Archive for October 2012

This just in – Alberta is STILL a great place to be   Leave a comment

Gosh, why would anyone want to move to or invest in Alberta?  Well, several reasons, actually.  Courtesy of the Calgary Herald, you should check out this article if you’re interested in employment, the economy, or investment.  Any bolding in the article was done by me.

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Solid economic growth forecast for Alberta into 2013

Robust oilsands investment a key

By Mario Toneguzzi, Calgary Herald / October 22, 2012

CALGARY — Alberta’s economy continues to lead the pack across a range of indicators and solid growth will persist in 2013, supported by robust oilsands investment, says Scotiabank’s Global Forecast.

The bank is forecasting the province will lead Canadian economic growth with 3.4 per cent this year followed by 3.0 per cent in 2013.

Employment growth of 3.1 per cent this year and 1.7 per cent in 2013 will also be the best in the country, according to the report.

Warren Jestin, senior vice-president and chief economist with Scotiabank, is in Calgary this week presenting his outlook on the economy.

On Tuesday, Jestin will be discussing the economy at an economic outlook put on by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. Then on Wednesday, he will be making a presentation on the economy at the annual Calgary Real Estate Forum.

“Well certainly there should be more smiles in Alberta than almost any other place in the country,” said Jestin on Monday.

Much of that is driven by the ongoing infrastructural projects. We’ve now got demographics that are very, very favourable here.

“Infrastructural investments remain strong and in fact I think Alberta’s growth may well be supply constrained. You just don’t have the skills or the infrastructure in order to push it ahead as fas as it otherwise would be. For this year, next year and probably into 2014 the odds are very, very strong that Alberta will lead the pack by a very substantial margin.”

Despite some global issues, economic growth in places like China, is good news for Alberta and “amazingly supportive for the commodities sector,” added Jestin.

While Alberta’s economy continues to be a shining light, concerns remain about the global situation which continues to underperform, said the Scotiabank report.

“First, recessionary conditions in the eurozone persist, reinforced by intensifying fiscal austerity and rising unemployment. Weakness is becoming more evident in the larger economies … Second, U.S. business activity is being undermined by the intensifying problems around the world … Third, the sharper-than-expected slowdowns in the faster-growing emerging economies of China, India and Brazil have yet to bottom out,” said the report.

“And fourth, even countries with better underlying fundamentals such as Canada, Australia, South Korea, and many of the core members of the eurozone, are being side-swiped by the fallout from reduced global demand.”

Meanwhile, the Conference Board of Canada said Monday that Canada’s domestic economy has softened and its major trade partners are too weak to pick up the slack, limiting growth in GDP to less than two per cent this year.

Canada’s real GDP growth will slow to 1.8 per cent this year, while growth of 2.3 per cent is forecast in 2013, said the board’s Canadian Outlook, Autumn 2012. If a further European sovereign debt crisis can be avoided, or at least contained — and if the U.S. begins to address its fiscal deficit seriously – Canada’s economy is expected to achieve growth of 2.6 per cent in 2014, it said.

“The influence of a grim global environment, coupled with a heavy dose of fiscal restraint, will result in Canada’s economy muddling along through the rest of this year and into 2013,” said Pedro Antunes, Director, National and Provincial Forecast.

“The swift post-recession rebound that occurred in 2010 and 2011, driven by a
strong domestic economy, has mostly expired through the first half of this year. Recurring crises stemming from the eurozone, along with some false starts from the U.S. economy, have eroded consumer confidence and slowed business investment and job creation.”

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Posted October 25, 2012 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized

I watched a lot of comic book movies… then I ranked them!   Leave a comment

I own a lot of comic books, too – well over 5,000 the last time I checked.  I stopped buying new ones a few years ago, when the Big Two (Marvel and DC) just stopped being any fun to read.  Dark, moody tales are fine in moderation, but by the time I stopped collecting them, it seemed like they all were.  They were very depressing.

I still go to the movies, though.  Just for the heck of it, I decided to rank every comic book movie that I’ve ever seen in a theatre – as big a Marvel fan as I am, though, I just couldn’t bring myself to watch either Ghost Rider flick on the big screen.  Had I, they’d be at the top of this list – I’m ranking them from worst to first.

Here we go…

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer – the sight of Doctor Doom on a surfboard worked much better on paper, and Galactus as a big fluffy cloud was ridiculous.

X-Men: The Last Stand – Cyclops dies off-screen, Professor X disintegrates, and a whole bunch of other noise and sound at the end.  Weakest X-Men movie by a landslide.

Batman and Robin – goofy as hell.  Bad casting decisions.  Terrible costumes.  Tim Burton kickstarted the franchise, Christopher Nolan put his stamp on it… and THIS crap in the middle.

Hulk – I expected a lot more for my money than an inconsistently-sized Hulk battling his father (as the Absorbing Man) and a bunch of gamma-irridated poodles.

Superman Returns – Brandon Routh was great casting.  The airplane rescue was excellent.  Otherwise, the guy seemed like a baby-abandoning milksop.

Green Lantern – note my earlier comment about Galactus.  Never make your main antagonist look like a large, immaterial… something.  That said, I hope they give GL another try.

The Punisher – maybe I’m jaded, but I thought it was just kind of boring.  Thomas Jane did what he could do with it – could have used more violence, I think.

