Monday, April 19, 2021

Exhausted and going a little crazy in these Covid times, but at least I now have my AstraZeneca vaccine appointment

I regret really letting health care officials have it with my last post.  

Like all of you, I'm exhausted after a year plus of this pandemic.  The massive flaws of our species are on full display everywhere you look.  

The only thing that gives me solace when I observe Dumpster Fire Ontario under the current provincial government is the fact that so many other jurisdictions have it worse.   

Take most of America, which is thankfully finally using its superpower might under President Biden in the right ways and vaccinating the willing, despite the broken, misguided efforts of Republicans to undermine the recovery with their ideology.  Other countries like Brazil are in the worst of it, thanks to the deadly combination of the psychotic idiot they have as President and the 55% of the general population that voted for him in 2018, many of whom shockingly are still believing Bolsonaro’s lies and apologizing for him. 

Compared to those places, Ontario has it good.  It could be far better, of course.  The Ford government should've taken the science seriously, protected people including our most vulnerable fellow citizens over maximized profits for the few.  But if they had done that, they wouldn't be a government led by Doug Ford, after all.  No doubt, Ontarians are waking up fast to the massive deficiencies of Dougie.  Was kicking out Kathleen Wynne really worth this?  Not for a second.   

I lost it last week having to endure the technical torture of Unity Health's feeble booking site after waiting so long to become "eligible" for a vaccine here.  Then Ontario announced Sunday night that 40+ residents can get the AstraZeneca vaccine at pharmacies starting Tuesday.  And today, I'm thrilled to say I was able to find a pharmacy that would book me for one before the end of April.  I'm thrilled.  Thank you to everyone who helped me in this.  Fingers crossed that the appointment doesn't get cancelled or some other screw-up hinders my vaccination. 

I'll look forward to my first dose and joining the ranks of the luckier.  It's true so many other more vulnerable people who have to put themselves in danger every day just to make a living deserve a vaccine sooner than I.  It's also true that Ontario shouldn't be in this bad a situation.  There's no excuse one year in for our provincial government to have made this many mistakes.  Doug Ford should resign now.  

None of this is fair.  I'll try to reflect on that.  And remember to be kinder and appreciate more often the good things I do have.  And not forget we're all in this together. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Liars

 

I sent this message a few minutes ago to Unity Health Toronto, the alleged providers of health care in my Toronto Centre community.  I think it speaks for itself.  

From name: Matt Guerin

Comment: I just logged onto my three local vaccine clinic appointment booking links available through Unity Health as we've been told by your website and by local Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam that new Covid vaccine appointments are opened up every Thursday at 7 pm.

I used 3 different tabs to check each of the 3 clinics that are allegedly offering appointments now to 48 year olds in my Covid hot spot postal code M5B.  No appointments were available when I checked all three clinics at 6:45 pm (just like it's been all week). I stayed on the tabs, refreshed a few times, and kept checking and checking. 7 pm came and went.  No new appointments appeared.  There were no appointments period.   Despite being told pretty publicly that new ones would be added Thursdays at 7 pm.  I gave up at 7:31 pm. 

There have been too many lies spread around during this pandemic. Our premier is a buffoon liar who has screwed up Ontario's response to this pandemic.  Other public officials have completely let us down too, from the federal government to local officials.   I'm disappointed to find out that Unity Health is now also providing false information and false hope out there to the public when we're desperate to be vaccinated. We don't need more lies.

Shape up. If new appointments are to be added Thursdays at 7 pm but zero appear at that time, you are liars. Stop lying.

 ***UPDATE APRIL 17***

I logged onto their site tonight.  Unity Health will only book 7 days in advance.  Each day, the calendar moves one day ahead, and just minutes ago after midnight Saturday April 17, the 24th became available to be clicked on for the first time.   And wouldn't you know it - on all clinics, there are ZERO appointments available for the 24th already, even though it was impossible for anybody to select the 24th until 14 minutes ago.  

This proves my point.  If anyone can possibly get through this bullshit Unity Health has put up as our only way to book a vaccine, it's a miracle. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Corrupt Doug Ford government siding with big business interests and hurting ordinary Ontarians on Covid, Highway 413 and most everything else

Considering Doug Ford and the Ford family's criminal history, is it any surprise that Ford's Progressive Conservative government would be up to its eyeballs in corruption?  

