Thursday, November 27, 2008

Friday Top Five: Favourite Fight Scenes

If you know me/have read this blog for a while, then you know my deep, unabashed love for big, loud, violent movies. (And the shirtless men who often inhabit them...but I'm getting ahead of myself!) So there's no need to ask where I was Wednesday night - obviously, I was at the opening night of Transporter 3.

Which was alright, and far superior to Transporter 2, but not really up to the original's balls-out, non-stop mayhem. But it did get me thinking of some of my favourite fight scenes, and what made them so good.

Overall, I think the main elements of a good fight scene are:
  • The match-up: has to be challenging, yet attainable. If the good guy's clearly much stronger, than there's no suspense. If she/he's clearly outmatched, then there's too much suspension of disbelief required when the good guy triumphs. And QUIT IT with the convenient placed sharp objects. Victory by impalement is SO 1995.
  • Creativity: There are thousands of fight scenes put to film every year, according to a number I just made up. What makes this one different? How is it interesting? Does Jason Statham take his shirt off? are just some of the questions a good fight choreographer should ask.
  • Visuals: It's the ultimate tease: the big set, the powerful stars, the dramatic tension, the impending carnage that you know is about to come to a climax...only to have the moment totally ruined by blurry, shaky camera work and incessant cuts which the director thinks makes his film look "gritty" and "realistic" but actually makes it look "blurry" and incomprehensible" and, in my cause, "nauseating". Instead of a big finish, I am left puking in the bathroom. F*** you, Jason Bourne.
There's plenty more, but my lunch break is almost over, so here they are: five of my favourite fight scenes. Feel free to share your favourite fight scenes in the comments!

5) The Fellowship vs. a bajillion orcs and a cave troll
There's plenty of action in all of the LOTR movies, but this scene to me has a much more immediate and dramatic feel, with the fellowship forced to come together in battle for the first (and (SPOILER) last time), forging bonds of heart and strength and steel against the terrors of the infinite darkness that...juuuuust kidding, I love that cave troll.

4) Nicholas Angel and Danny Butterman vs. the Sanford Neighborhood Watch Alliance
If you haven't seen this movie yet, go. Now. No, seriously, go. I'l wait. [whistles]
If you have, then take a few minutes to enjoy this unparelled scene of gunplay and mindless violence that manages to be both an excellent action scene while parodying action scenes.

(This one can't be embedded - watch here)

3) The Bride vs. the Crazy 88

I knew this was one for me when the media reports first picked up that parts of the film had to be shown in black in white, because there was too much blood. AWESOME. It's 15 minutes of pure, visceral eye-candy, with multiple bad-ass women and 88 wild and crazy guys who get sliced and diced like it's discount day at RonCo.

Check it out here.

2) Neo, Trinity and many, many guns vs. hapless security guys, a SWAT team and various office building architectural features.

My friend Megan and I actually saw The Matrix three times at the Roxy, and the second two times were exclusively for this scene, which we affectionately dubbed "sexy gunfights in leather!". We would even chant it in hushed voices as the scene neared, something I'm sure the other patrons really appreciated.

1) The Transporter - Jason Statham and a vat of oil vs. a dozen bad guys
Cheesy, soft-core innuendo aside - this is actually an excellent scene, with intricate choreography, plenty of creativity, and beautiful shots. Of Jason Statham's toned and oiled-up abs...olute knowledge of martial arts techniques. Er, yeah. That's the ticket!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Top Five

Top news story: Secretary of State Clinton.

Even if I didn't admire her, I'd be happy with this decision - at the very least, it should mean Amy Poehler returning to SNL for guest spots.

Top way to waste time: Assembler.

This simple little game about moving green crates around is addictive. Whoever solves the level with all the round crates, please give me a clue, 'cause I've been stumped all week.

Top embarrassing dad moment:

B.C. NDP house leader and middle-aged white guy Mike Farnworth using the word "bling" during question period. Stay tuned for next week when NDP leader Carole James scolds the Premier with a sassy "Oh no you di'int".

