Friday, February 26, 2010

Films these days.

I saw Swingers for the first time in several years tonight, and I'll be goddamned, that's one hell of a movie.

A colleague and I were talking earlier this week about films these days — she teaches drama, gets a Film Fest pass every year, and so on — and we both lamented the current state of the art. She saw Avatar recently and hated it: "It's like you sit there and people talk, and then there's an explosion and they run around a bit. Then they talk some more, then run, then another explosion. That's all there is these days: talking and running and explosions."

Films with explosions really aren't my thing, but she has a point. Think about all those amazing films from the '90s which didn't ever try to explode anything or tell disgusting jokes: Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Seven, Swingers, Twelve Monkeys, Sling Blade, Glengarry Glen Ross... the list goes on.

That's not to say I don't like disgusting jokes — I laughed my ass off at Old School, Borat, Role Models and the like — but because that's what pulls in the giant bucks, flicks like the above never see the light of day. And if it's not a gross-out humour movie, it's going to be some sort of 4-hour epic (Avatar, Lord of the Rings) or a chick flick (take your pick, there's plenty).

Why not make a 94-minute, $250,000, well-cast, quick-witted film in 2010?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Johnny Damon signing.

Today the Tigers quit messing-around and finally signed Johnny Damon to a one-year contract for $8 million.

Originally I was pretty ambivalent about getting Damon — I've always been a fan of Clete Thomas and figured he'd be alright leading off, if Austin Jackson didn't pan out. I wasn't (and I'm still not) confident about the defence out there in left: Damon throws like my grandmother, and Carlos Guillen's knees probably won't hold up for too long if he gets his way and plays in the field.

(I mean, ideally, Guillen's a full-time DH. When he put up a big stink about wanting to play more in left — mind you, this was after the failed third base experiment, pre-Cabrera — Jim Leyland rather surprisingly said, "Alright, buddy, whatever you want.")

The more I think about this signing, though, the more I like it. What's eight mil these days, anyway? Mike Ilitch has shown (lately, anyway) that he's willing to open up the purse-strings in order to fill holes. Putting the pressure on Jackson to lead off (not to mention Scott Sizemore at second, batting second) might have worked, but really, that's a hell of a gamble. Two rookies at the top of the order? That's friggin' crazy; then again, both Ilitch and Leyland have, at times, shown that they're crazy like foxes.

Fortunately for everyone, they decided to play it safe and get Damon... so we can all breathe a little easier.

Go Tigers.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's been slow around here.

And I like it that way.

A few random observations follow.

* * * * *

I dig the German hockey team's uniforms. They're somewhat scary, which is exactly as you'd expect from Germany. If I was Sweden, though, I'd ditch the day-glow yellow and go with blue instead.

We live in the land of ice, so why can't we make friggin' proper ice at the long-track speed skating rink? Don't make no sense.

There are some really interesting segments on CTV hosted by a doctor talking about various science-y things in assorted sports. I wish I'd taped the one on snowboarding. I think I'm also a nerd.

I've thought about what the easiest way to get into a Winter Olympics would be, and I've come to a verdict: curling. Not to say that curling's easy, which it's not, but I sure as hell don't see myself ever excelling at ski jumping, hockey, or snowboard cross. Similarly, for the Summer Olympics: pistol shooting.

I've never shot a gun in my life.

No-touch icing is a great idea, and I wish the NHL would adopt it; ask Michel Goulet what it's like to have a career ended by a mad, futile dash for an iced puck.

I love how CTV showed several minutes, on national television, a live feed from the Canadian men's hockey team practice. Yup, just practice.

Why is Morgan Freeman narrating the Visa commercials on Canadian television — as Donald Sutherland busy narrating everything else in town or something?

Who else is sick of the CTV Olympics jingle, on every commercial bumper in and out? And that chick they're pushing who warbles away on that "official Olympic theme song"? Who made that the official song, anyway? And why can't it be "Jailbreak" by Thin Lizzy instead? (RIP, Phil Lynott.)

Funny/cute moment: gold-medal-winning ('02) figure skaters Jamie Salé and David Pelletier strapped on speed skates and hit the ice. They nearly fell all over the place, but Pelletier said it's the first time in years that he "just skated" without having to do anything else, and he loved it.

* * * * *

Alright, I'm spent. Time for speed skating and possibly pie.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More school, so it appears.

I taught for four years straight out of uni. By the end of it, for various reasons, I was feeling pretty burnt-out — teaching, coaching, doing some union and political stuff, and starting to dabble in some higher-level professional development. I needed a break.

