Friday, 25 December 2009

So this is Christmas...

Been an interesting year for Tbone.  Lots of driving.  Lots of anguish.  Lots of fishing.  Finally got my wish and got a new job back in Southern Ontario.  Had reservations when I accepted this job and those have been proven valid unfortunately.  But I'm in a better place and I'll put up with it for a long long time.  Doesn't mean I wasn't looking forward to Christmas like never before.

And it's been a great day.  Got to play with my niece and watch her open her presents.  Got some quality media for the big screen back home and a nice bottle of Macallan's 12 (to be reviewed later).  But overall it's just been a nice day to unplug, relax with family, and put the brain in neutral.  The religious aspects of Christmas are lost on me but I still treasure this holiday above all others.

Hope everybody else had an equally enjoyable day.  Looking forward to 2010.  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Aberlour 16

aberlour_16jrlargeI continue on with my Aberlour obsession.  This was the second of my "quitting" scotches.  Being in a generally good mood and getting caught up in unpacking and Christmas shopping, I haven't really been zipping through the scotch like I was up in Haileybury.  But a couple trips through Toronto this weekend has definitely got me in the mood.

This elder Aberlour has a familiar sherry base to its aroma but with a strong caramel cover.  A marked improvement over its younger siblings.  Very welcoming.  The taste is smooth and a little heavy.  The bloom starts early but seems to stay around the sinuses.   There is very little burn and the caramel flavour carries through the whole tasting.

A very enjoyable scotch.  The extra years seem to have dulled some of the sharpness of the younger malts to good effect.  So much so that this is worth the $90 price tag?  No.  But a good selection if available and you have some cash to burn.

A thoughtful tasty. 4 shots!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The best of times, the blurst of times...

Been a busy couple of weeks and it's not going to let up until Christmas.  But I have to take a couple minutes to run down the past weekend.  First off, congratulations to my friend Kevin and his new wife Joanna.  Traveled up to North Bay for their wedding on Saturday.  Kev's been a good friend of mine since I pooched the bios on my workstation at John Deere by getting all geeky and trying to install some system tools that weren't compatible with the motherboard.  Ended up working in the same department a while after that and he showed me what it means to be a true IT geek.

A great guy and worthy of all the happiness in the world.  Joanna's from Northern Ontario so she's good peeps to start with.  All the best to them and their new life together.

There was some initial drama getting to the party though.  A major storm closed down the two main highways that connect the North to the South.  Many people got stranded in Gravenhurst Friday night.  I layed low Friday night and took the scenic route early Saturday morning to get to North Bay with time to spare for the wedding.

The majority of the gang made it up one way or another to the ceremony to witness our little Kev gettin hitched.  As with most religious ceremonies I waver between a sense of awe and a near paralytic panic that someone's going to notice that I'm not singing or bowing my head or sharing the peace and then ask me to leave.  But once again, I escaped religious persecution and everything went well.

And then came the reception.  Well, actually, before the reception there were a couple drinks at the hotel and THEN came the reception.  It started out as good times.  Friends hanging out, having some drinks, telling stories, laughing, toasting our bud and the new Mrs. Yarosh.  And then...well....um...I don't really know what happened after the good times.  At a certain point I'm guessing the open bar took it's toll on my teeny little brain and it gave up on taking any notes I could refer to later.

The next time my brain started registering things again it was Sunday morning.  And THEN came the bad times.  Oh the bad times.  After slowly surveying my surroundings, I determined I was, in fact, in my hotel room and it appeared to be nine in the morning.  It also appeared that my brain was doing its best to take leave of my skull by tunneling directly through my forehead.  I buried my head in the pillow to try and prevent its escape but the little bugger was being persistent.  Maybe I could drown the fucker.  I staggered to the bathroom to get a glass of water.  Big mistake.  Apparently my stomach was pissed at me too and wasn't interested in accepting any visitors.  I'll spare the reader any further details of a morning where I was coming to the realization that I had very likely permanently damaged my stupid self this time.

Like any wounded animal, my primary instinct was to return home where I could either nurse myself back to health or pass away in comfortable surroundings.  Around noon, I'd mustered enough will and self-respect that I could drag my pickled carcass out to my car.  Thank god for automatic check out.  I don't think I could have handled any form of conversation with a clerk.

Clerk: "And how was your stay sir?"

Me: *yak*

I did run in to some friends in the parking lot.  They seemed to greet me with good humour and then concern as they grasped my current physical condition.  They filled me in on some details of the previous night.  The mention of "dancing" and "Madonna" and "caught on camera" did nothing to improve my mood.  There was no mention of damage to other people or property though and that made me feel a little better.  My friends were kind enough to get me some ginger ale and water before wishing me luck on what was obviously going to be a difficult journey.

And a difficult journey it was.  I tried some ginger ale once I got out of North Bay.  And then spent the next hour trying to keep that one little sip from coming back up.  Another hour after that and things were starting to look up again.  I managed half a bottle of water and was now sitting upright instead of using the steering wheel to keep my face pointing forwards.  By the time I got home I had stabilized at a "normal" hungover state.  Managed to have some dinner AND keep it down and then some sleep to make it all better.

Sleep helped but didn't fix things near enough.  Four days later and I'm still a little woozy.  One for the books to be sure.

But, again,  this weekend wasn't about me and my record breaking hangover.  Cheers to Kevin and Joanna.  Thank you for inviting me and hopefully I didn't do anything to spoil the day.  Thanks also to James and Elisa for getting me back to the hotel and for the rehydration attempt on Sunday.  Special thanks to Jen too who apparently did most of the tbone babysitting and made sure I didn't fall asleep in a snowbank or the hotel stairwell.  Jen, please destroy the photos.

I won't say anything as silly as "I'll never drink again" but, man, did that one make me think about it long and hard.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Clynelish Distiller's Edition

clynelish_de1991Yah, I moved within a click of a decent LCBO and my scotch embargo crumbled.  I really wanted to get a special scotch to celebrate my self-induced departure from Boart.  While the selection at my new LCBO was impressive, it didn't have that 100-200 buck range I was really hoping for.  I settled for a couple $80 bottles and one of those was a bottle I hadn't heard of before.  The Clynelish Distiller's Edition!

The container was pretty high on the fact that this was a highland malt WITH coastal influences.  This scared me.  Highland malts are usually pretty dependable for my palate but comparisons to island scotches really shrink my testes.  But I was intrigued and dove right in.

The smell only fuelled the intrigue.  No peat, no salt.  A solid butterscotch but absent any sweetness.  Very promising.  The taste is a slow bloom but worth the wait.  A smooth delivery that grows into a greater representation of that butterscotch smell.  While the taste is blooming the slug of scotch flows smoothly down to the belly and sets off a small fire bomb of heat.  It all combines into a perfect scotch tasting experience.  It may be too pricey for a daily drinker but it's still one of the greatest scotches I've had in recent memory.  For that I forgive the price.

A perfect drink! 5 shots!

Monday, 30 November 2009

Day 1

Started the new job at the Argo plant today.  It was quite a relief to find a bunch of normal people there.  Spent most of the day reading up on Argos and HR policies.  I was pleasantly surprised to have an orientation with a competent HR person.  I was beginning to think such a creature only existed in fairy tales.  The rest of the place seems an odd mix of old and new technologies.  Still a lot of paper shuffling but a solid intranet information base and the best MRP implementation I've seen yet.  There was one horrible moment when my new boss showed me my new desk and there wasn't a phone on it.  I flashed back to my nightmare at Fanotech where a phone was also missing when I started and would never appear.  Happily the missing phone at Argo was due to a miscommunication with IT and not due to any fanatical obsession to control communication in and out of the plant.  So, it's looking good and I hope to dig in sooner than later.  A relief all around.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

First Day Jitters

First day at the new job tomorrow.  Dear god I hope this one sticks....

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Chicken Bowl Update

It's been a couple hours now.  What was once a warm, comforting, mush is now a 10 pound brick that has taken up residence in the pit of my stomach.  I don't feel good at all.  Why?  Why did I do this?  Why didn't I listen to Patton Oswalt?  Oh, it's all gone horribly wrong.  Damn you Colonel Sanders!

Chicken Bowl

I remember the initial marketing campaign for the KFC chicken bowl.  I found it strangely intriguing.  It looked like they were trying to sell me a bowl of their left-overs.  But every now and then I do enjoy a bowl of left-over mush.  It's just that, usually, it's MY left-overs.  I'm not a huge KFC fan.  Every couple years, nostalgia clouds my mind, and I go get a bucket o' greasy chicken but that's it.  And their bowl of mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, cheese, and deep fried chicken bits wasn't going to draw me in any more frequently.

It also didn't help that I read a fairly damning article written by the comedian Patton Oswalt at the Onion AV Club.  His description of the chicken bowl as "a failure pile in a sadness bowl" pretty much ensured that I would never give in to my baser desires and actually eat one of these things.

