Sunday, 30 December 2012
Now I shared this pathetic dream with Jen and she proceeds to tell me about the dream SHE had last night. In her dream I was a professional baseball player and I had just been traded to the LA Angels. During my first game she was very busy in the dugout telling my new team mates how awesome she is at baking and how she'll be sending me to work with all sorts of goodies for them. And then I started crying and proposed to her in the middle of the baseball field.
So in my dreams I'm doing the exact same shit I do in the real world and in jen's I'm a romantic millionaire baseball player... I think I'll let her do all the dreaming from now on.
Monday, 24 December 2012
Merry Christmas everybody!
Sunday, 16 December 2012
With Jen's lack of sleep and my battling a cold, I wasn't expecting much drama. Certainly nothing like two years ago when I had made such a spectacular ass of myself while trying to liquify my brain. But despite very little alcohol intake, I still managed to let myself down.
The Secret Santa gift exchange is a staple of the Allenses Christmas Party. Much time and stress is invested in the selection of your $10 gift. Everyone piles their gifts under the tree and a random draw determines the order of gift selection. The twist (and drama) comes from the tradition of "stealing" gifts. I've had my issues with this feature in the past. The thing is, when you get something really cool, people are gunning for you. There had been confusion on the parameters of when and what you could steal in previous years so the rules were reviewed and reiterated and hammered home before the first gift was selected.
And I still fucked it up.
I kicked off the stealing by grabbing a Jim Beam barbecue set that Judy had already selected. I was pretty sure that wasn't going to remain in my possession for long. But when I lost the wireless indoor/outdoor thermometer, I got a little ticked off. I looked around the room and grabbed the coolest thing that first came into view. One of the "volleyball" friends had just stolen a skull shaped shot glass which lead to my thermometer getting stolen so I just stole the shot glass. And that was wrong. We weren't supposed to be stealing the same gift in the same round it was originally stolen.
I realized my mistake later. I felt shame. When all the gift selections and stealing were done. I approached the volleyball group and admitted my transgression. The person I had stolen from accused me of just wanting the gift that she had replaced the shot glass with. My apologies were accepted but you could tell suspicions remained. I probably ruined any chance of building a bridge between the volleyball friends and the Deere friends. Ah well, I guess I don't have to bother trying to remember their names anymore.
Aside from that, it was still good times. People are there that I only see on that one day of the year. We didn't stay long and their certainly wasn't any 4 a.m. euchre game but the Allenses Christmas Party is still a highlight of the holiday season. Thanks again guys!
Sunday, 9 December 2012
Lil P has been gestating away. We'll have an updated picture after Christmas but for now we're just happy that the morning sickness appears to have subsided. I'm pretty pumped about buying the baby paraphernalia. We've already purchased a stroller and I can't wait for our first stroll.
But we've got a ways to go yet. Got a lot of preparations to make before baby gets here. My cousin Peter recommended a movie on Netflix that he had watched at his prenatal class. The Business of Being Born. Pretty interesting to see how things are done in the states. Feeling pretty good about our choice in midwife. Supportive and informative but zero pressure to choose one path or another. One thing I was not prepared for in that movie though was just how much of Ricki Lake's nipples I would be seeing. Weird.
Good god would I like to punch Gary Bettman in the face. Here we are with another lockout of the nhl players. Looks like we'll be losing another season. Ridiculous. The owners got pretty much everything they wanted 7 years ago but we're doing it all over again but this time they're quibbling over percentage points and how to deal with the retarded contracts that management granted before the lockout. The only good thing I can see coming out of another lost season would be the firing of Gary Bettman. Here's hoping the squirmy little troll gets what he deserves.
We made a rare trip out to the theaters the other weekend. I debated over Skyfall versus Life of Pi. In the end I picked Pi because I had heard people talking about the epic 3D presentation. Now, I am a huge fan of the book by Yann Martel and have been a fan of Ang Lee's film making. But the trailers made me nervous about the big screen adaptation. So much of the movie would have to be computer generated that there was a high potential for a Jar-Jar Binks result. But this was the best CGI I've seen on screen. There was no instance where the integration of the CGI tiger seemed unnatural. It was really remarkable.
Can't say the same about the 3D. I had heard from various reviewers that this was the movie to convert 3D haters. Nope. There's a couple scenes that really make use of the 3D but there also scenes that are blatantly gimicky in their implementation. I just don't get it. The pixar trailer for Monsters Inc. 3D was much more effective and interesting.
And then there's the ending. The book was made by the ending. But all the debate I've heard about this movie has centered around the ending and the its intent to define religion. I really didn't get the religious aspect from the book but the ending, as it was written, hit me deep as to how a person could cope with terrible events in his life. The movie didn't really have that same impact with the visual ending compared to the written word. Could be because I knew the ending already but I just don't think Ang Lee's presentation had the same punch as the book.
Overall, a faifthful and beautiful adaptation to one of my favourite books but the pacing is a tad slow and the signature ending is a tad muted. Still recommended.
The current state of the NFL Pregame Show is abysmal. Much as I have clung to the NFL through this NHL lockout, I can not get into any of the pregame shows. ESPN Countdown is 3 hours of diluted nonsense, CBS defines blandness, and Fox just plain makes me angry. I really like the NBC Football Night in America crew with Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison and I wish they started at noon.
