Monday, May 28, 2007

Editor: Myself

Hossein Derakhshan is a blogger born in Tehran, Iran and now based in Toronto. He spells out his unique perspective on Iran in Editor Myself: A weblog on Iran, technology and pop culture". Editor Myself is a facinating read anytime Iran is in the news - it contains views that would seldom be popular with the Iranian government and almost never popular with the Western press.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Top 5 NFB Films

The National Film Board has made a significant impact on Canadian cinema. Every Canadian has seen at least one film from the NFB. If you haven't seen an NFB film, you can head down to the board's Toronto studios, sit in a "Mediatheque" viewing station and watch as many films as you want.

I enjoy watching NFB films. Seeing that well known logo (the eye with two legs) always catches my attention.

Recently, I found a couple of films on YouTube and decided to compile a list of my favourite NFB productions. After much thought and deliberation, here are my top five NFB films.

First off, honourable mention: If You Love This Planet (1982), Neighbours (1952), Blackberry Subway Jam (1984).

5. Begone Dull Care (1949)

To the untrained eye, Begone Dull Care appears to have a simple concept: draw all over the film and add some music. However, to the trained eye, the production is more then just an attack on a empty roll of film with crayons and paint brushes. Evelyn Lambart and Norman McLaren create a beautiful union of moving images with music. Keep in mind the music is by Oscar Peterson, which means a fast-paced, quick-beat score. Therefore, there's a lot of action that needs to be translated on screen. It takes great skill to make a film like Begone Dull Care. However, if you can pull it off, the result will be an animated masterpiece.

4. Nobody Waved Goodbye (1964)

I guess Writer and Director Don Owen got tired of making documentaries. So he decided to make a feature film. Since he had no experience filming fiction, Owen shot Nobody Waved Goodbye as if it was a documentary. The consequence of this decision was a Canadian style of feature film making. The film also provides a hard dose or reality.

Remember, this was the early 60's and everyone believes life should be like "Leave It To Beaver." Nobody Waved Goodbye gives conformity a swift slap in the face.

3. The Sweater (1980)

I've cheered for the Montreal Canadiens my entire life. As a young boy, I kept hearing the name Maurice Richard, but I didn't know who he was. Then, I saw this film in my grade three french class and understood who he was and what he meant to so many people. The Sweater taught me how this man known as the Rocket, was a folk hero and a hockey legend. After seeing this film, even I wanted to tape my stick like Maurice Richard.

2. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen (1965)

Leonard Cohen is the subject of this film. What more do I need to say? Plus, you get to hear what he really sounds like before all those cigarettes gave him the raspy voice he has today. Even when Cohen orders a cheese sandwich and a glass of milk it sounds poetic.

1. Log Driver's Waltz (1979)

I first saw this film/vignette in 1994. The NFB had an exhibition at the CNE and was presenting random productions throughout the day in an auditorium. I was very fortunate to be there when they showed Log Driver's Waltz. It's a snapshot of Canadian folklore. It expresses what life was like when our country was young.

Everyone who lived during that time wanted to emulate their British and French ancestors. However, there was a desire for people to develop their own way of life, a Canadian way of life. You get a sense of this in Log Driver's Waltz. There's an upper class woman who is told she should emulate those who have come before her, by marrying a doctor, lawyer or any other wealthy elite. However, this woman wants to make her own decisions and hopes that she will marry a log driver, who of course, doesn't come with the same type of status as a doctor or lawyer.

Plus there's the actual song. How can you not love the song? The tune will get stuck in your head for a number of days, but it's absolutely worth it.

For more information on these films and others, visit

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

RCI Podcast Competition

Radio Canada International is asking what you think about immigration. Visit for more info.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Conservative Agenda = Stall?

via Are the conservatives conspiring to make sure nothing gets done?

Monday, May 21, 2007

the CBC Radio 3 Blog

Ok, so the Radio3 Podcast (of which there are now 3) was already mentioned, still I would be remiss if I didn't mention the radio 3 blog. True, alot of the posts are about content that you can't listen to unless you're a satellite radio subscriber - but, if it involves music and is going on in Canada you'll likely find out about it on the CBC Radio 3 blog. I should also mention how impressed I am that the current background image is from the Pillow Fight League - Go PFL.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Criminal Advertising by Audi

Via Boing Boing: In an attempt to circumvent city signage bylaws Audi defrauded the city of Toronto by applying for fake film permits.

Audi wanted to erect six foot signs to advertise their new TT automobiles. They applied to the city of Toronto for permits to shoot a fictional film from the Film and Television Office of Toronto. They then erected 6x15 foot statues in the locations they had shooting permits for but then didn't shoot anything. Apparently they never intended to.

