Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Best Films Of The 2000's

I held off this list for a few weeks into the new decade because I held out hope that some of the late-2009 releases might sneak onto the list. Sadly, there are still a significant number of top films from 2009 that haven't been released in London yet, so I'll just have to hope that I find them all underwhelming. Obviously, this list could become outdated as soon as I see a random film from, say, 2002 that missed my eyes the first time, but it would be downright silly if it became outdated if I saw a great new movie, say, next week. But enough of the qualifiers! Onto the list!

Honourable mentions.....
Adaptation, Almost Famous, Anchorman, Black Hawk Down, Brokeback Mountain, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Ultimatum, Cast Away, Catch Me If You Can, Chicago, High Fidelity, Hot Fuzz, The Hurt Locker, In The Loop, The Lord Of The Rings (whole trilogy), Moulin Rouge, Ocean's Eleven, Old School, Ong-Bak, Shanghai Knights, Slumdog Millionaire, Spellbound, There Will Be Blood, Tropic Thunder, 21 Grams, Walk Hard, Zoolander

Just missed.....
Bad Santa
Best In Show
Children Of Men
The Departed
Finding Nemo
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Kill Bill (Vols. 1 and 2)...had this been one tightly-edited movie, it makes the cut
Love Actually
Minority Report
No Country For Old Men
A Prairie Home Companion
The Prestige
The Protector
Sin City
Talk To Her
3:10 To Yuma

And finally, the big thirteen. I considered putting them in numerical order but I know that as time goes by, my opinions will shift and those rankings will become meaningless other than existing as a snapshot of what I thought of these films on this particular day. But what's important is that these are the baker's dozen of movies that most stick in my mind when I think of the last 10 years. In reverse alphabetical order...

The Wrestler
An incredibly tragic and moving character study of a guy who is addicted to professional wrestling (among other things). There might have been a few better performances in the decade than Mickey Rourke's work in this film, but none were more perfectly cast. It carried an even bigger impact for someone who grew up watching pro wrestling as I did, but still, the film makes it easy for a newcomer to understand the unique world of wrasslin'.

Once upon a time, M. Night Shyamalan wasn't a joke. For all of the hype that 'Sixth Sense' received, 'Unbreakable' is the better movie with arguably an even better twist ending. (Though, to be fair, I was spoiled about Sixth Sense before I saw it, so perhaps I'm not the one to fully gauge the surprise factor of the two endings.) I love that it takes about three-quarters of the movie to realize what it's fully about and what's going on. Since 'Unbreakable' was originally intended to be the first movie of a trilogy about David Dunn, just think --- Shyamalan devoting his time to this project could've spared us all from The Happening, The Village and Lady In The Water. Damn you, weak box office numbers!

Spider-Man II
There's a certain school of thinking that says the second movie of a comic book franchise is usually the best, since by the second film, the makers can just focus on telling a kickass story rather than having to rehash the origin story. Superman II, X-Men II, Dark Knight to some extent, arguably even Batman Returns, but the grand-daddy of this theory is Spider-Man II. As an avid fan of the Spidey comics as a kid, I thought the first Spider-Man movie was just a bit too caught in rehashing elements from the comic books that I had already seen before. Spidey II, however, just introduces Doc Ock and just rolls from there. This was, truly, the Spider-Man movie I had been hoping to see since I was nine years old. And now that Sam Raimi is off of the Spidey franchise and it's being re-set to a high school setting to appeal to the Twilight/High School Musical crowd, Spider-Man II will stand forever as the best Spidey film ever made.

Pan's Labyrinth
Had I ranked these films in order, this might have been number one. Just a fantastic, near-perfect experience that's a combination of both a war movie and a fantasy. I read a fantastic essay online that compared P's L to the Wizard of Oz as sort of like a modern-day equivalent (though I'd hesitate to show it to any kids who can't take a bit of gore), but sadly, I can't find a link to said essay. Say what you will about the Joker, Anton Chigurh or Hans Landa, but Sergi Lopez's Captain Vidal character might just be the biggest sonuvabitch of a villain in this entire decade. And don't leave out the utter creepiness of the Pale Man, a.k.a. that thing with the eyes on its hands.

Gentlemen, take it from me (you know, the guy with a social life so barren it resembles Al Capone's vault): 'Once' is the date movie to end all date movies. It's the best musical of the decade without *really* being a traditional musical, takes an almost documentary-like approach to chronicling the lives of two people who are perfect for each other and it contains arguably the best chill scene of the decade (the scene at the piano in the music shop). Trust me fellas, if you rent this with your gal one night, there is a better than 80 percent chance you will get laid. Even when I went to see it, I...well, I went to see it alone. But I gave my popcorn bag an extra-big hug on the way out of the theatre.

Put it this way, after seeing Memento, my pal Dave and I hung out in the theatre lobby for about 45 minutes afterwards trying to figure the thing out. A couple of years later, I wrote an extensive essay about the film for an English class comparing Nolan's views on memory to those of John Locke (the philosopher, not the LOST character). Plus I've seen the movie probably eight or nine times and read a bunch of critical analyses about it. And, still, there's always some new angle or element to the film that I pick up on after watching it again. If I was breaking this list down in Oscars-style, "Memento" wins the best screenplay award hands-down.

Inglourious Basterds
The most recent movie to crack the list, but I'm pretty sure that IB would've stood the test of time even if it wasn't so fresh in my mind. Citizen Kane was once described as a collection of every film style from the first 40 years of the cinema, and while I'm not putting IB in that illustrious company, I get the feeling that Tarantino was going for the same kind of melange --- you've got some French New Wave, a violent 'Dirty Dozen' style homage, propaganda movies, etc. I already went nuts talking about this film in one post, so why repeat myself when I can just link to it?

