Monday, 29 December 2014

Migraine







Occasionally i'll get a migraine.  This involves nausea, high sensitivty to stimulii, most notably light and sound, and extreme pain.  All of this usually force sme into a very dark, quiet room where I curl into a ball with my hands over my eyes and head where I wonder about what the world would be like if I died.

Now don't misunderstand me here. I'm in no way suicidal ever. It's just that in those moments I wonder how long a body could handle such extreme pain without the head imploding.
At this point you are probably wondering whats up with the picture.
Well thats what I made after the migraine attack was over.
You see once the attack is over is one of the extremely rare times where i'm without pain. My mind is totally clear and my brain is fully functioning without my pain getting in the way of my concentration. And so I decided to make myself some home made poutine and a bacon grilled cheese sandwich...because why not?
I make this amongst reading books on philosophy and doing some blog writing of my own.
I have to really take advantage of these states because they are very short lived. By tomorrow, when I wake, im sure i'll have that little nagging pain at some hard to reach spot in my skull.
But until then i'm going to enjoy the shit outa this meal.



Friday, 12 December 2014

Never Stop Trying: A motto for health care professionals working with the elderly.



Pretty solid.

It's most salient message is towards the end where she states that these breakthroughs won't happen every time but to keep on trying.

To be way more realistic these breakthroughs actually rarely happen but when they do it is profoundly rewarding.


However for the full time care workers within the profession it's actually a message that is easily forgotten through the heavy workload and stresses of the day to day job.  Combine that with rampant staff shortages, either due to people regularly calling in sick or simply quitting altogether (high turnover rate), and only hearing from management when you have done something wrong (such as forgetting to take the linen out at the end of shift) there is no wonder there is such a high burnout rate in this field.

Employees are often just struggling to get all of their basic job requirements completed for the day that they forget about the very personal aspect of the job.  I swear the amount of needless paperwork that I do just because the ministry requires it of us to cover the homes butt really infuriates me.  It is wasted time that should be spent on more resident care.
Now I'm fortunate that I only work as a personal support worker in long term care in a part time capacity. 


As such I always start my shift refreshed and motivated to make my residents lives just a little bit better during their, often less than ideal, end of life.

It can be a very harrowing experience but I've had countless encounters where major breakthroughs have been achieved directly through my actions.


These have varied from small examples of a resident smiling who people thought was catatonic or a resident allowing herself to be fed who would typically lash out physically to getting a woman to actually communicate in full sentences  who hadn't spoken in weeks.


I've even actually had a couple of breakthroughs I'd argue that are even more profound than the one seen in the video that are simply too personal to share.


The satisfaction I get from these moments cannot be understated.  Whether it be simply a smile or otherwise.


So my basic message would be to health care professionals to not forget the human aspect of the job as there are some definite sunny breaks to be had in what is often a very depressing existence if you are willing to put in the effort.


And likewise our politicians, managers/supervisors, bureaucrats, and family members should be aware of just how much work is required of our health care professionals and to provide these workers with whatever means you can so they can do the best job they can with our aging populations.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Remembrance Day



This is not going to be a fun blog to write or read.

It will start off as unpleasant, then move into shocking on its way to gruesome.  Then when we are all thoroughly depressed i'll offer up what seems to be a positive reprieve where we get to see the decency of humanity shrine through one of the worst times in history.

But that will be short lived because it would be disingenuous to stop there.  Because this isn't a fictional storybook I'm writing about.  This is about a real time in history that should not be forgotten nor rewritten to make us think about the goodness of humanity.

No this is not one of those stories that has a conflict that is happily resolved in the end.

This is a story about the soldiers who went through some of the worst experiences in history of which there can be no happy ending.

This is about World War 1.




I'll have to preface this blog (as I really should all of them) with the fact that i'm a complete amateur who reads and listens to history books and podcasts on a very recreational level.  I'm clearly not an expert and, as such, should not be taken seriously and in fact you should consider everything I write suspect.

What i'm doing in this blog is taking my incredibly limited knowledge of numerous battles and scenarios in WW1 and condensing them down into one extremely general view of the conditions that soldiers fought under.

In actuality there were hundreds of unique encounters involving millions of little stories that I couldn't possibly do justice.

So without further ado, here is what I'll be thinking about during our Remembrance Day.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

War was once considered by some to be a noble and glorious endeavor.  Of note Theodore Roosevelt who exited office right before WW1.  Soldiers were nice enough to line up in neat rows and take turns shooting at one another.

