Saturday, August 2, 2008

Shocking Greyhound Tragedy; Even More Shocking Reaction

Okay, it's been a few days since this horrible tragedy that occured just outside Portage La Prairie and I have been just dumbfounded (that's right, I said dumbfounded!) by the things people are saying on the internets with regards to the killer, the victim, and the whole situation. Instead of angrily replying to every idiotic post I read, I thought I'd just vent here and get it out of my system.

First off, how messed up is it that Tim Mclean's family found out about his death from a journalist. That is absolutely horrible. It's not the RCMP's fault, either. I blame the people who decided to open a public group on facebook to honor Mclean's memory. The press feed on these kind of things, and they are totally allowed to quote public posts and use facebook as a source. Is it sloppy journalism? Of course it is. That doesn't mean they won't do it.

People have got to realize that facebook is a public forum. Anything you post on there is in the public domain, even if you have your privacy settings jacked up. Think of it this way: You wouldn't parade up and down the street with signs saying "We miss you, Tim," and "RIP Tim Mclean" shouting your comments and thoughts about Vince Weiguang Li and how he should be put to death to anyone who is walking by, would you? Well creating a public memorial group on facebook is the online equivalent. Don't get me wrong, I sympathize with the friends and family of Tim Mclean and I respect their desire to preserve his memory, but perhaps facebook is not the right place for it.

I've been checking out a variety of sites and I am just shocked at the comments people are making about the killer and this crime. I understand that the gruesome nature of this incident has people's emotions running high, but the incredibly ignorant things people are saying is just unbelievable. Let's see if I can sum up the most common comments:

1. Vince Weiguang Li is a sadistic cruel bastard and should be put to death. In fact, Canada should reinstate the death penalty just for this guy.

Well, this is probably the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Clearly this man is insane. As such, he will most likely be found not guilty by reason of insanity. So even if we did have the death penalty, he wouldn't get it. He will most likely be put away in an institution for the criminally insane and drugged up for the rest of his life. People who are mentally ill have no control over their actions and couldn't be made to understand what they did was wrong. It's the reason why they have that plea in the legal sytem.

2. The other 37 passengers on the bus are cowards for not helping Tim McLean and stopping the killer fromm cutting his head off.

Oh, come on! These people were in no way obligated to get between a knife-weilding maniac and his victim. They were just following the primary human instinct: self-preservation.There is no shame to be had in running like hell off of that bus, especially if you had kids. I'll tell you, if it was me, I would have done exactly what those people did: make sure everyone gets off the bus safely, THEN go back on to see if you can help the victim. How were they supposed to know that Li was going to cut his head off? I see some people posting (mostly Americans) that someone should have make a rudimentary weapon of some sort and attacked the killer. I say that would have done no good. Which brings me to my next most commonly observed comment...

3. If someone on that bus had had a gun, this would have turned out differently.

You're damn right this would have turned out differently. We would have had 5 or 6 dead people instead of just one. If this incident had taken place in the gun-happy states instead of Canada, this guy would have had a gun on the bus. He would have shot McLean and then moved on to the next person before the driver could even stop the bus. If one of the other passengers had been packing, do you think this guy would have stopped just because a gun was pointed in his face? I don't think so. In fact there is a real possibility of Li getting a hold of the gun and using it on the other passengers. When guns are readily available to the public, the results are tragedies like Virginia Tech or Columbine. Those things happen way less in Canada.

I'm not even going to go into the comments about the killer's race (like that has anything to do with it,) or any of the other ridiculous things that people are saying. I just don't have the energy. However, I am also seeing stupid reactons in the real world as well. As I was taking the bus home from work today, a young aboriginal man got off the bus as I got on. After I had found my seat, this old woman sitting at the front of the bus said, "I know this is silly, but I felt nervous the whole time that man was sitting behind me." I wanted to smack her.

I suppose the graphic nature of this murder is what is making people react this way. But really, is this so different than the guy in Calgary who murdered his whole family a few months ago? Which is worse? These things happen fairly often in this day and age. Now I'm not trying to diminish the importance of what has happened here. It is a terrible tragedy. I'm just saying that Li will get what's coming to him. Sure the justice system sucks, but most of the time the problem is with finding the evidence and making it stick in court in order to get the appropriate sentence. This is not a problem in this case as there are 37 witnesses who will never forget the night of July 30, 2008.

