Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Stories. Stories can be true. Stories can be fiction. If true stories are told often enough, over a span of time, they often become fiction. They can become a myth.

One such story was the Battle of Thermopylae, where, among other things, 300 Spartans held off thousands of Persian warriors until finally succumbing to the numbers. This is a true story but over time it became mythologized. Graphic artist/writer Frank Miller, a man who may well be a genius, wrote a book about the battle, well a book inspired by the battle. A book which I have never read. But eventually a movie was made based upon the book .. a movie where some of the Persians were monsters, there were witches and every Spartan warrior had such well defined six packs I'm sure their wives washed their clothes on their stomachs.

I grew up with the legend of the Spartans and that battle, there have been movies made about it in the past, some B movies, usually entertaining. Then there is "300" ... a B movie so horribly acted and poorly written that, during the viewing, I was convinced it was a comedy .. then I just became bored with it

Now we have the movie "47 Ronin" starring Keanu Reeves. A movie already on its way to becoming a huge financial failure and one for which I have yet to read a positive review. 

Like the Battle of Thermopylae, the story of the ronin is based on history, Japanese history of course, and has become so beloved there that it has entered into myth. Essentially it is a story of honour and vengeance: A medieval lord is tricked into offending a high court official, perhaps attacking him, an error so massive that he is forced to commit seppuku, ritual suicide. The lord's samurai become ronin, masterless, scattering across the land in shame. They want the shogun to believe that they have lost their honour but in fact it is a ruse; for two years they plot their vengeance, defeating the court official in a legendary winter battle. And although the ronin were justified in their quest for vengeance, in that their lord had been set up, they have no choice to eventually kill themselves.

This story has been fictionalized many times in Japan. The version most familiar to me was the movie Chushinguara from 1962

This movie, although it has the requisite spectacular battle scenes, focuses very much on the questions of honour and loyalty. Most of the movie is an intense drama of manners, basically, where the code of bushido is shown as entirely unyielding, even when treachery is involved as in the case of the lord, or when vengeance is justified as in the case of the ronin, the only possible outcome is death; and death by seppuku is seen as a kind of grace.

The new version of the ronins story is .. well .. different. If you've seen the trailers it's not giving anything away that, like "300", this version of an historical event has gone the fantasy route

I entered the movie theatre with some trepidation; was this going to be another "300"? The answer is no. Ronin is better made than 300 in almost every regard. It is better shot, the special effects are much better, it is incredibly more well acted and although the fantasy elements do occasionally seem awkward and forced, I was very happy with movie, irregardless of the terrible press it's getting

This is almost like a tale of two movies. Great liberties have been taken with the original story, that goes without saying. But we still have a benevolent lord betrayed by an evil lord, we have the seppuku, we have the samurai forced to become ronin, and we have the vengeance.

As I mentioned, the acting in this movie was very strong, the cast is mostly Japanese, in fact Reeves is the only gaijin in the movie. The cast is very very strong, with standouts being Hiroyuki Sanada as the leader of the ronin, Tadanobu Asada as the evil lord, Min Tanaka as the wronged lord and Ko Shiasaki as his daughter. The scene of Tanaka's suicide is very powerful, virtually void of dialogue as well as gore (a departure from most Japanese movies) and filled with the stoic, repressed emotion, that only a Japanese actor can seem to achieve.

But there is more to this story than that. We have good old Keanu. He plays Kai, a halfbreed who is much more than that. He is a halfbreed raised by mystical warriors who live in a forest where the ghosts of old people and abandoned children reside. These warriors worship a giant buddha, they make magical swords and they seem to be at least half bird. Right, here we go

Kai leaves this magic land and ends up in the court of our soon-to-be-slicing-his-guts-open lord. He is not a samurai but the lord favors him for his near magical abilities and the lord's daughter favors him for .. um .. er .. other abilities

Kai's abilities will come in handy, the evil lord is after his land and his woman and has in his employ a rather sensuous witch, a shape changer adept in the use of poison and ensorcelling and who has some very interesting hair; like Medusa meets Vidal Sassoon

47 Ronin is almost like two movies: The tale of the ronin, bound by their codes to both seek vengeance and to pay the price for it and the story of Kai, an outsider who rejected the magic of his youth and finds his place in the world by using it. The two stories don't always mesh perfectly but the strong acting and the beautiful cinematography hold it all together.

