(Dumb) Laws were made to be broken

Below, with apologies for the formatting, is the Twitter conversation I had last week regarding the province's proposed new texting while driving law:

302. FACLC Why is #ableg thinking about banning texting & driving when smoking pot & driving, already illegal, is a regular unenforced #yeg occurance?
301. chrislabossiere @FACLC can't have both? I agree that impaired driving is a problem, but texting while driving is equally dangerous.
300. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere But there's the problem. You just can't keep passing more unenforceable laws, it diminishes value of existing ones.
298. chrislabossiere @FACLC flawed logic my friend. So as new technology is added, we ignore passing laws to respond cause we're too busy with the old ones?
296. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Creating an increased number of otherwise ordinary folk comitting a crime and getting away with it is not "responding"
295. hurtinalbertan @FACLC that just helps to even out the crimes committed by GoA and getting away with it, just that the public has to follow their rules
294. dominionpundit @FACLC @FACLC I'm surprized that Ralphie's old party has been infiltrated by safety nazis. #yeg
293. chrislabossiere @FACLC Same as seat-belts? It's ridiculous to suggest that the lack of ability to enforce laws is reason for not having them.
292. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Quick answer by the way is no you can't have both. Law w/o enforcement is just legislative manner of jerking off
291. chrislabossiere @FACLC they are separate issues. A law like that can save lives, and place liability in the hands of those responsible for accidents.
290. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Thats actually is a good example of a dumb law. Early enforcement, now no one cares. Belt use % been stable since inception
289. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere How can a law that nobody enforces save lives? See a lot of checks to make sure passenger airbags not disabled?
288. chrislabossiere @FACLC Should we get rid of Sexual Assault laws because we don't see into the homes of offenders, and can't possibly enforce it all?
287. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Seeing how "dangerous driving" is already far too-wide a net cops use to charge people for driving offenses, why make more?
286. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere If at least every day you could observe a blatent sexual assault in the streets, then its time to ditch that one too
285. chrislabossiere @FACLC seat belt usage hasn't saved lives? How about we bet that the fatality rate of accidents have fallen since inception. 24 beer.
284. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Sounds like a safe bet, I'm sure there haven't been ANY technological changes to vehicles since 1987... http://tr.im/x1Y6
283. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Incidently, here's the Journal on seatbelt rates: http://tr.im/x1XW
280. chrislabossiere @FACLC maybe read the article. Then we'll talk.
278. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Read b4 I posted it. Rough gist: seatbelt use poor, enforcement poor. Law only good for keeping Queen's Printer employed
277. chrislabossiere @FACLC just so I'm clear. If the likelyhood of getting caught is reduced, we should not create laws in that case?
276. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Yes, if you plan to create a law to curb existing behaviour, don't do it unless you will continually enforce it
275. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Otherwise its effect is the reverse of what you intended. People will continue to observe violations w/o penalty
274. hurtinalbertan @FACLC does smoking fit into that also?
273. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Once that happens, all your laws on the books are reduced in credibility. # of actual laws should be kept to BARE MINIMUM
272. FACLC Actually my last tweet summarizes a good conservative principle: # of laws should be kept to a bare minimum. #ableg #roft #canpoli #tcot
271. FACLC @hurtinalbertan Walk down Whyte Avenue. Watch how many ppl are smoking within 5m of entrance. Watch how many of them are bouncers.
270. hurtinalbertan @FACLC bouncers need to stay close to the door thats their job, but true smoking laws R not enforced as much as they should be
269. chrislabossiere @FACLC even if $0 was spent in enforcment of that law, it would save Albertans $100's of millions in insured losses.
268. ElniskiMLA @FACLC Well spoken, laws and regulations all are better in small numbers
266. FACLC @hurtinalbertan If the bouncer is caught allowing smoking within 5m, facility could be fined $10 grand, but they don't fear it. Why?
265. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Insurance already cares abt factors not strictly related 2 law of the land (ie. drinking 12 hrs b4 crash). Why not texting?
263. hurtinalbertan @FACLC maybe they are protected from prosecution just like some civil servants are
261. FACLC @hurtinalbertan They know that no-one actually cares. Its like calling cops on ur neighbour for smoking weed: ur the jerk for bothering them
255. hurtinalbertan @FACLC so I have to agree with you that a lot of laws are made to comfort the masses, leading them into a false security
254. FACLC @hurtinalbertan Everybody breaks at least 1/2 dozen laws daily, man & company alike. http://bit.ly/yJAHv
252. hurtinalbertan @FACLC but the laws I am referring too are not misdemeanors , but activities like fraud, embezzlement and racketeering
250. FACLC @dominionpundit Ralph's party was already safety Nazis: Getty's the one who brought in the fucking seatbelt law
246. FACLC @hurtinalbertan Broken window theorem (er, the OTHER one): as small crimes are allowed to be broken, larger and larger ones supplement
243. hurtinalbertan @FACLC that include C.C & human rights violations, manipulation of financial information for the purpose of embezzling and extortion ?
240. FACLC @hurtinalbertan Other than the odd need to qualify CC & human rights violations (latter part of the former), yes: http://tr.im/x2ay
I really liked #272 (please ignore the numbers, they don't mean anything), where I observed that the number of laws should be kept to a bare minimum.

Again, to expound my point here, a texting and driving law is already flawed before its even conceived. Smoking pot and driving is highly illegal, and I smell at least one car per day in Edmonton... and I don't even drive that much. If I was a road regular I wouldn't be surprised to notice it 10 or more times per week. Yet its already illegal.. but nobody cares, nobody enforces it. Remember when Alberta brought in mandatory seatbelt legislation? They had cops checking for seatbelts for three, maybe four years... and then they stopped. Seatbelt use hasn't really changed in that time, same as smoking pot and driving... hell, drinking and driving barely changes with hardcore enforcement efforts. Banning texting and driving won't make the roads safer. All they will do is give legislators and people a false sense that they've "done something". And the effect is temporary. Every day you will see people texting in traffic. Half the time it will be at red lights and probably end up legal anyways. Even when you see the law being broken, outside of temporary enforcement pushes if you phone in a texting-while-driving report the cops will either ignore you or bug you for wasting their time.

Meanwhile, at what price society? As the number of laws increases, ultimately you are creating more violators of those laws. As time goes on more and more people become lawbreakers. It starts with some jaywalking (this year cracked down on downtown), then some bike riding on the sidewalk (on Whyte Ave, this was acknowledged as de facto legal until last week) [also a subject a recent Tweet -ed], next thing you can text and drive with impunity, followed by smoking pot and driving, followed by drinking and driving. As people watch it take place, their own confidence in the rule of law continues to diminish. Many of them will take it upon themselves to start breaking some laws as well. After the cops basically admit that they aren't interested in enforcing the massive juggernaut of laws politicians continue to pass in order to score press releases, then its up to people to guess which ones they can get away with. As more people do this calculus, any guesses what the result is?

So here's the nightmare that is continuing. What is the solution? I said it right up there in tweet 276:
if you plan to create a law to curb existing behaviour, don't do it unless you will continually enforce it
That means bad news for politicians, because they don't really have as many things to do. I mean after purging the books of laws that are only there to make people feel better, what really is left for 83 MLAs that, say, 63 MLAs ("63 in '63") couldn't do. Meanwhile, with police officers no longer having to be concerned about investigating violations of the Builders' Lien Act perhaps they can be familiar with parts of the Police Act that Edmonton Police Services seems to have so many difficulties with. They might even find the time to maybe investigate property crimes!