Spider-Man III – emo Spidey.  I could be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure just about everybody in the film cried about something or another at one point.  Underwhelming end to the trilogy.

Fantastic Four – I really dig Michael Chiklis, but they have to CGI the Thing for the rebooted FF movie – doesn’t work on the big screen.  Didn’t like Doom, and the film was just… there.

From Hell – Johnny Depp versus Jack the Ripper.  Well, not exactly, but he played an opium-abusing, psychic, troubled detective, so it wasn’t that far off.

Blade: Trinity – I’m probably being too kind, given how ridiculous some of it was.  Borderline campy, and a tad overacted, but still watchable.

Daredevil – suffered from too many characters.  Daredevil, Elektra, the Kingpin, an awful version of Bullseye… they should have done an “ordinary” origin flick and been done with it.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine – Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is ideally suited for the role (his height notwithstanding).  I have higher hopes for the sequel; this movie was scatterbrained.

The Losers – yes, it’s based on a comic (DC’s Vertigo imprint).  I enjoyed it as a straight-up action movie, but not enough to move it up my list more than this.

Men In Black – yes, it’s also based on a comic, though I barely think of it as one.  Not very superhero-y, but it qualifies.  Smith and Jones worked great together.

Blade – arguably the first good and successful Marvel movie, coming out (in 1998) before X-Men or Spider-Man.  Vicious, dark, action-packed, and with just enough humor to “work”.

Hellboy – Ron Perlman was great, as were the rest of the cast.  Far from the typical comic book “leading man” type, and the movie itself was unique enough to rate quite well in my eyes.

Iron Man II – why so low?  Too many superpowered characters, the second act was kinda iffy (his dad wanted him to discover a new element?), and (unfairly) suffers in comparison to the first film.

League of Extraordinary Gentleman – I have no valid argument or reason for this ranking other than that this movie entertains me; I might be the only person on Earth who likes it.

The Amazing Spider-Man – I reserve the right to rank this higher in the future; still too fresh in my mind to qualify it properly.  Andrew Garfield > Tobey Maguire, could have skipped the origin part.

Blade II – my favorite of the three Blade flicks.  A pretty clever plot, as far as vampire plots go, and I’m eternally grateful Wesley Snipes wasn’t sparkly and translucent.

V for Vendetta – an Alan Moore adaptation – one of many on this list, in fact.  He hates having his graphic novels adapted into movies, but V was smart, well-cast, and well-paced.

RED – based on the graphic novel written by one of my favorites, Warren Ellis.  Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren blow lots of stuff up.

Captain America: The First Avenger – Chris Evans has been in approximately 137 comic book movies by now, and did very well in this one, too.  Looking forward to the modern-day sequel.

Watchmen – the movie they said couldn’t be done, got done.  They changed a key piece of the plot at the end, but full marks nonetheless for a bold effort getting it on the big screen.

Incredible Hulk – Mark Ruffalo deserves the accolades he received in his Avengers turn, but I liked Edward Norton in a differently equal way.  Strong supporting cast, too.

Spider-Man – I’m not sure it’s aging well, but when I first saw it, I was convinced that Sam Raimi and Marvel finally got it.  It was a fun, exhilarating movie.

The Dark Knight Rises – like the Amazing Spider-Man, this will probably slide up a couple of slots.  A very satisfying way to end the Nolan/Bale run, but not quite as good as the first two.

X-Men – Bryan Singer and company got the franchise kicked off very effectively.  Great casting all around, with the exception of Sabretooth… and Storm wasn’t a very strong character, either.

Thor – I didn’t expect this one to be as good as it was, but I really enjoyed it.  Chris Hemsworth nailed the part, and by this point, Marvel Studios was full steam ahead.

X2 – the best of the original X-trilogy.  I thought everyone had a (relatively) equal part to play, and the acting was top-notch.  Lagged a little in the middle, but otherwlse excellent.

Superman II – I’m 99.9% certain I saw this when I was a child, so it counts.  Christopher Reeve will always be Superman, and the fight scenes were awesome (to this little kid, anyways).

Spider-Man II – didn’t waste any time establishing the origin, or why Spidey does what he does – full-on action.  Doctor Octopus was a compelling character, and Maguire was at his best.

X-Men: First Class – I was skeptical about this one when it was first announced.  I was able to overlook the screwing around with the canon (comic) material, and greatly enjoy it for what it was.

Batman Begins – undoubtedly the best of the comic book trilogies to date, and Nolan, Bale, et al set the tone for the franchise with a gritty, quasi-realistic story.  Kudos to Michael Caine and Gary Oldman, too.

Iron Man – if it failed, Marvel Studios would have failed, and all of the other Avengers-centric films couldn’t have taken place.  Robert Downey Jr. was the perfect Tony Stark, and delivered the goods  Great story by Jon Favreau.

The Dark Knight – Heath Ledger dese
rved every award he won for his portrayal as the Joker.  Gotham got scarier, the stakes were raised, and everybody stepped up their game to improve on Batman Begins.

The Avengers – taking the top spot because I’m a Marvel guy at heart, and as mentioned at the beginning, I’ll take the “fun” movie over the creepy one.  I was mad when Favreau didn’t get the directing gig, but Joss Whedon told a great, great story.  Thoroughly entertained from start to finish. 

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Posted October 11, 2012 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized