Well, that happened.
Watching the Ford mayoralty implode - if we could a) call it an implosion, as he is, as of now, still in office, and b) call it a mayoralty, because COME ON - has been delightful in nearly every conceivable way, but my delight causes me pain. No one should be excited about what’s happening in Toronto right now, except that everyone is; that the cause of all this scintillation is an allegedly serious drug addiction, allegedly serious racial and homophobic slurs, and a guy who is causing more destruction to Toronto’s national and international reputation than any public figure who has served in my lifetime, is nothing to get happy about.
And yet here we are, in the flow of a piece of political theatre so expansive and genre-defining that it nearly doesn’t deserve the name. This is the Goodfellas of Toronto’s meek little public sphere, and right now, an (ahem) coked-out Ray Liotta is screaming across town, fairly sure a helicopter is following him. And each event - each thermonuclear meltdown from Rob Ford and the rest of Ford Nation - fires a thunderclap into the air that can be heard for miles. I was on a VIA train heading back into the city yesterday afternoon when Mark Towhey was fired, and there was an honest-to-god vortex of black cloudy doom holding station over Toronto on the horizon. I half expected to arrive at Union Station and find the city a smoking crater, smote into ashes by a benevolent overseer who has not, till now, made His presence felt.
We should not be enjoying this, but many of us are. Ford made it a fight, showed unilateral contempt to every man, woman, and transgendered child who - appalling in a democracy, I know - had an even marginally different view of things than he did. He has made it such a fight that, whether it works or not, something like a thousand people have contributed their actual money to a crowd-sourced smear operation intended to make public the alleged crack video… which, mind you, might or might not exist, and might or might not bring down the mayoralty, and might or might not put Ford in jail - but we all just want to see it anyway, because fuck that guy.
There is a simple, unequivocal problem with Rob Ford as the mayor of Toronto or any other city, one which exists far beyond the boundaries of bigotry, anti-environmentalism, football bullshit, contempt for rules, or just being an asshole: the man does not respect the seat. He does not respect the office, and does not respect the city. And while every single one of us might have our own particular flavour of why we currently want to see him fail, that single problem is the foundation upon which all the other quibbles, small and large, are built. Rob Ford does not respect Toronto, or the office of its mayor, and he shows it every day.
Seriously though - who had “crack addiction” in the Cabin in the Woodsish sweepstakes of how this big turkey was gonna go down? (If he goes down?) The escalation, the “what could possibly happen next”-ness of the nonstop Ford shitshow, would boggle the best writers in the land. There is no bottom on this downward spiral, apparently; every omega-level event that Ford somehow waltzes past only reveals another omega-level event beyond it. What’s left in the quiver? (Whores and murder, obviously.) At this point, Ford could call a press conference at 2 p.m. today and then, at the podium, reveal that he is the Lizard King of Beta Rigel before cracking his torso open and letting a stream of hive-minded, armoured slugs roam free across Queen Street, and I wouldn’t even register mild surprise.
Oh - and to the racist, homophobic, crack-supporting suburbanistas who put this man in the highest office in the city… enjoy your fucking cars.
“How Could You Leave Us?” John Ottman, SUPERMAN RETURNS. Seriously one of my favourite pieces of music of all time. This could be called pastiche, of course - it’s the most complex re-purposing of music from John Williams’ score for the original SUPERMAN that Ottman undertakes in his score for RETURNS - but it accomplishes that task flawlessly, and just as flawlessly builds, develops, and completes the emotional arc of the scene it underscores. It’s the most emotionally resonant scene in the movie - I’d argue even the haters would have trouble finding fault with this sequence - and this is a stunning musical poem about choices, loss, and enduring love.
Imagine the process by which letters, ordinary letters, which you may have paid no special mind to on any previous day in your life, get reorganized to form a bouma shape which, every time you see it or write it - a phoneme which, every time you hear it or speak it - makes you glow from the inside with a kind of special knowledge that you used to think existed only in books about magical worlds beyond wardrobe doors.