Die Hard Day III: Die Hard Day With a Vengeance
Third time's a charm for Die Hard Day. The beer was tasty, the cheese ball was phenomenal, and Jeremy and I were undefeated darts champions. I still have no fucking clue when it comes to poker and I was only mildly aware when Die Hard III and IV started on the TV but it was still a quality day of drinking. Paid for it last night though. Not a good night. I'm doing much better now though.
We wrapped up season six of Numbers. It was a real surprise find on Netflix. I knew the show existed but never gave it the time of day. How could a show about math and the FBI be anything but gimmicky nonsense. But it turned out to be very watchable and well written. And now it's done. This could be a turning point for me. Without a fallback series to turn to when there's nothing on the PVR, I may actually get something done. Still, if anybody has any suggestions, pass them this way.
Black Ops II
Speaking of additional productivity time, my darling wife tempted fate by purchasing Call of Duty: Black Ops II for me. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was almost a diagnoseable issue for me. It was compulsive, any spare minute I would turn on that game and get some more kills to level up. Black Ops II is definitely different, more cartoonish almost and they've actually removed some of the level-up features that got me so addicted to previous COD games. Very odd decisions there. Could signal the end of the series. But given the billion dollar revenues this game has generated, the end won't be coming for a while.
So looking forward to Christmas holidays. Jen still has to work most of the week so we won't be spending a lot of time in Ottawa but I'm really looking forward to some down time and seeing family. If I don't post for another month, here's hoping everybody has an excellend Christmas.
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
My co-workers were extremely generous with an LCBO wedding gift and that provided the opportunity to revisit one of these all-time faves. Cardhu was always the most challenging malt of the trinity and I felt like a challenge.
And the aroma, after all these years, was challenging. Strong, edgy caramel with a hint of sweetness that has doomed lesser malts. It's something that I might have walked away from if not for our intimate history. And moving forward with a sip, I was rewarded with that bold complexity I remembered from 10 years ago. It's a malted fire, fed by sea air. The salt isn't the gagging content of an Islay malt but a texture that highlights the malted alcohol. And then the alcohol blooms. The fire fills your mouth and then your nose and then all the way down to your belly. And then everything is fine. Just fine. Everything is cool. Ripping your pants in half at work is a faded memory, burned away by a glorious single malt.
The experience is just like I remembered. A fiery single malt that burns bright and mellows any storm. But it is pricey ($75) and can't command full marks.
An unforgettable fire. 4 shots!
One of my tasks was replacing the rad in one of the prototypes. I got the new rad out of the back room and pulled the rad out of the packaging and placed it to the side. Now, before I get to installing the rad, I need to get rid of this big box. I'll just bend at the knees and lift this box in a Health & Safety approved form.... and mid-squat my pants exploded.
The sound of 20 inches of fabric tearing alerted me to the wardrobe issue. The cool breeze on my intimates indicated the issue was quite serious. I looked down and shuddered. I now had convenient access to my junk courtesy of a brand new opening in my pants that went from belt buckle to just above my knee. Fantastic.
Luckily, I had a big box that would serve well to cover my exit from the shop to the office. Once I was back to my desk, I dropped the box, grabbed my jacket, and let the guys know there was an emergency at home and I'd be back in half an hour.
I seriously contemplated staying home. I played a few games of Call of Duty to chill but I did end up going back. I wasn't exactly crushing it from that point forward. Stupid pants.
Monday, 12 November 2012
Wednesday, 7 November 2012
Monday, 5 November 2012
Some of the pics from our trip.
Men setting up tent for the wedding:
Ben, driving the train. Alice and Jen on the lookout for any monsters:
Showdown at Omega Park:
“Holy shit! I’m gorgeous!”:
“Miss, can I see your park pass please?”:
View of the Ottawa River from our room:
Fireplace in the lobby:
Ben and Alice exploring Ben’s birthday present:
Sunday, 4 November 2012
And then we came home yesterday. And there's a week's worth of drama waiting for us at the door. Superb. Not going to provide details. Everybody is fine, the cats are fine, the house is fine but I felt like I got punched in the gut. If I'd kept my mouth shut, everything would be tickety boo but I felt so let down I had to pick up the phone. And things have escalated beyond my comprehension. Looks like my brother's family and I won't be speaking for the foreseeable future. It's one of those things that a simple apology would put right to bed but things went nuclear so fast that doesn't seem to be an option now.
Blah. Anyways, my facebook account is now deleted if anybody was wondering. And I'll probably be scaling back this blog to a bare minimum. Baby pictures will show up here but probably not too many opinion pieces. But what's life without a little drama eh?
Sunday, 28 October 2012
Stupid Strawpoll web site! Why is this so hard? Man, just so WE don't forget our picks here's the short list for baby names:
I'm pretty sure Paige and Colby were leading. They're my favourites anyways.
Saturday, 27 October 2012
Sunday, 21 October 2012
So I finally watched John Carter last night. Jen didn't sit still for 5 minutes before she started various housework chores. And is it as bad as Battleship? No. Not even close.