Once one side realized that they were outmatched a white flag would be waved and the enemy commander would accept his opponent's sword in a ceremonial surrender.

Afterwards, the surrendered commander would be treated with the utmost honor and even have dinner with his, up until recently, opponent.

Now this is of course a completely rose colored view of how soldiers fought prior to WW1.  However there is some truth to it and it serves to demonstrate the extreme change that will soon occur with the rapid technological advancement leading up to the Great War.

The war to end all wars began with the traditional rank and file formations of wars past.

However with the advent of the machine gun these formations were quickly decimated.  Old generals set in their ways would send in further troops in hopes of overwhelming these machine guns to no avail.

Quickly, but not before countless were dead, the generals realised the error of their ways and would order a retreat.

The shattered survivors would then regroup and the enemy commander may send in their cavalry troops in a counter attack to quickly route the survivors (another old school tactic).  Only to sucumb to the same fate of their enemy as they turn their own machine guns on the advancing cavalry.

Soon both groups realize that to advance means certain death and order their troops to hunker down in large dug out trenches to shelter them from arms fire.

But these troops' reprieve will be short lived for the slow moving artillery has finally made it to the battlefield.  The impact that modern day artillery had on the battlefield cannot be understated.










There were battles, along the lines of the one i'm currently creating, that started out with trenches in heavily forested areas.  However within hours the artillery fire would quickly turn this forest with trees that have matured over hundreds of years into rubble.  Within days there will be no sign that there once was a forest there and the entire battlefield will resemble the surface of the moon.  A desolate wasteland dotted with craters.

The only soldier to witness this wasteland would be dead.  For any soldier foolish enough to poke his head out of his trench would be quickly killed by shrapnel.  And now his fellow soldier has to remain hunkered down next to his fallen friend's corpse because to attempt to bury him would just mean another body to be added to the trench.  Just remain hunkered down and listen to the artillery barrage continue all day in rapid succession lest ye forget where you are.

Occasionally there would be a cessation of the artillery fire.  But this of course would only be followed by you witnessing a blanket of the enemy forces launching a forward offensive consisting of new troops with flamethrowers, jackets full of grenades, and all kinds of new daggers and close combat weapons aimed at finding any way to end your life.

Luckily you too have your own machine guns and artillery to allow you to push back the offensive and keep this engagement up indefinitely.

Now these are obviously some pretty awful conditions (it gets worse, it always gets worse) of which the mind can only take so much.  And how did some soldiers deal with this?  Humor.  There are actual reports, of the exact scenario that I've depicted, whereby soldiers would wake up every morning and greet their fallen comrades' corpses in order to make light of their situation (remember no way to bury them unless you want a bullet to the head).

The only way to survive this is to remain hunkered down and wait until you were  replaced by relief troops.  As for the relief troops?  Well they have to first make it through that artillery barrage with the only reward of living that same existence as the relieved soldiers.






Umm I promised an uplifting part where we get to see a little bit of humanity shine through didn't I?

Well, battles like these were proving to be stalemates.  Both sides evenly matched and having extreme difficulty gaining any ground.  As such there were large trench lines facing each other with enemy forces in fairly close proximity to one another.

In the lead up to Christmas troops on both sides began singing songs.  This led to a lessening of tensions to the point that both sides were able to cross into no man's land and exchange greetings, presents and even play a game of football.

This sounds like a a made up fairytale to take away the absolute horror but there are official accounts of this occurring to one degree or another along the entire battle lines. A good read can be found here.

The higher command on both sides weren't very happy with this development however.  They were concerned that this may lead to their force's willingness to shed the blood of their temporary brothers a little more difficult.

Fortunately (and I use this here very sarcastically), their fears would be short lived.






Because of the stalemate that had developed between the two sides, new methods of killing had to be utilized and so began the use of chemical weapons.

This involved turning the very air you breathed into pure torture where, if you weren't quick enough to put on your mask or the masks hadn't arrived to deal with the threat yet, you would die one of the most agonizing deaths imaginable.

But it didn't just turn the air into a weapon.

At this point in the war the battleground had been completely torn up with constant artillery fire.  Some of the trenches had to be abandoned because they were full of water.

Well the chemical weapons detonated on the battlefield would seep into these water trenches turning the water into poison.  Some of the soldiers trying to cross the trenches to the newly dug trenches would fall in.  And any noble attempt by a fellow soldier to save their friend's life would often lead to them both drowning.

Of course at this point in the war supplies were also very hard to come by seeing as the supplies were having a hard time making it through the artillery fire.

