Wednesday, October 27, 2010

RIP Paul the Octopus

Paul the Octopus is dead . I’m actually feeling a little sentimental, three blog posts this lovely Octopus provided me, as well as enchanting a generation with his uncanny ability to predict football matches. Some times the things we love are taken before their time.

I think the sentiment is best summarized by his agent (yes agent) when he said

"It's a sad day. Paul was rather special but we managed to film Paul before he left this mortal earth,"

It’s a very weird world we live in isn’t it!

Meryl xx

Full story here

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rob Ford

 Things that Mayor Rob Ford has said:

On the Homeless

While berating an anti-poverty activist - "Do you have a job, sir? I'll give you a newspaper to find a job, like everyone else has to do between 9 and 5

On Aids

Ford argued against the city spending $1.5 million on AIDS prevention programs. Ford stated that - "(AIDS) is very preventable," and that "if you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn't get AIDS probably, that's bottom line."

What about women you ask?

With respect to the increasing rates of women contracting the disease, Ford said; "How are women getting it? Maybe they are sleeping with bisexual men."

On being racist (ok fine on work ethic)

Those Oriental people work like dogs. They work their hearts out ... that's why they're successful in life. ... I'm telling you, Oriental people, they're slowly taking over, because there's no excuses for them. They're hard, hard workers."

On Cyclists

Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it's their own fault at the end of the day.

So it is always the cyclists fault?

Ford was arrested in Miami for driving under the influence (DUI) and marijuana possession charges

How has this happened? How has Rob Ford won Major of Toronto? I didn’t vote for him, I imagine normal, forward thinking people didn’t vote for him so I am going to have to conclude that they counted the votes in bizarro land where up is down and left it right.

What is worse than any of this is that I realize the majority of people in Toronto right now will be offended by this? Because for some reason the majority of people in Toronto decided that it didn’t matter that the man is completely bigoted idiot arsehole with a insistently red face and asked him to run the city anyway?! I honestly feel I could change the top sentence of this blog to things you’d say if you were an arse and all of them would still apply.

It all makes me really sad, really really really sad


Paranormal Activity 2 - eek

So it is scaaary. No I haven’t misspelled it, it is so scary that it actually needs those extras a’s just to clarify it is in a class all of its own. I don’t know how impartial I can be in terms of reviewing this film because poltergeists and things jumping out at me have always been on my list of things that keep me awake at night.  I was a mess after the first film and it kept me up for a good three days. Sleep deprived I managed to convince myself the local cat was following me and told my roommate it was throwing malicious looks my way as if it knew something I didn’t. 

Everyone that saw me in the aftermath of Paranormal Activity 1 could not understand why I would want to go and see the follow up film. To answer them, I like to imagine it’s a similar notion to lining up for a rollercoaster ride, every time you go on it scares you but somehow this doesn’t prevent you from going on again. I managed to rope my friend Katrine in to going with me last night but gave her ample warning that I would going to be a pathetic mess and a bit of a liability while I was at the theatre. Strangely she still agreed to go and at 7pm we found ourselves walking down to the Magic Lantern wishing farewell to regular sleep and peace of mind.

As if I needed any help being completely freaked out we walked into the little theatre and noticed the place was pretty empty. Standing ready to great us was a young happy looking fellow who sold us our tickets and laughed brazenly at us as we quipped about our new form of self harm. As we paid for our concessions (yes Katrine decided to buy popcorn for the horror film?) I noticed he double backed around us, and when we walked to towards the screening rooms, there he was waiting to take the tickets he had just sold to us.  Having eerie flashbacks to the shinning I wondered if perhaps this gentlemen was going to play every role at the theatre and be every staff member we met and I kept my eye on him as we walked towards theatre number 9.

The theatre was empty when we walked in, which was strange as we hadn’t arrived early. Minutes later the lights dimmed and I wondered how on earth I’d ended up watching a movie that was about to screw with my head in an empty theatre with a job morphing, slightly psycho looking theatre worker as my only reassurance that help was near by. Nevertheless we persevered.

The film lulls you into a lovely sense of calm for the first twenty minutes or so, but immediately informs you that the events you are seeing happen before those shown in Paranormal Activity 1. The characters are introduced immediately starting with footage of baby Hunter fresh from the hospital looking slightly squishy and being welcomed to his new home.  His doting parents Kristi and Dan as well as Dan’s daughter from a previous marriage run around the house excited by the new addition to the family. Hunter is introduced to his new nanny Martine and the family dog Abby and all in all you get the sense that this is a very normal, very ‘people next door’ family. 

The cameras you see in all the trailers get installed in the house after an apparent break-in at the home, although nothing is actually stolen and it from these monitors that you get to see the rest of the film unfold. The big shocker comes when Kristi’s sister Katie comes over and you realize that this is Katie, as in ‘scary I’m possessed by a demon monster and go missing’ Katie from the first film.  I think it was at this point my eyes opened wide enough to swallow my face, it was a great way to tell the audience things were going to be crazy. I won’t say very much more as I wouldn’t want to ruin the film for those that haven’t seen it, but they intertwine the two stories really really well.

The film slowly begins to escalate and the director Tod Williams manages to make every creak and every movement bone tinglingly scary. Slamming doors make your heart want to stop, and Hunters continued concentration on things behind the camera filming him make shivers run up and down your spine like the proverbial blind mice.

