Weekly Reckoning: Things That Happened Edition

weekly-reckoningEvery week things happen: things: events and people colliding off each other into ever-more complex concatenations of what ends up being just more things happening. And every week, we sit quietly in a corner and wonder whether the ever-expanding cloud of happenstance points to some design, or whether, once again, it’s nothing but a random whirlwind of flux and death and sadness with the occasional ice cream cone thrown in to keep us around for another week. Then we take a nap.

1 IT’S A MAN’S MAN’S MAN’S WORLD (BY DESIGN) In news that shouldn’t surprise anyone, everything from seatbelts to medicine is designed by men – to the detriment of women. If ever there were an argument for more women in STEM fields, here it is.

2 MILLENNIALS AREN’T RUINING HOTELS Hotels are ruining hotels.

3 GOODBYE TO MISS DAVIS Nancy Reagan died at 94, reminding us that the Reagan presidency actually happened. But what did she do before she and Ronald entered a life of politics? She was a Hollywood actress from 1948 to 1962. Yes, I’m sure you knew this already.

4 “THEY PREFER NAMES LIKE RUTH, PETE, BOBBY, CHARLOTTE AND PEARL” Two professors of language and literature ran computational tests to determine the differences between contemporary novels by authors with an MFA and those without. The results were… well, let’s just say that you can take your tuition money and spend it on a writing studio somewhere.

5 SOMEONE TELL THE SASK PARTY THAT CHILDRENS’ FACES ARE FULL OF OIL Do you like language schools in Saskatchewan? Well, sucks to be you then.

Weekly Reckoning: Nobody Knows Anything Edition

weekly-reckoningAaaaaaaaand reckon!

1 R-RATED SUPERHERO FILM DOES MASSIVE BOX OFFICE, SURPRISING THE PEOPLE WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO KNOW ABOUT THESE THINGS Deadpool, the film about the eponymous hero with the body of Ryan Reynolds and the soul and vocabulary of a 14 year old boy, is destroying box office records with an opening of over $150 million, or about three times the studio forecasts.

2 WE SHOULD ALL BE SO LUCKY Most of the world was uncomfortably cheered by the death of Antonin Scalia, the ultraconservative Supreme Court justice who basically embodied the zombified ideals of the religious right. Here’s a thoughtful roundup of thoughtful pieces on the man’s life and legacy and so on. But if you read only one of these pieces, make it the one about his judicial opinions, because damn, he could be one witty dinosaur.

3 HOW TO GET AHEAD IN CODING (FOR LADIES) A study of code repositories discovered that women are often considered to be better coders – but ya know, only if they hid the fact that they were women.

4 HOW TO GET BY IN THE SPANISH CIVIL SERVICE A waste water treatment plant employee in Spain did not show up for work for at least six years. Nobody figured it out until he was due to receive an award for longstanding service. I guess the takeaway here is that waste water treatment plants are so great that they don’t even need monitoring.

5 THE DIVORCE IS LITERALLY GOING TO BE MURDER A Saskatoon man donated his kidney to his fiancée.

Regina’s Best Sushi Restaurant Has Closed

We’ve lost Michi. From Facebook:

To Our Valued Patrons,

Due to a decrease in sales over the past few years, we have decided to close our doors as of June 13th, 2015. We want to thank you for your years of loyalty and patronage, as we have enjoyed being a part of the community for the last 12 years. We apologize for any inconveniences this may cause.

Michi Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar.

Well this sucks. I’ve never had sushi in Regina that touched Michi’s. Nothing’s even close. And Mich just won Best Sushi again, too (deservedly). If I’d known Michi was in danger of closing I’d have mobilized support. Hordes of sushi-fanatics would’ve been rallied. Shit. Shit. Shit. Now what? Anyone?

Mike O’Brien –30–

I first met Mike O’Brien in the fall of 1986, as we and about 30 others were lounging around the offices of the University of Alberta student newspaper, The Gateway, waiting to be assigned to our billets at a Western Region Canadian University Press weekend conference. I was with the U of R paper, The Carillon, he was the co-editor-in-chief of the University of Victoria student weekly, The Martlet. In the collection of freaks, gay rights activists, punks, poseurs, anarchists, and social misfits that student newspapers attract like hay bales to cattle, O’Brien stood out, wearing relatively short hair and a button down shirt, and keeping his own counsel, except occasionally talking to a thin blonde woman who was the other Martlet co-editor. He looked like Bob Newhart wandering into the middle of the dance floor at a Siouxsie and the Banshees concert.

