Sizzling Saskatoon Show

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Brian and I interview Eric Drew Feldman
By the time we got back from Regina, showered, played some Ween songs on the guitar/keyboard, and printed a little sign redirecting fans from the Odeon to Louis (see left), it was time to head down to O'Shea's, the spot of the fan meet-up. First to arrive on the scene was Mike "Fuman" Bru, who flew in from Winnipeg to hang out with us tonight. Sporting a vintage red Frank Black and the Catholics t-shirt, the three of us enjoyed some fine Canadian beer until John showed up and joined us at the table. From there, Mike (Speedy M), and his lady friend Charlene (which is, coincidentally, the name of my car according to Brian), and the table was getting a bit crowded – only to be burst wide open by the arrival of the Edmonton contingent, Dan "Crispy Water" and 2 of his friends, Cody and Kevin. With all the meet-up folks there, more drinks and some pub food was consumed, while laughs, stories and anecdotes filled the room.

After paying the bill, we made a quick field trip across the street to the Odeon, the initial place the show was scheduled for. We had decided to make a sign to hang on the door in case people still showed up there (the venue was changed at the last minute). So we took yesterday's featured pic of FB and the podcasters, added some text and viola! We showed off our shiny (literally, it was photo paper) new poster and then headed across town to Louis'.

Brian and I met Duane backstage
Once at the venue, I ran off to find Billy Block to get things organized for the meet 'n' greet. It didn't take long and Brian and I went on the bus to set up our gear to record the festivities. On board was the band, and we chatted for a few minutes, which included Brian sheepishly hiding in the corner after FB remarked that he had gotten a haircut since New York in August and congratulated him on his engagement. En route to pick up the others, we passed Duane Jarvis practicing backstage – and Brian embarrassed himself [a theme of the night] by mistaking Duane's Gibson Blueshawk for a Gibson Nighthawk.

Frank Black passing me a beer
We got the bus set up, and went and grabbed the crew, which now included Kirby and his fiancĂ©, as well as Speedy Mike's religious studies professor who was picked up serendipitously by the crowd en route to the bus (coincidentally, she teaches about "I've Been Tired" – but more on that later). As we walked in, we were greeted by FB, EDF, and Billy Block, as well as some nice Stuff Smith music (Brian had talked to FB about it on the bus before – FB addressed Brian as a "jazzbo" to the bus crew) and some mood lighting. As the fans entered, FB greeted everyone by asking their name and shaking their hand. FB then proceeded to offer everyone aboard a beer, Pelligrino, coke, or piece of fruit. The consummate host, he insisted that we all sit and he would stand and entertain us. He gave the eager fans a view of a bunk on the bus too. On tour, this is equivalent to being taken into his home and being shown the bedroom. Brian and I were not the only ones floored by this hospitality.

FB, EDF, and Billy also helped us understand the "rules of the bus" - there are only two:

1) No solid waste in the bathroom
2) Always sleep with your feet facing the driver, in case of a short stop (he cited Gloria Estefan breaking her neck in a tour bus for not doing just that).

FB answers the hard questions
After some pleasantries, the real hard-nosed Q&A began. Brian was first to speak up, asking why his MOG (formerly site was pulled down. FB explained that when you sign up, you choose whether or not you want to receive email from other users. To quote FB, he wanted to "be a citizen like everybody else" and decided to let people email him. Well, let's say the emails got... intense and numerous. "Why haven't you emailed me back?!" That sort of thing. He did say that he enjoyed it and may re-start at some point, but with the email function turned off.

At this point (maybe – a lot of this runs together), Mike's religious studies prof asked about FB's reference of the Song of Solomon in "I've Been Tired." Google this or have SpeedyM explain it to you, it's actually really interesting. FB gave a long, interesting answer, which basically boils down to:

a) He doesn't remember specifically referencing it, but he doesn't rule it out in the slightest;

b) He is extraordinarily modest about his songwriting ("They're just words thrown together");

c) He is not anti-religion like many people are, but is (and tries to be) respectful of people's beliefs – he also made a really interesting point about people rejecting more Judeo/Christian religions in the West, but having a fascination with Eastern religions, and wonders how Eastern kids rebel against Buddhism or

FB talks about the hard-hitting salsa industry
Talk commenced a little bit about the new ChRISTMASS album, with FB basically saying it's a gift of sorts to his die-hard fans. He also spoke of a heretofore unspoken rule within the music industry that indie-rock types are not supposed to release records post-November, because the "big guns" put out their records then, and how he was happy to buck the system and release something in the late months. He spoke of the industry like a supermarket – you invent a new kind of salsa that you're sure will be a hit – you try to market it and you realize what a cut-throat industry the salsa business is, and to put your salsa on the shelf, you have to knock someone else's salsa off.

Discussion then shifted slightly to his prolific nature, and how Robert Pollard (ex-Guided by Voices) and FB both share an occasional guitarist, former Catholic Dave Philips. Pollard asked Philips who wrote more complex songs, and Philips said that FB did. However, Pollard is far more prolific – so FB was jokingly saying how he feels now that he has to compete with Pollard's release schedule (6 records this year so far). This brought up the idea of perhaps a Fading Captain (Pollard's label) style boutique label for FB releases, and he said he has thought about it and will continue to.

Performing The Water for us as Eric Drew Feldman looks on
At this point, FB went around the bus and asked everyone what they did for a living – this is what makes an FB meet and greet so great – he seemed genuinely interested in everyone's lives, not just seeing it as an obligatory exercise in fan relations. Discussion on various jobs (construction mainly, which had a large representation in the bus crew) followed (as well as he and I talking Greek food – FB promised to visit our restaurant next time - but it is probably better that he didn't know about it, as he is on a fast of sorts, and Greek food wouldn't really fit the diet). Then, it was time for FB to play us a song. We requested a new one, and with some EDF prodding, he played "The Water" for us – he took a 2nd take, because he said "I saw the sound of a Volkswagon" and how that makes no sense. It was characteristic of FB that he would start the song again from the top rather than having us patch in the verse, despite the fact that they were on a tight timetable. When you hear this song in Podcast 20, you'll hear the crowd cheer when he gets the line correct the second time, and he made a cheerful expression when he got it right.

A brief photo-session followed with FB posing with everyone for a shot (thanks, Billy, for that wonderful idea), and then we headed inside for the show.

