Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve Memories, Part Two

2000 --- The most terrifying New Year's of all. My family and I were on a vacation in Mexico, meaning we were taking the risk of being potentially stuck in a poverty-stricken foreign land during the Y2K crisis. The Y2K virus will be one of those generational touchstones that my era will be able to look back on one day and just shake our heads, much like how we can marvel about people in the 1930's rioting over an Orson Welles radio show. Its only remnant today is in the nickname of wrestler Chris Jericho. What a bunch of nothing. The only (ONLY) thing that was affected from this 'panic' was my calculator. It was fine on the last day of term, and then boom, come January it was on the fritz. I stand by this as the reason that my OAC Calculus mark was the lowest I ever got in high school.

But anyway, at the time, we were mildly panicked about being in Mexico just in case civilization as we know it went all Terminator on us. It didn't help that we were at one of those resorts in a particularly poor village, which meant we passed street after street of dilapidated housing on the way to our luxurious digs. Damn you, liberal guilt. It was in the back of mind, however, that we'd be the ones laughing out the other sides of our mouths if the hotel's security system cut out and suddenly we were at the mercy of a town that may have had motive for wanting our various foodstuffs, drinks, worldly possessions, etc. As we all know, of course, Y2K turned out to be a dud and today those folks are probably still living in abject poverty. A happy ending for us all!

2001 --- My friend Eric and I went to the Oar House, a local London sports bar, to meet up with a variety of old high school peoples. It was sort of a semi-reunion, before those things were made largely obsolete by Facebook, given that we had all graduated just last June and it was the first time we had seen many of the old faces since. It was also where I learned that Eric, somewhat humourously, didn't remember a good 75% of the people we went to high school with. Fortunately his nodding skills were first-rate and was able to bluff with the best of them.

2007 --- It was another quiet evening at Trevor's girlfriend's place, once again with Dave in tow, but this time it was others along for the ride so as to not make Dave and I the awkward third and fourth wheels. This time, Dave brought a date, so it was Eric and I who were the awkward fifth and sixth wheels. While the two couples delivered the kisses at the strike of midnight, Eric and I stared at each other suspiciously for a moment before deciding on a manly handshake. It was...uh, magical? No Chris Farley movies this time around --- this time, it was Guitar Hero. So this time it was merely the sex and rock and roll, rather than Farley's sex and drugs. I presume it was sex and drugs for ol' Chris. A man of his fame must've gotten some action. Either that or he and Spade shared more than just manly handshakes. The night also can't go without mention of the incredible food spread provided by our hosts. Seriously, nice work, T & T. There were cold cuts, veggies, chips, dip, beverages of all kinds. So once again, Farley's gluttonous legacy was fulfilled. I really need to stop describing Chris Farley in these entries.

1999 --- This was perhaps the low point of New Year's history, at least in terms of putting any effort whatsoever into planning something to do. There's no easy way to say it, but...we went to Trev's house and watched Baseketball. God, it looks even worse in print. I think we played some pool too, but that's like saying we drank lemonade after chugging some Drano. Let's move on.

2003 --- I've already done a 2003 entry in my last post, but 2003 might well have been my favourite NY'sE of all. It was a swank house party held by some university friends renowned for their outstanding themed endeavours. Their house was also particularly well-suited for holding 40-50 drunken revelers. We all dressed up in our classiest attire and headed out for a night of champagne and (as I mentioned in my last post) McDonald's eaten at breakneck speed. The highlights included one drunken lass pinching the asses of myself and various friends to, in her words, 'see which one was the best.' Somehow it came down to me and my friend Andrew in the final two, which was the most bewildering final two given the outline of the competition since Neleh and Vecepia in Survivor: Marquesas. Andrew, by the way, was the eventual winner. Jesus wept. The other comic signature of the night came when my friend Dave was drunkenly telling someone what he did that day, which went more or less like this....

"Well, I went out for a bit, went to my strip club..."
"You own a strip club?"
"What? *confused pause* Oh wait, no. I confused my life with that of Grand Theft Auto. I was playing that all day."

