Wednesday, September 15, 2010

James Bond Part 3 - Goldfinger

Goldfinger has the distinction of being one of the James Bond movies that I recognize the theme song for.  Beyond that, it's where Pussy Galore and the "No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!" comes from.

Now this is a super villain with probably one of the most insane ideas ever.  I'm going to say spoiler alert, even though it came out in 1964.  At the heart of the character, we have a guy that loves gold - or at least that's what he claims.  It's easy to see why he was parodied in Goldmember, the guy is a certifiable loony.  He has huge amounts of gold stashed all over the world, and his theory is that he can make his own gold worth more by making all the gold in the US radioactive.

To do this, he intends to blow up a nuclear warhead inside of Fort Knox.

Honestly, it's the kind of plan that a gang of ten-year-old's get when they've had too much Coke and are trying to stay up all night.  Here's a better plan: ANYTHING ELSE.

And really, the guy's name is actually Goldfinger. Auric Goldfinger.  All I can say is that he must have paid REALLY well for all those guys to follow him dressed up like that, cause I can't imagine what he paid them just to not laugh at him.

Does it hold up?
Mmmm...no.  Yes, it's an interesting theory.  But more interesting in the way that a Jackson Pollack painting is interesting until you realize that it's really just a bunch of ketchup packets that have been squished on the table at a McDonald's.

But, then again, Pussy Galore.

Oh, and then there's the whole "James Bond is guilty of sexual assault".  Wow, is he ever.

Final Decision
Goldfinger is a good movie, so long as you keep telling yourself that the bad guy is mad.  And kind of a douche.  His henchmen probably called him "Golddouche" behind his back.  I would have.

One more thing I almost forgot!  When Bond walks into Q's office, Moneypenny throws his hat onto the hat-rack.  It was a little corny when it happened, but it makes sense: it's the third time people would have seen him do it, so the producers changed it up a little for a laugh.  And, oh, how I imagine the audience would have laughed...

Friday, September 10, 2010

James Bond Part 2 - From Russia with Love

I think I was maybe 12 the first time that I saw this movie.  I know for sure that I didn't get it.  I'd been watching the Roger Moore James Bond movies by this time, so From Russia with Love was just...weird.

Watching it today, I am much more impressed by it.  It introduces the gadgets in the form of the trick briefcase (which you spend the rest of the movie just waiting for him to use), and it steps up the ol' Bond sexuality.  Not that it was missing in Dr. No, it just feels like they upped it a little in the second one.  If you know what I mean.  (No, that didn't make any sense, but it seemed like something you have to say when talking about Bond sexuality).

The plot of From Russia with Love is, I think, superior to Dr. No.  It introduced the concept of a mysterious power player in the quest for world domination in the form of SPECTRE.  More importantly, the mysterious leader of the group who you never see except for when he's stroking his cat.  Heh heh.  But seriously, you don't see him.

Fun fact - looks like they did a Darth Vader with him - a guy named Anthony Dawson played him in the movie (though he's credited with a "?" - ooooh, mysterious!), but his voice was a guy named Eric Pohlmann.

Getting back to the plot, it is fairly straight forward. There are no twists like there would be if this movie had been filmed today.  But it's interesting enough that it drew me in.  I think maybe the mark of a good James Bond plot-line might be "Would this plot work if there was no James Bond?"  In this case, yes.

Another fun fact - Daniela Bianchi, who plays the Russian Bond girl that is defecting but is a spy but is actually being played by SPECTRE, is Italian who spoke almost no English.  Her voice was dubbed by Barbara Jefford.  Dubbing seems to be a fairly popular method of movie making back in the day...

Does it hold up?
I say yes, it holds up.   Connery seems a lot more comfortable in the Bond skin.  The Bond Ladies are cute.  There's a nice belly dancing scene, which while completely unnecessary was entertaining.  Even with the incredibly dated technology, this was a great movie.

Final Decision
I recommend it for anyone that likes James Bond movies.  From Russia with Love is plain old fun.  Yes, it also predates the moon landing, but it's believable, even with the old fashioned technology.  And styles.  And attitudes.

I should probably figure out some kind of rating system of some kind.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

James Bond Part 1 - Dr. No

For no other reason than we have them, we watched Dr. No last night.  Then tonight we were looking for something new to watch and settled on From Russia with Love.  This may be a little premature, but we appear to be watching them in sequence now, so I thought I'd better write something about it.

Dr. No is the first James Bond movie, starring an illustrious Sean Connery.  Okay, yes, for you film geeks out there I know that Dr. No was not supposed to be the first movie, but this is me watching and writing about it so shut up, sit down and keep reading. Or go away.

Here's a few impressions of Dr. No.
  • Wow, Sean Connery looks really young.
  • This movie is pretty old.  Holy crap, this movie is 48 years old?  FORTY-EIGHT YEARS?!
  • I don't think that all of these Chinese people are Chinese.
  • Are any of these Chinese people Chinese?
  • Okay those guys are Chinese.
  • Why would this guy build such a huge underwater complex with the intention of blowing it up later?  He must be...INSANE!
Does it hold up?
I will give this movie some points because it is the first one and they haven't quite got the swing of things.  It's good, maybe not great.  I also give it some points for blowing my mind with how incredibly old it is.  Lawrence of Arabia came out the same year as this.  Lawrence-of-frigging-Arabia.  When this movie came out, we hadn't walked on the moon yet.  Think about that.

It all looks a bit campy now, but there are still some pretty great locations - something that Bond movies do well.  Ursula Andress stands out as hot.  Also, as it turns out, we share the same birthday.  Just, you know, 40 decades apart.

Final Decision

I recommend this movie for people who are already James Bond fans.  It does hold up, but you have to keep in mind how old it is. It's interesting to see how the character was first captured on film, but I wouldn't ask someone who'd never seen a Bond flick before to watch it first.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pontypool - A Review

Pontypool came out back in 2008, but I missed it in theatres.  Dang it.

As a Canadian, I have to like this movie due to its CanCon. As a geek, I have to like this movie due to its zombies.  So as a Canadian geek, the CanCon Zombies (or CanConBies - my god, I just made up my first word for a genre) were outstanding.

There was no horde to be seen, the entire film takes place in a radio station.  The closest to a horde that we get is maybe a few dozen grouped together - but even that is enough. Truthfully, the scariest things that happen in this movie aren't pictured at all.  It's all audio, practically a radio play on the big screen.

This film had great suspense, excellent production values, and great performances by the entire cast.  To put it another way, it made me want to hear and see more from Stephen McHattie, and I haven't been able to look at him in the same way since I had to watch Life with Billy (shudder) in my Grade 12 Canadian Law class.  If you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about.  If you haven't, let me just say that there are scarier things out there than CanConBies, and unfortunately they're real.

I would recommend this movie for people who love zombie movies that have significant others that don't like zombie movies.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Outlander - A Review

You are a terrible movie made worse somehow by your innate ability to also give me a migraine.

Seriously, I got a migraine.  I don't get migraines, but watching this movie made my brain hurt more and more with every passing moment.  Then, when you thought it couldn't get worse...well, it didn't get worse, it just got LOOOOOONG.

This movie is almost 2 hours long.  Now, if this was something like Shawshank Redemption, or perhaps a Wes Anderson movie (while I don't gush over everything he does, he does make a movie that really warps time for me), then I can appreciate the extra minutes of getting to really know and explore the characters and the story from different angles.  This is a 30 minute episode of the Twilight Zone, and not one of the good ones, extended unnecessarily to a point where my brain saved my soul by deciding it'd had enough of that thank you very much, go to bed right now and sleep for 9 hours and maybe don't try this again.


I recommend this movie to people I do not like.

Monday, July 26, 2010

In which I bid a fond adieu to vacation

Today was the end of my first vacation in WAY too long.

It was a good vacation.  There was much mirth and merriment.  Friends and family were seen.  Places were traveled to and seen. Tickets were purchased. Pictures taken and souvenirs bought.

I miss vacation.  I must do that again sometime.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Awkward moments

It's been a long time since I last had a vacation.

My last vacation was in October of 2008.  Yes, that particular "vacation" lasted until January, 2009, but I only got paid for a very small part of it.

