Monday, December 31, 2012

12 Things I Liked In 2012

In no particular order:

Carey Price at the All Star Game.

P.K. Subban being a celebrity off the ice: from his appearance on Strombo to his fundraising efforts to his new job as a SportsNet analyst. All of it.

NHL players making their yearly holiday visit to children's hospitals despite having no obligation to do so.

Saturday Night Live knowing both when and how to be serious: the children's choir singing Silent Night in honour of the victims of the shooting in Connecticut, the adorable send-off for Kristen Wiig, and the simple memorial for the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch after he died: just a clip from a past episode where they performed "Sure Shot," in which he calls out the hip-hop world on their disrespectful treatment of women.

The second season of Episodes, which could have been a disaster but was just as awkwardly funny as the first, and a welcome change from most other summer TV programming.

The time I met Jack McBrayer. (Not so much met, as saw him, walked past him, said "Hi welcome to Montreal I'm a huge fan" and he thanked me and walked away and I freaked out a little.)

The time I met Adam Baldwin. (I don't think I met any hockey players this year. Sadly.)

The fact that I got to see this Key & Peele sketch performed live, and now everyone knows how funny it is.

The Habs drafting Alex Galchenyuk, and then the 2012 NHL Draft ending promptly after that, and the Bruins didn't draft anyone. (For the sake of pageviews, I'll mention his name a few more times. Galchenyuk. Alex Galchenyuk, good Gally miss Molly.)

The opening scene of the Mindy Project's pilot episode. A bunch of people didn't like it, and then begrudgingly admitted in, like, DECEMBER that the show was getting better. Clearly they didn't see the same pilot I did. (Honourable mention to Ben & Kate, which did actually have an awful pilot episode, but won me over when I gave it a second chance.)

The AHL games at the Bell Centre that brought Ben Maxwell and J.T. Wyman back to town, and introduced me to my new silent enemy, Eddie Pasquale.

Knowing that I'd see hockey, even if there was a lockout, even if I was out of the country. Two of the first things I saw when I arrived in Italy in October: a guy wearing a Detroit Red Wings track suit, and a store whose windows were dressed with pictures of the Vancouver riot couple. I am not making this up. (One of the first things I heard was a Chuck Berry song on the loudspeakers at a train station. Italy is a weird and wonderful place.)

Oh, and a 13th for good luck: Basketball.

Wow, when I look at it this way, 2012 wasn't a complete bore. Then why am I so glad that this year finally moved its lazy ass out of my way?
Best wishes to all of my readers (all one of you) for a happy and, most importantly, healthy new year.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Firefly Rewatch 2012: "Ariel"

"The next time you stab me in the back, have the guts to do it to my face."

I'm back from my trip and catching up on the nerd initiative to rewatch the brilliant-but-cancelled Firefly, to mark the show's ten-year anniversary. This week: "Ariel." Original air date: November 15, 2002.

I don't remember having seen "Ariel" before. And now, I don't know what to do with myself. It feels like I just watched two feature-length movies in the last 44 minutes. One was a brilliant adventure movie and the other was some kind of Greek tragedy set in the future. Let me just note that this episode was supposed to air after "Out of Gas," which decimated me emotionally. In this case, I'm kind of glad that Fox decided to ruin the show's intended and logical order of episodes, if only because I wouldn't be able to handle so many emotions right now.

I love the way this episode opens - with the whole crew in the kitchen. There's a real sense of camaraderie, and it follows the end of the last episode, "Safe," quite nicely. It looks like Simon and River really are at home on Serenity - until River slashes Jayne with a knife, possibly in a misguided attempt to defend her brother. Somehow, Mal is able to be the perfect captain following an event like this and settles things with both Jayne and Simon.

Since Serenity has to land on the shiny, rich core planet of Ariel to drop Inara for her annual Companion physical, Simon takes the opportunity to set up some work for his shipmates and try to help his sister at the same time. He hatches a plan - yes, Simon, the straight-laced doctor, maps out an entire criminal scheme - for the crew to sneak himself and River into the hospital. I know, I wouldn't expect it from Simon either, since he talks all pretty and boring, like all the other rich people we see in the core in this episode.

The plan is laid out in the kind of montage you usually see in heist movies. Obviously, not everything goes as planned. Things go wrong in the most engrossing way possible. Mal and Zoe encounter a minor roadblock in their plan to steal meds from storage. Unfortunately, Jayne, Simon, and River are stopped by an even bigger hurdle. Which is Jayne's fault - he calls the Alliance to turn in the two fugitives, hoping for a payday and a more serene Serenity, and ends up being arrested, too. (You know, harboring fugitives, trying to outwit an evil empire, the kind of stuff that'd get anyone in trouble.)

Now Simon has to save his sister from the same people he already worked so hard to save her from, and it must be even harder for him to do so after he found out just how much damage they did to her. This is not a good day to be Simon or River. The bad guys who caught them, that they escape from, aren't even the real bad guys! I was scared enough of the men with the blue gloves just knowing that they had lobotomized River multiple times. Watching them make sure that their search for Simon and River leaves no survivors was terrifying. I know that in television, usually everything gets wrapped up all pretty and the main cast isn't usually in danger of being brutally killed, but somehow in this episode, I wasn't so sure. (And yes, spoiler alert: I know that not everything will be okay after this episode.)
"She feels everything. She can't not."
In this episode, Jayne wasn't the quip-ready, smirking tough guy I've come to know and love. He was unpleasant. I can't say I was surprised that his greed took over and he turned in River and Simon, but I can't believe that he actually went through with it and showed so little regard for them and the crew. The fact that he realizes he's done something wrong at the end of the episode, and shows remorse for it, was stunning. If I had been watching this episode when it first aired, my mind would have been blown.

If I had watched it back then, there are so many things I would have missed: the sharp editing, the stunning use of dialogue, and the way that colours are used. The scary steel grey of the Alliance, the crisp, sterile hospital whites, the bright colours of the 3D scan technology... Visually, this was such an impressive episode. I have no idea if the set designers and special effects people were just that good at making a lot out of a little, or if the show was so expensive that it just had to be cancelled. Then again, the latter would be ridiculous, since I'm sure that at least some money had to be spent on Temptation Island, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, that dating show hosted by Monica Lewinsky, and any lawsuits that may have followed the production of such shows.
But what do I know, right? It's not like I work for the TV network that cancelled this show. I'm just one of many fans with access to the episodes that were produced, and an appreciation for the people who made them.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

We Don't Know What We're Missing

I don't need to tell anyone what the disadvantages of the current NHL lockout are. You already know. Business owners are struggling to make the kind of money they'd usually make on game nights. The worst of the NHL's fans are just as insufferable and bitter as ever. Heck, some of their best fans are just as bad. On good days, I work on a draft of an optimistic piece about the lockout that's been in development hell for weeks now, if not months.

But lately, there haven't been that many good days. I have nothing to look forward to, hockey-wise, but waking up early to read uninspired tweets about World Juniors games. My New Year's Day will likely be boring as hell as I prepare to go back to work, where small talk will (as usual) consist of banal questions about the lockout. The only inspiring thing to happen to NHL fans, through this entire lockout, has been (of all things) a commercial:

It proves that hockey players and fans aren't just in love with their sport: they're determined and stubborn in the best way possible. Two sentences basically say it all:
Take away my pads? I'll just wear thicker socks.
We don't care about the industry or the business of hockey. We don't even care if we get a little more banged-up than usual on the ice. We just care about the game.

