Saturday, May 22, 2010


Robin Hood. It's a myth that seems to resonate with us. Novels, movies, TV series, historical explorations, we keep looking for this dude. The case in point is the new movie Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe and directed by Ridely Scott.
I was prepared to love this film. This same actor-director combo made Gladiator and I am generally just a Scott fan, even his "failures" are still more interesting, and always more beautifully filmed, than 80% of the films you see.

I wasn't disappointed. I loved this movie. It was a gritty take on the story, beautifully filmed, overall well acted with an outstanding performance by Cate Blanchett as Marion. There was perhaps a bit too much speechifying in the film but it had humour and spectacle and relied as much on old fashioned stunts as it did on CGI A stirring score, some lovely little details of life, charging horses, swords, blizzards or arrows .. this movie is a big steaming hot bowl of adventure movie yumminess. With ice cream

So where does this Robin stand with his cinematic brethren? For me, The Adventures of Robin Hood stands as the number one Robin Hood movie.

Sure, you could call this movie corny, perhaps even for the time but it really does have everything: adventure, humour, intrigue, action ... Errol Flynn was the most dashing Robin of all, even more so than Fairbanks, to the point where, afterwards, few would dare try to out dash him again. Basil Rathbone was the best of the purely villainous Sherrif's and I include Alan Rickman from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. I know everyone loves Rickman in that movie but he chewed so much scenery it was amazing he could talk with his mouth so full. And Olivia DeHavilland was a fine Marian, strong as an actress of her day was allowed to be, a perfect foil for Robin.

For many years, my favorite Robin Hood movie was something quite different: Robin & Marion.

This was like the antithesis to Adventures: Richard Lester's movie had a gritty, realistic look to it. Robin was no noble, he was a simple soldier following a king in whom he believed but who turned out to be a bit mad. The film gave us a new perspective on Robin, as an older man, after his initial adventures, returning home. Marion hath got herself to a nunnery and the sheriff is a wearied civil servant. Rob and Little John are old and beat up as well .. but Sean Connery is Robin, Audrey Hepburn is Marion and Robert Shaw is the sheriff. So, yes, my friend, there are still fireworks.

Ridley Scott's Robin Hood has much in common with Robin and Marion. Both give us a gritty, in your face vision of medieval England. Both give us Robin's who are common men, returned from the Crusades and weary of war. Both give us Marions who are strong and intelligent. Both give us King Richards who perhaps were not all who they could be.

Scott's Robin Hood is a bit more spectacle with its huge battle scenes. Robin and Marion is definitely more romantic, the mature love story between Rob and Marion is more resolute than coy, filled with experience and a sense of commitment. Crowe's Robin, for all his reluctance, definitely carries his hero torch high whereas Connery, in one of my favorite of his performances, almost throws it away.

In the similarities I enjoyed both movies but it's hard to choose one over the other for the differences. I would say this new version of Robin Hood fits more into the "crowd pleasing" category.

I mentioned Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and I want to get back to that, since it was a popular movie.

We actually ending up watching this movie the day after we had seen Robin Hood. Prince of Thieves is not a terrible movie. It was a like a combination of Adventures and the two other movies I've discussed: This Robin returns home from the Crusades, but he's still noble; he meets Little John by fighting him at a stream, but he has a Moorish companion. Mary Elizabeth Mastriantonio is a strong yet still winsome Marion. Where it really falls apart is Keven Costner as Robin .. seriously, what were they thinking

OK, all movie reviews aside, what is our fascination with Robin Hood? Is it the myth of taking from the rich and giving to the poor? Of course this pre-supposes that the rich are evil and the poor are all deserving .. Well the rich are all evil but I've known lots of poor people in my time and trust me, sometimes all they deserve is to be poor.

Maybe it's the idea of Robin living alone in the woods with his men, living off the land, by their wits, with Marion at their side .. this is either Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, or some old hippie commune.

If we allow the conceit that Robin is a lord who sees the error of his ways and understands the true need of his people, then it's a story of redemption which always works for me. Of course, this rarely happens does it. I'm still waiting for pretty much any level of government to see the error of their ways and give back what they've taken from the poor ..

Sure. And Kevin Costner will develop a convincing British accent.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Mostly I just joke around in this blog or go on (and on and on and on) about my opinions on things, but every now and then I'm able to bring you something earth shattering and life changing ...

