Thursday, December 31, 2009

Up in the air


Lately I've been on a movie watching marathon as different people want to catch movies to kill off time away from family. I recently saw Up in the Air, the newest George Clooney flick. No surprises, funny at times... and certainly not much of an escape from reality.

It reminded me of a previous article I read in a newspaper of websites for extra marital affairs for those who are frequently travelling for business and living on the road. I found the idea of such a scheme to be both ingenious and depressing. "Up in the Air"... in other cities there is less evidence and less expectation if the third party can't bump into you in the supermarket. One website "The Ashley Madison", which sounds like some corny character from a smutty novel, has the slogan "Life is short, have an affair". Such simple words for acts that can lead to collateral damage to more than just the pocket book.

As we all kick off the New year we're burdened with so many pressures that society demands of us. Many people rush to the gates to get that perfect job, house, spouse and child, that by the time we acquire it all we panic because we're getting old.

They say New Year's is a time of summing up, and I guess it is. A person once told me "It's not that I want less, it's just that I find happiness with what I have." He was probably right, after all... life is short.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

a new start


Most popular New Year Resolutions that half of the population never stick to... (in no particular order)

1. Spend more time with Family & Friends
2. Shed those extra pounds
3. Quit smoking
4. Enjoy life More
5. Quit Drinking
6. Get out of Debt
7. Learn something new
8. Help Others
9. Organize
10. Save money

Wonder what most people are resolving to do in 2010?
Check out: 43things

Origins

There are conflicting sources, some say that New Year's Resolutions goes back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king with two faces was placed at the head of the calendar as the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. His two headed symbol represents looking back at the past to forgive past misdeeds and enemies, and looking toward the future. There was also an exchange of gifts before beginning the new year.

Evidently the concept of resolutions began even before that, however the calendar date was not for January 1 (adopted by Romans) but over an 11 day period at the start of the first new moon after the first day of spring (Vernal Equinox).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cool art

Born in Le Mans, France in 1963, Edouard Martinet studied art at ESAG Paris and graduated in 1988. His sculptures are both inventive and beautiful, showing a remarkable amount of life in the gestures of movement.






Thursday, December 24, 2009

X-mas Traditions

Merry Christmas!

There's nothing worse than a person who puts a damper on Christmas traditions by agonizing over the origins of certain customs. Recently someone spouted, "Christmas trees are a pagan belief and shouldn't be practiced".
Well this person isn't entirely wrong, it indeed originated from "ancient pagans", such as the Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews to celebrate the Winter Solstice. The evergreen tree represented eternal life and the hopes for replenishment of crops for the following year.

Whatever the case, whatever the religion or traditions, mankind has always celebrated events along the year as a way to come together and take a break from the mundane matters in life.

A few traditions around the globe..

Italy
Celebrating Christmas (La Befana) begins eight days before Christmas and continues until Epiphany (January 6). The children do not believe in Santa (replaced by a flying witch) and children write letters of love to parents placing them under the dinner plates to be opened during the feast. (wow!)

Venezuela
I'm not certain about this one, I'll have to ask my friend later. On a few sites that have stated that they block off streets to roller skate to church service, on another site it claims people tie strings to their toes and let the string hang out the window so the rollerskaters can tug on them to wake them up. With exception of a rude awakening in the morning, it's a cool custom and a great way to start off the holidays.

Ukraine
Ukrainian Christmas trees commonly have an artificial spider and web as a form of decoration since it's believed to bring good luck. The traditions stems from the following legend:

"There once was a widow, who lived in a small hut. One day a pinecone dropped on the floor and it took root. Her children were excited that they would have a tree for Christmas. All summer long they made plans on how they would decorate the tree. They were very poor, so poor that they did not have anything to decorate the tree with. The widow went to bed on Christmas Eve knowing that the tree would not be decorated. Early on Christmas morning, the woman was awakened by her children. "Mother, mother wake up and see the tree it is beautiful!" The mother arose and saw that during the night a spider had spun a web around the tree. The youngest child opened the window to the first light of Christmas Day. As the shafts of the sun crept along the floor, it touched one of the threads of the spider web and instantly the web was changed into gold and silver. And from that day forward the widow never wanted for anything."