Until the cancer that took his life May 24 arrived in his life a few years ago, and he undertook the ensuing treatments that caused his hair to fall out, he looked the same in The Gateway office as he did later in life. When he appeared as liquor vendor/insurance salesman Wes Humboldt on Corner Gas’s third episode (the one where Oscar stages a grand national freakout because Wes won’t give him his deposit back for an empty case of old stubby beer bottles), it looked as though Mike found his groove. Continue reading “Mike O’Brien –30–”

Weekly Reckoning: Viral Edition

weekly-reckoningViral! Virality! Viralness…ness. It’s all the rage these days, because when you catch that viral fever, it’s a fever of rage! Rage, rage against the bloggers who abuse their doulas or whatever. Let’s look at some stories.

1. DO NOT LEAVE GROWNUPS ALONE WITH CHILDREN. CLEARLY ADULT ARE DEMENTED Well, at least the demented ones are. Here’s a horrific tale of Arkansas State Representative Justin Harris, who adopted children and kept them under surveillance because they were “possessed by demons and could communicate telepathically.” Imagine being a grown-up human being who believes that kind of nonsense and, more crucially, acts on it. Reader, are you such a person? Then you are crazy. End of story. Have this sandwich because it’s made of lithium.

2. HEY, SPEAKING OF CRAZY Benjamin Netanyahu, our friend in the Levant, has taken to describing his political opponents as part of a leftist conspiracy. Okay, he’s not crazy; he’s just facing a multitude of problems coupled with a divided right-wing, and he’s amping up the rhetoric to pull in some eyeballs and earholes and unite his base.

3. JOBS R STILL US Employment in this province isn’t what it used to be, but we’ve still got the lowest unemployment rate in the country. Pretty good for a place that was once an inland sea full of giant crocodiles.

4. LIFE IMITATES ART WHICH IS LIFE Robert Durst, the subject of the HBO true-crime documentary series The Jinx, has been arrested in connection with the 2000 murder of Susan Berman. The conclusion to the series airs tonight, which is timing you can’t buy.

5. ONE LESS TOTO BASSIST TO HANG OUT AND BE COOL WITH Like it or not, everyone you know and love is going to die, including you. That’s the topper to your endless and aimless days: one day you’re standing in line at the Milky Way or driving down to Phoenix for some reason, the next you’re in a box and blissfully unaware of all the people staring down at you. Probably for the best. Famous people die too, which seems strange, but every obituary brings us into brief contact with the truth of our lives, which is that it ends. Anyway, Mike Porcaro, bass player for Toto, died at 59 of ALS.


Weekly Reckoning: Sex Bacon™ Tonic Edition

weekly-reckoningThat’s right: sex bacon. Or should I say, Prairie Dog’s Patented Sex Bacon™ Tonic! Stop not taking Sex Bacon immediately! Guaranteed to increase your SBBL count and put a strut in your step when you swig a swag of Sex Bacon™! Ingredients: ethyl alchohol, sugar, bacon, natural things like twigs and maybe a clove or two of garlic? Hey, that sounds good. Maybe this is more of a lifestyle spray than a medicinal tonic? You know, we’re still in the blue-sky phase of the product launch.

1. TOLLER CRANSTON, THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME, IS GONE Toller Cranston, the greatest skater with the coolest name who ever lived, is not living. Cranston died at age 65 in his Mexico home of an apparent heart attack. There’s no word on whether he was was wearing one of his uber-cool turtleneck sweaters or maybe writing me a letter saying, “Yes Aidan, I really am the coolest Canadian who ever popped up on your TV screen on Saturday nights to make all of the other skaters look like amateurs. I only won the bronze at the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics because my athleticism and talent and spangly suit and floppy hair terrified the judges. Keep following your dreams, Toller.”