I still don't think the story of the ronin needs witches and dragons but this movie still maintained the rigid integrity of the original; men trapped in this code, a sense of honor that seems designed to lead them to ruin and a sense of loyalty that is blind and powerful and beautiful in its determination. I also very much respected and was surprised by the fact that this fantasy movie remained true to the ending of the original story.

The movie "300" was box office gold and has spawned a sequel. "47 Ronin" seems fated to sink quickly and leave an oil slick on the water .. and there is no honor in either of those fates.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Thirty eight hours without electricity. Or heat.

No internet, no DVD player, no furnace. No hidden cave filled with high tech crime fighting equipment ... OK, that may be some other guy

But you get my point

This was our experience during this week's Ice Storm. And yes, you Kingston dwellers, I know that ain't nuthin, I know that you all suffered through 32 years devoid of power or heat and beset by zombie Art Undergrads .. yeh you is all soooooooooo tough

But still

We got through the experience just fine and many were worse off than we. Having 40 pounds of blankets on your bed and a border collie made our first night quite comfortable.

As for the border collie in question, she seemed to think the whole thing was quite grand. This is a dog who takes a nap in the yard when it's below zero with snow on the ground. I think she was enjoying not have the TV or internet to distract us from what's really important .... ahem, that would be Miss Terra herself

Due to the severity of the weather I wasn't able to walk dogs so Miss Terra was denied going with me to the Dogtown park with all her buddies .. OK maybe not buddies but those other dogs whom she has learned to tolerate. I also didn't want to take her to the other parks we normally visit, places where she would catch frisbees, balls, sticks, small children with pizza smeared fingers ... Even the snow was coated with ice and I did want her running and jumping, she is a smart dog but the lure of anything airborn bleeds the caution out of her.

Instead, I took her down into the "green belt" that runs in the ravines behind my house. On her own, just going through the woods, Terra is surprisingly cautious. It was actually pretty beautiful, with the ice coating all the foliage

Terra of course saw all this snow and ice as just the perfect blanket on which to enjoy a natural "snack"

I know the situation was serious for a lot of people. Having no heat in - 12 C temps is not funny. Not to mention the icy roads and all the traffic lights out ... I went up to Finch and Dufferin, a very major intersection, three lanes in every direction plus left hand turn lanes and there were no police on duty to direct traffic. The police reasoning behind this ... they didn't want to get tired. Awwww. Guess they need to save up their baton swinging energy for the next G-8 summit

But let's not get all political. Back to some purty pictures

We got through the whole thing quite well and I'm thankful that Mayor Rob Ford was on duty to take care of us. When it's cold, Rob is your man. He's quite good with a lighter ...

Here's a little video, shot on the fly with our compact Panasonic Lumix cam, with which I took the pics as well
Toronto Ice Storm Dec 2013 from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Toronto is a city on a body of water. In fact, it's on a lake, a rather huge lake, a lake that some people would call Great.

This lake is filled with animals, bass and perch and trout and eels and lots of other things ...

Recently, however, new species of animals have been spotted by the lake: sharks and sting rays and jellyfish .. oh my

What is this the cause of all this: Pollution? Red tides? A sea life Diaspora?

Um, no ... all this sea life is by the lake, not in the lake, it's in the recently opened Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

Collette and I have been excited about this place even before it opened. We've been to Seaworld and Bush Gardens in Orlando; we stayed at a hotel across the road from Seaworld and in five days we visited three times. We've also snorkelled on barrier reefs in Costa Rica and Belize so yeh, we is kind of into fishies

The aquarium is laid out as a kind of journey, as you walk through the building you pass through different marine environments. You start off in Canada, with a 665,000 litre tank filled with various Great Lakes fish; it's like Bass Pro Shop on steroids

From the Great Lakes you go through Canadian oceans; on the video you'll see a shot of the Pacific kelp bed tank, they have a simulated tide in which the fish hold themselves still as the motion bobs them up and down ... like couch potato fish. From the Atlantic, they had a display of lobsters, they came in more colours than I had anticipated

From the Canadian gallery we entered Rainbow Reef, representing tropical environments one would find in the Indo-Pacific regions. As I said, we've swam on some tropical reefs we recognized some of the fish, such as tangs and clownfish, lion fish and trigger fish

We did not, however, recognize the exotic creature below ...

