Friday, June 27, 2003

One More Hour

T-Minus 60, and counting. It's been a long week, and now it's almost done.

Wish I could write more, but I'm in the middle of writing a major proposal and it's been crunch time all week long. My fingers are literally gnarled from all the typing.

More on Monday (hopefully). Have a good weekend, everyone, and hopefully I'll see one or two of you somewhere out there...

Friday, June 20, 2003

...Then Again, Maybe It Tolls for Some Other Sucka

I just heard the news and wanted to share it: I'm not getting laid off after all. In light of that, I have to say that this Friday has been 100% better than my last Friday. On second thought, maybe 92%.

I will now celebrate the occasion with beer. Have a good weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

...It Tolls For Thee

Things have been pretty quiet around here for the last little while, haven't they? Well, with good reason. As some of you may know, I have been targeted for lay off from my company.

I say "targeted" because it hasn't happened yet. Last Friday, I was told I was going to be laid off yesterday. Yesterday morning, after spending a weekend that could only be described as "emotionally harrowing," I was told that I would be extended for a week and would be let go next Monday. There have been assorted rumours since then that there may be a way for me to stay in the company and not get laid off at all, but at this point, I'm not counting any proverbial chickens before they hatch. Only time and patience will tell.

In the meantime, I wait. I've been busy, plenty of work for me to do, and for once I've had some responsibility beyond keeping my own work in order. Despite the long hours and stress, the last month's worth of work was refreshing in many ways.

And now (potentially), I'm at the beginning of a new adventure. New opportunities and new companies await me over the next horizon. Who knows, maybe I'll make my next lifelong friend. Maybe I'll find the job of my dreams. Maybe I'll get someone to pay me to do what I love doing and I won't ever get out of bed thinking "damn, gotta go to work again." Maybe. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 09, 2003

That Girl

Way back in 1998, I heard one of the most beautiful voices I had ever heard for the first time. I was completely blown away by her sensual, sensitive, soulful sound. It was something new, fresh, and hip. It achieved the contradictory feat of being able to relax me and infuse me with energy at the same time. I played her CD for anyone and everyone who would listen to it. To this day, her CD is still in regular listening rotation and I can't think of a single roadtrip in the past few years when I haven't brought it along.

The CD is called Breath From Another by the ever-so-luscious Esthero and the magical-music-man known as Doc. And soon after the CD was relased....they disappeared. Doc left the band to pursue other musical interests and Esthero struggled to find a new direction for her music.

Since then, I've been able to seek out a few extra tracks featuring Esthero. She glows on "Song for Holly" from the Go soundtrack. At one point, I couldn't stop listening to "Weekends" by the Black Eyed Peas, which features her voice in the chorus. Ian Pooley and Esthero's "Balmes (A Better Life)" makes me want to dance every time I hear it. She teamed up with DJ Krush for a beautiful song called "Final Home". I managed to track down a song called "Windmills of Your Mind" that was axed from the soundtrack for The Thomas Crown Affair. I even love the Rascalz track "Priceless", where Esthero's voice is ghostly-thin as a background track. Most recently, I found a cover of "White Rabbit" from the new Blue Man Group CD, The Complex. She's had other appearances, but I'm still on the lookout for them.

But now I can finally have a whole CD of new Esthero music. It's been five years, but Esthero's finally going to release a new album. I can't wait.

Check out Esthero's unofficial web site here, and be sure to click on the spinning letter "e" to get a taste of four new tracks on the new album.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

This Post Has Been Brought to You by the Word of the Day: CORK

Cork isn't a word you hear very often outside of wine-drinking circles and thumb-tack boards, but thanks to Sammy Sosa, it now has a whole new meaning. I think just about everyone now knows that cork+bat=GOOD. Or cork+bat=BAD, if you consider what this situation is probably going to do to the poor sap's career, regardless of whether or not he's used it in regular game play before. They've already checked his 76 other bats, and they are all clean, but I guess we'll never know for sure. A one in 77 chance of picking the corked bat by accident seems pretty slim.

Man! Baseball's already a marathon sport as it is. Imagine how much longer a game would take if they stopped the play long enough to x-ray Sammy's bat every time he hits a homer.

I suspect that Sammy won't be drinking much chardonais in the near future, will he?

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Hardly Art, Hardly Starving!

Uh-oh, looks like big-business entertainment is emphatically pulling out its empty pockets again. "Where did all my pennies go?" ask the owners of Canadian movie theatres, according to a recent Stats Can survey.

According to the article, Canadian movie theatres (on average) lost a lot of money in 2000. Although attendance was still higher than it was in 1999, there was less of an increase than in previous years. The theatres, of course, blame the movie industry for not releasing enough blockbusters.

Hello? Not enough blockbusters? In that year, we had (to name a few ) Mission: Impossible II (2000) at $545.4 million, Gladiator (2000) at $456.3 m, Cast Away (2000) at $424.3 m, What Women Want (2000) at $372.3 m, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) $340.4 m, The Perfect Storm (2000) $325.8 m, AND X-Men (2000) at $297.3 m, not to mention another thirty-four movies that made more than 100 million! (Check out worldwide box office grosses here)

So what is really to blame here?

Behind door #1, we have the movie industry, which apparently isn't making enough exciting movies to get the butts in the seats. And in the past year, we've only had the piddly, weakling offerings of Spiderman, Star Wars Episode 2, Austin Powers 3, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Lord of The Rings, Chicago, Signs, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. In case you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic.

Behind door #2: the evil, sinister DVD industry, which has made watching a movie at home a potentially better viewing experience than at the theatres, if you've got the right hardware, and a much-much cheaper one, to boot. For $5, you and your friends can watch your favourite movie with digital-quality picture and sound, backed up by a kitchen full of goodies that won't put you in the poor house if you're hungry. And if someone's being chatty, you can stop the movie and throw shoes at the person until they stop. Hard to beat.

And behind door #3....the theatres themselves. If you look carefully, I was alluding to them with door #2. Hey Cineplex Odeon/Famous Players! We like the new theatres, but $14 a ticket each plus popcorn, plus drinks for two people costs about as much as my weekly grocery bill. Now, I'm happy to pay a little bit more for the upgrades (the big comfy seats, the big screens and the better sight lines), don't get me wrong. I'll usually go to the bigger, newer theatres instead of the older ones that don't have the new features, but eventually I'll have to draw the line. With $14 these days, you can buy a pretty sweet DVD. And you can watch it over and over and over again until you can recite every line and drive your friends bonkers, if you want to. With the $50 or more for a night out on the town for two, you could buy a whole assload of DVDs. And even more VHS copies.

The Field of Dreams maxim "build it and they will come" only goes so far. Maybe cinemas should have approached things with slightly different attitude: "build it, make the tickets cheap enough that you don't have to take a mortgage out on your house every time you go, and they will come." Then again, that's a little less catchy, isn't it?

Oh, and while we're offering suggestions, cinemas might be better off if they'd train their projectionist staff better. In the last few blockbuster movies I've seen, a) the dialog track was turned down so low that everyone's dialogue sounded like the actors were being voice-overed by Charlie Brown's parents, b) the music track was pumped to the point that it actually drowned out the machine guns and explosions, and c) the picture was so out of focus that I had to twist my glasses out of shape to make out basic shapes. And I'm paying $14 for this?