FB fired his band
The acoustic set opened with FB joking "I fired my band today" and then jumping into "Los Angeles," which may be the most played FB solo song of his career – that or "Headache" perhaps. "Cactus" followed, which seems to be a favorite of FB's to play acoustic – he plays around with the vocals and the guitar parts quite a bit, transforming it into something far stranger than the Surfer Rosa version. After that, he launched into "Where Is My Mind?" during which he told the crowd "This song is called "Where Is My Mind?" if you don't know" and made a few other wisecracks. "Song of the Shrimp" followed, which was a big hit with me as I hadn't heard it live yet. FB added a few extra "His mama and his poor papa"' stanzas here and there, which made the version quite unique. He finished off the set with the Brian/Dan requested "Two Reelers" (also a highlight) – taking the time between refrains to introduce the band – he introduced Duane and Eric but they didn't arrive on the stage as quickly as he'd been expecting, and so when he didn't see them (they had literally taken one or two steps onto the stage at that point) he joked, "Where the fuck is the band?" Then he and EDF talked on the mic for a minute or so about how EDF had met both Moe and Larry of the Three Stooges when they came to his high school in Los Angeles. "Brushes with legends," he remarked, and I think that all of us in the audience were feeling the exact same way at this point.

The band fires up
Billy was introduced and the band kicked into "Remake/Re-Model." As has been the case this tour, it segued directly into "Living on Soul." A lot of the songs sounded similar to the Regina show we saw the night before, but "The Black Rider," which was acoustic in Regina, rocked full-band style tonight in Saskatoon. "Headache" was initially left off the set list, (apparently done tonight by the band's guitar tech) and FB pondered if the tech thought that since this was the 9th show in a row, FB couldn't hit the high-notes. But, since this was his second time at Louis', he wanted to try it for "our reunion." He did a mighty fine job, even if from where Brian was standing he couldn't tell if he had hit the high notes or not.

The singalong of the night was "I'm Not Dead (I'm in Pittsburgh)" – if FB stepped back from the mic, the crowd could've taken that on
easily. It is great to see FB songs from all over his catalogue getting this amount of fan attention and singalong status; not just Pixies songs, as has been the case at some shows in the past. For a few of the meet and greeters, this was the first time hearing "(Do What You Want) Gynaeshwar," and it did not disappoint. The beginning chords resemble "Something Against You," even if the rest of the song does not in the slightest. We deciphered this song finally last night and our crackpot theory should appear on podcast 20.

Frank Black with Billy Block looking on
"That Burnt Out Rock and Roll" continues to be a defining moment of the set, with FB ripping his vocals out just as intensely as last night in Regina. If it hadn't been so crowded, the room might have collectively stepped back, it was so raw and powerful. "Johnny Barleycorn" was a favorite of Kevin's and really rocked out tonight. It is special when you hear a new FB song take its place among the old standbys that you know you'll be hearing live for years (like "Bullet" for instance), and "Johnny" seems to already be attaining this status.

Another song that probably became an instant classic the moment it was heard was "Nadine". For the first time that we've ever experienced, at the beginning of "Nadine" the crowd spontaneously started clapping along before a note was sung. I'm sure the band could feel the energy from the crowd, and at one point Frank remarked, "Pretty fucking great crowd for a Tuesday night." And then added more slyly, "Is it not a school night? 'Gonna be a lot of people blowing off school tomorrow. I know that scene."

Some of the FrankBlack.Net Crew
If the crowd was into it, Frank and co. certainly didn't give us a reason to settle down. "Six-Sixty-Six", the song prior, was also an intense, wild rendition, and ended the regular portion of the set with passion. "Sing for Joy," apparently this tour's designated encore (at least most of the time), ended the night on a high note, and the band left for a day off in Edmonton, leaving our fair city behind (many of whom were still humming the chorus of Sing for Joy into the night) – but FB seemed intent to come back. We hope he does.


Six of the meet and greeters (Brian, Dean, Mike, Dan, Cody, Kevin) met for lunch yesterday and discussed the show that was, along with other various points of interest. It was a great capper to a great show.

-Dean and Brian

Dean and Brian Do Regina

Friday, November 10, 2006

Frank Black sits with us on his bus
Wow, it's been a long time. I'm surprised you're still here, but nevertheless, it's time to go on with my posting. My FrankBlack.Net cohost, Brian Salvatore (from New Jersey, though I like to tell people New York) was in town to help with the festivities. What festivities, you ask? Well, Frank Black was strolling through our fair province you see, and we were putting together a little bit of a gathering here in Saskatoon to greet him. What follows is our collective review of the show with a little story entwined.

You see, we had organized a Meet and Greet of sorts with the man, and aside from Brian being here to co-host Podcast 20 and this meeting, we were also going to see some Frank Black shows. Brian arrived on Sunday and we spent the day traipsing around the city. I showed him Broadway, downtown (though I think we neglected to get close to the Bez), Sask. Crescent, Spadina, the Mendel, and various other haunts of notoriety. We did a little legwork and I got him set up to do some podcast editing on Monday. You see, we have a mini-podcast coming in December that we did with his son, Julian, and we thought that it might be nice, since he was on the road, to have a copy early to listen to. So Brian edited most of that on Monday while I was at work. We were supposed to arrive in Regina to meet the band at 8:30. However, because there was some last-minute editing to do and I wanted to find some mic stands, we didn't leave Saskatoon until 6:45.

Dean and Brian with Billy Block
Deaner and Brian(er) rolled into Regina in record time, arriving at the venue (The Distrikt AKA The State) at 8:35 (including a ten minute stop for A&W in Davidson) only to find out that the show had been postponed an hour – which meant that FB and co. wouldn't be onstage until 11pm. Plus we weren't on the guestlist. This had happened last time FB was in Canada (when I went to Regina with Mike) and also to Brian in New York. We knocked on the bus door and sat chatting with Kentucky Prophet, who gave us the information and hooked us up with Billy Block. A quick detour later (during which we got to explore the downtown and teach Brian why Saskatoon is to Regina as Paris is to, I don't know, say Regina) and we were in Billy Block's hotel room to discuss the upcoming meet 'n' greet. We also learned that the show tomorrow had been moved to Louis'. Would it be too much to be "in the loop" on things like this? I was more than a little annoyed, but we posted the news ASAP on Billy's laptop and, since we had time, I gave Brian the grand tour of the capital of this fair Province, including the Parliament building, Wascana, and a marvelous gravel lot or two hundred.

Kentucky Prophet
We entered the venue at the start of Kentucky Prophet's set. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, and after a long 45 minutes, he exited the stage and the road crew started getting set for the show. Because of the lack of an acoustic opener in Winnipeg, and the last-minute tuning of the Telecaster, we assumed (falsely) that we wouldn't get an acoustic set. This was not the first, nor the last, mistake made that evening.

FB himself came onstage with a cup o' tea and grabbed the acoustic guitar. He remarked "I've been here before" when he looked around a bit, which I had commented on not an hour earlier (note: The Distrikt used to be the State – where a great CBC broadcast was once recorded with the Catholics in 2003).

FB acoustic
The acoustic set was great, starting off with the Tom Waits cover, "The Black Rider." A humorous highlight was FB verbally lashing himself for messing up both "The Holiday Song" ("How could I mess THAT ONE up? I'm Frank Black... of THE PIXIES") and "My Life is in Storage" ("Oh man, two in a row."). "Headache" was prefaced with "What is one I can't mess up?". "The Water" continues to impress on each hearing – we can't wait for the ChRISTMASS version. It was stuck in Dean's head all night, and into breakfast this morning.

