Monday, January 16, 2012

Golden Globes Liveblog 2012

Monday, February 14, 2011

Grammys Liveblog

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Things I know about the Academy Awards OR How to win your Office Oscar Pool

I don’t go to many movies. When I do, I sit alone and cry. As such, a trip to the cinema becomes an exercise in public humiliation and I'm too proud to feel humiliated on the regular.

Thanks to weird social tics, I don't often see what's nominated for awards, but hell if that stops me from winning Oscar pools. Quite the opposite - watching films hampers an ability to win. Sometimes you fall in love with a performance and love makes you stupid, blind and miserable. Blue Valentine fan? You probably lamented today that the Gosling was robbed! Fools. You need to disassociate.

Don't worry that he was snubbed. Don't picture him waiting in bed for a call from Oscar that never came. Don't picture him turning to a random Internet stranger to dry his tears. Worrying about the Gosling is what losers do. You must instead follow the race to Oscar with a cold, calculating eye that helps pay your rent.

Maybe it's not cool to model oneself after the Jeopardy! robot. Whatever. Picture us rolling. 

Since my friends no longer join my pool (weenies), in an effort to level the playing field I'm giving away a few tricks. 

In grade school, I'd always watch the Oscars with my friend. He is straight. :O Our moms would let us skip class the next day so we'd have a sleepover and everything. Co-ed bunkmates in Catholic school?! Can you imagine? 

For the record, nothing ever happened between us (in spite of the sleepovers) and we’re still great friends. That goes to show Hemingway was WRONG – a man doesn’t have to be in love with a woman in order to be her friend. Take that, Papa.

God, I’m tangenting already. I thought taking time away from blogging would improve focus. Nope!

BIG FAT ANYWAY.

Making Oscar Picks

Once you've abandoned your favourite movie, you're ready to compete. The first thing to remember is that winners are rarely based on merit. The Academy is heavily comprised of fogies who vote with a religious allegiance to their friends and studios. If you want to make some monies, bet on these locks: Bale - Supporting; Firth - Actor; Sorkin for Adapted Screenplay; Toy Story 3 for best animated; Fincher – Director.

Best Picture
Everyone thinks the Social Network is guaranteed to win, but don’t underestimate the Weinsteins' power to manipulate/terrify to get what they want.  I’m fascinated by Harvey Weinstein. He *allegedly* sleeps with rising actresses with promises to boost their careers. He stomps through Oscar campaign season with an iron fist and a heat-seeking dong. 
In case you haven’t herrrrd, the Weinsteins are backing the King’s Speech and aren’t satisfied with a Colin Firth win. They want Best Picture and conveniently, the King’s Speech is the kind of period piece, thinking man’s film that voters love. Considering voter demographics, I think the Social Network might be a little too….cool to win. Look for the King’s Speech to gain momentum in the coming weeks. It should be closer than everyone thinks.

And ooh! The Weinstein Company JUST hired a new publicity person. Yeah, this is gon get ugly. 

The Social Network might lose Best Picture, but David Fincher will win for direction. It's his turn. Speaking of direction, everyone (Twitter) is up in arms because Christopher Nolan was evidently edged out by Russell for The Fighter. The argument from Hollywood types seems to be that Russell coaxed incredible performances from Bale and Leo, and that the trophy should go to an “actor’s director,” not a splashy world-creating genius like Nolan.

Isn’t that cute? Seems people forgot that Avatar happened LAST YEAR.

I still haven’t seen Avatar.

Voters might give Inception Best Original Screenplay as a consolation. It will also likely take home some technical awards. 

Best Actress
Natalie Portman is 99 per cent guaranteed to win, but I’ve started to pick up on some Black Swan backlash. I trolled my favourite Hollywood blog and counted 17 ‘overrated’ comments about her performance. That’s not good. The Ashton Kutcher film won't help her chances. That said, she's been dominant at other award show so far, and it might be too late for an Annette Bening surge.

Black Swan was one of the few movies I actually did watch. It was hilarious! Quack quack quack.
It was crap, but I’d watch it again for Mila. Hi Mila.

Supporting actressI want to say Melissa Leo, but there's a child nominated for True Grit. Academy voters love when kids win and make a speech. It reminds them of their grandchildren. 

Documentary
I'm going with Banksy because of the Academy’s predilection to give best doc to controversial figures. It's like their aforementioned grandchildren decide this one category. I think you can count on Banksy for the win especially considering HE MIGHT EVEN SHOW UP TO ACCEPT. BANKSY UNMASKED BY OSCAR VOTERS. "LOOK LOOK, WE'RE RELEVANT."