Turns out this a sea mammal called Trudy .. well I don't know if that was here name, but she is one of the keepers at the Aquarium. Many of the exhibits feature regularly scheduled feeding "shows" where a diver is in the tank feeding the animals with another keeper outside to give you the highlights of the exhibit and answer questions.

The next exhibit was called Dangerous Lagoon; I was looking forward to this one as it seemed similar to something we had seen at Seaworld in Orlando. A moving sidewalk, they claim the largest in North America, takes you through a tank that hold 2.5 million litres of water and hundreds of animals, including 14 species of shark.

It's an immersive experience, you move through the tank, it's like a tunnel with the tank actually arching over you, where animals swim across, over your head, kind of makes you feel prey and yeh, couple of times I may have prayed just a bit

This "shark" tunnel compares very well to the one in Orlando, it may even be longer and it was exciting as the sharks swam by you, only inches away

Mind you, not all the residents of Dangerous Lagoon were so dangerous, and the survival of these other animals spoke to the dedication of the aquarium staff to keeping everyone well fed

One of my favorite exhibits was Plane Jelly. It was all things jelly, all the time. It featured an enormous glass wall, stretching far above my head, where Pacific Nettle jelly fish floated by you in enormous numbers; it was almost hypnotic and I was pleased to see that the aquarium had built benches where one could lose themselves in this jellyfish limbo

On our way to the next exhibit, Collette and I encountered an amazing animal that neither of us had before seen, even on TV, nor even heard of. The Leafy Sea Dragon. It's related to the Sea Horse but it was like something out of a fantasy movie or fairy tale; people stood there, transfixed, watching this delicate lacy looking creature float around

We ended our visit by going upstairs, where you could look down into the huge tank that is Ray Bay. There are ray in there, which you are encouraged to touch as they swim by and sharks, which you are discouraged from touching. All the rays in the aquarium have had their barbs shaved up ... huh ... are they Jewish?

Think about it

There is a lot more to this place than I've covered here. We spent about three hours there. You can whisk right through, but it's like a zoo, you can spend a lot of time just watching the animals interact.

If you're planning to visit I have a few thoughts:

TICKETS: Buy your tickets online. When we visited on the weekend, the line ups to purchase tickets were out the door. You can buy tickets for a specific day or, for a few dollars more, buy tickets that can be used on any day up to a year from the day of purchase

FOOD: This is the one area where the aquarium is rather weak. There is a single cafeteria with way too little sitting. The food is pizza and hot dogs and wrapped sandwiches, more snack than meal.

WATER: They don't sell bottled water but there are fountains in the bathrooms and in the cafeteria so just a bring a bottle you can fill up

CROWDS: As I said, the place was busy and I expect it will be on most weekends for some time to come. Generally the crowds weren't too bad but they did bottleneck in a few places, give yourself some time to let the crowds ebb so you can concentrate on the exhibits that most interest you

In general we were very pleased with our visit, this aquarium stands up very well to Orlando and Bush Gardens, falling down mostly in the food dept. Unlike Orlando Seaworld and the one in Niagra Falls it does not have whales or dolphins but that also means it does not have the shows featuring those animals and for that, I am glad

Well, you may get the chance to see a whale, a huge white crack snorting whale .. but that would just be our mayor

Here's the video
Ripley's Aquarium of Canada: First Look from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

Friday, December 6, 2013


I have never used this space to talk much about my business or my work, this is more a space to opine (and opine and opine and opine) about my personal life but let's be honest, work and personal often intersects, these days more than in the past, I think. So let's take a dip into Vic's pool of working/not working/gigs old and new.

