This blog is automatic, systematic, hydromatic… why, it could be greased lightning!

We had this LP at home when I was a kid. The jacket opened up like a book to show pics from the movie. How cool is that?

Some people say high school was the best time of their lives. Some say it was the worst. For me it wasn’t as good as college, but still good. Like maybe 3½ stars. Grease is one of those movies that takes place in high school with actors who are obviously too old to be there. It’s still a classic, however, making it quite easy for viewers to suspend their unbelief and enjoy the story, the characters, the music, the humour.

Thinking about that movie makes me a bit nostalgic, so I’d like to share with you—the reader who miraculously has read beyond the title—some highlights from my own time spent in grades 10-12. For some of you these might make you say, “I wish my time in high school was that good.” But chances are you will be amoung the majority who say, “Yeesh Troy. You were as much a loser then as you are now!” To which I proudly respond with Gaston’s confident reply, “I know! It’s true Lefou.” Let’s start with one of the highest of highlights:

I met the man in person. Ok, you may not believe me, but this is the honest truth. I met and shook hands with Macho Man Randy Savage. Sorry, should have told you to sit down first. Anyway, I also got his autograph on a pin up poster I tore out of one of my many wrestling magazines. What I wouldn’t give to have that autographed photo today. I remember the folks at the Moncton Coliseum who were hosting the car show had no idea just how many people were going to show up for this. My sister and I both went. We were lucky to get our autographs because since the crowd was so big they ended up speeding the last half of the people through with handshakes only. But it gets better. We also met Miss Elizabeth! And that’s another autographed pic I wish I still had. This was my biggest celebrity crush since Daphne from Scooby Doo.  To make things even better, this happened just a month after Wrestlemania IV when Savage won the heavyweight championship. These two legends are both no longer with us today, which makes this memory mean even more to me.

Disney World twice in one year. My sister (not the same one as above) and I went on a group choir trip to Orlando where we went to Disney World. We had a blast, of course, but my siblings and I had no idea that for years our parents were saving to take us on a family vacation there. And it happened–nine months after we bot back from our choir tour trip! Now as much as that first trip was wonderful it was the trip with the family that I remember more. I remember standing outside a gift shop in Disney World and seeing for the first time a poster for their studio’s follow up to The Little Mermaid. It was Beauty and the Beast. We also went to Sea World on that trip, which I believe was the whole family’s favourite place.

High School Play. I’d wanted to be in a school play since elementary school but it took me until my graduation year to pull the trigger. I tried out for “Ten Little Indians” at Riverview High’s theatre during the lunch break. I was nervous but confident. I was sure I nailed the audition, and sure enough, when the list went up on the wall of the students who made the cut, my name was at the top of the list! My heart lept. Was I ready to memorize all those lines? But, it turned out that I had the smallest part in the play with just a few lines. Still, I was excited. Getting to know everyone in that group was such a memorable experience. They were all so good and we had that sense of accomplishment as one, just like a sports team does who wins a tournament. And though my part was undoubtedly smaller than everyone else’s, they all treated me as equally valuable. One of them was a close friend of my sister’s and he died five short years after our play. His name was Kevin and he’s greatly missed.

Speech. I also thought about entering a talent competition. I had friends at my church youth group who would enter one called TnT. They competed with singing or instrument playing and would earn college scholarships. I was jealous and thought they should have a category for speech. It was one of the things I loved doing that everyone around me seemed to hate. It was in my first year in high school I found out you could enter a speech category submission, but hardly anyone in our area did. Finally, by my graduation year I decided to enter. Yup, two years later. My self-confidence wasn’t great to say the least. Asking girls out was the same kind of thing for me. I was like a swimmer who perches on the edge of the high diving board and says to himself, “Ok, on the count of 500 I’m diving. 1, 2, 3,…” I kicked myself for not entering sooner. I was able to earn a scholarship more than once with speeches that I’m not sure were all that great. But I was bringing something to this competition that few of the judges had seen before. I was making pop culture references and  imitating guys like Jack Nicholson and Jimmy Stewart. It was a good shot in the arm, but it would take even longer in my life to boost that self-confidence up to a healthy level. I know I’m not alone. Some of you reading this are shaking your heads because you know what it’s like.