Finland
Before festivities a family takes a ritual cleansing in the form of a sauna (steam bath) before continuing the daily Christmas tree decorating and dinner. At sunset, the entire family heads over to the cemetery to pay respects to the dead with candles and singing. Hmm, it's certainly an interesting one.

Estonia
Christmas (Joulud) has no connection with Christianity at all. One tradition involves bringing home authentic "Christmas straw" symbolizing the manger.. er... how exactly does that not connect to Christianity one wonders...
Interestingly enough Christmas Eve and Night are the best time when fortune telling, predicting next year's weather harvest (more like the stock market these days). Ancestors' spirits are said to visit families' houses during the holidays, a belief that was likely caused by excessive drinking. One hopes they don't get drunk in the sauna (another popular tradition).

Belarus
Straw is an important symbol in many aspects of their Christmas celebrations. Between Christmas and the New Year it can be used for parts of fortune telling. Adults "draw straws" from the table to determine their future for the upcoming year, while young hopeful girls predict their future spouses.

Latvia
This tradition sounds fun. Best known as "mumming", people wear an assortment of masks in the form of bears, horses, goats, haystacks, gypsies and living corpses.

United Kingdom
Christmas pudding (plum pudding). When I first heard of this I thought... what is that? It's made... what... a month before you EAT it??? Made four to five weeks before Christmas, they are traditionally made on or immediately after the Sunday "next before Advent". The day is known as "Stir-up Sunday" and involves everyone in the household giving the mixture a clockwise stir while making a wish.

Small silver coins were included in the mixture (not commonly practiced any longer since alloy coins are believed to taint the pudding) and believed to bring wealth in the upcoming year. Other tokens included a tiny wishbone (to bring good luck), a silver thimble (for thrift/never marrying), ring (for impending marriage), button (to be a bachelor). I heard it's pretty tasty, so long as one doesn't crack your teeth on any of the "surprises".

Japan/China/Korea
Sending red Christmas cards in Japan will not be happily received since funeral notices are customarily printed in red. Not to be confused with the red envelops stuffed with money that are traditionally given to children as gifts in the Chinese tradition... (Talk about a 180). In Japan, the art of origami is used as a form of Christmas ornaments, cranes in particular since they symbolize peace and long life. Korea has a higher percentage of Christians (around 25%) who practice both church mass and carolling during midnight until four in the morning.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Decline of Civility

A year ago a Montreal filmmaker John Curtin documented a film about the decline of civility, To Hell With Manners! Er not exactly a great selling title but it's certainly something I've thought of lately. From people stepping onto a train without waiting for people to exit, overly loud conversations on cellphones or drivers running other drivers off the road... we're certainly not a pleasant bunch.

I recently slipped and fell on ice in front of a house, slamming my knee to the hard concrete. The owner of the house, sitting in their car didn't do a thing. Not even a "Are you alright?" or any other acknowledgement that I fell flat on my ass because they failed to shovel or salt their driveway. Another day I saw a middle aged woman shoulder her way past people, shoving them hard without so much as an apology. I could list hundreds of other situations like this, and I must say ... I'm horrified.

A lot of people claim that Canadians are among the most polite people and I do believe smaller towns do have nicer people (East coast anyone?) but I can't say the same about the major cities such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver (oh yes Vancouver is included, despite many locals' repetitive boast that they are the best city in the world to live in). When I speak to any of the older generations (65+), it's readily admitted that manners were far more adhered to and that civility was practiced.

How hard is it to slow down and just let things slide? The holidays are a particularly stressful time, if you have strained relationships or your financial situation is dire it can stretch your tolerance level to the very limit. No one can fault you for letting out a bit of steam.

A bit of perspective

I recently went to two funerals in one week and I can say for certain, nothing brings reality into perspective faster than losing a loved one. If you're feeling you're about to snap try to do yourself a favour, take a break and breathe for minute and hopefully your anger will slide away. Just as it should.