The big surprise was "Velouria," which transitioned beautifully really, it was a completely under-the-radar transition - out of nowhere he was suddenly playing "Velouria") out of "Wave of Mutilation," appearing in the same screamy version as heard on the acoustic tour. After "California Bound." FB switched guitars and called up on the band.

Billy Block tmes his wild white mane
First he called up Billy Block, and mentioned his flowing, white mane parting the crowd, then Duane Jarvis, and then he granted Eric Drew Feldman permission to take the stage. The band came out and started off with "Bullet." The version was quite different than the Catholics version; We both missed the pedal steel, though Dean thought that Duane Jarvis covered for it pretty well. Next up, came "I'll Be Blue" which was an amalgam of the electric demo and the album version.

Then, a stomping, aggressive "Nadine," which really accentuated the rhythmic pattern followed, with a nice break before the guitar solo, for FB to shred his vocals on a rousing "whaaa!" Between this and "I'll Be Blue," it was clear that the band would be mixing up the arrangements a little bit tonight.

My favourite photo of the evening - Duane Jarvis looking awesome
FB dropped his low E down to a D and played the familiar riff that he was playing on the Pixies reunion tour after tuning down for "Planet of Sound." However, here he was gearing up for "Ten Percenter," which was the first of the evening's rock-out moments. Brian had seen it before, but I was floored by the intensity that's not to say Brian didn't like it – he had seem them rock it out a few weeks ago in Nueva York).

Switching to his trusty acoustic again, the band broke into "I Burn Today" – the first of the Nashville tunes for the evening. Dean was especially impressed, and was quoted as saying that he now appreciates the album version a bit more. Following that was an early-set highlight, "I'm Not Dead (I'm In Pittsburgh)" – FB really nailed the vocals and even found some room to scream a bit – it was the definitive version, hands down (including the already loved FM/RM version).

Next up was the first new track of the band set, "(Do What You Want)Gynaeshwar." Brian is especially enamored with this tune, and really likes Duane Jarvis' vocal contributions. A stomping romp through "Raider Man" was surprisingly beat-driven and featured Mr. Jarvis on some nice slide guitar.

EDF on the bass
The set mellowed out a lot with the next three songs. To be honest, the momentum shift was pretty noticeable, and this was the set's only real lull. "All Around the World" was played all-electric this time through, as was "Horrible Day" and "My Terrible Ways." Duane really nailed the harmonies on "Horrible Day" and added some new (at least, new from New York) harmonies on "My Terrible Ways."

Next up came the "brown" section of the set, with three tracks from Frank Black and the Catholics in a row – "Suffering," "All My Ghosts," and "Dog Gone." Brian still loves the 'gang' vocals of "All My Ghosts," and "Dog Gone" was a lot livelier than the recorded version. This set of songs turned the momentum back up, and brought it to a new level.

"The Swimmer" was transformed with keyboards into a bluesier, distorted version. This would be a good time to note how unbelievably awesome EDF's bass playing was tonight. Every song was unique in its approach and his playing has really added something to this band. Also a good time to note that the band has really gotten comfortable since the early gigs and this shows clearly.

The home stretch would be the pinnacle of the show; it took the already high level of excitement and opened the flood gates. Brian thinks "Johnny Barleycorn" is far better live than in the studio, but both agree the Conan version, while very good, paled in comparison to the what we saw tonight. Billy Block's drumming, solid all evening, really shone here.

Duane Jarvis rocking out
Here is where our collective minds were blown: As we were stationed directly in front of FB, we got an early look at the setlist – which sort of bummed Brian out (Dean opens his Christmas presents early). However, they both lamented songs missing that they wanted to hear –Brian was really hoping to hear "Remake/Re-Model" and Dean was pining for "Living on Soul." Well, after "Barleycorn," FB said something to Duane, and he started up the riff to "Remake" much to our delight. The band proceeded to rip through it, with great fills from Billy, Duane and (especially) EDF. When it came time for FB's solo, he instead kicked into an-unscripted "Living on Soul."

Following that was the new cover tune, "That Burnt Out Rock and Roll"
– FB really shredded his vocal chords on the chorus for this one. Then came Podcast favorite "Dead Man's Curve" with a bit slower tempo than the solo acoustic version – not that the slower tempo took away form the pace or intensity of the set.

The penultimate song was one Dean was not looking forward to. "Six-Sixty-Six" is one of his least favorite FB covers. However, tonight was different. A rollicking drum pattern and some intensely strummed chords transformed this song from its county-ish album version and its previous live take as both an a cappella acoustic-set number (although the first verse was almost totally a cappella) and its slow and noisy incarnation with the Catholics. Especially impressive were the vocals, which topped "That Burnt Out Rock and Roll" for shear power and intensity. The big surprise, however, was the new ending (at least as far as we've heard) which involved call and response vocals from FB and Duane/EDF on the phrase "my number is up." It was during this back-and-forth that I turned to Brian with a big grin and stated simply "I've been converted."

FB really lets it all out on the stage
"Sing for Joy" was the final song of the night (no encore), and it's acappella ending – yet another bit of endorsement here, Duane and EDF really did a great job on the backing vocals all night long. After the show, we chatted with the band and a few fans like Allison and Trevor (who is working on the movie Ferris Wheel and tells me that Charlize Theron has the hots for me despite me not knowing how to spell her name). Girls always like the illiterate jackasses. As we were stepping into the car, Billy poked his head out the window and told us that Charles asked if we were around and would visit. We gladly nodded and followed Billy on to the tour bus where we talked about the show, the tour, and a little business - the upcoming meet and greet in Saskatoon. As I got on the bus and introduced myself, Charles said to me - you! You're that GUY! The podcast guy! I'd recognize that voice anywhere. Which was really sort of funny and surreal and flattering all at once. He was really friendly and hospitable and we were pretty much at the top of the world as we left.

This probably explains how, at 3 AM on the road home, about 15km for Chamberlain, I had finally calmed enough to look at my gas gauge and realize it was right on empty. 480km on this tank, and usually I get between 400-500. Well, Chamberlain had no gas, I had no idea how far it was to Moose Jaw, and as anyone travelling the province at night knows, there are no all-night gas stations between Saskatoon and Regina. We did the only sensible thing and tensely crawled back to Regina on Cruise Control, making it with just a litre of gas in the tank. Whew! I didn't think we were going to make it up the hill in Lumsden, actually. Rather than driving back at 4 AM, we grabbed a cheap hotel for the night, which, as it turns out, was quite fortuitous, as the roads near Saskatoon had been covered in freezing rain and were very treacherous.

