Posted in Books, Film on December 31st 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: It’s a quiet New Years Eve 2005 here. I saw Rumor Has It this evening, bringing my total for 2005 to 50 films seen, the lowest number of films I’ve seen in once year since at least 1978. Since returning from NYC in October, I have read a few books, however, including Queenan Country, Talk to the Hand, The Rock Snob’s Dictionary, The Truth (With Jokes), and New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer.

As I type this, it’s a few minutes past midnight, 01 January 2006. Another calendar year begins, which always gives pause fo some reflection on what has been, and what is to come. Do you have any interesting plans for 2006. Already I have events mapped out as far as August, with conferences in Toronto, Atlanta and Baltimore, two trips to Winnipeg, and perhaps one to the west coast. Professionally, there could be a shift in my responsibilities at work, but I can’t elaborate at this time.

Wishing you a very happy, gently, safe and rewarding 2006.

Movie Awards Update

Posted in awards-watch, Film, movie-city-news, rich-cline, shadows-on-the-wall, shadows-sweepstakes on December 28th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: Looking for information on the many 2005 film awards and nominations announced to date? Rich Cline, a UK film critic and creator of Shadows on the Wall, a detailed British film e-zine, maintains The Shadows Sweepstakes, “compiling all those year-end accolades in one handy place…” The numbers for scoring used by Cline “are cumulative points based on Shadows’ complex, highly secret scoring system.” The standings as of this writing are from 24 December 2005, with 102 awards tabulated.

Movie City News, my favorite film site, has a number of charts on their Awards Watch site, including The 2005 Top Tens (the BIG chart, with total scores and average votes), The Awards Scorecard, Critics Awards (by society, etc.), The Critics (list by individual critics), and The Worst of 2005, among others.

Cline reviews Syriana, one of my favorite films of the year, and one that I found difficult to follow at times. He sums this up neatly:

Gaghan’s script wisely sticks to the human story as things twist and turn toward a series of explosive climaxes. Keeping everyone and everything straight is quite a challenge, although he gives us plenty of help. This smart, insinuating approach rewards sharp-eyed viewers with all sorts of details, layers of character interaction and powerful human emotion.

I hope to see Syriana again soon, and plan to be sharp(er)-eyed next time. In my defence, when I watched Syriana the first time, my brain was numb, having spent the previous few hours watching King Kong.

Christmas 2005 (5)

Posted in Photography on December 27th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: I was in Calgary overnight, visiting Chris and Debra. In the evening, after driving through what felt like most of a seemingly abandoned Calgary, we arrived at the cinema to watch Brokeback Mountain, a good film about a love story between two sheep herders, which as one might expect, ends tragically. We finished the evening sharing some very delicious takeout from a local Chinese food outlet. It was warm in Calgary, and I couldn’t sleep last night because the room I was in wouldn’t cool down. There is little to no snow throughout most of the southern half of Alberta, while the east is getting hammered by another snowstorm. We need snow cover to protect the land from erosion and to prevent drought. Driving back from Calgary, it was brown landscape everwhere.

I was hoping this would be a relatively quiet week. Next week, when work resumes, will be a return to choreographed insanity.

.: Reuters has issued its 40 Best Pictures of 2005. Most of the choices are good ones, with the exception of a picture of Madonna, which for me has no place on this list. Check out Time’s Best Photos of the Year 2005. (Update: I agree with Katie’s comment that the pic of Courtney Love doesn’t belong on the Reuters list as well.)

Christmas 2005 (4)

Posted in Miscellaneous on December 25th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: The last 24 hours have been spent sharing Christmas cheer, food, and company with three sets of good friends and their families here in Edmonton. Last night I enjoyed Christmas Eve dinner with the Wests, featuring a large roasted turkey, and kugel, a traditional Hanukkah dish, along with the usual trimmings and side dishes. This morning I spent time with the Kendricks, where we shared homemade waffles, and sang the Christmas hippo song a few times. This evening I enjoyed another delicious turkey dinner and great company at the Ryan/Berretti home. I have no relatives in Edmonton, but when I am with good friends such as these, it feels like I am with family. I may be a pound or two heavier at the moment, but it is a small price to pay for privilege and blessing of good friends, good company, and good food.