I recommend floaties .. and a dive mask .. and a full wet suit .. and a dry suit .. and sonar ... and a spear gun ... ok just dip your feet in the pool, you don't need all your toes anyways

A couple of years ago I made a decision to change my career path .. yeh right, editing live event videos at home in your underpants is a career ... I was making a decent living editing these videos but the business changed; I was working harder to make the same amount of money as once I did; when you work on a flat rate basis, that means you are no longer making a profit

Beyond that, I really wasn't satisfied doing that work, I'd been in that aspect of the business for a long time and although I could throw a tub full of philosophical ramblings in here, I had become bored. Couple that with the fact my profit margin was diminishing, it was time for a change

I'm quite lucky that I have a wife who is beautiful and intelligent and employed and incredibly dedicated to her work and I am equally thankful that she is rewarded for that. And I am speechless when this beautiful smart dedicated woman says stuff like "You need to stop doing that, you aren't happy, take some time, explore something new"

Yeh I know, I don't understand why she's with me either

So I decided to do two things: Move away from live event videos and get back to promotional videos which have always been my interest in this business. I also wanted to pursue the other side of the video world, the fictional side.

I also wanted to do more camera work, I've worked primarily as a writer and editor for about 25 years and I have these things in my closet with lenses and they keep crying for me to take them out to play ...

Over the past year or so I've done a couple of promo videos and made a few "creative" videos that I've entered into various film festivals with varying results. I enjoyed both endeavours but finding the commercial work has not been easy, could be something about living in one of the busiest production markets in North America. And also a city where they churn out graduates of video production courses like Tim Hortons makes donuts. And like Tim Hortons these eager grinning grads go cheap, way too cheap

That means, there's a lot of competition in this town

Making the film fest videos was fun but I found if there wasn't an actually film challenge, some kind of brief, I couldn't motivate myself. And there hasn't been an interesting challenge in a while

So I've decided to refocus my efforts; I seem to have this degree in Promotions, I almost mistook it for toilet paper but hey, maybe it has some value; I've begun my own campaign to promote myself on the commercial end of things.

One of the tools I'm employing is a website that I've designed. I am not actually advertising her but if interested check this out and tell me what you think. Opinions welcome, as long as said opinion Oh wow Vic that is the greatest thing ever and since I will never again view that level of magnificence, please gouge out my eyes ...

Or whatever you feel

I have problems loading the site on Safari, other browsers seem ok, let me know how it works


So, although I'm still in the video business, I've tried to expand my horizons as well. I've always said that if I have an interest or a passion, something I've carried for years, and if I get an opportunity to purse it, I would.

One of my longtime passions is dogs. I've never professionally worked with dogs but it's something I've long time thought about. There are many many businesses here in Toronto that provide dog services and a huge client base.

I call that an opportunity and I could no longer ignore it

For the past few months I've been working as a dog walker for a company called Dogtown. This is not dogwalking as I've seen it; either leash walking dogs on the streets or taking them to public dog parks. This company owns their own "park", a fenced in private lot dowtown My job is to collect the dogs, take them to the park and play with them for an hour...

Yeh, for me that's torture

And of course I have my own personal assistant, Miss Terra. She may not like sharing the back of the Subaru with up to 10 dogs but she thinks this private dog part thing is pretty cool

Here's a little video; please not all footage and pics shot with an iPod Touch

Sunday, November 24, 2013


I hadn't really considered writing another lists post but the gauntlet, as they say, has been thrown down ... and I'm not sure who "they" are but they must be pretty fricking old because who the hell wears gauntlets anymore

Anyway. Ahem.

The movie Gravity has been inspiring many people to compile a new list. I've seen the movie (and more on that later) but if you have not, it gives nothing away to explain that it happens in outer space, in orbit around Earth and in several space craft/space stations. It's inspired lists about the best space movies  .. and therein lays a problem.

Space movie is a term that is open to interpretation. It could include any move where activity takes place in space, Star Wars for instance, where scenes take place on space ships and space stations but also take place on planets. Fair enough, but what distinguishes Gravity is that it is an "outer space" movie, where the action takes place in orbit, on a ship or a station or during a space walk.