Wrestlemania. I should state right away that, no, I did not attend a live Wrestlemania. However, in 1990 the Moncton Coliseum, who by now had figured out just how popular professional wrestling was (their minds made the shift from Leo Burke in Berwick to Hulk Hogan in MSG), were showing Wrestlemania 6 live on the big screen. Our paper boy, who was a couple of years younger than me, found out one day that I was a wrestling fan. We would have long talks about it on my front step or on our way home from school, and one day after delivering our paper he asked if I wanted to go with him. We both felt like we had enough cash to buy tickets. We bought them, got ourselves a taxi cab, and watched Hulk Hogan drop the belt to the Ultimate Warrior. I was furious. He was delighted. But it was a fun memory that I’ll never forget.

Congratulations Grease. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Please. Olivia Newton John. I knew her name when I was just six for crying out loud.

Best Actor: As much as I’d like to give this to Vinny Vega, I’d like to acknowledge the late Christopher Reeve for best actor this week. Honestly, I don’t find Superman a very good movie (though Superman 2 rocks!), but Reeve was more than memorable as the Man of Steel and Clark Kent . I have a hard time picturing anyone else in that role, regardless of how well they do in newer movies.

Best Quote: “Always look on the bright side of life.” – Crucifers in Life of Brian

Well, that was quite the self-absorbed escapade, though it’s not the first time I’ve done this. Thanks for indulging me, those of you who have read this far. And remember, it’s always a good idea to put memories down on paper. The good and the bad alike.


Decade: 70’s; Week: Nov 28-Dec 4 /14

Nov 28-Dec 4 14


Ahh the 70’s… This is where it all started. For both me and this blog. I was born in the 70’s and the very first movie of the week was Jaws winning over it’s fellow 70’s flicks The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. Whether or not you remember this decade, hated it, loved it, or even weren’t around at the time, you can still choose: Which of the following greats do you think should be this week’s movie?

And for those of you who started celebrating Christmas back when Labour Day ended, hold your horses. Those movies will come. But for now…

1. Superman (1978, EMP #171)

2. Grease (1978, EMP #192)

3. Life of Brian (1979, IMDb #174)



I once sat in a staff meeting where the chairperson had us view a video about “paradigm shifts.” This was back in the day when the word “paradigm” was so chic it was downright dapper, and it sounded super cool to add “shift” after it. The video was a motivational speaker who used the following as an example:

“When you were a kid, what words would come to your mind when you thought of products that were  made in Japan?” Here he was asking baby boomer aged people who chuckled and replied, “Junk,” and “low quality.”

“What do you think of things made in Japan now?” Now their answers changed. “High quality,” “expensive,” “top of the line,” etc.

This was a great example. At some point Japan changed their perspective and everyone else’s at the same time. We all have dots on a timeline where we changed our thinking and, therefore, our actions and lifestyles. So this week I’m going to explore some paradigm shifts of my own that I’ve discovered as dots on my own timeline. Here are a few:

1. Foreign movies, particularly German and Japanese, are good. As a child and teenager, foreign films were just plain weird to me. Just as weird as the word “foreign.” Just another one of those English words with a bunch of letters that have no business being there. (Would it kill us to just spell it “forin”?) Then as a young man living in an apartment with my wife and new baby girl I discovered Babette’s Feast in the local Blockbuster store we would often walk to. I only gave it a try because I’d heard the story in a book I’d recently read. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I told Joy that this made me want to see a movie I’d heard about two years prior called Life is Beautiful. To this day it’s still my favourite movie. But I never thought I’d be into old, black-and-white Akira Kurosawa movies. I also never thought I could survive a two and a half hour long marathon of watching not only a group of men in a single submarine, but in just four little rooms. And the non-stop action?? Um, no not in this movie. I don’t know what kind of voodoo witchcraft Wolfgang Petersen used to keep me sitting there, but it worked. Not only did I sit there but… yup you guessed it. Edge of my seat. Right there. Downfall, yet another German movie, cracked my top 20 favourite movies list. And I’ve seen four Kurosawa movies and liked every one of them. Maybe it was the motivational speaker that inspired me to give Japan a chance. It took a while, but now I believe that movies made not-in-America can be awesome.

2. God does not control your life, nor should anyone desire that. I do believe in God. And when I hear people say, “God is in control,” I don’t argue it. God loves us, watches over us, and his desire is for us to be happy. But he does not control. I wish I’d never heard anyone in my life say that I should “let God take control.” And those who said it did so from a pulpit. A loving Father would not ask that of his children. But I have to say that I’m not sure when this shifted for me. I think being a father myself has helped. I know most who believe in God would either agree or come up with another way of putting it, but growing up I heard all kinds of instructions, admonishments, song messages and just overall rhetoric that encouraged me to let God take control of my life. How I am treating this sentiment may not be “what they meant,” but how else can you take words like that?

