Agents of Shield – Birdkillers

I was watching this week’s episode of Agents of Shield and an evil genius has rounded up a bunch of criminally insane super Villains,  like so many comic books plots from history.

An ugly man takes off his BAIN type face mask and yells a loud screen in the middle of a football field.  So loud it seems,  that the director wasn’t pleased with a normal yell, and hired animators to CGI his face,  and allow for a distorted mega jaw that opened wide enough to fill with a watermelon.

It’s conveniently a football field,  because we’re already so conditioned to judge distances in this metric.  Anything bigger than a car is always compared to a football field or two. It seems we all know how big one football field is. 

In this scene, the players are standing at one end,  and they drop to the ground when the roar reaches them.  A moment later,  all the cheerleaders at the other end of the field drop as well.  Another moment passes, and all the black birds in the sky fall to the ground too. A dramatic scene.

I was impressed at the accuracy of this timing, and the attention to detail.  The birds all fell while in flight,  so of course they fell at an angle.  In many other films,  animals dropping from the sky open fall straight down,  like rain without wind. Flying birds wouldn’t drop straight down.  Perhaps raining cats and dogs would be more vertical,  but birds would flow this way,  and in random intervals.

They did well. I liked it enough to pause and blog.

This is what my brain thinks about when I watch TV.  Inside my brain is a DVD commentary of imagination. I can almost hear the director discussing various options, and imagine the back stage arguments and discussions with the effects crew. 

The sound of dropping birds was also impressive. It was a soft thud, aided by the fact that they were all hitting the same soft green AstroTurf surface.

I wondered to myself what the budget must have been for this scene. It went by quickly, and it wasn’t clear whether they used 50 real birds, or added them in digitally, but either way, it was an expensive 3 seconds. An average Agents of Shield episode has a number of special digital effects you’d expect, like whenever they use their special red corvette or invisible jets, but to me – a bunch of dead birds was equally impressive.

I didn’t remember to watch if the end credits were there to assure us all,  no actual birds were harmed during the filming of this episode.  That was how they would have done it in the 70’s.

 

Pauseandblog : I Zombie

iZombie is a new show on The CW.

I like the comic book style credits they use to do scene transitions and some effects that would be too costly to work out. It’s a great idea.  It makes me believe this may be based on a comic.  I didn’t bother to look up whether it is or not.

At the first commercial break,  this episode has already shown us a sex act,  and then described it again in a recapped vision memory.  It was a very sexy first chapter,  even if described by a zombie. They’re grabbing our attention early it seems.  On the older prime time shows,  the sex scenes are in the 45 minute chapter. It’s actually funny if you go channel surfing at 9:45 through network prime time.  Everyone is in bed… including much of the audience it seems.

It occurs to me that this show is hitting a younger age demographics for a cop show.  All too often,  the police solving murder mystery shows are appealing to an older audience.  NCIS is even jokingly referred to appeal to the same audience MATLOCK used to. A much older crowd. When I heard that, I stopped watching it, just to appear younger.  iZombie is more like Nancy Drew than NCIS.  Of course, that sentence certainly doesn’t make me feel young at all. Nobody young knows who Nancy Drew is anymore.

Teenagers don’t watch cop shows.  They watch Zombie shows,  and zombie shows with sex scenes may broaden their audience.  The fact they solve crime makes them almost like a super hero with special powers – not a cop show.

In the second act,  we see the Zombie’ special powers.  She not only gets visions and memories of the dead person who’s brains she eats, but she actually develops bits of their personality.  In this week’s show, she’s learned to appreciate art,  and women.  It starts off quite subtle at first, especially if you didn’t see episode one.  I almost missed the bit where she was enamoured with a women the dead man had slept with.  By the time of commercial break,  they’ve gone past the subtle, and made it more obvious for the whole audience by explaining it in the narrative.  She even implied that some of the powers she earns stay with her.  She can now speak Spanish,  and paint.

As a 50 year old man,  I’ve lived a lot of generations and seen how society picks new things to learn and improve upon each decade or so.  From before I was born,  we started figuring out things society was doing wrong, and we try to correct them.  In many cases, this kind of change is slow, and still ongoing.  Classic social blunders like slavery and race bigotry, rights for women,  and more recently,  gay rights.  We’re improving,  even if slowly.  Sadly bad parents teach their kids bad habits,  so it’s taking more than one full cycle of everyone dyeing off to eradicate bad behavior. A current hop topic of evil is rape, and in this episode, our third sex scene; more of an attempted rape is tackled. A handsome man moves past consent in such a casual way, as to lead me to believe this is way more common than most people understand.

