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Ray Donovan Official Trailer

 

 This could be the next series I binge on.

LAX

 

While I think this is cool, I also find it depressing.  If we ever built such a thing in Saskatoon, we would use it for advertising rather than art.

Bluebird Cafe

 

 My friend Darren Friesen playing in Nashville’s famous Bluebird Cafe 

Canada’s navy not shipshape

The sad state of the Royal Canadian Navy

HMCS Iroquois DDH 280

There is also one other problem to solve.

A decision is needed on whether or not the Coast Guard’s long-planned new polar icebreaker will be built first at the same site.

The icebreaker CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent is set to retire in 2017, and will be replaced by a new Polar class icebreaker CCGS John G. Diefenbaker.

Meanwhile, the two RCN ships the new class will replace just keep getting older.

Both HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Preserver will be 50 years old (at least) by the time they head for the breakers. That would qualify them for museum status in most countries around the world.

During their lifetime they have contributed to the 1991 Gulf War and humanitarian aid missions in Florida and the Bahamas, peace-making off Somalia and East Timor and have been poised for the evacuation of non-combatants from Haiti.

The ships are also single-hulled which is in contravention of most international environmental standards and limits the number of ports that will accept them.

The RCN is acutely aware of operational limitations and is busy talking up the project.

National Defence and the Canadian Forces say that the new Berlin-class ships should “provide a home base for maintenance and operation of helicopters, a limited sealift capability, and support to forces deployed ashore.”

Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, the now-retired commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, told a defence industry conference in Ottawa that the design had been selected “following a thorough, third-party-validated process, during which two designs were compared in depth based on capability, cost and risk.”

Clearly he is a fan but at some stage a keel will need to be laid and works begin. Even the most optimistic naval planner admits Ottawa is still years away from signing a detailed build contract.

Then there is the rest of the RCN fleet.

Canada’s Iroquois-class destroyers, our principal naval warships, are on average 40 years old. They are due for retirement/replacement.

The Halifax-class frigates are due for retirement/replacement starting in 2025.

Therefore, just to maintain the navy at its present operational capacity, Canada needs to build 15 new warships while completing the support ships and rebuilding the Coast Guard’s fleet of icebreakers at a time when the world is turning its attention to increasing sea traffic through the Northwest Passage.

And of course this is by a military that can not figure out how to procure anything right now and has an aversion to buying off the shelf designs from other navies (although it looks like they did with the JSS vessels).  Part of the problem is that unlike other militaries that regularly upgrade their equipment, Canadian equipment is kept well past its best before date.  The military is then forced to go after the cutting edge because it is going to have to last so long.

The Original Cast of Sesame Street

Original sesame street cast

Oscar the Grouch is orange!  He became green in season 2.

Roger Ebert’s 10 Great Film’s of All Time

Sadly I haven’t seen all of these.  As a tribute to one of my favourite reviewers of all time, I will make sure I see all of them.

At one point in pondering this list, here’s what I thought I would do: I would simply start all over with ten new films. Once any film has ever appeared on my S&S list, I consider it canonized. “Notorious” or “The Gates of Heaven,” for example, are still two of the ten best films of all time, no matter what a subsequent list says.

I decided not to do that–trash the 2002 list and start again. It was too much like a stunt. Lists are ridiculous, but if you’re going to vote, you have to play the game. Besides, the thought of starting with a blank page and a list of all the films ever made fills me with despair.

So there must be one new film.

The two candidates, for me, are Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York” (2008) and Terrene Malick’s “The Tree of Life” (2011). Like the Herzog, the Kubrick and the Coppola, they are films of almost foolhardy ambition. Like many of the films on my list, they were directed by the artist who wrote them. Like several of them, it attempts no less than to tell the story of an entire life,

In “Synecdoche,” Kaufman does this with one of the most audacious sets ever constructed: An ever-expanding series of boxes or compartments within which the protagonist attempts to deal with the categories of his life. The film has the insight that we all deal with life in separate segments, defined by choice or compulsion, desire or fear, past or present. It is no less than a film about life.

In “The Tree of Life,” Malick boldly begins with the Big Bang and ends in an unspecified state of attenuated consciousness after death. The central section is the story of birth and raising a family.

