This Film is Dated™ – 11.11.11

•November 11, 2011 • 3 Comments

Its back, baby!

I started to do this one and then realized that all the shots would be from the 11th minute.  Ah well…let’s see how it goes. 🙂

The 11th Minute

The 11th Minute

The 11th Minute

 Can you name the film…?

A Walk in the Cemetery

•October 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Taken from my writing journal for my Introductory Composition class:

October 17, 2011

A Walk in the Cemetery

This evening I returned home from work and begrudgingly engaged in a well-worn routine: walking our dog, Penny.  A queen among dogs (and she know it), Penny’s only shortcoming is her inability to understand that human beings aren’t disposed to constantly petting, scratching, or otherwise obsessing over our canine companions–that, and howl volume control.  Opening the door after a long day at work, one is met by a gale-force, high-pitched howling wall of sound.  Penny means well and is truly a wonderful companion, but she can be insistently demanding of human attention.  Failing to organically gain this attention, she will remind you of your place by flopping a paw on your forearm or knee, as if to say, “You and I both know what has to happen, so let’s not beat around the bush.”

As is her natural tendency, Penny was overjoyed to be out of the house and trotting along beside me yesterday.  With her nose angled toward the sky and a moderate breeze, her face was awash with a wealth of urinary perfumeries.  The two of us made our way to one of our usual haunts – the local cemetery.  We entered through the main gates and I removed her leash to let her work off some excess energy.  Penny attempted to keep up only to be distracted by the many pockets of nasal treasures littering the pathway.   I pulled out her whistling ball–it whistles as it hurtles through the air–and showed it to her.  Her focus on me was unflinching; I had come prepared.  Mouth open, tongue dangling and tail wagging, Penny bowed down on to her front legs, indicating that she wanted me to throw the ball.  I can only assume this gesture didn’t illicit a quick enough response since Penny began immediately howling more and more stridently until I finally whipped the ball down the path ahead of us.  She darted off at breakneck speed, belying her normally lethargic personality.  Penny caught the ball, tossed it up into the air and caught it again.  Slowly she began her reluctant walk back to me with the ball in her mouth.  Midway through her journey however, Penny appeared to forget about the ball: unceremoniously dropping it in favour of burying her nose in the grass.  I picked up the abandoned ball and again showed it to her with feigned gusto.  Her attention was again mine, although less enthusiastic this time.  I threw the ball again and she was off.

We continued in this way for ten or fifteen minutes.  I would toss the ball and Penny would nab it, only then electing whether to return it to me or speed off after an unsuspecting squirrel. Ball in mouth, she seemed to weigh which option was in her best interest–she would almost unanimously choose the latter.  Although excited at the prospect of chasing whistling balls, Penny is at her heart a lackadaisical girl.  The last section of our walk was punctuated by my continual attempts to motivate her to move a bit quicker.  Slowing to nearly a crawl, the two of us finally emerged from the cemetery and made our way home.

After a mournful look out towards the sidewalk, Penny seemed to say goodbye to the scents of the outside world and entered our foyer under silent protest.  I removed the leash and she made her way up to the landing–her usual waiting spot.  Looking over as I took my coat off, I noticed that she was licking her front right paw.  I took a closer look attempting to hold the paw gently in case she was cut.  Penny yelped in pain.  Only then did I notice that her dew claw (the claw that dogs have higher up on their forelegs) was broken in half and bleeding.  I have often read about the need to be extremely careful when trimming a dog’s claws because of the risk of pain and infection to the animal.  Penny’s dew claw was snapped well below the quick so I was immediately concerned.  I put my coat back on, reattached her leash and the two of us headed toward the veterinarian.