So in the end, Alberta is almost guaranteed to have a stupid texting while driving law. It probably won't distinguish between texting at red lights or while stuck in gridlock and texting while driving 140 km/hr down the QE2. And the only thing that will happen as a result is that a little piece of society will die. Congradu-fucking-lations.


Two years ago in history...

Michael Ignatieff ruminates on the Puffin.

Of course, back then Ignatieff was just the weirdo hanging around a convention. Now he's the leader of the party. In the past two years, however, his penchant for saying awkward things has only grown...




2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: Day 11

I don't think its a huge shock to anybody that women are crazy. You just have to read those Cosmo surveys about what women want, and then sit at the mall or the bar watching them with the men they choose. Just because a few billion women claim to think or believe something doesn't mean they actually do, and folly to the man who tries being himself or some such insanity just because women said in a magazine poll what they want. So it is as well with Inviting Desires, a fringe play made up of a bunch of women answering an online poll. After an hour hearing sexual fantasies as portrayed by the four women you remember from the fringe grounds perfomring "My Vagina is Eight Miles Wide", I would certainly testify on your behalf that you seriously believed that all women had gangbanging fantasies and that what you did that to that hot girl waiting for the light at Army & Navy was in her best interests. The play features a number of vignettes, all culled presumably from the survey: you have to watch carefully to make sure you know whats going on, sometimes the change of character has less to do with a costume tick and more to do with...um, that's exactly what I mean. Well, I guess you'll just have to follow along. Naturally of course this play near the end of the Fringe Festival is where I get stuck with the first fawning President Monkey reference: a woman's sexual fantasy about meeting an "elephant cock"'d black guy in the gym and getting pounded up the ass turns out to be all about Obama, featuring those "yes we did!" t-shirts that I assumed people had long ago thrown away in rank embarassment. Ironically enough I know a person who actually did bump into President Monkey at the gym earlier in the year. She certainly came out of the encounter a little less flushed than this play would relate. There were a couple good sketches: the "he likes to call me Daddy" bit was very enjoyable, and the woman's hippie-massage story used a great cheap special effect to simulate the pool. In general though, while you think you've explored women's sexual fantasies through the performance, what you've actually done is accepted as truth what people claiming to be women talk about on an anonymous online message board. So no, your wife really doesn't want you and another women to do naughty things to your ass.

Its hard to get a good read on Manners for Men. This is clearly resonated in the conversation I heard as leaving the venue, where some people declared it the worst play they'd seen in the fringe. I wouldn't go that far, though its certainly a very low energy play that requires your full interest before you'd be able to accept it. The play tells the story of Frank, a meek and anti-social man who suffers from several issues:
a) He has a very condesending mother who is highly critical of him and more than willing to emotionally scar him at every opportunity.
b) When he was a young boy he lost control of his bowels in school, causing him to shit all over everything and endure teasing and humiliation which continues to present day. This may be related to (a)
c) His father left him when he was 8 years old. This may also be related to (a)
d) He's facing charges for allegedly fondling himself in a shoe store, which he claims was mere loitering as he found himself unwilling to go home. This is almost certainly related to (a)

Frank tells us the story of his life. With a few laughs and what seems to be a very dedicated performance (the spastic tics of Frank's mother are as much part of her character in this one-man play as her shrill tone) we don't get a bad play, but Frank's character has a very low energy about him, and its that level that has to carry the audience through a little under an hour. Its almost an excitement when Frank's lager-drinking football fan [Editor's note: the play takes place in England] has a few lines at the bar, or when the man who handles Frank's mother's hair gives him dating advice, as we're temporarily thrust back into the real world, away from Frank's slow demeanor. As Frank's court date looms, we discover that his mother is pretty sure that (a) and (c) above are directly due to (b), and that its entirely Frank's fault what has happened to their family. As its expected, once the matter of the alleged indecent act makes it into court, Frank is cleared of the charge, though the judge basically finds him not guilty not because he didn't do it but instead because his mother was such a cow. She doesn't let up even then. Its not until a day trip when her colostomy bag blows open on the bus that things finally change for the better: despite the parallels with his own circumstances, Frank volunteers for the cleanup, and possibly healing the rift between him and his mother. Which is good, the dude wears brown sandals with white socks and probably won't ever get so much as a date. And perhaps thats why at the end of the play, the girls were disappointed.


From the mouths of trans-testicles:

The 519 Blog shows what a bunch of shemales are really like. Catty. Whiny. Really really really faggy. And not men. Just thought you might need a reminder.

Mr. Steyn, whom your publication has previously called “a thoughtful and experienced journalist”, was anything but thoughtful in his treatment of the sexual- and gender-diverse community. The language and tone of his article in relation to First Nations, homosexual and gender-diverse people was hateful, ignorant, self-serving, poorly informed and nuanced with racism, homophobia and transphobia.
Discourse and debate is an important element of Canadian democracy and freedom of speech is a right which we uphold and value. We expect however, that Maclean’s would recognize how unnecessary this alienating and hurtful approach is to that discussion and that you would expect some level of awareness and respect from your writers as they tackle the issues at hand.
For your information, "gender diverse community" is how you describe a co-ed dorm. How you describe Mathieu Chantelois and his trans-testicular friends are simply faggots without the balls to be honest. [ah, the return of puns! -ed]


What do you do when you're Kristin Wilson?

You take the money you just got in your settlement and buy yourself a pulled pork sandwich. Because it feels good when a pig has to pay you some money:

ccording to court documents obtained by Sun Media, a $6.6-million lawsuit filed by Kristin Dawn Wilson against Const. Shane Connor and Chief Mike Boyd has been discontinued as a result of an agreement being reached.

The amount of the settlement is not known due to a non-disclosure clause signed by both parties.

Wilson’s lawyer, Laurie Wood, confirmed yesterday that an out-of-court settlement had been agreed upon.

“I can’t give you any information as to the settlement, but I can tell you that my client was pleased to see it finalized,” said Wood. “She wanted closure and she is glad to have it over with. She just wants to get on with her life.”

Wilson, a 22-year-old mother currently living in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley, sued the Edmonton Police Service in October 2006 after alleging she was struck in the face by Connor while handcuffed behind her back early in the morning of June 18, 2006 on Whyte Avenue.

She claimed the assault caused her to fall face forward against a concrete curb and her face was injured.

The lawsuit also alleges Wilson was taken against her will by bus to a marshalling area where she was detained for hours before being dropped on Jasper Avenue.

Wilson was taken into custody and handcuffed when she stepped off the curb after police warned revellers celebrating an Oilers victory in a game during the finals of the Stanley Cup playoffs to remain on the sidewalk.

On April 22, 2008, Connor, then 28, was cleared of a charge of unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority following a city police internal disciplinary hearing.

2009 Edmonton Fringe: Stage a Revolution

(This post will remain at the top of this page until August 25, 2009. Scroll down for new content)

Well, it's that time of year again. The 2009 Edmonton Fringe Festival starts today. Just like I did in 2007, I will make up an aggregator of all the fringe play reviews I write this year. Last year, readers may recall I didn't go at all [readers will also remember that several 2007 Fringe reviews are now two years late being filed. -ed].

