Fake Reviews: The OG

March 25, 2010

Here is one of the first fake reviews I actually held onto:

The review is for a dirt bar called Michael’s located on the north side of Queen St. just east of Bathurst.

  • Reviewed by T. G. Kedleston, Esq.
  • Overall

    5.0 stars
    • Food
      4.0 stars
    • Services
      5.0 stars
    • Atmosphere
      5.0 stars
    • Price Range (per person): $11-$25
    • Visit Again?: Yes
    • Party Size: 7
  • Following several delightful games of backgammon and an illuminating discussion of post-modern Japanese metaphysics a number of the chums, myself included needless to say (ha,ha,ha!), sought out a fermented nightcap and flavorsome sustenance to bring a fitting end to our day of reconnoitering this fine city. As Fortuna would have it we stumbled across a Queen Street West gem known as Michael’s Deli. Oh what a time!

    We were promptly seated beside a window so that we could gaze at the colourful denizens of the “Fashion District” of Toronto as they passed us by. And gaze we did. It was as though we were on a moderately paced trollycar maundering around the city though never leaving the comfortable atmosphere of Michael’s motherly sanctuary.

    When we finally did return from our ethereal voyage across the city we were pleased to find that the internal surroundings of the establishment were a cheerful mixture of a nineteenth-century San Francisco opium den and Heaven as described in the book of Revelation (7:16 to be precise). The artistic milieu of the Queen Street West neighbourhood permeates itself through Michael’s decor; through osmosis perhaps? The restrooms in particular display the poetic yearnings of the tavern’s clientele triggering memories of Wordsworth and Keats. Intellectual challenges abound in this fascinating establishment as the fellows attempted to decipher the precise meanings behind these compositions. Who were they written for?

    The service is rapid and consistently comes with an extra helping of contagious smiles from the servers, no request necessary. My beef patty for instance took no longer than 90 seconds from freezer to charming blue-on-white plate. If patience is a virtue dining at Michael’s will undoubtedly bring you closer to eudaimonia! And if the speed of the service were not enough the patty itself was the perfect blending of warm seasoned middle within its golden crusty exterior. I might pithy a guess that Mutabaruka would smile knowingly at Michael’s masterful translation of a Jamaican delicacy.

    But let us not forget why we came in the first place afterall: the bountiful jugs of cold ale. Ah the brew! Clearly it was crafted from the finest malted barley, hops and yeast this great land has to offer. And my was it fresh! We playfully joshed the proprietor as to where he hid his lauter tun within such an intimate atmosphere.

    After a gaggle of laughs, melodies, and not a few too many lagers my party called it a night retiring to our temporary residences, doubtless we would all dream about the impeccable time we had at Michael’s Deli.

  • Order: Several goblets of Michael’s finest house ale and a delectable plate of spiced brisket with pastry.

Book Reviews! Part 1

March 25, 2010

When I get bored and don’t have any ideas of what to write about I tend to write bogus reviews of movies, restaurants and in this case, books.  Enjoy!

1.0 out of 5 stars Clarke out of his depth, March 25, 2010
By D. Brown (The Heartland) – See all my reviews

I’ll be frank, I did not read “Against All Enemies” nor do I have any inclination to read a bunch of clap trap written by a totally unqualified source.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved “American Bandstand” but how does being a disc jockey and television host make Dick Clark qualified to write about national security issues? And where does Clark get the gumption to criticize President Bush’s inaction in the months before September 11th when he was busy hosting “The Other Half” with AC Slater and Danny Bonaduce? I hate to break it to you Dick but Osama wasn’t hanging around 30 Rockefeller!

Honestly, if it weren’t for the highly informative “Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction” I’d have lost all respect for Clark and his otherwise tremendous career. Real bush league stuff here.

Don’t sweat this chump W.

“The Hurt Locker” is a drug

March 8, 2010

Tonight the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will likely bestow the “Best Picture” award on Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker”, a film about a United States Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal team in the Iraq War, circa late 2004.  The fact that (should voting go as expected) “The Hurt Locker” will be named “Best Picture” doesn’t much bother from me from an artistic standpoint – I’ve long recognized that the Oscars are more about marketing than truly awarding the so-called best movie, actress, screenplay etc.  This year’s award will hold even less prestige in my eyes as the field of nominees has doubled from five to ten in a naked ploy that has diluted the field from Sunny D levels to Orange Drink.