This exhaustive investigation by the Toronto Star and National Observer lays bare the actions of the Ontario Tory government and its corrupt big business land developer friends since Ford's Tories came to office in 2018.  

Reading it makes me angry.

"Eight of Ontario’s most powerful land developers own thousands of acres of prime real estate near the proposed route of the controversial Highway 413, a Torstar/National Observer investigation has found.

"Four of the developers are connected to Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government through party officials and former Tory politicians now acting as registered lobbyists.

"If built, the road will raze 2,000 acres of farmland, cut across 85 waterways and pave nearly 400 acres of protected Greenbelt land in Vaughan. It would also disrupt 220 wetlands and the habitats of 10 species-at-risk, according to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

"One developer, John Di Poce, employed the head of the Ontario PC party’s fundraising arm for several years and three other developers employ the chair of Caroline Mulroney’s 2018 PC leadership campaign as a government lobbyist. Mulroney is now Ontario’s transportation minister and will play a key role in future decisions about the 413 highway.

"Another of the developers, Michael DeGasperis, hosted Ford and PC MPP Stephen Lecce in a private luxury suite at the BB&T Center in Miami to watch a Florida Panthers’ NHL game in December 2018. In a statement, spokespeople for Ford and Lecce said both politicians paid for their own tickets to the game and no government business was discussed.

"That was shortly after the Ford government had resurrected the proposed 413 highway."

We've already seen the impacts of "unappealable" Minister’s Zoning Orders, or MZOs, in many parts of the province where environmental laws designed to protect us all, not to mention local rules, have been washed away in favour of fast-tracking whatever land developers want.  

Now it looks likely the corrupt Tories are going to push forward with the unnecessary Highway 413, destroy acres of precious farm and wetlands, just to get their select corrupt big business developer friends even richer than they already are.   

This is hard to swallow on top of Ford's mishandling of the pandemic, constantly favouring the worst instincts of big business against the health of all Ontarians - closing down too late and then opening up too early again and again as variants of Covid-19 rip through the province.  As more enlightened leaders like New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern have shown us, we needed hard lock downs early in order to keep case levels and community transmissions down.  Not in Ontario or other places like it governed by conservatives.   Ford kept hesitating despite his fake words, implementing half measures and sowing confusion, resulting in a tragic second wave and now an exploding third wave.  The new deaths that will occur because of his incompetence, as well as the lifetime health impacts for those who survive this third wave, are his responsibility.     

Is there hope for the future?  Not as long as this pro-big corruption PC Party stays in power.  Even if Ford were somehow kicked out and replaced as PC leader, this is a party whose ties to the ultra-rich and corrupt elite in Ontario are unseverable.  For example, the ties between Caroline Mulroney and the forces pushing for Highway 413 are now obvious.  Let's not forget she's also the daughter of one of the most corrupt Prime Ministers this country has ever seen (and whose decision to sell off Connaught Labs in the 1980s undermining Canada's ability to manufacture vaccines really isn't aging well, don't you think?) 

Under our pathetic electoral, winner-take-all system in which 59.5% of Ontario voters only received 39% of the seats (Ford's Tories won a 61% majority with only 40.5% of the votes), it can be disheartening for those who want just, equitable, fair government that doesn't merely do the bidding of corrupt big business. 

What are our options?  

The Ontario Liberals, to their credit, did do some good things in office from 2003 to 2018, including reject Highway 413.  But they also did a lot of crappy and corrupt things that have yet to be forgotten by the wider public.  Every time I try to add credit to my Presto card to take transit in the GTA, I'm reminded of the crappy deal the Ontario Liberals handed to commuters here.  

New Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca, who as Transportation Minister was happy to change official plans in order to benefit himself politically, doesn't seem like the tonic we need after Doug Ford's corrupt Conservatives.  Del Duca's ties to the same land development cartels are probably as strong as Ford's.  Still, perhaps he'll draw enough votes away from the corrupt Tories to deny the PCs a majority.  