So here is the main page for the 2009 Edmonton Fringe Theatre Festival. And remember, I don't mention the plays I go to until a day or two [or 730+! -ed] after I attend, but when deciding fringe plays, I have one hard and fast rule:

No fags.

The Reviews:

Day #1: Noncomittal, Kreskinned.
Day #2: Seven Lives of Louis Riel, Space, George Orwell is Not My Real Name, Incorruptible
Day #3: Doom 2012: When Will You Flee?, Lysistrata
Day #4: For the Love of a Zombie
Day #5: Never Trust a Naked Marriage Counsellor
Day #6:Bashir Lazhar
Day #7:G-Men
Day #10:Full of Sound and Fury, Captain Hook vs. The Zombies
Day #11:Inviting Desire, Manners For Men

Extra Fringe Material:

A Presidential Joke

So good ol' PMOTUS was feeling pretty blue about his recent polling number collapses, and word was starting to spread in D.C. that he was taking it pretty hard.

Then over the weekend he got a phone call from George W. Bush. Bush called to say that from one President to another he had heard about the poll numbers and the depression but not to worry, that in Bush's experience he had learned a valuable lesson: from week to week poll numbers will rise and poll numbers will fall, but as President of These United States you cannot let that rule your life, you have to simply hunker down, push on with your agenda as best you can, react to changing situations as best you can and be true to yourself. Ultimately what the numbers say on some Thursday in August aren't that important, you have to keep things into perspective and play "the long game": 8 years is a long time to be worrying about individual weekly polls.

Well that seemed to cheer PMOTUS up, and he thanked Bush for all of his help saying that it did put things into perspective and took some of the weight off his shoulders.

Then keeping with the spirit of advice from one President to another, he got a call from George H.W. Bush:

Yeah about those 8 years...


New developments in Edmonton's gangster scene? Lily Tran, Brandon Prevey, other retributions?

I'm noticing a spike in search strings today finding this blog searching about Lily Tran or Brandon Prevey. Last time this happened, Brandon Prevey died less than 48 hours later.

So keep a close eye on your backs, Edmonton gangsta' community. One of you seems next up on the hit roster, and we'll probably know exactly who killed Prevey in Red Deer (I have a couple suspicions).

The Shaw IP address for one is 68.148.93.#, and a Telus IP of 198.166.39.# is searching about Barry T's nightclub shootings. Another couple searches for Tran and Kenyon Gardiner (Tran's boyfriend Pillion and Prevey's victim) have come from unknown IPs. There were a couple or three Lily Tran searches earlier in the day that other vistors have "washed out" (I can only track previous 100, and the fringe and twitter-related traffic has been heavy today), and possibly more that I missed. In any regard, something interesting might be going down.

Update, August 25 2009 2:25am: 68.150.43.# was visiting looking into the Boxing Day murder at West Ed. Other than the Vietnam connection, I am unaware of any direct link between Dominac Mah and Lily Tran.

"Just when I thought you couldn't get any dumber, you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself!"

From the guys who brought you "I'm On a Boat!":

Now stand in awe of "I Jizz (In My Pants)"


Ryan Jenkins vs. The Mob

So tonight we get confirmation of the early afternoon rumours that indeed Ryan Jenkins, the Calgary resident who presumably murdered his wife in California, has been found dead in a Hope motel.

Anyways, with the news of his "suicide", a buddy and I are both thinking this is all a little bit too clean, and that while Occam's Razor is a handy first principles sort of guide, it doesn't fit the facts as neatly as one might hope. So we both had similar thoughts: Ryan Jenkins was killed by the mob.

Now I have my theory and he has his, but I thought I'd turn to the inter-tubes to try and test the theories out. We shall call them theories A and B. Theory A is mine, and its relatively short and sweet.

A) Ryan Jenkins killed his wife and fled. Looking to return to Canada, he elicited help from shady characters -- the mob, in some way shape or form -- to sneak across the border. He wasn't exactly an anonymous nobody, his name and picture had been flashed across the world. They wouldn't do it for anything short of a huge sum of money, which Jenkins promised. Either he knew he wouldn't have enough and decided to take his chances, or thought he could get a hold of more, he shorted the mob, and pretty soon they found him and came to collect.

B) Ryan Jenkins never killed his wife. Here, lets let him summarize:

real estate investment gone wrong... killed his wife, framed him and tarnished his name, killed him to look like a suicide
Why would he cut off her fingertips and pull her teeth, that's a mob thingy. Most crimes of passion dump the body out in an abandoned area, not in the middle of the city.
Otherwise, the ending is pretty much as mine. Of course, there's also Theory C:

C) Ryan Jenkins killed his wife, fled to B.C., and comitted suicide in a hotel in Hope.

So go right ahead readers, give me your thoughts. Theory A, B, or C? Or do you have your own theories, twists, or evidence? Post away in the comments

2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: Day 8...er, 10

Well, after two days of skipping the Fringe, I'm back with a vengence... well, mostly a vengence. Today we're going to cover House of Sand and Fog...uh, Full of Sound and Fury. The former is a movie, the latter is a quote from MacBeth. If you don't really know "The Scottish Play", you shouldn't have too much trouble following along. What we have here is a presentation of MacBeth by "Louis Rush", who goes by Roman de Fruscan, who's actually Marcus Fernando. Casting himself in the lead role, he runs into tension by the actress playing Lady MacBeth, who's certainly named something other than Olga Novak. Olga is like Lindsay Lohan meets a junior college drama prof meets Sir Humphrey Appleby, she breaks into long worded monologues and also manages to have numerous hissy fits while staging the production. It quickly becomes clear that neither actor is suited to perform MacBeth (if you check the playbill, its all done "in character"), with Roman's ego forcing him to overperform in every scene while Olga gets caught up in the smallest minutia. Both of them end up derailing the production over and over, until it turns out that this ad lib still is the production, which both enhances and detracts from the actor-audience trust dynamic that Olga constantly refers to. As the play goes on, we get some parallels forming between MacBeth the historical drama (at one point Roman asks an audience member if she's real, and if he's real, and if MacBeth is real: her answers are "I think so", "I don't know", and "no") and the play as it appears... occasionally during an argument the two will resume performing MacBeth even as the words they say parallel their own relationship. What we get here is an entertaining romp that could have benefitted by more parallels between the stories, and certainly could have been improved by not showing the lead actor's Meat & Veg on the projector (luckily I'd heard of this and was warned off), especially when Olga does have a nice body (though not nice breasts, despite it being a plot point). You'll get some but not a lot audience participation (15 year old Luba Goy from G-Men was in the crowd, and I half expected to see her come up), a few good jokes, some small insight into Shakespeare, and just duck before you end up seeing a man's business up on screen.