Whew. And I'm spent.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Last night I finally went to see The Dark Knight.


I don`t think that movie could have been any better than it was. I was blown away. It seemed to me to be the most faithful adaptation of a comic book to film that I have ever seen. Not the story, mind you. That was written specifically for the film. It was the characters themselves that were true to the comic. Heath Ledger played a psychotic, destructive Joker; as opposite from Jack Nicholson's campy bright-purple-wearing character as one could get. Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman all reprise their characters very well. The only complaint I have would be about Maggie Gyllenhaal, who takes over Katie Holmes' character of Rachel Dawes. I'm sorry, but this woman could not act her way out of a paper bag. Other than that, the film is perfect.

If you haven't seen it yet, GO. Go right now. I'm serious. Well, finish reading this first.

Everyone should see this film, even if it's just to see Heath Ledger in his final role. That man COULD act his way out of a paper bag, a non-biodegradable plastic bag, and even one of those new environmentally friendly cloth bags and still bring the groceries in from the car. (What? Wait, I think I lost the handle on that analogy. Just go see the movie, okay?)

Oddly enough as I went to sleep last night, I wasn't thinking of the Joker trashing Gotham City and laughing maniacally. Images from one of the previews kept flashing through my mind. The preview was for a movie called The Watchmen, and it's a film I've unknowingly been waiting to come out for 18 years and knowingly been anticipating since I found out it was in production last year. You can see the preview here.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this one, The Watchmen is probably the greatest graphic novel of all time. I recieved it for Christmas when I was 13 years old (a story I'll save for another day.) Since then it has been my favorite comic and I've probably read it well over 100 times.

I won't get into the story or how I feel about it or anything like that because then I'd be here all night. Again, stay tuened for another entry on that one.

Instead just some quick thoughts about the trailer:
- Dr. Manhattan seems REALLY blue to me. This isn't a complaint; I have no complaints about this trailer. It's just that after reading the graphic novel for so many years, you get used to the way the characters look. I just didn't expect him to be so glowy.
- It looks like Zack Snyder is using his slow-then-fast-then-slow camera technique that he perfected in 300. I hope he doesn't use too much of this. It worked well for 300, but this is something completely different.
- Visually, the film looks great. As close to the comic book as one can get, really. Although the only character that looks exactly like the comic is Rorshach. All the others have had their spandex (it's a privilege, not a right!) costumes made more textured for a better on-screen look.
- The final scene in which Dr. Manhattan constructs his Mars palace just blew me away. I mean, that is exactly as it was presented in the comic.

I don't mean to sound critical about this trailer. As I realized what it was, sitting in the Polo Park theatre, I almost shat myself. (Well, not really. I just wanted to use the word "shat" in a sentence.) I just want to love this movie so much that I find myself over-analyzing it just a bit.

Arrggh! I have to wait eight more months before I can see this! I'm sure I will post on this subject again, as I have a lot to say about it. That's it for now, though



Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Jump the Shark

Here's a neat website, if you're a big TV buff. gets its name from an episode of Happy Days (broadcast date: September 20,1977,) in which The Fonz jumps a shark on a pair of water skis. I had originally thought that the expression meant the penultimate peak of a TV show's greatness, after which everything else sucked. I was wrong. Allow me to cut and paste the Wikipedia entry:
Jump-the-shark moments may be scenes like the one described above that finally convince viewers that the show has fundamentally and permanently strayed from its original premise. In those cases they are viewed as a desperate and futile attempt to keep a series fresh in the face of declining ratings. In other cases the departure or replacement of a main cast member or character or a significant change in setting changes a critical dynamic of the show. These changes are often attempts to attract their fans' waning attention with over-the-top statements or increasingly overt appeals to sex or violence.
So its basically THE EXACT OPPOSITE of what I thought it was. I just remember watching that episode of Happy Days as a kid and thinking that it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. That's a six-year old's point of view talking, I guess.
One of the most popular ways to do this back in the eighties and nineties was to introduce a new character, usually a child. The Cosby Show, Married with Children, Growing Pains (twice guilty: Leo DiCaprio and the new kid, "Krissy.") Who's the Boss and Family Matters were all guilty of this, among many others. That was the point at which I stopped watching most of these shows. I remember the point at which I actually recognized this as a plot device was when the character of "Seven" was introduced on Married with Children. I thought,"This is completely ridiculous, why would they do this?"
Then it dawned on me.
And every other show that had done this ran through my mind and I recognized this tactic for what it really was: an act of desperation. Ever since then I have looked upon the introduction of a new child character in any TV show as its death knell. In a way, the act itself of bringing a new child character in kills the show's ratings. Maybe that's why it doesn't happen anymore.
This website is all about the voting. Diehard fans of certain TV shows like Lost vote that their fave show has never Jumped the Shark." To me this is rubbish. Every show Jumps the Shark at some point or another. I believe that it unfair to even look at a show for this phenomenon until it has finished its run and one can look at the entire series as a whole.
One show that many say never Jumped the Shark is Seinfeld. I will certainly agree that Seinfeld went out on a high note (my favorite all-time episode is the one where they're stuck in the Puerto Rican Day parade, second-last episode.) I would argue that Seinfeld jumped the shark in it's very last episode. Many shows do this. They complete the series with a total Cleveland Steamer of a show in an effort to make all of the fans "happy" and still leave open the possibility of a spin-off or movie,. Most of them suck. In my mind this is the worst way to jump the shark, as a crappy series finale leaves a bad taste in one's mouth for the whole series.
What do you all think? Has your favorite show Jumped the Shark? Can you think of examples I've missed? I await your thoughts.
Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Big Red Machine is back!

I was watching mostly NBC tonight, and I saw a bunch of these little short Hellboy 2 promos. Pretty funny stuff, actually. One of them features Hellboy being interviewed by James Lipton on Inside the Actor's Studio, another has him gently stroking a fluffy kitty. It's pretty apparent that whatever studio produced Hellboy 2 also owns NBC. Ah, cross promotion. Where would we be without you?

I am excited as hell -er- boy? (sigh, I gotta stop that.) about this movie. I loved the first one and the comic series and this one looks just as good, if not better.

Here's a question: why is it that the studio feels the need to tout this film as being from the director of Pan's Labyrinth? How about from the director of Hellboy? Isn't that one a little more relevant? What, because Pan's Labyrinth got all these critical accolades and oscars and Hellboy didn't that makes it more appealing to the masses? Well, let me clue you in a bit, Universal: this one ain't gonna win too many awards either, other than for special effects or makeup or somehing like that.

I just think its funny: All these comic book movies being made, and the studios are still trying to find a way to sell them to mainstream audiences. What they haven't figured out yet is that the comic book/sci-fi/fantasy audiences are becoming the mainstream. Just look at the turnout at conventions across North America. The San Diego comic con, taking place at the end of this month, is almost completely sold out. Our own Manitoba Comic Con is moving from the Victoria Inn into the Convention Centre this year because of record attendance. We're everywhere!

Anyway, between Hellboy, The Dark Knight and the upcoming X-Files movie, I will be hitting the theatre a lot this month. I'll post reviews here as I see 'em!


Saturday, July 5, 2008

The force is strong with this one.

So last night, Jack was pulling his usual stall techniques ("I pick out story, Daddy," I brusha teeth, Daddy,") for keeping me from putting him to bed, when he actually asked for something reasonable: "I needa milk, Daddy!" Who am I to refuse the boy his bedtime glass of milk? So I took him to the kitchen and gave him some milk, with a firm reminder that once he was done, it was bedtime. He acknowledged my terms with "My milk!" and went to watch some TV.

I joined him and quickly found Empire Strikes Back playing on Spike which I started watching simply to see if I still knew all the lines. (I do, how lame is that?!)

What amazed me is that Jack was extremely interested as well. When Yoda came on the screen, he would say "What's that, Daddy?"

"That's Yoda, my son," I replied.

"Dats O-da," he parroted.

Same goes for C-3PO, Chewie, anything else that looked out of the ordinary (Which is lots, in Star Wars.) The boy was transfixed for at least twenty minutes. Anyone who has kids knows what a feat it is to keep a two-year-old focused on anything other than Dora and Backyardigans for more than five minutes.

