I remember the first time I heard the word, "Liger". I was watching Napoleon Dynamite when he mentioned his favourite animal was a Liger, half lion and half tiger. I laughed and thought, "As if! Of course that's a made-up animal". Well guess what, I was wrong. I can't believe I'm saying this but Ligers are real. I know this seems absurd but hold on to your butts.
Liger, Liger, Liger
Ligers are the hybrid product of a male lion and a female tiger breeding. This wouldn't normally happen in the wild however it can happen in captivity.
Interestingly, Ligers are the largest cat in the world. Their size may be due to genes present in the female tiger that aren't normally expressed with a tiger mate. These cats can grow over 900 pounds! That's a giant cat!
Conversely there is a cat called a Tiglon, the product of a male tiger and female lion. However that combination is rare and unfortunately sterile.
In Canada and the United States our observances are based on Christian beliefs due to the beliefs of the colonists who settled here. Valentine's Day is no exception.
The origin of Valentine's Day is at best, spotty. It's allegedly based on a man named Valentinus who lived under the Roman empire. He was imprisoned for apparently performing weddings for Christians. At this particular time in history, the Roman empire was heavily against Christianity. Valentinus was executed but before he died he sent a note to a special girl that ended with, "from your Valentine".
To be honest, it all seems a little too convenient to be true. Especially since the story isn't agreed upon. There were quite a few men named Valentine around that particular time period and different churches across Europe claim ownership to Valentine relics. That's the thing about Christianity, in my opinion it appears to be less about fact and more about ideals of morality.
Regardless of the alleged origin, Valentine's Day has evolved from religious worship by some to a commercialized "Hallmark" holiday observed by many. In the U.S. alone it is estimated that every year 190 million valentines are sent. In the U.K. they spend around 1.3 billion pounds (over 2 billion dollars) on Valentine related gifts annually. It is without a doubt a very profitable holiday for greeting card companies.
This reason might be why many are disenchanted with observing Valentine's Day. Coupled with being single can also be disheartening. I would argue and I'm sure some people would agree, that Valentine's Day is not just about celebrating romantic love. When I was younger every year my parents bought me Valentine gifts to show their unconditional love. Apparently I'm not the only child who receives such gifts since half the valentines in the U.S. are delivered to family members, typically children.
Despite the commercialization of Valentine's Day, I appreciate celebrating a day of love. You don't have to purchase an expensive greeting card or the typical chocolates and what-not. You can do what you like! That's the beauty of it. There are no rules. You're not required to do exactly the same thing as everyone else. You can make the day special by celebrating however you like. If you're single you could do any number of things. You could celebrate your friendships or family. If you're particularly touchy about Valentine's Day and prefer to be alone, then why not make it a day appreciating yourself? Make your favourite meal, watch your favourite movie. I'll be honest, when I was single I paid no attention to it. It was just another day. Mind you, I haven't been single in awhile and I think I would spend it a little differently now.
It doesn't matter how you choose to celebrate the day or if you ignore it altogether. It's your choice. I just like the idea of celebrating love. Love is truly beautiful in all its forms. So take the opportunity to tell someone you love them.
I love you, my readers! Here's a painting I did just for you! Have a great Valentine's Day!
P.S. If you feel like giving some loving back, please fill out my brief 5 question survey by clicking on this link. (No worries, it's still on my site.)
Happy 39th birthday Jemaine Clement!
Jemaine is a terrific albeit underrated actor. I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate one of my all time favourite television shows (and musical groups), starring Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, Flight of the Conchords.
If you haven't watched Flight of the Conchords yet, you're missing out. This television series is absolutely hilarious with clever and irreverent moments. At first the music is a surprise but you inevitably end up falling in love with their folksy beats. I know I can't help singing, even long after I've watched an episode. They make songs about real life moments, making fun of the serious and dramatic.
Some of my favourite songs from their show are: "Not Crying", "Business Time", "Foux Du Fa Fa", "K.I.S.S.I.N.G./A Kiss Is Not A Contract", "Feminist Toothpaste", "Sugalumps", "You Don't Have To Be A Prostitute", "Hurt Feelings", "Too Many Dicks On the Dance Floor" and "Carol Brown". All of their songs are truly great especially since they're well timed and always hilarious.