Top source of schadenfreude: Brokers with hands on their faces

Top photo: the one where Floyd finds her soulmate

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chuck Norris can and should roundhouse-kick himself in the face

I’m not going to link to Townhall, where this was posted, for a number of reasons (not wanting to boost traffic to their particular brand of unabashed pseudo-journalism being, surprisingly, secondary to how goddamn buggy their site was), so if you want to read the whole thing, you’ll have to use your google-fu. But here’s some highlights from Chuck Norris's recent column (yes, he has propelled himself into the realm of conservative punditry thanks only to his resurgent internet fame and cancer-curing tears) on the national backlash after Proposition 8 was passed in California:
There were many of us who passionately opposed Obama, but you don't see us protesting in the streets or crying "unfair." Rather, we are submitting to a democratic process and now asking how we can support "our" president. Just because we don't like the election outcome doesn't give us the right to bully those who oppose us….
And what exactly is this bullying that’s going on? Only the most terrible kind:
You even can find donor blacklists online. The lists include everyone who financially backed Prop. 8 -- even those who gave as little as $46 -- with the obvious objective that these individuals will be bantered and boycotted for doing so.
Yes, refusing to give money to individuals and organizations (and engaging them in a series of witty quips and catchy one-liners? Like, “Hey, if God wanted two men to get married, he would have made Adam and Steve!” “Well, if God wanted me to roundhouse-kick you in the face, he would have given me a foot, and you a face!” “Well, you’ve got me theOOOMPH”) is apparently a form of bullying. I guess I bullied about 17 different homeless people on my way to work, not to mention a Domino's, Subway and bookstore-that's-really-a-front-for-marijuana-dealing.

In his defense, he’s not the only one pushing this particular argument - that protesting Prop 8 is EVEN MORE WORSE UH HUH than initiating, organizing and funding a campaign aimed devaluing and defaming a particular group of people's lives, relationships and families - but in his…opposite of defense, just because lots of people say something doesn’t make him any less of a douchebag for saying it.

Because having your rights taken away by your fellow citizens in a referendum is not the same thing as having the other guy win the presidential election. Repeat after me: An election is not the same thing as a referendum. The former is the process by which citizens choose the representatives who will carry out legislative duties, the latter is, for all intents and purposes, a legally-binding poll of self-selecting individuals. Just because they both involve checking a box doesn’t make them morally equivalent actions. Representatives are chosen by the majority because that's just. Laws aren't chosen by the majority because that's just stupid.

In fact, the whole reason we have elections is so we don’t have to have referendums. We elect people to make laws so that they aren’t enacted by freakin’ popularity contest. The masses, we are not infallible - we’re irrational, prone to knee-jerk reactions and most of us lack the resources, knowledge, or desire to actual educate ourselves on anything beyond the current number of Brangelina’s kids. (Seven, apparently.) Not to mention an inherent flaw in the system, which Chuckie unsurprisingly highlights unironically:

What's wrong with this picture? Lots.

First, there's the obvious inability of the minority to accept the will of the majority.
THE STUPID! IT BURNS! Hey, I know, let’s have a referendum on whether people named “Chuck” can own property. I call shotgun on all the Walker, Texas Ranger blooper reels! Sorry, pal, but it’s the will of the majority! Oh, and also, women*, black people, First Nations, all other visible minorities, non-landowning males, and persons with disabilities, you may start quaking in fear….now.

And then there’s this jem:

I agree with Prison Fellowship's founder, Chuck Colson, who wrote: "This is an outrage. What hypocrisy from those who spend all of their time preaching tolerance to the rest of us! How dare they threaten and attack political opponents? We live in a democratic country, not a banana republic ruled by thugs."
Expressing outrage at people who voted to take away your rights is “hypocritical”? Being upset with business-owners who took your money knowingly and then donated it to a campaign to take away your rights is “hypocritical”? Protesting against a business or institution that contributed hundreds, thousands, or millions to devalue your family and relationships, all the while claiming they were about protecting families and relationships, is “hypocritical”?

I can’t believe the entitlement these people have. “I’m allowed to do whatever I want, say whatever I want, and invest lots of time and money into pushing the agenda that I want, with no repercussions whatsoever! If you complain, or criticize, or push back, you are a hypocrite!”

You know – ‘cause it’s not like the fundies ever boycott or protest anything. Oh wait, but they’re doing it for Jesus**, so it’s okay.

Better start now, Chuck - the line-up for roundhouse-kicks to the face is starting to get pretty long.

*Yes, I know women aren’t technically a minority. That doesn’t stop dudes (and self-hating non-dudes) from continually trying to stomp on women’s rights through popular vote.

**That would be Republican Jesus, of course, not the actual “Love God, judge not, blessed are the poor” Jesus.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Keith Olbermann on Prop 8

Thanks to Michelle for flagging this - another excellent take on Prop 8, this time by Keith Olbermann.

This whole thing is déjà-vù all over again, eh, my fellow Canucks? You just want to tell the fundies to tilt their heads north and observe our still-stable society which somehow failed to crumble and dissolve into panic and random man-appliance weddings in the street.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dan Savage vs. Tony Perkins on Anderson Cooper

Sometimes insomnia is it's own reward - yesterday's sleepless night meant I was up to see Dan Savage be his usual awesomeness on The Colbert Report.