I spent time today on the phone, visiting with my parents in Winnipeg, my brother in Calgary, and friends in Edmonton and more distant locales. Tomorrow I will drive to Calgary to spend a day with my brother and his girlfriend, and will return on Dec 27 in the morning. Wherever you are and whatever you believe, I hope you had a great Christmas.

Christmas 2005 (3)

Posted in edmonton-police on December 24th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: Spent the morning visiting friends and exchanging cards and small gifts. Departing the west end of Edmonton, I decided to take southwest stretch of the new Anthony Henday Drive back to my house on the south side. AHD is the first part of the forthcoming Edmonton ring road, and opened a few weeks ago. Typically there is little traffic on this section, as was the case today. With a speed limit of 90 kph and nothing but wide open space, drivers tend to go a little faster (I was passed two or three times on the way home.) Such was the case today as I approached the end of the sw section, only to be waved down by the police and nailed with a $156 speeding ticket.

One policeman was hiding just inside the front door of the car, operating the laser, the other bolting out onto the highway to flag down the bad, bad speeders. What galls me is that the police would be running a speed trap on a section of new, infrequently-used divided highway, far removed from congested traffic or any dangerous driving conditions. Lord knows they aren’t stoopid: the cops set the trap near the end of the 90 klick section, knowing damn well that by that stretch most drivers would be cruising at a higher speed and paying little attention otherwise. My ticket was strictly part of a cash cow afternoon for the police, and on Dec 24 no less – the objective, ice-cold audacity of the timing is feckin’ brilliant and worthy of applause. I left wondering if this particular tag-team was behind in its dollar quota for the month, but also drained of any Christmas spirit left in me for the duration.

Was I speeding? I was driving faster than 90 kph, no doubt. Was I driving at the speed listed on the ticket? How would I ever know? The police will never let a speeder look at the laser gun, nor are they required to do so. I’ve received speeding tickets in the past, and each time have not questioned the issue. This may be the first speeding ticket I choose to challenge; I’ve already sent an e-mail to my lawyer, requesting advice on how to proceed.

My opinion of the police, which has never been positive, continues to deteriorate, especially after episodes like this. I respect what police must do, but I also believe that to be an effective police officer, it is important to have the capacity to be a bully, and more than once I have been on the wrong end of an encounter with a police officer who was in a bullying mood. It isn’t fun.

Having ruined the afternoons of who knows how many drivers today, I hope they both have a wonderful, Merry Christmas.


Christmas 2005 (2)

Posted in A-Christmas-Carol, Film, King-Kong, Syriana, The-Family-Stone on December 24th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: Just finished watching the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol, also known Scrooge. It is the version starring Alistair Sim, and is considered by many to be the classic and definitive version of Dickens’ novel, which has been made into screen versions many times over. A search of “a christmas carol” on IMDb returns 48 versions of the story. Sim’s performance never fails to move me, and this time it left me in tears by the end of the film.

.: After repeatedly stating that I would spend time over Christmas cleaning my house, I finally walked the walk today, spending three hours dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning the master bedroom, as well as purging my closets and dresser drawers of enough clothes to fill six green garbage bags, which will be donated to Goodwill sometime tomorrow. Next: the upstairs bathroom.

.: Saw The Family Stone, King Kong, and Syriana this week.

.: Tomorrow is Christmas Eve (or now, I suppose, since it’s 1205 hrs MST 24 Dec 2005.) I’m fortunate to have friends with whom I will spend Christmas Eve, and then Christmas Day, enjoying their company along with good food, drink, song and merriment. Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, and if you don’t celebrate Christmas, all the best to you just the same! 🙂

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