Speaking of Roger Ebert, can I say that it is awesome that someone who on his dying day was still planning new projects.

What in the world is a leave of presence? It means I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. What’s more, I’ll be able at last to do what I’ve always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review.

At the same time, I am re-launching the new and improved Rogerebert.com and taking ownership of the site under a separate entity, Ebert Digital, run by me, my beloved wife, Chaz, and our brilliant friend, Josh Golden of Table XI. Stepping away from the day-to-day grind will enable me to continue as a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, and roll out other projects under the Ebert brand in the coming year.

I respect Roger Ebert tremendously and I hope he rests in peace but I want to be planning, organizing, and putting together projects until the day I die.  Good for Ebert.

Ebert, 70, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic, died Thursday in Chicago. He had been in poor health over the past decade, battling cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland.

He lost part of his lower jaw in 2006, and with it the ability to speak or eat, a calamity that would have driven other men from the public eye. But Ebert refused to hide, instead forging what became a new chapter in his career, an extraordinary chronicle of his devastating illness that won him a new generation of admirers. “No point in denying it,” he wrote, analyzing his medical struggles with characteristic courage, candor and wit, a view that was never tinged with bitterness or self-pity.

Always technically savvy – he was an early investor in Google – Ebert let the Internet be his voice. His rogerebert.com had millions of fans, and he received a special achievement award as the 2010 “Person of the Year” from the Webby Awards, which noted that “his online journal has raised the bar for the level of poignancy, thoughtfulness and critique one can achieve on the Web.” His Twitter feeds had 827,000 followers.

Ebert was both widely popular and professionally respected. He not only won a Pulitzer Prize – the first film critic to do so – but his name was added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005, among the movie stars he wrote about so well for so long. His reviews were syndicated in hundreds of newspapers worldwide.

Warren Kinsella’s take on the Jack Layton movie

Kinsella has some interesting things to say about the Jack Layton film

As such, Layton comes across as he was in life — much liked and, even for some, much loved. Even when a gay-hating constituent tosses a cup of hot coffee at his face, Layton is nonplussed.

Instead of going home and changing his shirt and tie, Layton goes ahead with a date with his future wife, Olivia Chow (played with great skill by Sook-Yin Lee). Chow’s mother tells her daughter that Layton is crazy.

In Jack, Layton isn’t crazy — but it is made clear that he regularly drove his staff and family crazy. His relentless positivism, it turns out, was no act. When things got bad (and they did often before May 2011), Layton would simply pick up his guitar and start singing. And thereby drive his staff and family crazy.

Among those driven batty by Layton’s unflagging optimism were his cadre of loyalists. So, we see actors portraying political legends like Brian Topp (with more hair), Brad Lavigne (with more height), as well as Karl Belanger and Anne McGrath (who has far more real-life charm than portrayed in the film), groaning about Layton’s refusal to ever accept life’s glass might be half empty.

Utterly missing from Jack is a hint, much less an explanation, for Layton’s extraordinary win in 2011.

Was it his shrewd use of his cane and his health issues, a la Lucien Bouchard? Was it his sunny personality, which contrasted so favourably to the glum Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff? His unflappable determination?

The viewer is left with no answers. An explanation might have made Jack better. And it might have assisted the NDP, too, now under Thomas Mulcair, looking like a shadow of what it was under Layton.

That aside, Jack is an enjoyable film about a pretty extraordinary fellow. One who, like Moses, led his followers to the political promised land, but who never got the chance to go there with them.

It’s on TV Sunday night, and it’s worth your time. And, if nothing else, it’ll give you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Charles Adler on the CBC!

Time LAX

A wonderful time lapse of Lose Angeles.  It made me remember how much I miss L.A. and how much I would love to live there some day.

LUNAFEST in Saskatoon

LUNAFEST is coming to Saskatoon

Join a Saskatoon celebration of International Women’s Day at a Women’s Film Festival!

The Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship Foundation and the Edwards School of Business are pleased to present a screening of LUNAFEST, followed by a panel discussion at the Broadway Theatre the evening of Wednesday March 6th, 2013.

LUNAFEST connects women, their stories, and their causes through film. The program of nine short films will compel discussion, make you laugh, tug at your heartstrings, and motivate you to make a difference in your community.

