My favorite songs of 1998

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At the start of 1998, at the turn of the New Year, I had moved to London and returned to school. This time it was college. Some close friends and family were in this city so it was an easy transition. My mind and heart were still reeling from the breakup that was a good 14 months prior. As always, I turned to music.

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Random COVID-19 Thoughts

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A few thoughts and predictions about what is going on with regards to the coronavirus pandemic – and what is to come. Touching upon the United States, Spring Break, the ‘real’ death rate, a projected peak time for cases in Canada… and cancer.

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Black Mirror is so good…that they lost millions making it a TV show

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My wife and I watched several episodes of Black Mirror last year. We enjoyed them. I figure we pretty much came away from each episode with a bit of the ‘wow’ factor impacting us. It made us think.

But it wasn’t our usual kind of viewing. Generally when we watch a show together it is a serial. Something with a hook at the end that makes you want to watch the next episode. Black Mirror never had that. Each episode was it’s own story, with completely new characters. But each story was fantastic. Very creative and unique.

Recently, I took it up again and made it my “treadmill show”. So now I’m burning through the shows (as well as the calories). And I’m still get wowed. Each. Episode.

And that makes me think – why are they wasting this gold on TV? Each episode is literally a brilliant movie script. Hell, many of the episodes reach an hour anyway, with some hitting 85 minutes, so why weren’t they just released in theaters? I mean…spruce up the quality and effects, occasionally the actors, and you have something that in many cases easily make $75 million in theaters at a cost of less than half that. In some cases, it’s a $250 million idea! And I mean no disrespect to the actors, a lot of them are great, known actors and obviously those aren’t the ones to replace. But the driving point here is – these are too good to be buried as a single episode in the middle of, say, Season 3, of a Netflix-streamed program.

And now these great ideas have been used up. Wasted.

Some examples (summary is via Wikipedia):

The Entire History of You (Season 1 Episode 3) With the implantation of a device called a “grain” behind their ear, users can record everything they see and hear. Using a remote, a user can perform a “re-do”, playing back their memories directly through their eye or to a video monitor. At a dinner party, Liam is suspicious of his wife Ffion’s behaviour towards a man named Jonas. Returning home, Ffion admits that she used to be in a relationship with him. The next morning, Liam drunkenly heads to Jonas’ house and forces him to delete every memory of sexual intercourse he had with Ffion. In the memories appearing on the monitor, Liam notices one which took place after he and Ffion’s relationship began. Liam, afraid that he might not be the biological father of his child, returns home and demands that Ffion show him the re-do of that specific sexual encounter, in order to prove that they had used a condom. The re-do verifies that the two of them had unprotected sex. Sometime later, having been left alone in his house, Liam goes to the bathroom and uses a razor blade to cut out the grain from behind his ear.

Tell me you can’t see this as a hit thriller starring Channing Tatum and Jennifer Lawrence?

White Bear (Season 2 Episode 2) A woman wakes up in a house with amnesia. She notices people on the street recording her on their phones, but when she speaks to them they ignore her. When a masked man opens fire at her with a shotgun, she flees and meets Jem, another woman running away from the “hunters”. Jem explains that the people recording her have been affected by a signal that appeared on their screens, while the hunters are unaffected people acting sadistically. The woman follows Jem in her plan to reach the transmitter and destroy it. When they reach the facilities, they are attacked by two more hunters. The woman manages to wrestle a shotgun away, but when she pulls the trigger it only sprays confetti, revealing that everything was staged. The woman is told that her name is Victoria Skillane and she has been found guilty for her part in the brutal killing of a young girl. She has been sentenced to undergo this psychological torture daily in the “White Bear Justice Park”, where visitors are allowed to record her daily suffering. Victoria is returned to the house where she awoke and has her memory of the day’s events wiped clean, in an extremely painful procedure.

This has the makings of a great thriller/mind-bender/horror. There is zero doubt about it that this movie would make more than your average horror flick. So why is it settling for a TV episode?

Hated in the Nation (Season 3 Episode 6) To counteract a drop in the United Kingdom’s bee population, Granular has developed robotic bees, known as “ADIs”. Detectives Karin Parke and Blue Coulson, together with the help of NCA agent Shaun Li, discover that hacked ADIs have caused the deaths of two people by getting inside their heads, causing unbearable pain. Coulson finds that the two victims had been targeted with the “#DeathTo” hashtag on social media, as part of the “Game of Consequences”, where the person that leads the hashtag tables is killed every day. After a third person is killed, the hashtag starts rapidly growing in use. 

I cut off the summary of this one, due to the impact of the spoilers. But man, this episode could have easily been a hit movie complete with a pair of sequels. I loved the way this episode addressed the mob mentality of social media, and it’s “I didn’t mean anything by it” attitude given by the anonymity. And that was just the second angle. The main angle was the use of robotic bees, addressing the environmental impact of bees dying off and one way to address it – and how it can subsequently be abused. This has Denzel Washington written all over it, with the females played by – I don’t know, say – Amy Adams and Rosario Dawson. But instead of a $150-million blockbuster, it’s a Season 3, Episode 6 show on Netflix.