Sunday, December 20, 2009

Death Mask


Creepy or intriguing? Maybe both and in a way a death mask gives historians a true image of the man/woman herself. Ever had your face cast? I have, twice as a favour to other individuals. It was strange, and for many can cause hyperventilation and overwhelming sense of claustrophobia. It very different from being deceased of course, as you either hold your breath until air holes are poked out by others or are breathing through a straw while heavy plaster is poured onto your skin.

After it's done the strangest sensation is seeing your face for the first time from another point of view. Although I don't regret my decision to try it, I don't think it's for everyone.

Recognize the face to the left? Perhaps one the most famous profiles in history...


Napoleon and Dante...

Friday, December 18, 2009

First editions

Every dream of finding a rare find at a garage sale? Your grandparents attic has a collection of valuable stamps, books or coins? I heard of parents tossing out men's childhood hockey or baseball cards, throw away a valuable collectors Star Wars toy, and all sorts of sob stories.

Recently a first edition Anne of Green Gables book sold for a staggering 24,000US. Or the rare first edition copy of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" that was auctioned for $171,000 US.

Of course the question is, how do you know if the book is a first edition?

According to various sites this is how you know it is...


General Guidelines for Identifying a First Edition

The words "First Edition", "First Printing", "First Published", "Published", or "First Impression" appears on the copyright page.

A number line (used int he post WWII era) that generally are a series of numbers (ie. 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1) and if the "1" is present, the book is a first edition. For a second printing the "1" is removed so the "2" is the lowest number present.

Sometimes discrepancies occur when a person finds page with both the "First Edition" designation and a number line (9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2). In that case one of two situations can apply.

The book is a first edition and the "First Edition" line will be deleted during second printing (Random House method).
The book is a second printing and it was an error.

Before you start hopping up and down as you've discovered a virtual treasure cove of first runs let me remind you that most are not overly valuable. It all depends on the scarcity, quality, age etc...

One example is Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. First published by Bloomsbury in 1997 that was not anticipated be a great success. Only 500 copies were made for sale. In June 2007 it sold for an impressive ($14,000 aprox).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Top Audiobooks and Radio plays

I've been a fan of audiobooks since my school days, even during my childhood I would receive Arabian Nights or the original Hans Christian Anderson books on records (that's right... not even on tape... a record with my own little record player). When you often work over the twelve hour point you will quickly discover the difficulty of finding music that will occupy your time. I'd often swap between BBC, CBC radio, music and silence... until a friend re-introduced me to the world of books on tape.

There is a decline of quality of audiobooks however, it's often best to find a copy of BBC radio plays that promise a full cast of voice actors, sound fx and music tailored to specific stories and dramatic points. I have found that Brian Sibley and Michael Bakewell have produced some of the best radioplays to date. There are many worth finding, here a few to hunt for...

THE FOOL'S PICKS

1. BBC Orson Welles directed and narrated H.G. Wells' novel War of the Worlds
2. 1981 BBC Radio 4, J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. A twelve part series is an abridged version starring Ian Holm as Frodo along with many other great voices.
3. 1978 BBC Radio 4 version of Douglas Adams' novel, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
4. 1985 Titus Groan and Gormenghast
5. 1968 The Hobbit by BBC 4
6. Orson Welles 1939 radio adaptation of Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
7. The Chronicles of Narnia (10 x 25 min episodes) Among the cast of talent, Tom Wilkinson... recognize the name?

The very best of Agatha Christie audiobooks tend to pale in comparison to their BBC radio play counterparts. I have noticed that John Moffatt was the David Suchet for radio, playing the voice of Poirot more than once. Many of the Christie's novels are read respectably well by Hugh Frasier or David Suchet but nothing beats a well produced play.

