That'll teach us to not leave things 'til the last minute

Box 48 of 54 was drawn for the TIFF advance draw. Since we’re in box 30 that means we’ll be the 36th box counted, 2/3 of the way back. Could be trouble, but I think we’ll get most or all of what we asked for. This could be bad, though, if I have to get in line Thursday morning. My work schedule isn’t very forgiving right now so it could be a while before I get down to the box office, and who knows what’ll be left. Brooding Korean thinkpiece, anyone?

"Could you go a bit slower with the clicks there?"


Here’s what we’ve done with our last 24 hours:

  • Went to work. Okay, well, this was mostly me. Just needed to catch up from last week and get a head start on the coming one.
  • Saw District 9 (imdb | rotten tomatoes) at the Varsity, which was excellent. Good film all around, but what blew me away was how not-fake everything looked. Tons of social, racial and economic commentary too. Highly recommended if you’re into that sort of thing.
  • Had dinner at Volo, quaffed a couple of beers (two of which you can see above, including my Delirium Tremens) and watched the parade of interesting up and down Yonge Street.
  • Dropped our TIFF picks in box #30. We switched our picks at the (almost) last minute, ditching the Peter Berg documentary and adding Valhalla Rising. Watch the trailer and you’ll see why. It looks like Braveheart, but more violent and less cheesy. And Danish.
  • Scooted out to Liberty Village and bought (well, ordered) a new couch at West Elm, then had lunch at The Brazen Head.

Now, happily, we’re done for the day and can relax with bad movies (Nellie’s watching Hallowe’en 6 as I type this) and France planning.

"Then that Cobain pussy had to come around & ruin it all."

At the end of a long work week I didn’t have much left in me last night, so we met up with CBGB at The Auld Spot for some comfort food and beer. Disappointingly something seemed to be wrong with the Denison’s, but a Mill Street Tank House Ale did just fine. Really, I was just in it for the pulled pork sandwich. Which I love. I know this because typing the words “pulled pork sandwich” made my mouth water. Hey, there it goes again.

Upon returning home we could see Buskerfest happening just down the street from us, but it was a little chilly out and, as I said, energy levels were low. We also have a mission to clear off the PVR before leaving for France, and so we watched The Wrestler (imdb | rotten tomatoes). It was excellent, as I expected it to be by now. I think I’d put off seeing it for so long because I know how wracking Darren Aronofsky movies usually can be, but this one didn’t leave me feeling drained. Of course, all the things I’d heard about Mickey Rourke’s performance were true. He was on the screen virtually every second, and made Randy the Ram real when it would have been so very easy to make him a farce, or fantasy.

Actually, I’m rather glad I left it this long. I think if I’d watched it when it first came out the hype — the unrealistic expectations of the miraculous performance we all heard about — would have blurred what a wonderful performance it actually was.


From the short list of 28 films we’ve now made our 1st and 2nd choices for the five films we’ll see. Here they are:

  1. The Ape (Apan) (tiff) or The Trotsky (tiff)
  2. Triage (tiff) or Up In The Air (tiff)
  3. The Road (tiff) or Peter Berg Presents: King’s Ransom (tiff)
  4. Whip It (tiff) or Accident (Yi Ngoi) (tiff)
  5. Leslie, My Name Is Evil (tiff) or The Front Line (La Prima Linea) (tiff)

We feel pretty good about those picks. The Peter Berg one seems a little out of place, but we wanted one documentary and Nellie has a sentimental attachment to the Gretzky story. “I lived through that!” is what she said, I believe.

Too bad we only have time to see five, but whatever happens I think it’ll be a solid five.

[UPDATE] Changed our third selection to Valhalla Rising (tiff) as our first choice, and The Road as second choice.

My favourite songs of the year so far (III)

Back in June I dropped my twelve favourite songs of the year so far:

  • neko case . “middle cyclone”
  • the von bondies . “chancer”
  • dan auerbach . “heartbroken, in disrepair”
  • john frusciante . “unreachable”
  • the heartless bastards . “be so happy”
  • and you will know us by the trail of dead . “ascending”
  • ume . “the conductor”
  • the thermals . “when i died”
  • william elliott whitmore . “old devils”
  • the yeah yeah yeahs . “heads will roll”
  • …and you will know us by the trail of dead . “fields of coal”
  • japandroids . “heart sweats”

And now, here’s the latest hotness:

  • great lake swimmers . “still”
  • the rural alberta advantage . “the dethbridge in lethbridge”
  • the antlers . “kettering”
  • the antlers . “two”
  • lightning dust . “i knew”
  • now, now every children . “everyone you know”

I’m counting the RAA song even though it came out ages ago because their official album release was this year.