So some soldiers would take the risk of drinking this contaminated water due to severe dehydration (I'm sure the gas mask didn't help with the overheating).  Never mind that they see the bodies of their fallen friends floating nearby.

Soon each side began to view one another as completely barbaric and less then human.
No there will be no more Christmas truces after this point.

Alright I think that's about all that I can handle.  This is some pretty hard stuff to digest and i'm only listening and reading about it.  Let alone having to live it.

There really isn't any point to this blog.  There is no message I'm trying to preach whatsoever.
I'm not trying to be gruesome for gruesome's sake, nor am I trying to portray any group in this war as worse than another.

I'm also fully aware that this isn't the only time that humanity has witnessed such atrocities.  In fact we have been finding all kinds of new and horrible ways to kill one another since the beginning of time.

Actually that might be the point.

I'm writing this stuff down as a means to never forget, to always be mindful, and to remember all the terrible things that nobody should suffer, but so many have, that I haven't.



Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Ramifications of the New Apple Pay



Apple recently unveiled its new Iphone 6 and its new product the Apple Watch.

One of the incredibly new, innovative, and exciting features (that Android has had for a while) is the Apple Pay.

Without having actually looked into how it works whatsoever, i'll explain how it works.  Using your IPhone or Apple Watch you can easily pay at select retailers (who have the necessary hook up) with just one touch of your Apple device.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER?

Well to explain why this matters i'm going to have to connect this topic with Disney (which I have shamelessly not done in far too long).



Disney has, over the last few years, been developing and implementing something they call MyMagic + (Stick with me here and trust that this relates to Apple in a very big way).

There are two main features from MyMagic+.  FastPass+ and Magic Bands.

Magic Bands contain your park tickets, visa card, and hotel key information all on a bracelet so that you can easily touch your bracelet to any vendor to easily pay for your purchase.  Often without even having to input your credit card pin code.

FastPass+ is a new system whereby guests can basically secure advanced reservations for rides so that users can return at a predetermined time in order to bypass lines.

These two features go hand in hand.  Basicly, rather then have you wait in line, Disney would rather you spend your time perusing the various gift shops in proximity to the rides and utilize their extremely efficient Magic Bands to quickly buy anything that suits your fancy.

So once again:


WHY DOES THIS MATTER?


Well back in the day we used to have to fish into our wallet and get the money.  We had to count the change and actually feel our wallets get lighter.

Then comes the credit card.

Now we can impulse buy without impunity.  The time it takes from your saying "ooh I want that" to actually buying the product has decreased substantially.  You don't have to take the time to count your money (which gave you time to second guess your impulse) and actually witness the physical loss of your money and the minor anguish associated with that.

We basically stopped viewing money as an actual physical thing.  It all became very imaginary.

And what happened?

People spent more.  People racked up debt because they didn't even really register that they were losing something for the products they were getting.

Have doubts that the adoption of new technology can impact consumer in this way?  Well Disney doesn't.  In fact they have invested 2 billion dollars in this MyMagic+ technology overhaul.

2 Billion Dollars!!


And they are already reporting that average guest spending is up substantially.

So lets now adopt this to the main public.

As previously mentioned, Android has had this technology in place but it really had no impact that i'm aware of.  But Android does not have the mega brand image and money that Apple has.  I believe that Apple has the potential to influence vendors and have the widespread adoption of this technology in association with their devices so that virtually any store where we can make purchases we can use our wrist.  Thereby making it that much easier then ever before to spend money before we even realize what we've done.

So Whats Next?
Embedded chips.  These chips will have all of your personal information and, when combined with your fingerprint, will make it so that you don't even have to remember to carry your watch to make a purchase.

Seems a little far fetched and Sci Fi but i'd bet on this as the next step in technology and am completely serious about this statement (but all subsequent statements from here on out are to be taken as increasingly satirical).

Now what are the ramifications of newer more efficient forms of technology that make it increasingly easier to make purchases without a thought?

Well debt levels are already out of control (at least in part due to the previously mentioned advances in technology).

I predict that these newer forms of technology will have consumers taking on unprecedented levels of debt that will reach a tipping point.

Soon these consumers will all begin defaulting on their loans and filing for bankruptcy.

This will lead to a complete collapse of the economy and a depression that the world has never seen before.

After bankruptcy filings become rampant, businesses will become afraid and will withhold on investing any money.  In fact they will find new ways to save themselves more money.  And one of those ways will be through massive layoffs.

