides a wave to Washington, where he's defeated under the bizarre political machinations that lead to President John Quincy Adams (who, along with Clay, van Buren, and Monroe are all portayed as fairies. And no, Slevin Klebstra, not the kind with wings).
Jackson's back in 1828 though, but his wife dies due to the agony of her husband's vetting process in the U.S. Senate (that's just how things worked back then, the play helpfully explains). As President, he tries and fails his hand at direct democracy, dealing with the National Banks, and solving the Indian Question.
The play is an odd mix: it celebrates Andrew Jackson but isn't able to accept his opinions on slavery or Indians or war, and so it tries to poo-poo it behind the scenes while having adulation for the rock star President. As the Presidency goes on, it suddenly stops, seemingly unable to let the full consequences both positive and negative be felt from his forcible removal of Indians to Okalahoma! So instead of deal with them, and force a modern audience to choose between revering this figure or reviling him, it instead chose to end. Kind of sudden, really, but after 90 minutes in the stifling hot confines of the Catalyst Theatre I really was just happy it was over. Andrew Jackson could have died flying back to his home planet on a rocket ship and I would have accepted this ending.
The performances were all solid. I'm not sure if the four conspirators of the 1824 election were all sodomites in the original show, but that was a pretty outlandish way of handling their characters here: especially for the sensitive sensitivities of a Fringe audience. The cast were all good enough at singing, they kept their physical actions up in the horrible stifling environment, and even the little kid delivered all his lines without flubs or over-hamming it...which in a show like this could push everybody right over the shark.
Final word: If its not the first part of a series of "emo kids talk 'bout U.S. history and stuff", Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson deserves your attendance if you remember to hydrate first.