It's not a great movie. It's incredibly silly and cartoonish but put it beside Avatar and I couldn't tell you which one was a box office bomb and which one made the most money in cinema history.
I think the biggest problem this movie had was the marketing behind it. We were bombarded with trailers and advertisements that all proclaimed that John Carter was finally coming to the big screen. This might have been more effective if John Carter had even a little name recognition. I'd never heard of the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels before and, given the befuddled looks on anyone that watched one of these trailers, not too many people born in the last 40 years had either.
But the ads kept coming, with each iteration seemingly more desperate to scream "JOHN CARTER" at my face. It was pretty annoying. It eventually showed up and it quickly left the theaters, slinking away with the jeers and derision of critics following it out the door.
But really, it's not that bad. Something fun to watch with a five year old.
Oh, and Dominic West is the main villain. That guy needs to slap his agent around. So awesome on The Wire and nothing but shit since.
Saturday, 20 October 2012
Yes, we are officially expecting. We had our first ultrasound yesterday. The appointment was booked a couple of weeks early so there's not as much detail as you would usually see on the first ultrasound. But we saw his/her little heart beating away and, before I was allowed into the room, he/she was apparently dancing up a storm.
The first trimester has been pretty rough on Jen. For the first couple weeks after Jen peed on the stick she was getting pretty cocky. "I haven't got sick at ALL. I'm super duper!". And then came the puking.
Things seemed to have evened out now and we're super excited to see what pops out. If you look closely at the picture, it would appear he or she will look a lot like Elvis.
So we've got 6 more months to transform the House of Geek to a suitable baby environment. And for you mathletes out there, I did propose BEFORE the stick peeing. No shotguns at next week's wedding.
Friday, 19 October 2012
I came home from work the other day and Briana was watching a show called Maury. Now, the 30 seconds of Toddlers & Tiaras I happened to watch while channel surfing remains the most horrifying episode of my entire life. But, I'm sure if I watched a week's worth of Maury I'd eventually come across something that came very close.
Remember Maury Povich? He used to be on TV quite a bit. Married Connie Chung? Then disappeared? Well now he hosts a show that would make Jerry Springer shake his head. The episode Briana was watching was all about guessing whether an individual was born a man or a woman. They had 20 people up on the stage in makeup and dresses and, one by one, they'd take center stage and the dim-witted audience would hoot and holler and wave around signs as a way of voting whether the individual was either a man or a woman. Then the person whose gender was in question would reveal their original sex type and then there would be five minutes of reaction shots from the inbred audience members as they hooted, hollered, and had minor seizures.
And my niece was eating it all up. And it made me so sad. Not as sad as when my 8 year old nephew came into the room and started yelling at the TV "MAN! MAN! THAT'S A MAN! YOU CAN TELL BY THE MUSCLES! MAN!". It was obviously not his first time playing along at home.
So, I've kidnapped by brother's children and I am now traveling to a remote cabin in the woods. A cabin filled with books. No TV. No internet. Just books. Hopefully, over the next 20 years, I can reverse some of the damage that has been done.
Thursday, 18 October 2012
And my reaction to meeting such an individual has been hate. Every time a douchebag interrupts a project or doesn't complete a task, the rage is uncontrollable. It was always inconceivable to me that such a person could not only remain employed in a business environment but could actually prosper. My mind would fold in on itself on this contradiction and it would hurt. Scotch always helped.
I should point out that the other constant throughout my various jobs has been that every workplace has contained exceptional individuals as well. But it has always been the douchebags that have twisted my gitch.
But I think I've finally been able to get past the notion of the douchebag at work. Recently, one of the douchebags here made a typical douchebag move that ordinarily would have sent me straight out the door for home and the sweet respite of a single malt. But, as I looked at the douchebag e-mail that he had sent me and was douchebaggy enought to cc my boss on, I could only nod my head that this was exactly the level of douchebaggery I could expect from such a douchebag. Congratulations douchebag, you have met expectations.
And, with a shrug, I moved on. It was a real turning point. I felt like patting myself on the back. Good for me! Hopefully my new found resistance to douchebags is permanent.
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
At the very best, I can expect a trip out to Quality Control to make an argument over whether a dimension is critical or not. At worst, it's a day-long debate on just how stupid I really am.
But, every once in a while, there's days like today. When the message on my phone is 10 seconds of background shop noise and then the caller hangs up. Oh, the glorious call from a person who is too dazed to hang up during the voice mail preamble and doesn't realize I'm still not going to pick up 10 seconds into their recording of heavy breathing.
The relief from these messages almost makes up for the dread of seeing that red light. You take it where you can get it!
Monday, 15 October 2012
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
It is a very light looking malt. Probably shouldn't have iced it but old habits die hard. The smell was very inviting though. Light, yes, but a good hint of caramel.
The initial taste is, again, light but with a sharp briskness that seems to light up your mouth with a very slight hint of sea salt and that small hint of caramel again.
Everything travels along smoothly and there's a slight cloying to the after-taste. It's the only minor fault in the whole experience. It's a smooth overall scotch but it is definitely a lightweight compared to some of the more flavourful entries in this blog.
Light, refreshing, simple. 3 shots.
Everybody who was either silent or said the prototypes were fine will now line up to point out what an idiot you are. Everything is obvious once you are in production. And the engineers are morons for not doing the obvious.