More to come on Saskatoon and the meet and greet.

David Brent Applies to Microsoft

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Ricky Gervais helps out with training at Microsoft
Somehow, in my travels across the net, I came across these gems from the ever-funny Ricky Gervais, reprising his role as The Office's David Brent. He and Stephen Merchant were asked to do a training video for Microsoft's UK office, and get them while they're hot - apparently Microsoft already asked YouTube to take it down. It might be a PR nightmare for them to ask Google to do the same since the two companies are rivals, but you never know. Anyway, you'll definitely want to check these out - maybe fire up a bowl of popcorn, pop open a nice cold can of Coke, turn down the lights, lean back in your chair, and enjoy. It's about 40 minutes of hilarity - especially part 2.

Here's an excerpt, Stephen Merchant as the host and Ricky Gervais as David Brent:

Host: David, if you'll allow me, I'd just like to try and turn the tables for a moment. Umm... imagine I'm giving you an appraisal - I know you don't actually work here at the company -

David Brent: Either way.

H: Well, you don't work here, but I'm sure there are many similarities between what you do and what we do. Can I ask you, what would you consider to be your strengths?

DB: Uh... ooh... strengths include but are not limited to the way I always set out each day to seek perfection, ummm, achieve perfection, and maintain perfection.

H: [nods, throws hands up] You're perfect.

DB: Ooh, can I quote you on that? [laughs] "David Brent perfect" - Head of Microsoft. Good, look good on a CV.

H: I'm not, I'm not the head of Microsoft and I didn't say you're perfect.

DB: [points at camera] Well you, play the tape back, you did. Ss..

H: Not really, ... [gives up] Well, alright, well, we've analyzed your strengths, and you're perfect ...

DB: Ooh!

H: ... apparently. Any point in asking you about weaknesses?

DB: You can ask me.

H: [shortly] Any weaknesses?

DB: Uhhh...





Sunday, August 20, 2006

The boys are all in the air for Tsamiko
I suddenly find myself with a little free time as the summer winds down, largely thanks to the conclusion of Folkfest. We had been practicing pretty much every night for it, plus of course the event itself took three nights. But that makes it sound bad when in reality it was actually a lot of fun and a great time. This year, we danced something Dimitri dubbed 'Tsigaida' since we mixed the steps from some other dances with Gaida. We also did Partalo, an old classic (except I hyperextended my leg doing a stomp), Zonorathiko (one I pretty much got back on the setlist), and of course my long time favourite, Tsamiko (flips and kicks, woohoo!). There were a few added to my repetoire that have been done before but not by me, like Pentozali (tricky!), Zorba (also classic), and, I believe, Zaiko. And then some that we debuted this year like Fesothervenagas (aka the ferry dance). I'll be happy to never dance that one again. But enough talk about the dances, here's my rundown of the Greek pavilion this year and thoughts on the matter:

Guys and girls dance the kalamatiano
The dancing was good this year, in fact I heard from many people that it was better than it had been for years, but I would simply stick to good but not great. I actually felt that we'd done better in previous years and that the show has gone together better before. I think part of this is actually because we didn't really do enough with the crowd either as dancers or with our MC. I do not blame her, she wasn't the original intended MC but filled in with no warning right away. And she certainly did well with no notice, but it could've been better with some preparation and more effort spent getting people visiting into the show. I think that next year we need to have something going on between sets to teach people how to do some of the basic steps like Kalamatiano and Trio-trio.

Gaida seems to be a fun one to watch, and we mixed it up a bit this year by combining is with another step
And as for the dances, there are a few like the ferry dance that I'd cut out and some old-school ones with skits that should come back - anybody else remember how the senior boys used to light a table on fire with 151 or ouzo or something and dance on it? The intermediate dancers should've finished earlier as well, they had plenty of dances up 'til the last set and when we were younger it was always the seniors closing out the night. I actually heard this from a few people that they felt they couldn't get into it as much with younger kids on the stage that late into the night. This is all the critical stuff I guess, but there were good things worth pointing out, too. The zembekiko this year was one of - no - THE best I'd ever seen. Mostly thanks to a lot of broken plates and Dimitri doing an amazing flip, landing on his knees in front of the ouzo glass, drinking it, throwing the glass away and kicking it from behind his back... all on time and as though it were perfectly choreographed. Amazing. Dress the Greek was alright, but went a little on the long side with the Amazing Race people coming through.

Sure it's not Greek food, but we Greeks are happy so long as there's something
Without a doubt one of the main reasons that people visit us at the Greek pavilion is the food. How could they not? Unfortunately, this was probably the biggest disappointment this year. On the positive side, the pork souvlaki was very nice, and so were the meatballs. I didn't try the chicken souvlaki but heard mixed reviews. And the baklava was very nice, if I may say. But, woefully absent were my personal favourites, and much more rare but traditional Greek dishes like Pastichio and Gemista (stuffed peppers). This in itself was a problem. But aside from the meatballs, which were tasty but rather unoriginal and not especially Greek (they were done sweet and sour, not like Aunt Marina's much more delicious/famous spiced ones), they didn't replace these dishes with anything. On top of this gaping hole in the food lineup were some really poorly done dishes like the Spanakopita (spinach pies) which were try and lacking flavour. I felt embarassed to even be associated with the Greek pavilion when we were charging for these things - didn't we taste test a few before we bought them? And the dolmathes were served cold which is an option but in my opinion not the best way to eat them.

You don't get seats like this at the Ukranian pavilion
I personally love the venue - we host it at the Army and Navy hall on 1st Avenue and have done so for years. The venue is small, cozy, and intimate, and reminds me of a Greek tavern. Yes, it's hot. The AC is no match for all of us in the basement, though sometimes I think that the people we rent from turn it off when they rent to us to save money. But the only thing more annoying than a hot venue is people complaining to me that they're never coming back because it was too warm. Give me a bloody break. Try dancing up on stage under the lights and see how warm it is, but we're here every night dancing for you anyway. Try visiting a tavern in Greece and see how high the AC is. Are we so spoiled?? I'm not saying that AC that could keep up wouldn't be welcome, but come on!

The show must go on
That said, plans have been in the works for a new church, though thanks to some surprisingly childish (and really, that word is far too nice for the reprehensible behaviour coming from some of the so-called community leaders) attitudes, I won't hold my breath. Still, I do hope that we can somehow all agree that steps need to be taken to promote a bigger and better Greek community here in the city. And if the church were to go through, one of its features would be a large basement which we could use to host Folkfest with better capacity and of course it would facilitate other uses besides just Folkfest and hopefully would promote more Greek nights.