It was this scene that actually inspired me to pause the playback and start this blog. It’s only quite recently that society has chosen to highlight a rape culture as our newest wrong to right. Media is strongly doing it’s best to bring to my attention how horrible men can be. With luck, scenes like this will help start a conversation or two, especially if boyfriends and girlfriends watch shows like this together. 

Since I’m writing while the show is paused, I have not yet seen how this attempted rape resolves itself in iZombie. I hope she doesn’t go “full on zombie mode”  and just kill this guy, and eat his brains, however I suspect a lot of women wish they could.  I can’t fully imagine how being raped must feel but I have been bullied before, and held down powerless to do anything but panic. I will say it does change your perspective on life and trust. There are few worse fears than being helpless in the control of an attacker. I hate knowing that kind of evil is so common.

I have to wonder whether watching it happen like this in so many shows and movies, is working for or against the idea.  I suppose it alerts me the problem is far worse than they may realize,  but whether it deters rapists or enables them is yet to be determined.

I unpause and watch. 

She doesn’t kill him.  She defends herself, hurts him slightly,  and runs away.  I fear that is the real problem.  While I don’t 100% guarantee that a rape attempt always justifies a life changing death sentence or imprisonment for all,  I do believe a suitable hard punishment should be exacted on anyone who bullies and overpowers,  sexual and/or otherwise. In my universe crimes against trust are the worst crimes of all.  Society needs to be able to trust ton survive,  and the more it deteriorates,  the more we all lose.

The last scene is used to further the overall love storyline the series will eventually persue.  Her comic style narrative is written to take the episode and relate to the many struggling teens who may feel of themselves as a zombie,  free of emotion. 

I’ll keep watching.

Wahlburgers Toronto

My review.

http://wahlburgers.ca/ 

This is basically a hamburger place where you sit and order from menus. It’s downtown in the trendy Entertainment district across from Wayne Gretskys 99 Blue Jays way.

This is the restaurant based on the reality TV show Wahlburgers, run by three of the Wahlburg brothers you can see in movies and TV.

10431714_301517326707797_5379568774920475092_n[1]The place is well designed, possibly by a set designer rather than a restaurant designer. It has a lot of seating on two floors, and when it opened at 11:30am there was already a slight line up. It filled within a few minutes and people were standing by noon. I love the green everywhere, including the most amazing green chairs, which were so light you could lift them with a finger. They are actually the exact same chairs (except green) that are seen in virtually every single cop show interrogation room. Notice the next time you watch. They all use the same chairs.

11000350_348770018649194_3915658038359876000_n[1]The menu is basic. Burgers, fries and a few sandwich alternatives. I ordered what I thought was the biggest single patty and so did everyone else. I remembered to say; No sauce. I had the option of fries instead of rings or TATER TOTS, which I was very tempted to ask for. I hinted to the waiter I’d tip better of he brought me one or two – just to try, and he did. They were exactly as I remembered from my younger days. McCains brand probably.

The onion rings are not onion rings at all, and if I liked Onion Rings, I’d be surprised and disappointed. They’re more like loose wet fried onions. When the burgers arrived, we commented how small they looked. Yikes. Even smaller than Burger’s Priest I’d say. 1/3 pound, but presented tall, rather than wide. They fit on little buns and looked almost like a slider.

In the end, they filed me up OK and with a tasty clean oil fries side, I enjoyed the meal. The burger comes on a nice fresh bun that is unique, although it reminded me a bit of Fuddruckers, and the flavour of the burger was good. A little like the Priest flavor, but not exactly. The taste was good and not overpowered by their fresh green lettuce, tomato, cheese or sliced cucumbers.

All in all a unique, tasty flavour that stayed with me for a few hours. Good burps. Mmmm.

After finishing, I found you can order an 8oz burger not on the menu. I wish I’d known.

I might not ever make a special trip just for this place, especially with $20 parking, but if I am nearby it is a solid choice. Now I may watch the show.

(Photography from their official Facebook web site)

Pauseandblog CSI CYBER

I started watching last nights new CSI series with no expectations. I was curious at most, but didn’t spend any time pre thinking about it. I just turned it on and watched the first scene. A child abduction.

The first thing I noticed was the father of the child sleeps in his glasses. I even paused and rewound to establish he really was asleep.  Weird,  I thought. Do people actually do that?