And so goes my pity party.
Tuesday, 9 October 2012
So I watched The Brothers Bloom. And I did not particularly care for it. But I still kept up on his projects. When he came on /Filmcast and talked about his next project being a time travel movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, I was definitely intrigued.
I don't particularly like time travel movies. There's always some paradox that goes unexplained or glossed over that just drives me up the wall. I do like Back To The Future and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure but that's about it. Maybe 12 Monkeys too. But Rian Johnson was so emphatic that he was working to wrap up the loose ends inherrent in a time travel story, that I had to give it a chance.
So we went and saw it yesterday. And it is a very good movie. But leaving the theater I had one glaring question in my head that seemed like a huge oversight in this time travel movie whose director claimed to have left no question unanswered. So I went to the internet to try and find the answer. And it was there that Rian Johnson won my fandom. Not only had he made himself available on podcasts but he had participated in several interviews and Q&A's.
My question was answered satisfactorily and this is a movie that I will not only buy on Blu-Ray but I will also be rewatching with the director's commentary as well. That's something I've only ever done with Fight Club and Memento. Very interesting film. Highly recommended.
Monday, 8 October 2012
I was a fan. The CD would be on constant rotation for many years and I bought each of their new releases based mostly because of that love of that first song. The original singer left after the second album but I continued to carry the flag for this band. But I'd never seen them live. I'd seen performances on TV but nothing in person. And eventually I just stopped noticing new CD releases. I figured my opportunity was gone.
So I was out of my mind when I saw that I Mother Earth was coming to Kitchener for Rocktoberfest! We had tried out Rocktoberfest a couple years ago when Our Lady Peace was the featured band. You can read my recap here. Seems like I was kind of disappointed in the lack of actual Oktoberfest in my Rocktoberfest. Probably my disdain for Our Lady Peace had something to do with that attitude.
But this time would be different! I Mother Earth couldn't help but rock the fuck out of the joint.
As the day got closer, however, my enthusiasm waned. With every day that passed, the realization that I would once again have to submit myself to the exposure of the general public grew. Thank goodness for beer.
Niagara peeps assembled for a barbecue beforehand then we headed out. We got there for 8 and waited and drank. Walter Ostanek was there again as the opening act. I can usually accept polka as a necessary evil of Oktoberfest tradition. But this year it really grated on me. It didn't help that the countless renditions of Ein Prosit, Roll Out The Barrels, and the Chicken Dance were interspersed with my musical kryptonite: Country Western.
We stood and listened to Walter for 2 and 1/2 hours. Unlike 2 years ago, beer was very accessible but it made little difference. I was near my breaking point. And then I Mother Earth finally took the stage. It was joyous, and loud, and awesome. Unfortunately, we were still surrounded by people. People are annoying in general but put them in hats with giant feathers sticking out of them and they are unbearable.
One song in and Jen bailed. The squirmy tart in front of her using her boyfriend as a stripper pole wasn't a great view for her. I was committed to sticking it out though. Committed right up to the point that I Mother Earth stopped their set to bring out special guest Walter Ostanek! And they did a fucking polka!
What the fuck was I just listening to for the last 2 1/2 hours?!? Polka. It was too much. I turned to my friends and said "Ready to go?" and I got a unanimous "YUP!" in response.
It was disappointing. No question. But I can now say I've seen them live. It was only three songs in total. Maybe if one of them was from their Edwin era, it would have been enough to hold me there. But that's how it goes with live shows. You win some and lose some. And I can always spin up Levitate whenever I want and relive that moment I discovered I Mother Earth.
This is a first for my adult life. I'm sure I did some headers off the bed as a kid but I can't remember a single incident. Even more disturbing is that I can't remember being in any action packed dream that required me to be performing some wild barrel roll into the alarm clock beside the bed.
So this was all the result of some random, spastic seizure. Yay. Either that or jen's sleep-judo has become very advanced. All I know is that my shoulder hurts. And I need a new bedside table.
Wednesday, 3 October 2012
Next year? Wisdom tooth extractions! Can't wait.
Monday, 24 September 2012
Thursday, 20 September 2012
Things started out okay. I once again cheered the advancement of topical anesthetic before jabbing me with the real needle. But then things quickly got medieval. The dental dam is not something I really remember from way back when I did go to the dentist somewhat regularly. But I wasn't shocked when they pulled it out. What was surprising was that this thing got clamped to my teeth right at the gum line with what seemed like a rusty set screw. Not enough freezing in that area cause that motherfucker hurt.
And then the drilling. The fine, high rpm drill that I remembered came first. And that wasn't so bad. I was actually thinking that maybe the fillings were going to be the real cake walk of all the procedures I'm facing. And then he changed up drills. This one was a low rpm grinder and it shook my entire skull. I assume its purpose is to roughen the surface of the tooth so the filling gets a better grip. The side effect of that implement is the nearly uncontrollable desire to tear that fucking dental dam of your face, push the dental assistant to the floor, and run that fucking drill through the dentist's scrotum.