Flight of the Conchords is the name of both the musical group and the television show. The group has been active since 1998, making appearances on shows to perform their original and amusing songs. In 2004 they had a BBC radio show and in 2007 they started a television show that ran 2 seasons.
Their fame was recognized when they made a cameo on The Simpsons in "Elementary School Musical" as two camp counselors. At first their life appears flattering until Lisa finds them living impoverished in "Sprooklyn" (homage to their show where they live in Brooklyn).
Jemaine's career was launched by his musical fame into new and interesting roles. For instance, he plays Kieran Vollard in Dinner for Schmucks. An artist in touch with his hedonistic and animal nature. His character poses a threat to Paul Rudd's romantic relationship due to his animal magnetism. It seems women just fall for him and he certainly doesn't hide his affections for them.
An even bigger surprise was Jemaine's role in Men in Black 3 as the villain, Boris the Animal. He does an absolutely superb job creating an aura of arrogance and infamy. I truly enjoyed this role. It was unexpected and well executed. It's such a stretch from his musical comedy that it was refreshing. If you haven't watched this movie yet, I would recommend it. It's definitely better than Men in Black 2.
Jemaine is not the only one making appearances on the silver screen. His musical partner, Bret has also made startling appearances. He plays a small part as an elf in Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Return of the King. He must have made an impression since he's returned in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with a speaking role and name, Lindir. He is also scheduled to appear in The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again.
I hope to see more of Jemaine and Bret in the future. They are comedic geniuses and terrific actors. I should mention, there are rumours of a Flight of the Conchords movie. I really hope it's true! For now, I leave you with "Foux Du Fa Fa".
Happy 49th Birthday Nicolas Cage! Today we celebrate over 30 years of acting. I can't believe how fast time flies. While I was looking over Nicolas Cage's filmography I quickly realized that I've seen most of his films! He is definitely one of my all time favourite actors. He is incredibly diverse and enigmatic. Not to mention humourous and committed. I believe he is truly a consummate professional.
If you're at all familiar with the Coen brothers then you know their films are always rife with bizarre circumstances and even stranger humour. In Raising Arizona (1987) Nic Cage plays an unfortunate criminal who marries an officer. Due to their inability to have children, they hatch a scheme to take a baby from a family that simply has "too many".
Vampire's Kiss (1988) is probably one of Nicolas Cage's most surprising roles. The movie is unexpected and brilliant. He plays Peter Loew, a publishing executive who thinks he's been bitten by a vampire. The entire film is chalk full of dark humour. The character eventually degrades to the point of buying cheap vampire teeth and sleeping beneath his coffee table.
Probably one of the funniest aspects of Vampire's Kiss is the surprising familiarity of a still image taken of Nicolas Cage. Somehow it has developed into a well known internet meme entitled, "You don't say?" Often used in situations where a particular statement is already painfully obvious, representing a sort of facetious humour. Truly hilarious.
If you're looking for a great action film, look no further than The Rock (1996). Starring alongside Sean Connery, Cage is a weapons specialist called upon to infiltrate Alcatraz in order to stop a rogue group of marines. They're armed with dangerous rockets capable of releasing a terrible gas that would decimate entire populations.
Not all of Nicolas Cage's films are dark. In City of Angels (1998) he is a mysterious figure living between the light and shadow. In this sweet and romantic film, playing opposite Meg Ryan, the audience is confronted with the opposition of life and death, love and loss. I've watched this movie countless times and each time I enjoy it more than the last. It will make you fall in love.
Another great film is The Family Man (2000). Nicolas Cage is Jack Campbell, a man of great wealth and success. Despite his apparent happiness his life contains little substance. In a bizarre instance he is transported to an alternate timeline where he meets the family he could have had and experiences unconditional love, changing him forever.
One of his best films by far is Lord of War (2005). Yuri Orlov is an arms dealer that makes his money by providing weapons to anyone who wants them regardless of what side they're on. Although he makes a substantial profit he begins to wonder at what cost.
If you think you've watched all of his brilliant roles, you might be wrong. In my opinion my favourite character is Joe from Bangkok Dangerous (2008). Joe is an assassin living in Thailand for a month long assignment. He is detached and withdrawn from the rest of humanity. Despite himself he becomes interested in protecting a woman he barely knows.