3. Science isn’t an enemy to religion. I can’t believe it took me so long to realize this. When scientists discovered the earth revolved around the sun, Christians were upset. Very upset. When scientists made discoveries regarding the age of earth, Christians got upset. It’s still a major sore spot, so moving right along… When scientists discovered that we were being too destructive to our home planet—and this one blows me away—the church was skeptical at best. Some are, well, upset. Though there is greater evidence of God wanting us to take care of the earth in the Bible than there are of God not caring about such things, many Christians still seem quite perturbed by all this “global warming stuff.” Have scientists made mistakes? Yup. In fact, everyone in every field of study has made mistakes. Medical pros have always had this happen from time to time and still do, but for some reason we trust them more. We’ll take that pill and swallow it, but don’t give me none of your liberal swirly light bulb garbage!

4. (And this one is for my sister Lisa) Country music really isn’t that bad. There are still things I don’t appreciate about the genre, but thanks to Johnny Cash and a the movie Crazy Heart I’ve learned to appreciate it. Not ready for any ‘best of’ albums on my iPod, but I’m growing.

5. Just kidding. Country music blows. Hahaha! Got ya Lisa! Paradigm shift averted.

If Samuel L. Jackson says coffee is good, just agree.

6. Coffee is good. I avoided coffee for years. The only reason I drank any at all was when we were having dessert and it just seemed to go well with what we were eating. Every morning Joy would make the stuff and I would enjoy the smell but not drink it. Right before my 40th birthday I started drinking it. I’m not sure if it had anything to do with 40. The circumstances were just right I guess. Now, I hardly drink tea anymore. This coffee stuff is pretty darn good. But this “I’ll kill you if I don’t get my coffee in me,” stuff hasn’t happened yet. I’m more like that with my morning cereal than coffee. Shout out to Mini Wheats. Those little guys rock! (Not referring to the animated guys in the commercials, you understand. Hate those wheaty little trolls.) And I’m all about the Keurig folks. Bring on the Cinnamon Pastry and German Chocolate Cake.

7. We can fight crime….with understanding and love. I know a lot of people see this as being soft on criminals, which is not what I propose at all. I believe they should pay for their debts to society for what they’ve done. However, along with that we also need to 1) try and understand why these crimes keep happening so as to discover how best to prevent them and create more good in the world and 2) stop enjoying the punishment of criminals so much. If we punish out of love like a father does (should do) with his children we can get somewhere. Today I heard a group of retirees at McDonald’s (man, they love that place) discussing Jian Gomeshi. One woman was saying that he was a sicko and our world just keeps getting worse and worse. She struggled pronouncing his name, though it sounded forced. I personally don’t see the world as getting worse and worse. We are seeing more sick people because of awareness, not because of internet, TV, rock-n-roll, or “this day and age we live in.” I hate what Gomeshi did. But I don’t hate Gomeshi. Not for a second. Working in the criminal justice system in a small way with the John Howard Society back in 2011-12 had a large impact on this for me. And no, I don’t beleive it’s “biblical” to kill people for their crimes. I won’t get into that though.

So there they are. I shifted my paradigms and survived the motion sickness. And now, to celebrate some great anime movies.

Congratulations, Spirited Away. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Ok, these are obviously difficult picks seeing as I don’t know any of the actors or actresses who gave their voices to the movies. I’m basically going to go with favourite characters then. For females I liked Sen in Spirited Away, voiced by Rumi Hiiragi.

Best Actor: Seita in Grave of the Fireflies voiced by Tsutomu Tatsumi.

Best Quote: “Ah, you’re awake. I was hoping you’d cry out in your sleep, then I would have bitten your head off to silence you.” Yup. Princess Mononoke actually has that line.

For the record my favourite anime movie is Grave of the Fireflies. I chose Spirited Away, not because of votes (it didn’t beat any others out) but because it is widely regarded as the greatest of all Anime feature films. If you’ve never watched one, give it a try. They’re not your typical animation movie. Despite the fantasy involved, they use techniques that make the movie a little more real to the viewer.

END NOTE: I’ve decided to change the format of this blog just slightly. Though I am a big fan of the IMDb top 250 list and believe it’s a pretty accurate list of truly great movies, I am going to access another couple of lists for the sake of variety. 250 is a small number when you’re listing great movies. The American Film Institute has a top 100 list that they update every ten years. In contrast to IMDb’s it is not user-based but strictly based on movie critics. I will occasionally use their latest list for Movie of the Week nominations, and when I do you will see the year and rating number in brackets after a movie—as usual—along with “AFI” so that you will know that movie comes from their list. Another list is’s top 301. This one is based on both critics and users, though I find the other two lists better. Nominations that are taken from this list I will designate with “EMP.”