I was seriously considering calling it quits right there. Massive holes in my teeth be damned. I stuck it out and eventually we got to the filling. For some reason I thought they would just goop some gunk in the hole and that would be that. My balls completely retracted when I heard the dentist say "Pass me the wedge". A WEDGE?!? What the fuck is going on in there? Sure enough he's jamming something in my mouth that's putting immense pressure on my teeth. I think he might have slipped a spreader bar and a couple vise grips in there as well.
The first tooth got filled without much incident. But the second tooth was quite the procedure. More wedges! And a lot of huffing and puffing and straining as the dentist was trying very hard to rearrange something in my mouth and mouth was just not cooperating. At one point they even had some floss out and it seemed like he was trying very hard to floss my teeth. I began to wonder about my dentist's credentials.
And then came two phrases that you never want to hear from your dentist:
1. I have never seen this before.
2. Well, now what do we do?
Sweet Jesus Christmas. My leg started shaking and I officially started freaking out. Here I am with a mouth full of implements and contraptions and a dentist who doesn't know how to finish the job. Fuck. But they kept working away and eventually got the filling done. It was with no little amount of relief that they finally unclamped and removed the dental dam. And then my dentist is all smiles and "Alright, we're done here!".
Whoa, whoa, whoa. What was all that grunting and groaning and prayers for guidance on that second tooth?
Apparently he was trying to install some form for the filling and couldn't get it between two of the molars. He was sure that the teeth had somehow fused together but it turned out that the dental dam had somehow plugged up the works.
Fantastic. Can't wait for the next two visits!
Monday, 17 September 2012
Tuesday, 11 September 2012
Sunday, 9 September 2012
It started out looking like we were going to be in for a tough 90 minutes. Bad editing, crappy sound, and the mood seemed a little forced. But then the action started. And that sets this movie apart. The action is phenomenal and the camera work is truly unique. I had a blast with this movie.
The action scenes were so exceptional I went back to IMDB to make a note of the director so that we could keep an eye out for future projects. Boaz Yakin. The only other thing he's directed that I'm aware of is Remember the Titans. A very different kind of movie. He's written some other screenplays though: Prince of Persia, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, The Rookie, The Punisher. Yah, nothing there that I'd expect greatness from. But he seems to have put it together for this movie. Recommended.
And then I watched Battleship.
I'm still pretty sure that Ghost Rider is the worse movie but I'm not 100% certain. In order to regain that certainty I'd have to watch Ghost Rider a second time and I'm just not willing to subject myself to that. I'll just have to learn to live with the uncertainty.
Battleship was a well publicized flop. How could a movie ostensibly based on a Hasbro board game be anything but? So why would I even bother watching it? It's because I read one review, one review that said yes, it's a silly movie but it could be fun if you lower expectations to a dumb, action packed, summer type movie.
I will never trust this reviewer again. There are obvious Michael Bay aspects to this train wreck but it somehow manages to be even stupider than any of the Transformers movies. At its most dramatic moments I was either laughing out loud or shaking my fist and yelling at the screen. The biggest offence to cinema was the casting of Rihanna as the tough as nails, weapons petty officer. I buy her in that role as much as I buy Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist. I guess Michelle Rodriguez was unavailable.
You can't help but feel bad for Taylor Kitsch. In the same year, he starred in Battleship and John Carter. I'm sure he was paid well but, man, that's gotta look bad on your resume. I'm almost tempted to watch John Carter just to compare train wrecks.
Thursday, 6 September 2012
Wednesday, 5 September 2012
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
Now I love my aunt and uncle and I wouldn't dream of turning down such an invitation but man do I get the heebie jeebies when I go across the border into the states. My paranoia runs rampant and my blood pressure shoots through the roof as I can feel the firearms surrounding me. But I managed to tuck that all behind be as I got surrounded by more and more trees.
The Lake Placid area is beautiful. Crowded on the last long weekend of the summer but undeniably beautiful. We got to see some of the more impressive landmarks over our few days there. Fantastic. This was the road heading up Whiteface:
And the view of the road from the top.
Tough to really get the scale across but the view was spectacular.
And you know what else we saw up there? A douchebag trying to take a picture of it all with his iPad! Seriously? You bring your 10" piece of electronics up a mountain to use it as a camera? That is madness.
Then we check out the High Falls Gorge. Another natural wonder made accessible to the general public.
Beautiful. And guess what else we saw there? Another friggin douchebag taking pictures with his friggin iPad! Yes lets take our large awkward piece of glass out amongst the rocks and water to take pictures that will pale in picture quality to the cheapest point and shoot camera out there.
Lake Placid is a beautiful spot in the world and Jen and I had a great time but our visit did little to change my opinion of people in general.
Sunday, 26 August 2012
Crap. Well there went that idea. Jen would have to settle for a big box of charm for her birthday. But maybe, just maybe, the internet would provide some way for me to get my hands on a pair of those tickets.
With great unease, I went to e-bay looking for tickets. Finding tickets was easy but it was weeks before I finally took the leap and purchased two tickets that weren't stupidly over-priced and weren't up in the nosebleeds. I bought the tickets and within a week I had them in my hand. They definitely looked legit but I was still paranoid about getting ripped off. Jen even took them in to a ticket master outlet to see if they could verify their authenticity. They couldn't so we had to wait until August 24 and a ride out to Toronto to see if they were honest to god legit tickets.