2. TATIANA MASLANEY MASLANY, WHO IS ALMOST AS COOL AS TOLLER CRANSTON, MAY BE IN STAR WARS Regina’s Tatiana Maslaney Maslany is up for a role in the upcoming 2016 Star Wars film from director Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla). Also in contention are Rooney Mara (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Kate Mara (House of Cards) and Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) but they won’t get it because they’re up against the cybernetic acting machine from the future we have designated as Tatiana Maslaney Maslany.

3. IT’S GETTING HARDER AND HARDER TO FIND BAD FAST FOOD The New Yorker has a fine and thoughtful piece called “The Shake Shack Economy” on the challenge that fast-casual” restaurants like Shake Shack, Chipotle and Panera Bread pose to the traditional junk food slingers of post-war ‘Murica. Traces of this trend in Regina can be found in the $15 poutines of Fatburger or the ongoing bend towards comfort food in high-end restaurants. But don’t worry, there are lots of totally awful fast food experiences available in Saskatchewan.

4. VROOOOOM VROOOOOOM SHUFFLE REPEAT What do you think of the sweet roar of the engine in your new F-150? It’s probably an .mp3 file.

5. OH SKY MALL, WE BID YOU AND YOUR MOUNTAIN OF OVERPRICED JUNK GOODBYE After 25 years of doing a rip-roaring trade in Bigfoot garden gnomes and electronic litter boxes, Sky Mall has filed for bankruptcy. Slate.com has an explainer piece on Sky Mall’s business model and why it failed, but if you can’t figure out how a company whose brand was founded on selling stuff that nobody could possibly want ran out of money, then I doubt any link can help you (actually, Sky Mall’s chief revenue source wasn’t their catalogue – see the article for details). The website is still up and taking orders, but who knows how long that will last? Better move quick if you want your Night Glow Toilet Seat.

UPDATE: Maslaney Maslany.


The Choose Your Own Adventure Guy Died

From Boing Boing:

R.A. Montgomery, co-author and publisher of the long-running children’s book series “Choose Your Own Adventure,” which allowed generations of kids to choose from dozens of possible story endings, recently died at his home in Vermont. He was 78, and the cause of death was not disclosed.

“Choose Your Own Adventure” books were an important cultural predecessor to online games and internet narratives that allowed users to play a role in determining the outcome of their own experience.

As the computer age unfolded, Montgomery’s interests expanded to new technology, according to an obituary published on the “Choose Your Own Adventure” website.

More here. Rest in peace, Choose Your Own Adventure Guy. That was a pretty cool idea you had. It made the world a better place.

Choose Your Own Adventure (Hunter S Batson)

Sunday Matinee: Glen A. Larson

Battlestar GalacticaGlen A. Larson passed away this weekend at the age of 77. For those who don’t know, Larson was a prolific TV writer and producer whose body of work was mostly in the 1970’s and ’80s.

His biggest hits were Quincy, M.E., Battlestar Galactica, Magnum, P.I. and Knight Rider, although he flooded TV sets with a ton of shorter lived shows throughout the ’80s. Manimal about a man who can change into any animal, Automan about a crime fighting hologram and The Highwayman which was kind of cross between Knight Rider and Mad Max were just some of the “jems” that Larson came up with.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Glen A. Larson”

Lauren Bacall, Dead at 89


The good guys are losing hard this week. Lauren Bacall (The Big Sleep, Key Largo, To Have and Have Not), the ultimate femme fatale, has died at 89. I would like to believe Humphrey Bogart is waiting for her, a cig in the corner of his mouth.

Despite her lengthy resume and becoming a staple of cine noir, Lauren Bacall was only nominated to an Academy Award once, for the forgettable Barbra Streisand vehicle The Mirror Has Two Faces. She lost to Juliette Binoche. Eventually she got an honorary one.

No matter. Very few actresses get to define a genre and out-cool the coolest cats in Hollywood. She even did a Lars Von Trier movie! Here is looking at you, Bacall.

Oh My God, Robin Williams Is Dead

It’s apparently suicide. I’ve been looking for video clips since I saw the news on Twitter 45 minutes ago. Sadly, a lot of William’s humour doesn’t hold up, but his acting does. I think I’ll go with this comic scene from a movie I’m fond of by a director I love.

