Baseball: And it’s root, root, snooze for the home team

Rod Mickleburgh pays a visit to Seattle's Safeco Field to deliver valuable coaching advice from 30 rows up that, tragically, went unheeded By Rod Mickleburgh One of my favourites among the many things Yogi Berra never said is: “There’s one word that describes baseball: you never know.” Like so many Berra-isms (“It gets late early out there.”), it has a wisdom all its own. For it really is one of the great things about baseball: you just never know. So many sports have a sameness to them, and I don’t mean that as a knock. I’m a huge hockey fan, but basically, the players go up and down the ice trying to score. It’s pretty basic. How many Kevin Bieksa-type stanchion goals are there in a season? Not so with baseball. It’s been played for more than 125 years, and you can still go the ballpark and see something that’s never happened before. Last year, at Safeco Field, I saw the left fielder throw out a runner at first (explanation available on request). On the ...

Time has come today, and Apple Watch can have tomorrow

Charley Gordon remembers the good old days when timepieces needed winding and tattooed skin was the exclusive reserve of sailors By Charley Gordon How to greet the news that the Apple Watch doesn't quite work when fastened onto tattooed skin? Satirical comment is too easy, isn't it, the news equivalent of a batting practice fastball. Here it comes, not too fast, right over the middle of the plate. You can see the seams. How can you not take a swing at it? But where to start? Point out that the watch is unnecessary. Point out that the tattoo is unnecessary, the two cancelling each other out. Hey, the useless thing I put on my arm is making the useless thing I bought for my wrist useless! Then there is the rant about First World Problems, always a crowd favourite. Or move, ever more comfortably, into old fuddyduddyism. In my day, you had to wind your watch and it never talked to you, because it had better manners. As for tattoos, you had to be a sailor. Each of these is a ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Bad Blood

Misty Harris unpacks Taylor Swift's latest celebrity-filled video, which belly-flopped onto YouTube earlier this week By Misty Harris Confession: I was counting down to the debut of Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood video the way normal people count down to Christmas, or Kardashians to their next selfie. Say what you want about Swift’s love life, which has played out like a cautionary tale against dating songwriters, the girl has chops when it comes to producing killer music videos.   Imagine my disappointment, then, when Bad Blood finally landed and turned out to be all style, no substance (if you put your nose to your computer monitor, you can actually smell the aroma of “meh”). Though all the elements were in place for another hit – slick set design, more than a dozen star cameos, and a budget equal to the GDP of some small countries – the end result was more mess than masterpiece.   Let’s decode, shall we?     Too many celebri...

Box Office Analysis: Female demographic gets big push

Early spring is typically a season dominated by testosterone-laced action tentpoles, but with Pitch Perfect 2 blowing the tires off Mad Max: Fury Road, the boys of summer may get benched by funny girls By Katherine Monk Mad Max may have defeated a villainous clan of wasteland warlords in order to survive a two-hour hell ride, but he couldn’t beat the ladies of Pitch Perfect 2 in the box office demolition derby called opening weekend, raising some doubt as to who rules the box-office in the era of digital, videogames, bit-torrent downloading and studio movie ennui. As this weekend’s tally proved: Women are starting to outspend men at the wicket. Mad Max revved up a respectable $44 million in receipts, but Elizabeth Banks’s gleeful girl movie about snarky singing competitors hollered to the tune of $70 million, proving the long-vaunted 14-year-old boy demographic does not rule the box-office after all. According to the Motion Picture Association of America’s ...
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Movie review: Mad Max assaults the senses

George Miller choreographs visual chaos with an eye for the absurd in fire and blood reboot of the Mad Max franchise

Pop Culture Decoder: The Catch

Misty Harris uses her forensic skills and pop culture instincts to dissect the new trailer for Shonda Rhimes’ new show featuring Mireille Enos as a feisty fraud investigator By Misty Harris In the bloody wake of McDreamy, whose death left a hole in our hearts and in the men’s haircare market, a nation comes together to ask: Can we learn to love Shonda Rhimes again? If the trailer for her upcoming drama The Catch is any indication, the answer is yes. Big yes. Yes on a Post-It yes. Here’s what ABC is telling us about Shondaland’s latest: “This thriller centres on the strong, successful Alice Martin (Mireille Enos). She’s a fraud investigator who’s about to be the victim of fraud by her fiancé. Between her cases, she is determined to find him before it ruins her career.” Ok, kind of a dull description; I’ve had bathroom breaks that were more compelling. But the slick trailer suggests there’s more to this show than White Olivia Pope™ risking (gasp!) ...

From Cowtown to Maotown

Rod Mickleburgh takes a long view on Rachel Notley's longshot win that changed Alberta's political landscape overnight, maybe for good By Rod Mickleburgh I wasn’t there, but I bet a lot of tears were shed by Alberta NDP oldtimers at the party’s giddy, raucous ‘n’ rollin’  post-victory celebration in Edmonton. That was certainly the order of the evening on a similar dragon-slaying night long ago, out here in British Columbia. On Aug. 30, 1972, Dave Barrett, the 41-year old son of an East Vancouver fruit pedlar, led “the socialist hordes” inside the province’s gates for the first time, after nearly 40 years of repeated failure. Among the hysterical crowd greeting a triumphant Barrett at the Coquitlam Arena (it was a different time…) was veteran union official Rudy Krickan, who’d worked for the party since the 1930’s. His eyes moistening, Krickan told a reporter: “This is the greatest night of my life.” Barrett’s mother Rose, who put young Dave on a ...

Interview: Ethan Hawke and director Andrew Niccol zero in on Good Kill

Reunited for the first time since Gattaca, the actor and the filmmaker are raising questions -- and their fair share of hell -- with a new movie that takes the viewer inside the new theatre of war: climate-controlled trailers parked on U.S. soil By Katherine Monk TORONTO – As the Obama Administration faces mounting pressure to disclose the grisly details of drone strikes on civilians across the Middle East this week, a new movie threatens to blow the whole unmanned aerial vehicle program sky high. It’s called Good Kill, and unlike the handful of documentaries that have already taken the drone strategy to task for its arm’s length summary executions of suspected terrorists, it’s a dramatic film starring solid Hollywood stars Ethan Hawke, January Jones and Canada’s own Bruce Greenwood. Writer-director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, S1mOne, Lord of War, The Host) says he wasn’t looking for controversy when he started researching the subject and speaking to former drone ...
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Movie Review: Seymour – An Introduction

Ethan Hawke steps behind the camera to direct a lovely, purposefully small movie that gently dusts the edges of existential angst as it animates the life of pianist Seymour Bernstein

A Magical and Mild Adventure in Valencia

An ancient city inside a new one beckons Jay Stone to the surprise-filled birthplace of paella By Jay Stone VALENCIA, Spain — We came here by chance, the way people used to travel when they were in their 20s and it was all about moving and a destination was just a name to drop, a place to rest on the road. We came in that spirit. We stayed for the paella. It was invented here, in this bustling city on the south coast of Spain (the Valencia orange was invented in California). It’s delicious too, although I’m not the one to ask. It was delicious everywhere. I like to think I have good taste in movies, but I don’t have any taste in taste. So, Valencia: magical, all the more so if you don’t expect anything except a place to stop 3½ hours from Barcelona because 3½ hours is about all you want to do. An old city surrounded by a new one: outside, there’s the famous City of Arts and Sciences — an IMAX theatre, an aquarium, a science museum, an arts complex all in ...