Poirot BBC 4 (John Moffatt voiced Poirot 1987 onward with great success)
1985-86 The Mystery on the Blue Train (Maurice Denham)
1986 Hercule Poirot's Christmas (Peter Sallis)
Murder on the Orient Express
Death on the Nile
Murder on the Links
Murder in Mespotomia
Cards on the Table
Appointment with Death
Dumb Witness
Hallowe'en Party
Sad Cypress (This was truly one of their best. Emma Fielding and David McCallister as the two main roles.)

Marple BBC 4 (June Whitfield plays Miss Marple)
At Bertram's Hotel
A Caribbean Mystery
4:50 From Paddington

Other Christie plays
1953 Partners in Crime (Richard Attenborough and Shelia Sims play Tommy and Tuppence), a thirteen part version.
1990 The Sittaford Mystery
1940 And Then There Were None
1993 The Pale Horse (One of my favourites)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Great covers

Techno paper

Am I a traditionalist? Not really. I understand the argument that ebook readers will save valuable trees, will be less hassle, less cost, and more accessible... but is it really good for you?

My job requires me to stare at the computer monitor at least eight hours a day, usually pushing past the twelve hour point, so I ask myself... isn't that enough?

But they sure make these new gadgets tempting. With the ease of online downloads, portability, and lightweight design, it'll soon be the next "status symbol" next to blackberries, ipods and laptops. Sooner or later there will be optional "blinged out" casing or a "Prada" version ebook readers equipped with online web surfing, video player and camera installed.

The repetitive harsh LED screen flashing imagery into strained eyes will slowly erode any connection to the world around us while we read our favourite novel as we shuttle home. I imagine that a few years from now laser eye surgery will become a prerequisite for the thirty to forty crowd with a freebie hearing aid tossed in for all those kids blasting their ipods into their poor ears. One reason to support strong health care funding, we'll all need it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Globetrotting

I thought my knowledge of geography was terrible when I played games like Carmen Sandiego but nothing beats this test to know for certain that you should've paid attention to geography class.

http://www.travelpod.com/traveler-iq

Saturday, December 12, 2009

It's all retro

A cellphone usually lasts at most 3 years before a consumer wants to replace it. How long do blenders, and other appliances last? 10 years? Maybe 15 or 20? "They don't build them like they use to" isn't really just a throw away statement, it's a fact. Why make a car that will run smoothly for 15-20 years or a cellphone that will work for 10 years when a company can make money from repairs, replacement and warranty purchases?

With the new century of households too lazy to use a good o'l mop and broom we have the new age of "Swiffers" and other disposable items.

Consumers are "conned" daily, and unfortunately we have only ourselves to blame. With less time, less energy and things moving as quickly as they do most of us will pay any amount of money for a bit of convenience.

I'm all for sending in things if it has a decent warranty. I've cashed in on the mac applecare warranty a few times, and gotten new watches, sunglasses and umbrellas when they snapped, cracked and sputtered to a pathetic end.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Holiday slip


Find the normal Holiday fare offered revolting? Not all are half bad, and a few are worth a second or third viewing.

8 flicks for the Traditionalists...well sort of...

Trading Places
One of my favourites. Dan Ackroyd, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Lee Curtis at their best in a fantastic comedy mixed with greed and skullduggery during the holiday season.

The Grinch Who stole Christmas (the animated version of course)
Some may prefer the Jim Carey version but in my opinion it can't compare to the Chuck Jones original.

The Nightmare Before Christmas
A beautiful romantic stop-motion animated film that truly catapults the audience to another world.

Elf
Will Ferrell's smash hit in 2003, the fish out of water comedy directed by Jon Favreau (Swingers, Iron Man) features an orphaned elf "Buddy" (Ferrell) struggling to fit in the life at the North Pole.

Tokyo Grandfathers
An anime film about three homeless friends, a young girl, a transvestite and a middle aged bum who finds an abandoned newborn in the trash on Christmas day. The story follows their journey as they track down the parents.

Die Hard
Less talking more entertainment? One of the best features is the deliciously funny Alan Rickman as the villain.

Serendipity
For romantics on both ends, John Cusack and Kate Beckinsdale dash around New York city in hopes to find each other.