Too young, too soon, absolutely heartbreaking. Were there a heaven, I’d like to think Williams would be enjoying a cocktail with his fan Johnny Carson right now. God dammit. Rest in peace, beloved comedian.

UPDATE: I see James posted this news before me. That’s okay. I think everyone loved Robin Williams.

Weekly Reckoning: Hatful Of Reckoning Edition

weekly-reckoningGood afternoon. Your Reckoning begins… now. No wait. NOW. Hold on a sec, I’m just figuring out this here AutoReckon-5000 I got off of eBay… you know, you can start reckoning whenever you want.

1. HOW YOU KNOW IT’S THE 21ST CENTURY Austria’s Conchita Wurst, a bearded drag performer, won the 58th Eurovision Song Contest with the tune “Rise Like a Phoenix.” Yay! Also, can the Eurovision Song Contest be done now?

2. HEEEEEEEE’S GONE  Lee Marshall, newscaster, radio deejay and the voice of Tony the Tiger (the second person to play the character after Thurl Ravenscrof), has died at the age of 64.

3. A HEARTWARMING MOTHER’S DAY STORY WITH SOME HORRIFIC DETAILS  Imagine being reunited with your daughter after seven decades! Because you’d given her up for adoption! After being raped by “a stranger in the woods.” Well, let’s move past that to the bit where mother and daughter are reunited at the respective ages of 102 and 77. Happy Mother’s Day!

4. CANADA, CANADA, CANADA. “Woo hoo!” said Team Canada as they headed into the World Hockey Championships against France. “Uh, whoops,” they said later, after they’d lost 3-2. “What the hell?” said Canadian hockey fans, who still dream of Paul Henderson picking up Esposito’s rebound and sending those Commie hockey rats packing back in 1972.

5. WE ARE OFFICIALLY LIVING IN THE DARKEST TIMELINE  Community, the greatest show on broadcast television, has been cancelled by NBC after five weird seasons. From a Wes Andersonesque pilot about a group of misfits at a community college to a bizarre free-for-all of genres and ideas (examples: a Goodfellas parody about cafeteria chicken fingers, a paintball game that turns into five hundred action films, a clip show that featured only new footage), Community ruled. Except in the fourth season, when showrunner Dan Harmon had been fired and a pale parody of the show popped up in its place. That season never happened.

Weekly Reckoning: Three-day Recharge Edition

weekly-reckoningWelcome everyone! It’s a turkey kind of day in which we all celebrate the horrific death and miraculous return of Jesus. It’s the day when we hide candy and chocolates around the house in the hope that the Son of God will show up to collect them, whereupon we can trap him and drag the secret of resurrection from his weary body. As usual, though, children descended on the hidden treats and carried them off to their nests of blanket scraps and spring bracken. Stupid kids.

Of course, that’s only if you’re Christian. Secular types take the weekend to commemorate the death of Officer Alex J. Murphy and his rebirth as Robocop.

1. GOODBYE ALASTAIR MACLEOD  One of Canada’s greatest writers died this weekend at 77. MacLeod was born in North Battleford and grew up in Nova Scotia (aka. “watery Saskatchewan”). He published three collections of short stories and one novel. At my wedding, my father quoted from MacLeod’s work and the words were so simple, clear and beautiful that they were almost impossible to hear. If Jesus returns this Easter Sunday, I picture him passing MacLeod on the way and stopping for a while, just for the pleasure of his company.

2. ALSO, HAPPY 4/20 DAY  In a delightful twist sure to make certain people very happy, Easter Sunday falls on April 20 this year, or 4/20 Day, which is everyone’s day to celebrate the healing/relaxing/whatevering powers of cannabis. Pro-marijuana activists hit Parliament Hill today to promote pro-pot policy and generally do their thing, which is smoke marijuana (read prairie dog’s “The State of Pot 2014” for some excellent coverage of the topic). One day, and I think it’ll be soon, people will shake their heads in amazement that people ever had to rally to promote marijuana usage. They’ll also shake their heads because the air will be so thick with pot smoke that no one will be able to see. That’s right, hippies: marijuana cigarettes will make you go blind.

