November 15, 2011

Retro Heartthrob: Ben Covington

I'm not sure why, but I was recently compelled to watch all four seasons of Felicity back to back.  It took me about three weeks, which doesn't sound like a lot but considering each episode is an hour long and there are about 22 episodes per season, that amounts to a whole lotta TV watching.

Will you help me study for O-Chem? I am
cute and helpless like a puppy.
Before all of this Twilight hooplah started and girls began declaring themselves either Team Edward or Team Jacob, we ladies who were teenagers in the 90's aligned ourselves with Team Ben or Team Noel.  Felicity, Ben and Noel: the ultimate love triangle.  We hung on for four seasons to see whether Felicity would choose to be with Ben, her fantasy guy (who didn't treat her very well), or Noel, her predictable best guy friend who loved her unconditionally.

I must say, after rewatching the show, I am firmly a member of team Ben.  Ben Covington, played by Canadian (!) actor Scott Speedman, predictably followed the heartthrob formula described here and here.  Cute but distant, complicated relationship with his dad, kind of dense, but vulnerable and in need of saving.  After writing three of these posts I am starting to notice that ALL OF THESE HEARTTHROBS ARE THE SAME GUY.

Well, if they can do it, I can do it.  Here is my attempt at writing a hit TV drama: 

The main character is a female.  She is kind of naive and has recently undergone some kind of life change (moving/graduating from high school/changing peer groups).  She meets a guy.  A totally hot guy.  He is elusive, but through circumstance they are thrown together into a situation that requires them to talk to each other (sharing a class/mutual friends/she finds out he can't read).  The guy realizes that he likes her, but because of his problems with his dad and her social awkwardness, it's difficult for him to connect emotionally with her.  This is the pilot episode.  The remaining 10 seasons of the show will involve her chasing after him and him alternatively pissing her off and trying to win her back.  Ta da!!!

Anyway, yeah.  Felicity was a really good show.  And I have created a related drinking game!  Anytime someone on the show says, "Can we talk?" or some variation, take a shot.  Warning: make sure you play this game somewhere that you will be comfortable spending the night.  You will be hammered before the end of the first episode.

October 15, 2011

Review: Rubber

It's not often that a movie comes along that I actually want to review, but I just watched one.  The name of the movie is Rubber, and it is about a tire named Robert that kills people using telekinesis.  That's right...a tire.  Named Robert.  That kills people.  There is only one thing you can do when you hear of such a movie.  You f'ing watch it.

The opening monologue in the movie describes the film as an homage to "no reason".  If you couldn't guess already by the premise of the film, that's exactly what it was.  At a 1 hour 22 minute running time, I was curious about how they would stretch that idea into a feature-length movie, but was pleasantly surprised to be kept entertained the whole time.

I wasn't sure what to expect.  Is it a horror movie?  A comedy?  It was a little of both...a black comedy.  The movie was just different enough to be engaging, without crossing the line into unwatchable weirdness.

The reviews on this movie have been completely polarizing.  With a 68% score on Rotten Tomatoes (47% audience score), there are plenty of people who hated it.  I thought it was awesome.  It was funny and weird, and there were times when I stepped back and realized what I was actually watching and the absurdity of it was hilarious.

Look, I have watched a lot of shit movies.  The thing is, most of them take themselves so seriously it's a disappointment when I realize that I just wasted an hour and a half of my life on something that was a total waste of time.  Why not watch a movie that you know from the outset will be completely pointless?  And I mean seriously.  How many movies are you going to see where you get to watch a tire laying in a hotel bed watching aerobics on TV?  That shit is funny.  Watch it already. 

September 11, 2011

Six Words

Hello!  I'm back!  This summer was crazy and so I didn't get to blog as much as I would have liked.  What the hell.  I completely abandoned it.  Fortunately, it was still here waiting for me when I was ready to return.  Blogs are good like that.

I am now back in school and officially finished my first week of writing classes.  This semester looks like it's going to be intense, but I'm really looking forward to it.

I thought I would share one of my first writing assignments because I found it very interesting.  For this week, we each had to write a story comprised of only six words.  It sounds easy, but it's way harder than you might think.  If you look online, there are whole blogs dedicated to the subject.  When Hemingway was challenged to do so, this was his:

"For sale: baby shoes, never used."