I think I was more worried than Penny was–her biggest concern seemed to be that she couldn’t lie down comfortably because of her inclination to lay with her front legs under her chest.  The two veterinary assistants manning the front desk were very friendly–they’re big fans of Penny’s–and one of them even recounted a recent dew claw incident with her own dog.  She said that it was a good idea to bring Penny in just to be sure.  After a short wait, the vet examined  her and explained to me the particulars of what he needed to do.  He took an increasingly nervous Penny into the back and I grabbed a chair in the waiting room and well, waited.   About ten minutes later, one of the vet assistants brought Penny out, her leg freshly bandaged in a blazingly hot pink gauze, a purple heart sticker placed right in the middle.  A nearby woman– who was waiting to have her uncooperative cat’s claws clipped–audibly gasped in delight.  The vet assistant praised Penny on her excellent behaviour; her counterpart behind the front desk remarked at how pretty the bandage looked.  A relatively small fee later, the two of us made our way back home.

Arriving at the front door, Penny was much more excited about getting inside this second time–we had been out of the house for nearly two hours.  The second her leash was detached, she bolted upstairs and headed straight for her water bowl.  I watched her like a hawk to make sure she didn’t chew at the bandage.  A couple of scoldings later, she seemed quite amenable to the prospect of wearing the stylish hot pink wrist band with a purple heart on it.  The longer I sat with her, the more I imbued her with emotions she likely didn’t have; combining her exhaustion and minor discomfort into an imagined, all-encompassing and general malaise.  Heartbroken, I bent the cardinal rule of the house–that no four-legged creature shall get up onto the human furniture–and allowed the poor girl one night’s indulgence: laying in the lap of luxury in the biggest armchair in the room.

Tumblr Blog

•October 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Hi all,

So I caved and opened a tumblr blog. It just seemed easier and I feel less pressure to write something substantial in that format. I’ll keep this and the Split Diopter open, but if you wish to follow (hopefully) more regular posts, please head to thefortressofsolitude.tumblr.

The Best Obnoxious Responses to Misspellings on Facebook

•September 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

More here via Happy Place.

Thundercats (2011) – Review

•August 23, 2011 • 1 Comment

Season 1, Episode 1 (“The Sword of Omens”) and Episode 2 (“Ancient Spirits of Evil”)

The new “reboot” of Thundercats is, without question, not the same show that aired in the mid-80s.  Although it remains true to the spirit of the original and has numerous references to it, the new version definitely stands on its own.  The changes to the 80s Thundercats are mostly welcome and interesting.

Rankin-Bass’ original “Thundercats” revolved a band of exiles from the doomed planet of Thundera: the Thundercats – a group pseudo-nobles occupying the upper echelons of the Thunderian caste system.  Pursued by the mutants of Plun-darr, they manage to escape to the relative safety of another planet they christen “Third Earth.”  The Thundercats, led by the inexperienced Lion-O (the Lord of the Thundercats by blood), attempt to rebuild their civilization on Third Earth while they thwart the schemes of the Mutants of Plun-darr, the Lunataks and the ever-living form of Mummra, a malevolent demi-god who can call on “Ancient Spirits of Evil” to imbue him with incredible powers and dominance over a large portion of the planet.

Claudus, Lord of the Thundercats, battles his son and heir, Lion-O

The revamped Thundercats series opens on Thundera with Claudus, the Lord of the Thundercats (voiced by Larry Kenny, the original Lion-O), ruling his people and attempting to mould his youngest son, Lion-O, into the great leader he is destined to become.  Lion-O’s adopted brother, Tygra, has been skipped over as heir – a fact that irks him constantly as he see himself as more intelligent, experienced and skilled at combat than his upstart kid brother.


Prince Lion-O makes questionable choices along the way, disguising himself as a commoner and getting involved in a scrap with street thugs.  He is assisted by a female stranger who, after throttling the assailants, introduces herself as Cheetara.  The two set off together after Lion-O reveals to Cheetara that is he seeking a particular piece of technology.  The Thunderians don’t use technology – they’re sort of a bad-ass group of Amish settlers.  They have built great cities but they have done it without the use of technological advancements.  Technology is something of a myth to the Thunderians; a taboo subject that keeps back street merchants in business, selling fake bits of the stuff to anyone who will buy it.  Lion-O and Cheetara visit one such merchant, but Lion-O is convinced the piece of technology that’s he’s purchased is real.