This in turn will of course lead to an additional influx of bankruptcy filings because of record level unemployment levels.

Now that people no longer have jobs they are unable to purchase anything from the businesses who now themselves have to declare bankruptcy.

Now the government is no longer receiving any funds from its unemployed taxpayers and bankrupts businesses and is forced to completely cut back on public spending.

At this point society will collapse into complete and total anarchy.
There will no longer be any hospitals functioning, there will be no trash collecting, hot water for hygiene and the sewers will completely back up.

And the obvious and only inevitable outcome from this total living in ones own filth is the spread and proliferation of numerous and new germs, viruses, and bacteria.

Well Then What Happens at That Point? 

Zombies.


Just based on the exhaustive source of Zombie TV shows and films I think that is the only logical conclusion.

So while arguing over killing an infected loved one due to a minor scratch he or she received, just remember to thank Apple for its always innovative new technology.

Thanks Apple!



And just to bring a little humor, while discussing the inevitable destruction of the human race:





Monday, 1 September 2014

News Story Fatigue and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Most people probably haven't noticed that the title of my blog (not this posting) is MyMusings.  I've named it this for a very good reason and this most recent posting is the epitome of the title.

Namely the definitions of musing is:
  1. Contemplation
  2. Meditation
  3. Thoughtful
  4. Reflection
  5. Deep or absorbed in thought

Why do I think its important that I explain that now?  Because with this post you are going to get to see the inner monologue that runs through my brain.  That includes all the twists and turns and half brained theories, opinions, and positions that I may make.

This blog, as a whole, isn't meant to educate, change a persons opinion or position, or even have any readership whatsoever frankly.

The purpose of this blog is simply meant to translate whats going on in my brain down onto paper to attempt to sort through my many many thought processes and if I happen to share this side of me with others then so be it.

And now to the post!




There is an interesting (when I use this term be aware it actually only means interesting to me but nobody else) phenomenon that i've noticed in the news, message boards, reddit posts, and fads.

What seems to occur is that people generally embrace the topic at hand, and not only get disinterested in the subject but seem to actively discredit it.

I've noticed this appears to apply to every subject imaginable from a simple "I like dogs" post, to the ALS ice bucket challenge, to racism is a problem.

There is one theory that may, partially, account for this phenomenon and thats Compassion Fatigue, also known as Burnout.

Compassion Fatigue is actually something that is fairly common within the line of work I do while taking care of palliative seniors.  One may start out doing this line of work with the utmost compassion for their clients but that compassion begins to gradually lessen more and more.

The reason for this is likely due to a persons mental state being unable to handle all the unpleasant emotions that goes along with caring for sick, dying, and generally suffering people.

So initially when you turn on the infomercials about starving kids in Africa you feel real genuine compassion and sadness for those children.  Over time however you begin to say to yourself "oh enough already".

So alright Compassion Fatigue may account for more heavy hitting subject matter.  But i've noticed this same phenomenon with the most mundane topics possible.  I'll make up the example of a thread on a message boards with the headline "I Love DOGS!".  A thread like this seems to have a natural progression that begins with general agreement with the loving of dogs that devolves into people, not merely being bored with the subject but, actually start countering with "Not only do I note love dogs but dogs are evil for such and such reasons".

What can account for this?  Well here is where I do some really far reaching surmising.

I'm wondering if this has something to do with the theory of cognitive dissonance?  I might be stretching here but hear me out.

First of all Cognitive Dissonance is a theory that basically posits that you must have a belief structure whereby you are a smart rational person.  Any other thought must be in line with this belief structure.

For example.  You are a smoker.  However you learn that smoking is bad for your health but you continue smoking.  These two thoughts aren't in line with you being a smart rational being.  Therefore one of these two statements must be incorrect.  Either you stop being a smoker or discredit the negative effects of smoking by outright denying its health risks or merely believing that it only harms you at the end of your life when it doesn't matter anyway.

Now lets use this theory on the mundane thread of the loving of dogs.


You follow a thread with people all talking about how much they love dogs.  You become bored with the subject.  Your brain now has 3 thoughts:
  1. I'm bored with the subject
  2. Many people like this subject
  3. How can I be bored with a subject that so many others like?  Either they are wrong or I am wrong.  Since i'm a smart rational person they must be wrong.
So instead of just realizing that people are different and have differing viewpoints that could all be valid the person has to prove how their viewpoint is wrong since it doesn't match his/her own.

Again this may be a stretch but may also have valid credence considering just how closed minded we humans tend to be.