I have vacation coming up next week, and I can't tell you how much I'm looking for it.  I'm looking forward to it a lot.  Okay, that was a lot easier than I thought it would be.  We've got family visiting, we'll be doing a little traveling, doing some visiting of our own, and generally doing our best impression of people trying to relax but not really succeeding.

I can't wait to come back on the Monday and saying "oh, man, I need another day just to recover".

But this blog post isn't about that.  It's about what happened to me on the weekend.

We went to our company picnic on Saturday.  It was a hot, bright, sunshine filled day and we were really looking forward to finding out what kind of shindig the company put together for us.

I walked up to the first available person at the check in table and gave the woman working there my last name.  She seemed very happy to help me, which I took to mean that she was serious about her customer service skills.  In retrospect, it was probably something else.

She gave me our tickets and told us where everything was and I thanked her.  As I was turning to walk away, she held up her hand: "Just a second!"  She looked like she was about to give us some kind of legal disclaimer.  She took a deep breath and, with a great big smile, said...
"KONICHIWA!"
I was confused.  She looked like my cat after dropping a dead bird at my feet.  I stared.  She continued to smile.
"It's the only word I know!"
I stared a little longer.  Then I said the only thing I could think of.
"I'm...not Japanese."
Then we walked away.

She had the best of intentions, I'm sure she was trying to respect my diversity.  But what she was really saying was "You look different, and you have an Asian name, so I'm going to speak some ASIAN."  It was truly the most awkward racial moment I've had at work in recent memory.

Afterward, I realized I should have responded:
"Buenos dias!"
 Because, you know, she looked European.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Crap

I have a really nice monitor.

It was kind of a gift from one of my best friends - I mean, I paid for it but he did all the work.  No, wait, I think he paid and then I paid him back later.  The year was 2006.  Or maybe 2007.  No, wait, I'm sure it was 2006.  Anyway, it was a few years ago, back when I was working for another company in a role that brought me equal parts grief and money.  Let me put this in perspective: when this happened, I could go to the movies with my wife AND get popcorn AND a drink for just $32.50.

I, of course, was having what you could call an incredibly bad day at work.  Not like my normal regular bad days at work, but one of those epic ones where you sit there and wonder how the world got so stupid as to put you in a situation where everyone seems to be actively trying to make things worse.  A real "hey, we ran out of diesel to run the back up generator, so we just poured gasoline that we siphoned out of the cars in the parking lot. Also, we hired blind schoolchildren to do the siphoning. Well, they weren't blind before, it was mostly after they got gas in their eyes, but they're young enough to learn a trade like panhandling" kind of day.

That's when my awesome friend came to my spiritual rescue.

In a move that has gone down in history as one of the most awesome moves ever, my buddy found a website that was having a sale on 22" LCD's for $300.  I know, that doesn't sound like such a great deal now, but trust me, it was.  This was back in the day when 22" LCD's would be going for $400+.  Plasma TV's were going for $3000.  It was a crazy time.  So finding a deal like this was just... stupid.

The following is a re-enactment of what that scene probably looked like.
HIM: Dude, look what I found.
ME:  That's crazy. Nobody sells 22" LCD's for that price.
HIM: It's happening.  You are getting one of these.
ME: I can't.
HIM: You need this monitor.
ME: I need this monitor.
HIM: Damn right Skippy.  The sale starts at noon, so you need to sign in and be ready to hit submit.
ME: I can't do it.  I am in meetings all morning with crazy people.
HIM: You are getting this monitor.  I am getting you this monitor.

True to his word, he knocked on my door later and gave me the good news.  He'd waited all morning, doing nothing but making sure that the network was clear, that his browser was refreshed and that the order details were ready.

Doesn't end there.

I have to go on a business trip.  When I get back, not only has the monitor arrived, but he came over and set it up for me.  I walked in and there was a brand new awesome monitor sitting on the desk, ready to go.  Yeah, normally, we always put that stuff together on our own, but it was frigging awesome to just see it there.  Made my day.

And really, every day since.  Because when I sit at my computer, at some point I always sit back and go "damn, that's a nice monitor".  I really, really love my monitor.

And that's why I am so very sad right now.

I was watching TV and caught a flash of light out of the corner of my eye.  I looked over, and the monitor was on a black screen.  Nothing odd there, I thought.  It's just running the screen saver.  Then I caught another flash about 10 seconds later.  Strange, I thought, the screen saver isn't on.  I went over to the computer and touched the mouse to get back to the desktop.  Time to see what's going on with my screen saver.

Giant. White. Screen.

The entire screen went totally white and totally unresponsive.  I couldn't even get the menu buttons on the monitor to do anything.

It's almost worse than when I was suffering complete and utter computer failure earlier this year (which turned out to be cat related).  Okay, maybe not that bad.  I at least have all my files.  I've got the wife's monitor hooked up to it right now, and I need to put this in perspective.

I ran programs in windows that were larger than this monitor.

If I turned this monitor on its side, it would not be as tall as my old monitor.

For Pete's sake, I'm running in 1024 x 768.

You may not understand my pain, so I'm just going to put that in bold.

1024 x 768 
 
I just looked at this post in preview and my blog is wider than this monitor.

I feel like I'm going to throw up.

Anyway, it turns out that I may have blown capacitors.  According to everyone, blown capacitors are the new smoking handgun of technology.  I opened up my monitor, which I felt bad about but only until I got it open and saw how cool it was inside, and to be honest I can't really tell whether the capacitors are bad.  They look fine, but it turns out that everyone who has taken a picture of one of these tiny things has never used a camera before.  Imagine that you were taking a picture of your mother standing in front of, Stonehenge, and managed to somehow get every erect stone (heh heh) in such perfect focus it borders on 3D, but your mother is a blurry blob that only somewhat resembles a person but also resembles one of those whacky inflatable waving arm things. 

I'm going to call the shop in town that handles all the warranty work and see if they can help me out.  The monitor is way out of warranty, but I need to know if the cost to fix outweighs the cost to buy a brand new one... I mean, yeah, I love my monitor, but I'm not crazy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

What do The Twilight Zone and My First Job Have in Common?

Nothing, except I'm writing about both here.

At the place that I work, there is place that we lovingly refer to as "The Twilight Zone".  The inhabitants of this space are all ladies, with the exception of one poor guy.  Can you guess why we call it the Twilight Zone?

Quote from today: "It's hot like Jacob out there."  I can't make this stuff up.

It's a little creepy.

No, wait.  It's a lot creepy.

I refer you to the following.

It's true, you know.  The only place that guys can get away with this kind of behavior is Japan.  And man, you don't even want to know what that's all about.  Japan is one messed up kind of place.  I have a theory that all trends in pornography start in Japan.  I'm willing to bet that Rule 34 got started in Japan.  Just when you think you got a handle on what the kids are up to these days, Japan comes out with a new Playstation.  And something to do with squid.  Seriously, you don't want to know.

But getting back to Twilight.  What is up with that?  I tried reading the first book.  I watched the first movie.  My soul cried a little when I realized that an entire generation of people will grow up with this as their first exposure to vampires and werewolves.  I'm not against it or anything... Like Kevin Smith said, those young girls will grow up to be adult women at some point and they'll already be predisposed to geekdom by these books.  Still, I weep.

We had a short discussion today about what it would be like if we decided to start talking about Hannah Montana in the same way that the Twilight Zone talks about Twilight. Best comment: "I'm so over the Olsen Twins since they got old."

Aren't we all, though?  Aren't we all.

Anyway, none of this is in any way related to what I originally sat down to write about.  I wanted to talk about my first summer job.

I am not counting mowing lawns here, because while that was a job that I did in the summer, it was more of a chore that I got paid for.  It did teach me one thing, and that is that I will never be one for hard labor.  Fear of being in a prison work crew is what has kept me out of trouble.  That and my singing voice just isn't right for those songs you always hear them singing.

No, my first summer job was as a tour guide at a museum in St. Andrews, NB.  "Ooh! St. Andrews-by-the-Sea!" I hear you saying.  "That must have been lovely!"  Yeah, I was 18 and I'm from St. Stephen.  Everyone in St. Stephen knows that all St. Andrews is good for is keeping the tourist dollars coming through.  Plus, because I was still living in St. Stephen, I had to commute every morning to work.  That may also have done something to teach me a lesson about how much I hate commuting.