After the 2018 election, I was so disappointed with Andrea Horwath's defeat, I sort of gave up on her.  Yet, perhaps I was too hasty in that estimation.  Horwath remains as Ontario NDP Leader.  She's as clean and uncorrupt as any leader can get.  Maybe it is time for Horwath.  She's already gained so much ground, winning 40 seats and 34% of the vote in 2018, dominating urban areas of the province from downtown Toronto, parts of the 905, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Kitchener, London, Windsor and most of northern Ontario.   The road to power is a lot shorter for the Ontario NDP than it is for the decimated Ontario Liberals.  A government led by Horwath would put the corrupt interests currently controlling Doug Ford on the outside looking in. 

That could only be good for Ontario, even if just for one term.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing (voting Tory, voting Liberal) over and over and expecting a different result.  I'm thinking outside the box again.  

June 2022 can't come soon enough.  I just pray and hope that Andrea Horwath puts in the work, hones a clear and compelling anti-corruption message and platform, recruits strong candidates in crucial ridings who look like cabinet ministers, not anti-poppy nut bars you wouldn't want to let babysit your kids.   

Because without one strong option for change, sadly this corrupt present in Ontario will continue to be our future for many years to come. 

**** UPDATE April 7, 2021

This is more like it.   Too little too late?  For the sake of all of us, I hope not. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

My favourite films of 2020...

Scene from 'Supernova'
2020 was a tough year.  So was getting a chance to watch the many 2020 flicks that got released as theatres were completely shuttered, and not all flicks are available on the streaming service of our choice. 

So this list, which usually comes out late December or early January, is now here on March 1, the day after the Golden Globes.   I've stuck to my instincts drawing up this list, picking the favourites that meant the most to me personally, trying to ignore the hype which so frequently trips me up.   UPDATED April 18 with new top 10 entry, Minari.  This follows adding Palm Springs as well a few days ago.  

1: Supernova, it could've easily been maudlin and melodramatic, but instead this is one of the most beautiful portraits of love I've seen in years, and the same sex nature of the central relationship between Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci is pretty much irrelevant to the restrained proceedings, such a breath of fresh air, stunning acting and cinematography.  Love wins my heart over more acclaimed, darker stuff. 

2: Promising Young Woman, make sure you know as little as possible about this film before you see it and its shock value will be most greatly experienced.  Unforgettable.  Very dark but as timely as it gets, putting center stage a tragedy all too familiar but never quite explored like this. 

3: Nomadland, yes the hype is well-deserved, this moves at such a gentle, poetic, almost hypnotic pace, I was in awe and carried along.  Frances McDormand gives Prime Frances McDormand here and it's wonderful to behold. 

4: Sound of Metal, Riz Ahmed is sexy and perfect in this touching, deeply powerful portrait of an average guy/talented drummer who suddenly loses his hearing.  The sound editing is perfection.  I can't imagine a more compassionate and realistic portrait of something most of us would dread to experience.  A must watch.    

5: Tenet, Christopher Nolan's latest is also his most beautiful film.  If you're going to embrace a bizarre scientific premise in your story, this is how you do it.  It unfolds with little explanation and is confusing at first, but eventually I totally got into its rhythm before the end of the first viewing.  Subsequent viewings cemented my love for this film.  Oh and being able to stare at John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, not to mention a cast of other Nolan regulars, was a lot of fun.  

6: Minari, very cute, gentle, sweet, enjoyable experience watching a Korean family re-start their lives on a 1980s Arkansas farm, perfect performances from everyone

7: Judas and the Black Messiah, Daniel Kaluuya is mesmerizing in this, I could tell watching his power on screen that he'll probably be winning awards for this portrait of a natural born leader who takes his place in the Black Panther movement of the 1960s, only to be betrayed by a troubled FBI informant. 

8: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, short and sweet, makes it point and then finishes, Chadwick Boseman is fabulous here as is Viola Davis. 

9: Palm Springs, Adam Samberg is great alongside co-star Cristin Milioti in this funny, and thought-provoking piece about a man and a woman (and one or two others we see) caught in a Groundhog Day-esque time loop.  I so needed this charmer during Covid Wave Three, thank you!  