So my list is the best Outer Space movies. To make the list the bulk of the movie has to take place on a space ship, or a space station, or anything with a self contained atmosphere, either in orbit or travelling. If the movie has scenes where someone leaves the enclosure in their space suit even better. So Forbidden Planet, one of the greatest sci fi movies ever made, doesn't make the list because only the opening scene takes place on a space ship and, as the title suggests, most of it takes place on a planet. Same with another fave of mine, Pitch Black; a space movie wherein the characters travel through space to reach their destination but their destination is a planet and that's where most of the action takes place

Aliens does not make the list; it is a great sci fi movie but most of the action occurs planetside.

ALIEN however is where we'll start the list (I don't number my lists and the order is not necessarily a ranking though I'll save the best for last)

Alien has many of the fixtures of a horror movie in particular the haunted house movie; people trapped in a limited environment and pursued by some terrible entity. But it really is a science fiction movie and I just don't mean the space ships and alien; with the inclusion of the character of the synthetic human Ash, it examines what it means to be human, one of the quintessential sci fi themes. Also one of the first sci fi movies that didn't look at the space faring future as something shiny and perfect; this is a well worn gritty future where the space men aren't square jawed noble explorers but sweaty lunchbox workers who squabble over profit shares. Most of the action takes place aboard the spaceship Nostrodomos so it qualifies nicely for this list. And it really takes advantage of the locale; the crew is not just in a house out of which they could flee, they are trapped inside the only atmosphere in range that can support their life; a fact that Ripley uses to her advantage to kill the alien

OUTLAND is another sci fi movie that presents us with a grittier, funkier version of the future. I have not seen this movie on any of the lists I mentioned which I find shocking, because not only does it perfectly meet the criteria of a space movie, it's a pretty satisfying film

Outland is essentially High Noon in outerspace, featuring Sean Connery as an unwanted, princalpelled sheriff on an orbiting mining station. Like Alien, much of the film's appeal is its gritty look; this is not a gleaming future filled with exotic worlds and double sunsets, this is a squalid, dirty, dangerous mining station where people go to make a living, not to discover new life. And like Alien, it is quick to point out the danger of working in space, an early scene shows us why, kiddies, we must always make sure our space suits our sealed. There is also a scene later in the movie where Conery's character dons a pressure suit and goes outside the station, in open space, to evade his pursurers

LOCKOUT is another law and order movie that takes place in space. It is a prison movie, and this prison happens to be in orbit around the Earth

Lockout is an action movie and much of it is fairly derivative, Guy Pearce plays a kind of rogue agent sent up to the prison undercover to rescue the president's daughter ... and if that sound a lot like Escape from L.A., you'd be totally correct. But it's a fun move, a fun B movie, not terribly concerned with the science of things but it moves at a good pace and Pearce is bang on as the cynical, goodguyunderneaththeclineastwoodshell. And it does feature a scene where characters leave the space station in suits ... an incredibly unbelievable scene but it's at the end and if you've hung on that long, you really don't care, nor does it matter

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is not an action movie and not technically a horror movie but it's pretty damn scary and I don't just mean Keir Dullea's totally wooden performance

This may be, in a sense, the ultimate out space movie. This is one of the most cerebral sci fi movies ever made ... or one of the most vapid. The cerebral part comes from director Kubrick's use of visuals to depict some fairly deep concepts, like how we time travel as we age yet can never appreciate that until it's too late; the vapid part comes from Keir Dullea's gaze. But it is very much a space movie, with most of the action taking place in and outside of space ships; these scenes still look good today which is amazing because they were created without CGI, but with the remarkable model work of Douglas Trumbull

Speaking of Douglas Trumbull

SILENT RUNNING was a movie not only directed by Trumbull, it was one of the first "green" sci fi movies ever made ... but make no mistake, this is also an out space movie

In this movie, Bruce Dern (in essentially a one man show) strives to protect the last forests on Earth .. well from Earth .. the forests are no longer on our planet, they are in giant domes attached to a typically eloquent Trumbull space ship. The big bad government back on Earth wants the domes to be destroyed but of course Bruce Dern refuses to do so .. hey it's Bruce Dern, counterculture actor supreme. Did that expect total cooperation? The entire movie (as I remember it) takes place aboard the ship

2010 THE YEAR WE MADE CONTACT is another movie I have not seen on many lists and that puzzles me

This sequel to 2001 fits the criteria perfectly; most of the action takes place in space, on space vessels and astronauts spend a good deal of time in their pressure suits out in open space. It's a good movie. It does not have the surreal aspirations nor the pyschadelic style of 2001 but that's not a bad thing. It is a well made, well acted movie that, in my opinion, cleaned up some of the ideas of the earlier movie while providing just as many thrills

SOLARIS, like Space Odyssey, is a space movie with, shall we say, aspirations.