The Incredibles
It's possible that this film is to blame for the incredible shittiness of the Fantastic Four movies. The FF filmmakers must've gone to see 'Incredibles' and left frustrated that the "family of superheroes" concept was so totally co-opted by Pixar and yet elevated to such great heights. I'd almost feel sorry for the FF crew, except for the fact that I paid $10 to see the first Fantastic Four movie and I'm still offended. But anyway, no list of the best films of the 2000's is complete with some Pixar representation, and maybe it was due to my love of the superhero genre that 'Incredibles' gets the duke over such other outstanding fare as 'Finding Nemo.' It's also kind of funny to note that in virtually every other contemporary comic book movie, the villain's downfall ultimately comes because (you guessed it) he's too busy monologuing.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Steve Carell is just a likable guy. Michael Scott is a sociopath in another actor's hands, and Andy Stitzer becomes a three-dimensional person that you're actually rooting for to get laid, rather than just some creepy nerdy oddity. 4YOV kicked off the (mostly good) Judd Apatow comedy dynasty and is still certainly the best of Apatow's directorial efforts. Carell is probably the reason for that --- as noted, you're rooting for Andy, whereas Seth Rogen in "Knocked Up" and Adam Sandler in "Funny People" are both kind of assholes. 4YOV is also notable for the fact that virtually the entire cast went onto bigger stardom in the second half of the decade, leading to countless "Hey, it's ____!" moments when you watch the movie today. The 'act like David Caruso' scene probably takes the prize as the funniest scene in the movie.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
Probably Charlie Kaufman's best and most layered script (with equal credit to Pierre Bismuth and Michel Gondry, who came up with the story and, in Gondry's case, directed the bloody thing). Possibly Kate Winslet's best performance, definitely Jim Carrey's best performance and one of the more visually interesting movies of the decade. "Once" is the best of the traditional romances on the list, but ESOTSM is by all standards a more realistic sort of look at relationships. We all have people in our lives we'd like to forget, but whereas the Eternal Sunshine folks used technology, we just have to stick with drinking. Oh, Jenny McAllister in the fourth grade, will you ever get out of my head?! *chugs fifth of Jack*

The Dark Knight
What more can you say about a movie that made money hand over fist, drew near-unanimous acclaim from critics, elevated Heath Ledger into the James Dean Memorial Pantheon Of Actors Who Went Before Their Time and spurred on a million arguments about whether or not Maggie Gyllenhaal is attractive or not? 'Batman Begins' started Chris Nolan's attempts to move comic-book fare into a more real-world territory, and TDK solidified it. (The "Joker as a terrorist" plot point, which is only lightly touched on, was an underrated framing element in making people take the film as a serious thriller rather than just looking at Joker as a goofy comic villain.) I couldn't be any more fired up for the third Nolan Bat-film.

Batman Begins
TDK was so good and so iconic that 'Batman Begins' gets somewhat forgotten in its wake. But BB had arguably the more difficult task --- tell Batman's origin story (again) in a fresh way and restart an entire franchise that had been beaten into submission by Joel Schumacher and company. It managed to do both because, as my buddy Trevor described it, it's not a 'Batman movie' so much as it is a dark story about a man driven to vigilanteism and, oh yeah, he happens to be Batman. It's a Bruce Wayne movie, not a Batman movie. By the way, in case you're keeping track, Christopher Nolan made five movies this decade, and three of them are in my top 13 (and Prestige just missed). If I ever meet Christopher Nolan, I owe the man an ice cream cone.

Cute, sweet, endearing, charming, name a pleasant affectation, 'Amelie' has it. It's a bit disappointing that Jean-Pierre Jeunet has been so quiet since Amelie's release in 2001, but in fairness, it's a tough act to follow. (And, Jeunet has a new film that just premiered at TIFF last year.) My friend Kyle's hilarious criticism of the movie: "Weren't you at all bothered by the roundabout way Amelie goes about pursuing her man I'll admit that, after a while, I was somewhat exasperated. Just go and tell him you love him, already! Does that make me unsentimental?" Answer, yes. And criticizing Amelie for pursuing her man in odd ways is like wondering why Barney Stinson doesn't just straight-up ask women out --- it's just not in their nature. By the way, there's no truth to the rumour that UWO passed a school by-law requiring every female student between the years of 2001 and 2004 to have an Amelie poster hanging in their dorm room and/or off-campus residence.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Out-Of-Context Texts In My Phone Inbox, Vol. 4

As always, the identities of the original texters will remain hidden forever. Or until I publish my unauthorized autobiography. That's right, UNauthorized. I don't trust myself to tell the truth about myself.

"Well, as long as you're not waking up just now...."

"Did you reserve a table or not? There was a 15-person table saved for Mark. Not that many coming, is there?"

'Sorry, Andrew and Eric already agreed to Sherlock. You could always go twice."


"Home now, dinner at 1900. Plans tonight?"

"I like your trade but Yahoo won't let me take it until tomorrow. Watch out for Hurk. He saw it on the computer and wants to sabotage it."

"Hey Mark! Are you still at Clinton's? I'm just finished work now."

"Jaysus. Sorry. Why did Rodgers have to look like such a fucking cock on the sideline??"

"You wanna pick up some snackos on the way? I've got not much."

"Football game(s) today. Let me know if you wanna watch it here. I was gonna do up burgs and dogs on the bbq for eats."

"I have red pubic hair....HA HA HA TERRY"

"Why are they going to lose this game?"

"It's madness in here. I'm in line at the self serve kiosk furthest from the door."

"Hey bud, I don't think I'm going to be able to make football today. I have some work to do then I plan on falling asleep on the couch."

"UFC tomorrow?"

"Happy birthday! Sorry I left without saying goodbye. Blame it on the a-a-a-alcohol!"

"Are they here yet?"

"Hey, my parents live here."

"My birthday present to you is Anthony Gonzalez."

"Sorry, international phone call to Ireland."

"Merry Christmas. Keep me posted on movie plans."

"Yeah, I think she had a very good time."


"Dave Sapunjis just got arrested for killing a man."

"Get online!"

"Excellent! Who is this?"

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cheer Up, Vikings Fans!

On Conan O'Brien's final 'Tonight Show' on Friday, he made a classy statement thanking NBC (in spite of their brutal mistreatment of him over the last month) for giving him a shot on the air in the first place. It was a truly gentlemanly act from a man who admitted to hating cynicism more than anything in the world.

So, you might think that I would be inspired by Conan's example to not mention how the hated Minnesota Vikings totally crapped the bed yesterday with a shocking display of bad play-calling, fumbles and interceptions to blow the NFC Championship Game. And you're right, I won't mention anything. (Though this guy will.) So instead I'll just point out the bright sides of the situation. Imagine a Kermit the Frog-esque 'Yayyyy!' punctuating every point.

Cheer up, Vikings fans! Brad Childress signed a three-year contract extension!