He absolutely loved it, and I was a beaming proud poppa. His education of the Star Wars universe began last night, and hopefully it will be something that he keeps an interest in as he gets older. I admit that some of it was still stalling for bedtime (if his attention would wander, I would say "Bedtime, Jack," to which he would reply, "I watcha TV, Daddy!") but he really did like it.

I am a firm fan of the original trilogy and of the "prequels" to some extent. While the writing, acting, directing, characters and overall plots of the newer films generally suck, there is something to be said about having a backstory. As we watched Empire last night, I thought of how Darth Vader got to where he was and I found I liked knowing that he had once been human, with a weird little rat-tail haircut and a spoiled rotten attitude.

I cautiously look forward to the new CGI Star Wars movie coming out next month. Check out the trailer here. Hopefully it does not lick balls. If Lucas wants to go this way for future Star Wars movies/TV shows, all the power to him. He shoulda done it for the prequel trilogy. It was 99% CGI anyway.

So to sum up: Old Star Wars good, new Star Wars bad, my son likes Star Wars, and that's cool with me.

More on this as it develops,


The prodigal son returns...

Wow. I haven't posted on this blog since last October. OCTOBER! That's nine months since I last decided to share my thoughts and experiences with the world at large.

For those of you who I haven't taked to in that time, no, I haven't had a baby or anything. I've just been simply too busy to post. School, work and family are three fairly time-consuming things and the blog just kinda fell by the wayside. Also, I notice that the blogging stopped as soon as my workload in school kicked up a notch. Those of you who are in or have taken Cre Comm know that when you spend five days a week writing various articles, proposals, pitch letters and other assorted communications pieces, the urge to write for fun kinda dies.

Well, I've decided to dust off this blog, clear out the cobwebs and start writing again. Several reasons for this, really. Since school ended I have not had an opportunity to write anything at all other than shopping lists and the occasional angry letter to George W. Bush. (Dear George: Stop doing shit. You've got less than six months left. Just relax and enjoy the plane while you've still got it. Sincerely, Dan. P.S. You suck.)

I have also found time in my schedule to actually sit down and write in it as well, so might as well take advantage, eh? Considering I almost always draw a blank whenever I go on the internet (email, facebook, wwdn, then ?) This will give me something else to do.

So whaddya think? Anything you want to talk about in particular? Drop me a line and we'll talk.

Friday, October 12, 2007

some people's kids...

Ok, so this twit wrote a letter to The Projector. I thought it was the biggest piece of garbage that I ever read. So of course I decided to respond. I won't bother printing the original letter here because....well frankly I don't feel like typing it out. Suffice to say that it was dumping on the Princess St. campus for various idiotic reasons. I will however post my response because I can simply cut and paste. So here it is:

I Love the Princess Street Campus

I am in my first year here at the downtown campus, and I for one am proud
to be a student here. This is one of the most unique collection of buildings
that I've ever seen, and I believe it has won some architectural awards.
Those two staircases you refer to? I believe the designers made them narrow
so as to reduce the space they take up in the hallways that they lead to,
duh! I almost never have a problem getting up and down those stairs, most
students here are polite and wait their turn.

As for the recycling boxes, it doesn't take a second year BA student to
figure out that the reason the various boxes have odd-shaped openings is
because the school doesn't want people throwing garbage in them! If you know
that the paper bin has a slit, don't crumple your paper! The big bins in the
caf have small holes because they only want bottles and cans put in them!
Our campus is taking a proactive approach to the climate crisis, and I for
one support it and recycle as much as possible.

Tell me, what is the literal sense of the word "retarded?" To me it is a
derogatory comment referring to people with intellectual disabilities. If
you were trying to say "stupid," then just say "stupid". Don't use a word
that could be confused with an offensive slur.

Now you complain about not being able to find a seat along the Princess
side of the campus, in the couches and comfy chairs? Well no kidding! I
personally don't care who is sitting there, be it student or not. The bottom
line is that the good seats are going to get taken first. Now, last time I
checked this was a public campus, and we are home to the only Tim Hortons in
the Exchange District. We're gonna attract our share of non-students. What,
would you rather NOT have a Tim's on campus?