Our work here is done
In spite of the critical look I've taken here, I don't want to come off as negative about the event as a whole. There was room for improvement, there were mistakes, but in the end, I, at least, enjoyed the heck out of it this year. I had a blast dancing, I enjoyed bartending and helping out where I could, and most of all, it was nice to just see all the people out, Greeks and otherwise. There were a lot of Calgarians and others in town for it and it was great to see them all. A highlight of 2006? Quite possibly. So, in that respect, I would like to thank the organizers, the volunteers, and the other dancers, especially those who helped get the show running in the first place.

Next year will go one of two ways. Either it will not happen, and it will be the first time the Greeks haven't had a Folkfest pavilion since Folkfest started, or we will take our mistakes from this year and go all-out to produce what could very well be the best pavilion we've hosted in Folkfest history. That choice will come from the volunteers, the people who put the blood and sweat into making it a reality every year. Yes, recent divisions have created a sect of people who would love to see it fail, but anyone who is truly proud of being Greek, anyone who really hates to have something Greek be anything less than excellent, will get on board with everything they've got to make next year better. Already, 'retired' women talk of coming back to help make the food next year. Already, dancers talk of getting some new and really excellent dances lined up. And already, the seeds are sewn for a successful year in 2007. So here's to a well deserved vacation, a really fun three-day party, and the beginning of a new and better Folkfest next year.

<Folkfest 2006 Photos>



Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Our sleeping huts
Summer's always a busy time where people are coming and going from vacations and summer jobs and various activities here and abroad. Whether it's the Stampede in Calgary, one of the many festivals here in Saskatoon (like FolkFest coming up this week - I'll be dancing at the Greek pavilion), or jetting away to one of Saskatchewan's many lakes, there's always something going on. About a month ago, Darren, a friend of mine who'd moved back to his home town of Kamsack to work at Duck Mountain Provincial Park called me to invite me down camping. Given my large amount of experience camping, I took him up on the offer. Yes, a *lot* of camping experience right here. There was the time I camped on Pacific Ave overnight for Phantom Menace tickets (lots of fun), that time I slept in the backyard of our old Cochin cabin in the tent with some cousins, and I even visited with my cousins for a couple hours on my uncle's deck in Greece in the tent they were staying in when I was there in 2001. So needless to say, camping was a new experience.

More along the lines of what I was expecting
I didn't really know what to expect. I somehow imagined it much more remote and disconnected from society. Sort of a spot in the middle of nowhere. Looking back, my expectations seem ludicrous given it's a park and on a lake, but I really did have this image of wilderness and wandering through it until we found a nice spot to set up our tent and rub some sticks together to make a fire. Instead of being off the beaten path, we were actually off a small gravel road. About a ten minute walk away from a public beach, five minutes from a little ice cream/burger shop (with a really beautiful young lady (yes, that's code for me being too old) working there), a five minute drive from the Manitoba border, and maybe ten minutes from Darren's home, which is actually between Kamsack and the park. Now it's important to remember that all these drive times are at-the-speed-limit estimates. I did no such thing that weekend. In fact, I made the four hour drive to Kamsack in 2.5. Highway 5 is really pretty and also fairly quiet so I had no compunctions about putting some distance between here and me as a friend of mine once put it.

Darren uses his infrared vision to light the fire
So I showed up and by coincidence, Darren was just about to leave as I zipped by his place into the park, so he caught up to me (I had slowed now, since I had no idea where I was going) and took me right to the camp. I put up my tent, we created a fire with a little 'persuasion'. Darren almost lit the jerry can (did you know that the term 'jerry' was British slang for German soldiers, who were the first to use these cans) on fire - the nozzle was burning but luckily the whole thing didn't blow up in his hand. I hung out with him, Nathan, Rachel, and a few other girls who sort of came and went that night and awoke to a LOT of beer cans/bottles on the table. We had some muffins and orange juice for breakfast, went to the beach for a few hours (where there were more lovely and ... less lovely ... girls about) and off to the ice cream shop for a burger and cone. We visited the girls in the 'interpretive centre' and went to check out the bigger beach. We also popped into Kamsack and town to get pillows (which I had forgotten in my preparations) and some ice for our coolers. The weather all weekend was amazing, by the way.

Dusk falls
That night we called it pretty early, the sun having sapped us, but I wasn't really tired, just exhausted. I read for a bit in the tent until it finally got dark around 11 and then I put my head outside the tent and laid there for about half an hour looking at the stars. We get a pretty decent view at home, but this was incredible. Incidentally, the first signs of impending winter have begun. The other day I came home and the northern lights were flashing in probably a 120 degree arc in the night sky over Saskatoon. They were probably the most incredible northern lights I've ever seen, very very bright and lively. Unfortunately, as with my photos of the night sky, these ones didn't turn out either. Monday I came home, but I went for breakfast and hung out with Darren at the beach and around the park for the better part of the afternoon. Just as I finished taking down the tent, the first drop of rain for the whole weekend fell. Talk about a great weekend for camping.

The long road home
As for what is keeping me so busy, well, I'm not entirely at liberty to say, but what I can tell you is that I'll be dancing with the senior group in Folkfest again this year at the Greek pavilion (where else?). Which has meant some practice time and me realizing that the desk life is doing nothing for my fitness. I'm also revitalizing the mix for the deck, lots of new stuff to add and questionable stuff to remove. The problem with adding new stuff is I know that half of it will go from 'cool' to 'annoying' in the course of a year and require the job to be redone yet again. I'm trying to avoid the most annoying of the pop stuff and on the plus side it means getting to add some new indie stuff, so there is a rainbow at the end of the tunnel. Yes, that's right.

And for no reason, the Saskatchewan version of the Windows XP background
Soccer just wrapped up last week since we didn't make the cut for playoffs. Not because we're no good, no no, just that we seem to have a problem completing our plays. Our second-last game was a prime example. We spent 90% of the first half in their end (I want to say 95% but I'll leave a little room for error) and didn't score. We had quite a few good shots, but nothing. They, on the other hand, got two goals against us, and almost three. They had beaten John, who was doing time in net, and shot it and I was behind him to cover and running full tilt. At the last minute I knew I wasn't going to get to the ball in time and sort of dove in front of it and spun my body around. I went to grab the ball as I was laying right behind the line and the ball was ahead of me and about to cross the line, but instead headbutted it (ever seen an egg rolling contest?) and saved the goal. I looked up and shouted "No hands!" and was back on the field to run the ball up. Sadly, my antics were wasted and even more sadly, non-televised. Damn you TSN!

But, I should get doing all those things that are keeping me busy. See you in a week! Don't forget to check out the photo gallery which includes such greats as the Saskatchewan version of the Windows XP Desktop background (shown left).