Now for a very good example of this phenomenon. The ALS ice bucket challenge. The reason I titled this post New Story Fatigue is because popular news stories very often seem to have this very natural progression of embracement to disdain and ALS is no exception.

The ALS ice bucket challenge quickly became a phenomenon that was embraced by the mainstream media and spread throughout all of social media.

It started out where everybody was excited about doing the challenge and gleefully challenged others to do it as well. It was embraced by friends, co workers, and celebrities alike. It seemed everybody was on board with this new social phenomenon.

However, because of the intense exposure the ALS challenge received, it appeared to go through my News Story Fatigue cycle more quickly then usual.

It went from total embracement to people saying its a lame fad, to other charities deserve your money, to ALS is actually a horrible charity and you shouldn't be giving them any of your money. All within a relatively short span of time.

******************TANGENT***************


Quick tangent here on the criticisms of the ALS ice bucket challenge. There are many so i'll only address 3. And to quickly summarize my opinion on the criticisms: Stop it. The challenge and charity is fine.


1. The charity only gives 25% to research.
Read the charities mission statement. They never intended on spending all of their money on research. Their goals also include such things as raising awareness. Upon further inspection it actually looks like a pretty reputable charity that achieves its publicly stated goals while spending relatively little on its' administration.

2. You should choose your charity based on which charity is more on need and has a higher death count.
Skip the next paragraph if you don't like vulgarities....

Are you fucking kidding me? Who the fuck are you to decide which charity we should give money to? The body count isn't the only possible consideration.

How about the severity, anguish and suffering of the disease?

ALS has got to be one of the worst diseases out there.

Sure I witness the awfulness of Alzheimer's disease (and am by no means discounting it or placing it below ALS). But at least those suffering from Alzheimer's usually have their mind rot away so they aren't able to contemplate what is happening to them. ALS preserves your mind so that you can watch as the rest of your body disintegrates in a slow painful death.

So fuck this argument and anyone who supports it. Once again. Who are you to decide which is more important?

3. ALS funding is taking away from other, also worthwhile, charities.
After point number 2 i'll be much more civil here.

To begin with this is a claim that I have yet to see anybody substantiate and is merely guesswork.

While it may be true that some people have decided to change charities i'd argue that most people don't have a set charity to begin with and probably wouldn't have given to any charity. Its not like there is 100m in money allocated to charity each year.

That money can go up and down. Heck if we are going to make wild claims with no actual proof then i'll make one of my own.

I bet these movember, breast cancer walk, and ALS challenge awareness campaigns increase peoples awareness in charitable giving in general. They may start with these charities and become more likely to continue giving to others charities in the future.

Now this tangent being said i'm not giving to ALS but sure as hell don't lament those who do :)


******************TANGENT***************
K Tangent over.
Where the heck was I?
Oh right:

"It went from total embracement to people saying its a lame fad, to other charities deserve your money, to ALS is actually a horrible charity and you shouldn't be giving them any of your money. All within a relatively short span of time."
How the heck did this happen?

Forget cognitive dissonance, forget compassion fatigue. I've got a new theory i'm creating and its News Story Fatigue. Here is how this theory works (and its really quite simple):

Humans are hardwired to get bored with subject matter after repeated exposure.
We hate getting bored and in order to spice things up we create a counterpoint to whatever the subject is.

These counterpoints make for more exciting subject matter and can explain why all of these stupid reality shows exist.

It could also explain why the Maury Povich show went from being the compassionate show it was to a more Jerry Springer show replete with thrown chairs.

And thats all I got on this made up super interesting (remember that means only interesting to me) phenomenon that i'm calling News Story Fatigue.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

One, Of Many, Problems With Journalism



When in CEGEP (a Quebec version of college) I took a class that dealt with journalism.

It taught you about journalism integrity, and the goal of providing information to the public that was as true, and as free from bias as possible.

We then delved into random newspaper clippings and dissected them and immediately find out that journalism is far from unbiased and, unfortunately, very rarely provides you the truth.

There were a few things I learned from this class, along with other methodology courses in sociology and psychology, that makes it hard for me to read news articles.

I immediately find errors, slight word changes that biases the whole article, and unsubstantiated claims.

As a result i've sought out more credible news sources.  I've subscribed to news feeds on facebook of organizations that value reason and rational thought above all else.

Surely I can get some good articles from these sources right?

Apparently not.