3. BACK IN BLACK, ORPHAN-STYLE  Is this news? I’m not sure, but the second season of Orphan Black, starring Regina’s Tatiana Maslaney, Tatania Maslaney, Tatania Maslaney, Tatania Maslaney and Tatania Maslaney, premiered last night and it was probably the best episode yet. Everyone agrees with me because I’m right. I look forward to upcoming guest appearances from Tatiana Maslaney.

4. LITERALLY THE BEST NEWS I’VE HEARD TODAY  If you’re an unforgiving grammar jerk like me, you can’t handle the endless misuse of the word “literally” (on the other hand, you may be the forgiving kind, choosing to see it as an example of linguistic exuberance), there’s a Chrome browser extension that will turn every instance of “literally” into “figuratively.” I am literally imagining this right now.

5. A POSSIBLE CANDIDATE FOR IMMORTALITY Do you, like me, suspect that Queen Elizabeth may never die? That she simply sheds old bodies and climbs into new ones, and by that method has ruled over Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Normans for the last millennium? Anyway, her current shell turns 88 tomorrow.

Weekly Reckoning: The Captain America Sequel Was Pretty Cool Edition

weekly-reckoningAnd that’s how you review a movie in the title of a blog post (for a proper review, read Jorge’s take on Captain America in the current issue). On with the aggregation, which fulfills the Internet’s function as a gigantic virtual washing machine that agitates and agitates the information without ever quite getting the stuff clean.

1. MAYBE WE’LL GET TO VIEW ALL OF THE POPE’S DOODLES IN THE MARGINS OF HIS ZANE GREY PAPERBACKS The Vatican Apostolic Library, which has taken notice of that thing of which Peter Mansbridge once said, “it’s called Internet,” is digitizing an impressive 41 million pages of documents from its library. That’s 82,000 manuscripts, people.

2. NATURALIST PETER MATHIESSEN RETURNS HIS COMPONENTS TO NATURE Peter Mathiessen, who wrote some of the greatest books on nature (as well as some kick-ass novels) I’ve  been had the pleasure of reading, died on Saturday at the age of 86. He’s probably best known for The Snow Leopard, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse and the novel At Play in the Fields of the Lord.  You can read some of his work for free right over at The New Yorker.

3. OMG GUYZ TEH SEX ON TEH CABLE TEVELISHUN Salon.com, the once informative and enjoyable site now reduced to a species of dreary leftist clickbait, is worried about all the sex on the new season of Game of Thrones. To be fair, the article seems as weary of the topic as the rest of us. But there’s an interesting notion buried in the article about the creative latitude involved in adapting George R.R. Martin’s work (which can be summarized thusly: “Can we stage this scene with everyone naked? How about just the woman naked? Can we turn it into a bloodbath then? Okay.”).

4. CHANCES ARE YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A COMPLETE JOKE OF A PRESIDENT George W. Bush, who is not done embarrassing us all with his presence on Earth, has  started painting portraits of world leaders, including Vladimir Putin, Tony Blair and Angela Merkel.

5. BUT WHAT ARE THOSE SEASHELLS FOR? This isn’t news, exactly, but I’m fascinated by Japanese toilets and their advanced butt-cleaning technology. So is the author of this article. Maybe he’s a little too fascinated? You be the judge. Maybe North Americans are too horrified by excretion to lend additional pleasure and comfort to the act.

Cathedral Finds Walking Difficult After Getting Kicked In The Connaughts

Odds are you’ve probably heard that the Regina Public School Board voted last night to shut down Connaught School permanently at the end of this school year. The decision follows from a surprise engineering report in February saying the building had serious foundation and structural problems and would not be safe much beyond June. Plus, the Board received word yesterday that they would not be able to get insurance for the building even if maintenance work was done to extend the building’s life.

So, no insurance, no school.

Pity to see the beloved pile of bricks being prepped for the wrecking ball. If only Regina Public School Board had thought to put out a tender ten or so years back to get foundation and structural work done on the building.

I imagine that tender notice would’ve looked something like this one that ran recently and calls for bidders on work that needs to be done on Lakeview School.

Lakeview TenderBut I mean, how could Regina Public School Board have known 10 years ago that a building like Connaught that was pushing a 100 years in age would need foundation work?