Enter Queen's and the M.Ed. program. Things didn't go exactly as planned — e.g. thesis clusterfucks aplenty — but I'd like to think I learned a lot from the whole ordeal, namely, "If things are going shittily, and your advisor isn't much help, go over their head." Two-ish years later, I was a Master of Education.

Now I'm halfway through my fourth year back at the ol' teaching thing, and... well, I'm starting to get a little antsy-in-the-pantsy. Not that I don't like being in the classroom — I really truly do enjoy the time I spend with the kids, and I have a blast — but I can't help but wonder if I can (and should) go farther with my own edumacation.

I've been doing a little perusing on OISE's website (I'm pretty sure I'd stay in Toronto, even though the idea of OISE hasn't really thrilled me in the past), and they have a PhD program in Educational Administration. (Please don't think for one second that by "administration," I want to become a principal; not in a million years would I ever want to be one, or a VP.) Look at the neato-sounding courses offered in this program, though:
  • Governing Education: A Seminar on Politics
  • Educational Change in the Postmodern Age
  • Educational Policy and Program Evaluation
  • Managing Changes in Classroom Practice
  • Teachers and Educational Change
  • Political Skill in the Education Arena
Those may not thrill you too much, but lemme tell ya, that last one gets me all tingly in my mental naughty-bits. Plus, I've been reading up on the admission requirements, and I think I'm fairly qualified; they also have a flex-time option, so I could continue working at least part-time (I'd obviously scale back my duties at work if I had to do coursework concurrently).

Anyway, I think this might just be in the cards for me. If I finish up this school year, and two more, that'd let me see some of the initiatives we've started at the ol' schoolhouse get going nicely on their own, and then I could make a bit of an exit.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

TTC driver backlash.

So, TTC operators are sick of people taking their picture as they sleep on the job, smoke on the job, take egregiously-long breaks or leave collector booths unmanned so people can sail right through.

There's apparently also a Facebook group for them (although I couldn't seem to find it).

Now, I realize pictures don't often tell the whole story; life is pretty nuanced, at times, and one single snapshot can be misleading. But, I think you'll agree that pretty much every picture or video that's come out recently showing a TTC employee doing something they shouldn't has been undeniably damning. I mean, the one dude was sleeping with his hands folded over his gut, and the video of that late-night driver shows that he was in the coffee shop for seven minutes as the bus idled away (after being 15 minutes late, and being belligerent to the passenger afterward). How can that be anything less than conclusive?

Being a good little unionist, my first instinct is to try to see it from the workers' point of view. But, in the end, it boils down to this: if you're being a jagoff on the job, don't lash out at the person who catches you, just stop being a jagoff.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A show that weirds me out a bit.

I don't watch a lot of TV — sure, I tape* and watch Stewart and Colbert practically religiously, and Sunday nights usually find me watching goofy animated shows from Fox, but aside from those (and the odd Simpsons rerun), I'd rather be stapling my scroat to an angry badger than watch most of what's on that infernal box.

I have, however, been watching the odd episode of Community, which is really funny. The humour is pretty snappy, Chevy Chase is well-suited to be a pervy old dude and, perhaps most importantly, it doesn't feature either Ray Romano or Charlie Sheen. If you're not familiar with the premise, there's this group of seven diverse people attending a community college who have a study group (in which they don't do a whole lot of studying, natch, because actual studying makes for awful TV). Interpersonal relationships bloom and such, wacky characters float in and out, and hilarity generally ensues.

The problem I have with it is that most of the characters are far past the age of regular college/university students. Granted, you do get people who are on their second and third careers who go back to school to re-train for other stuff, but are they really going to have all these typically-undergraduate experiences like hanging out and watching bad movies together? I don't think a 19-year-old kid is going to be in the same social group as the oft-divorced 60-something character Chase plays; she has her own, similarly-aged friends to hang out with (I would hope).

It reminds me of the show Boston Public, a show about teachers which started just after I began teaching. At first it was kinda cool, a show centered around teachers — but then it really started to grate on me that, hey, it isn't all that realistic, because it doesn't show all the stupid mundane crap I have to go through every day so I can, very occasionally, have one of those made-for-TV moments that TV, curiously, revels in.

So, in conclusion, the show's pretty funny, but I feel a little weird watching it.
* Yeah, I still got a VCR. Use it all the time, too. Suck it, new inventions!