I also don't want to hear any "Oh, but all the girls..." speeches either.  Yes, there were lots of hot ladies there in the summer.  No, they did not come to the museum.  But when they did, you better believe I made sure I was right there to help them out in any way possible.  Both times it happened.

In my capacity as a tour guide, I got to walk people through the museum and answer any questions they may have. To accomplish this amazing feat, I was given a one or two page history that I had to memorize, and I got the walk through several times by my co-workers. 

It wasn't until my second week there that I realized that I was as much a security guard as I was a tour guide.  If there were people in the building, someone had to be with them.  We couldn't have them running around getting into who knows what kind of trouble.  Whether you wanted the tour or not did not in any way prevent me from being part of the scenery for the duration of your visit.  Either you were going to follow me, or I you.

It was not my favorite job that I've had in my life, but I do have fond memories.  I liked my co-workers, and being the only male employee had some benefits.  I got to strut my manly stuff whenever a box needed moving.  That further emphasized the lesson that I should find something not so...physical to do for a living.

Biggest lesson I learned: never work anywhere in the summer that doesn't have air conditioning. 

I don't really have any dirt to spill about my time there.  As it turns out, this story was not nearly as entertaining as I had anticipated it would be.  For a much funnier first job story, check out Melissa's blog I Smile at Stuff.  In retrospect, this whole post has just been one big commercial pushing you toward her blog.  So, go on then.  There clearly isn't anything very funny going on here right now.

Maybe we'll mess with the Twilight Zone tomorrow and I'll post how it goes.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Knight and Day: A Review

We were sitting around the house on Sunday evening wondering what to do with ourselves after an early supper.  By early supper, I mean that we had cooked, eaten and cleaned up before 5.  It turns out that the older we get, the older we get.  There were a number of theoretical activities proposed, but the winner was the one that had air conditioning and popcorn in generous portions.


I'm sure you've all played the next game more than once with your significant other.
  • The movie has to be interesting to us both - scratch Jonah Hex
  • It has to be one that we feel will not lower our otherwise low standards further - scratch Killers
  • It has to be one that we feel should have a true big screen experience - scratch Get Him to the Greek and Grown Ups
  • It has to be an early show because one of us has to work the next day - scratch Toy Story 3, The A-Team, and The Karate Kid
  • It has to be a "passes accepted" movie so we don't end up having to take out that second mortgage - Knight and Day it is
  • (Note, no "vampire" movies were ever in consideration during the making of this list.)
It's a pretty good movie.  There's lots of action, some fairly funny bits, and there's even a few twists that I wasn't expecting.  I know that a lot of people are saying favorable things about the fact that it's old school Tom Cruise in this movie and not that crazy dude.  I hate to be that guy that just goes along with it, but it's true.  He's a totally charming guy.  It made me nostalgic to see Risky Business and A Few Good Men.

There were only two things in the movie that made me groan.

First:  After a long day/week of being chased, kidnapped and shot at, you would think that Cameron Diaz would learn the lesson of doing whatever the hell Tom Cruise tells you to do.  If she doesn't stop when he says stop, she gets shot at.  I'm not disparaging anyone here, I'm just saying that my three year old niece learns lessons faster than Cameron Diaz.  Yes, there's a lot going on with all the shooting and running, so maybe her mind was on other things.

Then there's this one scene where nothing is going on and he says "stay here" and she doesn't bloody stay here.  We looked at each other in the dark of the theatre and said "really?"  It was a pretty trivial point, and it could have been done a half dozen different ways, and in the end it didn't really amount to much, but you'll know the scene when you get to it.  And I bet you'll think the same thing.

Second:  Tom Cruise's character is named Roy Miller.  SPOILER ALERT: that's not his real name.  Not really a spoiler, he's a frigging spy.  If you thought he was going to use his real name, then you are a dummy.  Yes, I wrote dummy.  Because I haven't written it in a long time but I've used it twice today already and it feels kind of good.  Try it.  So Roy's real name is Something Knight.  Yep, his real last name is Knight, hence the Knight of Knight and Day.

Cameron Diaz's character, as you probably guessed, is June Havens.  June Havens.  And that's why it's called Knight and Havens. 

You know me. You know that's the kind of thing I'll get hung up on at a movie.  Guess what her sister's name is.  April.  But it's not called Knight and Months, because that would be a dumb name, dummy.

Anyway.

Good flick.  Try not to get caught up in the end, which doesn't make a lot of sense, but let it slide and you'll feel better about the whole thing.  Kind of like when you get cut really badly and you're bleeding everywhere and everyone is excited and then later when you get the stitches and the bandage taken off and all there is is a tiny scar that totally isn't representative of the gigantic wound you suffered earlier but you at least have that great story to tell.

Yeah, just like that.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The sad truth about the impending zombie apocalypse

I like zombies.  Not in the same way that some people are enjoying the current incarnation of vampires - there's not much, but I do have some self respect.

I've always enjoyed a good zombie movie, and I've tolerated more than my fair share of bad ones.  I've read The Walking Dead and World War Z.  Like many of my fellow geeks out there, I like to believe that I would recognize the signs of an impending zombie apocalypse and that I'd be ready to do what needs to be done.

But it's time to face facts.

I am not in great physical condition.  Mentally, I'm all over it.  But if I need to run for extended periods of time (say, further than from my front door to the ice cream truck), I get winded.  Additionally, there will be a need to be able to carry a lot of supplies and equipment.  I'm not obese, but I am overweight and none of it is muscle.  Before I have to deal with any zombies knocking on my walls, I'll need to get a good exercise program started. 

There's also the whole "I'm nearly blind" thing.  I'd need to buy a bunch of pairs of back up glasses just in case.  My contacts are great and all, but anyone who wears contacts knows that you can't depend on them all the time.  Eventually, one will fall out, or you'll run out of solution, or one will rip... No, I'll need back up glasses.  And they're expensive. Since my benefits only cover new glasses every 24 months, I'll need to hold on for a while.

But those are things that I can overcome.  I can get healthier.  I can buy extra glasses.  The things I can't do?

My food rules  
I don't eat any meat that came from an animal that has more or fewer limbs than I do.  I also don't eat anything "yucky". I am nowhere near as picky an eater as I used to be, but I still don't like anything that I consider icky.  And that's usually anything that's put in front of me that I don't immediately recognize.  I am getting better, but I just can't eat seafood.  Or bugs.  Gak.

It's okay though, because eating will only make me have to use the -

Bathroom
I need a private facility.  With running water.  And that is clean.  Outhouses are none of these things, no matter how much you tell me they are.  It makes me queasy thinking about it. Not Monk level queasy, but up there.

If I could make my own fortress, I'd build a private bathroom for myself.  But I can't, because you see I -

Lack practical skills
I am not a practical man.  I am not a carpenter or a soldier or a mechanic or a hunter or a farmer or an electrician or plumber or doctor or nurse or policeman or inventor or cowboy or construction worker or architect or athlete or a scientist or a chemist or a pharmacist or anything that might have some practical application in a world overrun by the dead.

If you need a formula for a spreadsheet, I may be your man. I could help you with some TV show plots, and I'm pretty good at movie trivia. I've got a bad feeling that my role in a zombie apocalypse would be as "dead weight", "bait" or "expendable".  This will only lead to shouting and that's a problem because of my -

Attitude
I've got a bit of an attitude issue.  Hard to believe, right?  But when someone tells me to do something and I don't think it needs to be done, well... I'm probably going to get yelled at.  When you're being overrun by a horde of the living dead, you don't want someone questioning why you need more ammo.  Why would I assume I'd only be carrying ammo?  Because I've -

Never used a weapon
I picked up a bow and arrow in high school. I kind of messed around with a broom handle as a bow after watching Robin Hood when I was six.  I think I picked up a fencing foil back in university on a dare.  I held an old tommy gun that had been converted into a prop.  But I've never used a weapon.  I've never fired a gun.  I'm sure that most of the weapons that people will be using will be improvised anyway; a headshot will down a zombie, but it the noise it makes just attracts more.