More information is available at If you would like to express your displeasure with Audi and their resorting to criminal activity to advertise their cars there is a contact form for Audi Canada here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Sign Of The Apocalypse #54

Joey Buttafuoco and Amy Fisher will be having a candlelight dinner together.

Why are they having dinner together? Well, apparently they want to see if they can rekindle their romance. You remember their romantic tale. It ended with Joey going to jail for a few months for statutory rape and Amy serving seven years after shooting Joey's wife in the face.

Why are they trying to rekindle their romance? Well, a producer named David Krieff thinks he can turn their reunion into a reality television program.

Of course! That's what people want to watch. What's more entertaining then two g-list celebrities falling in love again? As if we couldn't get enough of Nick and Jessica, Vili and Mary-Kay, and most recently, Tori Spelling and Hamilton Steelheads' captain Mark McDermott.

Seriously, what's next? Living With The Bobbits? The Monica Lewisnky Show? The Simple Life: Justin and Sophie?

Wilkins Can Shut Up Now

The drone of criticism, coming from the US on Canadian copyright law is growing thicker. But under no circumstances should Canada follow the US lead on this issue. The state of copyright law in the US has become ridiculous. It's almost as though the large US media companies have decided that litigation, not sales, should be their primary source of income. There is a constant deluge of lawsuits in the states with the MPAA and RIAA suing anyone they can think of.

Don't get me wrong, artists should be able to make a living. They should be fairly compensated for their work. But, in the US they have gone far beyond anything that might be considered fair or reasonable. Public Domain has essentially ceased to exist in the U.S. with copyrights, even on works by long dead artists, extended almost forever. Fair use has nearly been done away with. New royalty fees on internet radio (fees that far exceed those paid by traditional radio) threaten to destroy internet radio in the US (or at least make it music free), and for some odd reason - if a person video tapes (or otherwise records) a program from the television that is acceptable, but if a person downloads that same program that is piracy and could get you a big fine.

Canada should look carefully at all of the issues surrounding copyright and intellectual property and come up with a set of laws that are fair and reasonable, both to artists, and to consumers and should not cave to pressure from people outside the country who really just want more money for themselves. Much of the US doesn't realize, most of the time, that Canada is a different country and has the right to make it's own laws. The US, in turn, can respond to those laws in any way that they like.

If the American movie studios want to keep their movies out of Canada, even though their claims about Canada and piracy are a load of horseshit let them. Nothing could be better for the Canadian film (not to mention television) industry than if big American studios pulled their films and programs.

U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins, the U.S. Congress, the MPAA, RIAA, and the big studios have been heard from. They've made their points. It's time for them all to shut up and let Canada do things our way.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Just For Laughs, Indeed

If someone told you the American network ABC had just announced one of its upcoming midseason series (what replaces the crap in the fall) would be the original version of a Canadian series (a pretty historic thing), could you guess that Canadian series?

Degrassi? Already a big hit on digital - which does kinda mean something there.

Trailer Park Boys? Dude, ABC is a major US network - no swearing and drinking in your car. The closest they'll get to that is My Name Is Earl while the Boys romp around on BBC America for some reason.

Maybe King of Kensington? Oops, already remade unofficially as King of Queens, though admittedly both are part of the Honeymooners tradition.

Cold Squad? Oh, yeah, they already remade that...unofficially again.

Got your liberal fingers crossed for Little Mosque on the Prairie? Sorry, though we can content ourselves on France's Canal+ picking it up.

Canadian Idol? Just kidding.

No, ABC will be airing Just For Laughs Gags.

Yes, that show the CBC runs when they don't have anything else and feel like having big ratings once in a while. That show you see sometimes after your in-flight movie. I'm guessing an ABC exec saw it there.

Okay, so Gags is hardly an original concept. The hidden (ahem, "candid") camera prank show has been around for longer than most of us have been alive. But the Just For Laughs kids in Montreal refined this idea to its most simple, almost elegant (!) form, and this is partially why it's been wildly successful around the world. Nobody talks, there are no smarmy hosts saying "we took our cameras to such-and-such a place, and you wouldn't belieeeeve what happened! Let's take a look!" No, they just show the setup and let 'er rip. Comedy gold. (Well, for some, at least.) And somehow it doesn't seem as mean-spirited as many of these kind of shows. Ordinary people react to extraordinary situations and that's it, sometimes with shots of the folks laughing at the end. That said, I'm not a big fan of the show. Is anyone, really? It's hard to either love it or hate it. It's just there.

