July 30, 2009

Disaster Porn

A great deal of speculation based on the Mayan Long Count Calendar suggests that humankind is in for a cataclysmic end-of-days on December 21, 2012. Not surprisingly, Hollywood has entered the fray with the upcoming effects-fest called, simply, "2012".

At the helm of this production is a master of the "disaster movie" genre, Roland Emmerich. You will certainly know his films even if you have never heard of him: "Independence Day", "Godzilla", "Eight Legged Freaks" and "The Day After Tomorrow". Notice a theme here? Humanity is faced with massive destruction (and possible extinction) by external forces, sometimes alien and sometimes environmental.

I am not sure what drives the desire of the masses to flock to see these disaster movies (guilty your Honour). Perhaps it is because, as sentient beings, we are well aware of how very precarious and miraculous our existence happens to be. While our art, poetry, and architecture strives for immortality we know that each of us has a limited bloom.

The disaster movie is not new of course. The Cold War brought us classic B-movies on alien invasions and later the Moon landing inspired what is arguably the golden age of space-based science fiction films from 1969-1979 (think "2001" & "Star Wars"). A renaissance of sorts for the disaster genre began in the 1990s with Emmerich and others (think "Armageddon" & "Deep Impact").

What is striking is that when we witnessed actual disasters, such as 9/11 and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake how so many people commented that it was like watching a movie. As we repelled from the horrors and truths about the very real disasters on our planet we continued to rush into darkened rooms to watch stories about humanity clinging to thin threads of fate. Perhaps it's because the core of most of these films is about the fierce will to survive and the fight to endure. Indeed, a common theme echoes by these fims is the power of hope, a strange notion for hope is certainly not much of a strategy.

July 22, 2009

A Select Experience

Our dear Toronto friends, Toni and Dave, treated us last weekend to a marvellous meal at the finest French bistro I have ever had the pleasure of dining in, Le Select Bistro. Hailed by foodies and critics alike as Toronto's most authentic Parisian bistro, I was blown away by the food quality and the attentive, yet unobstructive, service. I love classic French service, where up to 5 waitstaff attend to your table at different points throughout your meal. Water, bread, and wine kept magically appearing and the courses were well-timed.

Most impressive is that this restaurant has a 14,000-bottle wine cellar! That translates to a, gulp, 73-page wine list. I almost fainted when they handed it to me.

As for the meal, I went for the prix fixe, with a roasted red pepper soup to start, duck confit for the main, and a sinful creme brulee to finish. Next time you are in the Big Smoke, treat yourself to a night in Paris at Le Select.

July 20, 2009

One Small Step, One Giant Leap...of Faith?

If you believed they put a man on the moon, Man on the moon,
If you believed there's nothing up their sleeve, Then nothing is cool

40 years ago today the accompanying photo and others were released depicting humankind's first steps on the Moon, our first foray onto another celestial object. Ever since 1969 there have been very entertaining claims that the entire thing was a hoax.

The 1997 film "Wag the Dog" showed how politically helpul a manufactured war could be for the ruling elite (later demonstrated quite effectively in Iraq), so one could easily see how the government of the day would want to square away the dream first pitched by Kennedy to get a man on the Moon. Ironically, arguments about whether the Moon landing happened or not are almost irrelevant since so many millions believe it happened.

To provide a balanced look at the evidence, you can have a great read about how the landing was a hoax here, and then take a look at the careful responses to the hoax claims here.

July 6, 2009

Going to the chapel...

Well, it's getting near that time. Mark and I just picked up our marriage license at City Hall. The clerk was polite but perfunctory. We would have appreciated a "congratulations" or "best wishes". Alas...

My heart was beating a little because it's still only been 5 years since it has been legal for same-sex couples to actually get a marriage license. Lest we forget that marriage remains a fight for millions of our American brethren, not to mention so many LGBT people across the globe. So, it was a big moment for us, and it was a shame it was mostly bureaucratic.

Pergaps this is what equality ends up meaning, in the end. "Stand in line here, please. Pay down the hall, please". Still, not a bad thing. I guess this is all worth the fight; to end up like every other normal Canadian: trapped in red tape, while your life opens up before you...

July 3, 2009

Waiting for the other shoe to drop...

Sarah Palin has just announced she is resigning as the governor of Alaska. While this is a most shocking development amongst politics geeks, I can't help but think there is an intriguing story behind why she made the announcement and, more interestingly, more announcements to come...

July 2, 2009

Bitten by HBO (again)

Well, I am hooked on the new series by Alan Ball ("American Beauty" & "Six Feet Under") called "True Blood". Ostensibly about vampires in Louisiana, it's really a Southern Gothic tale projected superbly on the face of lead star Anna Paquin. It's also a thinly-veiled treatise on civil rights for minority groups. A sharp cast and excellent writing and the one-of-a-kind setting that is the deep South make for a potent mix of blood, sex, and truths in the darkness.

Hewson, we have lift-off