Case in point is this video that has come into my hands. A video that purports to blow the lid off of one of the most contentious urban myths of all time: Buckethead. Forget sasquatch, forget Nessie or Oggo Pogie, the strange creature know as a Buckethead has been the prize sought by xeno zoologists the world over

An elusive creature, part canine, part plastic pail, the legend of Buckethead has been passed down from generation to generation, or at least from one border collie owner to another

Elusive and mysterious, Buckethead has only given us tantalizing tidbits of its existence: a paw print here, chewed up pail handle there, the eerie muffled bark as it slips, barely glimpsed, through the verdant undergrowth of my yard .. er .. I mean the wilds

But finally, we have proof! Or at least a video that tries to demystify the undemystifiable .. ok, that is so not the word but bear with me here, I'm a big tired

Is Buckethead real? Or just another urban myth? Watch the video. Judge for yourself. But no matter what you may think, keep your ears open for a pail-muffled bark, and keep your buckets under lock and key.

The Legend of Buckethead from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Frankenstein. Not the book by Shelley. Not the book by Brian Aldous. And not the movie, not any of the movies. Not even Young Frankenstein.

This Frankenstein is a play, by Joathan Christenson, staged by Catalyst Theatre at the St Lawrence Centre. The storyline here is a retelling of the original story but the staging makes it an re-imagining.

This production has a little bit of everything: Songs, operetta, a Greek style chorus, Pirandello, classic pantomime, irony, tragedy, romance, satire ... to the point things get a bit too mashed up and the play tends to lose its focus.

Still, the play is very effective but what works most about the story is, well, the story. The story about a man and his overpowering obsession; it could be viewed as an obsession to discover, to breach secrets, to delve into mysteries or you could view it as a man's need to create, to play god, to control the destinies of others and therefore his own.

It's really a story about love. In the play, Victor Frankenstein is overwhelmed by grief at the passing of his beloved parents, a grief that makes death an enemy to him, an enemy that he must conquer and overcome He thinks he misses the love he had as a child.

The creature, too, is motivated by love. Created, then abandoned by its creator, the creature searches for the love that all humans crave, the thing that perhaps makes us human. It's not just love that makes us human, many animals feel love but it's the quest for the love, the hunger for it, the need to define it

The creature needs love. He doesn't really know why. But he's alone in the world, he is aware enough to know that he is alone and it's a feeling that he can't live with. He needs love so much that when denied it, he strikes out with violence

The love that the creature really seeks is the love of Frankenstein, the love of its creator. But Victor can't bear to give it, he is a man who is probably unable to give love. He thinks a need to be loved, to express love is why he made the creature but its clear through his relationships in the play that he has no love to give. Perhaps it left him when his parents died. But he is a man incapable of feeling love or expressing it. He is married to Lucy, a family member but it's clear that their feelings for each other are on a different level. Frankenstein does not want to love, he wants to possess, he wants to control

The creature begs Victor to make him a bride. Frankenstein knows this is wrong and later regrets it yet, still, he makes another creature. He can't help himself. The power of making life, of controlling life, is something he cannot resist. It's like the thrill of a serial killer; the power of taking a life is an intoxicant

The love that the creature feels is a need for acceptance. When rejected by Frankenstein, when rejected by the villagers, he lashes out. Love me damn you, love me, or I'll hurt you!

Yeh, that Austrian village was just a tad dysfunctional.

As I mentioned, the Frankenstein story has been reinterpreted many times. It's not surprising. Love is the heart of most stories. This production looked to present the story in the context of a contemporary myth. I'm not sure if it was entirely successful in that endeavour, but it makes sense. The myths and ancient stories that still resonate with us have love .. the need for it, the lack of it, the hatred of it ... at their core

Did I love this play? No. But I liked it. I'm not lighting the candles and opening the Chianti for it, but for sure, I'll take it to Timmies a couple of times.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


In the words of Gene Simmons, I am a handsome and powerful man. No, I haven't been into the tequila. But it seems my influence and the influence of this blog is ever more powerful than I could have ever imagined.


A few posts ago, I blogged about the City of Toronto's plan to rip up University Avenue and put in bike lanes that were sure to create traffic chaos for a very specious "green" solution. Well, what do you know. The city has now taken that plan off the table. They saw the futility of the scheme.

I do expect and official thank you and and invitation to City Hall. I'm sure it's in the mail. No, really, I'm sure it is.

OK, take that smirk off your face. Stop laughing. And for god's sake, put down that double Bavarian creme chocolate fudge donut. I have more proof of the potency of this blog.

In a more recent post, I wrote about the horrible situation at the Newmarket OSPCA where hundreds of animals were to be put down due to an outbreak of ringworm. Well, thanks to me, a lot of these animals will be saved.