Until today.  I'm killing time in Kitchener waiting for the movers to show up and I figured, what the hell?  If I don't have one now, I probably never will.  So I stopped by and picked one up.

And it's really not that bad!  I probably will never order another one but as far as fast food goes, this was pretty damn satisfying.  Actually the worst part of the whole deal was the chicken.  If you're going to douse a deep-fried something with gravy, that something better be pretty damn crispy.  These chicken bits were not.  The breading was just a little more mush to blend in with all the other mush.  The bowl would have been much better with some pan fried chicken bits without the breading.

So, I survived the bowl and would actually recommend it if KFC is your only option for food on the road.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Return of TBone!

Over 12 years ago I left the collegiate confines of Waterloo to start my engineering career.  And now I'm back.  Hopefully for a while.  Cause man do I hate moving.

Will be living in Kitchener and working in New Hamburg.  Found a place near the expressway and minutes from my brother and his family.  Got a couple days to relax before the movers show up with my stuff which also gives me some time to get utilities set up and get those addresses updated.  Some random thoughts on my first morning back in the K-Dub:

  • Movers are awesome.  Well worth the money.  Just got out of their way and let them get the stuff out of there.

  • Downtown Kitchener is just as sketchy as I remembered.  But the new sidewalks are nice!

  • Parking your vehicle, filled with those possessions too valuable to leave with the movers, next to a homeless guy is very stressful

  • It's very hard to not stare at the woman waiting at the bus stop, yelling at no one in particular, with no cell phone visible

  • Kitchener has one of the best LCBO's for single malt scotch.  I'm about to fall off the wagon.  AND they are open from 9:30 to 10:00!

  • Kitchener utilities is about as technologically backwards as they could be.  No online services, no phone services.  Gotta show up in person.  I was surprised to find they actually had computers when I showed up.

  • Sushi restaurants, Best Buy, modern movie theaters, friends, family....man I'm pumped about this move


Saturday, 21 November 2009

New Moon

Drove up town New Liskeard today.  There is a movie theatre in town.  Never been in it but there is one in town.  It was around noon and I was surprised to see an actual line up of people outside this dinky little two screen theatre.  Lived here 2 1/2 years and have never seen a line up at the theatre.  Thought it was odd but kept driving.  On my way back I drove by it again and slowed down to see what was actually playing.  Two screens, matinee presentation of The Twilight Saga: New Moon.  And they are LINED UP!  I almost ran into the car in front of me.  Our society is doomed.

Deer

I've said this!

Check It Out: Deer | The Onion - America's Finest News Source


Friday, 20 November 2009

Benjamin Button

Finally saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

I don't want to talk about it.


Thursday, 19 November 2009

faxZERO

Handy little web site if you need to fax something but don't have a land line or a fax.  Who the hell has a land line these days anyways?

Free Fax • Free Internet Faxing


Monday, 16 November 2009

Confessions

Really had to think about whether I was going to write about this topic.  Internet's a dangerous place and all the more dangerous if you post personal information.  But, I think it's important to get this out there, let everybody know, deal with the aftermath, and maybe, just maybe, this will give somebody else the courage to make a similar confession and it will be all the easier for that person if I just go first.

So, here goes.....

The movie Bolt made me cry.



Yes, that Bolt.  A stupid Disney cartoon about a dog and a cat and a hamster making an "incredible" journey across America.  This had me bawling like a baby.

Now I try to be cynical.  I try very, very hard.  And I was doing fine.  Right up to the point where the talking cat describes how her owners abandoned her.  Boom, that 5 inch thick layer of cynicism washed away in a waterworks display that would have made Tammy Faye Baker embarrassed. 

God.  There I was, weeping at this ridiculous cartoon, KNOWING that I was being manipulated by some Disney corporate hacks, and not being able to do a thing about it.  Assholes.  I was so ashamed.  Luckily I was alone.  No one need know.  I just won't ever mention it.  Who would ever bring up Bolt in conversation?  It would be just one more secret I take to the grave with me.

But then I watched Up on the weekend.



Son of a bitch!  Ten minutes in and the lip's quivering, the eyes are watering, and I'm downing my beer praying the alcohol will make it all better.  There are two scenes in this movie that just tear you up from the inside out.  Couldn't believe it.  Reduced to a blubbering mass by Disney AGAIN!  This time with Pixar's help!  Fuckers.

I could have tried tucking this little episode away as well but somebody, somewhere, at some point was going to say "Hey let's watch that movie Up!".  And people need to be warned.  So there it is.  My humiliation is now public.  I'm going away for a while.  There's a Male Ego Rehabilitation Center down in Toronto where they'll be trying to piece my pride back together for the next 3 to 4 months.  Wish me luck.  Be strong my friends.


Hate

Admittedly, I hate a lot of things and people but there's some pretty specific hate right here:

http://catbird.tumblr.com/post/216293561
http://www.flickr.com/groups/comicsans/pool/with/4088095214/
http://lmnop.blogs.com/lauren/2006/10/americas_most_f/comments/page/1/

Can't say I get that worked up about font selection.  But, rest assured, you would never see the Comic Sans on one of MY web sites!

Stupid Sexy George Ribs

A summer or two ago, some friends of mine hosted a barbecue down in fonthill.  This was one of those events where worlds collide.  Friends from her workplace are thrown up against the friends from his workplace and a great, dramatic, tension-filled, social experiment ensues.  One of the co-workers from her workplace showed up with some gelled up hair, shades, and some attire that could be described as a shade or two above casual.  He was soon dubbed as Stupid Sexy George by the male half of the hosting couple.  This, of course, is a reference to the classic Stupid Sexy Flanders quote from Homer Simpson.  But besides a certain flair, Stupid Sexy George also brought some game-changing ribs to the party.  These things were ridiculously good.  And he happily shared the recipe. 

My friends have made them on a couple other occasions and they were consistently, fall-off-the-bone, fantastic.  Finally got around to trying them on my own a couple months ago and they were a big disappointment.  I had missed some steps and didn't leave them in the oven long enough.  But yesterday I made my second attempt at Stupid Sexy George Ribs and everything came together perfectly.  Now that I know I can do them, I'm happy to share the recipe with any other rib fans out there:

For two full racks of Stupid Sexy George Ribs
  1. Cut the rib rack into 3-rib portions
  2. Season the ribs with salt and pepper
  3. Slice 6 medium onions and 6 medium apples (mandolins are handy for this step)
  4. Cover the bottom of a casserole tray with some of the onions and apples
  5. Next layer of rib sections
  6. Top with another layer of apples and onions
  7. If you have a deep casserole dish continue with alternating layers or repeat in a second dish
  8. Cover dish with aluminum foil and place in 275 degree oven for 3 hours
  9. Check that rib meat is in fact fall off the bone tender, then remove rib sections from dish
  10. The onion apple mush can be disposed of
  11. Cover rib sections with favourite barbecue sauce
  12. Preheat barbecue grill to Medium
  13. Once heated, rub grill with oil-soaked paper towel to prevent sticking
  14. Grill rib sections around 5 minutes a side and serve!
Thanks Stupid Sexy George!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Farewells

Something struck me as I was driving away from Haileybury after my last day of work.  Where was the booze?

I've always kind of been the guy in the office that drums people up for going out for some beers.  And especially when people I've worked with are leaving, I'll make the effort to send out some invites for a beer and bitch session before they leave.  But what I won't do is organize my own going away party.  Just seems egotistical.  So I watched with mild amusement as the days counted down with no mention of going out for beers.  There was a lunch (paid for by my Boart credit card) but that was it.  Meh.  Can't say I was disappointed, just confirmed that I worked with a bunch of mormons.

But what did bother me was that there was no departing gift.  For all the talk about how I was going to be missed, and how valuable I was, and how great I was to work with, all that didn't even warrant a "Good Luck Asshole" card.  Every Christmas I bought the guys that worked for me an LCBO gift card, enough to secure a decent bottle of scotch, out of my own pocket.  And for all the pain and agony I went through for that company and those people, I was kind of miffed that didn't drum up enough support for even a cheap bottle of scotch.

Ah well.  I know I'm being petty and self-pitying here.  Guess I was spoiled given the tremendous send off I got when leaving Deere.  Being clear of that train wreck should be it's own reward.  Onward and upward!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

2.5 Long Years

My two and a half long years with Boart are coming to an end tomorrow.  Man what a relief it will be to walk out of that building.  Never seen such blatant decisions to choose production over safety.  I’m really sorry that 20 years ago you used to be able to put people’s lives at risk in order to get a bigger bonus and now there are all these “rules” and “regulations” and “laws” getting in your way.  That’s terrible for you, really.  But I can’t look the other way for you and you are an asshole to even ask me to.  Ach.