Now I'm not a big Springsteen fan. I know some songs and I'll tap a foot along but that's where it ends. My original thought was that Jen would take one of her friends to the concert. Afterall, the concept of me going into the heart of Toronto and voluntarily surrounding myself with thousands of people was inconceivable. But Jen insisted I was the friend she wanted to go with. Awwww. Couldn't say no.
So, last Friday we got out of town by 3:30 and crawled along rush hour traffic to end up in downtown Toronto two hours later. On the way we heard that parking was going to be at a premium because of the busker festival and CNE that were going on. Great. The Force was in full effect as I turned around block after block of cramped Toronto streets until finally ducking into the underground parking of the RBC center. Have to make a note of that here, ALWAYS park here when going to Toronto. $10 flat rate and easy access in and out of the city. Take the York St. exit.
I hadn't realized until that day that the concert was actually at the Sky Dome and not the ACC. We walked on over and it was with great relief that our tickets were scanned successfully at the entrance. Phew! Took us quite a bit of wandering around the Sky Dome before we found our way down to the field. The seats were pretty decent. We could see the stage but the big screens were going to provide most of the detail. I couldn't imagine going to a concert there and sitting in the stands.
The show started shortly after 8:00 pm. And it was all Springsteen. For 3 1/2 hours he gave it his all. It was an impressive display of musical energy. I was skeptical of Springsteen after his geriatric display at the 2009 super bowl. But the old man is still kicking with all he has. The only reason the show ended at 3 1/2 hours was because of Toronto noise bylaws. I'm sure he would have kept going for another hour if he could have.
The Sky Dome itself is an intersting venue for a concert. With the roof open, the sound was still good and there's definitely an energy being surrounded by 40,000 die hard fans. And oh there were fans. Two 20 somethings beside me were going balls out, hooting at the first chords of every song, and fist pumping, and singing ALL the words, and doing some curious dance moves reminiscent of one Cliff Huxtable with fists at nipple level and grooving upper torsos. Weird. And there's something unsettling about being at a rock concert where the majority of the attendees are my parents' age and they are rocking harder than I ever have.
I wasn't a fan going in and I'm still not. It was an impressive show but the music itself doesn't do much for me. I felt bad that I was such a stiff while Jen was so obviously enjoying the show. But she said she had fun in spite of me. I'm going to call that a successful birthday present.
Thursday, 23 August 2012
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
Jen kicked it off solo. It was a free-for-all of rom-com's while I toiled away on some nerdy tasks. I wandered downstairs on a break and watched 30 seconds of Crazy, Stupid, Love. Yah, that was enough. That movie was a recommendation from my sister who, inexplicably, thought that it would be something I would enjoy watching. Her movie recommendations will be met with pure skepticism going forward.
When I finally got to pick a movie, I chose The Cabin In The Woods. Highly recommended. A very different take on the horror movie genre. Joss Whedon co-wrote it so I was on board from the start but even Jen liked it. Fantastic character designs and quite a bit of humour.
Sunday we watched Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. When I heard about this movie and its cast, I was super stoked. But then I started hearing reviews and all I heard was one word: BORRRRRRRRRRING. True, this is not an action-packed movie but it IS a well done movie focusing on an internal British intelligence investigation. Instead of hand-to-hand combat and state-of-the-art gadgets, this focuses on following up leads and checking facts and verifying peoples' stories. Yah, not for everybody but I liked it.
And then it was time. Time for the Batman! The Aurora shooting had put a damper on my enthusiasm to see this movie. But I've been very stringent on avoiding spoilers and I had to watch it in a real movie theater. So we went. And it was good. A good completion to the trilogy. Not great though. There are plot holes and awkward transitions in time and place. But it is a good story overall. The absence of Heath Ledger is obvious and I was a little disappointed in Bain as a villain. After Inception and Warrior, I was really hoping for more from Tom Hardy. He's a great pick for the role but there's very little he can bring from behind that muffly mask. I'll still buy the Blu-Ray when it comes out and there will be a weekend in the distant future when Jen's away somewhere that I will sit and watch the entire trilogy. Maybe my perception will change by then but, for now, Avengers is still the best movie of the summer of 2012.
The only circus I've ever been to was the Shrine Circus in Winnipeg. That was about 30 years ago. I have vague memories of it. What I do remember is that it was a big production. The circus was held in the Winnipeg arena and there was a big fair outside with all the rides and games. And that was my lasting impression of a modern circus.
Times have changed.
First, I was surprised to learn that the circus wasn't at the Scotiabank Place. It was at some convention centre closer to downtown Ottawa. As we drove up to the location we saw the tents set up in the parking lot. And then we saw the protestors.
That's another thing that was different from my childhood circus memories. I don't think we had protestors back then. But there they were, a bunch of college liberals and one dude trying desperately to get into some college liberal pants. Waving posters with pictures of tortured elephants at my niece and nephew. Yah, thanks for that. Let's traumatize the wee children. Fucking hippies.
Don't get me wrong. I don't condone the mistreatment of animals. I would personally remove the skin of anybody I saw abusing an elephant. But I really don't think they're doing that here and all you are doing is frightening some little kids who were looking forward to this event.