Next we see the baby missing, first on the bedroom babycam,  which was emitting faint voices, and then in reality.  Typical mother scream of panic and then a zoom shot of the babycam making those same noises, which traditionally doesn’t happen so much anymore.  In the old days, baby monitors used to pick up cordless phone conversations regularly, but not for a decade or so.

On the next scene, we see the lead actress acting quite tough, steal the case from the experts on major crime and kidnapping, justifying this isn’t best served by the experience retrieval team, but instead, her CYBER division which seems to be so new, one guy starts his position in the next scene, and nobody in the police department has even heard of them.  I suppose a suspension of belief is required in all CSI series. The guy who traces the body and takes fingerprints really inst the same one interviewing suspects and talking to witnesses.

So the fact the the investigation is lead by the team that takes a webcam feed should not surprise me.  All of this, because the webcam was transmitting foreign voices.

This crime must be webcam related.

Despite this logic flaw,  I will continue to watch the rest of the show. I know in my heart,  it will get much worse.  They have not even played the opening credits yet, and I’m quite excited to see if it will be a song by the Who.

Unpause

Oh good. They did use The Who. Nice choice. This pleases me.

The team they put together is as demographically calculated as a boy band, trying to fit all the holes of fan types.  The fat guys,  cute girls,  black criminals and the had some guy.  There are three recognizable faces.  I’m not certain I’ll accept Patrica Arcettes non mother attitude,  but we’ll see if the rest of the show turns me off.

The story continues in CSI style, twisting the plot around from simple to complex, and the CYBER team perform fairly regular tech tasks like tracing phones, using GPS and finding SD memory cards with video of the crime, now detected as a babycam live auction for the missing baby. Essentially the team is doing the exact same stuff as any other mystery show, except the techs are the leads, rather than a hand off team usually off camera.

Unpause.

Every show on TV these days bends the future a little,  but I did find the scene where they listen to the auction audio after one of the techs flips a switch and says; all languages now translated and the sound is of the same loud, crowded yelling auction, only with the foreigners now shouting in accented English rather than German, Arabic, and Chinese. That’s more sophisticated than Star Trek translator.

I don’t know that Google will ever get to that point. Translation in their own voice, real time.  I think not,  but again,  I’m still watching.

Unpause

The next miracle they perform attempts to teach us game consoles keep track of every user,  but only so they can trap petofiles. How happy I am to hear this,  covering up any of the other emotions I may have when I accept every device is hackable.  This show could destroy the trust of America in the first episode. It’s more terrifying in some ways than a chainsaw horror film.

If we dismiss the technology in this show as future based science fiction, the premise is almost silly.  If we believe everything in this show is possible,  it’s scary.  I’m torn.

The show ends with a lot of traditional first episode morals and recaps, and even a parents basement joke. We see her deep life long obsession that will play out in serial storyline eventually as The Who plays them out.

A well produced CSI show that could go long, if accepted. I’m not sure I like the cast enough to keep in my weekly rotation,  but I’ll watch next week.

SNL Layers

I just finished watching this week’s 2014 Christmas edition of Saturday Night Live. It’s odd to feel cheated that hardly any celebrities showed up this year. The only cameos were three former SNL Characters – so far anyway.

The demographically perfect boy band One Direction is actually growing on me. They were not bad, as I expected, given that I’m over 40. It’s supposed to annoy me. I’m nearly grandpa age.

The sketch that made me stop the playback and blog, as the one set in the past, with three “dames” in a bar who seem quite bat-shit crazy. The conclusion actually had a way to explain it for a quality ending, at least to me. It made me smile. I won’t are it’s rare that I enjoy an SNL sketch through to the end, but it’s not unheard of. 

However, the part that most impressed me, was how hard the sketch must have been. This entire show has really had a lot of hard song and dance numbers. It always amazes me how well these talented people are able to pull a song and dance routine in 4 days, and still pull it off with precision.  In my head, from my history with community theatre, the first few weeks are still horrible… but I suppose 3 days is easier than 1 day every week for three weeks – in some ways.

 

The part that impressed me, was a swinging song sung by two of the women, and Ammie Adams. Although not dancing, the lyrics were jibber jabber read from cue cards and yet they sang all three together without error.  I want to believe it was a live take, because it’s Saturday Night Live, but back stage shows have implied some times they play the dress rehearsal versions.