I mean, that's just brilliant.  So I've been working on this for a while, and this is mine:

"Are you alone?" "Yes," she sighed.

I took me a long time to come up with that, so I'm feeling compelled to share it with everyone.  If you have some time, try to come up with your own.  What would your six word story be?

July 14, 2011

My Yoga

I resisted the yoga trend for a long time.  When I first moved to Vancouver, I would see girls running around town toting their yoga mats and I would roll my eyes.  "Oh my God, they are SO pretentious," I would remark, thinking that yoga was just an excuse for hippies to wear cute outfits.  I told my partner at the time that I would know that I had been fully assimilated as a Vancouverite when I started doing yoga and eating sushi.  The sushi came quickly, and the yoga wasn't far behind.

Aaaah...my favourite pose
I took my first yoga class last year.  It was a beginner's yoga workshop at Semperviva in Kits and I fell in love immediately.  I couldn't remember the last time I had felt so relaxed and mellow and content.  I walked out of the studio like I was walking on air.  I continued taking classes on and off, but it became difficult because their schedule doesn't really jive with mine.  I bought some yoga DVD's, but quickly became bored with doing the same routine over and over again.  So imagine my delight when I found the My Yoga Online community.

The My Yoga website is a mixture of videos, articles, forums, blogs and anything else you can think of that could possibly be used to provide information on yoga.  I have been contemplating joining for a while (only some of the content is free), and finally did it earlier this week.  So far, I am loving it!

The site is super easy to navigate.  They offer several programs on things like weight loss, stress reduction and insomnia relief.  I subscribed to the "Beginner" program (included in the membership fee).  Basically, on a schedule that I determine, they send me information at different stages of the program.  The information is a combination of fast facts, longer articles and videos.  If you don't want to subscribe to a program, you can simply search their huge selection of videos and articles yourself.  They have recipe selections, articles on health and wellness, music, and everything else you could think of.

The videos that I have seen so far are great.  They are all of varying lengths, styles and intensities.  I am LOVING the short 10-20 minute videos designed to be done in an office.  On my morning coffee break I close my door, dim the lights and do one of these quick routines.  They have classic, longer routines and informational videos as well.

So far, the advantages of this membership are:
  • Only $9.95/month gives me unlimited access to their content.  This is far less than I would pay for unlimited classes at a studio
  • Tons of videos to choose from, and new ones added all the time, so I can't see getting bored any time soon
  • Flexibility to incorporate my practice into my schedule.  I don't have to commit to a one hour class at a certain time each week.  I can do twenty minutes when I have a chance, or do a longer class when I want to.  And whenever I want!  First thing in the morning, right before bed...I like convenience
  • A lot of the content caters to beginners so I can get a solid grounding in the basics, which is difficult for an instructor to do when she has a big class full of people with varying abilities
Some disadvantages:
  • It's not as relaxing to practice yoga in my own apartment.  When I look around all I can see is stuff that I should be doing, Lenny is bothering me, and the space isn't as clutter free and relaxing as a studio.  It's much easier to relax in a bare, dimly lit room.
  • Right now, I can't stream the videos on my TV so I have to watch them from my laptop.  It's kind of crummy, but hopefully I'll get that fixed soon.
  • My apartment has carpet which isn't ideal for yoga, but hopefully I won't be there too much longer and that will be fixed soon as well!
All in all, I'm pretty happy and excited about it.  I suggest you check it out for yourself if you're interested.

June 30, 2011

The Castrating of America

A few things happened in the past couple of weeks that brought about the rant that you are about to read.  One is that I sent my iPod through the washing machine, sadly destroying it and the musical library that I had spent two years building.  Not ready to face the daunting task of rebuilding my library on the new iPod, I have elected instead to spend my commute for the past week or two listening to the Savage Love podcast

The second is the recent news that New York state has just legalized same-sex marriage.

The third is the reading of this article, which was posted on Chris' facebook wall.  For those who don't want to read it, essentially the article is about the Supreme Court protecting the First Amendment right to free speech as it applies to (sometimes extreme) violence in video games, but not extending it to protect nudity in those same games.

It has brought up an issue that has always bothered me, which is the sex-negative and sex-phobic culture in the USA.  Living in Canada, we can be thankful that our country is slightly more progressive in allowing things like same-sex marriage, but we are exposed to so much American culture that I worry about the possible ramifications for us of the puritanical shift that the States seems to be experiencing right now...especially while we have a Conservative government in power.

Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty
An recent issue that really illustrates what I am talking about is the resignation of Anthony Weiner.  This man is (was) a politician who was caught texting pictures of his genitals to women other than his wife.  This resulted in him having to face public humiliation, be publicly labelled as a sicko and a pervert, and eventually caused him to step down from his job (even though over half of his constituents, when polled, said that they would prefer that he stay in office).

Let's be honest with each other for a minute.  Who among us can honestly say that we have never been on the giving or receiving end of sexual pictures, or sexual text, or crossed the line with someone other than our spouses?  Anthony Weiner is not a pervert for sexting.  He is just like millions of other people around the world, getting their rocks off with the help of social media.  The difference is that he was the target of a right-wing witch hunt and his shenanigans got exposed (no pun intended).  The link that I provided above is actually to a news article stating that he is going into "intensive rehab."  For what?  For sexting pictures of his junk to a few chicks?  Well then I think we need to institutionalize every male between the ages of about 15 to 99, because news flash: they're all doing it.  As Dan Savage said in the Savage Love podcast #244 (and I'm paraphrasing): if we are going to force the resignation of every politician who engages in this sort of activity, we're going to be in real trouble in twenty or thirty years.  All of the seventeen year olds who are taking pictures of themselves and sending it to their high school girlfriends today are the politicians of the future.  We'll be hard pressed (again, no pun intended) to find anyone in the future who has NEVER engaged in this sort of activity.

It's the same issue raised regarding the impeachment hearings of Bill Clinton.  It absolutely astounds me that the USA would seek to impeach their president for engaging in an extra-marital sex act, but would not do so for another president who stripped his constituents of their civil liberties, created an unjustified war that resulted in the deaths of thousands of soldiers, and committed war crimes.

The backward shift to a more puritanical sexual society is also evidenced in the recent defunding of Planned Parenthood in the US on the basis that the organization provides abortions.  This scares the shit out of me.  Planned Parenthood may have provided abortion services, but they also provided invaluable information about sex, including contraception and STI prevention.  A lot of people fought very hard so that women today have the right to choose what they do with their own bodies.  I used to be of the mindset that once these rights are in place there is no one who could take them away from us, but I'm no longer so sure.

And what about the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in New York?   It's huge news for sure, but I think that it's ridiculous that it has taken this long.  I really want to know why.  Why is this even an issue?  Why is it such a problem if two men or two women are married to each other?  Why are we so concerned with what other people are doing in their bedrooms?  Because it will bring about the demise of marriage as we know it?  Honestly, who can look at the statistical data on marriage and divorce as it stands today and logically claim that marriage is a successful institution?  I guess the same person who somehow draws a link between the number of single mothers in America and same sex marriage

Back to the Time article that inspired this post and the fact that in the US, violence is protected under the First Amendment and nudity isn't.  Why is nudity pornography but violence not?  I cannot understand how it is more morally reprehensible to have a teenage boy look at a pair of naked breasts than it is to have him engage, in great gory detail, in acts of ├╝ber-violence where he participates in the maiming, torturing and killing of a video game character.  Please, someone explain that to me.

The question that I keep coming back to is "why".  Why is premarital sex or non-monogamy or homosexuality so scary? I don't understand how nudity and sexuality has somehow superseded violence as the calamity that is going to bring the downfall of our civilization.  It is so heartbreaking to see the hate spewed by right wing politicians and religious leaders, a good number of whom have later been discovered to be engaging in the very activities that they condemn. 

The effort and sincerity with which the right wing politicians and their followers are working at condemning all sex other than straight, marital, monogamous sex, is truly frightening to me.  Although the hypocrisy is astounding, the message is being sent.  They have the passion of their convictions, and if we don't have an equal passion for ours, I'm scared that we are going to lose the fight.

June 23, 2011

Retro Heartthrob: Dylan McKay

Okay, ladies! (and gentlemen I suppose).  As promised, a post to get things fired up on the old blog.  Welcome back to heartthrob land.  Location?  Beverly Hills, 90210.