But if there were an NHL season right now, this ad proves that Steven Stamkos would be a force to be reckoned with. Just look at him. I've always thought he was an impressive player, but I've never actually been scared of Stamkos until now. Here, he's just as much of a threat on camera as he would be on the ice. He's staring into the camera like he's watched too many Clint Eastwood movies. Just watching him, you're squirming in your seat, hoping for NHL hockey, for one of two reasons: either just to placate him before he gets angry, or to see what he's going to do once he puts on his skates. Somehow you can tell that he's itching to get back on the ice and start lighting the lamp in every arena in the NHL. He's coming off of a 60-goal season. He's ready. He's angry.

Stamkos would have been a sight to behold this season, but there is no season. And now we'll never know what we've been missing.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Firefly Rewatch 2012: "Safe"

I'm back from my trip and catching up on the nerd initiative to rewatch the brilliant-but-cancelled Firefly, to mark the show's ten-year anniversary. This week: "Safe." Original air date: November 8, 2002.

I should probably preface this by saying that this was a great episode for people who love staring at Sean Maher's face. It appears that I am one of those people. I will try very hard not to make this entire post about how much I enjoyed looking at Sean Maher's face.

But I will say this: If social networking had existed in 2002 the way it does now, things would be incredibly different. You'd check your Tumblr dash on a Saturday morning and find photosets from the previous night's episode. People would live-tweet their favourite bons mots. Sean Maher's face would probably be a hashtag (#SeanMahersFace) and have its own page on Facebook. Or, it would have, after this episode aired.

It was great to finally get a little bit more backstory on River and Simon. Eventually, the few minutes per episode where you notice just how badly off River is, and why that might have happened, and someone says a bit of heart-wrenching dialogue, just aren't enough anymore. They and Shepherd Book had spent enough time in B-plots, so I'm glad that they finally got their due.

In this episode, the cargo from last week's adventure (a herd of cattle) are to be dropped off and sold on a planet called Jiangyin. So, at least there's SOME continuity there. The fact that Simon is not at all the same as he was in "Jaynestown" doesn't really make any sense, but Fox wasn't thinking of that, probably. Anyway, it doesn't take long for the crew to get into trouble soon after they land. (It seems like they always get in more trouble outdoors than in, which might be why every outdoor scene in this show seems so off-putting.) Simon angers Kaylee, loses sight of River, and gets kidnapped. Mal and Jayne get caught up haggling with some undesirable types, who promptly get arrested. A shootout breaks out, and the Shepherd is caught in the crossfire.

What to do when your onboard medic is missing and one of your crew has been shot? Other than have Zoe take the bullet out of him, of course? You listen to Inara and take him to the Alliance, because you have no other choice. Doing so made the crew realize that the Shepherd might be keeping secrets from them - who is he, that the Alliance immediately took him to emergency care after saying that they wouldn't? And why wasn't Inara there when they showed up? (Because this is an extremely necessary plot point? Oh, okay.)

As for Simon and River, they were left abandoned on Jiangyin, which is apparently a world in need of a doctor. So, naturally, after River's few minutes of dancing and happiness, after she immediately stops the exact moment that Book gets shot, some of the townsfolk (is that the correct term here? Worldsfolk? Spacefolk?) abduct Simon. Of course.

His medical assistant, a local teacher, seems to think that Simon has found a new home. She was probably just trying to convince him to stay, but during this episode we realize that Simon is a misfit, just like the rest of Serenity's crew. He doesn't fit in with a crew of bandits, but he isn't exactly the kind of haughty bourgeois robot his parents so wanted him to be. He doesn't really know where he fits in, and he's been too busy taking care of his sister to really think about it. And then, as cheesy as this sounds, he realizes that where he belongs is wherever River needs him to be.

He bravely threatens to go up in flames with the sister who's about to be burned at the stake as a witch - which, yes, is a plot point in this episode. I'm not sure how I feel about the show taking an unexpected paranormal turn, but it's handled really well. I most certainly wouldn't expect River to be called a witch, but the people of Jiangyin suddenly turned into an angry mob and River needed saving. So Simon did what needed to be done. And the Serenity showed up right on time, because they're big damn heroes. (Ain't they just?)

I didn't remember this episode as well as I thought I did - which is a pleasant surprise, because it was almost like watching it for the first time. Plus, I got to make it through the whole episode without realizing that young Simon was played by Zac Efron, which meant I got to save my inappropriate guffaws for the end credits!
I think it was the hair that distracted me.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Firefly Rewatch 2012: "Shindig"

"Up until the punching, it was a real nice party."

I'm back from my trip and catching up on the nerd initiative to rewatch the brilliant-but-cancelled Firefly, to mark the show's ten-year anniversary. This week: "Shindig." Original air date: November 1, 2002.

I have an admission to make: "Shindig" might be my favourite episode of Firefly. It's my go-to episode whenever I see my DVDs sitting on the shelf and immediately need to go back to the 'verse. I don't think I'll ever tire of watching it. Directed by TV journeyman Vern Gillum (whose name sounds like he should be on the show, no?) and written by the fantastic Jane Espenson. She's worked with Joss Whedon since Buffy and has since lent her talents to top-notch sci-fi series and comedies. She's also a great follow on Twitter. But I think the main reason why I'm singing her praises is because she wrote this episode.

I wrote in my "Out of Gas" post that Fox made a sort-of bold decision in airing such a powerful episode so early in the show's run. Unfortunately, the contrast between "Out of Gas" and "Shindig" is proof that this show was mishandled. Sure, "Shindig" is a much lighter, less emotionally destructive episode, and a welcome change, but there's no continuity. Firefly may not need to rely on heavily serial storytelling, but there are literally no consequences following an episode in which two characters came very close to death. It just doesn't make any sense.

However, on its own, "Shindig" is pure awesome. There are so many things I love about it, mostly because all of the characters have a moment of their own. This episode reminds me why I love all of them.

I love River because of how completely unpredictable she is. In this episode, rather than just being taken over by the fear and paranoia that have ruined her, she verbally lays out the small-time crook that Serenity's crew didn't want to do business with.
I love Book and Simon because they take such good care of River. Such endless patience. It's incredible.
I love Inara because she's smarter and more refined than any of the men rich enough to pay her. Atherton Wing, her client in this episode, is a perfect example of that. He's so stuck-up and spoiled that he has to pay women to attend parties with him. He can't even rely on his fancy British accent to pick up girls, because every time he speaks he sounds like a moron. No wonder Mal spends half the episode wanting to punch him in the face.
I love Jayne because he never fails to make me laugh. Also because he is Jayne Cobb.
I love Wash and Zoe because they have the perfect marriage.
I love Mal because he's loyal to the people he cares about, no matter what. And because of his hilarious suit and tight pants.
And I love Kaylee because she's so honest. No filters. So true to herself. She loves getting dirty and fixing things just as much as she loves fancy buffet tables and fluffy dresses. And no matter whether she's fixing something or walking through a fancy party, she never even pretends to hide her emotions. Also, I love that she calls Mal "Captain Tightpants."

Since it took me so long to crank out this post, I rewatched this episode with the DVD commentary on. I learned that the show's costume designer loved this show maybe even more than fans do. She made sure that every detail was perfect, that every costume told a story. She made sure that all of the designs on Jayne's shirts said something about him. She borrowed a hoop skirt that had been used in The King and I to make Kaylee's pink dress. And she used the skirt from her own wedding dress for Inara's gown. No series before or since has looked quite like it, and it's a shame that it was cancelled so early, because her eye for costumes was incredible.