And how could they have known that the Cathedral neighbourhood would want to keep the school?

I mean, seriously. They’re school trustees. Not oracles.

One should read this as an indication of how difficult it can be to work when you only have imperfect information and certainly not as evidence that the Regina Public School Board and/or the provincial Ministry of Education has wanted to find a reason to bulldoze at least one school in the Cathedral Neighbourhood all along, regardless the wishes of the community.

And you certainly shouldn’t look upon the imminent demise of the Connaught School building and then scoff at the Public School administration when they were patting themselves on the back during their AGM about their commitment to preventative maintenance.

I mean, look! They’re going to spend a bundle on preventative maintenance on Lakeview School so that it never needs to be torn down!

As for Connaught… well… god aren’t those Cathedral residents smug? Don’t you just want to punch them right in their brick buildings?

And I’m sure that whichever architectural firm gets the contract to build the new Connaught School *coughp3acough* will build a very shiny industrial box that won’t be a petrie dish in which to culture fascists.

Weekly Reckoning: God Pities Phelps Edition

weekly-reckoning1. FRED PHELPS ABOUT TO DISCOVER WHAT GOD HATES Fred Phelps, notorious (former) leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, is dying in a hospice in Topeka. According to his son Nathan, who now works with LGBTQ organizations, Phelps was excommunicated from the church in 2013. Now he’s dying alone, without family or the organization he once led.

2. LET’S GET DRUNK IN A HOUSE HAUNTED BY GUILT The Winchester Mystery House, a crazy California mansion built expressly to confound ghosts, is now open for overnight . Sarah Winchester built the 6-acre, 160-room maze of false doors and staircases in order to confuse the spirits of people killed by Winchester guns. And now you can hang there! And get loaded! Truly we live in an age of wonders.

3. AND TAKE SOME DEAD SOLDIERS’ DIARIES FOR READING MATERIAL You may recall from last week’s Reckoning that 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the Great War. To commemorate the occasion, the UK National Archive and Imperial War Museum released the diaries of nearly 4,000 soldiers.

4. ANOTHER CREEP BRAVELY SORT OF DENIES HIS CREEPHOOD The predatory and altogether horrible photographer Terry Richardson, noted for his porny photos of celebrities and hilarious hijinks like ejaculating on his models, has taken a stand against the young women who’ve called him out on his behaviour. Good for you, Terry. Don’t let the haters who know the difference between provocative portraiture and masturbating on your subjects get you down.

5. THE FAILURE OF FACEBOOK “Facebook gets worse the more you use it.” And in one sentence, the author nails the intractable problem with Facebook: that it becomes spammier and less useful as you continue to use it, and that it’s not a bug but an inherent property of the service. I feel that you can get a decent Facebook experience if you manage it carefully, but the piece describes something about the network that I’ve been trying to formulate for a while.

Weekly Reckoning: Victory Lap Edition

weekly-reckoning1. WE WON. I say “we” won because I literally played in the Canadian Men’s Hockey team and scored at least one of the goals that ended in a 3-0 score in a game in which Canada just kept the puck the hell away from those nasty, greedy Swedes (video autoplay warning). Am I Jonathan Toews? Sidney Crosby? The other one? No, I’m the astral body of Guy Lafleur.

2. UPDATE YER IPHONES, FOLKS. A major security flaw has been identified in iOS devices that could allow “hackers” and “hacktivists” to read your “important emails,” because god knows the world is full of electronic sneaks who want to intercept your lunch plans with that vaguely racist guy from accounts receivable. Anyway, if you think you’re important enough, there’s an update available for your many devices.

3. WHAT’S WHATSAPP ANYWAY? By now everyone knows that Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion. But what exactly is WhatsApp? And why does Robert Reich think that WhatsApp is everything that’s wrong with the US economy? I feel that it’s everything wrong with app naming, but maybe that’s just me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to develop WheresBeef, the newest app for locating your nearest butcher or cow.

4. FALL DOWN EVERY MOUNTAIN, DROWN IN EVERY STREAM. The last of the singing von Trapp family has died at 99.

5. TAKE THAT, PIERRE TRUDEAU. The Alberta Court of Appeal has ruled that its laws do not need to be printed and published in English and French. The ruling came down over a fight involving a decade-old parking ticket.