One of my subscriptions posted this article:
http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/evolutionary-psychologist-staying-up-late-is-a-sign-of-superior-intelligence

It's actually a pretty harmless article but is just one of the more recent ones that lack any value whatsoever.

Briefly, it posits a theory, by evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa, that those who stay up later and wake up later  (or night owls) are smarter then people on the traditional sleep schedule.  He then sites a study that states children with higher IQ's tend to go to bed later in their adolescence then their earlier bedtime peers.

Now that basic summary leaves me skeptical on a number of reasons that I don't even have to explore.

Because in the last paragraph of the very same article it states that the study was not peer reviewed (basically vetted out by other professional researchers), and the author of the study had a history of bad science!!!

THEN WHY POST THIS USELESS ARTICLE?

Again I chose this site for news because it was supposed to be based upon good science, reason, and good ol fashioned sense.

Instead it chooses to post these articles because of a fun headline.
Whats the big idea, or problem, with this?

People often simply read the headline of an article.  Get the basic musings of the article.  Move on.  And then spread this information to other people.  They often wont get to the end of this article that basically states the entire article is false.

Now again.  This is a harmless article.  It angers me because I wanted real news from somebody out there, and am once again let down by people whose mission statement is supposed to be in line with my own.

But it is also just one of many articles like this that are untrue.

There are tons of news sites out there that also release erroneous, or misleading, articles that actually have devastating consequences.

A couple of examples of that will be released in another blog that i've been planning on posting but was deleted by the kids :).  But I will be doing that blog eventually.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

New Movie Review



So i'm going to do a movie review right now and let's just pretend that it's a late review and I actually watched it yesterday because of course I was busy watching my local sports team beat those pesky adversaries tonight and certainly not watching a movie.

Runoff sentences aside..


I watch a lot of movies.  Like way too many movies and, as a result, I'm usually pretty hard pressed to come up with a movie choice when my wife demands I select a movie to watch together.

Unfortunately neither of us are movie aficionados and so are unable to settle for, or appreciate, some new independent film or documentary that has been released.

Instead I'm reduced to scrounging in the far off reaches within the bowels of my phone where I occasionally write down a movie title that I'll probably have heard either from somebody mentioning in passing or on The Film Vault podcast.

These movies notes are often from at least 6 months ago and are only still on my phone because I haven't been desperate enough to resort to checking them out.

Well tonight last night was one of those nights with no other options.

I'm not selling this, so far unnamed, movie too hard am I?  Because despite what my current preamble suggests I'm actually really glad I watched this film.

And, without further ado, the movie in question is the 1996 film directed and written by Matthew Bright who you may have heard from such movies as....ok nothing.  His filmography on Wikipedia is so light they had to add this line for padding :

"He grew up with writer/director Richard Elfman and his brother, composer Danny Elfman."

So There's that.

Hmm I'm still not selling this movie very well, oh and gosh darn it I still haven't mentioned the title yet!



But if you read that gosh darn it line in a southern accent you would be right to do so because the always loveable southern beauty Reese Witherspoon stars in this film.

Now I have to be honest.  After seeing the trailer, I really wasn't very interested in seeing this film.  It's the reason its title was sitting on my phone in a note document for so long.  However because Reese was involved (and I'd like to think we'd be on a first name basis if we met) it was the tipping point for me to take the plunge and give this movie a chance.

For, as I'm sure we'd all agree, Reese's acting ability is really top notch grade A material. 


The way she portrayed her character Elle Woods in Legally blonde really made me believe that a blonde sorority girl could really earn a law degree in the hopes of winning back her ex boyfriend.


Her acting is second to none and it's no wonder that her performance spawned two sequels as well as a musical that opened on Broadway...wait really?  Let me check that again..Hmm well look at that.  Atta girl Reese.

What those pictures?  I have no idea how they got there and this is the first I'm seeing them and really don't understand how they pertain to this current movie review and in no way reflect my motives in watching this film.

Jokes aside I actually do enjoy Reese Witherspoon every time she is on camera (even when yelling at cops) and many of her films I truly adore.  Actually i'll list a few of my favorites that everyone should have seen by now :

-Pleasantville
-Cruel Intentions
-Election
-Sweet Home Alabama
-Walk the Line

Now my darling Reese isn't the only noteworthy cast member in this film.  In fact this movie is chalk full of talent and includes Kiefer Sutherland (24), Dan Hedaya (too many films to mention but the dad in Clueless), Amanda Plummer (played crazy really well in So I Married an Axe Murderer and does so again in this film), Brooke Shields (Blue Lagoon), and Brittany Murphy (many critically acclaimed roles and also in Clueless).