In any case – they did it – twice. Well. It made me smile on two levels. Giving respect to the dedication and practice, or the amazing talent of people doing things I tell myself I could never do.

That kind of live comedy show with minimal rehearsal is an amazing skill. Saturday Night Live is a success because it’s done live. I hope that never changes.  All other sketch shows are comedy. Saturday Night Live is theatre.

It was always my dream. I never wanted Second City. I wanted to be on, or write for Saturday Night Live.

Since I can remember, I’ve liked scripts. I think it stemmed from my two first editions of the Holy Grail first draft and movie script, and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which I first read as the original radio show scripts.

With undiagnosed attention deficit disorder, I grew a fondness to sketch comedy rather than long form scripts. I wrote sketches. As a kid, I watched every single sketch comedy and variety shows on TV, and in the 70s, there were a lot.  Everyone had a variety show, and I watched them all, from Any Wiliams to Jim Stafford to Shields and Yarnell to Avery and Shriver and even the singers and Bobby Vinton too…

Saturday Night Live wasn’t just sketch comedy. It was theatre like my Mom did, up on a stage with fake sets and an audience. Plus, it was restricted to late night, so you had to be older that me to stay up late and see it.  I missed season 1 live, but starting with season 2, I don’t know that I ever missed an episode. Our early VCR was Beta, so I sometimes missed the the last 30 minutes, because they only recorded one our.  I fast forwarded past 70% of the musical acts I think. I love music, but live music on TV doesn’t’t hold my A.D.D interest past the first few bars when I see the set furnishing.

Number one on my buckers list has been Saturday Night Live for 30 years. I literally have dreams of being there, and have every year since I was 15. Usually something horrible happens… I had nightmares about giant lobsters that night.

I may have given up more than half the things I used to watch on TV. I’m watching less, and my PVR was filling, but I always like to watch Saturday Night Live each week I can, usually on Sunday.  Live-ish. I have never given up on them, and their Doctor Who-like cast changes. I’ve never complained about one cast over another.  I love the concept.

It’s similar to South Park, in turnaround. Each is about this week’s funny… and yet, they stand up in time.. at least a few a season make the highlight DVD for future generations.

Thank you Saturday Night Live,m for being a part of my life story, and tonight’s Blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bully Movie gets bullied – and we act shocked.

News story: SONY pulls THE INTERVIEW from it’s schedule. It will not release it on Christmas day because there is fear that North Korea may retaliate. The film is a comedy mocking their leader, and describing a plot to kill him. A plot not to unrealistic, and probably not far from the truth. The spy world has been known to use celebrities in the past.

MV5BMTQzMTcwMzgyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzAyMzQ2MzE@__V1_SX214_AL_I have written about our BULLY society in other blogs. This is an excellent example of a bully film, and the way one person (or a country) reacted. Not everyone accepts being bullied, or mocked in public with a chuckle. This news just broke, and the social media is starting to complain about how awful it is that a movie may be censored and we may not even get to see it because we’re afraid of how the North Korean leader may react. People are scared. Sony is scared.

There are always many ways to look at any situation. I may or may not believe the following rant fully, but there certainly is another viewpoint to be heard, and my brain always likes to think up both sides of any scenario. It does not surprise me that this film may not see release. When I first saw the ads for it months ago, I actually thought it was a parody, and not a real film. I couldn’t believe people would make such a mean cruel film.

Sadly, we live in a bully society where comedy often makes fun of people. Late night talk shows open with a constant flow of jokes attacking both famous people and innocents. YouTube sores to 6 million views when somebody falls down in the street in an embarrassing way. We laugh at them all. Slipping on a banana peel can make you world famous today.

A big publicity script that sends celebrity American spys to kill a foreign leader is a bully film when they use real names. I don’t understand how the concept was green lit to begin with. It’s a real man. If we made a film about how to kill Barack Obama, we might be thrown in jail, even if performed as a comedy.

This movie may have been equally funny had they made it a fictional country and a comical funny leader but they chose to actually make a film about trying to kill an existing sitting leader of an actual country, and mock him and make 90 minutes of jokes at his expence.

Then, everyone acts shocked when this upsets him. It is not totally surprising that a world leader, especially one known to be egotistical to the extreme, and one who values his image of power above all, would object and take action to stop it. This movie was a slap in the face bully move. Mean.

I’m not saying I agree with the terrorist-style atacks on Sony. I think the media treated them poorly too, and I agree with those who say it should not have been reported the way it was… but to say we are not even partually to blame is wrong. If you poke the bear, you can’t complain when the bear tries to eat you.