The Apartment
One of Billy Wilder's more subdued dramas starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. A classic.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Best Shakespeare Festivals


Shakespeare is often a lot to swallow. It need not be! I often brush up on a play before I see a performance, giving a quick "Coles notes" version for the newbies joining me on the drive to the theatre. If you are fortunate enough to live close to an established performing centre, many productions will produce wildly creative interpretations of Shakespeare's prose.

Here are a few of the more established festivals in North America that may be a lot pricier than a blockbuster rental but are a welcome change for a special occasion. I have no idea why, but most of the BEST Shakespeare companies are NEVER in the large metropolises. Be prepared to travel.

April/May months or late fall usually offer discounted prices, and if you really are flexible you can get last minute tickets for a slashed rate. Many places cut the prices by 50% or more to lure the younger generation, so be sure to ask if you want to take the kids (university students and under 35 age group are sometimes offered different rates as well).

Stratford Shakespeare Festival
The Stratford Festival located in Stratford, Ontario was the ingenious brainchild of a local journalist Tom Patterson more than fifty years ago. With a mix of guts and gall, he hunted down the legendary actor/director Tyrone Guthrie to help launch a theatre festival that has expanded into one of the best training centres for Canadian talent. I'm slightly dumbfounded to have read that Alec Guinness (Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, Passage to India and of course Star Wars) was convinced to star in numerous plays during their debut season, along with acclaimed designer Tanya Moiseiwitsch.
Tony award winning actor Christopher Plummer returns this year for The Tempest.

Not only does this place boast a professional, amazing troupe of talent, it's one of the more established festivals offered in the United States. A great variety of plays are listed that stray from the normal Shakespearean fare such as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Pride and Prejudice and Throne of Blood. The website also offers information on where to stay, restaurants, and other tidbits.

Want to spend a gorgeous summer night in the park? Boasting some of the biggest A-list stars in their productions (not that it matters, and frankly lesser known actors are usually a lot better), you can even get free tickets if you are willing to brave the long lines! Just this summer Anne Hathaway and Raul Esparza were among the cast of Twelfth Night.

"THE" Guthrie Theatre... oh yes. Minneapolis, Minnesota can pride itself with one of the most demanding, creative thespian companies in North America. Launched by Sir Tyrone Guthrie, Oliver Rea and Peter Zeisler on May 7, 1963, it provides another haven other than Broadway or Hollywood for aspiring actors to hone their skills and reach their potential. Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and musicals play year round at their state of the art theatre, recently constructed at the tune of $125 million by architect Jean Nouvel.

Named as the Regional Theatre of the Year in 2002 and 2006, the independent, professional theatre is dedicated to the works of Shakespeare and offer a lot of more of his more obscure plays.

Vancouver doesn't have any discounts, but then again, it's an affordable price; helmed by a very talented Christopher Gaze.

Ranked as one of the best U.S. festivals by Time magazine, the festival is showcased in the beautiful Boulder Colorado outdoors. A popular pick for nature lovers, the picturesque destination is postcard perfection.

Again why why why?? If you want to see great Shakespeare be prepared to travel! Founded in 1979 the festival caters to more than 100,000 patrons per year. It's also a hop skip and jump from Frank Lloyd Wright's studio Taliesin.

Founded in 1961 by Fred C. Adams, the festival debuted a year later and has since established itself as one of the leading theatre groups, drawing over 150,000 patrons per year, with an operational budget of $5 million/year.

Won the lotto and really want to splurge? What can beat the original? Well nothing.
Stratford/London... ENGLAND. On the plus side museum and gallery admission in London is free.


For those that need to test the waters first

Flicks for Teens: 10 things I hate about you (Taming of the Shrew), O (Othello)

Adaptations to wet your appetite: Hamlet (1996, Kenneth Branagh, Kate Winslet) A Midsummer's Night Dream (1999, Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer), Ran (King Lear, Japanese), Shakespeare in Love, Merchant of Venice (2004, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Lynn Collins, Joseph Fiennes).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Movie Exhibits


Shortly after the Lord of the Rings explosion there was a visiting exhibit that came to Toronto... twice! Presented inside Casa Loma and later in the Royal Ontario Museum/Planetarium, costumes, sets, props and production drawings from the trilogy were displayed in a clever and original fashion for all to enjoy.