Friday, December 28, 2007

Alien vs. Predator vs. My Sanity

Some of the year's more critically-acclaimed films are (finally) starting to open up in London*, so of course on Christmas night the boys and I went out to see....Alien vs. Predator: Requiem. Sigh. On the bright side, going to a movie like this with seven other people is fun since it guarantees a MST3K-esque experience of everyone just ripping the movie to shreds, and rip it we did. The thing was even worse than expected. The script was an upgrade on the previous AVP, which was written at about a third-grade level (AVPR was fourth-grade). The acting was uniformly terrible, with the pseudo-exception of Reiko Aylesworth as a soldier --- as I called her, Lt. Not Ripley. In all honesty, Reiko didn't bring much to the table either, but she has some residual goodwill built up from her days as Michelle on 24. The funniest inclusion in the cast was John Ortiz, who plays the inept sheriff. Ortiz is one of those classic 'that guy' actors who has a pretty impressive resume. His credits include films like Carlito's Way, American Gangster, Before Night Falls, Amistad and Narc, and now he's finally gotten a semi-starring AVPR. Ouch. He might've been better off doing porn. John "Orifice Tease" Ortiz has a nice ring to it.

My friends were equally unimpressed. My buddy Trev's brief overview was "one word...awful." Matt liked it better than No Country For Old Men since AVPR had an ending, which is so fucking stupid I'm not going to dignify it with a counter-argument. The best response came from Eric, who was confused as to which one was the predator and which was the alien. Eric doesn't get out much.

It's obviously clear that those behind the franchise have given up on keeping up the quality of the originals and are just cashing in on the names. I can just hope that they release a DVD with commentary from Sigourney Weaver, Lance Henriksen, Schwarzenegger, Danny Glover and/or Carl Weathers. Actually, I'd like to see a commentary track with those five on virtually any movie. This is presuming that Carl Weathers actually acts like he does in Arrested Development. "Baby, you got a stew going!"

Actually, that's not a bad idea for the next installment of the series. Bring back Weathers' character from the original Predator, along with Gary Busey from Predator 2. Alien vs. Predator vs. Carl vs. Busey --- AVPVCVB. Forget Xmas night, I might go see that one on Christmas morning.

* = one of these acclaimed films is Love In The Time Of Cholera, which has to be the funniest title of any serious movie in film history. I was reading a winter movie preview a few months back, and this film was listed next to Walk Hard, yet the write-ups were mistakenly switched. So I read the description of this wacky comedy with John C. Reilly as a country star that had the somewhat weird but funny title of 'Love in the Time of Cholera.' It wasn't until I read the 'Love' entry that I realized the mistake.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Le Nordiques

This Quebec Nordiques toque was my best clothing purchase in a while. Since I picked it up for the super-low price of $9.99 at a sports store in Masonville Mall, I've gotten about a dozen compliments on it, most of them from strangers. None were women, unfortunately, but still, it's good to know I've got street cred with the average Canadian male. Everyone loves the Nordiques. They represented a better era in pro hockey, back when Quebec and Winnipeg were still in the league and Gary Bettman was just a twinkle in the NHL's eye. How does he still have a job? The league is undisputedly weaker today than it was when he took over, and yet Bettman's tenure seems unchallenged. NHL owners are apparently easier to please than a Maple Leafs season-ticket holder.


Westmount Mall is the new Smuggler's Alley. Long-time Londoners will get this reference. Smuggler's Alley was a downtown mall that in its last few years, was literally nothing more than a movie theatre and empty stores. It was an eerie feeling strolling past blank storefront after blank storefront on the way to the theatre, the one source of life within that entire godforsaken building. It even made the Galleria look bustling by comparison.

Westmount, however, used to be arguably the busiest mall in the city. I had a streak going at that mall for literally about 5-6 years that every time I went, I ran into at least one person I knew. Today, it's rapidly moving towards the Smuggler's theme of a bustling theatre and nothin' else. A Sears and a Zellers bookend the mall, but the top floor is almost otherwise stone dead. Even the food court is clearing out. My patented Westmount meal of New York Fries and an A&W burger is only barely still valid. My Mr. Sub backup is gone, gone forever. And when I asked a guy if it would be coming back anytime soon, he said he didn't know. *sob*

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

201st Post Spectacular!