Cheer up, Vikings fans! Since I know some of you were uncomfortable with having your long-time nemesis Brett Favre quarterbacking your team, he'll probably (finally) retire this off-season. Then you can put your awkwardness aside and cheer for your own homegrown quarterback, Tarvaris Jackson!

Cheer up, Vikings fans! You dominated the game in terms of total yardage and time of possession! So between those things and winning the game, you won two out of three!

Cheer up, Vikings fans! Sure, Adrian Peterson fumbles the ball on every third carry. But he's still the best running back in the NFL!....okay, top five best....okay, top ten best. But still, top ten is pretty good!

Cheer up, Vikings fans! If the Vikes had made it to the Super Bowl, they would've surely lost, thus setting the NFL record for most Super Bowl losses (0-5). This spares you that pain!

Cheer up, Vikings fans! Now you have an even more painful loss to replace the 1999 NFC Championship Game in your collective memories! Unless the ease with which Garrett Hartley drilled that winning field goal brought back echoes of Gary "Mr. Perfect" Anderson's miss from 38 yards out in 1999. But still!

Cheer up, Vikings fans! Now "How I Met Your Mother" has fodder for another episode where Marshall goes to the Little Minnesota bar!

Cheer up, Vikings fans! The team hasn't moved to Los Angeles yet!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Colts and Saints

Sorry to ruin the suspense about who I'm picking to go to the Super Bowl, but there it is. The Jets have taunted me with their tough defense and opportunistic offense and I almost feel like pulling the trigger on an upset pick, but let's be honest --- if I pick them, they'll screw me over by crapping the bed on a major scale against Indy. The damn Colts caught a break by seeing San Diego get eliminated and now damn Peyton Manning will go to another damn Super Bowl. Damn.

The Saints, meanwhile, I feel have just too much going for them over Minnesota. Brees and Favre cancel each other out, Pierre Thomas can at least counter Adrian Peterson, New Orleans has the home-dome advantage and as far as I know, no famous New Orleans musician released a godawful team fight song in the last week. The Vikings are "ready to fight the arrogant world"? Uh, okay. Prince is one of those musicians who is really awesome about two-thirds of the time. This song is in the last third.

So New Orleans vs. Indianapolis at the Super Bowl, book it. "Book it," of course, being a relative term given that I'm 1-7 in picking games this NFL postseason. But then again, I used to just totally destroy the Scholastic "Book It" challenge back in grade school. Ten hours of reading per month? Muthafucka, I rolled through that in a week. My mark of 100 books read in my eighth grade year is still a school record (presumably). I've earned the right to use the phrase "book it" in any fashion I want.

Sandwich Artist: Would you like this toasted, sir?
Sandwich Artist: ...uh, okay.

Roommate: Hey Mark, pass me the remote control.
Roommate: Could you just give me the damn remote?

Fellow Bank Robber: Oh no! The cops are catching up to us!
Fellow Bank Robber: You said it!

Hmm, this example seems to suggest that I relate most to being a bank robber. How unfortunate. On the bright side, there's plenty of time to read in prison.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Epic Yale, wait, not 'Yale.' Some word that rhymes with 'Yale.' What am I thinking of? Pail? Grail? Trail?

I guess when you're a top-10 college competing for the best and brightest minds from around the world, clearly the way to attract those students is with...a musical recruitment video? This truly leaves me at a loss for words. It just keeps going and going and layering on the cheese like a crazed pizzaria employee. Almost 17 minutes long and they didn't even get around to noting that Mr. Burns was a Yalie? Poor form.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


We're already aware of the phenomenon that is Hockeybear, but I ask you, society, are you ready for his return? Because like a Taco Bell meal or Jesus, Hockeybear's reappearance was destined to occur, and now, forsooth, he hath returned!...eth.

This video actually goes a long way towards explaining the mass genocide that puts a bit of a damper on Hockeybear's appearances. Sure, he may murder an ocean liner full of people, destroy various Big 10 campuses and then the earth itself, but it's all good because he just goes back in time and corrects the problem. Simple as that! Of course, it might not be a good thing that a bear with so little regard for human life has mastery of the space-time continuum. Or, that there are apparently THREE (!) Hockeybears, all of whom have their pilot's licenses. But still, minor quibbles!

Friday, January 15, 2010

NFL picks, round two (a.k.a. KABOOOOM)

Given the explosiveness of this week's playoff action, I decided to take a similarly detonative approach to my picks this week. The motto is C-4....four teams with a nickname that starts with C, and four winners. Keep in mind that these picks are merely for entertainment purposes and shouldn't be construed as proper gambling advice. I was 0-4 last week, for god's sake. So don't trust these unless, that is, you want to blow up your bank account.

Chargers over Jets
Let's start with what, on paper, is the most obvious game of the week. The Jets, in spite of their win over the now-revealed-as-terrible Bengals, are still riding the 'lucky to be here' train. San Diego, conversely, is on an 11-game winning streak. Now, the Jets' run defense should nullify the corpse of LaDainian Tomlinson and Vincent Jackson will be stranded on Revis Island, but in spite of these matchup advantages, I just think the Chargers are still on too much of a roll to be stopped now. I had them pegged for a Super Bowl appearance by mid-December and there's no reason to change that now. Some are pointing to how similar this is to the scenario in 2005, when the Jets faced the on-a-bye Chargers in the playoffs and upset them in San Diego, but that Chargers team was coached by Marty Schottenheimer. He was a notorious playoff choker, and certainly not as reliable a coach as.....uh, Norv Turner? Okay, well, maybe the Jets will cover. But the Chargers win.

Cardinals over Saints

Well, it looks like I was right to be scared of the Cardinals last week. Goddamn, what a game that was. Of course, I would've much preferred to a boring Green Bay blowout to a narrow Packers loss in an exciting game, but still, I'm oddly calm about the Pack's defeat. After catching the breaks of Neil Rackers' missing game-winning kick and winning the coin toss, that Aaron Rodgers overthrow of Greg Jennings on the first play of OT was just too much. The karma gods can only give a team so much before they finally just decide to turn against them. Also, I'm pretty encouraged that Green Bay was able to come back and make such a game of it after having as bad a first quarter as a (non-New England) team could have.