The Artist Thirds

I go to a lot of places where artists show their work. Not so much official art galleries, but smaller marketplaces and shows. Festivals and public displays where artists rent small booths and try to sell their paintings or jewelry or other hand made work. I enjoy these events and like the idea that I often get to talk directly to the artist creators in person. I almost never have the money to spare to buy this kind of artwork, and in many cases, even if I did, I probably would not. I don’t wear jewelry, and I don’t use pottery or trinkets much, but I still enjoy the conversation, and respect the artist skills.

One of the things I like to say to an artists, is that I believe they have 50% talent and 50% patience, and I don’t have enough of either to be like them. I offer respect to not only their skill, but the incredible time and dedication it takes to do what they do. I like to let them know I understand the time they put into their art is appreciated. I tell them when their work made me smile, and I understand it’s not all about the cash. I can’t give them money for whatever reason, but I can give them the gift of knowing their work made someone happy, and they are appreciated for the effort spent.

2014-12-14 14.12.01This past weekend, I was at event called; “The bizarre of the bizarre” and it showcased a more unusual or odd side of art. Lots of skulls, and twisted designs with weird styles. Stuffed plush Zombies and other sculptures and paintings that fit the description bizarre. Even if I didn’t like the content, I still wanted the artists to know I respected the work. I tried to compliment everyone on their skill, even if I didn’t especially like the blood and gore of the piece.  For the works that had obvious time consuming obsession, I used my line; “I always say an artist has 50% patience and 50% skill”. I certainly couldn’t sit still long enough to do this sort of thing.”  It often opens them up to talk a bit about how long it did take them.  More often than not, the effort is shocking, and you begin to realize artists need to do it. It is their expression and their passion and their release.  60 hours of work may only sell for $30.

I try to respect the craft, even when a small part of me sees artwork I consider easier. Things the back of my mind says; “I could do that” or even has the nerve to think; “I could do that better”. I know myself well enough to know the truth. Even if I could do the skill, I couldn’t do the patience. I’m, not great at discipline, and although I may be able to start such a project, my attention would wander and it would lay unfinished.

Sometimes art makes me sad in this way. Since I was a child playing mind games, I would often ask myself; if I could have one talent I don’t have, would it be to play music, or to be able to draw. I usually choose drawing. My life would be so different if I could draw. In truth of course, my life would be different either way. The life – and brain of an artist is different than mine. I should not be sad that isn’t me. An artist is a different kind of person, and al to often in the past, I have criticized or belittle it.

Today, this blog was inspired because I clicked a link, and was watching another one of those time lapse – or perhaps they call them hyper-lapse movies about the city I live in. A video set to music that showcases Toronto. There are a lot of them out there, and the first one you see is amazing. You watch it all. After the 5th one, they seem similar, but no less special. Just less watchable for me. I not only lack the patience to be such an artist., I sometimes lack the patience to be a spectator too.

In any case, this time I watched the video with a sadness. In my head, I was thinking that photography is one of the easier art forms. A specialty of seeing, and using technology to capture a mood. I was a photographer. I had training, and an excellent eye. I had equipment. I was good – years ago. As I watched this video, I didn’t see anything spectacular. I just say photos, and video clips set to music. The package was pleasing but (in my head) nothing I could not do. It made me sad I could not be an artist, even when I had the pure skills.  I was missing something.  Not just patience, but the ego. The confidence.

I herby amend my standard artiest breakdown statement.  An artist is more than 50% patience and 50% skill.  I will now split them into thirds, and add the third that is perhaps most key;  1/3 confidence.  A true artist not only has the skill and the ability, but the ego to say their finished product is art. Many people can play the guitar, but only some have the inner confidence to call it art.  Many people can build a sand castle, or turn a pottery wheel, or take a photograph, but some of us – rare special people, call it art – and stick a price tag on it. In some cases, the ego is so powerful, it borders on arrogance, but even bad artists have fans. If you tell me your drawing of a dog is art, I believe you.

No matter how bizarre it may be.

Art is patience, talent and an attitude.  Artists have a mindset.

So now there are three reasons I don’t think of myself as an artist, and that’s ok. I know I’m good at things they may not be. Maybe they can’t remove a virus off their artist computer, or design their own web site. Maybe they even think to themselves late at night; “Gee… I wish I understood Windows 8 like that guy does.” In their eyes, they may even think I have such patience, talent and confidence when they watch me zip my mouse around the screen.