He's equally as quick-witted in person as he is on the page - just check out this video of him taking on (heh) Tony Perkins of the insidiously named Family Research Councilwhich I'm not going to link to because it's one of those organizations that uses warm fuzzy words like "Family" "Values" "Life", etc., because "Douchebag fascists who want all up in your bedroom/uterus research council" wouldn't fit on the bumper sticker.

Also - bonus points if you watch the video right to the end, for the "Oh, snap!" moment. My exact word were, "Oh, you just got told, Tony Perkiiiiins!" Leave yours in the coments for double-plus fun.

Off to the races - Liberally

I suppose that a month is a perfectly respectable mourning period, especially when you're announcing that you're not running.

Former premier of New Brunswick and ambassador to Washington Frank McKenna? "Clean up your own goddamn mess - I'm getting too old for this shit."

Former deputy prime minister John Manley? "I am also getting too old for this shit. And by too old, I mean too rich from my many high-paying jobs on boards of directors."

Grassroots phenom Martha Hall-Findley?
"I'm too young for this shit. And by shit, I mean the crushing amounts of personal debt required to finance my previous leadership run, which - although awesome and inspiring to many young people, including an obscure and particularly foul-mouthed blogger - was kinda sorta the opposite of profitable."

Power broker and new MP Gerard Kennedy? "I am also too young and too broke for this shit. And - seeing as my one power-brokering moment was to throw my support behind Dion, thus winning him the previous leadership race - way, way unpopular. Like, atomic wedgie levels of unpopular."

So who does that leave us with? Would you be terribly shocked if I told you...the two frontrunners from the last convention who were overcome at the final stage by the Kennedy-Dion deal?

And some other guy, too...but dude, who are you kidding?


Thursday, November 06, 2008

From the Archives - What a difference four years makes

Going through the dusty interweb archives and came across a blog entry reaction on the last U.S. election. Hope y'all savour the difference as much as I do.

Now that my mandatory two-week waiting period is up


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Stupid arguments against electoral reform - Part III - "It doesn't produce stable governments"

Here's fun with semantics - people throw the word stability around a lot when talking about governments, when what they really mean is "majority". See, the fun thing about governments in Canada is that if you're the leader of your party, and you have a majority government, you can do whatever you want.

Legislatively, that is. You pick a cabinet minister, you tell him (or, 29% of the time if you're Harper, her) what bill you want introduced, you have it put on the House schedule, your party members vote for it, in the House and in committee, and ta daaa! Buffalo wings are now the fifth major food group. Of course, the PM has to have been around enough to have stacked the Senate with his appointees, or he can try and persuade opposition senators to his way of thinking, with many buffalo wings.

And this is what people mean by stability. No, not buffalo wings - the ability of a government to pass whatever legislation it wants, with only the threat of losing a future election to rein it in. And of course, the wisdom, foresight and good intentions of government members. So yeah, the threat of losing future elections.

Without this ability, the reasoning goes, the opposition will prevent bills from passing, effectively neutering our virile, manly and turgid governments. And with our current partisan system, it does kinda work that way. The Parliamentary system was conceived as adversarial, with an opposition holding the government accountable (the main vehicle of this being Question Period, or, as it is currently known, recess ("I'm rubber, the Honourable member is glue.." "No, I'M rubber, THAT Honourable member is glue...")).

And, thanks to three consecutive minority governments, we've had approximately 17 elections this millenium, and a 2000% increase in the use of the word "dysfunctional" to describe something other than the Spears family.

While the thought of going to another election in the next year makes me want to vomit (or maybe that's just all the buffalo wings I had), it's hardly a solid argument against proportional representation, for several reasons:

1) The "norm" of majority governments means that the parties aren't inclined to cooperation, preferring instead to engage in political (and, possibly, literal) dick-measuring;
2) If the first-past-the-post system isn't producing majorities, which it is already predisposed to do, then people are really divided on which party to support, then the answer is for the parties to work on not being so sucky, and not rewarding them for their suckiness with an artificial majority;
3) These shitty governments were produced by our current system - using them as examples of the ills of proportional representation is like microwaving tinfoil to prove the evils of the oven;
4) And, similar to Part II of this series, it assumes that "stability" (as defined by the ability of the govern to legislate as they see fit) it always preferable to "instability". Again - if that were the case - then we'd be better off under some form of dictatorship.

So here's the thing - proportional represenation may very well produce more minority governments. But only if that's what the electorate wants. And at the end of the day, that's the whole point of democracy - to get whatever government we want. Not for the government to get whatever it wants.