Mighty fine shindig.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

MOving on

The end of Movember is always a little bit disappointing. It reminds me of the first summer that I worked at the Just for Laughs festival - I spent a few days (in a uniform that was decidedly too big for me) greeting festivalgoers and supervising the grounds. I got to watch people laugh. And then the festival was over, and the only thing left to supervise was the demolition of the children's play park. Watching a crane take down a giant dinosaur statue built out of Lego blocks would have been awesome if it weren't so sad.

This was the first year that I raised money for the cause. I'd spent two years donating to the Mo Bros in my life and helping out in whatever way I could, but this year I decided to put other people's money where my mouth is. (That doesn't sound right, does it?) It took up a bit of my time, and maybe I made myself sick by worrying so much about my office bake sale. I wouldn't take back a minute of it, though.

I feel very grateful for all of the support I've received and all of the people who've helped me. Some of you made a donation even though you have rent and insurance and tons of other expenses. Some of you have been really lucky lately, and you've decided to put some of that back into the world by helping me out. Some of you sport fine moustaches year-round. Some of you helped me even though you were quite busy with your own Movember campaign. And some of you are actors much more famous than me and much friendlier than other people in your craft.

I look forward to not bugging everyone I know for donations and maybe relaxing eventually. I do not look forward to a steep decline in the number of mustaches I see. I will, however, keep reminding the men in my life to take care of themselves and remember that their health is important.

Thank you, everyone, for helping me (and millions of other Mo Bros and Sistas) make a difference.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Firefly Rewatch 2012: "Out Of Gas"

I'm back from my trip and catching up on the nerd initiative to rewatch the brilliant-but-cancelled Firefly, to mark the show's ten-year anniversary. This week: "Out of Gas." Original air date: October 25, 2002.

There are quite a few lessons I learned in film school that have stuck with me. One of them is a quote attributed to Jean-Luc Godard: "A story must have a clear beginning, middle, and end... but not necessarily in that order." That's what "Out of Gas" is all about - using nonlinear storytelling to pack an emotional punch.

I wasn't ready to watch this episode again. I remembered that it was brilliant episode, and that I loved the way it used flashbacks, but I also remembered that it was a lot to handle. Unfortunately, due to my (oft-delayed) Firefly rewatch mission, I had no choice.
The very first thing you see and hear in this episode is nothing. The ship is still, empty, quiet. I've said before that this show is so clever, so dialogue-heavy that the silent moments always come as a shock. The first sign of life? Mal, barely alive, hitting the ground. In the ten years that have passed, Nathan Fillion has aged a little bit, and somehow he looks especially young in this particular shot. Too young to die, and yet I know that that's a serious possibility.

Over the course of these 40-some-odd minutes, we see how the show's characters joined the crew, and almost get an idea of what made them bond together. We see how they came on the ship, how they leave it, and how they almost could have died without an escape plan. We see that Mal is a real captain, through and through, and how his responsibility to his ship outweighs everything else that's important to him. There's some vintage Firefly levity in there, but it's mostly just Tim Minear making us feel our feelings.

This episode was intended to air much later in the series' run - when we're even more attached to the characters and the ship, but in a way, Fox made a really ambitious decision by messing with the intended air date of this particular episode. Putting your characters in mortal danger and exposing their backstories when viewers are only five episodes in? That's big. And it happened two whole years before ABC aired Lost, whose third episode ("Walkabout") threw its viewers right into the kind of intense storytelling that would make the show famous. And, like "Walkabout," it's the kind of episode that never loses its impact. (Sidebar: Jack Shephard vs. Mal Reynolds. Discuss.)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think there's something in my eye.

Friday, November 23, 2012

How to be a decent person while also shopping during the holidays

I used to have nightmares about this
Christmas is just over a month away, and Festivus is exactly a month away, which means that the holiday season is upon us and no matter what you're celebrating, you're probably going to have to do some shopping between now and then. Personally, I cringe at the thought of holiday shopping. The lines are long, the stores are crowded, everyone's stressed, and it's exhausting. I didn't hate it until I was in school and worked at a video store, where basically everyone on Earth would stop in and buy holiday gifts. I saw the worst in people who are probably much smarter than they appeared to be. Here's some advice on how not to be an idiot when you're out shopping.

1. It might be too late to tell you this now, but: Start shopping early. Store employees will have more time to answer to you, the stores are less crowded than they are right before Christmas, and you might find what you're looking for more easily.

2. Shop when the stores are quieter, if you're able to. If you don't have a Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 work schedule, you can probably manage this. Weekend afternoons are usually busy, so shop in the mornings. Some malls and stores are overloaded with high school students on Friday afternoons. New books, movies, music, and videogames are released on Tuesdays, so avoid stores that sell them unless you're going to buy that day's new release.

3. Try not to walk into a store right before it closes. If you do, be as polite and efficient as you can. People have this terrible habit of walking into stores ten minutes before closing time on December 23rd or 24th and wandering around aimlessly as if they've got nothing but time.

4. Waiting in line to pay for something can be annoying, I know. But remember that the other customers are going through exactly the same thing as you are. Don't waste time once you get to the cash. Have your purchases ready to hand off to the cashier for scanning, have your wallet securely in your hand, and keep your shopping bags within reach. And don't complain.

5. Watch your kids. If you can't, then leave them at home.

6. Watch your stuff. Make sure your purse doesn't knock anything over. Throw out your empty coffee cups and gum wrappers (and gum) instead of leaving them just anywhere. Try not to spill whatever drink you're holding. Some people used to be embarrassed to ask me to throw out their empty drink cups; I would thank them for being polite enough to ask instead of just leaving them all over the place.

7. If you pick something up then decide that you're not going to buy it, leave it someplace sensible, like a service counter or the dressing rooms, or give it back to a salesperson. They'll be able to put it away in its right place, so that if someone is looking for it, they'll be able to find it.

8. Don't be afraid to politely ask for help. That's why stores have salespeople - they're here to help, as long as they know that you need help. But they're not superheroes. If you're trying to get someone's attention but they're busy on the phone or with another customer, just wait your turn.

9. Be nice to salespeople. They work long hours, and then they have to go out and do their own holiday shopping. (And if they're students, they have to study for finals during their breaks and after they leave work.) Don't complain to them about how stressed you are and don't make a scene, because that'll just make things worse. If you're overwhelmed by all the shopping, take a break, sit down, maybe buy a cup of coffee, and remember that someone who works in a store doesn't have the luxury of stopping whenever they want. Remember to say hi, excuse me, please, and thank you. Most importantly, don't yell at them.

10. Be as specific as you can about the gift you're looking for. "I'm looking for something for my mom" is helpful, but still pretty vague. "I'm looking for something for my mom. She's 85 and she loves Chuck Norris" will get you exactly the gift you're looking for. (And it did! True story.) Tell the salesperson everything you already have in mind: your budget, how old the person is that you're shopping for, what they like, what they don't like, what size they wear, etc.

11. Ask about the store's return and exchange policy. If you forget, it's probably printed on your receipt. Which you have to keep, but you knew that, right? Keep your receipts. For the love of Sandy Claws, KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS.