Cheetara, holding what looks suspiciously like a Robear Berbil paw...

Later on, Lion-O is tested by Claudus who commands him to wield the Sword of Omens (looking exactly as it did in the 80s) in order to prove his nobility.  The weapon is brought in with great reverence by a group of clerics, one of whom Lion-O recognizes as Cheetara in ceremonial gear.  The exercise ultimately fails as Lion-O, attempting to harness the clairvoyant powers of the sword, is frightened by the vision he sees.  In an effort to save face he makes a joke of it (much to his father’s annoyance).


Outside the castle, an army of lizard slaves are slowly advancing to the gate.  They are transporting a huge crystalline structure, atop of which stands Grune, a Thunderian general who is returning from a mission.  Claudus greets the general warmly, but is saddened to learn that Panthro, Grune’s colleague on this particular quest, has died.  With heavy hearts, Claudus welcomes Grune into the castle.

Mummra, The Ever Living

This sets into motion the real plot of the pilot episode, as Grune’s army of lizard slaves are revealed to not be slaves at all, but under the military command of Grune.  The huge crystal is full of more lizard soldiers, including their leader, Slythe.  Grune and Slythe, with the help of devastatingly powerful military technology, begin a massive attack on the Thunderian kingdom.

Slythe, Leader of the Lizard Army

The pilot episode definitely takes several steps away from the original.  The eliminating of the science-fiction element, at least from the Thunderian perspective, is an interesting one.  A large part of the original show was the technology, the Thundertank and the various other vehicles (including those capable of space-travel) were very much on display.  Interestingly, by eliminating the scope of inter-planetary travel from the concept, they’ve actually increased the scope of the show within its limited playing field.  The seemingly xenophobic and insular Thunderian society has largely left their home planet unexplored which leaves the entire planet to mined for story ideas.  The political and technological conflicts are also very intriguing.  I definitely want to see more.

Wily-Kit and Wily-Kat

Silly characters like Snarf and Wily-Kit and Wily-Kat are all treated more seriously in this version.  Snarf doesn’t talk, which is a stroke of genius.  Wily-Kit and Wily-Kat are street urchins who pick-pocket to survive.  The Thundercats introduced so far, Lion-O, Cheetara, Tygra and Jaga are all well fleshed out and more multi-facted than their original counterparts.  The villains, Slythe, Grune and Mummra are all more dark and sinister than previously envisioned.  Mummra especially has a mad quality to his performance that harkens back to the 80s version, but also makes him more menacing to the heroes.  The real Panthro is only talked about in the pilot, so we’ll have to see how they introduce his character.  Lynx-O, the blind “New Thundercat” added in Season 2 of the original show is shown in a cameo manning The Tower of Omens, in a nice, if fleeting, nod to the original show.
More akin to Lord of the Rings than to the original Thundercats – the battles, the locations and the design of the new show are incredible.  Dark and violent, but also light-hearted in spots, the show definitely hits the mark.

Cheetara, Lion-O and Tygra - the Thundercats

NYC – July 2011 – Superman: The Movie Shooting Locations

•August 22, 2011 • 2 Comments

On our recent (maybe not so recent) trip to NYC, the top “to-do” on my list was to visit some of the filming locations for my favourite movie of all time – Superman: The Movie.  Here are some pics!

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station 2 - Lex Luthor's Sidekick, Otis (Ned Beatty), walks through Grand Central on his way to Luthor's underground lair.

From "Superman: The Movie"

The Daily Planet

The Daily Planet Exterior - unfortunately, it was covered by scaffolding.

The Daily Planet Exterior 2

The Daily Planet - this is the facade over which Lois Lane plummeted from the Daily Planet helicopter.

The Daily Planet - Detail - Clark Kent jumps out of one of these windows near the end of Superman the Movie. These are also the windows that General Zod and the Kryptonians blast through near the end of Superman II.