It was the early 90's.  I was heading towards my teenage years, ushered in with the help of Sassy magazine and the music of Wilson Phillips.  There was a new show on TV that chronicled the lives of "teenagers" in Beverly Hills.  I was pretty much in awe of how cool they all were, but in particular my young pre-teen heart was stolen by the angsty Dylan McKay.

What can I say about Dylan?  He was a tortured soul, the product of a dad who was imprisoned for fraud and a hippy mom who abandoned him when he was young.  He lived by himself in a hotel (cool!!), was an alcoholic in high school (so tortured!!) and underneath his bad boy persona, really just wanted someone to love him.  He was bad enough to be unattainable but vulnerable enough to be redeemable.  Hey, wait a minute.  This is sounding familiar...

Dylan was the middle of a love triangle between naive, northwestern Brenda and snobby, rich Californian Kelly.  Damn how I wished I could be either one of them.  Well, not Brenda because her eyes were crooked and she was always bitching about something. 

Dylan was cool and rich and didn't take shit from anybody and drove a motorbike and still had enough awesomeness left over to be a charming and attentive boyfriend.  He looked like James Dean and when he talked you could just feel the pain behind his words.  Yup, he was your classic bad boy in need of some healing.  And there's nothing that a woman likes more than a man she can heal.  (Side note: am I ever getting a revealing glimpse into the rationale behind the majority of my dating history).

I wanted him in the worst way, even though he was easily in his thirties when I was just a teenager.  A lot of girls were "Brandon" girls, but not me.  I didn't want the goody goody who went to AA after having his first drink. I wanted the guy who did coke and played with guns and cheated on his girlfriend.  Oh yeah...so bad.  (Of course, once I passed the age of 16 I realized that guys like that aren't angsty and cool, they're just kind of assholes).

So, a salute to Dylan McKay...bad boy of Beverly Hills.  May your fridge always be stocked with mini-bottles of liquor and may your hair remain spiked with gel.

June 19, 2011

My Dad

One more sad post, and then I promise I'll write about something fun, like hot guys or babies or cookies or something.

Well, Father's Day is here.  As if you couldn't tell by the ads and signs EVERYWHERE urging you to buy your dad a tie or some golf tees or a new TV to prove to him your love.  This year, Father's Day is especially poignant for me because it is the first Father's Day since my dad died.  Every time I see an ad that says something like, "Is your Dad the best?" it makes my heart hurt a little bit.

I can't buy my dad anything this Father's Day (not like he ever needed any of the crap I used to get him anyway).  Instead of buying him a gift, I would like to use this blog post to thank him for the gifts that he has given me.

I'm reminded of my dad every time I look in the mirror.  He gave me my round face and over sized head.  I learned from him the ability to get along with anyone (if I want to).  I am my dad when I stick out my tongue as I do something difficult, or get water all over the front of my shirt as I'm washing dishes, or get really, really excited about something.  My dad helped me develop an appreciation for Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix (although sorry, Dad...I'll never get into that Syd Barrett crap).  He gave me my sarcastic sense of humour and interest in true crime and he taught me that history doesn't have to be boring.  He made me believe that spontaneous human combustion could be real.  To this day, whenever I'm watching something that I'm cynical of, I hear his voice telling me, "You're seeing it happen."

My dad was quiet and funny and the type of guy that you just couldn't help but like.  He was smart and kind and politically incorrect and would let you know his opinion on anything that you asked him about.  He loved his dogs and he hated the census.  He loved football and movies and had a DVD collection that rivalled any that I have ever seen.  He took great pride in his home, and I think owned everything The Bombay Company ever produced.  My dad was just a really great guy.  If you ask anyone who knew him, they would say it too.  "Oh Al, he's such a good guy."

My dad wasn't perfect, but nobody is.  We didn't talk as often as I would have liked, but that was as much my fault as his.  I choose not to think of the ways that he let me down, because I'm sure I let him down just as often.  I hope he knew how much I loved him and how important he was to me, even though he wasn't a big part of my life in the past few years.

So Dad...thank you for everything.  You taught me so much and I see you in so much of who I am.  I think about you all the time, and hope that wherever you are there is a big screen TV with lots of football and movies to watch, and your dogs are all there by your side.  I love you.

To all of you out there in blog land, whether your dad is here or not, this Father's Day I would suggest to take the time to thank your dad for what he has given you.  If he is alive, tell him.  I guarantee it will mean more to him than that tie clip you were considering.