August 11th, 2009
Roger Ebert on John Candy, and on John Hughes’ second-best movie:
One night a few years after “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” was released, I came upon John Candy (1950-1994) sitting all by himself in a hotel bar in New York, smoking and drinking, and we talked for a while. We were going to be on the same TV show the next day. He was depressed. People loved him, but he didn’t seem to know that, or it wasn’t enough. He was a sweet guy and nobody had a word to say against him, but he was down on himself. All he wanted to do was make people laugh, but sometimes he tried too hard, and he hated himself for doing that in some of his movies. I thought of Del. There is so much truth in the role that it transforms the whole movie. Hughes knew it … And Steve Martin knew it, and played straight to it.
The movies that last, the ones we return to, don’t always have lofty themes or Byzantine complexities. Sometimes they last because they are arrows straight to the heart. When Neal unleashes that tirade in the motel room and Del’s face saddens, he says, “Oh. I see.” It is a moment that not only defines Del’s life, but is a turning point in Neal’s, because he also is a lonely soul, and too well organized to know it. Strange, how much poignancy creeps into this comedy, and only becomes stronger while we’re laughing.
See also Colby Cosh’s terrific column in today’s National Post.
May 29th, 2009
Wayne Gretzky on the Phoenix Coyotes vs. Jim Balsillie: “Hopefully we can find a resolution that makes everyone happy.”
Somehow I’m guessing Janet resolves most of the family disputes.
May 26th, 2009
“Argh!” exclaimed Chris McGreal, the Guardian’s Washington correspondent. “I’m, like, one line short!”
He continued, close to pulling his hair out: “Hmm. Urgh. Cripes! What the hell do I know about some seal-slaughtering Canadian vice-regal? I’m the Washington correspondent! Don’t I have better things to do?”
Finally, he exclaimed, “oh, sod it,” and filed this:
Jean, who as governor general is also chief scout of Canada, said the practices were part of a way of life.
And I’m glad that he did, because it really made me laugh.
May 19th, 2009
Y’all know those telephone patch cord thingies that live between your telephone’s handset and its base, with the little cord coming out of it that you plug into your recorder? Mine broke, as mine always do. So I strode purposefully into The Source by Circuit City, armed with the lifetime replacement warranty I’d purchased on the thing, knowing it would break, only to find they don’t make them, or indeed anything comparable, anymore.
Okay, I thought. This can’t be too much of an emergency in our global economy, can it? So I hunted around for an online Canadian source for the item. Nothing. I discovered to my delight that Radio Shack still makes them in the U.S. But they don’t ship to Canada. Fine, I thought. I’ll have it shipped to a friend somewhere in the U.S. and have him or her forward it on to me. Except Radio Shack won’t even let you pay with an un-American credit card!
Alright, I thought, let’s get serious. Ebay will save me. And indeed, I found and ordered a similar-looking device from a vendor in Mississippi, which arrived, but which does not work in the slightest. I might as well put a potato between the handset and the base as this doodad. Indeed, I’m confident it would produce less static.
This is ridiculous; it’s 2009, for heaven’s sake! I’d really prefer not to have to go to Niagara Falls to get one of these stupid things, but desperation is setting in. Any thoughts anyone has on alternative devices, or alternative sources for the traditional device, are extremely welcome. Failing that, anyone who wants one of these things, let me know and I’ll pick one up for you. Evidence suggests they might not be around much longer, which is about as indicative of the decline of journalism as any other phenomenon I can think of.
May 14th, 2009
Says Pierre McGuire: “You see [Tim Thomas] without his clothes on, you say, ‘there’s no way he’s a professional athlete.’”
An awkward silence ensues between he and Gord Miller.
May 11th, 2009
Gardiner chaos averted
Others, from history:
Apollo 13 astronauts splash down safely
Millions of New Yorkers safe after airborne terrorist attacks
April 19th, 2009
NBC’s coverage of the absolutely fantastic Flyers-Penguins game this afternoon blew CBC’s out of the water, and anyone who knows how I feel about Pierre McGuire—that would be anyone even remotely familiar with me or my work—knows what it means for me to say that. First of all, NBC’s Mike Emrick is a first-rate play-by-play guy. CBC’s Dean Brown… isn’t. On the colour side, CBC’s Gary Galley also… isn’t. So the Mother Corp. is working from a disadvantage to start with, even before they put P.J. Stock on the panel with Kelly Hrudey and Ron MacLean, both of whom are terrific. What can one even say about Stock? Even if he had something interesting to say, which he does not, the poor guy can hardly speak English. His continued presence on HNIC is utterly baffling. In contrast, back on NBC, Mike Milbury has most definitely found his calling in front of a television camera as a hockey panel guy. I’m paraphrasing slightly here, but his statement that “Philadelphians love cheesesteak and violence, and so do I,” is one of my favourite off-ice hockey moments in recent memory. (Assuming CBC doesn’t plan to switch gears entirely, the ideal replacement for Don Cherry on Coach’s Corner couldn’t really be more obvious.)
McGuire, however, is everywhere in the NBC coverage: he’s Emrick’s colour guy, and he’s Milbury’s intermission partner. So how can I stand it? Because McGuire doesn’t act like an overcaffeinated idiot on NBC. This means someone at TSN is telling him to behave like an overcaffeinated idiot, or isn’t telling him not to. I hereby call for this person to be located and either convinced to change his ways or exiled to some kind of penal colony.
April 5th, 2009
This is somewhat fascinating: Dennis Edney, one of Omar Khadr’s Canadian lawyers, thinks the Pentagon’s decision to can Lt.-Cmdr. William Kuebler, Khadr’s American military lawyer and whirling anti-Guantanamo dirvish, “was made in the best interests” of his client.
As much as I respect Kuebler, I have to say there have been times when I’ve wondered if his idealism was working in his client’s best interests. From a piece I wrote for Maclean’s last year:
A plea bargain such as [David] Hicks’ would be one way of breaking the stalemate, and [University of Ottawa professor Craig] Forcese believes it’s the most likely eventual outcome in the case—especially if Khadr “voluntarily assumed certain restrictions on [his] liberty,” which could make the scenario more politically saleable as well. Nate Whitling, an Edmonton lawyer who represents Khadr in Canada, says he’d consider any arrangement that “would get him out of Guantanamo.” But Lt.-Cmdr. William Kuebler, Khadr’s outspoken military lawyer in the U.S., says the refusal of authorities to recognize Khadr as a child soldier leaves little common ground for negotiation. “We think as a matter of law that Omar Khadr, as a former child soldier, is entitled to certain protections,” he says. “The U.S. government rejects that and wants to give him a life sentence, so there’s almost no possibility of coming to any agreement.”
I have no insight into Kuebler’s ouster or the currrent behind-the-scenes political realities of the military commissions. But with Barack Obama in the White House, it seems to me Khadr needs ruthlessly pragmatic legal representation—child soldier, not a child soldier, whatever. Let’s just get him back to Canada. This is in no way a knock against Kuebler, but his well-founded idealism, combined with his well-founded, unceasing and loud opposition to the legal process under which he was attempting to represent Khadr, might not be quite what his former client needs right now.
March 22nd, 2009
Other than misspelling “Queen Street” as “Queens Street”—don’t sweat it New York Times; anyone could get that wrong—T’s fawning profile of Toronto’s Drake and Gladstone Hotels is something to behold. I’d be almost afraid to go in to either for a drink, based on the oppressive hipness described therein.
March 14th, 2009
“April Wine will be inducted—not individuals, it’s the musical entity.”