Oh!  I did once pick up a hatchet.  And I hit myself in the face with it.  True story.  Didn't do any damage, just had  a weird kind of line across my face from it.  Just proves that I can't even whack someone in the face properly because I've -

Never been in a fight
Ever.  Fights with siblings not withstanding, I've never been in a fight.  I've never thrown a punch, I've never had to risk anything, I've never felt that my personal safety was in jeopardy let alone my life.  That's a bit of a wild card situation that should be fixed before I'm toe to toe with a shambler.  I'd do it, but I'm also-

A bit of a coward
I'm calling this out as a separate item from never being in a fight.  I could probably resolve that by getting into a fight.  But I know that I don't want to.  If I ever did get confronted by someone who wanted to fight me, I'd back down.  The best I could do would be run away, and as I stated above I can't do that very fast or very far.

In summary
The role that I'll probably serve in the zombie apocalypse will be that guy that shouts "Zombies!" while being devoured.  The best I can hope for is to avoid standing in front of any recently barricaded doors or windows and saying something like "there's no way they'll get through THAT!"

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Facebook wants us to be friends no matter what

Given the amount of influence Facebook has in my relationship with my wife, I thought it might be a good idea to go through mine and see if there was anything I should be wary of.

One of those things were the 10 or 20 friend requests that I've been ignoring waiting for the perfect moment to review.

Among the many requests from people that I've held deep and meaningful relationships with were some people that I crossed paths with many years ago and have totally forgotten about.  (Please note, if you received a confirmation from me today, I totally don't mean you, I mean those other people.)

Hidden, like some kind of stealthy sort of badger, was one of those "Friend recommendations".  In case you are lucky enough to never have been caught by one of these, it's when one of your other friends finds some person on Facebook and sends them to you because you know them on a deep and personal level and have been missing them all this time.

The one I got was for a person that I do not know.  Not even a little.  If I did know him, the poor brain cells that held those memories have long since died of neglect or been put to better use remembering Firefly episodes.

Anyway.

I meant to click Ignore, but I hit confirm instead.  And that's when I discovered that I can't undo that sort of thing.  When you friend someone in Facebook by accident, you better mean it.

Unable to correct my error, I sent the following message to my mistake-friend.
I got one of those "You should know this guy" things from Ken... and to tell you the truth, I don't know/remember you.  I actually meant to ignore it, but hit confirm by accident.

Tell ya what: if you do actually know me, let me know.  If not, no need to accept my friend request.  Like I said, it was an accident.  It's not a statement about your personality or your profile picture or your knowing Ken.  Really, it's me.

Well, it is kind of you too.  It's not my fault you don't know me.  Okay, I'll accept 50% of the blame.

Hope he has a sense of humor.  But if not, meh, he's no friend of mine.  Yet.  Sort of.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Complete and utter failure and also I didn't win the lottery

I don't know what happened.

My math was impeccable.  Everything was pointing toward a huge lottery win for yours truly, when suddenly I didn't.

Hard to believe, really.

Instead, someone from Newfoundland and I think Saskatchewan won.  Makes sense if you think about it.  Newfoundland's pretty much in the middle of the ocean, which means anything on top of it will get struck by lightning.  And Saskatchewan... well, I can't imagine how anyone in Saskatchewan could get hit.  I guess every highly detailed and well thought out equation has some measure for error.

In other news, happy birthday to my big brother.  For years, I lived in this man's shadow. But then he moved out of the house and stopped standing right there, and it got better.  He refuses to hunch over more, so he's still taller than I am, which means he could still cast a shadow over me.  Only I'm much more wily now.

Big happy birthday to you Dickson.  You've got a great little family going on there.  Your girls are delightful and fun and since it's your birthday I won't even make the obligatory "no way they're yours" joke.  Instead, you got a Walmart gift card.

The inscription that I put on the card was "Walmart gift cards, when only the very best is too expensive."  Here are some other options I thought of after the fact:
  • Walmart gift cards: when you want to show you care, but not enough to buy a real present.
  • Walmart gift cards: just as good as cash, but not.
  • Walmart gift cards: what better way to show someone you love like think about know they exist.
  • Walmart gift cards: when you don't know someone enough to get them a gift card for a store you know that they like, get them one for a store you know they'll end up in.
  • Walmart gift cards: it's like getting cash that can only be used in one place until it expires.
  • Walmart gift cards: because unlike real money, you'll keep forgetting this in a drawer when you go to the store.
  • Walmart gift cards: just like Canadian Tire money, only you didn't earn it.
Happy Birthday Dickson!

Kijiji Ads of 05/20/10

I should pay more attention to my posts.  Here's another one from May 20 that I forgot to hit publish on.  It's kind of short, so I was probably thinking "oh, I'll come back and finish this later."

It's later.  It's unfinished.  But here they are.



Words fail me.  And the poster.

WHY WOULD YOU POSSIBLY WANT TO REDECohwait.  I see why.


BONUS
Here's one from this weekend.

Oh yes, I can see how these are barely used and that they are worth $20.  You really couldn't convince the person that bought the first two to take the others? 

What are these for?  Besides using my imagination to scare me?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy remake? Must have...

I just found this and got a just a tiny bit excited.

The original HGTTG text adventure fills a part of my soul that I imagine memories of football games with that goofy uncle fills the souls of those more athletic and possibly healthier people that I know.  It was like reading the book all over again from a different (and at times more frustrating) angle.

Turning the game into a click and point game sounds great... but I'm going to have to try it before I say anything.  A lot of the humor that I loved from the original was because it was Douglas Adams writing it, and the man was a bit of a wordsmith (or wordsmythe, as I like to imagine would be printed on his business card).  Turning it into a point and click I fear may cause some of that awesomeness to be lost.

I loved point and click games.  I spent many an hour in certain mansions and islands.  I feel like when Batman and Robin would show up on Scooby Doo.  I just hope it doesn't turn out like Batman and Robin on Scooby Doo.  I don't think I liked that episode.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Classic Movies in Three Lines

Scott and I had an interesting conversation about whether you could boil down some classic sci-fi movies into three lines. Since I've kind of been feeling like I've been losing my memory for movie trivia (I actually forgot Ian McKellen's name - I had to refer to him as "Magneto". So sad.), this is a worthy exercise.

The key is not to necessarily think of the three most famous lines, though that's what they often are. These are lines that I think sum up each act of the movie, so think of them as linse that sum up the beginning/middle/end.

Here are some of the ones that we thought of - I can't remember all the ones we did - and some of the ones that I've thought of since.

Aliens
"Game over, man!"
"Ripley!"
"Get away from her, you bitch!"

The Terminator
"I'll be back."
"Come with me if you want to live."
"There is no fate but that we make."

Terminator 2: Judgement Day
"I'll be back."
"Come with me if you want to live."
"There is no fate but that we make."

2001: A Space Odyssey
"Open the pod bay doors, Hal."
"Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?"
"My God, it's full of stars..."

Um, really blanked on the other ones.  Scott?

Friday, June 25, 2010

The longest game of tennis ever

I was surprised to hear that the longest game of tennis ever played happened this week.  It lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes.

Rumor has it that they're coming out with a director's cut with an additional 6 hours of stuff, plus a making of documentary.

Seriously though, I know that you have to be in good shape to play tennis professionally.  Hell, I'll admit that you have to be in good shape to play the game at all.  But how much action could there have been after the first couple of hours?  And what if you happened to be one of the spectators?  How hardcore must you be to watch the same two people whack a ball to each other for that long?  It spread over THREE days!

The NASCAR people at least have the possibility of witnessing a horrible crash.

For heaven's sake, we're talking about 11 hours of PONG.  Could you play 11 hours of Pong?  Could you watch 11 hours of Pong?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Winning the Lottery

"Buying a lottery ticket?  Waste of money!  You have a better chance of being struck by lightning!"

How many people have heard that from some helpful person as you slip your 6/49 ticket into your pocket?  I've always smiled and nodded, as if to say "yes, I know it's a waste of money, but it's my disposable income and who knows?"

We listened to a piece on CBC Radio about the wave of lottery fever sweeping the country.  Everybody's buying tickets for the Lotto Max since it hit the largest jackpot in Canadian history.  We're no exception: we're in two different pools.  But it got me wondering...  You hear that statistic all the time, but how accurate is it?

I decided to do a little research with my good friend Google.

First, the chances of winning the Lotto Max.  According to the website, you have a 1:28,633,528 chance of winning the grand prize.