 

I can go on and on. Pretty much every episode has potential like this. They can make a movie like Downsizing (starring Matt Damon), but Arkangel (Season 4, Episode 2) has to be a TV show? The USS Callister (Season 4, Episode 1) – a game programmer using DNA to recreate actual people but trap them inside a game? Pure genius.

Honestly, these shows are great. But they’re being wasted!

Save Our Economy By Not Being An Idiot

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Set aside your thoughts on the seriousness of the COVID-19 death rate or infection rate. Believe it, don’t believe it, serious, not serious – set that aside for a moment. This isn’t about that.

The economy is getting killed here. How will it recover? When tourism returns, when concerts and SPORTS venues re-open, and in general our normal lives return.

How do we get that to happen? Well, when the coronavirus is contained. That means that the amount of infected people is below the number that it was on, say (for example), March 10 and that easy and accessible testing methods are available everywhere. March 10 the infected in Canada was around 90. Today it is 180. Italy went from 10,000 to 17,000 in those four days.

Will it be contained sooner if 20,000 Canadians decide to hop on a plane when the government begs you not to? Will it be contained if an additional 100,000 Canadians decide to hit a bar or bring the kids to a playland for something to do on March Break? Probably not.

When 1000 people are infected (180 identified, probably 820 still not knowing it), it’s easier to contain if we all work together. When it’s 10,000 infected – that’s not so easy to contain. And this rotten economy (and NO HOCKEY!) continues for an extra few weeks. Yesterday, someone from Waterloo tested for COVID-19. Then they promptly hopped on a West Jet flight to head south. Later, the test came back positive. These are the decisions that take sports away from us until July at best…and TBH it is because of these decisions people make that I am certain hockey won’t return until October. This hits the economy. There are people not making a paycheck right now, and even a handful of people getting this “flu” means a handful more get it (which means a handful more…and a handful more). And that means that those not getting paychecks will miss one or two more checks as things remain shut down for just a little longer.

Please, it’s just a couple of weeks. Enjoy friends and family. If you don’t want to take this seriously because of your slim odds of catching it, or dying…then at least take this seriously because you want the economy to recover, and you want those others to get their paycheck sooner. Also, as a bonus, you’d get sports back.

 

All the best to the Vacationers

March Break is a big deal for families who are dying for a vacation. For obvious reasons, it’s the most well-traveled vacation time of the year in terms of heading south. It’s stupid to cancel the trip over a silly flu, right? After all, you lose some or all of your deposit. Hundreds of dollars wasted and possibly thousands.

And now that COVID-19 has the government practically begging Canadians not to leave the country, the prices on last-minute travel deals are as cheap as they will ever get. That’s pretty tempting, especially when you know that the countries down there have a low number of infections.

Have fun on your trip! Good luck getting back in!

If you didn’t see the writing on the wall before you left, then you deserve what’s coming to you. I’m sorry, some of you are my friends, I love you – but…come on. Shit was ramping up mighty quickly on Thursday and Friday, did you really think that would slow and then level out and then stop by the time you got back in a week? No way. It will get worse before it gets better. And I’m talking a week or two of getting worse, before it gets better.

Best-case scenario, Canada forces all of you to return early and actually brings you back at no further cost to you. Followed by heavy screening and 14-day self-quarantine. But at worst, they just ban all international flights and you’re just stuck there for a few weeks.

The answer will be somewhere in between. I think you’ll get back as scheduled, possibly not to the same airport you left from (depending on which one you left from). Lineups will be chaos (and painful). There will be testing done on each of you, possibly put in a room for 10 or 12 hours or more. And a 14-day self-quarantine ordered. That’s not fun, but if that’s all it is then that one day of suffering may even be worth the seven days of relaxation you enjoyed. I wouldn’t go through that for a four-day trip though. But for reasons I stated at the top, I would not have gone at all. The government could be doing something else with those medical testers – something progressive in this containment effort – as opposed to wasting time testing vacationers who wouldn’t listen to the pleas.

 

Small Businesses, I feel for you

Disney has closed.  Major Sports have closed. Minor sports held out an extra day, hoping for a loophole that would allow them to still make money as they scrape by…but in the end they closed. City Recreational Centers, same thing. They hoped to stay running, but they closed. The Science Center in Toronto held out until Friday evening, but they closed. Smaller playlands have started closing, but the truly small and independent ones remain open. Same goes for bars and nightclubs. Closing now would mean closing for what could be seven weeks or more. That would bankrupt some! So they’re holding out. But that is the very decision that extends this situation…for all of us, including them. Unfortunately, you have to cut the cord. Close up shop. Because some people are incapable of helping themselves. They’ll still go.

Do your part. Rip the Band-Aid off. We’re all in this.

 

My 200 Favorite Songs of the 90s Pt. 1

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My favorite decade for music means a bigger list when compiling the best. I thought I would have a Top 100 list here but when I pulled out all the songs I had labeled “Awesome” I reached 143. Then I had the bright idea of going through the 250 or so “Great” songs and somehow pluck out seven more to get an even 150. It was quickly obvious that I wasn’t going to be able to reduce it to seven. By the time I got through them I had 77 more that I wonder if I should have given the “Awesome” designation to.

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