12. Don't return anything on Boxing Day.

13. Do not make any comments about Christmas music or whatever music is playing in the store.

14. Some stores wrap your gifts for you. Some don't. Get over it.

15. Smile. You're buying gifts for people you love, to show them how much you love them. Don't forget that.

16. If you're upset that what you're looking for is sold out, or if you think it's too expensive, you have two options: You can politely speak to a manager to see if there's anything that can be done (usually, there isn't, but you never know.) Or you can shop elsewhere. Not an option: making a scene.

17. If you're not sure of exactly what to buy someone, there's nothing wrong with giving them cash or a gift card.

18. Don't be offended or intimidated by security guards or theft prevention measures unless you're trying to steal something. If you happen to see something suspicious, please tell a security guard or a store employee. Shoplifting attempts happen often, maybe more often during the holidays than the rest of the year.

19. If you can't stand the thought of a crowded mall, you have alternatives, like online shopping, small local stores, and craft fairs.

20. When it's all done, celebrate. High-five a stranger, buy yourself something, have a cocktail or break out into a song-and-dance routine... Whatever suits your fancy.

That's it. Twenty simple lessons, and if 20 is still too big a number for you, just remember this: You're smart. Don't act stupid.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The clutches of evil?

I don't know why, but somehow, it's a big deal to people that Mike Fisher held his wife's purse at some pseudo-awards ceremony yesterday.

Am I too idealistic, or perhaps too grounded, to understand why this is a big deal? He has no hockey to play, so he actually has time to spend with the woman he married, who happens to be just as successful as he is (if not more.) Maybe the fact that he was her arm candy was the first strike? Is it hard for sports fans to see athletes treated like Rita Wilson? A woman didn't want her purse to fall on the floor, so she handed it to her husband. This is not weird, people. 

I don't understand why men think purses are so weird and girly and foreign, when they see them EVERY DAY. They're not portals to Narnia. They're just bags.

There have been a few times when men in my life (not even guys that I was dating! Just friends or relatives or guys from work! You know who you are) scored the Purse Hat Trick: 
  • commenting on how big my purse was, 
  • needing to put something in my purse because they couldn't put it in their pockets, 
  • asking for gum/a pen/hand cream, which obviously is the kind of stuff that I keep in my purse.
Hypocritical, much?
Anyway, the whole incident is quite reminiscent of this weak-sauce commercial:
The makers of this stuff would probably be shocked to know that guys like the ones in this commercial aren't the only people who drink whisky. Heck, I drink whisky. So does Carrie Underwood. I don't think either of us drinks this specific brand, but that's okay, since their target audience seems to be middle-class, lily-livered white guys who don't have any friends. 

Let's break down everything that's wrong with this commercial: 
1- It promotes the "women be shoppin'" stereotype. Even though, you know, the couple is an a shopping mall, where people go to shop, unless this dude thinks that a food court A&W is a really romantic place to have lunch. 
2- The woman says "There's that dress I love," which implies that she knows what she's going to look at and isn't about to start an impulse shopping rampage and walk out of there with a pile of bags like she's a character from Clueless. 
3- She lets her boyfriend wait outside the store so that he doesn't have to follow her around like a lost puppy, bored and confused by all of this clothing made for bodies that aren't shaped like his. If he wants to, he can go to another store. Or he can pull out his phone and play a game or call a friend or look at pictures of steaks, or whatever it is that manly men do. (As a girl and an owner of purses, I obviously have no idea what this is. Maybe an app that plays Wisers commercials whenever a man feels emasculated? Pocket-sized strippers? Help me out here, guys.) 
4- Despite the fact that women be shoppin', she asks him to hold her purse while she is in the store. Guys, do you know what girls keep in their purses? Their wallets. We do not have deep back pockets on our jeans, so we keep our money in our purses. If this girl leaves her purse with her boyfriend, she's not bringing any money into the store. Thus, she cannot spend any money while she's in there. She probably isn't going to spend much time in there anyway.
5- By now, most people in modern society know that a man holding a purse is probably holding it for a woman. And they do not care.
6- Yes, the girlfriend's purse is pink and has a flower on it (because it had to be a really girly purse, to drive the point home) but it is not on fire. It is not made out of live poisonous snakes. Boyfriend will not die if he holds it for ten seconds.
7- He came prepared with a bag to hold the purse in? And the commercial refers to him as an "uncompromising gentleman." Uh, no, narrator, the expression you're looking for is "man-child." This dude is a rejected supporting character from a Tim Allen sitcom. An uncompromising gentleman would politely tell his girlfriend that he is uncomfortable holding her purse and he feels emasculated when he does. But something tells me that the dude in this commercial thinks that "emasculated" is an awful big word.

I might not be the kind of girl who needs her boyfriend to hold her purse all the time, and I have a very good reason for it: I keep lots of stuff in there, and he probably wouldn't want to carry around that much extra weight. Mike Fisher probably wouldn't care if this hadn't happened on TV, where all his manly friends and fans can see him (holding a purse that he can hide against his suit or INSIDE HIS HAND because it was a damn tiny clutch.) so let's all just move on and not be scared of bags, okay?

Stick-tap to fellow Habs bloggers Mike Obrand and Andrew Berkshire for inspiring this post, and for not being the kind of guys who are terrified of purses.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Firefly Rewatch 2012: "Jaynestown"

"We gotta go to the crappy town where I'm a hero!"

I'm back from my trip and catching up on the nerd initiative to rewatch the brilliant-but-cancelled Firefly, to mark the show's ten-year anniversary. This episode: "Jaynestown." Original air date: October 18, 2002.

So, this episode was written by Ben Edlund, who went on to write and produce for Supernatural. He wrote an episode called "Hollywood Babylon," which was so deliciously Whedonesque that I should have known it was written by someone who's worked with the man himself.
There are so many things I love about "Jaynestown." Edlund involves every character in this episode in one way or another. Except for maybe Zoe. I could have used more Zoe. (And maybe more Wash.)
This may be a Jayne-centric episode but I want to write about River and Shepherd Book first. Their subplot may not have seemed that it important, but it was fun, well-written, and moving. I absolutely love the scene where River is fixing the Shepherd's Bible because it's "broken." In just one sentence, Edlund exhibits both the mania and the incredible brainpower that makes River so interesting, and then leads it into this exchange:

  • Book: River, you don't fix the Bible.
  • River: It's broken. It doesn't make sense.
  • Book: It's not about making sense. It's about believing in something, and letting that belief be real enough to change your life. It's about faith. You don't fix faith, River. It fixes you.
And that, kids, (WARNING: possible church-y sounding stuff ahead, deal with it) is one of the most honest statements about faith I have ever seen in the media. I don't really see a lot of mainstream shows and movies that take the time for a scene like this one, that speaks so loudly about the role that faith can have in a person's life, or the way that it can be viewed by others, without rolling its eyes and dismissing everyone as an extremist or a freak of some kind. But the way that Shepherd Book feels about faith? That's how I feel, in the exact words that I would have used to say it, if I had just known to find them. It doesn't happen often that you find a phrase that expresses your exact feelings, and I kind of can't believe that I did. (Interesting bit of knowledge for you: this year is the Year of Faith in the Catholic Church.)

Oh, this post is starting to run long, isn't it? Okay. I'll skip right to the Jayne stuff. After all, this was one of the episodes I chose to watch shortly before my Adam Baldwin encounter at Montreal Comic-con.