Finally, there is our poor security guard. Trying to write his novel in his
down time. In my opinion this is the perfect job to have if you are a
writer. Anyone who has worked a security job knows this: there's a lot of
sitting around. It doesn't matter how dedicated you are, your ass sits the
same way in that chair. You might as well do something constructive, no?

So overall, I found your letter offensive, grammatically incorrect, and
extremely ill-informed and unintelligent. It sounds like a 14-year-old wrote
it. Next time keep your opinion to yourself.

Dan Vadeboncoeur
1st year Creative Communications

So the Projector published my letter, and I'm feeling pretty good about myself. I have several people tell me that they agree with me and that they thought the original letter was offensive. (What really bothered me about the letter was the person's use of the word "retarded." Allow me to quote: "That is retarded in the literal sense of the word." It was that exact phrasing that set me off.)

The Projector published my email address with the letter, which is fine. Yesterday I recieved an anonymous e-mail from someone who didn't like my letter. Here it is:

Dear Danny Dumbass,

I am in my second year at RRC at the Notre Dame campus. I for one am proud
to be a student here. It does however; pain me to admit I have spent a
summer at the Princess St campus picking up an extra course. Admitting this
travesty can only be compared to a rape victim having to relive the events
in front of a court. Just thinking about my experiences at Princess makes
me want to scrub myself raw.

I'm glad you decided to share with us the fact that PS won architectural
awards. I wish you would have clarified which ones for me. I, on the other hand; have done some investigative research, and I have discovered that it has indeed won three (bad things come in threes) titles. Please read below:
1. the award for the biggest shit hut
2. the award for the most pretentious students
3. the award for the school with the worst lounges. (Really, I would rather
spend my down time jerking off with sandpaper than sit on one of those
dirty couches)

For a school that "is taking a proactive approach to the climate crisis"
your school sure adds a lot of bullshit to the environment, as well as
computers that drain power, not to mention a continuous wireless internet running 24/7. But heaven forbid I throw my can of Full Throttle into the can marked for cardboard products.

It may not take a second year BA student to figure out various openings are for various shaped objects; it does however take someone as witty as yourself who is enrolled in a course with as much prestige as “CreComm” to insult someone for sounding like a 14-year old. Tell me, do you get a handshake before or after your certificate is emailed to you?

You would be lucky to portray yourself as 14. With lines like,

“…would you NOT have a Tims on campus?”

or my favorite,

“….reduce the space they take up in the hallways that they lead to, duh!” I would predict that you were a 12 year old junior high school girl who thinks too much of herself after watching “The Hills” or “Laguna Beach”

As far as the security goes, they should not be writing a novel while on duty. If you were a bank executive or a reporter and had some spare time, would you be writing a novel? Well you probably would because you write poorly made letters to a college newspaper on your spare time. Any normal person would like their security guard to be on watch when he has spare time. I was at Princess St this summer, and a pack of drunken people came in and started making trouble. But I guess if invaders came into your school you would beat them down with you self importance.

(dis) Regards,

-Nore Dame Warrior

I have not altered this in any way those spelling and punctuation mistakes are real. I do regret using the "duh", I was simply trying to speak at the same maturity level as the original writer (zing!) What really amuses me is this: I didn't even mention the Notre Dame campus in my letter. To be honest, half the time I forget that there IS a Notre Dame campus. I really don't care one way or another what they think.

I have since learned that the security guard in question was misquoted in the article that said he was writing his novel at work. (Part of the first letter.) In fact, he said that he gets his story ideas when he's at work, but he does not write here. Wouldn't matter to me if he did, he works the midnight to 8 am shift. He does all his rounds and the place is secure.

The only thing I can think of is that this person must know the girl who wrote the letter that I responded to. She may be distraught, and this giant douche decided to defend her honour. I honestly can't believe that someone would take offense to what I wrote just based on the letter alone.

I am not going to respond. I have however shared the letter with a lot of my classmates, and now anyone else who cares to read this blog. Incidentally, the person created a specific email address:
to blast me from. Feel free to email him/her if you want.

Obviously spelling is not their strong suit.