From "Superman: The Movie"

From "Superman II"

From "Superman: The Movie"

From "Superman: The Movie"

From "Superman II"

From "Superman II"

The Daily Planet Lobby

The Daily Planet Lobby 2

The Daily Planet Lobby - Globe Close-Up

From "Superman: The Movie"

From "Superman: The Movie"

The Daily Planet Elevator Bank - Clark and Lois exit these elevators.

From "Superman: The Movie"

Lois Lane’s Apartment Building

Lois Lane's Apartment (Penthouse)

Lois Lane's Apartment (Penthouse)

From "Superman II" (very dark shot of Lois' Penthouse Apartment)

This Film is Dated™ – 10.8.11

•August 10, 2011 • 3 Comments

The 10th Minute

The 8th Minute

The 11th Minute

Can you name the film?

This Film is Dated™ – 8.8.11

•August 8, 2011 • 2 Comments

The 8th Minute

The 8th Minute

The 11th Minute

Can you name the film?

This Film is Dated™ – 6.8.11

•August 6, 2011 • 2 Comments

The 6th Minute

The 8th Minute

The 11th Minute

Can you name the film?

This Film is Dated™ – 5.8.11

•August 5, 2011 • 1 Comment

The 5th Minute

The 8th Minute

The 11th Minute

Can you name the film?

This Film is Dated™ – 2.8.11

•August 2, 2011 • 3 Comments

Care of JTree

The 2nd Minute

The 8th Minute

The 11th Minute

Can you name the film?

This Film is Dated™ – 1.8.11

•August 1, 2011 • 3 Comments

The 1st Minute

The 8th Minute

The 11th Minute

Can you name the film?

This Film is Dated™ – 31.7.11

•July 31, 2011 • 2 Comments

The 31st Minute

The 7th Minute

The 11th Minute

Can you name the film?

This Film is Dated™ – 30.7.11

•July 30, 2011 • 3 Comments

The 3oth Minute

The 7th Minute

The 11th Minute

Can you name the film?

Chronicles of the Damp Seat

•July 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Part I

A couple of days ago, I had to take the streetcar to work because my bike was in the repair shop getting a tune up.  I am no stranger to taking the streetcar and the intricate subtleties of etiquette that endeavor involves.   Getting on near Woodbine and Queen on the 501 means that there are only a handful of stops before mine, so the streetcar is generally empty and one has a wide variety of seating choices to select from.  I always try to sit in the very back of the streetcar–the area with seven seats: two sets of two facing each other, separated by a perpendicular set of three seats which face the front (click here to view).  I generally take one of the three seats that face forward, either the left-hand one or the right-hand one, but never the one in the middle.  The reason I never take that middle seat is simple: human nature, or at least the general nature of the humans living in Toronto, dictates that they will always attempt to maintain a distance of one empty seat between themselves and their fellow passengers, unless they’re travelling together*.  I myself do this also.  In theory, if I was to take that middle back seat, I would essentially be taking up three seats.  In addition, sitting in the right or left seats means that I have a small section of metal that can act as a table for my coffee.

Anyway, back to the story at hand.  Prior to me leaving that morning it had been raining.  I reached my streetcar stop without incident, coffee in hand.  I got on, paid my fare and headed towards the back.  As I did so, I noticed a middle-aged woman with thin strawberry blonde hair and a significant posterior–she was lounging across all three seats at the back of the streetcar.  The image of this busted creature loomed larger and larger in my vision as I made my way to the back.  Her rear was positioned halfway between the right and center seats; her body leaned toward the left, fully over the center and left seats.  On the left seat was a paper, a ratty reusable shopping bag that contain god-knows-what, and some other personal effects.

As I drew nearer, I hoped she would get the hint and move to one of the side seats.  This did not happen.  “Do you mind if I sit here?” I feigned politeness and interest in her actual opinion; I was sitting in the right seat and she was moving, end of.

“Oh…” she looked up at me over thin-framed glasses, concerned.  “Sorry, this seat is damp,” she said, indicating the seat on which her free morning paper and crusty shopping bag were perched.