The A-plot of this episode was brilliant. Smart, poignant, endlessly quotable. It starts out a little rough, when we see just how difficult things are in Canton, a mud-farming community that's rich in mud but otherwise dirt poor. But as soon as we find out that there's a statue in Canton of folk hero, Jayne Cobb, things get awfully interesting. And they only get better as Jayne receives (quite literally) a hero's welcome. And then when they sing a song about him. Here's the song, performed by Adam Baldwin himself even though he told us at Montreal Comic-con that he'd promised Joss Whedon he wouldn't wear the Jayne hat OR sing the song:

My research hasn't yielded a definite answer about who wrote the song. It may have been Ben Edlund, but like a lot of nerds I suspect it was written by Joss himself. (By the way, according to Whedonverse legend, Joss Whedon had never written music before he sat down to write the musical episode of Buffy. That's talent.)
This episode was a great showcase for everything I love about Jayne: the hard-drinking, the egotism, the womanizing... But then again, basically every episode is a great showcase for Jayne. His reaction upon finding out that he's a local hero is priceless. First he's embarrassed (a sign of the remorse that we don't yet know about), then he soaks up all his fame and the alcohol that comes with it, then he realizes that he might be in trouble when the people of Canton expect him to continue being heroic, and then the whole mess that happens when the illusion is shattered and everyone finds out he isn't a hero after all. And somehow, even Jayne is disappointed in himself.

“You think there’s someone just gonna drop money on ya? Money they could use? Well, there ain’t people like that. There’s just people like me.”

Another episode, another brilliant plot twist. I love you, Firefly.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The NHL lockout, as explained by that girl on the bus who talks really loud on her phone

Okay, so right now hockey is acting like a really crappy boyfriend, you know? Like, he's still your boyfriend but like, you cook him dinner and he spends half the time texting other girls. Like, what even is that, right? Or like he takes you out to eat and offers to pay, but then he complains it was expensive. Like, you offered to buy me a sandwich at Subway. If you can't afford Subway, then why are you buying pitchers for your friends every weekend? 
And he thinks you guys should cool things down just for a couple of weeks, because he can't afford to treat you right, but he's going to his friend's bachelor party in Vegas. I know, Vegas, right? And like you know you should dump him, but you don't? And like the NBA is right there, and it would totally be a better boyfriend, but it's just not the same. 
...No, trust me, if you actually watched basketball you would love it. No, I'm totally serious! Shut up. And whatever, it wouldn't be as annoying as the NHL, who has a lockout like every two minutes. 

So, like, these CBA talks keep happening, and nothing is getting done. Because they only talk for like five minutes at a time, probably. It's like when you call your boyfriend and he doesn't pick up, so you text him to ask what time we're leaving for Tim's party tonight, and what does he want from the SAQ. And then it takes him fifteen minutes to answer and all he writes back is "k." ...I know! It really is! I mean, seriously, "k"? That's it? I know!

So like eventually you get fed up. I mean, I'm done putting up with him. I'm better than this. Like, I deserve to have a guy or a sport treat me like I'm Kate Hudson in some shitty movie that has like a hundred stupid love stories in it. ...Oh my God, really? It was good? When did you go see it? ...I know, but then I hated it because Bradley Cooper was such a jerk in it, remember?

Right. Hockey. Yeah, so now apparently talks are actually picking up, which is like when you're thinking about giving up on this useless boyfriend and then he realizes he still wants you around to buy him stuff, so he's all like "Baby, how come you didn't call me today? You know you're my world" and you're like, okay whatever, buddy... But then you think that maybe you should take him back, like, I don't know anymore...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

You Can Mo Your Own Way

(Sorry about the pun. But I had to.)

So, it's the most wonderful time of the year, if you love mustaches. I happen to love Movember, because mustaches entertain me, and because I like seeing people show their dedication to a good cause.

Which is why it disappointed me that so many of the men I work with didn't want to join our office Movember team. (Luckily, all of the guys in my department stepped up. Every other department has a lot to answer for - looking at you, Tech Ops!)

Here are the top two excuses I heard from mustache dodgers:

"I can't/don't want to grow a mustache." I'd venture that three-quarters of guys who say they can't grow a mustache haven't even given it a good try. They're just lazy, or too vain to run the risk of actually having a crappy Sidney Crosby mustache. Hey, guys? It's November. You're growing a mustache. Movember has been popular (especially in Canada) for a few years now. By this point, most people will know why those errant hairs are on your face. It's not like you'll be the only guy who looks creepy for no reason. Quit being such a whiner.
As for the guys who don't want to grow a mustache? See above. People will know that you're growing a mustache for a good cause. They won't just think that you're Chandler Bing, trying to be Tom Selleck.
Movember supports really important initiatives, namely men's health awareness, prostate cancer, and mental health. So, not wanting to spend four little weeks growing a mustache for a really good cause? That's pretty weak. My co-worker Mike doesn't grow a mustache for 11 months out of the year, but has grown one every Movember for as long as I've known him. His first child was born in November two years ago, and he couldn't be prouder of the photograph where he's rocking his Movember mustache while holding his newborn daughter. Carey Price doesn't like growing a mustache (despite the fact that a well-groomed 'stache makes him look like an old-timey movie star), but he does it in November. He did it last year and the year before with his teammates, which was great publicity for the cause, and he's doing it again this year, even though he's not on TV every three days and constantly talking to the press. He believes in the cause more than he hates having hair on his upper lip. Because he is a man. (So, if you're wondering why ladies love Carey more than they love you, there's your explanation.)

"My significant other doesn't want me to grow a mustache." I'm going to break this excuse down into two scenarios: Either you're lying, or your lady (or man, although in my experience the complaints have come from ladies) is awful.
If you're lying: Well, at least you probably will never be diagnosed with testicular cancer, because clearly you need to grow a pair. You're even worse than the whiny guys who tell me they don't want to grow mustaches, because you can't even take responsibility for your own cowardice. Don't blame the lady in your life for something you don't want to do.

If you're a significant other who doesn't want her man to participate: Seriously? You don't want the man in your life to participate in a fundraiser for men's health? Do you hate him? Do you not want him to participate in something that could potentially save lives? Maybe I don't understand your dislike of mustaches because I can't relate to it. Almost all of the men on my dad's side of the family have rocked 'staches. Seriously. One of my uncles had such an awesome handlebar mustache - it curled on the ends and everything - that people used to stop him on the street to compliment him on it. Maybe that's why I love mustaches: because I love my family. So, maybe you should do the same. Put the man before the mustache. If the man in your life thought about spending a month growing a mo and raising money for charity, you should maybe consider putting aside your hatred of mustaches. I'm not usually one to give unsolicited relationship advice, but this seems like something you should compromise on. It's for men's health. So many people, male and female, have raised money to cure women's cancers. Men wear ribbons and take part in 5k runs and whatnot out of love for their wives, mothers, sisters, or friends. Why wouldn't you want your man to do Movember? Think about the men in your life that you care about - your dad, your godfather, your cousins, the bartender who remembers what you like to drink, your favourite NHL player, or the guy who buys Timbits for everyone at work - and realize that you should support this cause for their sake.

If for some reason you're not growing a mustache, or telling the man in your life that he shouldn't, I hope to God that you have a legitimate reason for it. I also hope you'll consider supporting the cause by making a donation, helping out at a fundraiser or encouraging people you care about to see a doctor regularly and make healthy choices.