Ok, business meeting is over. Corporate has spoken.

Theme: Anime! Week: Nov 21-27/14

Nov 21-27-14

I realize that most of you who read my blog (as far as I know) aren’t anime watchers, but consider the fact that there are seven of them represented on IMDb’s top 250. They also take up 41% of the animation movies that appear on the list (7/17). But here is what you can do: click on each link below and read the plot description for each movie. It only takes a minute or two. Then, whichever one seems like the most interesting story of the three, throw it a vote.

So let’s celebrate those tiny mouths that suddenly open larger than life when speaking. Those gigantic eyes, crazy long pigtails, and of course the blue hair. And as Christmas approaches, there’s going to be more animated movies nominated.

1. Spirited Away (2001, #37)

2. Princess Mononoke (1997, #72)

3. Grave of the Fireflies (1988, #73)


You call that art??

Ferris Art

Who would have thought that an unmade bed with a dirty ashtray, empty liquor bottles, pantyhose and condoms would be art? A few years ago I read a book on pop culture and found out that this really is a thing. An artist named Tracey Emin constructed a sort of sculpture (?) that looked like some licentious slob’s bedroom. You’re probably shaking your head now like I did when I read it. You call that art? And what about the urinal that an artist pulled from a wall and placed on display? I think we all appreciate art. Even Cameron, Sloane and Ferris do. Though it seems we all have our limit.

Picasso’s “The Old Guitarist”

I remember like it was yesterday sitting in my first grade class looking at a page I had coloured. I used a burnt brown crayon to colour the majority of it—I think it was a dragon. I loved the richness of that colour. I had such beaming pride that I had created this awesome picture! It was hanging with everyone else’s on the chalkboard ledge and I was convinced beyond any shadow of doubt that mine was the best one. By the time I entered junior high, art wasn’t as fun. Probably because by then I’d un-learned both the joy of creating and the thrilling power of a roaring self confidence. Something most of us unlearn when we begin to morph into adults. By high school I still had an appreciation for it and decided to elect the course in grade 10. I honestly think the most valuable thing I took from Art 10-2 was the few class hours we spent looking at slides of famous paintings and familiarizing ourselves with the artists. My favourites were Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and some of Picasso. I loved the latter’s “blue period” but couldn’t get into the boxy mixed up faces he is most known for. That was the line for me when I was 15. A Picasso with crooked lips, unmatched eyes, a geometric chin and—what the… is that a trapezoid-shaped boob?? Come on Pablo! Who do you think You’re kidding? Millionaire art auction bidders, please stop encouraging him!

Maybe your line was drawn with Andy Warhol. You saw the pink Marilyn Monroe painting that didn’t seem like much, or the can of Campbell’s soup, or that self portrait where he looks like a ticked off Woodstock from Charlie WarholBrown specials. Now that’s not art. Pollock’s paintings of splattered colours angered a lot of people because it looked like something a child or well-trained monkey could do. And people are paying millions for this stuff?

And now a bed with condoms and stained undies is fetching $2 million. What is this world coming to?

But really art is an expression. It’s anything we create to convey beauty, a thing that can only be found in the metaphoric eye of the beholder. Maybe it’s good that Pollock’s work can be done by a kid. And maybe I’m still not sold on Emin’s bed, but I have to admit that Picasso, Pollock and Warhol have all grown on me over the years. I’ve also developed a love for street art with its creativity and simplicity.

I want to realize that what draws me and what repels me and what makes me indifferent in artistic expression is a result of my own experiences, tastes, and perception. And I want to try and give myself the few minutes it would take to dream of why I’m drawn to Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory or why someone else would be drawn to something I find ridiculous. It feels good to grow in this way.

principal rooney

When I write like this, it’s because I enjoy it. For me it’s a kind of art. So is announcing for a professional wrestling event. When I’m painting a bumper or fixing a tear in a leather sofa and a customer watches and says, “That’s a work of art,” I get a small tinge of pride. I like talking about these things and sometimes have to stop myself as I try to remember that this stuff can be an unmade bed for the person I’m talking to.

Still, hopefully I will continue to dare myself and jump into other forms of expression and creativity. I think I need it. I hope my kids learn to as well. They’re becoming adults quite rapidly these days. I’ll have to remind them what Ferris said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Congratulations Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Jennifer Grey. She is so funny in this movie and I loved how she ninja kicked Principal Rooney in the face.