I could go on and on about Nicolas Cage's great film legacy but I have a feeling it would be unending. Every movie I've ever watched with him as the star has been absolutely enrapturing. I know that there are many people who say nasty things about him but those people have not achieved his success. I believe that more than anything their opinions are borne of jealousy. The internet can be cruel but it seems to me that people who spend their time putting others down are they themselves insecure.
Although some comments can be cruel, others are just silly. In a strange post on eBay, there was a photo (most likely spoofed) allegedly from "1870" Tennessee. The portrait seems to portray someone of great similarity to Nicolas Cage. It has been said that this is proof Nic Cage is indeed a vampire. While it's obviously ridiculous, it's quite amusing. One could pretend that his great success and fame is due to his innate hypnotic powers. In a way that's true, he is incredibly charismatic.
It is my honour to thank Nicolas Cage for entertaining millions. I look forward to many more films because I know I'll enjoy them.
It Could Happen To You (1994)
Snake Eyes (1998)
Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001)
Matchstick Men (2003)
National Treasure (2004)
The Weather Man (2005)
Season of the Witch (2011)
Click on the links below for special videos!
Today is Jeff Bridges' 63rd birthday! I can't believe the spectacular film legacy he's created in over 40 years (over 60 years if you count his role as an infant in The Company She Keeps). As usual with famous birthdays I would like to honour this actor by discussing some of my favourite films.
One of my favourite films of all time, without a doubt, is The Last Unicorn (I really should have put it on my Top 10). Jeff Bridges is the brave and dashing Prince Lir who falls in love with the mysterious Amalthea. Unbeknownst to him Amalthea has a secret that changes everything.
This handsome man is Jeff Bridges as Christopher Sheldon, otherwise known as "Skipper" in White Squall. A typical Ridley Scott film of epic proportions, Skipper has to help his young crew survive one of the worst possible storms in the ocean. It's inspiring, touching and suspenseful. A truly terrific film that should never be forgotten.
That's quite the Dude there, wearing a bathrobe in a supermarket and openly drinking half and half. In fact that's his name, the Dude from The Big Lebowski. His real name is Lebowski but no one calls him that and it's this fact alone that creates utter disaster. Full of unusual humour and adventure, a true Coen brothers film.
I've only mentioned a few but Jeff Bridges has been in 74 films (once again, 75 if you include his infant role). If you're sitting there counting and think wait, there's only 73, you'd be right except he just finished a movie that premiers next year called R.I.P.D. I found out by looking at his filmography on his website. I'm really excited since IMDb describes the synopsis as a movie about an undead police department known as the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.). The cast looks phenomenal as well since it's also starring Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon and Mary-Louise Parker. It's directed by Robert Schwentke who's directed RED (Retired and Extremely Dangerous), Flightplan and The Time Traveler's Wife. How have I not heard of this movie before?
Happy birthday Jeff Bridges! I can't wait to see your next film!
Today is Oded Fehr's birthday! You're probably wondering, who? Well there's a very good chance you've seen him in a movie or two. He's an actor originally from Tel Aviv, who's played many interesting roles. I recommend watching his films if you haven't already.
Recognize this man? This is Oded Fehr in the hit blockbuster (of da summah) The Mummy. (and The Mummy Returns). He plays the role of Ardeth Bay, the leader of the Medjai.
He's a courageous warrior who will do everything in his power to stop the resurrection of the vicious and evil Imhotep. Unfortunately as you can tell by the title of the movie, he is unsuccessful in preventing his awakening but does help in putting him back to rest.
It's truly a terrific adventure movie, Oded Fehr stars alongside Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. If you haven't seen this movie yet there's no time like the present! Despite it's poetic license it's still a fascinating tale about ancient Egypt, the afterlife and mysterious powers.
This man is Antoine Laconte from the hilarious film Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. Oded Fehr is an expensive male escort with the dream life. Rob Schneider tries to emulate him after he is given the responsibility of taking care of his place. Let's just say the results are comedic. An excellent, easy movie to enjoy and laugh at.
Last but certainly not least are the movies Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil: Extinction. Oded Fehr is Carlos Olivera, a strong solider part of the Special Tactics And Rescue Squad (S.T.A.R.S.) in the film Apocalypse. Unbeknownst to him there is a separate agenda to eliminate all STARS operatives. He must survive the onslaught of infected and navigate the overrun city in order to escape with his life. Lucky for him he meets Alice (Milla Jovovich).
