Q. How many kerrymen does it take to change a light bulb?

A. 100! 1 to hold the light bulb… 99 to rotate the house.


I’m sad to report that these tired old light bulb jokes may well be rendered obsolete with the introduction of Peg. (Nothing to do with Peig, the evil wench who ruined Leaving Cert Irish for 40 years.)

Peg is a prototype light-fixture designed by Steffi Min. She is based in Brooklyn and created the fixture as part of her Industrial Design thesis. The system uses a simple clamp mechanism found in a clothes peg rather than the traditional twist socket utilized in most North American household lights.

And I think it is pretty neat.

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14 summer movies to get a lil excited about… [pt1]

Summertime… and the livin’ is easy…

~ The Tree of Life ~


So quite an obvious one to start, but no one can argue it doesn’t deserve its place here. To put it bluntly, I don’t remember a more highly-anticipated arthouse film than the long-delayed The Tree of Life, only the fifth feature film of Terence Malick‘s 38-year career.

So what’s it all about? Who the hell really knows. “Life” it seems… The 1950s. The midwest. Sean Penn as Brad Pitt’s son. Innocence. Evolution. A lost soul in a modern word. Reconciliation. Hope… And potentially some dinosaurs too. Continue reading

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Hot Docs 2011 reviews: Wiebo’s War // The Redemption of General Butt Naked // Empire North // Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop

previously: Hot Docs 2011 preview & thoughts

Wiebo’s War – ★★★★½

94 minutes | Canada | Language: English | North American Premiere | Rating: 14A

Like any fair story of a struggle, Wiebo’s War doesn’t force us to side with either the victims, or who we perceive as the perpetrators of their grief. Instead, director David York manages to give balance to the Trickle Creek residents as they are faced with increasingly deadly effects of an oil well built near their Alberta farm. At no point in the film are fingers pointed at Wiebo Ludwig or members of his family for the explosions, vandalism or shootings that the media originally villified them for.

But this is by no means just a touching portrait of a family in strife. There are scenes that are incredibly hard to take. In particular, York’s decision to show the effects the sour gas well had on unborn babies and livestock drew uncomfortable gasps from the crowd, but did have the desired effect of showing the family’s justification for the supposed vigilante acts against “Big Oil” (they never actually own up to any of the acts, but the fact one of the bombs went off 2 days after one of the women suffers a miscarriage allows you to draw your own conclusions). Continue reading

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Hot Docs 2011 preview & thoughts

What’s up doc…

Hot Docs 2011Without sounding too rosemantic, there are some wonderful things about living in North America. I’m not talking about twinkies, maple syrup or Hershey’s cookies and cream. I’m actually talking about film festivals. Showcases for films looking for distributors, media buzz and most importantly… an audience.

The Hot Docs festival is North America’s largest documentary festival and this year is presenting over 200 films from more than 43 countries. The festival kicked off last night with the Canadian premiere of Morgan Spurlock’s new film POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.

As with any festival there’s some I’ve missed out on and may end up standing in a rush line for. A few of these movies will show up in theatres really soon (Spurlock’s The Greatest Movie Ever Sold gets a pretty widespread North American release this weekend), while other big-hitters like James Marshall’s follow-up to Man on Wire, Project Nim and Asif Kapadia’s Senna, an enticing look at the life of Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna, may not show up for a few months. And then you have a wealth of low-key docs that are coming to Toronto to gain some buzz in the hope of getting a theatrical or on-demand release later in the year. The fact so many of these are premiering here without any press or reviews makes going through the schedule making your picks a lot of fun but also a little bit of a lottery.

So anyway, I’ve done the honest thing and picked up a nice shiny festival pass, in the hope of seeing a few gems over the coming days. Just like my pre-TIFF piece last September, below are some pretty pictures, official blurbs and trailers of the docs I’ve got tickets for.