This year, a travelling Harry Potter exhibit has been moving between cities. Debuting in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago from April until September 2009, it is now on the move to the Museum of Science in Boston from October 25 to February 21, 2010.

The upcoming touring cities are updated on the Harry Potter Exhibition website along with ticket sales and hours. http://www.harrypotterexhibition.com/

The weekly Tom


click to enlarge

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mystery updates



H
appy news! Zoƫ Wanamaker
will be reprising her role for the upcoming Agatha Christie Poirot novel, Hallowe'en Party as the novelist Ariadne Oliver. Murder on the Orient Express, Three Act Tragedy and The Clocks are also already mid-way through production, Three Act Tragedy the first to air on New Year's Eve according to imdb.

I'm guessing "Clocks" will be aired shortly after, with "Murder on the Orient Express" and "Hallowe'en Party" released during the new year, January/February 2010.

As for Miss Marple, two more productions are expected this year, with Julia McKenzie reprising her role as the charismatic Miss Marple. The Secret of Chimneys and The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side.





Still need more? Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean, Prince of Persia) is set to direct a remake of CLUE, based on the murder mystery board game for Hasbro and Universal. Get ready for larger than life characters and hopefully a fun cast of actors who don't take themselves too seriously. If you can't wait that long, try out the 1985 original starring Tim Curry.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Travel Journals

Although I'm not an avid comic book reader, this book was recommended to me when it was first published by a friend of the author. It proved to be a funny and surprisingly informative purchase that I've lent out a number of times with happy results.

Guy Delisle's PYONGYANG A Journey in North Korea chronicles his stay in Pyongyang for a French animation studio that subcontracts its work to cheaper countries. Without the brittle, cynical view of a full fledged capitalist, his observational humour stems from his isolated situation and ability to laugh at his predicaments.

Drawn with an easy on the eyes graphic style, the pages are composed beautifully, showing a great eye for detail. In a country that's shrouded in so much mystery, the book provides a quick peek into the rabbit hole that eludes to so much more. Even google earth doesn't reveal much, now that's impressive.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Practice makes perfect

Right now thousands of people are out of work, wondering what to do with their time as they mull over their life choices. Go back to school? Apply for another one hundred jobs?

I recently finished a non fiction book written by Malcolm Gladwell entitled "Outliers", an examination of the factors that contribute to great success. He repeatedly proves his theory of the "10,000 hour rule" as a way to achieve high level success in any particular field, also highlighting factors such as opportunity and cultural environmental factors.

Climbing up the charts onto the New York Times bestseller list it has been well received by critics, and considered a more personal piece than his previous bestseller, The Tipping Point.

Doesn't talent factor in? Of course it does, but perhaps the definitive point is that achievement is won by perseverance rather than anything else. Many of the most acclaimed successes have tasted the bitterness of defeat during their most formative years, Beethoven, Thomas Edison, Steven Spielberg, Henry Ford, Soichiro Honda, and Winston Churchill to name a few.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6hz_s2XIAU

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

doc-u


I've recently been trying to get my hands on "A State of Mind", a recommended film about North Korea. Haven't found it yet.

Top 10 Documentary picks

Planet Earth (television series BBC) A beautifully shot series of different environments around the world.

Spellbound An honest look into the dedication and luck required to win the coveted Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Born Rich Although this film may not be widely acclaimed by the masses, it's an interesting personal look into the world of trust fund babies by one of their own, Jamie Johnson one of the heirs to the Johnson & Johnson company. If you like it... try One Percent, his follow up film of America's disparity of wealth.

49 Up The latest installment of the incredible groundbreaking 7 up series. Beginning in 1964 Michael Apted explores the adage "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man".

Fahrenheit 9/11 The controversial smash hit 2004 documentary by Michael Moore.