I'm going to talk about the American version of this movie, released in  2002, that was based on a older Russian film that was in turn based on a novel by Stanislaw Lem. I tried reading that novel a long time ago but I didn't get all the way through it and I've seen the Russian movie. This is a psychological thriller but also a space movie, the action taking place on space stations orbiting Earth and orbiting the planet Solaris. This is a Stephen Soderburg movie so it is not an slam bang fast paced affair, but it is a movie with many rewards if you are in the mood for a slower pace. The setting for this film may be space but really, the action takes place as much in the minds of the characters as it does aboard their spacecraft. It also stars George Clooney, in one of his understated perfectly measured performances, and of course he now stars in Gravity, the film that started this whole list thang

SUNSHINE, directed by Danny Boyle, is as much "horror" movie as space movie, with some of that psychological thrillerness (yeh, I said "thrillerness) thrown in for good measure

The film follows a group of astronauts who are sent on a mission to reignite a dying Sun ... our sun, in case the capitalized noun didn't give it away. That in itself makes it a rather unique movie, being in orbit around the Sun rather than a planet. Needless to say the action takes place aboard a space ship. There are similarities to Solaris (which despite the name does not involve a sun) in that mind games are afoot, but whereas Solaris was self contained, Sunshine is more overt ... yeh there's violence. I was not totally satisfied with the ending but it's a good ride up to that point.

APOLLO 13 is very much an outer space movie and while the action is split between the space capsule and Mission Control back on Earth, the fact that is .. well .. based on facts, makes this one a unique outer space movie

This movie is a thriller, I won't go into a dissertation about how accurate it was to the true story and it doesn't really matter, the fact that basic events actually happened makes the thrills that much more effective. Ron Howard and Tom Hanks are two names that, when, associated with a movie makes me begin to nod off before the first scene, but this is a good movie, tightly directed  with some superb performances. And this one is hard to beat for it's outer space credentials

MAROONED is like the fictional version of Apollo 13, though it was released many years before that movie

This is another movie that I did not see on any of the lists I perused and I found that shocking. Released in 1969, this may be the quintessential outer space movie. Like Apollo 13 and Gravity, it tells the story of American astronauts, in orbit, who find themselves in trouble. And like Apollog 13 the action is split between the endangered space craft and Mission Control. There is some period corniness to this movie but it stands up fairly well and the model based special effects hold up fairly well as well

MOON is a move that does, I'll admit, skate a bit with my criteria as it takes place on the Moon (shocker eh) but being on the Moon is very much like being on a space craft; you have reduced gravity and you are dependent upon an artificial environment to survive

Moon is in the same vein as Solaris and Sunshine, this is a psychological thriller and like Solaris, it questions our identity. To enjoy this movie you have to enjoy the work of actor Sam Rockwell as it's virtually a one man show. Let's say that I enjoyed the movie but for me, it's best taken in small portions

That brings us to the last movie on the list .. and stop clapping, you got this far you can't cry poor

GRAVITY clearly meets all my criteria because it is the film that inspired it

Gravity is not a futuristic movie, like Apollo 13 and Marooned, it is based in the present, following astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle as they attempt to repair the Hubble space telescope ( I told them not to have that thing built in Taiwan but did they listen to me ...) Because Gravity deals with present technology and tech that is very well known, like the shuttle and the Hubble and International Space Station, much has been written about inaccurate science and improper behaviour of the astronauts. The science I could  care less about, this is a movie and the science is close enough, many of the events are possible if not probable and that's good enough for me.