I frozen in my step by the response.  “Ah, okay.”  Not wanting to reveal my annoyance, I simply moved to one of the side seats and placed my bag on the seat next to me, my coffee on the floor.

The further along the streetcar rumbled down Queen Street, the more annoyed I got.  Passengers were getting on and the streetcar was filling up fast.  The woman refused to move.  She didn’t even adjust her position as a woman sat across from me and another woman sat down beside her.  I moved my bag to the floor, freeing up the seat next to me.

Around Broadview, a guy got on and made his way to the rear of the vehicle.  I thought for a moment he was going to sit beside me, but he didn’t.  Successful in doing what I attempted earlier, he slammed his ass down into the right seat at the back.  I’m not sure, but I think he pinched one of her ample buttcheeks in doing so.  Startled, the woman began shifting her body, taking up only two seats at that point.

Nearing downtown, this guy decided to open his window.  Most of the windows on the streetcar were open–it was tropically humid out: post-rain and 30 degrees.  Only able to handle it for a few minutes, the woman turned to him and in a polite but firm voice said, “Excuse me – would you mind closing that a little.”  It wasn’t a question.  She looked down at her paper, the corners of which were fluttering in the breeze.  Reluctantly, the guy closed the window half-way.  This seemed to satisfy her.

The streetcar eventually reached St. Michael’s Hospital and the woman exited.  The next stop after that, Yonge Street Subway, saw the guy exit the streetcar.  All was well in the world as I basked in the spaciousness of the entire rear section of the streetcar.

Then a thought struck me:  if that seat actually was damp, that woman wouldn’t have let her free morning paper and shopping bag, ratty though it may be, sit there the entire trip.  I got up and walked over.  I placed my hand on the seat cushion.

Dry as a bone.


Part II

Another rainy morning in my neighbourhood saw me taking the streetcar into work today.  Thankfully, my bike has been returned from the repair shop but riding in the rain is an unpleasant (and dangerous) prospect, especially down Queen Street East, contending with both streetcars and buses.  The 502 and 503 streetcar lines are no longer operating streetcars, opting for buses instead.  As a policy, this is fine, but it does make passing a bus and a streetcar riding shoulder to shoulder next to impossible.  Additionally, both types of TTC vehicles seem to only move with any kind of haste when they’re behind cyclists, not the opposite.  The buses will also frequently slam to the left without warning; I refuse to define a nanosecond of turn signalling, a fleeting flash bulb of orange, as a ‘warning’.

In any event, my morning routine was uninterrupted (leave house, pick up coffee, take streetcar downtown) until I entered the streetcar, coffee and umbrella precariously balanced, and looked to the back.  A familiar sight greeted me: middle-aged woman, sprawled from left to right across the three rear seats of the streetcar.  Lovely.

I approached the rear of the streetcar and contemplated my options.  I could attempt to get her to move as the last guy had done.  Although she moved slightly, he was still only seated in the back corner of the street car, flanked by this woman.  Right next to him solely so she could peruse the morning funnies without the taxing strain of actually holding the 15 page, tabloid-size paper.  I also did not particularly want to get into it with this woman.  Her rudeness was her own and she could do what she liked.  I certainly wasn’t the only person who made note of her inconsiderate behaviour.  On the previous trip, the guy beside her and the two women across from me had exchanged enough knowing glances and subtle head shakes for me to realize I wasn’t alone.

No, I wasn’t going to say anything.  I was going to sit in the same seat I occupied on the last trip and see what would happen.

I did do one thing though:  I opened the window behind me as far as it would go, flooding the entire rear of the car with a gusty blast every time the streetcar slowed to a stop.  Her already wispy hair was blowing in all directions and her free morning paper flitted and fluttered, making it nearly impossible to read.  Before you admonish my antagonizing of this woman, let me say this: the weather this morning was identical to the weather on that last trip; if anything, it was even more humid and hot.  The breeze was nice and I was sweating.  My momentary sliver of guilt was placated.