10: Violation, dark, dark, dark, but strangely satisfying, its objectification of the naked male form, also the perpetrator in this story, was long overdue.  Perhaps I would've liked it more had I seen this after Promising Young Woman.   

And the rest in order of preference: 

Monsoon, a slow burn that really drew me in, a love letter to lost homelands, this story chronicles the beautiful Henry Golding's return to Vietnam, a place he left as a child with his family.  There, he enjoys a hot affair with the stunning Parker Sawyers.  Beautiful story, beautiful cinematography, beautiful men.  

One Night in Miami, impeccably polished, well-acted and written, it's fun being a fly on the wall listening to these conversations, although I wished for more actual drama.  

Mank, interesting, but not as interesting as I was hoping, and definitely not the sum of its parts.  David Fincher has done much more interesting films than this.  

The United States Vs. Billie Holiday, Andra Day along with the incredibly hot Trevante Rhodes of Moonlight fame are awesome in this biopic about the Jazz legend's struggles with racist U.S. authorities and her own demons.   

The Mauritanian, great, restrained flick about a wrongfully imprisoned man stuck in Guantanamo for years.  Also loved Jodie Foster. 

Antebellum, fascinating, surprising allegory of how the legacy of racism impacts on the present day.  Modern day queer goddess Janelle MonĂ¡e is stunning in the lead role.

Ammonite, interesting watch, Kate Winslet can do no wrong, not riveting but still I had no difficulty finishing it. 

The Social Dilemma, a completely accessible documentary with dramatizations that make clear to the masses how social media giants like Facebook have been not only hurting all of us, but undermining democracy itself. 

The Trial of the Chicago 7, I'm not a fan of Aaron Sorkin's writing, it's always too showy, too smart for its own good.  Plus scenes in this flick kept repeating over and over, perhaps it was true to the actual trial transcripts but it was annoying.  Sacha Baron Cohen did bring his dialogue to life, as did many, but I didn't buy Eddie Redmayne in this for a second, he kept trying to seem likeable and palatable to the masses, miscast in my opinion. 

News of the World, what's with older straight male directors obsessing this year over relationships between old white straight dudes and prepubescent girls who don't speak much if at all?  Still I enjoyed Tom Hanks in this flick which was interesting some of the time.  

Death to 2020!, the tonic we needed at the end of last year.  

Love and Monsters, its special effects are superb and made me squeamish when I watched the trailer, I almost didn't start it.  But Dylan O'Brien's gorgeous talents and a friend's recommendation helped me press play and I wasn't let down.  Lots of fun.  

Still Processing, a short film by Sophy Romvari I saw at TIFF 2020, this really moved and impacted me with its unique portrait of the director coming to terms with her family's tragic past.

Greyhound, great little WWII flick about the Battle of the Atlantic, gripping, well-done. 

Uncle Frank, didn't break much ground but superbly acted and lovely all around. 

Summer of '85, the hottest French boys you could imagine have a tortured affair, mostly pointless though, so it needed either way more story or way more nudity to be memorable.  

Ava, I could stare at Jessica Chastain, aka 'Brandy' in this flick forever.  A lot of fun. 

Hillbilly Elegy, finally watched it and liked it, although Glenn Close's best moments don't happen until near the end, but was glad when they did.  Still, this movie wasn't good enough to win Oscars, so sadly Glenn will be empty-handed again on April 25, I predict.

Escape from Pretoria, lovely Daniel Radcliffe doing lovely things in a South African prison, get your minds out of the gutter. 

Cherry, I had no idea this film contains uber hottie Tom Holland's first nude scenes, which make this film a landmark.  But sadly, the film is otherwise godawful.  So I recommend you just search for the Holland nude clips online and skip this torturous depiction of two loser addicts.     

Falling, a bit too tortured of an experience, can't really recommend it. 

Songbird, not the greatest, a bit too timely this portrait of a love affair during a horrendous pandemic, but this flick gives us the first look at KJ Apa's beautiful butt, so I'll forgive it for anything. 

Rebecca, meh.

Want to see as soon as possible:

Da 5 Bloods

Pieces of a Woman

MLK/FBI

On The Rocks

The Father

French Exit

Possessor

Disappointing: 

The Boys in the Band (remake)

The Midnight Sky