Some of the behaviour did kind of raise my eyebrows, the movie opens as scientist Sandra Bullock is working on the Hubble and we see George Clooney (guess he didn't get enough of space in Solaris) in his jet pack, just winging around for the hell of it .. I doubt that would ever happen but the scene does a great deal to very quickly establish the personalities of the characters and that's enough for me

This is a good movie, a very very good movie. It is visually stunning and is one of the few movies that uses 3D properly, and the film does something not used enough; as Sandra Bullock finds herself in trouble, we see events through her POV and in those scenes, I found myself ducking

But for all it's visual power and for the many genuine thrills it provides, Gravity has an emotional core that, while the plot barrels along and we careen from thrill to thrill, is allowed to take its time in order to develop.

The best space movie, like any good movie, understands that no matter how much razzle dazzle you put on the screen, no matter how eye popping are your visuals, it means nothing without that human character, without a woman is kind of an accidental astronaut, trapped in her space suit, gasping for breath, clinging to a tiny handhold as the world wheels below her, and space yawns behind her, empty and cold and lifeless; it makes her life more important and it gives her something to fight for

Thursday, November 7, 2013


NUMBER TEN: First name Marion, last name Berry

NUMBER NINE: The mayor's personal security detail has been replaced by a pair of pit bulls called Stink Eye and Pinky

NUMBER EIGHT: The mayor suddenly has a lot of energy, like a lot of energy ... a lot .. like so much energy not only does he call all night sessions of council in his own city, but he jumps in his Escalade and goes to other cities to convene council there .. at three in the morning ... pressed against a councilman's window yelling "You gonna come? Huh? Are you? We can have a meeting, let's have a meeting, you wanna have a meeting, you gonna come?"

NUMBER SEVEN: You know your mayor may be a crack head because strange smells are coming out of City Hall, the new deputy mayor is referred to only as "The Cook" and his worship advices a visitor "Oh I wouldn't light up that cigarette here"

NUMBER SIX: The mayor makes an announcement that from now on he must be referred to as His Worship Snoop Dog

NUMBER FIVE: He replaces the city seal with something he refers to as The Great Pipe

NUMBER FOUR: From this time on City Hall will be known as "my crib"

NUMBER THREE: The mayor has been spotted trying to pawn a city bus because all he needs is "a little taste"

NUMBER TWO: When a reporter enquires where the mayor's secretary is His Worship Snoop Dog replies: "Ho is out earning me some of that sweet sweet smoke, what's a dude to do"

NUMBER ONE: And the number one way you know your mayor may be a crack head: First name Rob, last name Ford

Monday, October 21, 2013


A BOLO is a term that police officers use when looking for someone associated with some crime; it means Be On The Lookout.

Well I'd like to issue a BOLO for Bob Barker, TV game show host and weak minded animal rights advocate turned poacher. He stole from the Toronto zoo three elephants Toka, Thika and Iringa. He came up with some of his poaching minions, loaded the elephants into crates and took them by truck to California.

Bob was successful in his escapade but he is still fuming. He is saying that the Toronto Zoo has been uncooperative as he stole our elephants. When zoo staff, including a couple of veterinarians volunteered  to accompany the elephants, I guess that was an example of not cooperating. After all, Bob Barker, a man who's resume is filled with hosting TV shows, knows more about elephants than an entire zoo filled with trained and dedicated animal experts .. doesn't he?

It was Bob's expertise that identified the horrible conditions under which the elephants lived in our zoo. He came up here from his land of sauna's and imported palm trees and said Gosh! Canada is cold! These elephants are from Africa! They can't live here!

Actually Bob most of elephants were born right here but you're from Hollywood, facts are something with which you light your cigars

Our zoo officials kindly disagreed with Bob's expert assessment (I think he say the temp the day he was here and was beseeching the audience to yell "Higher! Higher!") and pointed out new enclosures, a knowledge base that grows every year and the expertise (yeh like actual medical expertise) of the zoo vets

Well Bob would have none of that! He's a star damnit! A star! His instructions on how to spin a prize wheel were so eleoquent ...

So Bob went to Toronto City Council. Ah, Toronto public officials. A group of underqualified individuals who spend most of their time figuring out how to distract us from the fact that they really have no right to our money; one of the  methods they use is to create out of thin air some "Facebook" crisis to distract us. So as they bungle public transit and pad their expense accounts, Hell yes! The elephants! The elephants! Let's help the elephants!