Probably could have survived and kept plugging away and kept getting into fights if there’d been some kind of support system.  But here is the first time where I couldn’t look to somebody else in the engineering department for some like-minded viewpoints where we could both shake our heads at the situation and agree that whatever we were shaking our heads at fucking sucked.  I haven’t gotten along with EVERY engineer I’ve worked with but there was always at least one person in a group who was in sync with my bullshit meter and thought it was a great idea to go out for some beers after work to discuss the level of bullshit that had been gauged that day.  For fuck’s sake, the people in this group didn’t even really drink! 

And one guy, man.  This one guy could push me over the edge with a word.  Hated silence.  Killed silence with chatter.  Couldn’t walk to the printer without commenting on the state of our “paperless” society.  The chatter was incessant and it was an aggressive chatter.  He wouldn’t walk along and talk to himself.  He would stand outside your office and say something like “Well THIS is an interesting design!”.  And then wait for you to ask “What design is interesting?” which of course would be his invitation to enter your office and waste an hour of your time with whatever he’d printed off the internet.  I quickly learned to avoid these traps and more and more would let him make his comments and ignore him.  Holy fuck, if you want to talk to me then talk TO me not AROUND me.  And he didn’t know how to end a conversation once started.  He would just go on and on, drawing in different stories, related and unrelated, and eventually I would just have to leave the area.  It was ridiculous.  You know why we are so far behind our work load?  Because you are always TALKING not DOING!  And he’s always presuming things and stating why he thinks a person has done something.  He’s theories on my quitting have been very entertaining.  Yargh.

But it wasn’t all bad.  I did find fishing and one of the guys was an eager fishing buddy.  I actually had fun this summer.  And I’d purchased a snowmobile and was ready for some fun in the snow this winter.  But it was too little too late.  Not nearly enough for me to ignore an out when it presented itself.  So it’s hours from being over and then I can tuck this all away as a life experience.

Only 30 years until retirement….

Monday, 9 November 2009

Quitting … continued

One of the best parts about quitting is revealing the news to person after person each and every day.  Most conversations develop like this:

Some Jackass: “Okay, well I’ll forward that info on to you then.”

Me: “Actually next week is my last week”

SJ: “Oh….ummm.  What, you mean forever?”

Me: “Yes, I will no longer be with this company.”

SJ: “Oh…uhhhhh.  Who’s taking your place?”

Me: “No idea.  My boss would prefer to not get involved.”

SJ: “I…..see.  Well.  Um.  Good luck?”

Me: “Thanks!”

It’s very rewarding leaving people with the knowledge that they are dealing with a total cluster fuck of a company.

Foresight

Two and a half years ago, I moved to Haileybury.  During that time I never hung one picture and left many boxes packed away in the basement.  Some people may point out that this is a key indicator of my inherent laziness.  I choose to see it as evidence of my incredible intuition and vision.  So much time has been saved!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Construction Complete

My sled is back together.  As expected, deconstruction took half a day, putting it back together took two weeks.  I did have to wait a week for parts though and a couple more days were wasted waiting for the polaris dealer to open up again so I could return one of the wheels.  But it’s done.  I was warned it was going to be hell getting the track and suspension back together but it all went pretty smoothly with little blood loss or profanity.  Hopefully we get a foot of snow in the next week so I can try it out before moving down south.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Keys

I don’t like Future Shop.  Their inventory always seems a model year behind.  And they are staffed by high schoolers who don’t know half what they think they do.  They’ve had a history of strong arming people into extended warranties even though they’ve improved over the years. 

And their inventory is almost always locked away.  I don’t like talking to their staff.  I’ve done my research in advance so that I know I’m getting the right product.  I want to go in, pick up the product, pay for it, and be on my way.  No chit chat, no discussion, a cash transaction and we’re done.  But Future Shop doesn’t want me to shop that way.  They want their merchandise locked away so I have to talk to somebody who then has the opportunity to upsell me or hook me into one of those useless extended warranties.  Okay, not a really big deal given that they have to protect themselves against shoplifting and I’ll put up with a little banter for the instant gratification of picking up a product in store.  What I won’t put up with is waiting for somebody to find a key so that they can get the product I want to buy. 

For some reason, only a select few are worthy of carrying one of these magical keys.  And these people aren’t kept in seclusion or in the rafters to swoop in and unlock product on demand.  They are allowed to roam the aisles getting waylaid by customers who can’t be interrupted when other customers need those fucking keys.  And why isn’t the jackhole who I’m handing my credit card information over to not trustworthy enough to carry one of these keys?  Twice last weekend I was left waiting for keys and I walked.  Ended up at Best Buy, who are actually part of the same company as Future Shop, but miles apart in customer service. 

I know I’ll be back, the lure of gadgets is too strong, but next time I’ll be asking for a personal escort on my shopping expedition by one of the designated key-bearers.

Quitting

may_04_382kb_boart_longyear_logo_web

So I’ve gone and quit again.  It just keeps getting easier and easier.  I remember quitting my first job.  Man was I nervous.  Waited until the end of the day to get my supervisor alone and then I stuttered and stammered my way through my resigning.  The president came around a couple days later to ask why and I actually did a lot better with him than my supervisor. 

So off I went to Deere where I got jerked around in a contract never-never-land for 18 months.  I didn’t really quit that job but transferred to a full time position in a different department.  Lasted 5 years there which is the current record of employment for yours truly.  Quitting that job was actually pretty hard.  My supervisor was a friend of mine and I was working with some great people but I’d had enough of the Deere-speak and cleaning mouse balls and I had the sneaking suspicion that the plant wasn’t going to survive the surging Canadian dollar (I was a couple years off that prediction).  So, come the annual review, I went in, listened to my boss, listened to him give me a raise which he had to fight to get in a bad year for raises, and then I said I’d had enough.  I didn’t feel very good about it but I did give 8 weeks of notice as I didn’t really have anything else lined up.  Deere being Deere, the requisition for hiring a replacement wasn’t signed until 6 weeks later so wasn’t much chance for cross-training a replacement.  But I did leave some thorough documentation and everything was clearly labelled.  And walking out of there with my last box of possessions felt so very good.  So good.

After renovating my basement, selling my house, and a short stay with the parents, I ended up in Huntsville.  And that first day I realized I had made the biggest fucking mistake of my life.  The owner, president, chief engineer was obviously suffering from some form of bi-polar schizophrenia.  Seriously.  Two weeks in and I was firing off resumes like crazy.  6 months later and I was staying late again to have a one on one with the boss man.  This time, very easy, and I was relieved to pack up and head to Haileybury.

And that brought me here.  And here I stayed for 2 and a half years.  18 months ago most of the senior staff in our division high tailed it out to start their own companies.  And things just got worse with the downturn a year ago.  So I’d been keeping my eye open and sent out resumes here and there and finally got a bite.  Don’t know how things will work out down there but at least I’ll be close to friends and family again.  And better scotch selection.  And electronics retailers.  And 24 hour shopping choices.  Here’s hoping this one lasts.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Zipper

The last time I wore my suit was for a somber event and I was mortified to find that the zipper in my pants had taken an exhibitionist bent on my behalf.  Zipping up and down repeatedly made no difference.  At some point the zipper would give up any functional pretense and bare my crotch for the world to see.  I did an exemplary job of finding cover at every possible opportunity.  And I remember saying to myself "I need to get this fixed as soon as possible".

And did I?  Did I get that zipper fixed as soon as possible?  No.  No I did not.  I waited til the last possible minute when I really needed that suit again and spent the night before with a steady hand and a pair of needle nose pliers trying to fix this damn zipper.

I did my best and it appeared that the zipper now worked but I was very anxious that it would suffer a relapse at a very inopportune time  I was then very concerned that the people I was meeting would think I had a bad case of crabs with all the crotch touching I would be doing to check zipper status.

I should have more faith in my work.  The meeting went well and the zipper prevailed.  I wonder what else I can put off until tomorrow.

Tullibardine 1993

tulibardineA highland malt I was fortunate enough to receive as a birthday gift.  Never seen nor heard of this malt before.  A 15 year old malt but extremely light colouring.  The nose is light with a hint of apple.  It draws smoothly and abruptly delivers a woody flare.  No sherry, just naked wood.  It very quickly dissipates to a light burn for an aftertaste.

A welcome change to the many sherry-tasting scotches I've been sampling lately.  Very dry and very smooth.  I like.

Got wood? 4 shots!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

The Famous Grouse

famous_grouse

I’ve already run through my predisposed feelings for blended scotches in my Chivas Regal review.  Taking the empties back has renewed my interest in finding a more value oriented solution to my scotch needs.  A buddy of mine introduced me to this blend a while ago and I was really impressed at the time.  Time to take another crack at it.

And crack it open is what happens.  Again with the screw top.  Just seems cheap.  Like I should be drinking it out of a paper bag.  But, hey, if a cork is the only reason those other scotches cost twice as much, I’m fine with the twist top action.