The circus itself, well, the circus is definitely for kids. And the kids did enjoy it. My niece got to ride on an elephant. That's pretty friggin' cool. And they were entertained by the clowns. I was not. I'm not one of those people that has a clown phobia. I just find them annoying. There were some cool acrobats and I found the jumping dobermans interesting. Until they lit the hurdles on fire. Those fucking hippies are outside wetting themselves over the elephants and there are dogs in here being forced to jump over flames. I didn't like that.
But, like I said, the kids seemed entertained. Hopefully there are some good memories there that they can look back on fondly. Me, I don't think I'll be back to the circus any time soon.
Friday, 17 August 2012
The reality of cancer eventually dawned on me but that never really coloured my memories of what my cousin and her family must have gone through at that time. Until today. Today I learned that my wee cousin had a brain tumour 25 years ago. For some reason, knowing the exact type of cancer shook me awake to the fact that her ordeal was not the walk in the park that 10 year old TBone thought it was.
I know this now because we spent the afternoon at her husband's funeral. He passed away last Saturday. He too had survived a brain tumour, diagnosed at the age of 10. But his treatment left him physically weakened with a degenerative condition that progressively took away his balance and mobility. He didn't live as long as most people but he definitely packed as much life as he could into the time he had.
I've been thinking about him a lot this week. He truly was a remarkable person. Life had given him such challenges so early in his life, I am amazed that instead of withdrawing from society (as I would) he went out and demanded interaction. He ended up founding a charity group to help survivors of childhood cancer get in touch with each other and participate in group activities. It was through this organization that he met my cousin. Rebounders.ca. Reading through that site made me doubly honoured to have known him.
Faith was a big part of his life. And my cousin's. It made them fairly unique in my family. They were never pushy about it but they never tried to hide it either. It was part of them and probably had a lot to do with keeping them strong and marching over any obstacles that got in their way. Faith isn't part of my life but I truly hope that it is bringing my cousin and her two boys some comfort during this difficult time.
The service was a tough one to get through. Each story seemed more gut-wrenching than the last. I nearly had a breakdown when my cousin got up to speak. It was humbling to see the vast turnout as the church was absolutely packed. For a guy who was pretty slow moving around, he certainly managed to touch a lot of people's lives.
Typically, I'd be writing a vengeful, crass piece about the pure ass-fuckery of cancer. But to honour Andrew, I'll just add my small voice to the many who have already commented on what a good man he was and how special he made us feel for having known him.
p.s. Fuck cancer! Give in any way possible to fight the disease or support the survivors!
Friday, 10 August 2012
Thursday, 9 August 2012
And sweet baby Jesus I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. The rules are pretty simple, each player draws 10 "phrase" cards and one person draws a "question" card. The question card has a question on it or a sentence with one or two blanks in it. The question is read aloud and each player submits a card that answers the question or fills in the blank and then the person who read the question reads all the submitted answers and picks his/her favourite. Whoever gets picked with the best answer wins the point then everbody replenishes their phrase cards and a new person picks a new question card.
We'd gone through a couple rounds and it was my turn to read the question card again. A mild enough fill-in-the-blanks type question about who the next dynamic duo from Marvel comics was going to be. Everyone handed in their submissions and the very first pair I read was "Jibber-Jabber" and "2 midgets shitting in a bucket". And I lost it. I couldn't even read the card out loud. I had to pass them off to the person beside me to read. My brain had broken. It felt very close to a stroke.
We played this thing for 3 hours straight. Nothing quite matched the 2 midgets card but a ton of funny stuff popped up throughout the night. Highly recommended for anybody with a slightly warped group of friends. Or not so warped. Some of the fun is explaining phrase cards like "Bukake" and "Queefing" to people who may not have logged as many hours on the internet as others. Good times.
Tuesday, 7 August 2012
A perfectly seasoned patty of ground brisket between two grilled cheese sandwiches. Yup. Drink that in for a few seconds. Yah. Good stuff.
And the coleslaw was excellent as well. I'm not a big slaw fan but even this won me over.
There weren't a lot of other people there and I'm starting to get concerned. I really hope this place pulls through because I just don't live close enough to keep it going on my own. Fantastic food.
Thursday, 2 August 2012
Jason Priestley is now starring in Old Navy commercials.
Looks like that 90210 cash is finally starting to peter out. Can't remember the last time I'd heard his name. And then last night I've got his haggard face leering at me from the television as children of all races and cultures bounce around him in bright and cheerful clothing.
Disturbing to say the least.
Wednesday, 1 August 2012
Besides volleyball, one sport that really got my attention was Judo. I'd never really watched a match before this weekend. Before this weekend, I was under the impression that Judo was actually a martial art where the combatants actually, you know, combatted. I think I watched 6 matches and all I saw was a bunch of grabbing. It appears to be a sport of competitive grabbing.
I'm sure that a good Judo guy would be able to take a novice and chuck him all around the floor. But when the best in the world go at it, all you see is five minutes of clutching and grabbing of pajama tops. Every now and then a throw is attempted and either it's successfully countered or the opponent lands in such a way that no points are awarded.