We've already reviewed one of the two Zombie plays at the 2009 Fringe, and now its time we address Captain Hook vs. The Zombies. This one posts a bit of revisionist history: we meet up with Captain Hook, his assistant Peter Pan, and their Sam Gamgee-like fat-boy Smid as they travel the English countryside (near Kent, for those who want to follow along on Google Earth) killing zombies and trying to track down the evil Dr. Crocodile who apparently has fulfilled the Dawn of the Dead/Resident Evil roles of creating zombies for some evil purpose. Indeed, we even see Dr. Crocodile's lab several times, where anachronistically cute lab assistants work with zombies with control collars talking about "test results for subject pool RX-8". As Captain Hook and his crew fight their way through the zombie hordes, Peter is sent off to receive payment from the mayor of Kent. He blackmails the mayor into giving him more money, and leaves just before a shadowy figure in a cloak and a zombie-walk walks in to provide the mayor with far more money he just gave up. I bring up this minor scene partly because at no point do they ever explain who the figure is or why the mayor is being paid off (you will have your suspicions at the time, but it turns out not to be true). On the way back, Peter runs into Wendy, who's also extremely skilled with a blade as she helps him take out a patch of attacking zombies. When they return to Hook its apparent that he and Wendy don't particularly like each other (Smid's in love with her), but they press on to find the lab of Dr. Crocodile. In the next confrontation, Peter is bitten and Wendy resolves that they have to find Dr. Crocodile's lab quickly in the hope that it will present them with a cure. Peter heads for more supplies, this time starting to turn zombie as he's blackmailing the mayor of whichever town they were at after Kent (sorry Google Earthers, I didn't keep track). Taking the money and concerned at what's happening to him, he rushes off to meet up with the others. As he gets there Wendy tells him she's found Dr. Crocodile's lab but when they arrive its long-abandoned. Just then a horde of zombies come at them, and Peter and Wendy are pulled off-stage. Hook and Smid finally track zombies crawling back to the real lab, where Peter is being cured of Zombie-ism and Wendy reveals herself as Dr. Crocodile, obsessed over curing all illnesses and helping people live forever. There's a good "boy who never grew up" parallel in there, and its really a shame that the writers missed it...Peter did grow up, got horny for Wendy, and that was that. Captain Hook, revealing his full name is "James Tiberius Hook" goes off on a Shatner-esque speech about how Wendy "must... be stopped!" and then he and Wendy and Peter and Smid end up fighting until Hook and Smid run off, and Peter gives an injured Wendy the cure for everything (Wendy warns him that it isn't what he thinks, which means its probably zombieism) as the lights dim. Well then, what we get here is some great swordsplay, some entertaining one-liners, and oddly for a fringe play: no tinkerbells. Its certainly the weak horse of the two fringe zombie plays, but its still an exciting enough swashbuckling adventure that in general you don't get worked up over it. Its popcorn fun, and while you wish there was some more depth, its zombies for Pete's sake. Still, I think I'm going to watch Resident Evil five more times after the Fringe is over.


2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: Photos

I have now uploaded a set of photos from the 2009 Edmonton Fringe Festival. I will add more to this post as they come.

Update August 23 2009, 10:48am: Here are some more photos:

First off, here's the girl who played Amber in "Noncommital":

2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: Day 7

You know that communists are actually really evil, right? They kill people. Tens of millions of them, seemingly on a whim. They may use intellectuals to gain power, but once they are in place the average fringe theatre fan-slash-commie dupe is just another dead body with a couple of bullets to the head. Yet despite the actual result of the revolutions that 2009's fringe title is encouraging (Che Guevara or Joseph Stalin weren't exactly friendly to the intelligensia) it continues to be everybody's favourite Red Menace. On my way to see G-Men, I walked past a guy walking around in a "CCCP" t-shirt with the hammer and sickle on it. I'm pretty sure that he wouldn't be too cool with another guy wearing a swastika walking the other way, but Nazi gets a negative connotation while the Communists worldwide get a free pass. Its therefore not without its irony that anti-Commie G-man code-named "Garfield" often quotes Hitler -- acknowledging he'd quote other guys if they had suitably applicable quotes -- while taking on Reds right in his own backyard. As is not uncommon for local acts (and a few international acts too, come to think) at the Edmonton Fringe, the 4th wall is deliberately shattered early and shattered often. The G-Men are here to show us how they came to be, teach us how to combat the Reds, and entertain us, mostly by banging their heads continuously against the 4th wall. They bring audience volunteers up on stage to help out. They get more gags out of doing their own sound effects than most of the script provides. What's left is an entertaining little romp ("your first mission: kill a chinaman", the kissing under the lights gag, etc.) that counts on you enjoying audience participation so extensive that by the end the 15 year old Luba Goy impersonator from the crowd got to do the bow at the end while one of the two characters lay dead with a bloody gunshot wound that could have used an extra piece of duct tape. I kept hoping for the great inside-gag if they identified me as a "Communist sympathizer", but alas it never came.

For a curious aside, ironically enough, in Macleans Mark Steyn addresses similar points on Nazism vs. Communism, and another example of what commies really think of playwrights.

2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: Day 6

I didn't mention it when I reviewed Never Trust a Naked Marriage Counsellor, but at one point Norah the evil psychologist makes reference to the industry buzzphrase that you have done nothing wrong yourself but are "a subcomponent of a dysfunctional system". The line is repeated relatively often throughout the latter half of the play, and is generally acknowledged to be the utter bullshit that it is. In Bashir Lazhar, the buzzphrase actually is applicable: Michael Peng's Lazhar is in a dysfunctional system. But more on that later. Bashir Lazhar is the story of an Algerian man who fled to Canada, settled in Montreal, and wound up the substitute teacher for a Grade 6 class whose teacher died by suicide (in the classroom no less). I say this with post-viewing confidence that if you attend will not be immediately evident as the play begins. Indeed, most of your first fifteen minutes of viewing (and all of the first five) will be spent asking yourself a variety of questions with no immediately clear answer: what's the deal with the girl running around in the blue silk scarf? What's real? Why does he keep writing on the floor in chalk and do the words have particular significance? Interpretive theatre isn't for everyone, and I'll warn you that its in the cards here. Also you might want to brush up on your frog-talk: several seemingly key bits of dialogue were incomprehensible after the translator apparently decided to cash the EI cheque a hardworking Albertan provides rather than finish the task at hand. The play begins with screaming, running around, repetition, and ends with the cast members throwing paper airplanes into the audience. Somewhere in the middle comes the story. In it, we see Lazhar's political refugee application, his getting the substitute teacher job, and the impact of his wife and children being murdered the night before the underground railroad can smuggle them out. And here's where the subcomponent of a dysfunctional system comes in. Let's just say that Ezra Levant would probably like this play. I don't think Ezra was a big fringer down in Cowtown, but he would recognize elements here. In almost every avenue of his life, Lazhar is an individual bogged down against the crippling effect of bureaucracy. He doesn't meet the definition of refugee under Quebec's (separate) immigration department, and he instantly butts heads against the modern day realities of the unionized teaching profession. He dares to confront the kids on the death of their teacher (which he happens to think was selfish of her, an analysis that can't be discounted -- she did hang herself in her classroom, even having the students turn their desks in a circle to face her eventual corpse), lets the children write openly about violence in school, and complains about non-academic feel-good activities getting in the way of learning. Lazhar left Algeria to escape violent persecution, but here in modern-day Quebec he discovers its evil twin: nonviolent indifference. The provincial curriculum, the teachers union, the immigration officers are all just the masters of the dysfunctional system of government which ends up weighing down on Lazhar until, like a fringe version of Howard Roark, official complaints are the excuse by which he is brought down, forced out, and only briefly able to quickly summarize life to Alice, the one girl in his class who has a chance of succeeding if the system doesn't crush her as well. This is where the paper airplanes come in. Okay, once you get over the fact that huge amounts of this play are a bunch of interpretive dance and weird use of finger paints on an overhead projector its not a bad little number. There's certainly a lesson here in modern day treatment by left-leaning teachers lobbies even if it wasn't intended (and I'll guarantee you most Edmonton reviewers will mention Bill 44 at least eighteen or nineteen times), and the feeling of a man trapped by the arbitrary and unbendable rules of unelected twerps in positions of power is captured, but you do spend a lot of time either wishing they spoke English or wishing you spoke whatever language goes on in Jean-Louis Barrault's head.