This is an oddly sizable concentration of notable actors in a film that, halfway through, I believed to have achieved cult status purely because of how bad this movie is along the same vein as The Room,


Troll 2, and Howard the Duck.

The acting was awful, the plot unreasonable (let alone believable), at times contained unnecessary gore (not quite there but nearly reminiscent of Quinten Tarantinos staple overuse) and chalk full of technical errors that included awful sound and scene editing.  For just one example there was a scene with Kiefer Sutherland driving a car while engaging in conversation with Reese Witherspoon where his hands on the steering wheel where jerking back and forth so much he should have crashed multiple times into the super clearly green screened cars in the background.

So far still so bad.  How did I come around?

Well, at about halfway through, I realized that with a cast like this it really couldn't be bad as I thought it was and it must be being awful for irony sake.  A quick check of reviews later on confirmed these suspicions and luckily I realized this halfway through so I could at least appreciate the second half for the satire it was.

The same thing occurred to me in the film Drag Me To Hell.  However in that film I got all the way to the end thinking it was a terrible horror movie full of clich├ęs, gore and general terribleness.  It wasn't until the actual final scene that I actually starting laughing (because the ending was so terrible) and realized that the film was entirely satire and poking fun at the horror genre and did so very skillfully.

This film should also be treated as such.

Now for the plot.

The movie begins with the opening credits accompanied by sexual graphic cartoons of little red riding hood being stalked by the wolf.  This is to set you up with the basic plot centering around a young girl trying to make it to her grandmother's house and being constantly hindered along the way by outside forces.  And as the provocative cartoons in the beginning suggest this will be a heavily twisted version of little red riding hood.

Now the trailer attempts to give you a better idea of what this movie is about which is along the lines of a redemption story but really trying to figure this movie out is not the point.

The reason this movie is so fun is because, in all its satire, it comes off as incredibly whimsical (like a fairy tale) and you are often left wondering where the story is going next.  Not because it's so superbly written but because if you have to suspend belief, as fairy tales require, then the writer is given free reign to take us wherever his imagination goes.

And unfortunately Matthew Bright's imagination takes us to a very dark place.

Which leads me to my conclusion.

In short: I liked this film, but you probably won't.
If you are over 40, you probably won't like this.
If you are under 15, you probably shouldn't watch this.
If you stick mainly to mainstream movies, you probably won't like this.
If you like to come out of a movie not feeling dirty, you probably won't like this.

Thing is this movie gives off a crazy vibe to it.  If you have seen the movies Requiem of a Dream, or Natural Born Killers, then you will have an idea of what I'm talking about it.

 This movie delves slightly into the more evil and dirty side of humanity and you can't help getting a dusting of this dirtiness on you that leaves you feeling a little gross.

However, if you are like me and have been desensitized over the years from an overindulgence of movies and want to see something kinda new, albeit an older film, then Freeway might be to your liking.

Ya that's right.  I didn't mention the title of the movie till the very end of my movie review.  Why?  Because I go against the curve.  Just like skipping out on watching the Canadians beat the Bruins in game 7 of the second round of the playoffs to instead watch a pretty god awful movie that I actually enjoyed.

So check it out.


And if you must see the trailer (please don't):


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Take This Waltz




So it's that time of the year again.  It's January, the middle of winter, and we are all trying to convince ourselves that March is a pretty decent month (it's not), and so we will be out of these winter blues in just a couple more months.

In the meantime the December solstice has just passed, which means the days will be gradually getting longer but we are still dealing with some of the shortest days of the year.  Not that it matters since it is consistently overcast with a persistent grey hue throughout the day. 

It's also got to be one of the colder winters we've ever had.  How many days did we have below -20C?  It's cold.  So cold.

All we want to do is curl up into a ball, in front of a fire, cuddling our loved ones with some popcorn and a good movie.

But sorry folks you are out of luck!  Even though the Oscar's have been slated for March 2nd, for us moviegoers the movie watching season ended December 25th with the release of Wolf of Wall Street (Scorsese is Amazing!)

Unfortunately for us. All the movies of a higher caliber seem to be stacked at the end of the year and we are left with movies of a much inferior quality at the beginning of the new year.   I suspect this is due to the studios not having any faith in the memory of the members of the Academy who vote on the Oscars.  I can't blame them since it is purported that the average age of  judges of the Academy Awards is 62.