The remote remote possibility of an appearance should be enough to secure votes.

Song/Score
Cher isn’t even performing. You know she's mad. They nominated Randy Newman instead.  He’ll probably win.

Tent Reznor will be an Oscar winner. Weird.

Others
There are ways to pick makeup and cinematography and the boring categories we usually sleep through. Choose the period piece for costumes and set design (probably King’s Speech). Maybe I’ll add hints as February 27th approaches.

Fin
I’m looking forward to the ceremony, mostly because I love tradition. Unfortunately for you,  thanks to Ricky Gervais backlash and the Hathaway-Franco tandem, we can expect the circle jerk to end all circle jerks. A four-hour circle jerk at that. 

Who's excited?????

At least they'll join my pool.  

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011 Golden Globes Liveblog Extravaganza

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Initial thoughts on Qatar’s World Cup from a repatriated expatriate


 First, I’d like to extend congratulations to Qatar for being awarded the honour of hosting the World Cup.
The bid team ran a well-executed and organized campaign. It was clear from day one that unlike Qatar’s usual impotency at executing anything, the World Cup bid was different.

Today people actually care about the desert country that came seemingly out of nowhere to win.

Qatar won the World Cup. The tiny country with a population of just over 1 million people, a shameful FIFA ranking, and owners of the largest supply of liquefied natural gas in the world, won the freaking FIFA World Cup. 

Qatar has been flying under the international radar for years, despite the fact that they have the richest economy in the world. Personally, I’m not shocked, but the result is shocking. They have a TON of money; of course they’re going to win. What will be most interesting is watching how Qatar reacts to international scrutiny.  Qatar wanted the spotlight thrust and them and here it is. I hope they’re prepared to deal with the attention. 

Right now, there is no way Qatar could host the World Cup. The infrastructure simply isn’t there. For starters, their public transportation is a joke. You think the TTC is bad? (It is terrible.) Doha has a small fleet of buses that run on seemingly random schedules. That is all. 

Luckily for FIFA, Doha is developing at an alarming rate, thanks to the thousands and thousands of Sri Lankans and Nepalese who are building the country from the ground up. 

Let’s talk about the laboring class for a minute. 

These fellers are drawn to Qatar by promises of better wages and the opportunity to support their families from abroad. In many cases, once they arrive their passports are taken away. They find out they might be making more than they were back home, but it’s nowhere near enough to ever pay for the cost of living AND buy a return ticket home.

Once they've worked all day in the oppressive desert sun, they crowd on buses to drive to sleep in tiny living spaces with 25 other men who also might never again see their families. 

And it’s not like these poor little dudes can take comfort in each other. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. It’s an offense punishable by 90 lashes. 

I can’t help but wonder where they’ll hide these modern slaves when the international press rolls into town.
And how about the culture of sport? I gained like ten pounds living there. It’s the least pedestrian-friendly city I’ve ever seen; if you’re lucky enough to find a sidewalk, don’t stay long. It will probably turn into a road in a few meters and leave you stranded in the middle of a roundabout. In Qatar, everyone drives everywhere. There’s no choice.  

The number of Qataris with diabetes is staggering and sadly, the means to make a lifestyle switch towards healthy eating and exercise doesn’t yet exist. Here, let the NY Times fill you in.

Qatar committed over $4 billion towards new stadiums and promised that once the WC is over, they’ll dismantle two of them and donate the buildings to poorer countries. I guess that’s noble. Admittedly, the designs are stunning: 

Now, we come to the biggest and most obvious issue with having the World Cup in the desert. – Weather. The summer is hot. Intolerably hot. The dusty summer wind rushes in your face and stings your eyes. It feels like one thousand blow dryers aimed right at your face. I spent two summers there and barely went outside. All you want to do is get from one air conditioned space to another, as fast as possible. 

It’s just too damn hot. 

To remedy this, the bid team plans to air condition the stadiums to accommodate players and fans. FIFA raised concerns last week, saying that while Qatar can air condition a stadium, they can’t air condition an entire country.  

I wouldn’t put it past the Qataris to air condition an entire country. It’s 2022! No one will care about the environment in the future! What carbon footprint? 

At least hot and sweaty football fans will be able to hydrate in the beer tents. Qatar’s World Cup will definitely have beer tents! The country’s royal family has proven they’ll shirk their value system to accommodate the Westerners.  Anything for FIFA.
The next eleven years are going to be insane.  

How the hell did this happen?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Grown up activites: An evening with John Stackhouse

Last night, I went to an event hosted by the Canadian Journalism Project: Newspapers – the Strategic Generation. John Stackhouse, editor in chief, the Globe and Mail/General McDreamboat, was interviewed by Ira Basen, journalist, CBC Radio.