Everyone is different, even when we’re the same.

 

 

 

 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy – Memories of Mom

I didn’t get to see Guardians of the Galaxy when it came out in the theatres

As is often the case these days, I just missed out.  I didn’t invite anybody, or join any others events.  I was out of sync with the crowd. I’m too old to stay up for the late shows and to grumpy, or to wait in line for hours anymore.

I do enjoy movies, and there are some I’ll still pay to see opening night. Star Wars and Star Trek for sure.

Guardians probably was one worth seeing on the movie screen.

During its release, my mother’s health was on the decline,  and she died.  I was given some advance notice,  which oddly,  I chose to ignore. Almost as if in my mind I was denying it,  and imagining this was just another example of my sister crying wolf. My mother had been close to death a few times over the past few years.  I assumed this was another time like that.

I actually didn’t know what paliative care was when my sister told me about it. I didn’t realize my sister was telling me the end was near, for real.  She was giving me the opportunity to be there,  or at least to Facetime or Skype, and see her again.

000_0005Like every family, mine has its own story.  I loved my mother to be sure, but I’ve had trouble comparing what we had, to what I considered the norm. As with everything, I over obsessed over the kinds of things others might call emotions.  Oddly, I’d describe us as a close family that really didn’t know anything about each other. We spent time together, but didn’t really discuss anything personal. I knew little about my parents history.

As they began to lose their memories, they moved away to BC when they needed more attention and supervision than I was able to provide with weekend visits.  I made it out to see them a few times, and was happy to visit them both of them just before my father’s passing. This was when they still knew who I was.  I came back home,  and never saw either of them again.  We talked on the phone at Christmas and birthdays until it was clear they didn’t know they had a son at all.

As they deteriorated, both my sisters cared for them for a turn, but towards the end , became a major part of my older sister life. She was the caretaker of my parents till the end. I will always be grateful to her for that task. It was a chore I could not manage.

mom christmas 2013Two or do weeks after my mother’s passing,  I started to occasionally wrestle with guilt, not so much concerning my mother, but more about how I might be judged for the way I handled her end of life time.  When I was the one in Ontario, and visiting them as their son once a week, I thought about it as a chore.  As their memories started to fade, they needed me even more, and I was unhappy to do it. It was hard. I watched new anger in my father as he transitioned from the cool,  smart minded solver of any problem, to angry at his new status as useless Dad.  I never liked seeing my father angry.  Anger in people upsets me so deeply,  I feel the need to run away from it.

As they got worse, I bailed,  and shipped them off to the other side of the country. My sisters would have the reasonability.

I continued to live my life, free of my parents judgmental eyes.  I will admit;  life without parents was easier for me.  It provided one less stress to deal with inside my depressed,  obsessive,  low self esteem brain.

When given the opportunity to do more for them, I declined. When given the opportunity to visit, I stalled. When given the opportunity to say goodbye,  I was dismissive. I gave it no priority, and we’re it not for my sister, would not have tried.  

My sister called me a few times, and finally reached me as she held the phone up to my mother’s ear. I was able to say hello.  She didn’t talk back, and probably had to be told she had a son,  and that his voice was on the phone.  She was obviously older and more unhealthy than the last time we spoke, perhaps last Christmas, but I did not full comprehend this was goodbye. 

To be honest,  I had said goodbye when she knew me,  and I’d moved on. I didn’t think much about it.  As far as any relationship was concerned, for me my parents had died long before. I had successfully dealt with my father’s death with minimal emotion or guilt. 

I retained pretty happy memories of my mother,  who was happy till the end,  at least as far as I knew.  She wore her big hats and costume jewelry every day,  and when she didn’t know her own memories,  she freely created her own stories of fiction, delivered with enthusiasm and charm.  I remember she had lunch with the prime minister one week. My father didn’t do as well.  He was much more angry or sad, and often talked about death and suicide. Although he was capable of showing some moments of happiness in the moment, it was clear he wasn’t happy.

My mother’s finality effected me more. I didn’t set aside time to cry,  but I did get weepy spontaneously a few times.  Having to tell people the story over and over keeps it fresh, and it triggers memories each time.  In my everyday life, I have missed both of them often. I have sadness we won’t get to make new memories,  and so I cherish the ones I’ve retained. Whenever I complete something I feel some pride in, I’m sad they didn’t get to see or share that. I think my mother would have loved to follow me on Facebook. 

Death of your parents however does transition your thinking.  Like Thanksgiving weekend is the time when a lot of people start thinking about Christmas,  death of a loved one is the trigger to start thinking about your mortality.  It is weird to think that I am older than the memories I have of my parents being. Everything we did together, we did when they were younger than I am now.  That’s a weird realization. My parents died having lived longer than my grandparents. All my memories or Grandpa and Gramdma seem so long ago, but they always seemed so very old. I never got to spend time with my old parents.

My mother was an old grandmother to her only granddaughter, but to her,  my mom was the old loose skinned lady that didn’t always know who she was. She never had the stories of great vacations or stay-overs with her Grandmother.

I’m happy my memories of my parents are of the good times. Despite some troubles, I have mostly good memories from my childhood, and my parents did a fine job raising me to be a son worthy of their pride, even when they didn’t remember me.

 I journalize some thoughts about my mom tonight,  tearing slightly but smiling mostly.

All of this happened because I sat down to watch Guardians of the Galaxy at home,  and the opening scene is all about a son being bedside his ill and deathbed mother.  I turned it off,  and wrote all this. I am glad I didn’t see this in the theatre. It would have been worse to feel like this in a theatre with friends.

The universe provides.

P.S. Mom… I promise, even after death, I won’t tell anybody what the G stands for. Your secret will die with me.

Scripted improv

(A silly play about live improve, for 5 players.  Two players come out onto a blank stage in casual wear. Any background is acceptable.)

A: Hello Cleveland!  We are Robin and Chris and we are the opaque players. At this time Wed like to take a few suggestions from the audience, so that we can come up with some unscripted improv sketch comedy for you all tonight.

B: yeah yeah yeah… It’s kind of like live action Mad Lib’s.

A: What? What the heck is Mad Libs?

madlibsB: you know, Mad Libs. That party game.

 A: Why would you need to say that? Everybody knows how improve works. Nobody knows what Mad Libs is. If you’re going to use an analogy it shouldn’t be more obscure than what’s it’s being used to describe. That’s just stupid.

B: That’s mean. Don’t call me stupid. In improving, there are no wrong lines.

A: That’s stupid too. Improv is frequently bad. Horrid! Some people are just bad at it. They play a game of Mad Libs and suddenly they think that they’re Colin Mochrie all of a sudden. Hell, I’ve seen Colin Mochrie do bad improve.

B: Nobody knows who that is.

A: Well, I bet more people in the audience know my reference than yours. They did actually decide to come to a comedy improv show after all. If they’re Canadian, they probably know him. Canada only have 27 celebrities.

B: I disagree. Mad Libs is a best selling party game.

A: First off, I don’t think we needed a simile to begin with. We came out and basically said what we are here to do. We take suggestions and turn them into skits, live without scripts or rehearsals.

B: Right — like mad Libs.

A: Shut up

B: Just curious. Who here has heard of Mad Libs, show of hands?
     And who has held if Colin Mochrie? Show of hands.

(neither actor gives reaction either way)

A: So – Moving on. We’d like a suggestion for a place ok I heard the back studio of a movie lot where there filming a buddy cop movie. (no timing break)

B: And I’d like a suggestion for an occupation? (pause) ok… I heard Amateur Taxidermist.

A: Ok now I need a colour… Kelly Green… Good one!

B: And an opening line?

A: (Pointing to audience) “But I can’t afford a taxi my mother needs a new kidney.”
Ok that’s good.

B: I now present you with our play; “good cop, cancer cop”.  The set is the backdrop behind a movie studio. Kelly and Francis are buddy cops.

A: Action

(A third man comes out from behind the curtain)

C: … but I can’t afford a taxi. My mother needs a new kidney.

B: ok fine. Here ya go. (He gives the man some cash, and C walks off)

A: What was that about?

B: Nothing. Nevermind. Now, about this case…

A: yeah yeah yeah… The Kelly green killer. We almost had her but –

D: (person stands up from audience.) Stop! Just stop.

A: you can’t do that!

B: remember. There are no wrong lines in improv.

A&d: shut up

A: There are rules. Improv rules. I’m pretty sure it’s a show, not a free for all. It’s not audience participation. You can’t join in from the audience.

B: I bet you’d let Colin Mochrie join in, if he was in the audience.

A: Honestly. You drive me crazy. I don’t know why I ever married to you.

B: Ha! for immigration you keep telling me.

(moment if silence) a&b: (awkward look, then, with fanfare and flourush) Improv!