Below, enjoy a clip from the show:


2006 Edmonton Fringe: Travelling back in time

I have so far seen 4 Fringe plays this year. When I get my computer back (within 10 days, I hope) I will post reviews...though too late to influence anybody.

Quick summary: Oppositie of Infinity, My Morocco, and Are Ya Dating are all faggot-free plays. I unfortunately cannot say the same of Soul Survivor, as a sodomist asian is one of the characters.


Braaaaaaains! Braaaaaains!

You may have heard that an Australian researcher who goes literally by "Robert J. Smith?" working at the University of Ottawa has done mathematical modelling of zombie attacks.

Well, here is the mathematical study used:


Zombies are a popular figure in pop culture/entertainment and they are usually portrayed as being brought about through an outbreak or epidemic. Consequently, we model a zombie attack, using biological assumptions based on popular zombie movies. We introduce a basic model for zombie infection, determine equilibria and their stability, and illustrate the outcome with numerical solutions. We then refine the model to introduce a latent period of zombification, whereby humans are infected, but not infectious, before becoming undead. We then modify the model to include the effects of possible quarantine or a cure. Finally, we examine the impact of regular, impulsive reductions in the number of zombies and derive conditions under which eradication can occur. We show that only quick, aggressive attacks can stave off the doomsday scenario: the collapse of society as zombies overtake us all.
We assume that a susceptible can avoid zombification through an altercation with a zombie by defeating the zombie during their contact, and each susceptible is capable of resisting infection (becoming a zombie) at a rate . So, using the same idea as above with the probability Z=N of random contact of a susceptible with a zombie (not the probability of a zombie attacking a susceptible), the number of zombies destroyed through this process per unit time per susceptible is:
α( N)(Z=N)S = αSZ :
The ODEs satisfy
S0 + Z0 + R0 = Π
and hence
S + Z + R → ∞
as t → ∞, if Π ≠ 0. Clearly S NOT → ∞, so this results in a ‘doomsday’ scenario: an outbreak of zombies will lead to the collapse of civilisation, as large numbers of people are either zombified or dead. If we assume that the outbreak happens over a short timescale, then we can ignore birth and background death rates. Thus, we set Π = δ = 0.

Setting the differential equations equal to 0 gives
-β SZ = 0
βSZ + ζR - α SZ = 0
αSZ - ζR = 0 :
From the first equation, we have either S = 0 or Z = 0. Thus, it follows from S = 0 that we get the ‘doomsday’ equilibrium
( S , Z , R ) = (0; Z; 0) :
When Z = 0, we have the disease-free equilibrium
( S , Z , R) = (N; 0; 0) :

Best of all, at the bottom you can get the code to run the Zombie formulas at home with any parameters you feel like entering.

If you're really want, you can use the Runge-Kutta method, rather than Euler, to solve the ODEs in the paper.


2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: The August 18th Walkthrough

Here is my video walkthrough of the Edmonton 2009 Fringe Festival. Amoung other crimes, my cameraphone's audio is completely useless here. Sorry.

2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: Site rant

So, you've decided to visit the Edmonton Fringe Festival. What can you expect? What's new? What's good and new? What's bad and new? What's good to still have? Let me try and enlighten you.

The first thing to say is pretty negative, so I'll get right to it: the food selection you have this year sucks. In past years, you could get Funky Pickle, Tony Roma's, and more. This year the north food court (across from the north beer gardens) is far smaller. There are only 3 booths, really. There used to be five or six. Meanwhile on the south side, the line of food courts is significantly reduced. My personal favourite, the sandwich place that does various italian-style sandwiches (including the Cuban and Mexican italian-style sandwiches) is long gone. No ribs, no funky pizza, no nothing. It's really quite annoying. There is a Mexican taco place which is good (taco in a bag is better), but very few places to replace the long loved favourites.

They do have those disgusting green onion cakes that hippies love, the Ukranian place, and several East Indian eateries. The one next to New Asian Village is the best, and it has great chili chicken. The Tandori chicken is also good. Again, the Mexican-style taco stand was a neat touch, but there's just a shortage of quality places. You can only eat so much East Indian food and poutine without getting the desire for something different.

As for other things missing, the famous carnival-style attractions (man without a face, she-spider, etc.) are missing, and all you get between the north beer gardens and KidsFringe is a bunch of bead and jewelry booths. I complained about these to Martok on Friday, and he replied that you need these bead booths to attract the hippies. Without hippies buying beads, he argued, do you really have a festival? Suffice it to say, he doesn't watch any of the fringe plays.

In other festival layout news, the TransAlta outdoor stage is much enhanced, you can watch a variety of well-designed acts on the north alternative to the Telus stage. Speaking of Telus, you can also win a 42" TV. Well, you can enter. I'm going to win, of course. There are a fair number of buskers, and the beer gardens are still alive and well. They have (er, had...) Big Rock Lime in cans, which I'd never seen before. Can you buy those retail? It would be awesome to find them in liquor stores. They're the same $4.50 as Trad and XO too, which is very awesome.

In other notes, have you been to the Stage 5 Fringe Cabaret Lounge venue in the back of the Arts Barns? They serve alcohol pre-show (buy a couple and enjoy the presentation), have tables for small groups to sit at, and have the rows of chairs zip-tied together. The zip tied chairs things is common, a couple venues do it, but I know it freaked out some twittering fringers. The highlight of the venue has to be this Borat-inspired door notice:

In other notes, if you're going to a play at Catalyst Theatre, dress cool: the venue is pretty warm. Not as warm as the drama queens waving paper programs on their faces at Never Trust a Naked Marriage Counsellor imply it is, but it is warm. Be forewarned. Also, of course, keep a close eye on your location. BYOV A and BYOV C in particular are significantly long trips from the Fringe grounds, so be very very very very careful. Also, of course, remember not to schedule plays close to each other. Leave at least an hour between shows. Drink beer, don't run and wind up late.

Bonus Link: The Edmonton Fringe Festival blog asks some of these same questions.