Apparently that bit of nonsense I posted about the New Year's parties was my 200th post on Blogspot. I have so many people to thank. There's Thomas Blogspot, the founder of Blogspot. And that's it.

To celebrate, I've decided to allow you, my belovedly loyal and small audience, to select what you feel are the best posts in Polivision history. Search the archives if you must (or use the handy-dandy 'search' feature at the top of the page if you just remember key words of a certain post) and then tell me what your favourite was in the comments section of this very post. If you need a cheat sheet, refer to this post of my personal 'greatest hits' I made last July.

How many comments will I get? That's the beauty of it. If there's a pathetically low amount, that's part of the joke. If there's a pathetically high amount, then I can bask in popularity not seen since my ninth grade drama class when I won the 'make the other person smile' game by doing a running somersault and landing hard on my back. My pain is apparently hilarious.

The Polivision 201st Post Spectacular --- Screw You, Emily Post.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New Year's Eve Memories, Part One

1998 --- Gathered at a friend's house, we end playing a game of Trivial Pursuit. OMG WHAT A PARTY. I end up finishing second due to mispronouncing 'Tiananmen,' and since we were playing under stickler rules, I didn't get the point. What garbage. This was also back when I still stuttered, so it's quite possible I said something like Twpetgogjsghogjfgjgfjmen. Actually, I think the Twpetgogjsghogjfgjgfjmen are also Thailand's top super-hero team.

2003 --- On our way home from a party, we walk through the drive-thru at the Wharncliffe-Oxford McDonald's. I think it was due to us that they issued a cars-only policy, but anyway, we made our food order then went back to another friend's house to eat and call the cabs. My usually non-gluttonous pal Trevor ordered 20 McNuggets, and in the time it took us to pick up the receiver, call U-Need-A-Cab and hang up (a span of maybe 45 to 60 seconds) he had somehow eaten them all. It was amazing. This was in the era when a group of us would order a massive three-figure amount of Nuggets and plow through them --- our record was 280 McNuggets split among 17 people. It basically turned into a scene from Caligula, except with eating McDonald's instead of the gross sex stuff --- one guy was lying on the ground with his back arched, with his girlfriend holding a McNugget aloft and dripping honey sauce into his mouth. Trevor's contributions to these binges were no more than 10 Nuggets tops, so to jump to 20 was a major achievement. But the time! My God the time! In a single minute! Trev was pretty drunk, so perhaps it was a situation like Jackie Chan in the Legend of Drunken Master. Perhaps alcohol is what fuels Ted Kennedy's senatorial powers too.

2002 --- It was another example of gluttony, if somewhat more low-key. We settled in for a quiet evening at Trevor's girlfriend's place (not me and Trevor's girlfriend by ourselves, that would be pretty backstabby) and watched TV. The always-entertaining Tommy Boy was on --- it's hard to believe that it has been 10 years since Chris Farley died. It was hard to believe that it had been five years since his death back in 2002. Anyway, the gluttony came in when Trevor's girlfriend's well-prepared snack platter ended up being plowed over like snow on a main road. My friend Dave ended up passed out on the living room floor due to drinking, I ended up eating so many vegetables that I felt oddly ill, and Trev and his girlfriend sat awkwardly on the couch as if waiting for me to pass out as well so they could start making out. In fact, wait a second, perhaps that was the cause of my stomach ache. Those cucumbers were laced with roofies. That's what knocked Dave cold (well, that and his comically low tolerance for alcohol). I only stayed awake because I have a cast-iron gastrointestinal system. I have the Wolverine of stomaches. And this is like that X-Men comic when Wolverine tagged along on Colossus and Kitty Pryde's date to keep them from getting their swerve on. You know what, I said that as a joke, but there's a good chance there actually has been an X-Men comic where Wolvy was all overprotective towards Kitty and thus cock-blocked Colossus. That poor Russian.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

(More) Live Music!