I’m a fan of the version of the universe where Shane Carruth never made a second film. Such a quantum reality surely exists, if the gods have any sense of humour about Primer or anything else. This is not, by the way, a knock against Upstream Color, which I’ll probably end up knocking later; it’s got nothing to do with my feelings about Carruth’s follow up film or films. It’s just that it took Carruth such a long time to tackle his sophomore effort that I began to noodle about the possibility that he was never going to do it, resulting in a reality where this former mathematician popped up in 2004, made a $7,000 time travel movie that is in many ways outstanding, and then just vanished back into the non-filmmaking hyper-reality from which he emerged like Athena from the forehead of Zeus. Come on, that’s appealing for a whole host of reasons.Read more
Ho! Hey there everyone. It’s been a while since we last spoke. I was sitting in an Enterprise Rent-A-Car last Thursday at around 1 in the afternoon when I had what Jules Winfield said alcoholics call a “Moment of Clarity.” I’d been dispatched to Burlington the night before for an early morning video shoot, just me and a SME and a camera, and now I was returning the rental car and heading back home to start logging footage and finishing off the edit - or rather re-edit, since the whole shoot was a do-over of an earlier project. I was talking to the car rental guy about what I do for a living, which for the last several weeks and much of the last year, has been making micro-budget videos on a variety of platforms for a variety of outputs. In May alone, this work has sent me to Victoria, Vancouver, the aforementioned Burlington, and (next week) Montreal. So car rental guy and I were talking about the relative frustrations of the Burlington do-over, which I promptly assured him were nonexistent, because every single thing about the preceding 24 hours had been brilliant. And that’s when the MOC hit me. There is not a single thing wrong.
Not for nothing, was the first chunk of 2013 a bit of a dark ride. Then New Zealand happened and I moved to a new apartment, and blah blah logistics, here we are on the other side, and - as tweeted - I am grateful beyond words to be standing here, writing to you. There was a particularly lucid dream, sometime in early January, where I found myself lying at the bottom of a large body of water, looking up at the surface, and wondering if I had air enough in my lungs to get there. Well, I did, but not without help. So to everyone who pulled, dragged and carried me up, just in the nick of time, thank you. I’ve been woken up in a very big way, which is going to have reach throughout the rest of my life.
I’m still not wildly thrilled that the Substream went down, and having that happen so close to Ebert’s death put a surprisingly strong “what the fuck am I doing” spin on the whole future of my writing, and the ambitions therein. So when Destroy All Monsters happened (little more than) moments later, it felt a whole lot like a gold bar fell out of the sky and landed in front of me. My beat for the column is Hollywood and pop culture - which I’ve covered before - and the brief is simple, write about whatever’s happening. The column drops on Wednesdays, and at some point I’ll redesign Tederick.com to feature it in a more findable way. It’s going to be a big part of the year, and hopefully, many years to come. (Hey - anyone want to redesign Tederick.com? I need to up my mobile compliance game, while I’m at it.) A lot of the thanks goes to Todd and the rest of the Twitch team for the warm embrace, but really, it’s down to Kurt Halfyard for getting my ass into the game on this in the first place - he is a men among men, and has been more supportive than I strictly deserve for a long while now.
My music video for the Marvelous Beauhunks dropped this week as well, one of the most purely pleasurable gigs I’ve had in the whole history of making movies and videos of any size, scope, or description - mostly because the guys themselves are, in every way, kickass. Plus, Demetre as Broom Jesus and Zoe as Bee Girl - because longtime viewers will probably realize that there’s always a Bee Girl, in some form or another. For this, though, the massive pile of thanks go to the monster on drums named Stephen Wright, who thought of me for the video in the first place, had utmost confidence in my abilities when there was not a single shred of proof that I had any idea what I was doing, and who is now sending me daily status updates on how the video is doing. Quite well, thank you.
There’s a whole lot more, but I’ll hold it there. The point of all this is only: we do not, as a matter of course, get a free pass most of the time; the next crisis is out there somewhere. But, holy goodness, when it’s working, you’d damn well better take a moment to be thankful. Which I’m doing. And am.
It’s May the 17th, 2013; there’s a new Star Trek movie out, and a Mamo (or two) to record this weekend; I’ve got a video (or six) in some state of pre-, mid-, or post-production; I work where it’s cool and write cuz it’s fun. In eight days, Return of the Jedi turns thirty years old, with significance not lost on me - and 1983 was just a hell of a year all around, wasn’t it?
I didn’t think much about the Spock/Uhura romantic matchup in the 2009 Star Trek film when I first saw it. I took it for what it was - a cheeky wink at the series’ established continuity by the people who were in the process of completely renovating that continuity. (On that subject, however: given that Nero’s time traveling misadventures cause no direct change to Spock’s life until about halfway through the film, we can presume that the Spock/Uhura liaison must have occurred in the original timeline as well! Now go watch “Charlie X” again.)