2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: Day 5

There is no nudity. I know, I know, you were expecting nudity. They didn't put the nudity emblem on the program, so that sort of got your suspicions up. But when you pay to see Never Trust a Naked Marriage Counsellor I'm sure a little nipple isn't too much to ask. It turns out that, yes indeed, you shouldn't solicit elicit therapy from your wife, especially when its sex therapy. Especially when the sex therapy is with another woman. Another day, another fringe play testing the limits of coincidence. Family counsellor Norah thinks its just another day at the office, another day trying to get over her husband walking out on her the previous week. When the immortal Dr. Sigfried falls ill, she takes the clients that he was supposed to see. Only when watching from the observation room does she discover.... duhn duhn duhn... that the man wanting sex therapy is her own husband. At the same time, wimpy Sidney discovers that... duhn duhn duhn... Nick's new girl-toy is his own ex-wife. There's also this French shoe salesman character who's trying to get into Norah's pants. Anyways, Norah decides to get involved, and after starting video recording she barges in and does her best to break the happy couple up, while maintaining an allure of professionalism. This is where the naked bit comes in: Norah convinces them all to strip for a non-existant California Hot Tub Therapy. [he means that the hot tub is non-existant, not that the therapy itself doesn't exist. Though it doesn't. -ed] As we admire Elizabeth Johannson and (particularly) Leah Anderson's Cynthia's supple bodies (Anderson is decked out in a black bra and panties), the weird Frenchman Pierre, passing himself off as a therapy guru, admires in front of a perplexed Sidney. I do have to say that while the females acting chops aren't quite up for the roles intended for them, Kris Loranger steals the show as Sidney. He almost never breaks the character's mannerisms assigned to him, and until he himself strips down (er, don't ask) I assumed Loranger was wearing a fat suit for the role. Calvin Malaka's Pierre is pretty well acted though his writing was often inconsistent between insightful and half-wited, and Ian Horobin does a decent job as Nick, though the non-verbal acting leaves a little to be desired. I now recognized Johannson from the grounds earlier in the festival. I checked her out, unaware I'd have a better opportunity later. I'll keep an eye for her in the beer gardens for sure. Eventually the play goes to the next level as it becomes apparent that suddenly Norah has lost all of her physiatric ethics and desires only to film and youtube her husbands therapy. Er, so yeah, his clients see him topless and pushed around by his therapist ex-wife while she gets her license revoked for violating patient confidentiality, probably charged for good measure, and then sued by her lawyer ex-husband who will almost certainly get the lion's share of what she owns. But hey, who said people with psych degrees had a whole lot of sense? The underwear scene was pretty nice, and watching Pierre's footrub get Cynthia almost as wet at the magician-loving girl I watched melt as she got a phone number was pretty sexy. Watching Norah's professional demeanour conflict with her revenge desire made for some neat back and forth, and Pierre's surprising insight between selling a woman shoes and selling yourself as a couples therapist were also highlights. It was an entertaining romp, and you didn't notice time fly all that much. Most of the reviews I overheard in line were in fact extremely negative, which was surprising. Had none of these people watched nggrfg? All in all, there's a bit of couples insight, a little drama, some sexual intrigue, and a fairly entertaining story. But no nipples. Which just isn't right.

2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: Day 4

This year the Edmonton Fringe features not one, but two zombie plays. I wanted to attend both in a single day, but Captain Hook vs. The Zombies sold out unexpectedly quickly, leaving me only the opportunity to review For the Love of Zombie. This certainly is one of the more creative fringe plays out there, for large parts of it aren't actually a play. To get around the live special effects problems, every scene not taking place in the kitchen of the farmhouse (the fields, farmyard, basement) is pre-acted, and shown on a big screen behind the set. This allows for some interesting tricks: they're able to show actual rural Alberta, show zombies rising out of the actual earth (er, hay, in this case...they probably could have done a little better than this), axes to the chest, spilling huge vats of chemicals, firing off real shotguns, etc. etc. etc. They cues between outside and in are all done flawlessly, and to great effect. Anyways, this is the story of Grahm (as in the wafer), a liberal hippie douche who renounced urbanism, moved out to become the world's first vegetarian farmhand, and ended up falling in love with the sweet yet simple farmer's daughter...er, granddaughter. When he tries to help the farm with some wonky hippie-juice he bought from an organic vegetable stand, all hell breaks loose: when mixed in with whatever was at the bottom of the washbarrel, and poured over some native prairie grasses, it causes three zombies to rise up from the earth and chase after them. In the thick of zombie attacks, the sweet farmer's daughter suddenly turns into General Patton, taking control of the situation and barking out orders. When the zombies simply use a key to enter the farmhouse, you think you're going to see some wild and crazy zombie action...when the play takes a sudden left turn and the zombies morph into intelligent speaking characters who all know everybody on the farm (except Grahm) we're thrown for one hell of a curveball. Seriously, talking to others I know who watched this play (its proven very popular) this was the moment where they were sort of lost as an audience member. Turning a zombie into a sleazy realty speculator was a bit much. Once they started talking as normal people, the plot of the story came out. Well, lets just say it left a lot to be desired. The acting was not great, though there's a lengthy massive performance by the female lead that deserves huge applause near the end that I'll discuss below. The zombies (except Junior) were not well written nor particularly well acted, though with the material provided one couldn't expect miracles. When the "lead zombie" turns out to be a villain with the nuances and character development of an extra on Star Trek: Voyager, its a bad sign. Gramps is acted well with one exception to be discussed below, and the star-crossed (zombie-crossed?) lovers are competant enough for the production at hand. Now its time for me to give out the spoilers which you may not wish to read...






...okay, so it turns out that our sweet farmers daughter isn't so sweet after all. Turns out she murdered all three of these men after marrying them. When even her grandfather (who turns out to be her adopted father, after her parents died in a housefire that was clearly her doing) decides to stop protecting her and end the killing, she goes crazy and comes after all of them. [Okay, okay, okay, I've let this gone on long enough. What the hell? If she murdered all of these husbands, how is it they pop out of the grave knowing each other? They never would have met in real life, right? And how about Gramps? How can he go from batshit crazy to completely sane and capable of a lengthy monologue in the span of 30 seconds? "He's finally able to stop hiding the truth" you say, and that's all fine and dandy, but it doesn't cure festering mental illness in less time than it takes to watch a "The Most Interesting Man in the World" commercials. Meanwhile, now he breaks his silence? Just because this vegetarian loser's life is in peril? Hello! She killed your wife! The woman she considered her mother! You were cool with her death but this hippie wanker is too precious to let go? At least deliver your little spiel in character next time. We shouldn't be left asking "where the hell did this guy come from? -ed] So anyways, she attacks the zombies, killing Junior, eventually killing the sex maniac, killing the sleazy zombie, killing her adopted father (he "betrayed her", you see... I'm left unsure why he didn't off her, but there you go), and finally coming after Grahm until he tries to shoot her (he's a noted hoplophone, so she doesn't think he can pull the trigger...he can, but can't load the gun) and instead ends up proposing. This calms her and makes her happy, and its a 50/50 proposition that liberal hippie douche will be alive by the 2010 Fringe. Meanwhile, the highlight bar none of the show is when the diminutive actress breaks down the door setpiece with the axe in her hand as a triumphant white light shines in. She didn't do a The Shining ripoff, but instead bursts through the door like gangbusters, hugely impressing the audience so much I felt like I was watching Kelly walk through the door in a Married...With Children taping. It alone is probably worth the price of admission, and the vignettes on the screen fill out the bill. Its a shame they had to do, you know, all of that acting in the kitchen.