I spent most of the streetcar ride cautiously stealing glances in her direction to see if she was going to politely tell me to close my window.  There was little reaction for most of the streetcar ride.  At one point however, she did shift over and slam shut the window that was next to the one I had opened.  My window remained open; the airflow unrestricted.

As the streetcar neared downtown, she reached into her ratty, reusable shopping bag, pulled out a comb and began running it through her hair.  Normally this would kind of gross me out, but she’d already shot her wad with me etiquette-wise so it did little to change the situation.  As she combed her hair, it become increasingly difficult to get it to calm down because of breeze.  What few strands there were rose up like tube worms on the ocean floor, straining to capture any sea garbage that may go floating by.

Finally, it got to her.

“Excuse me–would you mind closing that window a little?” she asked, affecting, but not truly selling, an inquisitive tone.  Her eyes darted towards the window behind me.  I pulled the headphone just barely out of my right ear and looked at her in a “sorry, I couldn’t hear you” kind of way.

“Would you mind closing that?” she asked again, this time looking up at her Medusa-lite tresses–emaciated, red-tinted apparitions in the wind–exasperated.

I gave her a knowing nod, silently acknowledging that I had heard her message and understood.  I then placed one hand on my bag, patting it gently and said, “I’m sorry – this seat is damp.”

I flashed her a ‘you-know-how-it-is’ grin, placed the headphone back in my ear, left the window unclosed and reveled in the next three stops until she exited.

It’s going to be a good day.

*This social construct only seems to occur when the streetcar is relatively empty.  As they fill up, people tend to sit next to whoever they can.  It should be noted, however, that those three back seats of the streetcar are rarely occupied by three people.

NYC Tilt Shift

•July 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Click to embiggen

This Film is Dated™ – 26.07.11

•July 26, 2011 • 4 Comments

The 26th Minute

The 7th Minute

The 11th Minute

Can you name the film?

Thundercats Preview

•July 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’m getting very guardedly excited about this…looks awesome!

This Film is Dated™ – 08.07.11

•July 8, 2011 • 4 Comments

The 7th Minute

The 8th Minute

The 11th Minute

Can you name the film…?

North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL

•July 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The Austrian Consulate

Millenium Park – Chicago, IL

•July 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This Film is Dated™ – 04.07.11

•July 4, 2011 • 3 Comments

The 4th Minute

The 7th Minute

The 11th Minute

Can you name the film…?

Millenium Park – Chicago, IL

•July 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This Film is Dated™ – 01.07.11

•July 1, 2011 • 3 Comments

The 1st Minute

The 7th Minute

The 11th Minute

Can you name the film…?

Happy Canada Day!

•July 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Me & I

•June 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

One of my favourite ABBA tunes, performed live on the Dick Cavett Meets ABBA Special, Stockholm, April 1981)

A bit of trivia – Agnetha and Bjorn had already been divorced for 2 years at this time, but Benny and Frida’s divorce was finalized mere weeks  before this live taping.

And what the hell…here are a few other songs they performed on the same special.

Super Trouper

Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)

On and On and On

Two For The Price Of One

This has always been one of my favourites because of its ridiculous subject matter combined with one of the most excruciatingly infectious choruses the group ever concocted in their pop lab.

Miss Moneypenny

•June 30, 2011 • 2 Comments

Yes, Penny is short for Moneypenny.

The Shedd Aquarium – Chicago, IL

•June 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Grrrlfriend is servin' fish, betch!

This Film is Dated™ – 28.06.11 *New & Improved!*

•June 28, 2011 • 4 Comments

To make this a little easier, I’m going to post less than 1 per day and instead of a single frame, I’m going to take three, one for each number in the date (ie, today there’ll be a frame from the 28th minute, the 6th minute and the 11th minute…in that order).  We’ll see how it goes.

The 28th Minute

The 6th Minute

The 11th Minute

Can you name the film…?

This Film is Dated™ – 27.06.11

•June 27, 2011 • 3 Comments


Can you name the film?