Yes, me, all me. I'm sure the passionate protests aired on national TV had nothing to do with the change of heart.


So now that I have scientific proof of my incredible power of influence, what is my next mission? What new injustice shall I correct?

I'm not really sure. I'm kind of distracted by that damn donut ...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Animal shelters. Gov't sponsored animal shelters. Like the Humane Society of Toronto and the OSPCA in Newmarket. It's where we take pets that are lost, hurt, abandoned. It's where we go to adopt a pet. We look to these organizations to protect animals, we support them fiscally to care for the animals we cannot. But how good are they, really, at this job

Earlier this year the Toronto Humane Society came under fire for its euthanasiation policy. Most publicly funded animal shelters kill .. let's call it what it is .. animals. We're told that this is done when the animals are hurt beyond repair but they are also killed when the shelter simply runs out of space. It seems that the THS was killing animals a little too freely. Euthanisation if it's done at all, should be an entirely last minute, no other choice option, this is what we are told. But the THS was killing animals who's health status did not warrant being put down. It's director, Tim Trow, was actually arrested for cruelty to animals ... and it seems this is not his first time

Now, who hired this guy to look after our animals?

Yes, we put our trust in the faceless bureaucracy that is our government.

Today I read a story about the Newmarket Humane Society. Seems like a case of ringworm got into their shelters. Now a few hundred animals will be put down. A few hundred. I know stuff happens, animals must be coming into these shelters in all levels of sickness. But you should know that, right. And these societies have vets on staff. You'd think they would be looking for these things.

A few hundred animals. Are you scared? Are you pissed? I know I am

Here's the other part: How these problems just seem to "pop up" out of nowhere where clearly, they must have been going on for some time. And once the problems are exposed, the people involved spend as much time and effort denying as they do trying to fix things.

Denial seems to be a pattern in these shelters. I have personally known several people who have adopted dogs from public shelters, dogs that are given a clean bill of health, only to later find that their new pet is ill, terribly ill, and has been so for some time. Again, these shelters deal with hundreds or thousands of pets and clearly, some things will slip through the cracks. But in a couple of cases I know, the new owner's vets inform them that it would be damn near impossible for a shelter not to have known about the animal's condition.

Sounds like a need to clear these shelters. Before the animals are killed

If you have an animal you need to give up, or you are looking to adopt an animal, there are alternatives: No kill shelters, rescue organizations. In Ontario, there are rescue organizations devoted to different breeds, they take in unwanted animals and foster them into a home where the animal lives in a healthy family environment until they are adopted

And for god's sake, never ever ever ever buy a dog from a pet store. My vet has told me that every dog they've ever seen from PJ's Pet, for example, has giardia, a serious canine illness.

Think about where your money and support goes. Think about the kind of government you have in your city, your province, your country. You know, that government that lies, bungles your money, covers up scandals, has their hand in the cookie jar ... you want to trust them with a pet?

Sheltering an animal should not be just store housing. It shouldn't be extermination. If they aren't, we have to do something about it.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


This past week Collette and I saw the play If Were Birds at the Tarragon Theatre. It's a contemporary play by Erin Shields based upon the Greek myth of the rape of Philomela by her brother in law, the king Tereus.

It is a dark and powerful play. It is very much about violence and control and war and how one influences the other. In the play, the traditional Greek chorus is embodied by a group of women who are victims of war; but not victims of bullets, victims of rape and torture committed by soldiers. And not ancient Greek wars. These women's stories of horror come from Rwanda and Nanking and the Persian Gulf.

Which brings me to another event that happened this week. The death of another Canadian soldier in Afghanistan. A young sailor killed by an IED. His body was brought home and driven along the "highway of heroes", a section of the 401, where people stand on overpasses and salute and wave flags as the body is driven below ...

I don't know much about this sailor and I am not for one moment implying that he was involved in any kind of atrocity overseas. But atrocities do happen in war. In all wars. If We Were Birds is pretty accurate in its depiction of ancient wars as contests for power and wealth, the wealth being land, the wealth being women. Control the women, by either enslavement or genocide, and you control breeding. Replace your enemy's genetic wealth with your own, wipe out his seed, and the carriers of his seed. Nowadays we call this ethnic cleansing.