Another series that you could neither love nor hate? That was just there? Whose Line Is It Anyway. The US version of that British show (of course with two Canadian stars, Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles) was a massive hit for ABC that made them tons of money and ran for ages. But it didn't just do that because it was generally funny (sometimes very funny) and fairly likable, but because it was CHEAP! Improv people, bare stage, studio audience, done. With Gags, they don't even need the audience or stage or improv-trained union talent! You couldn't make a cheaper show with cardboard and bailing twine! I think that's the main reason ABC is taking a run at this show. Since they finally canceled Whose Line, they soon missed having a little-show-that-could to get them huge ratings value for a tiny budget, and Gags just might fill that slot - and the time slots of those expensive but ill-conceived and stupid shows that will be dead by maybe October.

So bonne chance, Juste Pour Rire! And you guys at APTN who came up with Bingo and a Movie? How closely are you watching what ABC comes up with for their National Bingo Night tomorrow?
Listen to Young Canadian First Nations Girl Tell the World!!

Call me a cynic but in many ways I do agree with the Olympic Games protesters but certainly not their methods.
What was once a world stage focused on amature sports has now evolved into a mega billions corporate greed event where winning is the goal at just about any cost; performance enhancement drugs, some medals decided on the basis of bribery of backroom deals, athletes being "paid" to do nothing but train during the years between games and the list continues.
No longer is this an event that allows the athletes to show off their NATURAL talents and abilities but everything is geared to earning potential on both sides; how to make the most money in the shortest of time as, the window of opportunity is small.
After the games, there remains beautiful state of the art facilities which only benefit the higher income earner because the per person usage cost is not within easy reach of the average/low incomes.
In the meantime in BC Gordon is doing all he can to secret the homeless and the abject poor (to where?) so that when the world does arrive all will look so pretty and rosy.
I am sorry but when you can spend such obscene amounts of tax dollars on a "for the rich" benefit, while closing women's shelters, allowing kids to go to school hungry, enacting a $6 wage, gearing education to the rich, and destroying health care and help for the disabled and elderly, then you are no longer a government for the people.
I find it offensive when it sounds like a person on welfare does not have the right to make their voice heard.There are far more "welfare needed clients" than there are welfare abusers.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Microsoft Claims they own Linux

Since it's inception in 1991, Linux, an open source operating system, has been worked on by thousands of developers. It was seen by many to be a viable alternative to Microsoft's (proprietary, expensive, unstable and security deficient) Windows operating system.

The idea behind Linux and the software that goes with it, like other open source projects, was that it was free, anyone could work on it and modify it to their own needs but they had to publish their changes so that others could do the same. More of a community than a product, Linux has become a favourite of developers who work together (albeit somewhat competitively) to build a better mousetrap.

Now, after 16 years, Microsoft has decided that Linux violates 235 of it's patents and would like both distributors and end users to start paying them royalties.

My hunch is that Vista, which by most accounts is not nearly worth the trouble, is not taking off as well as they had hoped and they would like to (following the model laid down by some large music and media companies) add some extra revenue by suing people.

There was a time when the way to have a successful and profitable company was by making a good, reliable product, selling that product and treating your customers well. Those days appear to be gone and Microsoft never bought into that philosophy in the first place.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Expo 67 and DNTO

Passing along the email from the folks at Definitely Not the Opera in it's entirity.

Hello DNTO listeners,

DNTO's got an exciting project coming up, and we're looking for your help.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Expo '67, a turning point in Canadian culture. To celebrate, we're marking the anniversary by devoting our June 23 episode to looking at the lasting impact of Expo '67.

And here's where we need your help...

We want your stories of what Expo '67 means to you.

So if you were there (or weren't there, but were thinking about it in 1967), we'd like to know:

1. How did Expo '67 change you?

2. What's the biggest difference Expo '67 made to Montreal (or to Canada as a whole)?

3. What would we NOT have if it weren't for Expo '67 (besides a new island in the St. Lawrence)?

If you'd like to answer one or all of these questions, or have an Expo story to share, we want to hear from you.

The best option is to phone your story in to the DNTO listener line. That number is (204) 788-3182.

You can also e-mail your story to

And if we use your story, I'm sure we could be convinced to send you a DNTO prize pack for your troubles.

Thanks, DNTO listeners! Let the memories flow...


(204) 788-3182

CBC on YouTube

Via the Hour's blog: the CBC has finally gotten themselves a YouTube channel. - Not much there right now, but there are a few from Jill Deacon, Rick Mercer and a few from the archives. Including this old Jim Carrey interview about "Earth Girls are Easy"

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Keep The Car Running

A performance by the Arcade Fire on Saturday Night Live. The New York City audience was excited to see them. This is a great example of the following AF has around the world.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I'm listening to the new Feist album "the Reminder" right now. It is absolutely awesome. Congrats to the international Queen of Indie Rock and Arts and Crafts for yet another great album.