In Extinction Carlos is helping survivors to escape to a hopefully better place while working alongside Alice. Of course things are never simple in an apocalyptic world where humans are not the only infected. With every step of the journey there are unprecedented hardships making it next to impossible to see the next day. The Resident Evil franchise is a truly powerful one, with a total of 5 movies thus far.
I recently finished reading Confessions of a Shopaholic which was lent to me among other Sophie Kinsella novels including, Gatecrasher, The Undomestic Goddess and Can You Keep a Secret.
I left Confessions of a Shopaholic to the very last since I had already seen the movie with Isla Fisher. I had no idea that the film had completely and utterly misrepresented the book. I mean, completely! I had enjoyed the movie but now that I have read the book, I will look at it differently.
So these are my confessions, describing the great injustice done to the novel. Let's just say that in some ways I'm glad I watched the movie first because otherwise I would have hated it. It is literally shocking how much the film differs from the book. What a tragedy. What I can't understand is why they decided to shift around the story so drastically?
November 13, 1887 saw one of the most notable demonstrations in history. Britain had created a difficult social situation due to a severe rise in unemployment and suspension of many civil rights, mainly affecting the Irish working class. After years of unrest it had finally reached a breaking point. Around 10 000 protesters marched on to Trafalgar Square, a symbolic meeting point of the working class and upper class. In response 2000 police and 400 troops were called in to halt the demonstration. As in every political demonstration where the working class rises to defend itself against the tyranny of government and the upper class, the police relentlessly beat down the innocent protesters. Using their fists and truncheons they beat not only men but women and children. Most were injured with at least 200 being treated at a hospital and 3 suffering from fatal wounds and dying.
I wish I could say this behaviour was abnormal. I wish I could say that this type of thing remains in the past but unfortunately it doesn't. Unfortunately it's not unusual for the government to silence its people. The working class were merely trying to bring attention to their cause. They were practicing the art of free speech and bringing to light the atrocities the government refused to acknowledge. What was their reaction? To beat down everyone who attended. It didn't matter the age or sex, they were quickly and viciously shut up.
You wish to hear examples of present day demonstrations where protesters are mistreated? They are countless but here are just a few:
- Battle in Seattle
- Quebec Student Protests
- FEMEN Protests
- Bolivia Revolt
- Occupy Wallstreet
You'll notice one thing when reading about protests, past or present, they blame the protesters. They claim that they're violent and dangerous. Sometimes the media even paints them to be anarchists. What a ridiculous notion! Just because you disagree with the government or corporation or IMF/WTO/World Bank or whatever it is doesn't make you to be an irrational anarchist. It seems like "anarchists" are the next "terrorist", the next bogeyman the government and media warns you about. Well guess what, those protesters are defending you and me. They're defending their rights. They're simply trying to bring to light an atrocity. The Bolivia Revolt is a perfect example. An American corporation attempted to privatize water in Bolivia, meaning that everyday people would have to pay for a necessity, how absurd! They were punished severely for speaking out but that didn't stop them.
Another great example is the Battle in Seattle. The WTO (World Trade Organization) was meeting to decide the fate of the world as we know it. So peaceful demonstrations took place to try and stop their globalization agenda. Yet the media reported violent protesters, which wasn't the case. Yet it made everyone assume that the protesters were evil and the WTO were innocent victims. If you knew what the WTO were doing, you wouldn't believe it.
I could go on and on about this but I think it's important that everyone does their own research. Make your own decisions. It would be your choice to decide whether or not the media evaluated situations correctly. Yet I would urge you not to believe everything you see and hear on television. Think about who controls the media, it's not the people. It's corporate entities, bending and shaping it to their will as they see fit. Makes you think, doesn't it?
If you're really interested, there are some excellent documentaries. There's one entitled "Battle in Seattle" about the 1999 protest I mentioned. More importantly there's one documentary you must watch called, "The Corporation". It's on Netflix right now (if you have an account). I highly recommend watching it.
Remember, remember the 5th of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot.
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.
Today is Guy Fawkes Day, a memorable moment in history for Londoners. In 1605 Guy Fawkes (Guido Fawkes) and accomplices, all Catholics, planned and failed an attempt to destroy Parliament along with the Protestant King James. They had disagreed with his heartless political actions so they sought to assassinate him and replace him with who they considered to be the rightful heir, his daughter Princess Elizabeth.