Come out, pick up your free popcorn, drink, and a Lunabar and watch nine short films produced by and for women. Incredibly diverse in style and content, the films are united by a common thread of storytelling. A short description of each is as follows:

  • Blank Canvas by Sarah Berkovich – Going through chemotherapy, a woman turns her baldness into a blank canvas for self-expression
  • Flawed by Andrea Dorfman – An animated tale about accepting yourself, flaws and all.
  • Lunch Date by Sasha Collington – Getting dumped hurts, especially for a woman whose boyfriends sends his fourteen-year-old brother to break the news.
  • The Bathhouse by Jisoo Kim – Escaping the streets of the modern city, a group of women are transformed by a bathhouse paradise.
  • When I Grow Up by Sharon Arteaga – A mother and daughter sell tacos and dream of a better life.
  • Chalk by Martina Amati – A gymnast selected for an elite training camp makes new discoveries about bodies, boys and friendship.
  • Georgena Terry by Amanda Zackem – How the founder of Terry Bicycles revolutionized cycling with bike frames designed for women’s bodies.
  • Self-Portrait with Cows Going Home and Other Works by Rebecca Dreyfus – A rare and soulful portrait of the ironically camera-shy Sylvia Plachy, a renowned contemporary photographer.
  • Whakatiki – A Spirit Rising by Louise Leitch – A day at the river awakens the spirit of a women held captive by years of broken promises.

Panel:
Betty-Ann Heggie (moderator)
TBA (watch for announcements)

Admission is $10. All proceeds will be directed to tuition fees for Proteges from the non-profit sector to attend the Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship Program at the Edwards School of Business, with a donation also being made to LUNAFEST (The Breast Cancer Fund). Seating is limited!

  • Doors open at 6:00pm
  • Seating at 6:50pm
  • Screening starts at 7:00pm
  • Panelist discussion at 8:30pm

Bose IE2

Bose IE2 headphones

The other day I ordered some Bose IE2 headphones off of Airmiles and they arrived today.  I took them out and plugged them into my iPod and started to listen.  I was amazed.  There were parts of the music that I had never heard before regardless whether I had listened to it via headphones, dock, or plugged into some speakers.  It was like rediscovering my music library all over again. The sound quality between them and the included Apple headphones or any other headphones I have owned isn’t even comparable.  While I had some reservation about the ear tips, I don’t even notice them.  They look really weird but fit really comfortably.   After fiddling with my headphones for the majority of my time at the gym today, I think I may appreciate them.  If you love your music and have never tried out a pair of high end headphones, you really need to.  These are amazing. 

I know audiophiles like to look down at Bose but I’ll be honest, I am not going to spend thousands on my stereo so these are spectacular.

Update: Sadly Nickelback still sounds like Nickelback.  They can’t fix everything.

Giant Squid Caught on Tape for the First Time

Discovery Channel has captured a giant squid for the first time on video.  Of course now that I want to see is a video of a colossal squid.

Gangam Style

I am not saying that I am not cool but 939,000,000 other people saw this video before I did. including my oldest son who informed me that this has come and gone already.

Update: Wendy hadn’t seen it either.

Christmas Gift Guide for Teenage Boys | 2012 Edition

A couple of weeks ago search results looking for Christmas gift ideas started to appear so I knew it was time to dust off the Christmas Gift Guides and start on 2012’s.  As usual, I start with the kids and move from there.  If you have any idea or feedback, let me know in the comments.

Shopping for a tween or a teenager is hard.  Amazon suggests MacBooks, they all want $600 iPhone and if you get it wrong, they will hate you forever.  Welcome to shopping for a teenager.  Here are some ideas that are cool, won’t break the bank, and may actually inspire them.

HTC Desire CI have long been a fan of Virgin Mobile prepaid for teens.  You can control their data, their minutes, and if something goes wrong and the phone is lost, you aren’t hit with a massive phone bill or contract.  Everyone wins.  The HTC Desire C ($149) has the newest version of Android Ice Cream Sandwich, a 5 megapixel camera, and a sound system that is by Beats by Dre.  It’s only $149 upfront and you can either put that on their no-contract plan or go prepaid.  It’s not a Samsung Galaxy III or a iPhone 5 but for someone that is 12 or 13 years old, they don’t need a better phone than you.  If  you really want to spoil the kid, you can get them some Beats by Dre headphones ($149) to go with it but a more fiscally sound and responsible choice may be these highly rated and fairly inexpensive JVC Xtreme-Xplosivs headphones ($14.99).