The aroma is faint and sherry based.  Checked the bottle, 40% alcohol, so it’s got the punch but doesn’t show it.  Interesting.  I was actually nervous taking the first sip.  I’m really leery about “cheap” whiskies.  If they’re inexpensive, they usually have a sickly sweet taste that’s retch inducing.  But The Grouse came through.  The sweetness is light and fruity.  The aftertaste has a similarly light burn and hangs around a little longer than it should.  But at $30 I’ll forgive that minor transgression.

So, no real character or challenge and a slightly cloying aftertaste.  But, smooth and easy going and light on the wallet.  I think I’ve found my daily drinker.

Bargain.  4 shots!

Value

bottles

This is a picture of $6 worth of bottles.  These bottles once contained $1794 worth of alcohol.  Instead of drinking all that, I could have purchased a big screen TV, or had the teeth removed from both my cats.  Ug.  This isn’t even a year’s worth of bottles.  I really need to find a new hobby.  I’ve kept every cork since I moved to Haileybury so next week I’m counting them all up to see what the total cost has been to stay sane up here.

Deconstruction

decon

We had some snow last week.  Not just some light drifting snow.  Serious snow with accumulation on the ground.  It didn’t last the day but it was enough to remind me that I have a sled in need of some rebuilding.  Got it torn apart this Saturday and found alot more in need of repair than I had expected.  Gotta get some parts on order now.  It’s going to be tight but I should be ready for November.

And, holy crap, do I miss my garage.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Aberlour a’bunadh

aberlour-abunadhDecided to splurge and pick up this bottle of Aberlour a’bunadh while in Ottawa.  I think I’ve had this before.  Can’t imagine why.  I don’t make it a habit of spending more than $90 on booze unless I’m celebrating.  Anyways, I was feeling giddy about extending the Aberlour streak.

I’m a sucker for marketing and the Gaelic name and wax seal totally drew me in.  The numbered batch indication also appealed to the snob in me.  The box also tells a pretty story about the a’bunadh origins and tasting notes.  But on to my impressions.

This cask strength bottle is strong in all aspects.  It’s labelled as 60.2% alcohol content.  The nose backs this up.  A whiff of this stuff will wake you up to be sure.  Aside from the alcohol shock, the sherry aroma is near overpowering.  Can’t say it did much for me but I didn’t let it stop me.

Not surprising, the flavour is similarly strong.  The first flash is sherry but follows quickly with a bloom of fruit and a dry undertone that coats everything from the tip of the tongue to the back of the throat.  That dry haze of a woody nature, hangs around for the after taste and is slow to dissipate.  An enjoyable tasting experience from start to finish but not something that can be rushed.  Five quick drinks and I’m pretty sure I’d either be passed out or blind.  Save for a special, leisurely occasion.  I think this bottle may actually last for a while.

Strong, bold, and not to be taken lightly.  4 shots!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Super Powers

A long time ago, I was engaged in one of those esoteric, philosophical debates typical of young males.  What would you do if you won the lottery?  What would your 3 wishes from a genie be?  Who would win in a fight, Superman or Iron Man?  And this would usually lead to the question at hand: If you could have any super power, what would it be?

The answer to that question has changed over the years.  From age 6 to 12 it was the ability to fly, no question.  From 13 to 17, invisibility (perv).  But at the age of 18 I had settled on the one and only super power I would want, given the opportunity.  If I could do ANYTHING, I would want the ability to inflict flat tires on other people through sheer will.

Yup.  Every time some asshole tries to sneak a left turn in front of somebody else’s green light, every jackass that runs to the end of a merging lane instead of getting in line with everybody else, the previously described antics of certain nit wits in passing lanes, BOOM!  Instant retribution.  With the snap of my fingers, I ruin their day without actually physically harming anybody.

I am a dreamer and I dream of a world where people rigidly obey the rules of the road and display every courtesy possible to fellow drivers for fear of having to pull out that jack and spare tire….

I think I need to take a break from these weekend drives.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Zombieland

zombieland-harrelson

Look at this picture!  Doesn’t this look like fun!  Surviving a zombie apocalypse to live for the search of twinkies and the joys of splattering zombies.  I saw the trailer for this movie back in August.  My brother-in-law and I were killing ourselves laughing at scenes such as these.  Since then, it’s been the only thing I’ve been looking forward to seeing in theatres.  And this thanksgiving weekend, I finally got to see it.

And this movie is just as fun as promised.  No message, no morals, just zombie killing fun.  Can’t wait for it to come out on Blu-Ray.  The theatre we saw it in was experiencing some technical difficulties with the sound and the music have a lot to do with the total Zombieland experience.  The cameo in the middle of the film is worth the entire ticket price.

If there’s a bad thing to say about this movie, it’s that there isn’t ENOUGH zombie slaying mayhem.  There are points in the film where people seem to be spending time talking instead of killing zombies.  These moments are quickly forgiven.

Turkey

turkey_fryer

Picked up a propane powered turkey fryer for this year’s thanksgiving.  Picture is not exactly like the Wal-Mart special that I purchased but you get the idea.  I was practically giddy setting this bad boy up.  The first challenge was lighting it.  The gear seemed to have every modern safety experience except for a method for remote lighting.  So, in I go with my brother-in-law’s propane torch striker.  Bye-bye knuckle hair.

Then came the oil.  17 litres of oil.  My sister and I did some rapid shopping to find that quantity of oil at a bargain rate.  We braved Costco on a long weekend and bought 2 sixteen litre containers.  Boojah!

Next was turkey time.  Wearing some really cheap sunglasses and extra absorbent oven mitts, I placed the turkey in the oil.  And the oil proceeded to bubble over the edges of the pot.  Some nervous waiting with the fire extinguisher but everything seemed to calm down with a couple minutes.  45 minutes later, we had a fully cooked 15 pound turkey.  The extremities were a bit too crispy but overall a surprisingly moist turkey even on day 2.  I think next time it would be wise to brine or marinade the turkey, do a spice rub, and tie in the wings and legs for more even cooking.

A great trial run.  The next one will be even better.

Aberlour 12

aberlour12

Man, I could drink this all day.  No time for a long preamble.  The more time writing about this, the less time I have to drink.  I was a full-on Aberlour 10 addict when I first found a 12 at an Ottawa LCBO.  From that point, 10 was a lesser product.

The sharp, sherry nose can give you pause but relish the aroma before diving in.  There’s a great flash of alcohol that clears the sherry smell and replaces it with a bloom of oak and a nutty aftertaste.  The burn and settle experience follows all the way down to the belly.  Fantastic.  It’s tough to just sip and contemplate this bottle.  It’s doubtful this bottle will see morning, let alone next weekend.  Yum.

Some disturbing news however.  I remember this bottle costing between 55 and 60 bucks.  A bargain for sure.  But I checked the LCBO web site just to be sure.  And found the only 12 year old Aberlour listed is going for $101!!!  This bottle I picked up in Ottawa and it was the last one on the shelf.  Sweet Jesus, I hope it wasn’t the last one to be imported to Canada for a reasonable price.  A search of the rest of the internet doesn’t confirm my suspicions one way or the other.  This bottle will be cherished even if it only lasts for hours.

My favourite….for now.  5 shots!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Just in passing

I'm pretty proud how I've evolved as a driver.  Growing up in Northern Ontario, traffic wasn't something I was conditioned to deal with.  When I first moved to Southern Ontario, driving meant being enraged.  The roads were too crowded and they were crowded with idiots.  But I eventually learned that it was better in the long run just to let those rage inducing incidents slide off my back.  Get cut off, give a little wave instead of the finger.  Someone's crawling in the fast lane, ease off on the throttle and enjoy the ride.

But today, all that psychological progress was erased.  I believe the passing lanes of Northern Ontario are a study of human behaviour.  And that study reveals that humans suck.

I will fully defend anybody's right to drive the posted speed limit.  But to drive on a highway 10 km/h BELOW the limit?  For fuck's sake, take a look behind you!  There are 5 tractor trailers and 30 cars lined up behind you waiting and praying for a passing lane to release them from the hell YOU have created.  Either put the hammer down or get off the road and let people by.

BUT, what you DON'T do is wait for a passing lane to finally show up and then SPEED UP!  You fucking asshole!  I don't know what it is about passing lanes but it causes some kind of psychosis in people and makes them drive 20 km/h faster than they were before they entered this Bermuda Triangle for sanity.  I can only imagine that they think that passing lanes are cop free zones that allow speeding or that they equate being passed with a traumatic slight to their ego.  Well suck it up buttercup.  You wanna drive 80 k, you swallow your fucking pride, keep it at 80, and soak up each and every one of those 35 angry glares you get as the soul train of hate passes you by.