So that all leads into Arizona going into the Superdome this week and if you think I'm picking against Kurt Warner at this point, you're nuts. It's time to acknowledge that this man turns into some type of Gozer-esque demigod in the postseason. Did you know that Warner has the three highest passing yardage games in Super Bowl history? Had the Cards lost last week, I would've busted out a traditional Chief Wiggum, "Ehyah, where's your Messiah now, Warner?" but maybe Warner actually is the messiah. That would explain a lot, in fact. Compare Arizona's momentum to that of the Saints, who looked like such garbage over their last four games (a 1-3 record) that even a bye week isn't enough to wash off that stink. As great as it would be to see the Saints win a title for New Orleans, it's just too hard to pick against the Cardinal machine indoors with Larry Fitzgerald still catching everything known to man.

Cowboys over Vikings
If I had to rank the NFL playoff teams in order of how much I'd like to see them win a Super Bowl, I'd put the Saints, Cardinals and Chargers all in the pro-group, I'm pretty neutral on the Jets, and I'm heavily anti the other four teams in the tournament. On the bright side, two of my haties will be knocked out after the weekend, but two are also guaranteed to advance. This Dallas-Minnesota game is particularly hard since all season long, I've wanted nothing more than to see Brett Favre fail on a big stage. But, if he has one of his patented three-INT games, that'll lead to a Cowboys victory, and few things are harder to stomach than a successful Dallas Cowboys franchise. That camera shot of Jerry Jones and George W. Bush shaking hands after a Dallas TD last week should be immediately reproduced in every Oxford dictionary as the definition of 'obnoxious.' So since my emotions can't be swayed due to my equal hatred of both teams, I'll just pick Dallas because they seem like the obviously hotter team at the moment. They seem to be peaking, whereas the Vikes still have the spectre of Favre blowing up or Adrian "Next Jim Brown My Ass" Peterson losing a fumble or two. If the Cowboys score an early touchdown or two to take the Minneapolis crowd out of it, this game could look a lot like that Dallas-Philly game last Saturday.

Colts over Ravens
The worst part of Green Bay's defeat was, unquestionably, Baltimore's victory over New England. This meant that I've had to put up with a week of my Ravens-loving brother spouting off about how much better his team is than mine. And now, even more frustratingly, I find myself semi-rooting for Baltimore this week since I'd still prefer to hear just my brother crow rather than listen to every sportswriter in America crow about Peyton Manning's unflappable leadership. This has been an especially tough year for my long-stated "Peyton Manning is overrated" theory but (another) playoff choke would go a long way towards making me seem less crazy. However, with all of that in mind, I'm still picking Indianapolis for the simple fact that they completely own the Ravens. They're 7-0 against them since 2002 and haven't even allowed a touchdown to Bodymore in their last two meetings. As much as I'd love to see Indy have their overrated record stuffed down their throats, I just don't think the Ravens are capable of doing it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mark Meets The Mayor

First, the summary of the life and times of London's "beloved" mayor. The quote marks are maybe a bit harsh, since she has been elected three times and I guess has by and large done a good job, but still, she is less a sterling civic leader than she is a living version of South Park's Mayor McDaniels. Or, possibly Mayor McCheese, though she rarely wears a top hat.

As you may expect, the paths of London's three-term mayor and London's most famous resident (me) have crossed paths several times over the years.

1. Back in high school, I was selected (punished?) to participate in a "mock city hall" comprised of various members of London high school student councils. Over two days, we sat in on various meetings of city officials and finally conducted our own 'council meeting' ourselves debating the city's issues. It was mind-numbing. It instantly killed any desire I've ever had to get involved with politics, which is unfortunate since otherwise I'm pretty sure I would be the prime minister right now. Sorry, Canada. And I would've been a great PM, too. By the end of my term, the people would've voted to have a giant statue of me built to overlook Ottawa like the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio. Such a blazing political spirit crushed by the tedium of a London city council meeting. The boredom was only broken up when one ward councillor or another would suddenly get really fired up about some inane topic, thus bringing any progress achieved by the rest of the group to a halt. Pretty much the only person who didn't go off on a tangent at one point was the quiet then-deputy mayor who just seemed to sit in a corner of the table taking notes on everything. That deputy mayor was, you guessed it, Frank, Anne Marie. In a way, it was admirable that she was staying out of the chaos, but I was too busy trying to ram my fists into my ears to really appreciate it. Also, it's possible she was just drawing page after page of cock drawings like Jonah Hill in Superbad. I would happily vote her for a fourth term if this was ever discovered to be the case.

2. Robinson Hall, a downtown London bar that has become one of the city's "classier" watering holes. It's still a pub, but one of those pubs where people feel it's necessary to dress up to visit. I, of course, don't go along with the trends and stick to my usual Locke-esque costume of cargo pants and t-shirts, which might be a reason why I'm on a 28-year streak of never picking up at a bar. Anyway, some friends and I visited Robinson Hall back in 2005 and who should we notice in the midst of a bachelorette party than Heroner herself. It was only a few months into her whirlwind engagement to "businessman" Tim Best (more, much more, on him later) and the mayor was clearly living it up with her gal pals. I'm not actually sure if it was her own bachelorette party, but whatever, it was still the mayor trashed on appletinis in a bar. I remember offering my buddy Trev $20 to go over there and try to pick up one of the cougars, with another $20 bonus if he could make out with the mayor herself, but he wouldn't take the bait. Goddammit, Trevor. Why couldn't you have made this blog post more interesting? Why didn't you take that into consideration four-and-a-half years ago?

3. A Western Mustangs game, fall of 2006. I was attending my first Mustangs game since before, ironically, I was actually a UWO student. That's right, in four years of attending school and two years of working on campus, I didn't get out to even one football game. I was supposed to have attended the 2005 Homecoming game, but that was the weekend when I discovered 'Lost' and ended up watching the whole first season in a 48-hour span. It was glorious.

Anyway, I was waiting in line for tickets outside of Western's awful, awful TD Waterhouse stadium mentally preparing to spend three hours sitting one of the stadium's awful, awful uncomfortable metal benches when who should appear in front of the stadium gates but the mayor herself. She was either picking up or dropping off her husband, I don't really remember which, but the bottom line was she and Timm-ay had a big liplock before parting ways. It was quite a kiss. Some of the folks in line who recognized the mayor started a high-pitched 'OOOOO!' sound. I may have shouted something along the lines of getting a room, but it was all in good fun. The mayor blushed and went on her way. It was quite a cute and endearing moment that became even funnier years later given the fact that the mayor had to drive her husband around like he was an infant....