No, my problem with “The Hurt Locker” being named “best picture” is the additional legitimacy and exposure the award will bring for the film and “anti-war” films of its ilk.

There is some debate with regard to whether “The Hurt Locker” does in fact qualify as an “anti-war” film.  Some suggest that it is a straight-up action film or thriller that merely seeks to create an “accurate” depiction of the Iraq war without actually commenting on it.

To me, that’s a bunch on nonsense.

It is impossible to make a movie set during any war without commenting on it in some way – even implicitly.  Mark Boal’s script does just that in its presentation of the Iraq War.  This is evident in two key ways: the simplistic presentation of the insurgency and the moral dilemmas faced by Jeremy Renner’s explosive ordnance disposal unit.

First, the insurgency is painted rather with rather broad strokes of black.  The insurgents are portrayed as opportunistic, draconian and amoral – in short, pure evil.  While this wouldn’t be an inaccurate description of the insurgents led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which he led, it is an altogether simplistic presentation of the insurgency as a whole which is far from homogenous and has been made up of nationalists, criminals, and yes, religious zealots.  Depicting the insurgency in almost soley Rumsfeld/Hiller terms is inaccurate, though it certainly plays an important role in directing the audience’s emotional reaction in the terms they seek.

Which brings me to the second, related point, the presentation of the American EOD team as having flawed, but basically good moral character’s.  The three members of Renner’s EOD team are contrasted with the insurgency in the sense that despite the constant fear of being unable to distinguish between friend and foe in their fight against an opponent that uses asymmetrical means to confront their presence, they have a basic concern for Iraqi society.  They constantly sacrifice their own personal safety when confronting threatening situations for the better possible outcome and more explicitly, Renner’s character develops a paternal relationship with a young Iraqi merchant, a relationship that the movie shows in a very graphic way that the insurgents would never have.

Both of these points are central to the near Manichean depiction of the American military and the insurgents that it is facing.  Admittedly, the presentation isn’t completely black and white as there.  The protagonist, Sergeant First Class Will James, proves to be fearless to the point of recklessness, though he, and his teammates, maintain a strong moral chore.  Throughout the movie we learn how each character’s nerves are shattered by the pressures of the choices they have to make (is that person in their crosshairs an innocent person making a phone call or detonating a bomb?). We are fooled to some degree by the carefree attitude of Renner’s character until the epilogue when we learn that he too has been broken in a sense that was maybe not as overtly obvious as his teammates.  By the concluding shot it is clear that, unlike his teammates, Renner’s character has lost pretty much all touch with his own humanity because of his zealous approach to the war.  The ending, in my view, is quite pessimistic and displays the completion of the protagonist’s transformation to a soulless figure, despite the filmmaker’s odd choice to score the scene with celebratory thrashing power chords.

Whether the audience is left admiring the character’s final choice (I didn’t) or lamenting it, the end conclusion is the same: Sgt. Will James is meant to be regarded as a hero.  And this is my main problem with the film, and “anti-war” films in general.  Jingoistic, pro-war films of the John Wayne variety tend to be naked propaganda pieces with a blunt nationalistic message.  Since the Vietnam War, they’ve also been a rare breed as their message would not resonate nearly as well with the more skeptical modern public that doesn’t believe in the existence of such one-dimensional heroes anymore.

On the otherhand, “anti-war” films create a similar, no less heroic image of the modern fighting man through depicting the complexities he faces.  The audience is meant to have more admiration for the protagonists of modern war films because of the increasingly horrific presentations of the conditions that they face and their willingness to confront those conditions.  In the case of Sgt. James’ partners, Sgt. Sanborn and Specialist Eldridge, we admire the soldiers more because, unlike John Wayne, they have real fear yet perservere.  More than that we forgive the seemingly immoral decisions that they make and the often rapid dehumanization of the protagonists (like Sgt James) because of the morally ambiguous atmosphere they find themselves in.  Anti-war films since the Vietnam era have been constantly playing with this neo-Clauswitzian theme that victory in war requires a certain moral laxity on the part of those who fight it and they should therefore be pitied rather than bemoaned for their participation.  There is, however, a marked difference between pitying a subject and glorifying them.

In the end, I feel that “anti-war” movies, by sanctifying soldiers, merely reinforce a culture that makes war permissible.  I fear that this feeling, rather than the technical feats and the visceral experience, will be the lingering impact of a Best Picture win by “The Hurt Locker”.