Guy Fawkes had been prepared to set alight barrels of gunpowder when Parliament was back in session however as left his station the night before he was arrested. Following procedure he was tortured until they were able to obtain a guilty plea under duress. His punishment would not be a merciful one. He was to be hanged, drawn and quartered along with some of his co-conspirators. (If you're unsure what that means, I suggest not looking it up. It would make most people squeamish. I can guarantee that it was the worst way to die.) Guy Fawkes knew of the horrible death that awaited him so with the noose around his neck, he jumped. This caused him to break his neck, killing him instantly.
In my opinion Guy Fawkes and the others must have had an excellent reason for attempting assassination and destroying the entire parliament. They were prepared to destroy the very symbol of their government, most likely in hopes that the government to replace him would be significantly better.
King James was by no means an innocent man. He was like most royalty: cruel, narcissistic and arrogant. For example, he was personally involved in torturing young women who were accused of witchcraft. He must have been a very unjust leader since in his first year of reign alone there were 2 separate conspiracies against him, one to kidnap him and the other to remove him and replace him with his cousin Arabella Stuart. One reason that Guy Fawkes might have been personally motivated to remove him from power were the heavy fines levied at Catholics who did not attend the Church of England (Anglican Protestant currently). Not to mention the Anglo-Spanish war that never seemed to end.
Guy Fawkes to this day has remained a notorious figure. On Guy Fawkes Day in England they commemorate the event with fireworks and burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes. This serves as a warning that the treason will never be forgotten.
In recent years the image of Guy Fawkes has transformed from heinous conspirator to folk hero. This change in perspective is due to the popularity of a film entitled, "V for Vendetta" based on an American comic book of the same name. The story features a dashing, mysterious figure named "V" who seeks to undermine and uproot the fascist dictatorship in a futuristic England. He re-tells the story of Guy Fawkes, explaining the necessity to destroy government when it is working against the people. This film has become so popular that Guy Fawkes masks (featured on V) have been used in protests against governments and other organizations. Guy Fawkes has become a symbol for freedom from tyranny and oppression.
I simply love the movie "V for Vendetta". In honour of Guy Fawkes Day I will be watching it and remembering why the Gunpowder Treason should never be forgot. To my readers, always be suspect of your government, they don't always have your best interests at heart.
"Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villian by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengence; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it is my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V."
- V for Vendetta (2005)
At the end of October my city had the pleasure of hosting the Star Wars Identities Exhibition. I had been looking forward to it since last year when I first heard they were coming. Up until today I could only imagine what wonders were in store and my goodness, it was wondrous. I visited the exhibit with my family and partner. I suppose the first thing I should mention is that I had bought tickets online for a specific time, well it turns out they were running an hour behind schedule. Even though we showed up early we didn't have the pleasure of getting into the exhibit for over an hour. What did we do with our time? Browsed the other galleries and mostly waited in line. Despite the long wait I would have to say it was definitely worth it.
When we finally made it to the front of the line we were presented with an ear piece, receiver and wrist band. Then we watched a quick 5 minute video on the quest we had all undertaken to discover the hero inside of each of us. It made me so very excited. I cannot fully explain the excitement that was coursing through my veins. Star Wars has been one of my favourite stories my entire life and here I was about to witness some of the greatest props, costumes and concept art that has ever existed. I got to see Boba Fett, C-3P0, R2-D2, Yoda, Han, Leia, Chewbacca...you name it! They were all there!
Maybe you're wondering what they meant by discovering the hero inside of us, well the wristbands we were given were more special than any of us realized. The exhibition had an interactive feature; inside were 10 stations each with a question designed to develop a personal character. You would press the wristband against an illuminated hexagon and voila! You would make choices in order to pick what kind of Star Wars character you wanted to create. The questions ranged from what species you are, how your parents raised you, what your personality was like to choosing the empire or rejecting the offer.
The best part about creating your own character was the consideration they had put into designing these questions. They actually used a variety of psychological theories that were very familiar to me. I truly appreciated that. What an awesome and brilliant idea! Not only were we able to enjoy the amazing movie props but we each created a unique and memorable character. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Star Wars Identities you should take it! I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was truly a wonderful experience.
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