Leafs Nation

flgtmlcf

New commercial on TV for “Leafs Nation”.  It’s pretty funny.  Most of the people in the commercial are under 50 and are shown explaining to other people their favourite Leaf moment.  All those moments to choose from how could anybody pick their favourite?  There’s that time they almost made it to the playoffs, then there’s that time they almost went to the final round, then there’s all that crap in between.  Besides mindless sheep remembering things that aren’t the Stanley Cup, there’s also the matter of reworking the national flag to include the Maple Leaf logo and colours.  Unacceptable.  The sheer arrogance of claiming our NATIONAL symbol as if this is Canada’s team.  You are not OUR team.  You are Toronto’s team.  We don’t like you.  Put your symbol on Toronto’s municipal flag.  I’ll just assume that’s some symbolic representation of a garbage strike.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Chivas Regal 12

chivas12

I’ve developed a fairly snobby attitude towards scotch.  I’ll admit that.  And the first rule of being a scotch snob is that you turn your nose up to blended scotches.  It’s single malt or nothing.  However, true snobs will also tell you not to drink scotch with ice.  So I’m not a complete convert yet.  I try and keep an open mind and some recent bouts with different bottles of Famous Grouse have made me wonder if I’m all turned around on the subject of blends.

To see if blends really are worthy of my attention I picked up a bottle with some name recognition.  Chivas Regal 12.  A 45 dollar bottle claiming to be “rich, smooth, easy drinking” blend of a selection of Speyside malts.  All right.  I’m game.  Bring it on.

No cork.  Twist top.  Sweet Jesus, what am I?  A hillbilly?  Alright, alright.  Some concessions must be made.  The smell was my next indication that I was in trouble.  There’s a light hint of that sickly, sweet aroma I associate with rye.  It smells cheap and it gives me a headache.  It took some effort but I took the plunge and took a sip.  Not as bad as I was expecting.  The cheap sweetness didn’t show up in the tasting like it did in the smelling.  But there’s still a mothbally feel to it that hangs around for a while.  It doesn’t relax, it just makes me tired.  Fancy name, fancy bottle, not worth my time.  Still an aspiring snob.

2 shots.  Blech.

Weirdos

Power finally came on Sunday afternoon and I headed back up to New Liskeard to try and get some supplies at the Canadian Tire.  To get there from my place you have to drive through downtown New Liskeard.  Downtown New Liskeard consists of two blocks at right angles to each other.  Driven through it many, many times.  This time I found the street lined with people holding signs.  They were standing maybe 10 feet apart, each holding a brightly coloured cardboard sign that either praised Jesus or denounced abortions.  These messages were delivered in both French and English which I thought was a very inclusive touch.  All in all, maybe 30 people lining both sides of the street.  Just standing there.  Watching me drive by.  Judging me.  Just about the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen.

Drove on by and kept on to Canadian Tire.  Canadian Tire, of course, had decided to remain closed for the entire Sunday.  That was probably announced on the radio too.  Turned around to drive back through town but when I got to downtown, all the sign holders had disappeared.  Creepy.

Power

Yah, so, I woke up Sunday morning, no power.  Okay, that’s cool.  It happens.  There was some lightning through the night.  I was sure they just had to do some repairs.  I had some plans for the day but I could wait a few minutes for the power to come on to get my coffee and eggs.  Two hours later, I was starting to think something was up.  So I’m starting to jones for some caffeine by this point.  Screw it.  I’m heading up to New Liskeard to hit the Micky D’s.  I roll into New Liskeard and get a real bad feeling from all the dark houses.  The whole friggin Temiskaming Shores area was down.  So, no surprise, I roll up to McDonald’s and they are closed.  The Tim Horton’s has a generator and a 60 car lineup.  Not an option.  Head back home.  Cook up some breakfast on the bbq and reconsider my plans for the day.  Now I’m jonesing for an internet connection.  Blackberry still has some juice so I check the Hydro One web site and find that this was a PLANNED outage expected to last from 7:00am to 2:00pm!  Seven hours!  F me.  So I start doing some house chores.  Run into my neighbour at one point and start talking about the power outage.  He knew all about it.  Apparently everybody did.  Had been on the radio for weeks (I listen to satellite radio).  It was in the papers (I don’t read newspapers).  Hydro One had called everybody and left a message (I never updated my phone number from Huntsville). 

So, the point of my little story is that there is a gaping hole in my media consumption with regards to local events.  It just doesn’t present itself on any web pages, podcasts, or television that I subscribe to.  That’s why I find myself sitting around on a Sunday morning with no power, or driving in the middle of a bike parade, or unable to get to Earlton because of some plow match.  There’s gotta be some rss feed I can subscribe to somewhere to give me a heads up on these things.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

So it begins!

toronto_maple_leafs_1992

Hockey season starts tonight!  And it got kicked off in the best way possible: A Toronto Maple Leafs LOSS!  The only thing better than watching my team win is watching the perennial shoulda-won-the-cuppers lose.  Of course I have free reign to talk smack until the Sens play their first game on Saturday.  New goalie, new flakey sharp shooter, some possibly talented forwards.  There’s some question marks but alot to be hopeful for.  I think we’ll be in the playoffs but what I REALLY want for Christmas is a clean sweep of the season series with the assbags of Ontario.  GO SENS GO!

NCIS: Los Angeles

ncis-los-angeles

Oh dear sweet Jesus, it’s even worse than I could have imagined.  There’s been some changes since these clowns were introduced in the NCIS crossover.  They now seem to be run by the little costume designer from The Incredibles.  She’s small but she doesn’t take any crap from the field hardened agents.  She’s comic relief?  I guess?  And their headquarters now seems to be in some spanish bordello.  And this is a division of the Navy?  It just makes no sense.

I won’t waste any time on describing the acting “talents” of LL and O’Donnell.  The picture to the left says all that needs to be said.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Underground

I haven't been underground for about 15 years.  I made my return this week in Red Lake to identify some bad parts that had failed in the field.  As soon as I stepped into the first headframe, the smell brought me right back to my short career at Hemlo Gold Mines.  Exposed rock has a pretty unique odour.  The trip down the cage, picking up your vehicle on your level, and tooling around the drifts and ramps all seemed so familiar in spite of the time that has passed.

That was the first shaft.  We came back up at lunch and went straight back down the second shaft.  I couldn't help but laugh when I saw the cage.  We managed to get 8 people in the cage and it was a tight fit.  When we stepped off on our level and entered the drift, there were rails running down the drift.  That boggled me.  We still mine with rail cars?  That seems so Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  No little Kubota runabout on this side of the mine.  We trudged along heading for the next drill to check and the supervisor says "This will be the worst one to get to.  90 ft of ladder."  My response?  "Fuck off".  Apparently he was serious.  I'm not good with heights and I'm worse with heights on ladders.  But I managed the climb without shaking off only to find that the drill couldn't be disassembled for inspection because of some stuck rods.  Fuck.

One more drill for the day and that one was actually working.  I don't begrudge these drillers a single penny.  That is some hard, messy, thankless work.  So I came to surface (in the wee tiny cage) with a much greater appreciation of my desk job.  Stay in school kids.  Tomorrow should be a fairly easy ride at the third mine.  Underground: nice place to visit, wouldn't want to work there.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Service

egg-mcmuffinI cut people in the service industry a tonne of slack. I don't make special requests, I'd never send back food unless it would be harmful to eat, and I tip like I'm made out of money (I'm not). Why do I do this? Because I know I wouldn't last 3 minutes doing that person's job. I have a low tolerance for people as it is. Throw me into a situation where I have to interact with the great unwashed at a constant rate AND smile while doing it? That story ends with a police presence.

BUT...I do require a certain standard of service. I mean how fucking hard can it be to put together an egg mcfuckingmuffin? English muffin, ham, egg, cheese, English muffin. We're talking one step above buttered toast here. The egg mcmuffin is about the only thing I Iook forward to while I'm on the road and to bite into one and realize some slack jawed teenager couldn't be bothered to add the ham to the equation ruins my day. RUINS it!

Look, I know your job sucks, I know working at mcdonald's does nothing for your social standing, but that doesn't mean you can't do your job with a minimum of pride to match your minimum wage. Thanks for listening and thanks for not spitting in my food.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Auchentoshan 12


auchentoshan-12yo
Down visiting some friends and this bottle gets pulled out of the cupboard.  I'm pretty sure I've had Auchentoshan before but never documented it.  It's a Lowland malt and I usually find I'm rolling the dice with those bottles because you don't know if you're going to get hit in the face with a fist full of peat or not.  Happily, that was not the case with this particular malt.