Best Actor: Billy Crystal. He’s always funny in his movies, even if there’s a bad one, which isn’t many. Gotta say though that in Edward Scissorhands Johnny Depp does such a great job at drawing compassion and pity from the viewer. I love that movie and his performance in it.

Best Quote: “I’ll have what she’s having.” – When Harry Met Sally

My two favourite paintings are Van Gogh’s The Potato Eaters and Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son. I can stare at them for long periods of time. Longer than some TV shows can keep my attention. From what I hear, even ADHD sufferers experience this. And yet art is usually stationary, quiet and non-interactive. And for what it’s worth: I’m not sure that I will ever get the opportunity again, but I promise that IF I ever colour a picture of a dragon with a burnt brown crayon, I will be sure to post it on here. And you will see then that I am the best!


If you love movies, you’ll love these guys


So I’ve made new friends. I listen to a podcast on my way to work that involves two guys, James and Zach, talking about movie lists and playing movie games: two things I love. I emailed them (at and they read my email on their show. They watched and discussed a movie I a movie I recommended, and even promoted my blog on their site. You should check them out. Click on their logo above to access their site where you can find all of their episodes, lists, movie game rules, and other fun stuff.

One of the cool things they do is a “top ten last ten” where they each rank the last ten movies they’d seen and rank them against each other. So here  is the last ten movies I watched over the past few weeks and where I rank them according to how much I liked them (1 being the best of course).

10. GOD’S NOT DEAD (2013) – I begrudgingly give this movie 1/2 a star. It was presumptuous, pompous, and embarrassingly discriminatory. I believe in God and put my faith in him, but this movie does God no favours. However, I do tip my hat to one actress who did a scene where she breaks down emotionally and she did a great job at it.


9. THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957) – It’s old, Swedish, artistic, but I can’t say I enjoyed it much. Glad I saw it as it’s a classic, but I give it a 2.5 stars out of 5, which is basically a “meh.”


8. THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) – Despite how this list looks, I love old movies. I just wasn’t that much into this one. I enjoyed reading about it afterward more than anything. Another 2.5 stars.


7. PLEASE SUBSCRIBE (2013) – Very educational for me. Helped me understand my own kids. It’s a documentary on YouTubers. Wasn’t fantastic, but I enjoyed learning from it. I give it 3 stars. It was good.


6. THE HUNT (2012) – A heavy movie, but so well done. This Danish film has a plot that’s so realistic it could pass as biographic. The subject matter is disturbing, but not in a horrific way. Just in an imagine-if-that-really-happened-how-terrible-it-would-be kind of way. Very good movie. 3.5 stars.


5. LIKE STARS ON EARTH (2007) – Though this East Indian film (like it’s sister-movie Three Idiots) has a melodramatic flair that spares no cheese, it’s a powerful story that addresses childhood education and learning disorders. The child actor in it is about the best I’ve ever seen. Very inspiring, despite the corniness. 3.5 stars.


4. COHERENCE (2013) – Very original. This movie falls under the genre of “mumblecore” where actor ad lib the majority or all of the dialogue. It seems like you’re watching through a hidden camera and though there is nothing “scary” in the movie, it is so suspenseful and gripping you can’t look away. I give it 4 stars. You really should see it.


3. RUSH (2013) – If I told you what the plot was, I’m sure you would be uninterested. Most of you would anyway. Even if I told you it was closely based on a true story, which it is. And if you watched the first 20 minutes you might still think you could walk away. But this movie will do it to you… it will grab you eventually. It’s amazing that the main plot details actually happened. One of the characters it is based on put his own stamp of approval on it and said it was very accurate to what happened. I give it 4.5 stars. Oh, and did I mention that Thor’s in it??


2. FURY (2014) – This war story is told from the perspective of a tank and its operating soldiers. There is a scene in the middle of it that is unique, memorable and flawlessly performed. The action is great, the events compelling, and even though one of the best, Brad Pitt, is in it (and like always owns his performance), it is Shia LaBeouf who steals the show! I give it 4.5 stars and highly recommend it.


1. GONE GIRL (2014) – Amazing movie. My wife read the book and loved it. I wanted to see it with her but I saw it as a movie that she would love and that I would like. Then I started to hear the reviews; and they were all right. It is creative, unique, a well crafted story and twists like I haven’t seen in a movie for a very long time. 5 stars.