<Kamsack Camping Photos>


Four Syllables and a Wedding

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Two families joined
Sure, with Greek weddings, there's always going to be a lot of syllables, but clever title anyway, right? Kon-di-len-ia. Ah, le maux juste. Yes, on Saturday, I had the privilege to be invited to Kondilenia's wedding/metamorphosis from Arvanitis (also four syllables) to Kaketsis. Despite a little melancholy from the lost syllable, it was a great time. The wedding was nice, the sun was shining, and they had a great Greek band from Toronto. Plus, lots of folks (yup, getting old) from out of town that I've not seen in far too long, so it was definitely nice to catch up with them. I don't have much else to tell you of the wedding, really, other than that it was all immaculate and I enjoyed it, but I do have a few photos up. I'm trying out Google's new Picasa Web Albums feature (still in test phase). It's nice in some respects, mainly that I have all the captions and so forth on my computer, and I think eventually it will photocast (as in, I put a photo on my computer and it automagically puts it on the web if I put it in a public place). I know that you can subscribe to a feed on the site, so that you'd be able to automatically download any photos as I add them, seems the next logical step. It has some bugs and I think I like the interface of my current gallery better, but a person has to try these things. So go check out the wedding photos, you can view them here. A few of them were blurry because of the distance and low light, so apologies for that, and as the party wound up my camera wound down.

Red Paperclips to Hold Province Together?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A red paperclip
For those not familiar, I live in a province of western Canada called Saskatchewan. It's a nice province, lots of resources, in the middle of a pretty big boom, and yet still boasting a friendly small-town attitude. That could be because the population of the province dwindles ever closer to the population of a small town. With just under one million people and slowly dropping, it's quite the problem; especially because the economy is good enough that we should be growing tremendously. Our neighbour to the west, Alberta, is rightly credited with taking many of our departing residents in. However, at least one town has found a way to convince people to settle. The town of Kipling, Saskatchewan has managed to attract one new resident by trading him a house for - effectively - a red paperclip.

Instant Party Kit
About a year ago, Kyle MacDonald, an unemployed Montrealer, decided he wanted a house. While pondering his future, he spied a red paperclip on his desk and posted on the 'net that he was looking to trade it. And trade he did. First for a fish pen from Vancouver, then for a handmade doorknob from a potter in Seattle. Somehow, the doorknob was traded for a gas stove, which is a poor trade for some Massachusetts man, but the stove was bartered into an electric generator from California soon enough. This may seem an odd step, but the generator was traded for an instant party kit (a neon Bud sign and an empty keg) from someone in - you guessed it - New York. At what was probably the pivotal moment in this experiment, a Montreal radio host helped him turn that somewhat dry party into a skidoo. Now that's something. A paperclip into a skidoo. But we're not done yet. He took that skidoo and, in an interview with George Strombolopolous, was posed the following question: Is there anywhere in the world that you wouldn't go to make a trade? To which Kyle replied, Yahk, BC.

Alice Cooper holds up a massive red paperclip
Well, someone from nearby Cranbrook called up and offered him an all-expenses paid trip in trade for the snowmobile, provided the trade was made in Yahk. He guilted CBC's The Hour into coming to Yahk with him and, because he happened to have a moving company's shirt on during his interview, he had the opportunity to trade his trip to Yahk for a cube van from Cintas. The van he used to haul the skidoo to BC and then traded it for a recording contract with Club Treehouse, which included 30 hours studio time, 50 post, transportation to Toronto from anywhere in the world, and accomodation. Nice! This he traded for a year's worth of free rent in Phoenix in what appears to be a rather respectable dwelling. Not a house to himself, but certainly a start. Now, interestingly, a girl by the name of Leslie, living in Phoenix and working at Alice Cooper's restaurant, asked her boss if he'd spend an afternoon with a fan so she could get free rent for a year. He liked the idea (as you can see in the photo) and didn't that just work out nicely...

A red paperclip
But we're not out of the woods and into notoriously treeless southern Saskatchewan yet. It was at this point that Kyle tried what could have been his most bone-headed move so far (though I consider a year's rent worth more than an afternoon with ANYBODY - even Natalie Portman (sorry, hon)). Anyway, most bone-headed move so far: he traded the afternoon with Alice for... get this... an Alice Cooper snow globe. Surprisingly, Corbin Bensen saved the day. A big collector of snow globes, he traded a role in a movie for this rather rare weather dome. And so, Kyle MacDonald went from snow globe to a role in a movie to a farmhouse in Kipling that will indeed look like it is in a snowglobe come December. Yes, Kipling gave him a farmhouse in exchange for a role in a movie. And Kipling gained one more resident.

Now, admittedly, Kipling did not itself trade the home for a paperclip, but consider if they were to do so. Do you think we'd be seeing a massive influx of new residents? Yes! Would the current shortage of red (and other coloured) paper clips be remedied? Yes! Could this be the final clip in the report spelling out Alberta's demise? You'd better believe it. So, to all those thinking about the "Alberta Advantage" remember. The same house there would cost you at least two paperclips and possibly a staple.

Interviews, Barbeques, and Rosy Hues

Monday, July 03, 2006

FrankBlack.Net Podcast Logo
It's been about as hectic a few weeks as I've had in a long time, so I'm sorry there's not been much to update on. Ironically, there's been very little worth writing, much less reading, in spite of this sudden deluge of activity, but I will continue anyway at the risk of boring you. First, most recently, and most excitingly at least for me, was the Canada Day release of our tenth FrankBlack.Net Podcast. This is a little radio show of sorts that I host with a friend from New Jersey, Brian, bi-weekly, and we talk about the latest news in the world of Frank Black, play tracks from albums and offer a little (we hope) insight, and thanks to his manager, Ken Goes, have a rare track to put on our podcast every time. Not to some of our favourite live recordings, covers, and tracks from Frank Black fans. We started with a surprising 1500 downloads in the first two weeks we played it and now coming ever closer to 5000 subscribers. So it was with some excitement that we released our tenth episode, and we went all out to make it special. It's hosted at a swanky penthouse party at the halfway point between Brian's home and mine, Thunder Bay, and the most exciting thing, at least for me, is the appearance and conversation with Frank Black at this party!

Yes, on July 19th, the day his new album, Fastman/Raiderman, that same day that the Edmonton Oilers lost Game 7 to the Hurricanes, Brian and I were chatting with him using VOIP. And this is largely thanks to his wife, before I go on, who helped us set up the interview with him and also was working on family friends Jack Black and John Flansburgh among others. Maybe in the future, but I digressed with the intent of thanking Violet, and will do so now. Thank-you! So, that done, we were chatting after a few initial technical difficulties, and chatting. We talked about everything from the new Pixies tracks that were recently trashed to his new album to his touring plans (with a band) to, well you name it. Spaghetti sauce. How songwriting is like making a sandwich. A very funny man and he entertained us for 2.5 hours before we finally let him go, and he didn't ask once despite a cold and, initially, the ruckus of kids getting ready for bed. If you want to listen, there are a few ways. You can listen/subscribe to the whole in iTunes, stream it from the web using Yahoo, or download the latest episode directly here. You don't need an iPod to listen to a podcast, just a computer with speakers or a CD burner.