Rule to behaviour in foreign countries: meh, however you feel like

I gotta say I'm confused. Since my first international trip without my parents, its been drilled into me by basically everyone I've ever met that if you're in a foreign country, you're pretty much on your own if you happen to break any of their local laws... so don't break the local laws.

It was one of those important things to note, that if you're travelling, particularly to foreign countries, you by definition are going somewhere different. They don't eat the same food that you're used to, they don't speak the language you're used to hearing, and most importantly, they have customs and laws that would be strange to you.

Which is why I'm always a little perplexed now that we're reading stories like
Ottawa must press for Khadr's return: Appeal Court
, or these brainless press releases.


2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: Day 3

When will you pack up your bags and flee Edmonton? That's the question asked by Doom 2012: When Will You Flee? Now 2012 is just a near and arbitrary date the author picked (its like 666 only twice as bad). After all, the Mayans said that the 2012 solstice is the time when the Enlightenment Age is to begin, calm down people. The author (Calgarian Doug McKeag) looks like this guy I know (also obsessed with peak oil) combined with William H. Macy, and he does a pretty entertaining multimedia presentation based upon things you'll need to add to your emergency 3-day kit in the event of some catastrophe. Some of the author's inherent Canadianism comes to the forefront: the "three day kit" was advised by Ottawa a couple years ago that every Canadian should have, as 72 hours in a disaster is anticipated as... the amount of time before the government can get to you. The government? The government?? If the only solution people can come up with in times of massive panic and life-threatening situations is waiting on the government, we're all screwed. Anyways, he starts talking about doomsday scenarios centred around 5 themes I've vaguely forgotten. Fire, flood, locusts, frogs from the sky seems roughly the order of the day. The thing that strikes the author (who has a great dig at "politics of hope" that some people may remember from last November) and keeps this from being another An Inconvenient Truth sort of "exxon is gonna kill us" rant is the sheer inevitability of some of the scenarios. As far as we can see, its a dead end road. Preparing for the possibility may be more important than taking irrational actions to correct it. Oh, anyways, after each chapter he gets people to vote on which timeframe they think that they will flee Edmonton due to the disasters he has just summarized. Here's my advise to you: do as I did and vote "D" for every one of them. Half the scenarios he paints are unlikely in a thousand lifetimes, and others are just as likely to happen in 50 years as happen in 50 hours. Then he has two "local celebrities" count up the votes (in our case, some chick and Ken Chapman -- who I was shocked to discover was sitting a couple tables in front of me). After the end of the show, they tally up your votes using some questionable use of stats to plot the mean value of a set of numbers corresponding to ranges and then determining the average date people expect to flee. Anyways, the show flirts on the edge between slightly wonky survivalist and straight out conspiracy nut, sometimes with skill and other times...Ehrlich is quoted favourably, for example, while Art Bell is a character reference. You will be entertained for an hour or so, a good fear will be put in you...and you'll come to your senses on the walk out the door (which I shall be discussing in a future post, along with some concerns with the venue).

They made a fag cry. Tearing up a uranist probably isn't the sort of thing that one should count as a data point, and that's good, because the bawling [yes, yes, that's right, let the puns go.... just let it go... -ed] homo two tables over from me seemed oddly impacted by Lysistrata, a passivist-feminist retelling of the Greek comedy of women trying to end war by withholding sex. The concept itself is sound, and redoing classic works like this let us know exactly how un-far in some ways "fringe theatre" has gone in 2420 years. Most of the plot is ripped from the wikipedia summary, but there are a few odd asides. In a brief Monty Python-esque aside, the women suddenly stop the play because they haven't got a set drop for the Acropolis, and one of the women is horny so she runs into the crowd to pick a man for....nothing, suddenly they decide to restart the play on the spot. Everybody who followed along that, raise your hands...oh, wait, still no. Anyways, as Lysistrata's trial, she appeals to the Oracle who speaks in a booming God voice to show them the future horrors of war. Bosnia, Dresden, somewhere else... then, based on this (and not the sex thing) the Oracle demands they end war. [So much for the wisdom of the Oracle then, eh? -ed] Now you could see this play for a number of reasons... they do some decent ABBA-inspired jokes and song ripoffs, the one Scottish babe with the thick accent is hot, and you get a lot of good double/triple entendres. Ultimately what you won't get is what a modern day version of Lysistata is going to be able to provide and is lacking... the ploy ultimately won't work. In the original, that's the point: unlike men, these irrational women come up with this ludicrous plan and when looked at the historical end of the Peloponnesian War (which happened before this play was written) the truth is of course known by all. We will get a chance to see if the feminist re-telling of the fringe play is correct, of course. China is facing an overwhelming number of young males who basically will be denied sex (marriage is a bit hit over there, and all the women will be taken). To tie into the Greek play here, Mark Steyn wrote in America Alone that:

By midcentury, when today’s millions of surplus boys will be entering middle age, India and China are expected to account for a combined 50 percent of global GDP. On present trends, they will be the most male-heavy societies that have ever existed. As I wrote in my book America Alone, unless China’s planning on becoming the first gay superpower since Sparta, what’s going to happen to all those excess men? As a general rule, large numbers of excitable lads who can’t get any action are not a recipe for societal stability.
Will we get less war with no sex? Or more? Methinks that the Greeks weren't onto something with this one. So sure, use Iraq and Normandy and Vietnam and 1812 all you like for the "horrors of war" spiel. In the end universal peace will be won by the same people who fought for war for centuries: the men who do the actual fighting.


2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: Day 2

How would you describe Louis Riel? He really is the great enigma in Canadian History. If you're a westerner you're likely to like him, an eastener you're likely to hate him. Lefties tend to love him, conservatives tend to dislike him. There are so many flavours and wrinkles and issues at hand, nobody will probably ever be able to make a definitive statement. He's practically the patron saint of Winnipeg, where The Seven Lives of Louis Riel comes to us from. In seven different tales, in seven different genres, this one man play (featuring a guy who looks a little like Jeb Bush and sounds a lot like Rick Mercer) shows us the life of Louis Riel. First up is a spaghetti western showing Louis Riel the outlaw who was just out "protectin ma land", who shoots the deputy but not the sherrif and runs off into the night. Next, a comic-book inspired tale showing Louis Riel the criminal and evil overlord who had to be stopped at all costs. Was Louis Riel in fact crazy? He either was, or was becoming, or was close, and a horror story tells the little known tale of his New York exile. Moving onto an Indiana Jones/A-Team combo, we see Louis Riel the swashbuckling hero who battled on and won despite overwhelming odds (Ryan Gladstone, the author, is quick to point out here that none of the endings are entirely true). The fifth story is a Film Noir gritty detective story showing Sir John A. as a tough as nails PI who takes a case to capture Riel only to find he doesn't know who the true enemy is. Then a puppet God tells us about Riel's saintly martyr qualities. Finally, the 7th story is written by the bartender who was on the periphery of the story this whole time, saying how Riel was in fact all of these things. Given the subject matter, this was probably the only honest way to approach it. There was a fair bit of humour and a very energetic performance, which failed to capture who Louis Riel was, but did comedically illustrate why its so hard to capture who Louis Riel was. Definately the most entertaining Fringe show I've seen thus far. Warning though: the show is listed as being 60 minutes, but it tends to run late (20 minutes late in Winnipeg, apparently). This is a good rule in general since so many fringers forget it, but don't schedule plays too close to each other. At least give half an hour, which turns into one hour if you want to go to our third play down...