There are about three moments where you think you are going to die, like you literally wonder if your heart can take this much stress without just giving up and killing you and I think there was an equal three moments when I asked Katrine to hold my hand. It turns out that being in the theatre alone has its advantages and we were squeaking a squealing without threat of embarrassment or judgement. Of course when I say ‘we’ I mean me, but there were a couple of moments where I think Katrine joined me on the ‘I’m never going to sleep again’ train.  The ending is brilliant and unexpected right up until it happens, and at no point did you feel the usual this is all a bit silly feeling that most horror films finish up with. 

Trembling we walked out the theatre but it wasn’t long until I regained some composure. The film is scary but I was more prepared for that this time, so afterwards I felt more relieved it was over than panicked something was going to get me. Don’t get me wrong the sequel is as scary as it predecessor I just think my management of it is more adept.

I would highly recommend watching the film, especially as Halloween is upon us. It’s a proper chiller, no real gore or guts just good old fashioned things that go bump in the night but if you do go I would not recommend doing it alone.

Hope you are all well

Love and Kisses


PS: In a more reality based kind of scary…Rob Ford is mayor?!?! How could this of happened? More on that tomorrow.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Algonquin Park

So I must have made over a hundred jokes about dying in the forest yesterday but strangely enough we all made it out of there alive.  Jean, my new favorite photographer took some members of her photography class out to Algonquin Park on Sunday and even though I only have a slightly pathetic looking digital camera, the long lensed, light metered real photographers let me come along.

It was a little cold, but I can see why people head up to Algonquin at this time of the year, the colours are spectacular. Rapidly changing trees look as if they contain tiny fires crackling the length of their branches. Golds, browns, burnt oranges and reds litter themselves among the evergreens, creating a plethora of colour just ready to be captured on film. It’s strange, as you pass them in the car the trees look as if they are spinning revealing layer upon layer of delicious autumn hue. It was intoxicating and I was ready to give up my life in the city and stay among the foliage.

Of course then I got hungry and cold and as pointed out by the class there are no Tim Horton’s in the woods. We went on a 5.9k hike which I insist should actually be considered 6K considering we had to double back to the huge muddy bog to find Jen’s sunglasses, but even slime covered feet and shoes couldn’t damper my excitement to see such spectacular sights.

It was like slipping into a painting, brushstrokes of colour surrounded us the whole day, even the mushrooms joined in stretching from bright white (which are the ones that will kill you) to red toadstools complete with fairy like white dots. Katrine, my non photog buddy bought a mushroom book from the park store which provided us entertainment both identifying the mushrooms and forcing each other to take on some of the more ridiculous mushroom names, although her ability to track mushrooms with such aplomb earnt her the name truffle pig, which kind of stuck for most of the day.

Autumn has got to be my favorite season; it is so magnificent a canvas for the weather. Even as the leaves die and cascade from the trees they are picked up by the wind and swirled all around us, I got such Pocahontas flashbacks I think I may have started greeting people with Wingupo instead of hello – of course by ‘may have’, I mean I definitely did do it.

I would like to take this moment to say thankyou to Amy, Katrine, Jose, Jen and most of all our lovely guide Jean for what can only be described as a magical day. I’m excited to see all the photographs from the day especially from our more advanced photographers but I’ve put one of mine up for now so you guys can see how beautiful the place really is

Happy Monday

Meryl xx

Friday, October 1, 2010

Carpe Diem

My top five films are always changing, and why shouldn't they the world keeps putting them out and constant re-evaluation of one's top five lists is a necessary part of keeping up with the new. But no matter how many films they put out there the one film to remain steadfast even as I grow and learn is the Dead Poets Society. Does this resign me to the Robin Williams films are for girls catagory? Maybe, but it is a small price to pay to be able to shout YAWP at the top of my lungs and understand it is the very underpinnings of non-conformity.

For years I worried about being different, I worried that my over active mind and underactive filter system would forever make me a freak, it kind of did but here was a film that told me most men lived lives of quiet desperation and I'd rather be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.

I always imagine Carpe Diem to be the sentiment of a generation, of course our newest group of young people are more likely to subscripe to phases like 'that's hot' or 'just do it'. Carpe Diem is a marketing exec's dream come true. A phrase that represents the underlying fear that we will run out of time to do the things we want. If people are afraid of death it can only be because they feel it will come too soon, but if we make the most of everyday surely we can keep that fear at bay, at least long enough to realize that death is only scary because we love life.

The Dead Poets Society is so sad because it represents the dispair of wanting to do something and being unable to do it, but in actuality are the people keeping us from our dreams mearly ourselves? There are so many barriers to being a free thinker and not small ones either, fear, life, isolation why would you want to think outside the box if everyone relatable is sitting inside. It is impossible not to worry what others think of us, ok it isn't, but it is damn hard and rejection is always a good reminder that putting all your hopes and dreams into one thing can lead to dissapointment.

I have come to believe that being strong comes from working through disapointment and from enjoying the bad as much as you can from worrying less about what people think of you and more what what you think of yourself. Strength comes from pushing forward when all you want to do is retreat. Carpe Diem, sieze the day, it doesn't mean that if you do it will end well, it just means you did it anyway. Or more elequently put 'to gather ye rosebuds while you may'.

Perhaps this is just the poet in me struggling to get free, the elequent rearrangement of words to give them more meaning. I refuse to live a life of quiet desperation and if the only way to do that is to be loud about it, then that is what I will do. People always talk about not wanting to put their thoughts into words and I understand why, as a race we are continuously looking to save face. If we leave our hopes and dreams in our heads no-one will know if they don't come true.

When Niel's father asks him what it is he feels it is the one chance he has to verbalize what he wants to do, and he backs down because in the end he doesn't feel like it could ever happen. If there was ever a message to learn from Mr Keating it was that anything is possible that you can't let anyone tell you that it's not.

O'Captin my Captin