Otherwise, I guess you like cancer more than you like mustaches.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Firefly Rewatch 2012: "Our Mrs. Reynolds"

I'm back from my trip and catching up on the nerd initiative (post-vacation) to rewatch the brilliant-but-cancelled Firefly, to mark the show's ten-year anniversary. This week: "Our Mrs. Reynolds." Original air date: October 4, 2002.

One thing I've been doing as I rewatch Firefly is observing how much has changed in the ten years since these episodes aired. One change that you can't help but notice in "Our Mrs. Reynolds" is, well, Mrs. Reynolds. In 2002, almost no one knew who this pretty red-haired girl was:
In 2012, well, come on. Christina Hendricks, am I right, everyone?

Even before Mad Men was a twinkle in Matt Weiner's eye, Christina Hendricks proved she knew how to hold it down. She owns this episode as a young woman who is offered as a wife to Captain Mal - except he was so drunk during the ceremony that he doesn't remember marrying her, and this poor naive girl is terrified that she has displeased him somehow. She's the anti-Zoe: she relinquishes all control to her husband and wants only to make him happy. Then she starts seducing everyone and drugging them, and it turns out that our Mrs. Reynolds isn't what she seems to be. And I just sit there and watch as Firefly throws me another plot twist. 

I think my favourite part of this episode was the moment when "Saffron" (using quotes since that's not her real name and we don't know what to call her) meekly reveals to Mal that she's his wife, and Mal (for the first time in the series so far) can't think of anything, witty or otherwise, to say. He is rendered completely speechless from the shock. It's just a brilliantly scripted bit in a show that I normally love for its dialogue.

What is it about this show that just gets to me? You know, other than the dialogue, the characters, the plotting, and the fact that there will probably never be another show like it? I still can't put my finger on it, but I'll keep catching up until I find out.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lost Halloween Costume Ideas

Thanks a lot, NHL lockout. There are so many things I could have dressed up as this year, probably, if there had been NHL hockey right now:

A scalper - worn an ugly jacket and just stood outside my friend's party the whole night murmuring "Tickets... tickets... Need tickets?"

A California-based celebrity, pretending that I know what hockey is because the Kings won the Stanley Cup (or so my agent told me.)

Whatever a hockey player complained about on Twitter, other than the lockout. What would have been this season's Dan Ellis vs. money? Or this season's "This game is longer than Brad Marchand's nose"?

This season's new Big Bad! You know, if this whole thing about Matt Cooke being a good guy kept up, I'm sure someone would have stepped up to take his place.

I could have attempted to replicate, stitch for stitch, a recent P.K. Subban outfit.

But I didn't get to do any of those things. Like the Great Pumpkin, the NHL season just won't show up, no matter how long we wait for it or how much we believe. (Which probably isn't very much anymore.)

Instead, I might just dress up as Gary Bettman as The Wizard of Oz: You know, a guy who pretends to be scary and powerful, but is mostly just smoke and mirrors, spending his time hiding so that he can continue to intimidate people who would otherwise see right through him.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Endless Summer

Average NHL fan (artist's rendering)
There's been a lot of lockout-related negativity lately. Yes, I know that it's for good reason, but still.

I guess because it's October, and the days are noticeably shorter and cooler (and foggier, like seriously, what is up with the fog in Montreal some days.) And, because as everyone and their dog said on Twitter, October is supposed to be the best month for sports (even though there is still televised baseball on) and now it's not, because there is no hockey (and basketball hasn't even started yet.)

I just want to take a minute to remind all of these people that almost none of them would actually pay to go see a preseason game. I know this because they've said so, so their argument is invalid until about midway through the month.

Maybe it's just because Montreal isn't easing back into hockey mode like it usually does at this time of year. Maybe people are tired of worrying about it, or reading the same stuff over again, or they just want their old routine back. Everyone's grumpy, instead of just trying to act like they get a few extra months of summer. Maybe it would be easier if we had the same weather LA was having right now. (Then again, if you're an Angeleno, the heat is probably making you grumpy, too.)

For positivity's sake, here are some cool things I've done since the last Habs game ended:
Visited two rival NHL cities, and tried to look beyond the fug jerseys and the mockery, and liked what I saw, except for the awful service at this one sports bar in Toronto that you should never go to.
Watched the Olympics. Remember them?
Went to almost every show I wanted to go to at Just for Laughs, and maybe met some famous comedians, no big deal.
Ate. So much. Like chicken and ribs, smothered in the most incredible barbecue sauce I've ever tasted. And one of the best pulled-pork sandwiches in the city, if not the universe. (Hyperbole.) And a peanut butter, Nutella, and bacon sandwich. And maple sugar ice cream. And a Canada Day cupcake. And my weight in Quebec strawberries.
Went to Comic-con, and we all know that that was a blast.

And here is one thing I'll be doing before the next Habs game:
Going to Italy to see aunts and cousins I haven't seen in nine years. To be honest, I'm not taking advantage of the lockout to visit them (even though it's a great excuse to get things done.) I'd be going even if the season was starting next week. I may love the rush of a home opener and my annual preseason T-shirt purchase, but I have priorities, and my family is one of them. How can I ever be disappointed that hockey is missing when I have an opportunity to spend time with relatives I love but never see?

I'm sure that two weeks of losing sleep in front of the TV and blogging about it would be great fun right about now, and I'm a little sad that I'll have to fall behind on my Firefly rewatch. But it's worth it.

It's time to focus more on the things that are happening, and less on the things that aren't.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Polishing up the lockout

I should probably just admit right now that I love nail polish. Somehow, people don't always expect this from me, but I'm perfectly okay with spending as much on a mani-pedi as I would on a ticket to a hockey game. (Even though my manicurist is really affordable.) I've been buying nail polish like a fiend these last few months. I try to stop, but everywhere I turn there's a new collection with pretty colours and pun-tastic themed names.

Originally, this post was going to be an imaginary collection of NHL-themed colours, but there is no real NHL of which to speak right now, so that post will have to wait. I'm not happy about it, either. Instead, here's another imaginary collection of colours:

The Locked Out Collection 2012
Four shades that will get everyone talking.

Salary Capped Out
(Real name: Agro, from the Hunger Games collection by China Glaze)
CBA negotiations are all about the benjamins. Why not recognize that by wearing this money-green shade, flecked with hints of gold?

In The Red
(Real name: Red My Fortune Cookie, from the Hong Kong collection by OPI)
While the players and the owners argue over money, pubs and other small businesses wonder how they'll cope with the loss of revenue they'd normally make during the hockey season. Businesses in the red? So are your nails!

Lights Out
(Real name: Nein! Nein! OK Fine! from the Germany collection by OPI)
Saturday night at the arena used to mean bright lights and white ice. That's not so true right now. If you were to look into your arena on a game night, all you'd see is a giant empty space with the lights off, and it would probably look like this.

Trading Places
(Real name: Tangerine Tango Dream, by Sephora + Pantone)
Bright tangerine orange is the colour of the year. Guess what else there is this year? Basketball. This time last season, hockey fans laughed at basketball fans and tipped extra at arena concession stands in an attempt to make up for the shortened NBA season. Who's laughing now that the arenas have nothing but net? Embrace the now by wearing the hottest colour of the year and matching it to a basketball.