Uncle Ted at the BBQ
In other news that's exciting for me and less so for you, my sister finally got back from Europe/Greece late last week. Her backpack weighs more than her I'm pretty sure, or at least is very close to being on par. Or at least, it weighed, she is hopefully unpacked by now. It's nice to have her back home though she probably wishes she was still there rather than taking a summer version of Math 110. We had to trade her for my uncle, unfortunately, he was here a month but I only saw him three or four times. We had a barbeque before he left though, and it was nice to have some family and friends out. We also got very lucky with the weather; it had been raining for weeks on end and cleared up just in time for us. We had the lamb and tzatziki roast and a bunch of other good stuff, which you can probably see in the pictures I took. Click on the image on the right to check out some more.

What else? Well, I've managed to get a few games of golf in this year and hope to do a little more of that this summer. Maybe this weekend I'll go with my dad. I went with John to his uncle's golf tournament a couple weekends ago, it was a 9-hole course in Watrous, and we had a good time. I wound up golfing with a relative of Brett's, what are the odds of that? Well, in case you thought that was a genuine question, the answer is, not very good. Not very good. But we all had a good time and a bit too much sun, hence to rosy hues. John also was good enough to invite me to his cousin's pool party on Canada Day, which was nice. They have a very nice backyard/pool, and we sat around, swam, and enjoyed the warm weather. His cousins seem like pretty cool people too.

Otherwise, nothing much to report. The family's doing well, the soccer team too, the weather's nice, and the skies blue. I've almost watched my entire Hitchcock collection, I am now a definite fan; if you ask me, dear reader, he was a brilliant man. But I don't intend to rhyme all day, so I will stop right now and go away. Well, stop anyway. I still haven't had time to look at making plans for Aus/NZ next year, and I know I'd better get my act together, so perhaps this week I will make an effort to do something towards that. I still want to look into that tour that Juaquin did of NZ. Oh, I've also been biking quite a bit trying and failing to get into shape. I should probably start biking to work, but it's a looooong trek from here to there, it's a good 45 minutes at speed and without too much wind, and quite frankly I have enough trouble getting up early enough to drive in. But I'm already rambling, so I will see you again, hopefully sooner than last time.

Once I Was the King of Togo

Sunday, June 11, 2006

X-Men 3 in theatres now
The problems with being busy are twofold with respect to this blog. First of all, it means I don't keep this quite as up to date as I'd like. Secondly, it means that I have so very little to tell from week to week. Since last time, I have seen X-Men 3 (very good, deviates from the traditional superhero formula, bound to raise some hackles), The Break-Up (funny at moments, but the fights often forgo comedy and become quite uncomfortable which in itself is something to be impressed by), and a run of Alfred Hitchcock movies which I will probably go into detail on in some other post. Steph also graduated and a bunch of us went out for dinner and to the Hose. Andrea got married and I had a lot of fun there. And so on. For the moment, here's a recap of what I've been up to...

Mexico and Australia are my hopes for the World Cup
Soccer To Me
Now as I mentioned in my most recent post, we had our first soccer game on Thursday in the rain. It seems the rain is here to stay, I have no idea how people live in Vancouver. So tiring. Anyway, with a light rain, the other team didn't all show up and so we won by default, but played a fun game anyway and came out of it 4-3. Playing in the rain, aside from slippery, was actually kind of nice in a way, because you stay cool even running around. Our game next week is at 7:00.

Kurt also organized a World Cup draft that I bought into. We drew teams. My Australian associates will be happy to know I'm representing Australia's chances at the cup and I also have Mexico, who just won their first game today. So, I'm pretty sure I'm better off than the people who drew, for example, Brazil or Germany. Or at least Togo.

Every beast has his day
Day of the Beast: Day of Dan
It was an eventful weekend of sorts this weekend. Last week was Dan's birthday... yes, on the supposed day of the beast, 6/6/06. At least, if you're in North America. In Malaysia, Chinese couples were falling over each other to get married on that day, apparently the word for six sounds like "luck" and so it was 'triple luck day' there. One church had 200 weddings. Meanwhile, here at home, people were rescheduling c-sections and doing their best to prolong labours while others were watching The Omen, a movie marketer's dream. Down in Vegas, oddsmakers cheerfully gave 100,000:1 odds that the world would survive Tuesday. Of course, there are some scholars who believe that 666 refers to Nero (not exactly beloved, but remembered for playing a fiddle as Rome burned) using Hebrew letters for numbers.

In any case, it marked the birthday of a friend of mine, whom I've often thought of as evil, Dan. We went out for his birthday on Saturday night, out to Winston's, and had a good time. I don't always get a chance to see all those people, so it was nice to catch up a little bit. And on the topic of things I have not done in a long time, we went bowling later that night at KG and I set some new records in 5-pin bowling. The first game we played I set a personal best and hit three digits. 103. The second game, a much more impressive 64.

The Hurricanes may have the Oilers down a game, but that rig will be around long after the Hurricane turns into a light breeze.
Oilers and Hurricanes
Maybe it's just me, but it seems prophetic on a year where meterologists are calling for even more hurricane activity and economists for even higher oil prices as a result, that the two teams competing for the Stanley Cup are the Edmonton Oilers and the Carolina Hurricanes. Still, I'm happy to see my old favourite team back and after the cup. Will they win? Oh, I don't know. It's an uphill battle after losing Roloson, that's for sure, but I will be able to tell you definitely tomorrow night. You see, if the Oilers win tomorrow, they return to Carolina with the series tied, with the momentum of a two-win streak, and the confidence they've been lacking since being thwomped in the first two games. If they lose, the playoffs, effectively, are finished. My two cents.

So, that's all for now. This week, an IEEE Gold Meeting, at least two more Playoff games, recording podcast 9, and hopefully a really exciting prospect for our tenth Frank Black podcast.

Dynamite Dean Lives Again!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Dynamite Dean and the Formidable Pylons
It was a very tough battle, but thankfully after my one-year absence, Dynamite Dean and the Formidable Pylons are once again intimidating lesser pylons and soccer balls for profit. This is a co-ed rec league team, which in my opinion is the best way to have fun playing sports. No need to be good, no need to get stressed, just get out on the field, have some fun, run around, and if we win, great. If we lose but have fun, great. I'm telling you this in part because I'm excited to reincarnate the team and in part because perhaps someone from Saskatoon will read and be interested in joining. Soccer experience/skill not required, and I really need female players especially. In any case, it should be a fun season, there are a lot of teams this year! Hope to see you out on the fields, and here's the schedule for those interested (just leave me a comment here or email me). If you scroll down to the calendar on the left side of the page you'll also see that I've entered all the games in there.