So instead we are stuck with the 14th Paranormal Activity iteration and a movie called I Frankenstein that I haven't even bothered to check the description of. 

So we will have to find some other means to comfort us while we wait for the spring thaw and the heralding of better movies.

Or you can do what I do and look at movies that may have been missed in previous years.  Since I watch as many movies as I do that usually ends up being a bunch of independent films.

I just so happened to watch one recently that is actually quite good.
It is written, directed, and produced by Sarah Polley. 

She's a name I instantly recognized since I knew her from both Go and Existenz.  Or her much better known  role in the 2004 remake of Dawn ofThe Dead (of which the original was still better but the remake is still pretty darn great).



She apparently started out as a Disney actress, and experienced widespread recognition with her role on The Road to Avalon, but then had a falling out with Disney and also turned down major roles like the Penny Lane character in Almost Famous, and instead opted for more independent films.



As a result she has turned away from the fame and glamour of Hollywood and has been highly successful on the smaller stage winning numerous awards.

Take this waltz is her second full length film that she has directed and is pretty darn good.



Before I begin dissecting this film I do have to caution you.  This is not going to be a spoiler free blog entry whereby I simply mention what the movie is briefly about and whether or not I liked it. 

I will be going over certain scenes, sometimes at length, and exploring what I believe Sarah Polley was attempting to communicate or what I derived from the scene.

However I do not believe any spoilers will take away from the film.  In fact I think most people will simply overlook this movie after reading a brief synopsis and any spoiling I do will only increase the probability of it being viewed while taking away very little.


Furthermore this isn`t a whodunit film.  I detest any films relating to mystery or suspense (with the exception of Clue which is just great fun).  I do not go to a movie to try to figure out the ending.  I experience a film to be transported and  enveloped within the film so that I lose myself and for a brief time that is my reality.
...
Ok pomptatude aside (shut up spell check, add to dictionary, it is a word now), what i'm saying is that I won't be revealing any major plot points so don't worry about continuing to read my very amateurish analysis of this film.

So lets get to that brief synopsis.  This film is about a typical couple who have been married for a while, have   gotten into a rut, and how the wife deals with the monotony that is marriage.  The only true spoiler I could give, but wont,  is revealing whether or not the main character cheats on her husband,

Sounds pretty boring eh?  Well I'm pretty sure that is exactly what Sarah Polley was going for.  See when I say a typical married couple I mean a real life, we know each other, and spend so much time together, so we have nothing to say when we go out to dinner, kind of married couple. 

Not the highly fictionalized, and unrealistic, married couple who has Steve Carrel go from total geek to ladies man in order to win his wife back kind of married couple.


Instead we get to see ho w Michelle Williams, who plays the wife, deals with a husband, Seth Rogen, who is not only unexciting, but appears to show no interest in being anything but his boring self.  And while Seth Rogen is only playing the husband in the film, I picture Seth Rogen, as a real husband,  being very similar to his character.  That is extremely goofy and playful, which can be alot of fun, but to the detriment of intimacy.

If that sounds a little harsh to our Canadian boy Seth, it really isn't.  I feel the same way about myself only Seth is clearly much funnier then I'll ever be.

But that again is the point.  The realism of this film lends itself to its audience picturing their selves, in their relationships and relating to the characters on the screen.

And this isn't the first time Michelle Williams has played this role.  She reprised a similar role in Blue Valentine opposite Ryan Gosling.  Only this film was far more depressing as it delved deeply into a slowly, and painfully, deteriorating marriage.  Hard to watch but a great great film.

But back to Take This Waltz.

Now we contrast Seth Rogens character with that of Michelle Williams love interest and you get to see two very different men.

You have the goofy Seth Rogen character who is the nice guy.  And the love interest is unflinchingly, and unrelentingly, seductive.   He's confident, he's forward and to the point, and isn't afraid to put himself out there, but most of all he's exciting and new.

The kind of guy that us nice guys have no choice but to hate.

This dilemma is summed up quite nicely in a scene with two of Williams' characters friends, one of which is played by my unexpected crush and always adorable, Sarah Silverman.

Silverman:  At least I like my husband.  Is it worth trading that in for someone exciting who I may not even like in ten years?.

Other Friend:  Sometimes I just want something new.  New things are shiny. 
Wise 80 year old woman overhearing:  New things get old. 
Silverman:  That's right.  New things get old.  Just like the old things did.

And the rest of this movie is spent with Williams confronting this dilemma between the new and exciting or the old but comfortable.

Man I just hope us nice guys get a win for once.