Useful anger

I’ve written many times before about the West Memphis Three. In case you weren’t paying attention, here’s the nickel version: in 1993 three teenage boys were charged with killing three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. The evidence presented against them at trial has come under heavy attack. A key component of the prosecution’s case — that the accused were devil worshipers — got national headlines, but only years later, when the documentaries Paradise Lost and Paradise Lost 2 and Mara Leveritt’s excellent book Devil’s Knot came out, did renewed attention return to the case. Donations to a legal fund have made possible new hearings into the three men’s convictions and subsequent sentencing. The mentally handicapped suspect whose coerced ‘confession’ helped provide the conviction was sentenced to forty years in prison. Another of the three received life in prison, while the last received the death penalty.

Sixteen years later the three remain in prison, but new hearings are taking place. You can read about them in detail at the WM3 blog, and I can’t remember all the details, but the upshot is this: the defense team has hired some kickass forensic experts to refute the opinion of the state pathologist who analyzed the bodies. Their testimony: that what were counted as stab wounds and satanic ritual were actually animal bites, and there was no evidence of sexual abuse.

This testimony casts new doubt, in addition to DNA evidence found two years ago showing genetic material at the crime scene which “cannot be attributed to either the victims or the defendants”, and a slew of questionable evidence presented at the original trial, including lack of murder weapon, lack of motive, the questionable interview and confession of Jessie Misskelley, and the infamous charge of Satanism, borne out by the type of music the boys listened to and black t-shirts they wore. Pile on top of this improper conduct by the jury foreman, incompetent defense, leaks from the police department to the press during the trial, and so on. But the head-shaking doesn’t stop there.

One of the most frustrating parts of reading Leveritt’s book was the testimony of Vicki Hutcheson and her son Aaron. The two of them made incriminating, but wildly inconsistent, statements about the WM3 which Hutcheson later recanted, saying she was coerced and was looking for reward money. That intrigue continues now in a cruel twist. Hutcheson has said she is willing to testify that she lied on the stand at the boys’ trial, but as Arkansas law has no statute of limitations on perjury, by doing so she would face a felony charge. The state could make an exception and allow her to testify without fear of being charged. They chose not to.

And therein lies another twist in the case. The judge presiding over the original case also presides over the hearings. Defense attorneys filed a motion asking Judge Burnett to step aside because of widespread rumour that he would run for Arkansas state senate. Burnett rejected the motion, just as he rejected the motion to re-open the case based on the DNA findings, but it leaves open the question raised by the defence: whether Judge Burnett can rule impartially on a case that, if re-opened — or worse, overturned — would almost certainly kill any political ambitions he may have. Obviously Burnett has incentive to prevent this from happening. Just one more roadblock in the way of righting things.

If you haven’t already, I’d suggest you read Devil’s Knot (amazon | indigo) or watch Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (imdb). They’ll make you angry, but anger at injustice is a useful thing.

At least I didn't land on Bono

A few days ago Joey DeVilla blogged about the OKCupid politics test and, well…I just can’t resist a blend of politics and charts.


Here’s the text the test spit out for me:

Social Liberal (73% permissive) / Economic Liberal (23% permissive)

You are best described as a: Strong Democrat (the test was quite American-centric)

You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness.

I’d say that’s about right. I’d also wager I’m one of the very few people with the letters ‘MBA’ behind my name who’d come in under the 25% mark on economic liberalism.

The test also tries to tries to lump you in to a broad descriptive category:


Again, because of the American focus you could probably substitute ‘Liberal’ for ‘Democrat’ and ‘Conservative’ for ‘Republican’. That would put me on the border between plain old vanilla liberal and socialist, which feels about right.

Finally the test results plot you on a list of famous (mainly American) people, and I agree with Joey that it seems pretty skewed.


I would consider myself more socially permissive and less economically permissive than both Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama (or at least their policies or policy statements), and there’s no way Obama’s at the bottom right extreme. I mean, if the Unabomber and Stalin are corner-dwellers, I don’t think Obama (or Huckabee, for that matter) belong in the same range. Paging Dr. Marx…

Après le deluge, le rose

Since CityNews, BlogTO, Torontoist and everybody else are posting dozens of amazing pictures of the storm that slammed Toronto earlier today (and spawned tornadoes around the GTA), I decided to post one from the minutes following the storm.

Make no mistake, the storm was amazing. I got video of it rolling in (and this storm did roll…you could see it twisting in over the core) and envelop my building. At one point I was looking south and saw a huge bolt of lightning hit two blocks south of me. The flash and sound knocked me backward, and I saw whatever it hit — I’m guessing a streetlight — glow white and then red for nearly a minute afterward.

Anyway, as soon as the blanket-thick rain and clouds moved off the sunset made an appearance, lighting up the sky. When the Moss Park lights came on I couldn’t resist.