The smell is deep and woody.  The bottle says to watch for the smoky almond flavour but I just don't get that.  I do get pears in the aroma and that's usually a tough one for me to pull out.  Wouldn't have put it there without reading a Michael Jackson (not that one) review.  The pears and some plum really come out on the first taste followed quickly with a brief flash of alcohol fire.  The aftertaste is a slow diminish of the fruit and burn.  It is a great tasting experience.  With ice I could drink the bottle in a single sitting.  Without I would be perfectly happy sitting, sipping, and reflecting.  Instantly at ease and not worried about a god damned thing.

This bottle is an all-star.  It could be because we were discussing Cardhu earlier tonight but this Auchentoshan really reminds me of the quick punch followed by the relaxing KO.  This is a great scotch.

Boojah! 5 shots!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Aberlour 10

aberlour10years

Ah, my Aberlour 10.  My most dependable bottle back when I lived near an LCBO with selection.  I raved about this bottle to everyone who would listen.  The last bottle I intended to write about was consumed too fast to write a single sentence.  This time I had some foresight and purchased two bottles while I had the chance.  Sure enough, the first bottle was gone in the blink of an eye and now I can write about the second bottle in a more leisurely manner.

So, despite my rampant nostalgia, I’m not really blown away by this scotch anymore.  A distinct sherry nose and a taste of oak that blooms to match the sherry.  The aftertaste is dry and lingers.  But the whole experience is slightly harsher than I remembered.  The LCBO near my parents place stocks only the 12 year old Aberlour and I blame that for ruining the 10 year old for me.  Those extra 2 years really mutes some of that brassy 10 year nature and blends the flavours in a much more satisfying manner.

Still, at $44 it’s a hell of a value and a great sipping scotch that can be enjoyed all on its own.  I’d say the $10 extra bucks for the 12 year old is money well spent but you can’t go wrong with the 10 if that’s your only choice.

Golden memories.  4 shots!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

TV Saviour

Crap, totally forgot about Dexter!  I flip flopped on Season 3 thoughout it’s run but looking back I loved it.  I haven’t liked Jimmy Smits since L.A. Law but he was actually pretty good in this character.  Some pirate friends of mine say the premiere of Season 4 that got leaked on the internets was promising so I’m looking forward to it.  I apologize for the previous blasphemy my beloved magic box.

TV Blows

TV has a lot to make up for this fall.  It has been a tough run of late and even HBO can’t seem to deliver the goods.  I got hooked on True Blood Season 1 in large part because of the angry sex but the mythology and humour grew on me too.  Season 2 had the makings of being great but threw too much into the pot and strung one particular plot point on forever without any real progression. 

Rescue Me was a big disappointment this year as well.  Tommy Gavin used to be a bold, assholish character but spent all of this season getting whipped by his ex-wife and ex-girlfriend.  And there’s whats-her-name from News Radio for no apparent reason.  The major story arc that leads to this year’s “cliffhanger” was a clumsy commentary on the dangers of alcohol that had already been handled and better in seasons past. 

These were the shows that were supposed to tide me over from the NHL playoffs to the start of the NFL season.  And they failed.  And, with the exception of House, broadcast TV is pretty much a lost cause (see NCIS:Los Angeles).  Until somebody gets their act together and puts a decent TV show on the air, I guess I’ll start rewatching The Wire.

aye-pod

ipod_touch

I love my IPod Touch.  It is a near perfect gadget.  There is nothing I would rather have with me when travelling.  It didn’t start off near perfect.  I have the first gen Touch and back then you had to hook it up to another computer to add any content.  I bought a netbook just so I could update podcasts on my IPod while on the road.  Slowly, the device got closer and closer to perfection.  With each update there was a feature added that seemed ridiculous wasn’t there to start.  The app store, updating podcasts over wifi, purchasing audio books over wifi, copy and paste.  I even paid the retarded $10 fee for each of the major firmware updates.  I held out for a couple weeks on the last update but the audiobook feature was just too damn necessary.

But my participation in the Apple community will soon be coming to an end.  A couple months ago it started having problems taking a charge, and then it took a little trip into a lake, and then it was dropped on a rock which cracked the glass.  It’s still limping along but it seems to be more finicky each day.  I was hoping that the rumours of an IPod touch with a camera were true but Apple seems happy enough to keep pushing out the same product.  I then placed all my hopes on the upcoming Zune HD but Microsoft has confirmed that it won’t be selling these in Canada for the time being.  Well fuck you too Microsoft.

I think I’m suffering from a little gadget ennui.  I’ve purchased and hacked almost every gadget worth mentioning.  I could buy another IPod but it would just be the same thing again.  IPhones don’t work in my quaint little village so that’s out too.  The new Nano has a video camera but can’t take still photos(how fucking stupid is that by the way).  The shuffle is a laughable little turd of UI nonsense.  So I’m thinking I’ll milk this IPod for as long as it will last and then pick up a cheap little nothing until something reasonable strikes my fancy.  Palm Pre II perhaps?

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Movie Weekend

Had to do a u-turn this weekend and head back to Ottawa to return my brother-in-law’s keys.  Figured I’d take in a couple movies since a theater isn’t a luxury I enjoy in my current home town.  There were three movies I was dying to see: District 9, Inglourious Basterds, and The Hurt Locker.  I’d heard rave reviews of them all and I was psyched to see them all in one weekend.  I even managed to fit in a rental on Saturday night.  So, here’s my impressions in the order that I viewed them:

district_nine

District 9

The computer generated aliens in this movie are amazing.  Not enough has been said about this in my opinion.  The first close-up of a prawn’s face is shocking in it’s realism.  And then you find out that these amazing effects are part of a movie with a $30 million budget?!?  It is staggering.  I hope George Lucas and James Cameron watch this movie and feel it in every square inch of their respective colons.  Why are they spending hundreds of millions of dollars on special effects that look like they came off my Playstation 2?  Peter Jackson started something with the Lord of the Rings trilogy that is paying off big with this movie.

Beyond the special effects, the story itself is unique and intriguing.  The first half is challenging to watch (at least for me) because of the documentary style camera work.  I didn’t really feel engaged in the movie until the pretence of the documentary film was dropped.  But after that, it is a thrill ride to rival any big budget blockbuster of the last 10 years.  I especially like the alien weaponry and the “sploosh” of bad guys getting disintegrated.

Looking back at the story you don’t feel like too much was explained about the aliens’ predicament.  Why are they actually there?  What happened that they drifted to earth and 20 years later the ship can zoom right off?  Why is there no leadership amongst the prawns?  Maybe a sequel will explain more.  I’d certainly go see it.

I’d recommend the movie to anyone.  Not perfect but amazing to watch and the second half is just plain fun.

inglourious-basterds-poster

Inglourious Basterds

The first movie of the weekend was a solid triple.  I was hoping the second movie would be a home run.  It wasn’t.  A single at best.  I’m happy to see Quentin Tarantino is once again able to tell a story on his own and contain it to a single film.  But this is a Tarantino movie about movies and how much Tarantino knows about movies.  The WWII setting is just a framework for Tarantino to hang all his masturbatory film obsessions off of.

As film critics have noted, this isn’t really about the Inglourious Basterds.  They are a tangential part of the film really despite what the marketing campaign implies.  That’s too bad.  I think I would have liked the movie shown in the trailers.  I like Brad Pitt and his ridiculous affectations.  He and his caricature are cool, slick, and funny.  If they had been the focus of the movie, I’d have left the theatre less educated in German cinema but a hell of a lot happier.

As it is, there are definitely amazing scenes contained within the movie.  The bar scene is my personal favourite.  The fate of Hugo Stiglitz is disappointing after being built up as the bad-ass of bad-ass Nazi killers but that one scene could have been a short film I’d have paid to see.

The actor playing Colonel Hans Landa is getting all kinds of praise for his performance and similarly Tarantino for conceiving and developing the character.  I didn’t buy it.  He didn’t strike me as particularly menacing, intelligent, or entertaining.  He sure likes to talk though.  He likes his cream and strudel too.  That scene was really fucking annoying.  I think Tarantino has found a way to put a microphone right into the dental work of his actors.  Hearing people chew strudel doesn’t really help engage me in your film.  Some critics have said this is really a detective story with Landa as the starring sleuth.  And how did he brilliantly deduce the identity of the traitor working with the Basterds?  There was a note with her name on it at the crime scene.  Wow.  Well done Sherlock.

The rest of the movie is just a series of puzzles for film students to research and post theses on their blogs about.  I don’t mind hidden meanings or tributes or homages or easter eggs but that can’t be the sole purpose of your movie.  Make the movie entertaining first and leave some of those in there to be cherished on repeat viewings.  This movie is for film students and critics and that’s it.

Unknown

Blindness

Took a break from the theatre Saturday night to spend some time with my sister and her family.  There didn’t seem to be anything we wanted to watch out on DVD but we rolled the dice on this movie.  The dice came up snake-eyes.

This is a horrible movie.  That’s all I’m going to say.  It is shit.  OK, THAT’S all I’m going to say.  Do not see this movie.