So, Google, what say you about this statistic?  And what are the chances anyway?

I found it difficult to find a really solid answer, but everyone seems to agree that the number is somewhere between 1:500,000-600,000 that you will be struck by lightning.  No idea how that number is generated, but it seems suspect to me.  If that's the case, somewhere between 11,000-13,500 people were hit by lightning in 2009.  That's a lot of people.  Sure, spread out across the planet it might be thin, but you'd know somebody, right?

Since I'm talking about the Canadian lottery, that would be somewhere between 56-71 Canadians being struck by lightning last year.

A search for "struck by lightning 2009" offered up 553,000 results.  That seems excessive to me.  At that rate, we'd all be living underground.  There appear to be a lot of music related hits, but removing "music" only brought it down to 312,000 hits - what I'd consider to be an apocalyptic number.

I needed to narrow this down further, and what better way than to check the source of all information Canadian - the CBC.  It makes sense: it was their story that got me thinking about it in the first place.  Check this out:
There are around two million lightning flashes in Canada every year, according to Environment Canada. Between six and 10 people die annually, while around 70 are injured after being hit by lightning.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/08/13/f-positive-lightning-explainer.html#ixzz0roVcY8Zn
Holy Moly!  It's even worse than I calculated!  Environment Canada puts the number at between 76-80 people being struck by lightning.  That means it's happening even more than I estimated.

Now back to the lottery.

Being a Maritimer, I check out ALC.ca for all my lottery needs.  This time, my lottery needs include how many people have won the lottery this year (and winning the lottery).  I quickly discover that the Atlantic Lottery Corporation has no option for finding that information easily.  I imagine that if I sent them an email, I could probably get an answer.  But I don't have time for that.  And also I didn't think about it until after I had found a better answer for my question.

I don't know how many people won all the lotteries in 2009, but I do know how many lucky people got all 7 numbers in the Lotto Max on June 11 and 18th.  Guess.  Go on, guess.

Seventy-six.

Yes, 76 winning tickets were sold across the country in the two previous draws. In two weeks, the same number of people that were hit by lighting last year won the lottery in two weeks.  And those people didn't even win the big prize of $50 million!  And this number assumes that each of those tickets was only purchased by one person and not by a group.  The number of winners is likely much higher.

Before you go all high and mighty on me, yes I know that there is a flaw in my argument.  Nobody is trying to get hit by lightning (with a few exceptions).  But that goes both ways.

In conclusion, the next time some doofus says it to me when I buy a ticket, I'm going to tell them:
"Maybe.  But why don't you run around a field in a thunderstorm and we'll see who has more fun winning?"

Comments and criticisms

Hopefully, more of the former, less of the latter.

I've gotten feedback from two people in the last 24 hours regarding their comments not showing up (which, incidentally, is a landmark amount of non-post related feedback). 

I did a couple of test comments myself and they seem to be working.  Just to be on the safe side, I disabled the word verification setting.  I had been getting some spam comments, so I turned that on.  I guess we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Are you holding on to your hearts?

Because here comes the delicious.

A long time ago I got an idea.  A crazy, mad, insane delicious sounding idea.  Like many of my ideas, it took me a long time to actually get the gumption to go ahead and do it.  Unlike many of my ideas, I actually followed through and did something.

I present to you, the Breakfast Buffet Hot Dog (name pending something more awesome).

Here's what you'll need:

Breakfast sausage
Bacon
Eggs
Hot dog buns
Maple syrup

In other words, you need all the ingredients that you'd find in a breakfast buffet.

Step 1:  Prepare the Meat

While shopping for groceries on Friday, I decided it had to be done:  I had to make this wild and crazy thing.  It was the perfect time.  We had company arriving to stay for the weekend which meant I would double the size of my taste-testing group. 

With that in mind, when our friends arrived I told everyone what I was planning for the following morning.  In addition to potentially whetting their appetite, it also meant that I really did have to get up and make it - I'd made a commitment and I follow through on my commitments (unless they involve chugging bottles of syrup, which I failed to do in near epic proportions).

It was like it was Christmas or my birthday (which, no matter how old I get or how I might say it doesn't really mean that much to me, I always end up not being able to get to sleep and I always wake up early).  It was 8 am, and it was just me and the cats moving around.

At 8:02 am, I was googling "how to cook a breakfast sausage".  As it turns out, I've only ever cooked breakfast sausages in the oven in honey garlic sauce. I was pretty sure that restaurants fried sausages, or at least that's how they look to me, so I was going to fry these guys.  Thanks to a few of the 896,000 results, I discovered that the best way to fry breakfast sausage is to put them in a frying pan and add heat.  I really think this Internet thing is going to take off.

While the sausage was cooking up, I started cooking the bacon.  No googling required.  I loves me some bacon.  The most difficult part of this entire enterprise was NOT eating the bacon before it was time.  I wanted my appetite to be at maximum, and snacking on bacon while cooking could possibly render my palate non-hospitable to my creation.

As I finished cooking the last of the bacon, I put it all in with the sausages.  This helped me save on space, freed up a frying pan for the all important next-to-last step, and also helped imbue the sausage with the essence of bacon.  At this time, everyone woke up and I found the camera to take a picture.

From Breakfast Hot Dog

This is sausage and bacon.

Step 2:  Egg Loaf

When I made wild and crazy claims about what I wanted to make in the morning, my lovely wife said she would make the eggs.  Seems she learned something when she was a camp leader that she wanted to share with us all: eggs in a bag.

Eggs in a bag are made by cracking eggs into a zip lock bag, then cooking them in hot water.  Seems reasonable.

From Breakfast Hot Dog

And darned if it doesn't work.  I can't tell you anything about how to cook it other than put it in boiling water and keep checking the bag.  When it looks done, it probably is.  They look like this when we emptied the bag.

From Breakfast Hot Dog

May I introduce you to Egg Loaf?  Egg Loaf looked perfect for my plans, but sadly, we had misjudged the sheer volume of eggs we put in.  How many eggs, you may ask, did we put in?  I cannot tell you.  It was less than 12, but maybe around 8, I don't remember. 

From Breakfast Hot Dog

In any case, poking the Egg Loaf showed that we did not cook it long enough.

From Breakfast Hot Dog

So back in the frying pan.

From Breakfast Hot Dog

And then back in the bowl.  This action shot proves that I poured the eggs back into the bowl.  Take that doubters!

Sadly, Egg Loaf was with us no more, but we have fond memories and pictures to prove that we met him.

Step 3:  We begin to turn up the awesome...

This next part is mission critical.  Without this, everything will literally fall apart.

Grab your bag of hot dog buns.  I prefer generic brand hot dog buns that are cheap and I'm willing to screw up because I can't really hurt the taste of them.

From Breakfast Hot Dog

Next, prepare eggs as though you were about to make French Toast.  But you're not going to make French Toast.  You're going to make FRENCH FREAKIN' HOT DOG BUNS!

From Breakfast Hot Dog

Dip those bad boys into the egg.  Notice that despite finishing the cooking of the eggs there is still some delicious bacon residue on the pan.  That just adds to the awesome. 

Note to everyone who's never been to our house:  That blue thing is our microwave.

From Breakfast Hot Dog

Fry those bad boys up.

Step 4:  Prepare to have your mind BLOWN

This is where it all comes together.

From Breakfast Hot Dog

Open up the bun and add egg...

From Breakfast Hot Dog

Add bacon and sausage...

From Breakfast Hot Dog

And you end up with something that looks like kind of a mess.  But that's because we're not done yet.

From Breakfast Hot Dog

Maple syrup.  Only the finest tree juice will do.

Step 5:  Have mind blown

From Breakfast Hot Dog

First bite...

From Breakfast Hot Dog

Darn right.

Cooking the hot dog buns up French Toast style seemed to be the important element here.  The bread by itself probably would have melted under the heat of the filling, not to mention the added sogginess of that much syrup.

The Verdict

It did take me about 2 hours to go from starting prep to first bite, but I was groggy and trying not to wake everyone up with banging pots (I wanted the smell of bacon to do that).

We had a lot of leftovers (I made way more than needed because I didn't know how much filling the buns would need), but the remains of the Egg Loaf were the only waste (reheated eggs? no thank you).