My last post featuring live music clips found on YouTube was a huge success (two responses!) that it's time for a sequel. Once again, all credit must be given to the dearly-departed Ten Cent Freeze Pops, which was the only blog in internet history to ever YouTube clips. Ever.

Stevie Wonder, Superstition, Sesame Street, 1973

When I saw the title of this clip, I figured it would've been something like Stevie singing a re-worked version titled 'Monster-stition' to Grover. While this would've also been awesome, I was surprised to find an actual live performance, and a sick one at that, with no tomfoolery about except for that hilarious shot of the one kid on the balcony totally rocking out. That child at age seven had a thicker head of hair than I ever had or ever will again. Dammit.

U2, Mysterious Ways (w/Sexual Healing snippet), Irving Plaza in New York, 2000

To promote the All That You Can't Leave Behind album and to warm up for their full-out world tour in 2001, U2 did a handful of small theatre shows in late 2000 and early 2001. This particular gig was broadcast live on the radio, and I remember tuning in on a cold, wintry night almost exactly seven years ago. It was my first direct (not a video, not a concert film) taste of live U2. Mysterious Ways is one of my favourite of their songs, and despite it being a big hit and well-known the world over, it's kind of underrated. You don't really hear it mentioned in the same breath as U2's other classics, in spite of the fact that it holds as well or better as any song they've ever recorded and sounds wicked live. Whassupwitdat?

George Harrison and Paul Simon, Here Comes The Sun/Homeward Bound, Saturday Night Live, 1976

Quite possibly the greatest of all musical performances in SNL history. Is there any doubt Art Garfunkel was somewhere watching this and taking stiff shots of whiskey from a rapidly emptying decanter? I think this was also the episode that featured Harrison trying to collect Lorne Michaels' famous $3000 cheque for the Beatles to reunite on SNL ("You can divide it up any way you want --- if you want to give less to Ringo, that's up to you").

As a bonus link, here's an account of a live sketch comedy show performed by most of the current SNL cast and 'hosted' by Michael Cera. This show took place a few weeks ago at a small Manhattan theatre due to the fact that SNL isn't running due to the writer's strike, and yet given the description, it sounds like it was good or better than any SNL episode in several years.

The Breeders, Cannonball, The Jon Stewart Show, 1993

This clip is wonderful for many reasons, only a few of which have to do with the song. First of all, good lord, check out 1993 pre-Daily Show (and apparently pre-puberty) Jon Stewart! Listen to his energetic plug of Sinbad as tomorrow's guest! Look at that hair!

Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven, O2 Arena in London, 2007

Well, this one is more or less the inspiration for my reviving this post. When one of the legendary rock bands of all time reunites for a one-off performance, that's cause for celebration. Apparently Led Zep didn't film the concert because they were afraid it would suck and didn't want to be obligated to release something that would tarnish their good name. As it happens, however, the show went off without a hitch. I've got to believe that Zep at least did a soundboard recording for a future live album, but then again, perhaps it fits better with their mystique that this show lasts forever in people's memory and in fuzzy YouTube clips. It's also kind of funny that in the controversy over Robert Plant singing everything in a lower register, people forgot that he's actually a way better singer (in terms of actual singing) today than he was 30 years ago. Frankly, if Led Zep can reunite after all these years, it gives me hope that we'll still see that Beatles reunion. Come on, John, Paul, George and Ringo! 'Come together' for one more show!


......what? Really? Wow, when did that happen? 2001?? And 1980?! Good lord, where was I?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Random Idiocy

Janet Gaynor and Emil Jannings, the first-ever winners of the Best Actress and Best Actor Academy Awards in 1927, won their Oscars not for one role, but for a cumulative accounting of three roles. Gaynor was nominated for her role in three different films, and Jannings for two --- not three and two separate nominations in the category, respectively, but just one nomination that listed all of their cited films. They both won in essence not for one particular part, but because since they had given strong performances in several films, they were the actors of the year. This was the only year such a nominating procedure resulted in a win, and the rules were soon changed so that each nominee could only be nominated for one specific role. This didn't stop unofficial 'actor of the year' Oscars from being awarded, i.e. Jessica Lange winning best supporting actress for Tootsie in 1982 when pretty much everyone considered it to be an overall award given she also starred in (and was nominated for as Best Actress) the film Frances.
In this crazy-deep movie year, the Academy might want to think about re-adopting this tactic. There are lots of stars with multiple notable performances that may end up getting the overall shaft if Academy members split their votes. To name just a few...