The Thin Blue Line A man convicted and sentenced to die for a murder he didn't commit, Randall Dale Adams's film in 1988 gives another look into the 1976 murder of Dallas police officer Robert W. Wood.

Super Size Me Gluttony is proven to be one of the deadly seven sins. Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock puts his own body on the line by personally putting himself on a 3 meals a day diet of the fast food chain menu. Talk about super-sizing your way to a new wardrobe. Yuck.

Born into Brothels Simply incredible and heartfelt. This journey follows the children of prostitutes in Sonagachi, Kolkata's red light district.

An Inconvenient Truth
Think 2012 is horrifying? Try this.
"Humanity is sitting on a ticking time bomb. If the vast majority of the world's scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced."

Grizzly Man A revealing look into the eccentric life and death of Timothy Treadwell's obsessive fascination with grizzly bears. With footage and interviews of people involved with Treadwell, it gives a glimpse into his motivations and passion for raising public awareness until is tragic end with his girlfriend.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day 28

click on image to enlarge

I'm almost there, with only one Sunday comic and one daily. I have to say I've learned quite a bit, but always manage to let a typo slip through here and there. After this I will only be drawing the comic on a weekly basis.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pieman

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
North of the border we've already celebrated the even...
but us Canucks love the sales south of the border!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Unique Advertising

MUSCAT GUMMY

"Its translucent color so alluring and taste and aroma so gentle and mellow offer admiring feelings of a graceful lady. Enjoy soft and juicy Kasugai Muscat Gummy."

APPLE GUMMY
"Every drop of fresh apple juice, carefully pressed from the reddest apples, shining in colors of the cheeks of a snow-country child, is yours to enjoy in each soft and juicy Kasugai Apple Gummy."

The translations use to be a heck of a lot funnier... luckily they are quite tasty.

53F8M3RKWNMK

Monday, November 23, 2009

Choose your own adventure

The low-fi version of video games, Choose Your Own Adventure was the smash hit book concept that delighted and intrigued millions of readers. Between 1979 to 1998 over 250 million copies were sold, and translated in 38 languages. I must my old copy came in very handy during long car trips... I faintly remember a circus plot.

Now that I look back at them I find that there is something creepy about all the covers. It reminds me of a cross between an ugly romance book cover and hideous painting sold at a garage sale. Unfortunately they are still tacky as ever.

You can still buy one...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Best Fantasy novels for YA and kids


TOP 10 FANTASY/ADVENTURE BOOKS FOR CHILDREN

1. The Keys to the Kingdom, Garth Nix
2. Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
3. Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
4. The Princess Bride, William Goldman
5. James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
6. Dark Materials Trilogy, Phillip Pullman
(The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass)
7. City of Embers, Jeanne DuPrau
8. Un Lun Dun, China Mieville
9. Percy Jackson Series, Rick Riordan
10. Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster

Honorable Mentions
The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
Magyk, Angie Sage
Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
Inkheart, Cornelia Funke


TOP 10 FANTASY/ADVENTURE BOOKS FOR YOUNG ADULTS

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
2. Daughter of the Clayr Series, Garth Nix
(Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen) A stand out trilogy that doesn't follow the norm but will leave a nice aftertaste.
3. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
4. The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Jonathan Stroud
(Amulet of Samarkand, Golem's Eye, Ptolemy's Gate) Many categorize this as a children's book but I found that when recommended, the language flew over the heads of many kids under eleven.
5. The Earthsea Quartet, Ursula Le Guin
6. The Chrysalids, John Wyndham
7. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
8. Watership Down, Richard Adams
9. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
10. Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman

It's all about mass appeal...
Twilight Series, Stephenie Meyer
Heard of it? I think I wanted to poke out my eyes a few times when I had to skim over the sickeningly saccharine dialogue, however I can understand the mass appeal to the female population.
The Mortal Instruments, Cassandra Clare
A more action packed book series than Twilight, it also retains a great deal of the romantic tension (or should I say frustration?) of youth.