Kodak Playsport video cameraWhile Kodak has fallen on hard times, it still makes a great little compact camcorder in the Kodak Playsport ($80).  It’s shockproof, rustproof, and waterproof to a depth of 10 ft. Since it is designed to be used on the go, it has built-in image stabilization to smooth out the ride. It also has a share feature making it easy to get the video onto YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.  If you want more stability from a manufacturer, check out the Sony Bloggie camera (or the Sport model).  All are great options for your young aspiring filmmaker.

Of course they will need some adventures to film.  Geocaching is extremely popular all over the world and Magellan has created the eXplorist GC Waterproof Geocaching GPS ($119).  It easily connect to the Geocaching.com User Community and perform "Send to GPS," create and sync Pocket Queries, and upload Field Notes. Pre-loaded with the most popular geocaches in the world.  Additionally, the product comes packed with common outdoor GPS features, such as waypoint creation, a worldwide base map, active tracking, and trip odometer.

If they are a gamer, chances are that they have grown out their Nintendo DS.  If they have, check out the PS Vita ($249).  With any gaming system it is all about the games and I am pleasantly surprised the amount of good looking games there are out there for the PS Vita (compared to the PSP).  There is Assassin’s Creed III ($39), Madden 13 ($25), or FIFA 13 ($39)

2012-ipodnano-product-initialWhile my son would love an iPod Touch ($299), I am not sure if any child needs to be online 24/7.  There is a great alternative in the new iPod Nano ($149), especially if the child you are shopping for is extremely active (or you want them to be more active).  The redesigned iPod nano now has a larger, 2.5-inch Multi-Touch display. It plays music and has Genius playlists and FM radio.  It has enough memories to watch watch movies and widescreen videos on the bigger screen. The iPod Nano tracks your steps, your runs, and burned calories and syncs to the Nike+ website to challenge friends. And with built-in Bluetooth technology, you can wirelessly connect to speakers, headphones, or car stereos.  While you are at it, you can add some amazing iHome rechargeable mini speakers as well.

If your child is a skateboarder, you may want to consider a Tony Hawk skateboard deck and kit.  I know what you are thinking, "What’s Tony Hawk a skater back when I was a kid?" and the answer is yes and somehow he is still skating and he is still pretty awesome… if you consider a 900 degree turn on a skateboard awesome.

If you teen is planning to do something awesome like that, you may want to get them a GoPro camera ($169) and a headstrap to record the madness/injury.

Sometimes the best technology and gifts are some of the most basic.  Binocular prices have dropped while the optics are still great.  A pair of compact Bushnell binoculars ($30) are perfect for a hike, some urban exploring, and compact enough to toss in a bag.  If taken care of, they will last a lifetime.

Canada at War: A Graphic History of World War II:  A visual look at Canada during World Ward II.

Canada at War follows the developments and setbacks, wins and losses, of a nation learning to stand up for itself in the midst of the most difficult war of the 20th century.

In graphic-novel format, fully illustrated and in full colour, Canada at War shows the growth of a nation’s army, navy and air force through movingly depicted triumphs and tragedies. From the disheartening losses at Dieppe and Hong Kong through the Battle of the Atlantic and the invasion of Sicily, it focuses on the human dimension of the key battles and decisions that ultimately swung the war in the Allies’ favour.

This poignant graphic account ends, after the victories of D-Day and Juno Beach and the liberation of Europe, with a final reckoning of the legacy these storied years have had on a country forged through war. Aimed at both adult and young adult readers, this very human history tells the stories behind some of this country’s most distinguishing military moments.

Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestions made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

All I Can

JP Auclair Street Segment (from All.I.Can.) from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.

This came via @kr_wolfe in reply to this post. It’s a worthy rebuttal.

The Battle of the River Plate

One of my favourite movies of all time.  More on the Graf Spree can be found on Wikipedia.