Even though before Bob showed up, no one thought the elephants needed help

So Bob did his magic with the council (and part of that magic may have a price tag on it who knows) and voila, we had an elephant crisis and the only way to solve it was to have a game show host poach the animals and take them to a sanctuary in California

That sanctuary by the way, is PAWS, a place of refuge for former performing elephants, that is the expertise of the keepers there. Um Bob, you do know the difference between a zoo and a circus ... don't you?

Well what Bob knows is that his vaunted stature as a guy who made his living out of mispronouncing people's names means his will must not be denied. When the zoo, in its methodical way, began to question the decision then once the decision was made try to figure out the very best way to do things, Bob stamped his feet crossed his arms and used his face on TV to defame Toronto and our zoo at every opportunity

Even now, after his poaching is a fait accompli, Bob is on TV every five seconds trashing the Toronto zoo. Damnit, they didn't fall to their knees and pee their pants in subjugation at his every utterance, what is wrong with them!

To be fair, the elephant's journey to California seemed to have gone very smoothly. The staff at PAWS relates that they've never seen elephants so relaxed and cooperative and they attributed that to the care and knowledge of the Toronto keepers. Yeh, the ones Bob is still slagging

As time has gone on I've become more critical of animals in captivity; there is a lot of evidence that tells us that overall it may not be the best thing. I've been to Seaworld in Niagra Falls and Florida and have never been totally comfortable with the whole performance aspect of it; intelligent animals like killer whales and dolphins have exhibited symptoms of psychosis that could be attributed to that very captivity

And elephants of course are very intelligent. There have been rough patches for the elephants at the Toronto zoo. These are huge animals whose nature is satisfied by large spaces in which to roam and graze; as good as the new elephant enclosure is, in Toronto, it ain't no savannah

But I daresay that the PAWS ain't no savannah either. What their future there will be I can't say. It is a private sanctuary, largely funded by our erstwhile, well meaning but completely noob-like poachers in Hollywood. It will be warmer than the Toronto zoo, no doubt but will it be better for the elephants?

The fact that our zoo is a public institution hurt it; decisions were made for these elephants by people, namely city council, who know nothing about elephants and nothing about common sense. But it also makes the zoo and its workers accountable. PAWS is a private sanctuary, to whom is it accountable?

I really do hope that the elephants will have a happy life there. They've been torn away from their family units, something terribly important to elephants, but they have each other and I hope they don't have to live the rest of their lives with just themselves and they can find a new family

Their elephant family here will miss them. Elephants mourn, we know this, they place powerful importance on their family, both as a unit and as individuals. And the elephants here have a large extended family, the thousands of people who have to the zoo over the years to marvel at these intelligent, emotional, beautiful animals

Will the elephants miss us? I know that we shall miss them

Friday, October 18, 2013


What were you thankful for this past weekend, this past Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada

Were you thankful for the holiday itself? It's a day off and there is turkey. Seriously, do we need to search for something better than that?

Do you use this holiday, here in Canada an extension of the harvest tradition, as an opportunity to reflect, perhaps on this past year or even years previous, thinking of the benefits from that time or perhaps you even pause to thank to be alive, to breathe, to just be here ... Well if you're thankful for being here and eating turkey then you and I are on the same page

Actually this year, this Thanksgiving, I did not eat turkey. Don't worry, I intend to make up for that shortly. So I actually did do a bit of interspection but being me, it really extended to just that day, that moment, that occasion

Yeh, I'm thankful for Thanksgiving.

I was thankful for being in Pointe Au Baril Ontario at Nares Inlet, thankful for the water and the sky and the ancient powerful rocks and the trees twisted and shaped by the wind

I was thankful for a crazy border collie who looks upon the north as her own personal playground and why not, it's the world's largest dog park, not to mention the world's largest water bowl

I was also thankful for family and friends and a sunny day on a rock island in the middle of the day where no one had anything better to do than eat, play together and enjoy a warm autumn day

What are you thankful for

Top Blogs Pets

Add to Technorati Favorites