Our Canadian soldiers are returning from Afghanistan with many stories of horror. Of young boys dressed as girls put out on street corners for prostitution, of young boys being gang raped till they die; not by soldiers, but by civilians. Not by insurgents or the "enemy" but by the very civilian population our troops are there to protect. The psychological impact on our soldiers has been intense, to the point where the Forces have finally acknowledged that they may actually need help .. in the macho lexicon of the military, this really means that we are in trouble.

We've all heard the stories from Rwanda and the Baltics, the very kind of rape and murder of women that the play addresses; of women given to soldiers as prizes, of soldiers encouraged to engage in rape and torture, of young boys being forced to commit these atrocities and if they do no participate, being killed. We like to throw up our hands and say "We didn't know, we didn't know" but as this telling of an ancient Greek story points out, this has been going on for a very long time.

In the play, as Tereus is about to rape Philomela, he justifies his actions by talking about his blood. The violence is in his blood. He can't control it. He can't help it. The very thing that allows him to kill his enemies, to murder perfect strangers, to slaughter them even when his own life is not in jeopardy, is the same compulsion that leads him to rape.

We ask so much of our soldiers. We put them in these UN wars, these corporate wars, where the lines between good and bad are blurred, where there aren't trenches and enemy emplacements, where any face on any block could be the enemy ... where they act more like cops than soldiers and yet cops are what they are. Cops without proper authority or even motivation

We put our soldiers, our brothers and our sisters, in more than harm's way when we send them to war. The Hurt Locker addressed the physical danger contemporary soldiers must face and it suggested the moral dilemmas with which they are faced. What we need to more clearly address is what we do to them, what we do their blood, how we challenge that blood. In war after war, time after time, we ask them to get their blood up, to be able to take the blood of others, we challenge their blood, we ask them to go into the dark places we have always taught them as forbidden, we ask them taste their blood, the blood of others, to live in a world of blood ...

Do we teach them how to deal with the consequences of that blood call, that blood lust. Or do we just wait until they cross that line, until they wound and hurt and scar people beyond every recovery. And we say "Look at all that blood. However did it come to this point"

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Twelve years.

On one hand, that doesn't seem right. It doesn't feel like it was twelve years ago that I put a cat carrier on the lawn and a tiny black and white ball of fuzz crawled out to meet Collette nose to nose.

In that time Collette has gone from child & youth worker to teacher, I've started my own business, we've moved three times. Hayley has become an integral part of our lives. The twelve years have gone quickly and yet she it's hard to think of our lives without her in it.

We loved Gigs. We love Terra and look forward to our years ahead with her. But Hayley is a special dog. Yes, she is border collie smart, to this day she is full of life and energy, but she has a loyalty and empathy that is truly special. When a person is sad, any person, Hayley wants to comfort them; when one of Collette's nephews was distraught to the point of tears Hayley jumped up on his lap to give him kisses

Hayley just loves to be with you, whether it be on a long walk through the woods, driving in the car, or just curled up on the couch with her head on your lap as you watch a movie. We see many of these tendencies in Terra but Hayley has demonstrated these traits time and again, over all these years

This has been a big year for Hayley. We thought long and hard about the affect a new dog, a puppy would make in her life. We did not want her status in our household to be upset and we did not want her in any way to be uncomfortable.

Terra is a strong dog, you could even say dominant and for a while it was touch and go. She constantly pestered Hayley and of course diverted a lot of our attention. But we fought to maintain Hayley's status and as Terra has matured, Miss Hayley has become more comfortable with exerting her authority. Terra is much more respectful of the older dog and it is not unusual to find them sleeping together.

Terra has had a positive effect on Hayley. Since the puppy has come Hayley has lost a little weight and her energy level has definitely increased. She has taken Terra as being her dog. Hayley is a true herder and her favorite game is to chase dogs who are fetching balls, but she never touches the ball. I've seen balls go right under her muzzle but she backs off it, she wants the other dog to take that ball she it can be herded. Terra is an exception. While Hayley loves to chase and herd the puppy, she will often go for the ball, snatching it away from her. I have seen a lot of her playfulness come back to her and there are times you can still see the puppy in my twelve year old.

I'm happy to know that having the puppy not only enriches our life, it has made Hayley's life more pleasurable as well.

Below is a little slide show comprised of images Collette shot over this past year of Hayley's life. with music by our old friend Georgette Fry. This is our old girl. Everybody loves their dog. Everybody should love their dog. But Hayley is a dog that not only loves us back, but really genuinely seems concerned with our well being. Is that me reading too much into her actions? You could think so

But if you did, you don't really know Miss Hayley.

Happy Birthday Terra from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

Top Blogs Pets

Add to Technorati Favorites