 

hurt locker2

The Hurt Locker

This was a great movie to end the weekend with.  The acting and scenes were intense.  I was actually gripping the armrest through many of the scenes.  The director of Point Break did a surprisingly good job of building tension and getting you to feel how f’d up the situation in Iraq is.  Anything could happen anytime, anywhere.

Not perfect though.  I really don’t think the shakey camera and frequent zooms add anything to the movie.  I had hoped hollywood had progressed beyond this technique of making me want to vomit.  If two people are having a conversation, I’d actually like to see those two people.  Not the nostrils of one and the eyebrows of the other with a little shakey cam in between.

That and a couple plot holes are my only complaints though.  Good pacing throughout while still being thought provoking.  Best movie I’ve seen this year.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Speyburn – 10

SPBOB.10YO

The last of my New Brunswick bottles.  Dropped it right on its neck by picking the canister upside down.  No breakage so I can say the bottle is very strong.  I bought this bottle because I like speyside malts and it’s name is Speyburn.  What can I say?  I’m a simple man.

What I failed to notice at the store was the picture of a salmon on the container.  Now, some months ago a friend brought back a bottle from England with a picture of a squirrel on the bottle.  This malt, whose name escapes me, had the distinct flavour of peanuts.  So I was very concerned that my salmon labelled malt would follow the same initiative and contain hints of sardines.

Fortunately this is a representative Speyside bottle.  A fruity nose, a minor flare of taste to start, and then a clean finish.  My only complaint is that the finish is too clean.  There’s none of the blooming glow or battling undercurrents that give my favourite Speysides top marks.  A solid soldier though a little deficient in character.

Fish-less.  3 shots.

No one to complain to

Been getting the rages lately.  Thought I was beyond all that but, man, the last couple weeks there hasn’t been anything too minor for me to flip out about.  I think it’s the end result of not having any outlet for venting that rage.  In Welland and Brantford there was always somebody around ready to go out for a beer and bitch session.  Here?  Good Christ, half the people don’t drink and the other half are the people I want to bitch about.

Fishing has helped.  It’s relaxing and exciting at the same time.  But nothing can take the place of a full on rant delivered at a suitable volume to make others in the bar nervous.  Ah man, good times.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Jump Around

I love the Telus commercials.  Starting back at Clearnet, they’ve always hit a great spot with their “animals doing things” theme.  Their latest entry just makes me laugh.

 

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Benromach Organic

benromach_organic

I’d already picked up the Benromach Traditional but when I saw this I just had to pick it up too.  An Organic single malt.  If my hippie sister were to ever drink scotch, this would be the one.  The packaging says it’s made from all organic ingredients.  Sure, I’m game.

Like the Traditional, no mention of how long it has aged.  And again, the word Speyside is prominently displayed.  And again, I feel like I’ve been tricked.  Where the Traditional was a sneaky peat, this one is all sherry.  A sickly, cloying sherry.  Bart no like.  Bad medicine.

What’s surprising is the adulation from it’s entry on The Royal Mile Whisky site.  It says it’s made in virgin oak casks which boggles my mind.  Where does this sherry taste come from if not from the casks?  Maybe I don’t really know what sherry tastes like?  But I know it doesn’t taste like bananas and pineapples.  Weird.  I won’t be looking for this one again.

Shocking sherry.  2 shots.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Benromach Traditional

Benromach-SingleMalt

During my trip out east I found that New Brunswick Liquor carries a much varied collection of single malts compared to the usual selection at the LCBO.  So I loaded up on the ones that stood out to me.

The first of these East Coast pick-ups is the Benromach Traditional.  No mention of the number of years matured on the bottle or box.  Odd.  But it did say SINGLE malt and it claimed to be a citizen of the Speyside region so I figured it was a safe bet.

First impression is that it’s a shockingly light coloured malt.  However long it was matured, it didn’t have long to inherit much colour.  Sceptical, I forged on.

The aroma is slightly medicinal which fuelled my scepticism.  And the first taste?  PEAT!  From Speyside?!?  Impossible.  But there it was.  I settled down from my initial shock and tried again.  Definitely a peaty taste but none of the salty sucker punch I expect from the Islay malts.  I actually liked it.  Character without sweat.  And the aftertaste is a slow retreat of that same taste.  It’s a solid B list pick but not something I’d go looking for unless I knew somebody was looking for a smooth entryway to the Islays.

Islay Lite.  3 shots.

Aberlour Perspective

Before I moved to Nowhere, ON I was a conspicuous consumer of the Aberlour 10.  At $45 it was the best tasting value out there.  But I moved up here and it fell out of the regular rotation.  I’d get it when I could and I’d become a fan of the 12 year old bottle too.  On my last trip to Ottawa I picked up a bottle of each, seriously intending to savour them for the purposes of recording them for posterity on this blog.

That didn’t happen.  Those bottles were gone within the week.

I then went to New Brunswick for a vacation and found that the Aberlour 16 has been hiding out there!  But that was gone before the week was out and I never recorded anything.

So, quickly.  Aberlour is an awesome scotch.  Trust me.  The 10 is a bit fruitier than I remember.  The 12 is mellow goodness.  And I really can’t remember much about the 16.  But I know I’ll try them all again and I’ll try and take it a little slower when I do.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

New Brunswick - Then and Now

800px-flag_of_new_brunswicksvg Six years ago I was honoured to be the best man at my buddy Schmeck's wedding. His wife to be was a New Brunswicker from the Saint John region and that's where the wedding was held. I was excited to attend, not only to stand up for my best friend on his wedding day, but also to see a part of Canada I'd never visited before.

I'd known Schmeck's family since our university days.  They'd welcomed me into their homes when I was away from mine and tolerated any alcohol inspired antics.  Funny and friendly and makers of some killer salsa which I shamelessly stole throughout university.  Schmeck's family a comfortable known.  Kate's family?  Unknown.

But it didn't take long after arriving in Saint John to find that the Macnaughtons were every bit as welcoming and friendly as the Siemiaszkos.  In fact, the whole region seemed to be filled with like-minded people who exhibited the fascinating behaviour of making eye contact with and smiling at a complete stranger.  It almost sent this jaded Ontario boy into shock.

The Macnaughtons were exceptional though.  Peg, the intimidatingly intellectual matriarch whose generosity truly made me feel like one of the family, Al, Rachael, and their impossibly cute munchkins Hannah and Emily, and the amazing artist Molly.  They each were lively, fun participants in the festivities and went out of their way to make sure I felt at home.  That week in New Brunswick is a portion of time that will always be with me.  It was a celebration, a strengthening of friendships, a revelation that good people are everywhere.  It was good times.

But why do I bring this up now?  Six years after the fact?  Well, after that week I went home and went back to work.  A year later I returned to New Brunswick for another friend’s wedding.  This time it was for another university pal, Acad.  And the location was the Acadian region of New Brunswick in the North East corner of the province.  Despite linguistic challenges I was again blown away by the friendly attitude of everybody I ran into.  On return from these travels I decided to tip my hat to my friend Acad, his new wife, and the people I met in Acadia in a blog entry on the now static Angry Bear web site.  Why did I write about Acad’s wedding and not Schmeck’s?  I have no idea.  But it wasn’t long before Kate pointed out the discrepancy.

As is my habit, I laughed it off and used at as a way to antagonize Kate.  But, after just spending another week benefiting from the hospitality and generosity of the Macnaughton family, I figured it was time to rectify the slight.  These are just words but I hope they do something to communicate the honour and pride I felt in being a part of that week six years ago and how, six years later, I’m still giddy to know such great people.

We cool Kate?

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Fishing Rod Circumcision

One week I've been in New Brunswick, near St. John.  One of the first things I did was get a 7 day fishing license.  And then I went looking for fish.  I bush-whacked along streams.  I combed the coast.  I baked on lakes.  And what did I get?  One fish on the hook that flipped off within feet of shore (no idea what it was but it was THIS big).  Other than that, nothing.  My buddy Schmeck managed to catch a muskie through the eye somehow but he had similar luck as me the rest of the week.

And the topping to this shit sundae of futile fishing?  My rod is sticking out the rear window by an inch when the windows are rolled up after our last attempt to catch something on a hook before leaving this fishless province.  Snip.  There goes the tip of my rod.

Ah well, it couldn't last forever but it's served me well this summer.  The rod and reel were my 5 year anniversary gift from Deere and were selected at the time because they were the only option that didn't have any John Deere logos engraved on it.  Two years after sitting in a box I finally got the itch to use the damn thing and it was a versatile fish catcher in Ontario.

Like I say not to broken up about it.  I'm more ticked off about the one that got away this week.  If I'd known that was going to be my only bite, I'd have clamped down the drag and made sure that hook was set.  Anyways, an excuse to buy more gear.  At least one new rod and possibly a new reel as well!