The general consensus was that they were delicious.  Although I have pictures of people enjoying this breakfast delight, I have decided against posting them.  Not because they are an unattractive bunch, but I feel that it is in my interest not to post embarrassing pictures of my friends.  It helps keep the pictures they have of me off the Internet.

Surprisingly, they were not that messy to eat.  I had visions of them falling apart, hence the plate practically under my chin), but spillage was minimal.  They were no problem to eat one handed.

Unsurprisingly, they were very filling.  The guys ate two, more out of excitement than hunger.  We were VERY full after, and settled on one and a half being the perfect serving size. 

The Breakfast Buffet Hot Dog: Every bite is a buffet!

That's a lame slogan, but it's the best I've come up with in two days.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dear everyone on facebook, I'm okay

A funny thing happened to me this weekend.  The punchline will be "Oh, Internet, you've done it again."  It starts off a little sad, but it gets better.

I was sitting at the ol' computer when I got an IM from an old friend.  I haven't talked to her in a while, and as it turned out I had been meaning to get in touch with her to share some sad news.  I even wrote something to the effect of "hey, I'm glad you caught me, I've been meaning to talk to you about some sad news."

See, my father had just taken his cat to the vet a week earlier for that final visit.  Yeah, that visit.  Piper was not a healthy cat.  There were a number of things that Piper was suffering from, but she was a happy cat.  On a side note, I talked to Dad later and I don't think he's been that sad in a very long time.  He really loved that cat. 

And I did too.  Because before Piper was my parents' cat, she was my cat.  I got Piper when I was in university.  I had always wanted a cat, and Piper fit the bill (she was a cat, you see).  She was a great cat.  She thought she was a dog for the most part.  She would follow me around.  If she was outside when I had to go to class, I used to have to trick her by going in the back door and then running out the front door.  Otherwise, she would trail behind me all the way to campus.  She used to do this to Dad too, later, when he would find her in the church after she'd followed him from the house. 

Piper was, in all honesty, my favorite feline (please do not read that last bit aloud to the cat that is currently purring quite contentedly on my lap).  Which was why it was so hard when I moved to Halifax.  I couldn't take her from being an outdoor cat with a giant yard and trees and shade and stuff her into an apartment where I couldn't let her out.  Yes, I know you CAN let cats outdoors in the city, but I was fond of her and wanted her to live.  After a long discussion, my father agreed to keep Piper. 

Come to think of it, that conversation went something like: "Dad, I am moving to Halifax." "Piper stays here."

And so, Piper became my father's cat. 

But before Piper was my cat, she was M's cat.  M and her boyfriend had gotten Piper when she was just a kitten (Piper, not M).  Piper was on cute friggin' kitten, let me tell you.  Fast forward a couple of years, M moves in with myself and three other folks (one of them being M's ex-boyfriend, which, wow, let me tell ya something, he's a series of posts unto himself), and Piper becomes the sixth housemate.  Before you know it, it's the end of school and M is leaving and trying to find someone to take care of Piper.

And so, Piper became my cat.

To recap: Piper is my Dad's cat, was my cat, and was M's cat before that.


M, if you're reading this I didn't save our chat window so I'm kind of winging it on memory here.  I'm really paraphrasing, but here goes.
Me:  I have sad news.
M:  Uh oh.
Me:  Yeah, Dad took Piper to the vet to be put to sleep.
M:  Oh that's sad. Thank you for taking care of her for me.
Me:  She was a great cat.
M:  So not to pry or anything, but I noticed that R (my wife) had changed her relationship status to single.
Me:  What?

Okay, it may not have been that jarring a transition, but that's kind of how it felt to me in retrospect. She thought I was about to open up about splitting up with my wife and I'm telling her about a cat.

There were a few things that went through my mind in the time it took me to respond with my oh-so-coherently worded "What?" 

Here's a fairly accurate transcript of my inner monologue:

Holy crap, did my wife leave me?  That seems like something I would remember, but I am really tired right now, so maybe I missed it.  Why am I so tired?  Oh, yes, because I stayed up until WAY too late playing video games, watching movies and drinking WAY more Coke than I should at my age at that time of the night.  I don't normally stay up that late, or sleep in this long.  Oh, that's right, I did it because R was away and I could stay up that late without feeling guilty about it.  Wait, why is R gone?  Did she leave me?  Holy crap, she's not here, she must have left me.  No, I dropped her off.  Right, I dropped her off at Brownie Camp.  Ha ha, she hasn't left me at all, she's just at Brownie Camp being awesome with kids, and I know this because I dropped her off there.  Unless, maybe she just TOLD me she was going to Brownie Camp and she had actually been planning to leave me all this time, but couldn't figure out a way to tell me...so she got me to drop her off at Brownie Camp so she could get picked up by whoever she's going to live with now?  Maybe I should check out her facebook page, maybe M was just looking at the wrong person.

Nope, no relationship status.

Holy crap I'm getting a divorce.  That's the only logical reason for this. 

Well, that or this conversation that I suddenly remembered having with R:
R: I think I'm going to delete my facebook page.  I don't like having my personal information on the Internet like that.
Me:  Makes sense.
I explained what R was doing, and that we were still very much still married.  I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that according to what information was left on R's facebook profile, she was now only 23 years old, which means that I must be pretty awesome to score such a hot young wife.  And not creepy for marrying her 8 years ago when she was just 15 or because we'd been dating since she was like 12. 

Let's just go with hot 23 year old wife.

Turns out that M wasn't the only one that thought that things must have gone sour.  R's cousin thought the same thing when she saw her page. R has since added a "Dear everyone, we're still married" message on facebook until she's decided whether to leave it entirely or not.

I'm a little scared what might happen if she deletes her profile.  I may get condolence cards.

Oh, Internet, you've done it again.

Why won't anyone buy our TV Stands?

Seriously.

Almost 1500 people have checked it out! 

Now, if I could just get each person to give me 1 cent...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Buy our TV Stands

If you've spent as much time as I have making fun of the ads people put up on Kijiji, you gotta be careful when you post something of your own on it.

That's why I spent more than 30 seconds writing this.

Enjoy!  And buy our TV stands!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Just doing our part!

A while back, I left my job.  In fact, the anniversary for leaving of said job passed and I kind of forgot about it (on account of how much more I love my new job [or jobs]).  Maybe remarking on it now may seem a little bit like bragging or beating a dead horse, but this is my blog, I trained it, I'm gonna eat it.

As you may know, the wife and I celebrated my leaving of what I shall refer to as "the job that taught me that my soul DOES in fact have a price" by going on a vacation to the other side of the continent, upgrading all the windows in the house, and renovating the basement.  In other words, we decided that the best thing to do to start off the new chapter of my life in which I wasn't making any money to spending all our money. 

Well.

The world we live in today is so different than the one that we were in back in the hayday of 2008. 

First, I have a job.  In fact, I have a great job!  I really like my job!  When people ask me if I like my job, I say "yes, I do!"  The exclamation marks are there to illustrate the change in my attitude from when people used to ask me that question (pre-2009).  The having of a job and steady, nay, frequent paycheques (not more frequent than before, just, you know, they happen twice a month and that's more often than some other things) is a nice thing, and I would like to continue that process for the foreseeable future.

Then there's the whole economy in the drain and Bush isn't a President, but Harper still is.  We also have Glee now, which makes it okay for straight males in the 21st century to enjoy musicals without being Indian. 

I'm not saying that we haven't had upheaval.  We have.  Something happened which chilled us to the bone and made us ask questions like "Now what do we do?"

Our TV died.

This TV is over a decade old by now.  It has lived a good life.  It has seen many, many programs and movies and test patterns.  It was a great and powerful TV and it has been lovely to us and we will miss it but it has to go.

We bought a new TV.  A nice, big , 42" flatscreen HDTV.  Oh, precious, precious HD.  It looks so nice.  It was so large, we could barely fit it into the E-Cho.  That's the kind of TV that you want: so big that you consider buying a bigger car just so you can get that TV home. 

With all that lovely new television real estate to view, we were presented with another issue:  our seating arrangement.  Since we moved into the basement (where the TV goes, so shall we) we have been limited to sitting in separate chairs.  Quite frankly, I missed my wife.  Snuggles are a big part of the experience, and we both missed having them.