A: …anyway, the audience cut participate. Sorry sir.

D: …and… cut!  (A&B look confused)

B: What just happened?

D:  I am Jules. The director of this cop movie. I yelled cut. Go back to the beginning. This time, do it with funny accents.

A: You see, there is bad improv.

D: ok. From the top.

B: But we can’t. It’s improv. We don’t have a script.

D: Are you telling me you don’t remember what you did 2 minutes ago. I believe your opening line was; nothing, Nevermind.
Rolling

C: (comes out again, but dressed in a costume. He says his line in a funny accent)   … but I can’t afford a taxi. My mother needs a new kidney.

D: cut. No, no, no… Do it again, but like it’s a romantic comedy. Action.

B: You’re missing the point, improv isn’t supposed to be repeatable. It’s like a magic trick. You only perform it once.

A: Still a horrible analogy, but closer.

B: shut up.

A: Oooooh

B: We can’t do it over and over and just change the accents or styles.

A: Colin Mochrie does it all the time. It’s the directors bit.

E: (a loud voice from the back of theatre)  Cut! I think you’re losing the audience. It’s to confusing. They don’t believe any of it. The suggestions were so stupid it’s obvious to anyone they were prearranged. You’re out here acting from scripts. It’s not working.

D: we could try it in funny accents…

C: shut up, in same funny accent.

A: ooooh

A: who the hell are you?

B: maybe it’s Colin Mochrie, come from the audience to reprise his finest role.

trexD: Actually I think his T-Rex is his finest role.

E: I am the director of this show.

B: (makes a mind blown gesture with hands.)

D: What wall are we breaking now?

E: Get off the stage.

C: what?

E: get off the stage… The show is about to start.

B: ok fine. Be that way.

(Everyone returns to seats in the audience)

A: Sorry about that everyone.  I don’t know who these people are. The real show will begin in a moment.

Announcer announces the actual show. Sponsored by Mad Libs. The improv home game for people who are not creative.

End

Your next new phone.

Apple does a few things really well, but one of the biggest impacts on the cell phone world, is the way they’ve managed to make getting the newest iPhone an obligation of your status.

Of course, not every iPhone user lines up to be first, and many don’t even bother with the new release at all, but we’re all still aware of the concept. New iPhone day is a big deal. It gets more news coverage than almost anything happening outside America.

Even if you don’t own the new iPhone, you’re aware of that fact, and many of you may even talk about it with a hint of shame. I constantly hear people say things like; “its not the newest model or anything, but it gets the job done”.

People who don’t own the newest iPhone still would, if they could afford it without issue. Nobody actually chooses to want the old one… And in time, those iPhone users will upgrade. Not because they have to, but because… Well, because it’s the new iPhone.

Well done Apple.

Now they’ve even made the new ones have a different shape, so you can judge people from a far, without even meeting them.

In the other world of Android, we don’t have that. Android users have a different kind of arrogance, founded by a belief that they have a superior product that the masses just don’t understand. Proud underdogs. The inner battle between iPhone and Android isn’t as pronounced as it once was. As the Android system grows up, it’s polish and style approaches Apple, and each new version of iPhone catches up on features. They each do my things better than the other.

This article isn’t to compare Apples to Lollypops. It is simply an observation that Samsung, HTC and Motorola (among other brands) all have new models each year, but Android masses don’t really know when, and we don’t seem to have the need to care and upgrade.

The article that inspired this blog, was talking about how Samsung was surprised and sad that their S5 flagship sold only 40% as many units as their S4 last year.

I am not surprised at all. The S4 was a great phone and there is no real reason to upgrade. There is no peer pressure to have the newest Samsung. A Samsung phone is to be used more than it is to be seen with. Most people don’t know what is the new model anyway.

Because multiple companies make phones under the Android OS system, we have a bit if an identity crisis to begin with. If you SK me what phone I have, do I say Android or do I say Samsung. For many people, all I need to say is; Not an iPhone. They tune out.
I remember the days when my phone was still a wow factor. I had one before you. I had a smaller one than you did. I owned the first Motorola StarTac and I paid $2000 for that private when everyone else had a 2 pound brick. People would want to see it and touch it.

Those days are gone. He new iPhone have retained a little of that feeling, but only for the few who still bother to be current in release week. Everyone else doesn’t care anymore. Nobody asks me what phone I have. Nobody wants to touch it.

Hey! Have you seen my cool new Smart Watch?