Stackhouse was there to talk about the much ballyhooed Globe and Mail redesign and the future of print media in Canada.

It was an interesting evening. The crowd was mostly made up of bright-eyed J-school students and curmudgeonly journalists (I gathered this from the Q&A session and the number of wool scarves in the room). Stackhouse and Basen talked for about 45 minutes, and the remaining 40 minutes or so was filled with questions from the peanut gallery.

Full disclosure – I love the Globe and all things beautiful, so I’m a fan of the redesign. Have you seen the Weekend Style section? It’s smooth and silky and colourful and expensive looking. Made from the world’s finest pulp! Plus, the G&M employs Stephen Brunt and Jeff Blair, what’s not to love?
So yes, I was there to fan girl a little bit. Stackhouse, though he came off as a slightly robotic and completely humourless, remains a captivating Canadian figure. He’s so young to be in his position, and while I’ve heard he can be standoffish to employees and generally difficult to work for, you have to respect his big, pulsating brain and career trajectory.


Basen and Stackhouse touched on a lot of the things I’d been wondering about – The Globe and Mail’s business model, the difference between American and Canadian newspaper markets, the revamped website, moderating online comments, and the globe’s target audience to name a few. If you elaboration any of these, just ask. I have copious notes! Nerd nerd NERD.


Random thoughts


- Stackhouse has had lots of time to shape and massage the language about the redesign and I noticed that the messaging always came back to quality. The Globe is quality. Its ultimate strategy is to pursue quality in print, journalism, advertising and readership.


- Quality in readership . Ohhhh the Globe. With the air of a man who breathes elitism, Stackhouse said that the Globe is interested in reaching affluent, educated and influential Canadians. Unapologetic snobbery.


- Later, Stackhouse was asked whether he believes that the media plays a role in shaping Canadian public policy. He answered that the media guides important public conversations, which in turn shape public policy. It left me wondering how much of Stackhouse’s own beliefs directly shape policy in Canada. I may have just been drunk on his power fumes, but whatever.


What else happened? There was a long questions and answer period. I was impressed that most of the questions were actually questions. People made their point and made it quickly. Of course, there were one or two ambling nerd alerts who used their turn at the mic to air personal grievances with the Globe. The moderator asked a few people to get to their point, and cut one man off entirely. This fellow evidently filed a human rights complaint against the Globe years ago and was there to give Stackhouse a piece of his mind. That moment of tension was diffused quickly – the gentleman (whose name escaped me, and if anyone knows, I’d love to hear it – he’s just the sort of guy I’d Google on a Friday afternoon) knew he was defeated, and left the auditorium, though not before passing out pamphlets telling his story. I didn’t get one.**Sidebar – buddy was drinking afterwards at the reception. I locked eyes with him for a second and not to sound like a total try hard, but I could see a lifetime of indignation written all over his face. I’ve been through my share of nonsense; I wonder what people see that when they look at me. That fuct me up for a few minutes.


My other favourite Q&A moment came when a reporter (maybe a digital strategist/who cares) for EYE Weekly asked about the Globe’s mobile app. He wanted to know what percentage of content from the website is included in the application. Really? You can ask the editor of “Canada’s national newspaper” anything you want, and you ask about statistics? GTFO. Stackhouse coughed up something about how the most popular stories are chosen, and we moved on.


Oh and because I know Toronto people care, one of the audience members asked Stackhouse about his decision to pull the controversial “Rob Ford is fat” article and the ethical dilemma (word used incorrectly, j-school student) of censoring news.**The article in question, written by Stephen Marche (who claims to have since been fired from the Globe) said that mayoral candidate Rob Ford isn’t popular despite his weight; he’s popular because of it. People were outraged, I guess, and the article vanished from the globeandmail.com (You can read the full piece here: http://www.openfile.ca/blog/topics/toronto-votes/2010/globe-calls-ford-fat-then-disappears-evidence)


Stackhouse responded by saying the article fell short of a number of Globe standards. He personally made the decision to pull the piece, knowing that it would generate even more controversy. Stackhouse said that the ethical conundrum lay in how to best communicate internal decisions to readers – he admitted they don’t have a good way of doing so. He didn’t seem too concerned with Marche’s future. Not his problem, I suppose.


So that’s about it. I’m on one of those personal and professional betterment war paths, so I’m trying to attend a lot of events like this. Let me know if you hear of any and I’ll geek out with you for the night.


Someone told me to start taking myself more seriously, and uh…. I’m doing that. Now please to enjoy a Christmas cat GIF.