Every game is on a Thursday night:
June 8 - 6:00/Field 4 vs. VIDO
June 15 - 7:00/Field 4 vs. Brokeback Mountaineers
June 22 - 6:00/Field 3 vs. Quantum Tunnelers
June 29 - 7:00/Field 3 vs. Team Chuck Norris
July 6 - 8:00/Field 3 vs. The Chernozems
July 13 - 6:00/Field 3 vs. Hanso Foundation
July 20 - 6:00/Field 4 vs. Four
July 27 - 7:00/Field 3 vs. Agent Orange
Aug 3 - 7:00/Field 4 vs. PSA
Aug 10 - 6:00/Field 4 vs. VIDO

Fields 3 and 4 are at the corner of Cumberland Ave and College Drive, Field 4 being on the west/closest to Dairy Queen, Field 3 on the east.

For game rules, please kick here: Summer Soccer Rules

V for DaVinci Code

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou
It has been a strangely dry year thus far for movies, to the point that there have been several times when I wanted to go see a movie and there was nothing I was interested in seeing in even the remotest way. May, however, has been an exception, with an interesting new movie opening every weekend. Last weekend, it was MI3 which, despite Tom Cruise, is a must see for any fan of action movies. Sadly, unlike the first MI movie, it does not transcend the genre nor bring anything new to it, but as action movies go, it is pretty decent, fun, and about what you'd expect. Certainly it is a far sight better than the second movie in the series, however, and in any case, if you're just looking for a little action, it's worth a view. But I'm not here to talk about how I was disliking Tom Cruise way before it was fashionable, nor even about MI3. Mostly because I don't have much else to say about it. I'm here to talk about a movie that is being unfairly panned by many critics and another that you have already missed seeing the first time around: The DaVinci Code and V for Vendetta.

The DaVinci Code
Ron Howard on the set
There's no rock on earth big enough that anyone could claim to not, at the least, have heard of The DaVinci Code. Dan Brown's blockbuster book is the world's best selling book after the bible, and I daresay that more people have probably read it from end to end; this both serves and hinders the movie. You see, when a movie has as much buzz around it at the time of release, critics - already leaning toward the negative - tend to skew their reviews in the negative, perhaps reviewing the movie based on expectations rather than reality. On the other hand, having many people who have read the book means, in all likelihood, that they will not only go to see it, but have an understanding of what is going on in the first place. The movie is a little fast paced in explanation, I feel, for someone who has not read it (though perhaps those who have will argue the opposite), and I got the feeling that someone approaching the movie without the background would not necessarily appreciate the subtleties that made the book so endearing. In this regard, I tend to agree with Ron Howard, who in the face of criticism from Cannes, said, "This sounds a little 'hucksterish', but people really respond to the movie better the second time than they do the first time."

Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou
I'm not implying that you shouldn't see the movie without having read the book - au contraire, mes amis - just that, as always, the book does a better job explaining than the movie. This is not startling Hollywood news, in fact it's about the oldest and most well-accepted fact in the industry. And so it does not imply the movie is not good or true to the book. It not only sticks quite close to the book (many critics, of course, argue too close), but manages to take a few poetic touches as well. That Saunier's yard is, for example, filled with roses was a very small and admittedly unimportant touch, but something I appreciated. And one of the few somethings I can share without spoiling anything.

Sir Ian McKellan as Sir Leigh Teabing
In short, the movie itself is fairly well done; it has a certain art to it. The mystery is engrossing, but I worry that it lacks the impact of the book. Comparisons aside, however, I think that someone going and paying attention will quite appreciate the mystery and thrills involved. This is not a movie where you want to go and be thinking about all the stuff you have to get done next week. I'm not implying it's brainy, just that - and perhaps this is my only real complaint when you boil it down - the movie does not do a good enough job of really pulling you in and it may take a little effort on the part of the audience. Otherwise, the direction is artfully done (thank you, Ron Howard), the acting is excellent (particularly Sir Ian McKellan, but I have yet to see him not deserving of his honorific), and I have a soft spot for Audrey Tautou (plus a fair amount of respect for Tom Hanks), so there you have it. Incidentally, if you have not seen Amelie, I highly recommend it when you're in the mood for something different. Audrey Tautou at her finest and in quite a different role. So, in Roman numerals, perhaps there is no V for The DaVinci Code, but I'd not hesititate to give it a III.V. In any case, it is perhaps fitting that "V" is supposedly the symbol for the sacred female... which is how I'm going to finally justify the title of this blog.

V for Vendetta is G for Good
V for Vendetta
First of all, nobody I have talked to has seen this movie. This disturbing fact is shocking to me for many reasons, here are a few:

1) The trailer = awesomeness. If you remember my post from some time ago, this passes all the trailer tests. That means you should see it. That's all. Go watch the trailer yourself here.

2) Natalie Portman. Enough said.

3) Wachowski Brothers. You may know them as the creators of The Matrix. Not good at making sequels, but I think they're due another chance on a new movie given how incredible the original Matrix was.

4) My personal recommendation. The movie may upset you, it may make you feel uneasy, but isn't that better than going to a movie and being bored after? I would go see it again, so you should see it once at least.

5) The Title. It takes guts to name your movie with a title that harkens back to the days of Dial M for Murder and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Though I guess we had Attack of the Clones recently, so maybe we're seeing a resurgence of poor titling.

Matthew McConaughey stars with Horseface in An Utter Abomination
6) It is a rose among the thistle. Really. OK, possibly excluding the indie circuit, about which I am woefully uninformed, but in the list of contemporaries, we have The Sentinel (I hate movies starting with 'the' as though that makes it sound important). It stars Micheal Douglas as a secret agent. It's rumoured he personally financed the movie in order to keep Catherine Zeta Jones with him. Silent Hill, yet another 'thriller' about a parent who must fight through the undead and the spirit worzzzzzzzzzz. I'm thrilled to not see it, thank you. And Thank You For Smoking, which might be okay except for Katie Holmes who basically I see/hear as Tom Cruise now. Really. Put Tom Cruise in her place on Dawson's Creek, that's what I see. Kind of makes things weird. Scary Movie 4 (need I say more), The Benchwarmers (another Adam Sandler/Rob Schneider movie long past the time where it might be funny), Take The Lead, where we discover that what the ghetto needs is ballroom dancing and what ballroom dancing needs is large-bottomed women and backwards caps.

Now I don't mean to say you should see this movie because the rest are not so great. Rather, that I am shocked that so few have seen this movie given the utter lack of competition. And the fact that it is in second run means that you definitely should catch it on the cheap. Oh, and I missed Failure to Launch, which, really... a woman so sadistic that she plays with mens' feelings, gets them to fall for her, or at least get attached enough to move out, and then dumps them? The movie should've taken place 32 years prior, starred Sarah Jessica Parker's parents, and been called Failure to Abort.

Anyway, I have a life to lead (believe it or not) and you have a few movies to see, so I shant keep you. As always, thanks for listening, let me know what you think of either movie or even if I'm wrong about some of my judgements on my "Must Miss List".