Fishing Rod Circumcision

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Foggy Flogging

Finally made it out for the first 18 holes of the year.  Just happened to be while I was out vacationing in New Brunswick.  We were booked at the Westfield Golf & Country Club.  The fog was impenetrable for the first nine holes.  We'd tee off, look at each other, shrug, and hope for the best in finding the balls.  Lost two balls for no other reason than the fog. 

Once the fog lifted, you could see it was a nice course.  Wish my game was at a higher level but I'd made the choice of fishing over golfing this year so no surprise.  Couple highlights besides playing blind, hitting the stick on a chip to save par, two putts that came within an inch of getting par, and the solid play of my new Taylor Made driver.

Overall, nothing great, nothing horrible which translates to a good game of golf for me.  Anytime I don't lose my temper on the course is a good game.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Dalwhinnie – 15

dalwhinnie

Not long after I got into the scotch groove, I realized that Glenlivet wasn’t really the best that the world had to offer.  A smooth beginning but I was keen to try more.  Recommendations and reviews eventually led me to a holy trinity of single malts: Oban, Cardhu, and Dalwhinnie.  At the time Oban was too pricey for a recent graduate and Cardhu was too hard to find.  That meant that Dalwhinnie was the most frequent purchase of the three.  Up until recently it was a $65 bottle.  And now…

$90!?!?!  Fuck you.  Seriously.  Drop your pants and go fuck yourself.  Overnight this malt jumped 25 bucks.  It was a trend that was happening across the single malts but this one seemed to be the largest leap.  But how does this bottle hold up against the nostalgia of my taste buds?

Smooth as can be.  A light glow of warmth and a nice undertone of oak.  The aftertaste is a steady continuation of your initial tasting.  The light touch seems to hold up well against melting ice.  A solid malt that can be enjoyed all night with little repercussions the next morning.  Not challenging.  Not intriguing.  Just smooth and simple.  But Jesus Christ, $90?  No.  I wouldn’t have purchased it without a gift card and I’m not likely to buy it again.  I angrily submit that this is an enjoyable drink that’s not worth buying.  There are better malts at better prices.

Fuck you.  3 shots.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Paper Towels

And another thing.  What the fuck is up with paper towels?  I've never once, not ONCE, felt that the perforated piece of paper towel I'd ripped off the roll was either 1/3 too long or 1/3 too short.  You know what HAS happened?  I've unknowingly purchased one of these ridiculous fucking "select-a-size" rolls of fucknut paper and I HAVE pulled off a teeny strip of paper that's 2/3 too short.  Why?  It serves absolutely no purpose.  Jesus wept.  Wept and used a tiny useless strip of Brawny to wipe up the tears.

My job

may_04_382kb_boart_longyear_logo_webThis is the logo for the company I work for.  It's known as "The Swirling Asshole".  Which is appropriate because most of the people there are assholes without direction.  I'm at a conference this weekend and one of the zone managers flat out lied to everybody there.  I watched with fascination.  I knew I should stand up and call him out on it in grand movie fashion but I didn't.  I'll leave tomorrow and send out some resumes.  Nothing will happen and I'll probably work there for years to come.  It's fucking depressing.

The only bigger assholes here have been the reps from the Ministry of Labour.  They freely admit that any inspector can choose to interpret the regulations in any way they find convenient.  They have decided to mandate guards on drills, the smaller operators say there are no guarding options available from the drill manufacturers, the MOL says they have to come up with a solution, the operators say the manufacturers won't OK any modifications to their equipment, the MOL says of course you can't modify equipment without the manfacturer's consent....WHAT THE FUCK?!?  What are they supposed to do?  No answer from the MOL.  Fucking pricks.

Paper Towels

Friday, 24 July 2009

NCIS: F'd Up

I'll admit it, I watch NCIS. There aren't many redeeming values to that statement. The show is silly, to say the least. It bothers me to no end to think that federal agents would exhibit the emotional maturity of a 7th grader in heat. But I watch it. Can't explain it. In the last season they had a special two part series where they went to LA and hooked up with the super secret department of NCIS that featured a techie LL Cool J and a rebel anti-hero in Chris O'Donnel (snort AND giggle). An obvious segway to a spin-off but it still hurt to see the advertisements last night for NCIS: Los Angeles. This is the death of broadcast dramas. Not the locational CSI franchise or the divisional Law & Order spins, this alone flags the end of any original ideas from ABC, NBC, or CBS. House may just be the last drama worth watching. Thank god for HBO.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

It’s a snow ride. Take it easy.

Sled 1

Posted this before but had some issues with a wordpress upgrade.  Anyways, quite pumped about my new toy for the winter.  Need to change out the track but, other than that, should be an entertaining winter.  A little more power than the last sled I was on.

safari

More Proof that George Lucas is Evil

http://filmdrunk.uproxx.com/2009/07/anakin-skywalker-where-are-they-now

Poor schmuck.  Parents probably thought they’d hit the jackpot.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Driving Miss TBone

Been thinking about buying a new vehicle for a while now.  Ever since the price of gas lost touch with reality in fact.  But especially now.  I’ve made my last payment on my trusty CeR-Vix and I’m thinking it would be crazy to just SAVE money.

But I’m conflicted.  The price of gas says buy something economical.  My current environment and new hobbies say buy a pick-up.  And my inner child (who really makes up 90% of my personality) says buy that Chevy Astro van and convert it into an A-Team van like you’ve always wanted to.

Really what I want is a pick-up, capable of loading a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood, with a 2.5 or 3.0 litre turbo-charged diesel.  Since that option isn’t available in North America at the moment, I’m left agonizing over what the actual options are.  While I’m making up my mind I thought I’d run down my current car ownership history.  Just for kicks.

pontiac_phoenix

1980 Pontiac Phoenix

The first.  The legend.  Bought it after my first year of university for $700 and it lasted nearly 4 years.  It survived several road trips, a run in with a barricade, a year of being parked due to an unfortunate DUI conviction, a couple rounds with a bat after being arrested, and all it asked for in return was a new transmission, a new rad, and some wiring.  Back home it was known as the Fiery Phoenix of Green Death.  At school, simply The Fireball.  It finally met it’s end, ironically, at a RIDE program where I passed the sobriety test but The Fireball failed the integrity check.

Nissan-Pathfinder-2door

1988 Nissan Pathfinder

The two door Pathfinder 4X4.  This was a great little truck.  Bought it after graduation in 1997.  I did not treat this vehicle well but it was a lotta fun.  When you are young and foolish and own a 4X4, you don’t think anything can stop you.  Eventually it just wouldn’t turn over and I’d already leased my next car so I got rid of it for $200 rather than put any more money into it.  I didn’t even blink when it got towed away but I’d love to have it right now.

Civic SiR

2000 Honda Civic SiR

This was my first new vehicle and I loved it.  The only mistake I made was leasing the damn thing.  Broke my heart to return it.  This was the last model year with the double wishbone front suspension before they moved to struts.  This thing was a street legal go-kart.  Pushing the limits around the Niagara Peninsula got me in trouble a couple times but it was just such a blast to drive.  Especially after I got the Bridgestone Potenzas.  160 horsepower out of a wee 1.6 litre engine and a 9000 rpm red line.  Fun fun fun.  Like I said, it was a sad day when the lease was up.  The buy out price was ridiculous and I had driven it pretty hard for 4 years so I waved good bye and moved on.  Oh, and this was the first car I owned that got it’s own nickname, SiR MiX-a-LoT.

crv

2004 Honda CR-V

Nicknamed the CeR-Vix because it lacked any masculine virtues, this was a purchase based on common sense and logic.  I now owned a house, I needed something that would be handy getting stuff back from Home Depot, but I was also going to be packing on the kilometers and the price of gas was already climbing.  I compromised on a vehicle that could tow a utility trailer for the Home Depot trips while still being thrifty at the gas pump.  It’s been a handy little vehicle for the past 5 years.  I’m still amazed at the amount of crap I’ve been able to cram into it.  Versatile and dependable.  My only complaint has been the brakes which seem to wear out too frequently.  I also blame the brakes for locking up a wheel on an icy road and sending my mom and I into the ditch.  But the tires were nearly bald too so…mea culpa.  Once I got a decent set of winter tires on her, she ate up the snow.  I’d recommend the vehicle to anyone but I’m still itching to move on.

So that’s where I’m at.  I’ve thought about the Jetta Wagon TDI, the Honda Fit, the Ford Mustang, the Honda Ridgeline, the Astro van A-team conversion, the Ford F-150, and, briefly, the Nissan 370Z.  The sports cars get dismissed as long as I lived in a town where pot holes survive on a steady diet of half-shafts and suspension arms.  The trucks all seem to drink too much gasoline and the cars lack the ground clearance I need for where I want to go.  Bah.  Just sit here and wait for my diesel truck, I guess.