4. ....the reasons for which became quite apparent after his drunken rampage on Super Bowl weekend last year. My pal Scott dropped by my Super Bowl party after work, and since Scott works in the news business, I perfunctorily asked what was up in our fair city. Boy, did he ever have an answer. The night prior, a drunken Tim Best was driving out on the 401 and managed to hit not one, but two other cars and then led police on a slow-speed chase through Dorchester, whereupon he got out of his truck and tried to escape by running across a field. It was something out of a Coen Brothers movie. Oh, Tim Best. Your sketchy business dealings and liquored-up exploits never fail to entertain. (Since he didn't kill anyone, it's funny, you see.) This anecdote may not involve my encountering the mayor directly, but really, I felt a spiritual kinship given that I once also led police on a car chase and tried to escape on foot. Of course, this was in Grand Theft Auto, but still, solidarity.

5. I'm at an afternoon matinee at Silver City a few days ago, when I notice Anne Marie (in a coat so bright red that even L.R. Riding Hood would've been aghast) waiting in the lobby, busily typing away on her Blackberry. Again with the taking notes! I was kind of wondering what the hell the mayor was doing at a theatre on a Monday afternoon when she should ostensibly be running the city, but hey, who hasn't played hooky once in a while? Everyone mayor needs a sideline hobby --- Joe Quimby had his loose women, Richard Wilkins had his turning into a giant snake demon and Sean Casey had playing professional baseball. Anne Marie has her movies. The fun part was guessing what she had come to see. It had to be a show in the 4-4:30 range, and it wasn't "Youth In Revolt" (that was the one I was there to see and she wasn't in the audience). So that left three options....Up In The Air, Daybreakers or the Alvin & The Chipmunks sequel. You could make a good case for any of the three. Her shockingly bright red coat could be seen as a tribute to Alvin's bright red shirt, or to the human blood that the Daybreakers vampires crave so dearly. She could sympathize with Dave's efforts to keep Alvin under control, since I'm sure Anne Marie has screamed "TIMOTHYYYYY" a few times over the last few years. And maybe 'Up In The Air' is a reminder of the infamous million-dollar half-assed "rock garden" of a Welcome To London sign out by the airport. The possibilities are endless.

You might notice that, despite the title of the post, I've never actually officially 'met' the mayor. Just consider it to be a broken promise. See? I WOULD make an ideal prime minister.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Random Nonsense

Needless to say, I'm on Team Conan. For my generation, Conan is The Guy in late-night comedy. (Er, specifically, late-night network comedy, since Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are pretty much undisputedly The Guys for late-night comedy in the last decade. But anyway....) Of my friends who often stay up late enough to watch, I'd say a good two-thirds are Conan fans, a significant amount are Letterman fans, a growing amount love Craig Ferguson since more and more people seem to be growing aware of his awesomeness, and literally nobody watches Jay Leno. That's clearly a generational thing, though --- my brother and I took a trip to a casino last weekend to play some cards, and I found myself at a poker table split between five 30-and-under guys and five 50+ gentlemen. The conversation spun from the game to sports to women to one guy at the table's uncanny resemblance to a young Al Pacino to the Tonight Show fiasco, whereupon all of the old guys unanimously stated that they were happy to get Jay back, while all of us youngsters were as equally adamant that Conan should get a fair shot at 11:35.

If you're NBC, though, who would you rather have at the helm of your flagship late-night program: a guy with a big young fanbase, or a guy whose fanbase is rapidly aging? That was the impetus for putting Conan in charge of The Tonight Show in the first place, and hey, who knows, he could've put up some big ratings if he hadn't had such a terribly rated lead-in as....hmm, the Jay Leno Show.

The bright side to all of this is that it's led to some inspired comedy from every late-night performer over the last couple of days. Specifically, it's been almost a tipping point moment that has revealed just how little respect comedians have for Jay Leno. The reaction has been 100 percent pro-Conan. Jimmy Kimmel did his whole show dressed as Leno last night and just ripped him to shreds, complete with a Chevy Chase (dressed as Conan) cameo. David Letterman, as you might expect, has been just mocking Leno and NBC non-stop. Conan himself, in fact, seems to have turned the Cone Zone into the FU NBC Zone, and has been all but daring NBC to fire him in a series of hilarious segments. (Between this and his performances during the writer's strike, it seems that strife really elevates Conan's game, so maybe wherever he ends up with his next show, he should perform the whole thing under gunfire.) Even Carson Daly....well, nobody has watched him to see what he did, but even though everyone just assumes his show is screwed, that's more publicity that 'Last Call' has gotten in years.

It seems like NBC has really painted itself into a corner here, and there is only one solution: Vampire Johnny Carson. Vampires are hot right now. Carson is eternally respected. Clearly, NBC needs to send a vampire over to Carson's grave and try to work some magical spell to resurrect Carson as one of the living undead. They can bring back Ed McMahon too while they're at it, though just to avoid vampire overload, McMahon can be revived as a zombie. I wonder who would win a fight between a zombie and a vampire? These can be kind of questions that the new Tonight Show can answer.


An antikythera is a primitive version of a computer, made of stone and gears and existing over 2100 years ago. Very cool article on this thing here. Does this mean that Windows 7 was actually their idea?


Remember last April when I ripped Parks & Recreation? Yeah, that happened. Now it's probably the funniest show on TV that doesn't involve Larry David and I once again have proven my airtight ability to criticize television. This is like that time I thought the U.S. version of the Office would be a failure....that happened, right?

Anyway, as good as Parks & Rec has gotten, it might have been even better with the RZA in the cast. The video even includes a cameo from Mike "Ken Tremendous" Schur of fame.


So I'm in a college bowl pick'em league with some friends, and the rules were simple --- pick the results of every bowl game on a sliding scale of confidence points. So, the game you're most confident about, you rate it 34 points (out of 34 games). If you're not sure of a result of want to pick an upset, you can go as low as one point.