Remembering Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Let’s all wallow in some grief and celebrate a great actor, shall we? Here’s what some people are saying online.

The Atlantic‘s Derek Thompson calls him “the greatest actor of his generation”:

An actor this good at talking should not be so good at silence. An actor so good at silence shouldn’t be this good at talking. In the delicate art of negotiating rest stops, commanding crescendos, and unleashing fortes, there wasn’t a more precise conductor of performances than Hoffman.

Bilge Ebiri talks about some of his best performances at New York‘s the Vulture:

Maybe that’s why this bewildering, tragic death hurts so much: because he feels like someone we knew, even if we only knew him from a movie screen. And because he felt like someone who understood us at our weakest, most fragile moments.

David Thompson considers some of his roles at the New Republic, including Moneyball:

The film is too smug, and too cut and dried. But Hoffman seemed to know and convey how far Beane simply didn’t understand baseball—which was and is an archaic, stupid game. If I’d been Art Howe I would have looked at Moneyball and just marveled at where such genius and understanding had come from.

Josh Levin of Slate points to a favourite scene on the Brow Beat blog:

In this scene from Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, Hoffman calls on his vast reserves of empathy to offer wise counsel to Patrick Fugit’s William Miller. The most important lesson: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.”

Weekly Reckoning: Your Favourite Woody Allen Film Edition

weekly-reckoning1. MINE IS MANHATTAN, A FILM IN WHICH ALLEN IS TORN BETWEEN AN ADULT WOMAN AND A TEENAGE GIRL. HUH. After a whole lot of back-and-forth about whether Woody Allen molested his daughter at the age of seven, Dylan Farrow speaks up with an open letter that minces no words. In a piece that leads with the question “What’s your favourite Woody Allen film?” she states plainly and unequivocally that Allen sexually assaulted her when she was a child and got away with it. Trigger warning.

2. HERE’S A QUICK GUIDE TO LOSING YOUR ORDER OF CANADA 1) Be Conrad Moffat Black, aka Baron Black of Crossharbour. 2) That’s it, really. It helps to have fraud and obstruction of justice convictions pulling you along like two mighty horses of venality, but you know that Black and Canada would have come to this point by some route.

3. MISTER HOFFMAN, HE DEAD. Thoroughly excellent actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, usually the best thing in any movie he appeared in, was found dead of an apparent drug overdose. The guy who told me about it shook his head, snorted a bit and said “Hollywood.” So there you go. Hollywood.

4. LEX LUTHOR AS MARK ZUCKERBERG. Jesse Eisenberg has been cast as Lex Luthor in the upcoming Man of Steel 2: Batman Loves Superman, in which the two heroes leave their friends behind and open a bar in Chicago Superman movie. Hmm. I see what they’re doing there. Maybe Luthor will invent a ray that puts red underwear on Superman, which is intended to humiliate him, but actually increases his Kryptonian powers. Then Superman punches Luthor into the moon and flies around the Earth a few times in order to reverse time so he can punch him through the moon all over again.

5. YOU STUPID, STUPID, STUPID AND ALSO STUPID GROUNDHOG. Six more weeks of winter. Thanks, ritual animal harbinger. It’s not enough that you get to live the life of Groundhog Riley, with liveried men attending to your every groundhog need. Why are we getting our weather from some glorified marmot?

R.I.P. Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Phillip Seymour Hoffman has died at the age of 46. He was the victim of an apparent drug overdose, reports say. Fuck.

Hoffman gave us so much great work, so much I still need to get familiar with. I’m a Paul Thomas Anderson dummy, so I haven’t seen Hoffman in Magnolia, Boogie Nights or The Master.

Even beyond that, there’s a filmography of big and small roles, in dramas and comedies and thrillers. In most all of them, he never played a “Phillip Seymour Hoffman type”, instead making interesting and individual choices in all of them, including movies like Happiness, Capote and The Big Lebowski.

I’m going to dip into State and Main soon. I think it’s an overlooked movie, and Hoffman’s role is more of a heartwarming one. I could use some of that right now.