We bought a new futon.  We went out for a couch, but after measuring the doors I calculated that the only way to get a couch in the basement would be sawing.  The only sectional that I was really interested in was that one that's built for a home theatre - the one with cupholders and a bar fridge in it - man I want that... but it costs about seventeen million dollars.  Or maybe it was two thousand.  In any case, it was more than we had in the budget for seating.  But a nice new futon fit perfectly.  And it came in a box that fit through all our doors.  And now we have ample seating for our ample rear ends.

With all this time spent in our basement in front of our really awesome TV and lounging about on our oh-so-comfortable futon, we began to wonder what people would think of us.  Oh, I don't mean us becoming recluses.  I mean how could we put a nice new TV and futon into a house that looks...well, come on, looks like that.  And the answer was we couldn't.

We bought new siding.

Well, we haven't actually bought it yet.  But it's in the backyard.  And the guy who's going to put it on the house will be here tomorrow.  Hopefully.  And then the house is going to look sharp.

I'm going to take a picture of it when it's done.  I will then put that picture up on our TV so we can enjoy all the nice things we have.

And with that, we have plugged enough of our money back into the economy.  Take that, economy. 

Take that, indeed.

Friday, March 19, 2010

It's ma birthday

Birthdays should be a time to reflect on the year gone by and look forward to the year ahead.

Instead, I shall waste the day away playing video games in my basement and eating junk food.  Maybe I'll add another deadly sin to the mix later, but that's up to Robyn.  (Don't judge me, you know how much I like it when she talks about money.)

However, for appearances sake, I will take a few minutes to write up a birthday post if for nothing else than to prove to you, my legion of followers, that I can amuse you even when I should be thinking of only myself today.  With that in mind, prepare to be amused as I think about myself.

First, reflection.

All in all, it was a pretty good year.
  • I've been promoted twice, which means that they recognize talent when they see it or they're not on to me yet.  Either way, I win! 
  • We paid off the car.  And I finally have had a car last longer than 3 years.  Maybe some birthday in the future I'll have paid off the first one...
  • Went a whole year without having to dig the house up.  And any year that doesn't happen again is a good one.
  • Got back into the ol' blogaroutine, which is nice.  Feels good to write, hope I brought a smile to your face or a laugh to your belly.  By the way, you owe me for every smile and laugh that I gave you.  I intend to collect.  Read on.
  • Got the beginnings of my man-cave going on slowly, but surely.  
  • Didn't get the swine or bird flu.  That's worth something, if only that it means I practiced good personal hygiene, and have friends and colleagues that do as well.  I'm sure it's just a coincidence if I didn't see you this year... but maybe you should take a look at your routine, just in case.
On second thought, I'd rather not speculate on the year to come.  I don't want to jinx anything.  I'll just say I'm hopeful. 

I walked away from this post for a little while because I had an idea.  And I think I got it to work. I've been meaning to do this for the last 10 years or so.  Those of you that know me already know what this is, but in case you somehow missed every single one of my birthdays over the last 15 years (ouch, that number stings a little):

The time:  March 17, 1995
The place:  K Mart in Dartmouth, NS

I was a young lad of only 18 years.  My birthday was coming up and I had received what at the time was the GREATEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER.  Something that I had hoped for and dreamed of my entire life was about to come true.

I had a front row ticket to see Weird Al Yankovic.

The ticket was a gift from my girlfriend at the time.  The fact that there was only one ticket was her very clear way of telling me that she had zero interest in attending any such "concert".  Also she said that.  But I digress.  As much of a crazy woman as she was, she did get me that ticket and that was awesome.

I went to Dartmouth and stood in line at a K Mart where Weird Al was going to be doing an autograph session.  Rock on.  I got the picture and the standard autograph. And I got something else.

I explained to Weird Al that my birthday was coming up in a couple of days and asked if he would mind wishing me a happy birthday on tape.  He was totally up for it and what transpired next has gone down in history as the single most important piece of audio tape I own.  Cause not only did he wish me a happy birthday, but he totally nailed my name on the first try.  I would have been happy if he`d just said "happy birthday dude" or even just "happy birthday from Weird Al".  But no, he listened to a fan and got my name on the first try!

I've just digitized it and now I can share it with the world! 

And here it is.

Yes, I am aware that the sound quality leaves something to be desired.

For those of you at work that can't download the file, here is a transcript. I've written it from memory because I can.

Weird Al:  I'm sorry, what was your name again?
Me:  Weh-Ming.
Weird Al:  Weh-Ming?
Me:  Weh-Ming.
Weird Al:  Happy birthday, Weh-Ming!
Me: Thank you SO MUCH!

(I cut out the Thank you SO MUCH because I accidentally turned off the recorder in my excitement.)

The concert that night was awesome, and so much better than what happened on my actual birthday (when I discovered that though I may be a fairly large fellow, I have Asian genes and alcohol tolerances to match).  Every birthday since, I have pulled this tape out of its hiding place and I play it for everyone that will listen.

And that has got me thinking:  Why only Weird Al?  Why is he the only celebrity to have wished me a happy birthday?  Sure, there are a lot of people that have never been wished a happy birthday from a celebrity, so why should I be greedy?

Because I can!

Here is my ongoing birthday wish then.  I would like birthday wishes from celebrities.  Something on video would be awesome.  Audio is good too (it's done me for the last 15 years).  Handwritten would be cool.  That would be a pretty cool collection, wouldn't it?

So next time you bump into, I don't know, Nathan Fillion or The Barenaked Ladies or Christopher Plummer (and I know you have because you've told me!), and you ask them for an autograph or a picture, how about a little shout out to your friend who's having a birthday?

Happy birthday, Weh-Ming.  Happy birthday, indeed.

On a side note, this post was going up at March 19, 2010 at 12:06 PM, the date and time of my birth.  Upon careful consideration, that seemed a little gross, so I'm posting it now.

Friday, March 12, 2010

BEWARE

Yesterday, I learned the lesson that all superheroes must learn at some point in their lives:  that I must use my powers for good and not for evil.

Scott and I ran into a friend at work who we hadn't seen for a while.  As it turns out, he had contracted pneumonia and had been out for quite a while.  He looked, well, he looked pretty bad.  Being the kind of people that we are, we proceeded to joke around. 

So we're laughing, and he's laughing, and then he's coughing, and then he's kind of laughing/coughing, and then he's sort of choking/coughing/laughing.  It's kind of a spectacle.  It being the end of our lunch break, we stood up to leave.

And that's when our friend passed out.

I'm not going to say that it was entirely my fault for getting him going... But you could draw a line from point A to B where A was jokes and B was him on ground.

To make amends, I have decided to get a second job as security in a sick kids ward.  That way everyone wins from the use of my superpowers.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The 2010 Oscars


I thought this was something completely different when I clicked on it.  Turns out it was a warning to other parents about the dangers of letting Hannah Montana come over for dinner.




I'm not saying anything, but when it comes in a size like that is it really "Baby Phat"?



Maybe, if by "special person" you mean "needs".  My guess is that somebody bought this as a GREAT VALENTINE'S IDEA, then it turned out to be what it is.



Which country exactly would this go with?  The only thing that I can think this would be good for is chasing my sister while shouting "The Claw is coming for you!"



I checked out the link to the other ads... this was the most interesting piece of the lot.  If anyone does end up contacting this person, please let me know what's in the box.

 

On second thought, don't.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Getting Edited

A good friend and I volunteered to write something for a publication last month.

It was an interesting assignment, and we had lots of time to complete it.  We took about a week and a half and put together what we considered to be some pretty good material.  It was short, it was sweet, and best of all we had written it so that it could be condensed for space as required.

Due to some unforeseen circumstances (at least by us, since we didn't see anything) the publication was delayed by a week.  Then another week.  We had begun to dispair that our efforts would ever see the light of day.

So imagine our surprise and delight when it hit our desks yesterday.  Then, a feeling that I can only imagine must be the feeling that every person out there that makes their living writing for someone else must get every damn day of their lives.

Our piece had been been condensed.  No, to say it had been condensed would be too generous.  Out of the entire item: two sentences.  And they weren't even good sentences.  I mean, they were good, we wrote them after all.  But they were from the end of the article and depended pretty heavily on the context generated form the rest of the article. 