It all comes down to the very last game, the BCS Championship, and I'm almost positive that Alabama is going to whip some Texas ass. So I have 33 points wagered on Alabama but I noticed that I was 32 points behind the first-place player (my friend Taylor). Now, you can't see what the other players have picked until the game has begun, but you can see what points they've wagered, and since I noticed that Taylor had just five points bet on the BCS game, I quickly switched my pick to Texas in an effort to pick the upset and win the league.

Now, I'm sure you've all seen the logical fallacy in my thinking. I was thinking "Huh, Taylor is being conservative in betting on this major game," whereas I should've been thinking "Taylor is picking Texas for the upset, hence the low point bet." Ergo, once the game started, I was disgusted to see that Taylor had in fact picked the Longhorns and I had outsmarted myself. And, naturally, Alabama easily won the game.

On the bright side, Taylor had been so sure of my eventual victory that he already paid me his $5 share of the victory pool. See you in Mexico, sucker!

/runs out of room
/slams door
/drives away
/plane takes off

Friday, January 08, 2010

I Am Terrified Of The Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals are hot, cold, up, down, good, bad and an altogether tough team to figure. They usually don't have a lot of middle ground -- they either blow out their opponents or play like month-old garbage. As little as a month ago, it looked like they were finally playing like a consistent winner, but then boom, brutal loss to San Francisco (seven turnovers!), wins over Detroit and St. Louis (which don't even count given the awful competition, and even then, the Lions game was only decided by seven points) and a phone-it-in performance in their meaningless Week 17 game against the Packers.

So this is why I'm worried. After a virtual month off, it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see the Cardinals suddenly rediscover their A-game and beat the the crap out of Green Bay. As well as the Packers have played over the last two months, Arizona is easily capable of matching or topping that level of play. Just look to last year, when the Cardinals stumbled into the playoffs and then went on a tear and came within a minute of winning the Super Bowl.

Overall, however, I still think the Pack will win the game. I'm still sort of stunned at how things have turned out this season. Two months ago, GB was 4-4 and had just lost a pathetic game to the previously-winless Bucs, and I thought that was it for not just this season, but the whole Ted Thompson/Mike McCarthy regime. You get embarrassed twice by Brett Favre and then lose to the friggin' Bucs? That's it, clean house, burn it down and start over. Little did I know that the loss would wake the Packers up and they'd go 7-1 the rest of the way. The defense turned things up a notch, the offensive line stopped giving up 6,000 sacks per game and Aaron Rodgers continued on his MVP-esque pace. I really don't see a lot of weaknesses in Green Bay's game right now, aside from their propensity for taking stupid, stupid penalties, but this is also a team that I've flip-flopped on about six times in the last six months. So who the hell knows at this point.

Mike Lombardi made a good point on this week's Bill Simmons podcast about how this game will come down to the refereeing crew. As some critics (i.e. my father) like to point out, the Green Bay defense is a bit, shall we say, handsy. Charles Woodson, for instance, could be accused of holding on, oh, say, every play. So if we get a team of officials in Arizona on Sunday who call things tight, that could lead to a lot of big pass interference penalties since you know Kurt Warner will be throwing deep all day long. Woodson can handle one of Arizona's big receivers, but unless Anquan Boldin is actually hurt, the other side of the field (manned by the intrepid but mediocre Tramon Williams) could be a powderkeg for Green Bay.

I'll pick the Pack, but with an asterisk. If they get more than 10 penalties, they're losing. If they get fewer than 10, then they'll probably win. In short,

* Philadelphia over Dallas. I'm obviously the only one who still thinks the Cowboys are a mirage. They were dead and buried three weeks ago, and now they're suddenly a division champion thanks to three soft wins (over the unbeaten but struggling Saints, the finished Redskins and an Eagles team that was clearly holding back for the playoffs) and everyone is ready to anoint them NFC champions. I don't buy it. Until Dallas actually wins a playoff game, I can't pick them. The Eagles are too solid to play like crap two weeks in a row against the same team. Fun stat: while everyone knows that Dallas hasn't won a playoff game since 1996, Philly has a perfect record in their opening playoff games since 2000. That's right, the Eagles are 7-0 in their playoff opener (whether it's in the wild card or divisional rounds). They save their chokes for the NFC title game. Those are two mighty big streaks to be betting against if I predict a Cowboys win, so go Eagles go.

* Cincinnati over New York. Really a coin flip of a prediction here since I have no idea how this one will play out. The Jets destroyed Cincy last week but that game was totally meaningless to the Bengals. I think I could've rounded up ten guys from my block and given more of an effort than the Bengals did in that game. (Mr. Ernst, my surly elderly neighbour, would've torn a strip off of Mark Sanchez for walking on his lawn.) You can make a case that the Jets are lucky to be here given their last two opponents laid down for them, but Cincy has been lousy for the last two months and are definitely looking like a team that blew their wad too early. Also, the Bengals' main offensive weapon (Ochocinco) is almost surely getting shut down by Darrelle Revis. I hate to pick a team quarterbacked by someone as inconsistent as Sanchez, but...wait, I guess I don't have to. Screw it, I'll take Cincinnati. The Sanchize is terrible. But again, I have no idea what will happen here. Technically, I have no idea what will happen in any of these games, but please ignore that.

* New England over Baltimore. Damn Wes Welker. If he's healthy, I pick the Patriots without much problem. But without him, well, who knows. NE's offense was basically hanging by a thread, and that thread was Welker. Without him, Randy Moss gets double-coverage and the Pats have to rely on their cadre of useless running backs. You'd think that this would mean I'd pick Baltimore, but the Pats are unbeaten at home this season and generally don't make dumb mistakes (unlike the Ravens, who were just somehow flagged for a penalty just as I'm writing this sentence two days before the game). I'm going to pick the Pats to barely eke one out before they get nuked by Indy or San Diego in the next round. Besides, if I picked the Ravens, I would be picking my brother's favourite team. That can't happen.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Wacky Link Central

* Stephen Colbert pwns the (terrible) new Domino's Pizza 'we suck' ad campaign. Then again, the campaign can't be all bad, since now I'm curious to see what this new pizza tastes like. DAMN YOU, REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY!

* The already-legendary Ukrainian sand drawings. Yes, I'm still catching up to 2009's web memes in 2010. Sue me. Is there nothing Ukrainians can't do? We fucking rule.