In the years since, though, few collateral pairings in all of SF have fascinated me to quite the degree of Spock/Uhura, or to be more specific, Spock(Quinto)/Uhura(Saldana). (I mean, there’s always Dany/Drogo, but that’s a conversation for another time.) For one thing, pushing Spock and Uhura together is just good old-fashioned shipping of the highest order, cementing Star Trek ‘09’s place as terrific fan fiction, among other things. In addition to all the self-referential massaging of Star Trek’s long and illustrious history by a team of geeks who love Star Trek (there’s even a one-off reference to the fate of that awful beagle from Enterprise, fer cryin’ out loud), Star Trek ‘09 boldly gives us two fantastically hot fantasy characters making fantastically hot whoopie with one another, spiced up with that exogamic tang that, according to some, made Spock such an avatar of SF fetishization to begin with. (Theoretically, we can thank Spock - ahem, and Kirk - for the whole notion of shipping in the first place. Well, thanks boys.) And regarding Kirk: it should not go unmentioned that Spock/Uhura represents the long-awaited usurping of Star Trek’s ostensible romantic/sexual lead by the character who, some fans would argue, was always the more alluring fantasy on the original show: the cold, logical, secretly-burning-with-passion Mr. Spock. When Kirk and Spock are heading off on their suicide mission to Nero’s ship and Kirk realizes he is standing alone on the transporter pad while Spock - cold, logical Spock - is holding up the mission by making out with his girlfriend, the white heterodox sexual paradigm of Gene Roddenberry’s original Star Trek finally splits open like a piñata. In my review of Star Trek back in 2009, I lamented its whitebread approach to sex; in this regard, I was dead wrong.Read more
Having finished all of the existent A Song of Ice and Fire novels only days before the new season of the show started, my “meh” responses to episodes 1 and 2 of Season Three of Game of Thrones were enough to convince me that I’d just run out my level of engagement on the thing, putting enough of the plot before me that retracing its steps by way of the TV show was a tiresome exercise in redundancy. But no: it turns out those two episodes just sucked.
Episodes 3 and 4, on the other hand, are the real deal, quite possibly two of the best episodes of the whole series.Read more
Look, I’m not saying that Vampire Sisters is a “great” film in the usual sense, but I think it would make a great remake, and I want to make that remake. Get it? Unsurprisingly, this flick plays straight to my base, and if it’s overloaded with a lot of dumb humour - fart jokes, “Vampire lingo” swear words - it’s ultimately a resoundingly successful empowerment fable for tween girls about the importance of being oneself in the face of overwhelming social pressure. And it lands that ending, where the Vampire Sisters on question - Dakaria and Sylvania, each half-vampire, the former wishing to be full-vamp, the latter wishing to be full-human - must choose to stay exactly as they are. The lead girls, Marta Martin and Laura Roge, are perfectly cast, and cast at the perfect age. The script is structured flawlessly, even if a polish on the dialogue would pull out substantially more richness out than is found here. This film has the bones of a great story. Basically, this needs to happen: so let’s make it happen, Hollywood! Surely we’ve greenlit enough Twilight and Hunger Games knockoffs to let this one pass. Or more to the point: exploited properly, this has Harry Potter franchise potential. Don’t mess with me on math.Read more
Stepped out of the game for what was going to be a minute and turned into four months - four months in which I never visited the Lightbox, rarely went to the movies at all, and sat on the sidelines while the whole world flipped on its back like a drunken sea turtle. And then I went to New Zealand, and had one of the best moviegoing experiences of my whole life. And then I came back, and then the Substream died and then Ebert died, and absent an outlet or even a clear sense of what I’m doing, I’m a writer sorely in need of a content strategy; until then, though, there’s always the blog, and Watched, and here we are.Read more
“My genes will not live on, because I have had no children. I am comforted by Richard Dawkins’ theory of memes. Those are mental units: thoughts, ideas, gestures, notions, songs, beliefs, rhymes, ideals, teachings, sayings, phrases, clichés that move from mind to mind as genes move from body to body. After a lifetime of writing, teaching, broadcasting and telling too many jokes, I will leave behind more memes than many. They will all also eventually die, but so it goes.”
“In this life I have already been declared dead. It wasn’t so bad.”
Really read this.