If you're wondering whether these polishes have good wear, don't worry: the Locked Out Collection will last longer than you expect it to.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Firefly Rewatch 2012: "Bushwhacked"

I'm taking part in the nerd initiative to rewatch the brilliant-but-cancelled Firefly, one episode a week, in the order that they aired, to mark the show's ten-year anniversary. This week: "Bushwhacked." Original air date: September 27, 2002.

I've got to be perfectly honest and admit that I have zero memory of this episode. Which isn't so bad when you think about it, because there is so little of this show that eventually, enough rewatches will make you feel like you've seen it a million times. I'll enjoy watching things while they still seem new, because sometimes you get to the point where you wish you could see a certain episode for the first time all over again.

Here's an episode summary from DenOfGeek, which is about as concise as it can get: "The episode centres on the crew's discovery of a seemingly abandoned ship, after literally colliding with one of its occupants. What they discover (apart from the goods they're looking to 'salvage') is a massacre, presumably by the brutal and deadly Reavers. Before being brought in by the Alliance, they rescue the ship's only survivor, and the true extent of his psychological damage puts everyone in danger."
oh also, one of the husbands from Desperate Housewives is in it.
A bit of quick research didn't yield any information about what kind of budget this episode had, but it has pretty great production value. (Except for maybe the scenes in the Alliance ship, because somehow the Alliance always kind of looks like generic sci-fi. The Alliance ought to see to their girl.) I loved the camera work in this episode. The fact that a TV show that's ten years old can still look so impressive after ten years, after a deluge of cable networks put out expensive-looking shows and major networks tried to hard to imitate them, is pretty amazing.

This episode shows us two of the biggest evils in the 'Verse: First, there's the Alliance. In this episode, they seem an awful lot like the governments we know and hate: bureaucratic and intelligent, but also kind of a major annoyance. They're more of a thorn in your side than a knife in your back. Then, there are the Reavers. We don't even see the Reavers in this episode - we just see the results of their actions, and it's enough to scare us. Basically they leave hanging heaps of dead bodies in their trail, and only one survivor who is so mentally scarred by what he witnessed that all he can do is start to become like the monsters that killed everyone on his ship. He's not even actually a Reaver (at least, not yet?) and he's nowhere near human anymore. The violence in this episode is still pretty scary.

There aren't quite as many one-liners in this episode, but the writing is good enough that even though it's only the second episode, we get a good sense of who all these characters are. I guess having a character interview the ship's entire crew kind of makes this easy.
...or the writers can say an awful lot by not even writing any dialogue.
I liked that all of the characters seemed like they had a role in this episode, no matter how big or small. This episode is also really great for River, who in "The Train Job" (and, if memory serves, in the pilot as well) was more of a plot device than a person. Yes, she did cool martial arts stuff, and she said a lot of creepy things, but in "Bushwhacked" she actually seems a lot more human, and I found myself feeling more sympathy for her than I usually do. It's not that I don't like River, I just feel like her mental state can at times make it more difficult for the audience to understand her. (I do actually like River a lot, because there aren't a lot of other characters out there quite like her, except for maybe every other character that's been specifically written for Summer Glau in the last ten years.)

All in all, "Bushwhacked" isn't the episode that the series is best remembered for, but every good first season has an early episode that helps to expose what the show is all about, and that's what we have here. And no, I still do not have a favourite character. And yes, I still wish that in another life I could be brilliant enough to think up a show like this.

Look for Firefly Rewatch every weekend from now until I run out of episodes. If I'm on this continent, I will be watching Firefly. (I say this because I might be out of the continent for two weeks.)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Firefly Rewatch 2012: "The Train Job"

As mentioned in my last post, Joss Whedon's short-lived series Firefly premiered ten years ago this week. After seeing pictures from the cast reunion at San Diego Comic-Con, and reacquainting myself with my inner Joss Whedon fangirl at Montreal Comic-Con, I've decided to rewatch it. The same way it aired - one episode a week, in the (completely illogical) order that they aired.

Okay, who are we kidding. My inner Joss Whedon fangirl was not hiding anywhere. Whedon's writing changed both television and its viewers, including me. I didn't actually watch Firefly when it first aired - somehow, a print journalist saying that a new series is a space western didn't convince me to watch it. Buffy was still on the air at the time, so I had my fix of Whedonesque writing, and there was so much on TV that I didn't even give it a try. Maybe, if I'd had a nerdy enough friend at the time to explain to me what exactly made it a space western and just how damn cool that is, I would have been convinced.

So, let me be that friend and tell you in just a few words what makes Firefly great, if you've never watched it: All of the adventure and the planet-hopping of Star Wars. (Space!) An ensemble cast of good-guy rebels played by actors that I immediately became attached to. (Western!) Lovable characters and the kind of writing that you could only get when a choice screenwriter brings his A-game and assembles a crack team of writers. There are no other shows quite like it, and you just need to watch it to understand why.

If you're watching the series for the first time, I highly recommend that you watch it in the order that Joss Whedon (and God) intended. Since the fans are rewatching them in the order that they aired (and so I could see what all of the anger is about) I'm doing that, too.

First up: "The Train Job," which was the first episode to air but was intended as a second episode after the two-part pilot. In this episode, the crew of Serenity are hired by a creepy-looking man with a ridiculous accent (and a propensity for threats) to steal cargo from a train, only to realize that some paydays just aren't worth the money.

The first two minutes or so of the episode (or rather, of the series as it aired on Fox) look like basically any sci-fi series ever, in terms of production value. Luckily, as soon as three of our main characters are onscreen, the actors and the dialogue demonstrate that isn't isn't just any sci-fi series ever. We get a pretty good sense of who these characters are: Mal is charming, witty, and stubborn, Jayne is bristlier and more badass than most action heroes, and Zoe is tough as nails. If I was watching this show for the first time, I probably wouldn't have had such a good grasp on any of the other characters. The viewer gets a base for who these characters are in the big picture of things - but they don't get a really clear view of that picture. Most of the pilot's audience probably scratched their heads, trying to figure out who some of these characters were and how they came together. In particular, all we see of River is that she's unstable but we don't really know why, or who she is, and that's pretty unfair considering that she gets a hell of an introduction in the original pilot.

This episode, like most of the series, gives us a really interesting picture of good and bad in the universe that Whedon has created here. Thieves for hire are supposed to be the bad guys, but once they realize that they are (because that the medical supplies they've been hired to steal are desperately needed by the people they stole it from), they immediately change their minds about what they've done. Except for Jayne, who thinks that a job is a job, and might be a little bit intimidated by a scary crime lord and his face-tattooed minion. Inara has more social power and respect than Shepherd Book, and Book knows it. These characters are in a really interesting place on the moral spectrum, and I think that will continue to figure as the series goes on.

Overall, "The Train Job" tempers what could have been a really heavy episode with so much humour and excitement that it hardly feels serious at all. Now, almost every bit of dialogue is delicious, but this episode has one of everyone's favourite lines:

It also has one of my favourite lines:

(Okay, actually, that entire scene is brilliant. I think this may be Adam Baldwin's best role, even though I've stated before that I love all his work.)

This is an extremely watchable episode, but it's an extremely watchable second episode. It doesn't necessarily function well as a pilot, no matter how hard it tries, because it wasn't written as one.

But who ever trusts the networks to make good decisions, anyway?

Look for Firefly Rewatch every weekend from now until I run out of episodes. If I'm on this continent, I will be watching Firefly. (I say this because I might be out of the continent for two weeks.)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Awesome, much?