* Roger Ebert's top movies of the decade. Ebert picks a very eclectic mix of films here, to say the least. Some choices are very good, others not so much. I'm working on my own 'best of the 2000s' movie list and it's interesting to note that of the 20 movies Ebert notes here, only one of them makes my list. (Three of his picks make my secondary cut and one is an 'honourable mention.') Guess which ones!

* The Simpsons, in Estonia.

* Nic Cage As Everyone. It's just as horrifying as it sounds. Here is the first of many images that will haunt your dreams.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Man Marries Video Game Character

As someone who once wrote a play about a man falling in love with a plant, I feel as if I'm uniquely qualified to comment on this story. Also, I once carried on a torrid affair with Kirby from Kirby's Dreamland. It ended badly --- for a character whose entire existence is based upon sucking things in, Kirby sure was a cold fish in the bedroom.

/looks up Wikipedia entry

Wait, Kirby was a GUY?

/re-enacts shower scene from "The Crying Game"

But enough of my torment. Onto the story.

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese man has married a character in a popular video game, taking her -- and his handheld game console -- on an overseas honeymoon.

I'm trying to work out a handheld game console/masturbation joke, but can't find the proper phrasing. Oh, if only I was a better writer.

The man, who prefers to use his online moniker SAL9000, met character Nene Anegasaki while playing dating simulation game "Love Plus."

They got married a few weeks ago, broadcasting their ceremony live on Japan's version of video-sharing website Youtube.

Fun fact: his online moniker isn't a '2001' reference, but rather using SAL as an acronym for Sad-Ass Loser. Also, you can't actually 'meet' a character in a game since they're NOT FRIGGIN REAL. When I played 'Duck Hunt' for the first time, I didn't go around saying I met the dog. ("Nice guy, great sense of humour.") Also, the fact that this wedding became a YouTube clip makes me think that the guy is totally in on the joke and thus I end up looking like an even bigger loser for mocking him as if he was serious. Hmmm, I seem to have fallen into a trap. Then again, let me check with City Hall....nope, turns out I'm not married to a video game character, so I still have a leg up on ol' SAL.

Dare I even ask what a 'dating simulation game' is? Is it like a modern-day version of Leisure Suit Larry? The creators of that game should sue Seth Macfarlane for everything he owns due to his total ripoff of Larry for Glenn Quagmire.

SAL9000, who did not want to reveal his real name for fear of being misunderstood, admits to be an "otaku," a breed of Japanese youth obsessed with video games, computers and fantasy worlds.

"In the Japanese otaku or nerd culture, there's a tradition of calling characters my wife, and I sort of thought of Nene as my wife. Since I was calling her that, I thought we'd just have to get married then," he told Reuters Television.

"If more people were to find ways of expressing themselves like this, I think it would make society a bit more interesting."

Yes, interesting....that's the word for it. I love cake, but that doesn't mean I'm going to express this by marrying a cake. It would make things awkward at the ceremony when I try to playfully shove a slice of the wedding cake into my bride's mouth, only to realize in horror that I'd actually just carved up her grandmother or something. We'd also probably argue over the music since she might want traditional wedding songs whereas I would want nothing but the entire collected discography of Cake. (Frankly, I'd have a point. And 'Love You Madly' is actually a pretty good wedding song option.)

The newlyweds, who went on a honeymoon to Guam, now go on dates around Tokyo, with SAL9000 taking pictures of Nene, installed in his Nintendo DS, in front of famous landmarks and then posting them on social networking sites.

Congratulations SAL, you're treating your new 'bride' as a cyber version of the Travelocity Roaming Gnome.

As the game "Love Plus" has voice recognition software, SAL9000 says it's possible to have a sort of conversation with Nene or even play simple games such as rock, paper, scissors.

In SAL's defense, experts agree that communication is the most important part of any relationship. And rock-paper-scissors is the second most important part of any relationship. I hear that Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins split up because Sarandon finally got sick of Robbins trying to win RPS games with the 'God' option.

He also has vowed to have and to hold, for better and for worse, even if another, updated version of the game is released.

"I think I'll probably continue playing Love Plus. I won't cheat," SAL9000 said.

Ah ha ha, 'cheat'! Zing! Nice one, sad loser! The reporter could have asked him what he would do if he actually met a human woman, but the premise of the question was probably so far-fetched that it was better left unsaid.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

My Best Posts Of 2009

My New Year's resolution was to be more efficient, and as such, here's a handy reference guide of my best posts of 2009. It's so cool that even dogs and cats are chilling out on the couch together to read it. If you have a personal favourite that's not on the list, well, you're simply just wrong. WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG. Enjoy!

December 22: I decide to get ahead of the game and begin my 2009-2010 TV year in review early. Thank goodness I watch enough short-season programs to make this worthwhile.

December 9: In spite of the fact that the casting rumour about Anne Hathaway in Spider-Man 4 isn't at all confirmed, I rant like a lunatic about it. Possibly my nerdiest post of the year.

December 7: An examination of the World Cup field in an attempt to decide who I'll be rooting for next summer. Go Ivory Coast!

November 29: Since this list isn't brutal enough, here's a link to a YouTube video of the ten biggest knockouts in MMA history. Not for the faint of heart.

November 27: The nine most disappointing movies of 2009. Needless to say, Avatar earned its place on the list.

November 19: I talk about chimney sweeps, which leads into talking about Mary Poppins and.....yeah, it becomes a bunch of rambling nonsense.

November 12: I run through (and provide video of) some classic moments in Sesame Street's history, alphabet-style. One of my personal favourite posts of the year.

November 5: My move from Toronto, in spite of a local key-cutter's best attempts to delay me.

November 4: A little tribute to Mitchell & Webb, my favourite comedy discovery of the year.

October 21: I gush like a little girl about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who put out my favourite record of 2009.

October 19: My review of 'Paranormal Activity.' I think I liked Bill Simmons' brief review on Twitter even better: "Living proof that dudes will put up with anything for a girlfriend with big guns."

October 4: Two legendary videos: Karl Pilkington and HockeyBear. Glorious.

September 27: I crap my pants over Jonas Gustavsson's preseason save against Detroit and, like a true Leafs fan, go way overboard. Sigh.

September 21: I drop a case of Coke down my apartment steps. Chaos ensues.

September 18: My review of U2's Rogers Centre concert, which was arguably the best live show I've ever seen by any band.