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Movie Reviews: The High Cost of Living // Certified Copy


The High Cost of Living
directed by Deborah Chow
[imdb | trailer]
me rating: 2.5/5
saw it: cinema (limited release in Canada for the moment)

In the initial months and years “post-Garden State” Zach Braff was considered by some to be one of the movie industry’s hottest properties. But, instead of capitalising on the film’s crossover success, Braff seemed to got stuck in a J.D.-fueled rut as he went through the motions as Scrubs played out to a dreary conclusion last May.

A cursory glance through Braff’s bio shows he has kept himself busy with other work away from the Scared Heart Hospital since “having his life changed” back in 2004. He’s shown up in two instantly-forgettable movies, opened a restaurant, directed some music videos and done some theatre. But it looks like he’s finally committed to working a little bit more, what with this appearance in The High Cost of Living, next year’s The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea and the fact he may actually get around to making his sophomore directorial effort, Open Hearts, a movie that he’s been promising audiences since 2006.

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Ryan Giggs loves yoga

“I hardly drink any alcohol these days. I have taken up yoga, which is great.”
Last summer while watching Ryan Giggs continue to defy time I remember thinking he needed to bring out a fitness DVD. If Kerry Katona can do one, and let’s face it she’s really just a coked-up flabby mess, then surely the most-decorated player in history should have one. At the time he was playing for a Manchester United side taking on Celtic in Toronto’s Rogers Centre.

Giggs Fitness

So once again, it seems someone was reading my thoughts. 6 months later Virgin TV released “Giggs Fitness: Strength And Conditioning, Inspired By Yoga“. Giving Giggs’ long-time sponsor Reebok an excuse to launch this nifty, if a little over the top, promotional site, giggsfitness.com.

The DVD came out in January but I’m only getting to reading about it now. While I spend a lot of time online, sometimes life-defining news, such as the release of a celebrity fitness DVD, can pass me by. Continue reading

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Deca’dant… so what’s wrong with these pictures?

Aside from the fact they sleep in the same bed.

Wobbly: Shilling Wii Fit. 2009.

Bykaaah: Ant and Dec reprising their roles as PJ and Duncan in Byker Grove for Geoff's funeral in series 12

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WRESTLEMAAAaaa…… satellite signal lost


Just back from Toronto’s Scotiabank theatre where I decided, after this afternoon’s foray into wrestler deaths, to go nostalgia-crazy and watch Wrestlemania XVII live. With other people. And buckets of popcorn. And coca-cola-coked up kids. And a ridiculously extortionate entrance fee of $32.

Bell's satellite signal lost. Cue disgruntled pro-wrestling fans. Hope the seats are bolted down!

But an hour into the show, it almost seemed worth it as a one-off. The sheer beauty of anything projected in HD still amazes me, so any time the action dipped my mind just wandered, thinking about the production costs and the amazing pyro and lights on show in the Georgia Dome. Much like a souped-up episode of X Factor I guess.

Things were a lot of fun though with plenty to keep the crowd interested and cheering or booing in appropriate places, as is the tradition. But with about an hour of the show to go, 15 minutes into the Undertaker’s violent brawl with Triple H the theatre’s crowd of 500 odd fans got a dreaded “BELL satellite signal lost” up on screen. This had happened beforehand for a few seconds earlier in the night, but the signal was quickly restored. To say there was unanimous discontent is an understatement. Ever heard a cinema crowd violently chanting “refund, refund, refund”, “this is bullshit, bullshit, bullshit” and “let’s f*ck shit up now (x3)”? Well tonight was a good run through all these classics of the disgruntled masses.

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Top 5…. Dead wrestlers.

Wrestlers portray villains or heroes as they follow a series of events that build tension and culminate in a wrestling match or series of matches. [thanks wikipedia]

So not a huge amount of people know this, but I’m wee bit of a wrestling fan.

Or more accurately, I was a wee bit of a wrestling fan. From watching 4-5 hours a week when I was 17 or 18, nearly a decade later I now only really tune in once or twice a year for novelty reasons.

As anyone who has ever had even a passing interest in pro-wrestling will attest, the annual WWE showcase Wrestlemania is a big deal and I gotta admit even I get a little bit nostalgic this time of year.