And maybe - just maybe - if minority governments become the norm, we'll see more groundbreaking policies developed through collaboration, and less "No, YOU'RE glue to infinity plus one nyah nyah nyah nyah boo boo."


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ice cream and victory

They both taste awesome.


Your thousand words for the day.

And a few more:

Oh please, oh pretty please, with a cherry and chocolate sauce and sprinkles and coconut flakes and peanut butter on top, please let me have a delicious ice cream sundae tonight.

While I'm watching Barack Obama be elected President.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Get your own damn, coffee

UPDATE - Per the discussion in the comments, here's some info from the National Advocates for Pregnant women on drug use during pregnancy. There's a fact sheet that refers to studies (although it doesn't name them! drat! My search continues!) and many articles that deal with how the "crack baby" myth is used to criminalize poor, and mostly African-American, women.

Back when I tried to keep my raging radical feminism separate from my raging political radicalism, I kept a separate blog called The Fetal Position where I angrily told theocrats, fundies, bitter folks young and old, be-penised or vagina-ed, to keep their grubby, most likely improperly-washed hands off and get their own damn uterus.

It’s also where I wrote this post, about an article from the Washington post detailing a report put out by the CDC in response to the U.S. ranking second to last in infant mortality rates in the developed world (in your face, Latvia!). According to the article, the report advised that all women who had functional ovaries should consider themselves ‘pre-pregnant’, whether they were planning on getting pregnant in the near future or otherwise, and therefore abstain from drinking fun things, eating fun things, doing fun things, or thinking of themselves as human beings entitled to have any enjoyment in their lives.

Of course, if you actually read the report, unlike me, then you would have known that it said a lot of things, including that the general health of women of child-bearing age could be improved. (Or, as John McCain would say, “health”.) But "Study gives detailed overview of complex issue with reasonable, science-based suggestions towards a solution" doesn't make for as catchy a headline as "Forever Pregnant".

Now, the CBC’s not going that far – but nothing exacerbates my Monday morning grouchies quite like two separate “Pregnant women who do X are bad!” stories. Don’t gain weight! Don’t drink coffee! Or else you are a TERRIBLE MOTHER who will probably want to have, like, ONE GLASS OF WINE, and should you suffer the tragedy of a miscarriage it will probably be YOUR FAULT because you went by a Starbucks and you INHALED.

Honestly, these types of reports are double-plus badness – another item on the already weighed-down shoulders of women, whose behaviours during pregnancy seem to be responsible for every possible aspect of their child and its development, from physical appearance, to character, to abilities and more (“damn you, slice of brie my mother had three months into her pregnancy, for preventing me from being a gorgeous, six-foot judo expert and concert pianist who solves crimes on her spare time using her hyper-sensitive sense of smell!”); PLUS another weapon for every self-righteous douchebag out there who gets off on judging a woman’s “morals” by her appearance, since nothing says irresponsible slut like a visibly pregnant woman, right douchebags? (Douchebags: “Nice sweater vest, man-hater.”) Better put her in her place, that uterus-having, life-creating, “I’m a human being with the ability to make decisions about what’s best for me, my body and my family”-thinking incubator.

Now, I’m not saying that research on healthy pregnancies isn’t important – it’s just frustrating that the studies (and the media coverage) focus on taking away stuff from women, rather than giving them stuff, like, say, comprehensive pre-natal health care. Because that would be SOCIALIST, and socialism is EVEN WORSE than having the second-highest infant mortality rate in the developed world. Or something like that.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Things that keep me up at night

I remember watching the results of the last U.S. election and getting that sinking, disbelieving, mind-reeling feeling that comes when mass stupidity is combined with raging hatred and widespread corruption.

For, as much as Canadian election results may frustrate me, I've never doubted their legitimacy. That is - it has never once occurred to me that a Canadian election has been rigged. I may not like our current PM, but I have no doubt he came by the position honestly, and with many sweaters.

Not so in the U.S. And with election day in two freakin' days, it actually keeps me up at night that the Republican party's total disregard for the will of the voters will manifest itself in enough voter purges, campaigns of voter misinformation, fear-mongering and vote rigging as to steal the election once again.

So, here's to you, Canada - at least your politicians are honest.

Well, more honest.

Well, less likely to try and rig elections.

Well, less likely to succeed at rigging elections.

Well, less likely to have the resources, including vast numbers of blindly-partisan assfaces who will commit election fraud.

Well, more likely to have elections when it's cold and there's hockey on.


Nobody in the history of the world has deserved a kick to the box more than this lady.