Space really is the final frontier. Do you know what we did in previous frontiers? Have wild sex, I suppose. When you go to see a play by "Panties Production" you intend to see hot chicks, and you do. Kristen Padayas looks a lot like a certain other hot acting Kristin you might know and love, and is by far the highlight. Jocelyn Ahlf's Captain is pretty smoking, and Belinda Cornish isn't anybody you're kicking out of bed anytime soon either. Anyways, the 3 chicks in space (with their creepy android "27") are searching for new life. But there isn't any. All they find is George, who looks vaguely like that photographer from "Just Shoot Me" and all hell breaks loose. He sleeps with the Captain, turns down the other two, but manages to convince the android that he's basically a girl. Hormones get out of control, there's a mutiny, and a few cheesy space battles (it is neat to watch them pull it off). The set and costume design are amazing for a Fringe Play, particularly "27". The story is pretty weak, but you do get to see hot chicks in space, and isn't that what you really wanted to pay $14 for anyways?

This year at the Edmonton Fringe, the Bring-Your-Own-Venues (BYOVs) are located all over the city. Pay close attention to your tickets: BYOV A is located on 118th Ave for example, while BYOV B is downtown at New City. George Orwell is not ny Real Name is held at BYOV-C, which is at La Cite Francophone, on 91st street. This is not walking distance from the beer gardens. Be warned. Be highly warned. Anyways, as for the actual play, George Orwell is sick, the consumption taking him to the point where he can no longer write. Meanwhile, he's agonizing over the rough draft of his new novel, trying to find a way to spend time with his son, and come to grips with the realities of his political writing. Its a one-man show where Kevin Williamson sits in the sanitorium telling us about his tribulations. There's not a whole lot of meat to the show, though the performance is striking we're left with only the smallest insights from George Orwell that a reader of his most popular works (its not a huge spoiler to tell you the novel he's working on is indeed 1984) wouldn't already know. We do get some contemplation from Orwell on the "atomic bomb" (a subject I have talked about before), but otherwise we're left wanting. No effort is made, for example, to explore my favourite contradiction: as an "unabashed socialist", Orwell never seemed to put a whole lot of thought into the notion that his precious socialism required an organization taking away the freedoms he was similarly concerned with. This sort of internal struggle could have told us far more about George Orwell than what we were presented. And it could have been done closer to the beer gardens.

When does being a charity become more important than the principles that inspired you to become that charity? These are the decent questions only half-decently answered by Incorruptible, the Monks-walking-around-Whyte play you've heard so much about. In 1250 A.D., a French Monastery is on its last legs: the pilgrims aren't coming, the town won't pay the penny to pray in front of the miracle-less martyr's bones on the alter, and a convent has suddenly come upon miracle-creating bones from the same martyr their church possesses. To save their church, they investigate the new martyr's claims and the one-eyed local minstrel who is responsible for all their ills. The monk characters, particularly those played by Nigel Miller and Neil Embeleton, are excellently portrayed. The play mostly loses traction in scenes involving the minstrel, Jack (Matt Dale). His character is even more out of place in the time period than the monks, and his method of acting involves a lot of screetching. Add in some Three's Company-style comedy misdirections and the play has trouble keeping its voice (though you should know that Corynn Sande's nipples were protruding at various "points" of the show, which always helps). Meanwhile, I'm about to spoil the ending here...




...I'm confused. Brother Felix turns out to be "Pierre", the thought-dead fiancee of Marie, while Marie turns out to be Brother Felix's drowning-death fiancee. But Brother Felix's story makes it seem like he pulled her back out and she didn't survive. Was it the power of Saint Foy's miracles that brought her back to life? I'm in the dark here, and the ending seemed rather rushed. Oh, they also give you a free bumper sticker.

2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: Day 1

My 2009 Fringe Theatre Adventure began with a little play called Noncommittal. This play was billed as exploring why men can't commit, but what it really is instead is a tale of two couples who undergo a breakup at roughly the same time. Ben and Liz start this play off with the 4 words that nobody wants to hear: "We need to talk". Is there any place where this phrase is good news? You don't want your significant other to say that to you. You don't want your boss to say it. You're not keen on your parents bringing it up (one person I know learned about her parents sexual perversions once with that phrase). Liz breaks up with Ben, and soon we learn that Tom, Ben's best friend (played by the author of the play) has just broken up with his girlfriend as well, the smoking hot Amber. Meanwhile, through Tom's music he explores how long you need to wait for love, what parts of a person must change to be happy, and whether or not he's queer for his friend (a recurring sub-theme that I was happy to see abandoned). The acting, particularly the non-vocal acting by Amber and Ben, were excellent. The music by Tom, was a little... um... not great. It was like the Family Guy featuring Stewie's musings how "douchebags ruin the guitar". Also a downer: the play opened up in a messy apartment featuring a magazine on the floor that featured President Monkey on the cover. Talk about ways to start things off on the wrong foot! Amber, bless her soul, ended up covering it up halfway through the play. The other issue I had was with the writing of the male characters. Too often, Ben and Tom's personalities weren't wildly distinguished from each other and Ben's proclivities for jokes (which appeared mysteriously halfway through the play) suddenly appeared in both characters. Be sure to admire Amber's outfit though: she does that 'hold the collar of my shirt so I don't flash everybody when bowing' move which disappointed me, but she has great legs and hid PMOTUS for me. I'm in love. Until tomorrow.

Secondly I attended Kreskinned. This time I didn't go alone, I went with a girl who really enjoyed the subject matter (hence the invite). She's a hypnofetishist, you see, who if you attended Capital Ex this year you saw get put under almost daily. So basically as I'm watching the show, I'm dimly aware that basically for her this is like porn. This tells the story of two people hooked up on a blind date at a hypnosis show, only to accidentally discover later that they have remembered the triggers that put them back asleep. They use it to get around awkward moments, mostly... stories that turn out to be worse than expected, sexual miscues, unintended revelations, etc. This is a whole lot of both comedic and also dramatic potential in this plot device, so its a shame to see it squandered on a couple cheap laughs and fart jokes. On the other hand, the sexual scenes do allow actress Jaimi Reese to show off how good she looks in her underwear. The actors have a lot of energy, but it also means their characters get it too, and sometimes its a bit much. We do have a bit of a sweet story with a surprise ending that disappointed the hypnofetishist (ergo, you can guess how it ends I suppose) and some good acting with lots of cleavage. In the end though the opportunities to do more stood out. I was also assured over MSN the next day that the hypnosis wasn't accurate. Now I know how people feel watching SciFi with me.


Artsie Fartsie Walksie Snapsey

Presenting the photos I took from the ArtsWalk on Whyte Avenue... you know, two months ago or whenever the hell it was.

First off, what would one of my photo posts be without the requisite hot ass?

This is more trashy ass, but beggars cannot be choosers:

This is a two-fer of the hot ass from this black tanktopped asian chick. The accidental hot ass pic of her is better than the intentional. There's a lesson to be learned in this, but damned if I know what it is:

This photo here seems horribly ironic. Does anybody ever get in shit for doing these things on the sidewalk?