And so in honour of tonight’s show, Wrestlemania XVII from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, here’s a top 5 wrestler deaths. Now this may seem a little morbid but I’m always kind of sad when I hear about these guys dying, so eh, what better way to pay tribute to them than by featuring them in a wheatln2 top 5?!

Andre the Giant - squaring up to Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III


André Rene Rousimoff was born in France in 1946 with a condition called acromegaly which caused his large size. He is one of the largest wrestlers ever, weighing in at 500lb with a height of 7″4′. This is him bitch-slapping Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian. He wrestled in the WWF through the late 70s and 80s, with his immortal moment coming at 1987’s Wrestlemania III where a roided up Hulk Hogan body-slammed him (watch).

André died in his sleep due to congestive heart failure on the night of January 27, 1993, in a Paris hotel room. He was there to attend the funeral of his father. Sad stuff. As an act of commemoration, the WWF created their hall of fame and made him their first inductee. Continue reading

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Nine Types of Light [a post about TV on the Radio. And fun physics]

“Something that makes things visible or affords illumination.”

So, a few days ago, the new TV on the Radio album, Nine Types of Light, leaked.  This thick ooozy leak seeped right into the dredges of my Google Reader, giving me an enticing little link to grab the album…

With TVOTR being one of my favourites, I’d like to be able to say that I took the moral high ground and decided to wait until its official release on April 8th, but I didn’t. That kind of decision is becoming all the more common with me and countless others. I guess Bob Dylan is the only artist who still stands on that plinth of artists who I’ll hold out until release day for. And Bobby could fall off that plinth at any point, dude’s going to be 70 next month, he’s getting wobbly. Continue reading

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Why have I never heard of Bizarre ER?

I miss BBC3.

This is wonderful. Man gets tiny hat stuck to his head. Ah dearie me.

Bizarre E.R. exists in the illustrious canon of BBC3 classics likeThe World’s Worst Place to Be Gay?, Snog Marry Avoid? and Sex… with Mum and Dad.

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Thoughts from afar – St. Patrick’s Day 2011


5 Things to not miss about St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin…  Continue reading

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Movie review: The Sunset Limited

It don’t matter if you’re Black or White.

The Sunset Limited
directed by Tommy Lee Jones
[imdb | trailer | HBO Films]
me rating: 3/5
saw it: download (premiered on HBO in US & Canada, coming to Sky Atlantic in UK/Irl)

Director Tommy Lee Jones brings us into a run-down Manhattan apartment with his HBO adaptation of the 2006 Cormac McCarthy play The Sunset Limited. The single set, two man cast setup requires that the viewer sit down and concentrate. And concentration is the key here as we observe two nameless characters, dubbed only “Black” and “White”, embarking on a 90 minute debate on fluffy, light-hearted fare like… i) the afterlife, ii) suicide, iii) purpose of art and iv) faith.

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Movie reviews: Incendies, Unknown & The Reef

Sharks, sabotage and secrets.

directed by Denis Villeneuve
[imdb | trailer]
me rating: 4.5/5
saw it: cinema (limited release in Canada, wider international release expected)

Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s work isn’t all that well known outside of his native Quebec, let alone Canada. However after Incendies (Scorched) received glowing reviews at Venice and Toronto last autumn and got an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language film last month, perhaps all that may be about to change.

Incendies tells the story of Nawal Marwan, who came to Canada from war-torn Middle East and a life of prison, religious persecution and war. Her dying wish is for her son and daughter to travel back to the place of her birth to untangle their family tree to deliver letters to their presumed-dead father and previously unknown brother.

While it’s a complex plot that utilises dual timelines, what follows over the next two hours is a masterfully constructed journey of discovery into a mother’s past. Their quest in the Middle East raises so many questions that could so easily have been answered before her death if only they’d known to ask.

The final act and big reveal makes for a thrilling finale, that’s both sensational and touching and verges just on the right side of plausibility.

The Academy have a habit of giving the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar to the wrong film (Argentina’s so-so Secret in Their Eyes beating The White Ribbon and Un prophète last year? Departures beating The Class and Waltz with Bashir?). Let’s hope they get it right this year and give Canada something to celebrate. Continue reading

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