September 10: My list of the top 92 Simpsons episodes of all time. I still can't believe CBC dropped this show for the goddamn Ghost Whisperer. My tax dollars should not be used to fund Jennifer Love Hewitt's terrible acting.

September 6: I walk through Toronto's subway stations and what do I see? Brett Leroy's Corner Gas tree!...uh, wait, no, I saw a bunch of random stuff that I blogged about.

August 31: The last of the demotivational poster entries, with handy links also provided to the first two installments.

August 24: Probably my favourite post of the year: my review/analysis of 'Inglourious Basterds.' I was so inspired by the film that I busted out my old film theory skills and just went at it.

August 18: Brett Favre becomes a Minnesota Viking. I am dying to see a Vikings-Packers playoff matchup. It's awfully rare to beat a team three times in one year, and given that both teams have been going in exact opposite directions over the last month, Green Bay is due to lay a whipping on Favre and company.

August 11: My list of the best North American athletes of the past decade. Serial adulterer Tiger Woods is #1, which is kind of funny in hindsight. Not that that diminishes his ranking any --- hell, if anything, it's even more impressive that Tiger was able to dominate golf and juggle so many women at the same time. Top that, Lance Armstrong. (Though, to be fair, Armstrong is short a testicle.)

August 8: Based on a Facebook meme, my '15 books in 15 minutes,' or the fifteen books that will stay with me forever.

July 22: Some random nonsense.

July 19: A bird craps on my head during Shakespeare In The Park. I don't even have a joke here.

July 16: The Alterna-Emmys, a.k.a. How Badly Did The Emmys Screw Up This Year, though I'm glad that Michael Emerson and Kristin Chenoweth actually won trophies.

July 15: I pretend to be a celebrity blogger and cattily rip apart the fashions of the Harry Potter cast at their film premiere.

July 13: An obituary for my cat. It's sad. You have no idea how much string has gone unbatted at our house in the last six months.

June 28: Random nonsense about Arnold Schwarzenegger, including a listing of the governator's top ten best movies. IT'S NAHT A TOO-MAH.

June 24: The fourth and final installment of the TV year in review, which also includes convenient links to the other three entries.

June 20: My picks of the best series, actors and actresses of 1980's TV. RIP Bea Arthur.

June 18: The only installment of Good Commercial/Bad Commercial of the year. Really? Have I become that blase about advertising? Or maybe it's just that thanks to digital cable, I barely see ads any more. The future is now.

June 13: My epic rivalry with a grouse that lived behind my house. Hmm, 'The Grouse Behind The House' is a great title for a children's book. Much better than my other working title, 'That Fucking Grouse.' F-bombs are usually discouraged in children's lit.

June 2: The epic 'best movies of our lives' series written by Kyle and I. This is the fourth installment, and it includes links to the previous three entries. You might notice that this most recent post was written six months ago and we still haven't gotten around to part five....yeah, we should probably get around to that at some point.

May 31: I analyze Archie's decision to propose to Veronica over Betty. Fun fact: I crosspost all of these posts to my Facebook page, and it was this note that received more comments than any other entry I've ever written. People are just genuinely fired up about Archie Andrews' love life. Bonus: this post also contains the post-script of my dream about a lesbian wedding between my future daughter and my buddy Trev's future daughter. Trev was not impressed.

May 27: My epic quest on Harvey's Free Hamburger Day.

May 24: The third part of my TV year in review series, focusing on reality shows. Or, to be specific, the two reality shows I actually watch.

May 14: The LOST year in review (a.k.a. the second part of my TV year in review, and yes, LOST earned a whole entry by itself). My enthusiasm level for the sixth season premiere: about an 18 out of 10.

May 11: My list of the best shows, actors and actresses on TV in the 1990's. Everyone take a step forward if you're on the list....not so fast, Lorenzo Lamas.

May 9: The first part of my epic TV year in review piece.

May 3: For reasons known only to myself, I decided to write out a list of every no-hitter in baseball history by date. Now updated to include 2009's no-nos!

April 30: My picks of the best TV series, actors and actresses of the 2000's. In hindsight I should've waited until a) the decade was actually over and b) until I had seen 'The Wire' to write this thing, but c'est la vie. If I had to do it again, I'd include Wire and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' in the place of 'Angel' and 'How I Met Your Mother.'

April 13: The greatest rivalries in recorded history. Not included: any mention of the Pearl Jam song 'Rival,' Joe vs. the Volcano, or my rivalry against the monster under my bed. It's either a troll demon or a really old pair of slippers. Either way, it smells awful.

April 3: My Blue Jays season preview. I predicted them to win 75 games and got it BANG ON. I am truly the greatest baseball prognosticator of all time. (Note: not included in this 'best of' collection are my predictions for the rest of last season, when I picked Boston to beat Arizona in the World Series. Just a wee bit off on that one.)

March 30: I answer my spam e-mail. You know, it's been nine months and I still haven't received either my 500,000 pounds or a larger penis. Could those spams have been....a ripoff? Naw, no way.

March 22: Arguably the finest of my ongoing 'out-of-context texts' series.

March 11: The post detailing that bizarre nine-month span in 2003 when my friends and I all got a real kick out of punching/kicking each other in the nuts. An unofficial poll of my friends revealed this to be the greatest blog entry I've ever written, so it's got that going for it.

March 6: My weeklong series of posts devoted to U2's "No Line On The Horizon" album begins with a review of the record itself. Funny, at the time the title track was my least-favourite song of the disc. Now it's right near the top of the pile.

March 3: My list of the best 100 U2 songs of all time. Looking at this list months later, I want to make at least 25 changes.

March 1: The best and worst music videos U2 ever made. Hey, remember when bands actually made music videos? How quaint.

February 19: The 2009 Markademy Awards, celebrating my favourite movies of 2008.

February 16: An account of my legendary LaserQuest victory. It's briefer than the novel written about the event by Mike Lupica, but on the bright side, is better-written.

January 24: I run down the extensive week of festivities that led up to my 'Conception Day' (a.k.a. my birthday minus nine months). It was a busy time that thoroughly got my mind off the image of my parents having sex.

January 17: The 24 best villains in the history of the show '24.' This went much better than my listing of the top one villains in the history of 'Murder One.'

January 1: My list of the best posts of 2008. The fact that I'm repeating this link is probably a sign that this was a slow year.