Amy Adams (Charlie Wilson's War, Enchanted)
Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone, Jesse James)
Christian Bale (Rescue Dawn, I'm Not There)
Javier Bardem (Love in the Time of Cholera, No Country For Old Men)
Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age, I'm Not There)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Charlie Wilson's War, The Savages)
Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah, No Country For Old Men)
Denzel Washington (American Gangster, The Debaters)

That's not even counting people like George Clooney or Johnny Depp, who had both an Oscar-ish role (Michael Clayton, Sweeney Todd) and a hit popcorn movie (Ocean's Thirteen, Pirates III). I dunno, doesn't the old way kind of make more sense? I guess there would be a gray area since a person could have multiple roles that spread over categories, like how Hoffman is the lead in Before..., and Savages but is supporting in Charlie Wilson. But isn't that more impressive in a way since he is able to both carry a movie by himself and play a supporting role?


What's your preferred sports-related, made-up term?

("Todd Helton's home run traveled a guess-timated 385 feet.")


("Ohhhh! Vince Carter just posterized Fredric Weis!")


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Slap Bet #1

Well, it had to happen eventually. I was hanging out with Kyle over the weekend, and received slap one of five. Just as I was putting on my coat and getting ready to leave, I turned around and caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. Kyle was raising his hand in my direction, I blocked, but his other hand came across for the inaugural slap. I should note that my block wasn't a direct avoidance of the oncoming slap --- such an action is punishable by more slaps, as per the edict of the slap bet commissioner. But it's just human nature to react when you see a hand coming towards you. Also, after reading so many Spider-Man comics as a kid, I think I developed my own spider-sense to warn against danger. Kyle's slap wasn't very hard, certainly not one of those overblown comic backhands that Marshall lays on Barney, since it's difficult to actually slap someone in real life when you're not trying to punch them. Try it sometime! Preferably not on Grandma!

Here's the best part of the whole thing, as well as insight into the insidious nature of the slap bet. I had totally forgotten that a slap could be coming until Kyle's brother casually mentioned it as one point in the evening. You'd think that a slap could be on my mind, but that's the beauty of it --- when you see a friend of yours, you think "Oh, there's good ol' so-and-so," not "Oh, there's that guy who might slap me." Your normal feelings of good tidings towards your friend override your suspicion that a slap could be coming. Lousy common human decency! It wouldn't be nearly as fun losing a slap bet to a casual acquaintance of an enemy, since then you'd always be presuming a slap could be just around the corner.

Now that Kyle has gotten the ice-breaker slap* out of the way, I fully expect to not receive another until roughly 2010. His slaps can be used throughout the rest of our lives, and it would be just like him to wait. We were joking that conceivably he could slap me while we're in our nursing homes, even if I'm hooked up to a machine and literally at death's door. I might end up being slapped to death, folks. There's a Law & Order plot for you.

Unless...Kyle slaps me four times the next time we hang out. That would be truly unexpected, and thus perhaps the most evil plan of them all. Damn you, Wasko! DAMN YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

And I didn't even get a song out of it!

* = Usually the term 'ice-breaker slap' only applies to the slap I receive from women I'm trying to pick up at the bar. My opening line is "How much does a polar bear weigh? Enough to break the ice. Can I have your number?" I realize this is stolen from those Glomobi ads on the CBC, but since my tax dollars pay for CBC programming, I figure I have the rights to borrow liberally from its advertising. Also, the guy saying that line in the ad sounds exactly like my pal Hayes. It's uncanny.