Heartbreaking.

On the upside, there were 24 sentences in our article, so in a week and a half we generated a year's worth of content.

Being edited sucks.  But it's a necessary evil.  Until you're running your own show, you give it your best shot and hope that everything turns out all right.  And, geez, this was something that would be hard pressed to be described as a puff piece - imagine how I'd feel if it'd been a book. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How I spent $20

First of all, this isn't exactly some kind of exercise in consumerism.  Or maybe it is.  But that's not how it started.

Over the last few months, there have been a number of occasions when dropping my lovely wife off at work that she has asked me the same question that I'm sure has probably passed the lips of many other couples: "Do you have any cash?"

My answer has always been the same: "Do I ever carry cash?"

The answer to that question, is "Hardly ever."  But still, you have to hand it to her.  She is the eternal optimist.

The last time that she asked me, I was on my way to a gigantic chain store that shall remain nameless (because they have enough publicity on their own, and they aren't paying me anything) to make a small purchase.  Before you go all crazy on me, yes, I could have bought that same item at a smaller local store, except that said larger store has already put smaller local stores out of business.  But I digress.

I was paying with my debit card and the machine came up with a "Want Cash Back?" option. Hearkening back to my earlier conversation, I said yes and got $20.  My theory was that I would use the cash as pocket money, just in case something came up, or if I had to buy something that was less than $20.  Just, you know, to have some cash on hand.

Then I kind of forgot about it.  I would remember it at the weirdest times.  I'd be brushing my teeth in the morning and think "Hey, I got $20!"  Or I'd be loading the dishwasher and remember it.  Or just watching tv or playing a video game.  And after I remembered that I had it, I'd think about how I was going to spend it.

In the meantime, I had been to any number of stores for groceries, gas, general house stuff.  We'd been to craft stores and once to EB Games... but I didn't spend it, even when I did remember it. But now enough time had passed that I was beginning to feel bad about not spending it.  It wasn't exactly gaining interest while it sat in the bank, but I felt an obligation to make it useful while it was in my pocket.

On my days off this week, I decided I was going to spend it.  I looked for deals in flyers and online.  I thought about things that I wanted, maybe buy a pair of pants (cause, yes, I am happy when I buy pants that cost $20...tax in).

I did some soul searching.  And by that, I mean I forgot about it on my first day off.  But on my second day I had a plan.  I was going to have a Big Bacon Classic Combo.  Is there a more magical fast food combo?  I wish I was joking, but I actually salivated a little bit just writing it.  It is what I consider the perfect burger combo.

And that got me thinking.  There's a lot of emotion wrapped up in the food we eat.  I thought about the things that make me feel happy.  How some things have changed (like I could have blown the whole thing on candy, but now I'm older and wiser and have very expensive teeth) and how some things are the same (video games are fun!).

In the end, I made the right choice. I bought something that brought me some happiness today, and invested in a little bit of happiness for later too.  I bought comic books.  Man, I enjoy a good story.

I ended up with $12 in comics.  Let me save you the trouble of trying to do the math; $12 equals 3 comic books (I like good comics, but even cheap ones these days are pricey).  If you equate the time it took me to read through them (about 20 minutes) for the price, it's not that good a value. But I like the stories and I'm a bit of a collector, so it pleases me to own comics in good condition.  And because I'm only a bit of a collector (and not a fringe nerd), I'll enjoy these comics again in a year or two ten when I pull them out to read again.

I could have still bought that Big Bacon Classic Combo, but decided against it.  I felt that maybe it wasn't the burger itself that I wanted, it was the idea of the burger.  The emotional tie-in I had with my sense memory of it (that's a little big of my theatre education coming out there - totally worth it) was what I was craving.

Ultimately, I compromised and bought a cheeseburger platter from Deluxe. I was a little saddened that they raised the price to $4, but that was a hit I could take.  Plus, I had lunch with Scott, so my $4 also got me out of the house for a couple of hours, which was worth it.

After 10 days with $20 in my pocket, I have 3 comics, a full belly and $3.50 left.


I throw it out to you, my gibbering horde of followers:  How would you spend $20 of "you" money?  Could you make it last more than a week?

On a side note, it turns out that my inner child still wants a Big Bacon Classic Combo Coke to drink no ice.  Man, that's a good combo.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bad game, someone played a game, I want to buy your game!

First, that's a terrible game


But considering the math skills you have, I shouldn't be that surprised that you bought it.

I am surprised that you didn't open it even after you sold your Xbox.


Awkward...



And that's my final offer!

Unless, you know, you want more.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's alive... Alive!!!

My wife has beaten BioShock.

Then she beat BioShock 2.

And, right now, she has just settled down to give Fallout 3 a try.

Is it wrong that I might be just a little bit turned on right now?

Another shameless plug

This is I Smile At Stuff.

Melissa is my sister-in-law and the mother of my nieces (or in the lingo of the street: "daughters from another mother and my brother").  I wasn't aware until recently that she was blogging (or had been told and forgot, something that she's used to since she married my brother), so I was very happy to find that she is as funny on paper (figuratively speaking) as she is in person (speaking speaking).

Please enjoy.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A review of the movie "The Wolfman"

Ah, the Wolfman.

I will start by saying that The Wolfman is the third least terrifying movie monster on my list (preceded only by the Blob at 1 and the Mummy at 2).  While I enjoyed the heck out of the new Mummy franchise, I was underwhelmed by the Blob remake back in the 80's.  I was therefore going to give The Wolfman a 50/50 chance of surprising me pleasantly.

*** SPOILER ALERT***

Do not continue reading if you are going to see this movie.  Instead, skip to the very bottom of this review.

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The Wolfman is a terrible movie.


I thought it was interesting that in the opening credits it is listed as "Based on the script by Curt Siodmak".  Curt Siodmak wrote the script for the original "The Wolf Man" back in 1941.  As near as I can figure, Andrew Walker and David Self (who wrote this version) cut out maybe 40 pages of script and the space between Wolf and Man, and added a lot of space for people to get gored.

Here's the story:  Benecio Del Toro is Lawrence Talbot, a popular stage actor in the 1890's who has returned from America to tour his native England.  Upon receipt of the news of his brother's mysterious disappearance, he travels home for the first time since being sent away by his father as a child (he was the child, not his father).  There he meets his estranged father (Anthony Hopkins) and his brother's fiance (Emily Blunt) and his father's servant (guy who I've never seen before).

Then a werewolf shows up, kills a whole bunch of people, and you know what?  Nobody really cares.  At least, nobody watching the movie does.

Plot contrivances abound.  For example, how do we get Benicio Del Toro as the son of Anthony Hopkins.  No problem, tart his mother up in some kind of vaguely Spanish looking dress in a flashback, and voila!

How do we explain Benicio Del Toro's accent?  Or lack thereof?  No problem, he grew up in America, away from his family.  And because he's now a famous stage actor, he just happens to be back in the country when all this happens.

Okay, but how do we explain - (slap) stop asking questions you!  Back in the box!

Speaking of Del Toro speaking, I'm guessing that this movie probably went through a couple of re-visions.  First, they probably were going to do everything with English accents.  They got Hopkins, Blunt, and Hugo Weaving.  But then they somehow got Benicio Del Toro for the lead.  I will say this, his American accent is bang on. 

But then they decided to let Anthony Hopkins, a man who can definitely do an English accent, also go with American.

And then to, I don't know, confuse everyone just that much more, Emily Blunt slips into and out of an American accent.  And so does Hugo Weaving.  I gave up, and just decided to pretend that there was a small street urchin just off camera saying things like "Top notch, guvna!" and "Oi, e's a brute that one, eh?" and "I lost me legs!"  It made me smile.

Honestly, there are so many, many reasons not to see this movie.

On the upside, it did have effects make up by Rick Baker (who among his many movies also did An American Werewolf in London), and original music by Danny Elfman.  On the downside, I would never have known that Rick Baker was involved in any way because of the CGI.  Also, this is the first movie ever scored by Danny Elfman that I did not recognize as Danny Elfman.  And I didn't like that either of those things happened.

So there you have it.  Don't see this movie.

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Anthony Hopkins is a werewolf.

I know, I know, you hate me for ruining the movie, but swear to god, I just saved you $10 and 2 hours.  You should thank me.