(Written on the ten-year anniversary of the premiere of Firefly, which I did not expect to love, but do.)
As a pop-culture junkie turned hockey fan, I always find it interesting when my worlds collide.

I'm a nerd (yes) and spent half of last weekend at Montreal's Comic Con.
Among the things I did: Spend an inordinate amount of money on original art, T-shirts, and pins. Sneak pictures of celebrities I didn't want to spend money on or wait in line for. Take pride in telling Warehouse 13 star, Eddie McClintock, that I thought he was great on Friends, which is basically the opposite of what nerds usually do. Get a hug from Xander Harris himself, Nicholas Brendon. Stand by as my friend's friend get an autograph from Wil Wheaton that turned into more than just an autograph:

So, what's a girl to do after she meets Nicholas Brendon, and gets a hug from him? She walks over to Eddie McClintock, who is available for autographs but somehow no one is waiting in line for them. (He was also texting and chewing on something, possibly a cookie. Someday I will approach a famous person when they're not eating. Someday.) Because, come on, he was Phoebe's love interest for a whole two episodes while we watched Rachel have a baby.
So, I told an actor who's now on a cable sci-fi series that I loved his guest spot on one of the biggest shows of the last two decades. I told him I had heard that his role was supposed to be expanded in the following season of Friends, but those plans changed when a pilot he was cast in made it to series. To which he said, "Actually, I was bumped in favour of Paul Rudd." Now, in all honesty, Paul Rudd's character on Friends was awesome and any fictional character would be lucky to marry him, but you can't tell that to the actor whose role was reduced to two episodes. So, instead, Eddie McClintock and I shared a moment where we both shook our fists and said, "Damn you, Paul Rudd!"*

But the real excitement happened before and after this: Adam Baldwin was also in attendance. If you don't know who Adam Baldwin is, it's more than likely that you're wrong, you do know who he is, and you love him:
He had a Q&A panel, where he answered questions and told stories about all the roles he's been so great in. He talked about going to Nathan Fillion's house and keeping in touch with Zachary Levi. He name-dropped Joss Whedon and Stanley Kubrick. He recalled how the cast of Independence Day went a little crazy filming in desert heat, and how Judd Hirsch and Jeff Goldblum improvised "Jewish Death of a Salesman" between takes.

He also mentioned that he's a hockey fan. Shiny. I actually had no idea that he was, so my ears kind of perked up. (I know my friend Erin's did, too.) He said he was a Kings fan, and talked about how great it was to watch them win the Stanley Cup, and that he grew up in Chicago, and watching his old hometown team turn around and take home the Cup a few years ago made him happy, too. He also, obviously, mentioned that Los Angeles' last run at the Cup was, um, stopped by the Habs. He was really funny about it, and handled all of his questions really well. Yes, even laughing with the guy who thought that he was related to Alec and Stephen Baldwin (and the other two.)

It was so weird to think that I had no idea that this actor I've watched and loved in so many roles was a hockey fan, just like me.
So, the next day, I rushed to his autograph table right as he was getting up to leave. I had thought of what I would say, but obviously everything was a blur. (I have no photographic evidence of this, unfortunately, because no pictures were allowed, but I swear on my P.K. Subban jersey that every word of this is true.) I welcomed him to Montreal, told him I was a hockey fan too, and that the Kings are my favourite team in the West. Then, as sort of a peace offering for 1993, and because he's in Montreal, I gave him a Habs keychain - the only gift I could conjure up on such short notice. He probably won't use it or anything, because it's completely random, but the actor who has played so many tough guys just smiled, asked me my name, shook my hand, and thanked me.

It was pretty gorram cool.

*Hey, Paul Rudd, if you're reading this: No hard feelings?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Oh, look, a lockout.

After weeks of negotiations that went nowhere, it actually happened.

Yes, I'm upset and disappointed and wondering what's going to happen to hockey. All I can say about it, other than everything that's already been said, is this: It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

Monday, September 3, 2012

How To End CBA Negotiations

Okay, NHL and NHLPA and whoever else is involved. You've been pointing fingers and deflecting blame for too long. It's time to finally decide whether or not there'll be a lockout this year.
I mean, come on, I'm trying to plan a trip in October but there's a Habs game that month that I quite literally need to attend, so make up your minds so I can get planning and buy a plane ticket while the airlines are having seat sales. Because yes, I have to look for sale prices on airfare because I'm not as rich as anyone who gets to decide whether there'll be hockey this year or not.

Since you refuse to come to any sort of agreement, here are some ideas that I propose and may actually force you to try:

Undercover Boss it. All of you guys in suits with nice houses are squabbling over money, while arena employees and small business owners are wondering how they'd be able to replace the income that they get during the hockey season. So we're putting you in their shoes. You're going to take orders at concession stands. You're going to bus tables at a sports bar. You're probably going to hate it. Now, imagine how much more stressed you would be if you were at this job, serving much larger crowds during a hockey game. You would never know. But you would get to see what it's like to be the kind of person who wishes for a huge customer rush during hockey season so that you could put a bit more money in the bank to pay off some loans or buy warm boots for your children.

Owners: Fire your GMs. Why would any team owner argue that players' salaries are too high, when hockey teams need players? And where do these players and their contracts come from? They don't just fall out of the sky, dear owners of the NHL. Remember those guys you hired to run your hockey organization? They're the ones who get the players. They're the ones who negotiate these ridiculous salaries. If you think your players are getting paid too much, fire the guys who pay them.

Take a pay cut. Everyone. Offer to make 10% less than you do right now. Anyone who works in hockey and has Scrooge McDuck money is going to take a pay cut. If you're so worried about money, try spending some of your own. Don't be that friend who says they're broke, but goes out for steaks every week. No one likes that friend.

If you can't cut your budget, cut your earnings. Being a hockey fan (and probably also a sponsor) can get pretty expensive. Think about what you'd have to do to make things more affordable for us. What would happen if there were less ads in the arena? Imagine what it would be like if no one ever had to pay more than $100 for a ticket. What if merchandise cost less than it does now? You'd have to find some way to make things work. Just remember that all of this money you're arguing over comes from somewhere.

Pretend you're a jury. I'll have you sequestered if I need to. You're all going to spend time in a mid-market hotel conference room with a jug of water and some cheap sandwiches. There will be no half-days, no days off, no impasses, no "We'll pick this back up in a couple of days." There will be no talking to the press and no going home to your families. You're going to stay in that mid-market hotel and most of the good stuff will be gone by the time you get to your continental breakfast. The bailiff will make sure no one tries to duck out early for a round of golf or whatever. You're going to sit in that room and talk until you reach a verdict. It'll be like 12 Angry Men, sort of. (Would anyone in a room full of businessmen and jocks even have seen 12 Angry Men?)

Okay, maybe you get breaks. But all of the entertainment will be decided upon by your children. So, you can either continue negotiations or spend an entire day watching the same episode of Hannah Montana over and over and over again.

Or, we can do this Hunger Games-style. If you can't negotiate, then you'll have to compete. I won't make you all fight to the death, though, because there are too many players on that negotiating committee that we like, and it was really sad when characters we liked died in the Hunger Games. (We at HIHW will always have Dominic Moore's back.) Instead, this will be a televised dance-off. You're going to dance. On television. May the odds be ever in your favor.

It's up to you. You can either come to a decision on your own, or I'll help you. Just please, stop dragging your heels on this.