And the points system is ridiculous. From what I observed, I think you can either get 1 point, 10 points, or 100 points for a particular maneuver or penalty. That's quite a spread. And so much of it is up to the judges. And they have little conferences throughout the match and points get overturned all the time. It's pretty frustrating to watch. And if they're tied after 5 minutes, they have 3 minutes of "sudden death" overtime, and if that doesn't get somebody a point, the three judges just vote on who they thought clutched and grabbed pajama tops the best.
It is a far cry from the UFC mixed martial arts and I can see why none of those guys are keen to list Judo as their specialty. Ah well, back to the beach volleyball I guess.
Tuesday, 31 July 2012
Pirshki, for newcomers to the blog, is one part of the holy trinity of TBone Family Christmas Meals. Pirshki, Meat Sticks, and Roll-ups. I'm drooling just thinking about them. I considered a food truck concept that would serve all three of these epic dishes but I'm pretty sure that much concentrated awesome would result in my being trampled by an impatient mob of newly enlightened food fanatics.
Each of the three dishes would pose their individual challenges for preparing and serving in a food truck environment. Pirshki won the focus for being the most "streetable", easiest to eat on the run, for having the most crack like properties of addiction, and, hopefully, the easiest prep and serve properties of the three.
But could I be successful with just Pirshki? The stuff is heroin in fried dough, true enough, but it's still just one thing. I started thinking of different recipes that I could use to back up the champ. I had half a dozen alternatives that I thought might work but I needed some third party testing to validate these concoctions. We didn't have much going on this weekend so I decided to spend it cooking Pirshki and Pirshki Alternatives for evaluation by Jen, my brother, and sister-in-law.
Saturday was filling day. Most of the recipes had a ground beef base, like the original. But there was also shredded chicken, pulled pork, and chopped lamb to prepare. It was a carnivore's dream! Oh, and a pot of quinoa for the hipsters. I felt I had to at least offer a veggie Pirshki option even though it burns my soul to leave meat out of a dish.
Sunday morning I got to work on the dough. I had always dreamed of a quicker, faster way of doing Pirshki dough. I've finally accepted that the only way is the way my mom does it. No compromises. There's a lot of prep, and rising, and punching, and kneading, and more rising with this recipe. But the end results are worth it. The bread maker's going to be collecting a fair bit of dust after this experiment.
When the dough was finally ready, I packed 8 different recipes into about 70 Pirshki balls. After years of neglect, I dug my deep fryer out of the basement. Pirshki are traditionally pan fried but for a food truck, it would have to be deep fried or nothing.
And then the tasting. The clear winner was still the original recipe. There's just something about that combination of ingredients that is magical. There were some strong contenders though. The Buffalo Chicken and Mexican variations were popular with everybody and the Blue Cheese Burger was very tasty for those who liked blue cheese. The Pulled Pork BBQ was almost there but needs some work on the sauce. I was alone in liking the Rosemary Lamb and, surprisingly, the Kooky Quinoa. Very polarizing dishes. Jen had some suggestions that would likely really help the veggie option but I think I'll just keep those in my back pocket for now. The Cheeseburger was kind of bland but, again, some good suggestions that I'd likely implement to make a Bacon Cheeseburger down the road.
So, at the end of it all, a lot of work but some really good feedback. I got a bit of a taste of what it would be like to assemble and cook Pirshki on the fly. Could I actually make a go of a food truck? I think so. The product is amazing and people would go nuts over it in downtown Toronto. Am I actually going to do this then? Not likely. But it's always nice to have a back-up plan.
Friday, 27 July 2012
Thursday, 26 July 2012
Wednesday, 25 July 2012
So there I am, back in the chair. And it starts out casual enough. Just some x-rays. Fantastic. Maybe that's all they need to do for the evaluation? Just some x-rays and a frank talk about how 15 years is too long between dentist visits.
The hygienist comes back and puts the developed x-rays on a back-lit board beside my chair. I analyze them while waiting for the dentist to put in his appearance. Hey, they don't look too shabby! I have a lot more fillings than I remembered having but everything else looks like a pretty consistent shade of grey. No obvious dark spots to my admittedly untrained eye. I'm still clinging to the hope that the people touching my mouth phase is over for this visit.
The dentist finally shows up and steps on the neck of that notion and puts a bullet in its head when he whips out the sharp pokey sticks. After some chit chat about the healing around the wisdom tooth extraction, he proceeds to stabbing me repeatedly along my entire gum line with that cursed fucking dentist pick. Guess what!?! My gums started bleeding! He explained this to me. That my gums were bleeding. Obviously a result of my negligence and NO correlation to the fact that he had just jabbed a sharp pointy implement into that soft tissue a hundred times. No, no. GOOD gums, HEALTHY gums are impervious to such assaults.
Eventually he finished turning my gums into hamburger meat. Please god let this be over. But no, we now move from jabbing the gums to jabbing the teeth. I am wigging out just remembering this event. I hate, HATE, the feeling of metal on my teeth. So I gripped the fuck out of those armrests and tried my damndest to stay in my happy place.
Eventually, he stopped. The total damage was three cavities, one bad filling to be replaced, a shit load of cleaning, and the small matter of removing those last three wisdom teeth.
Yes, after 15 years of dentist-free joy, the bill has come due. I am going to be intimately familiar with that dentist chair over the next couple months. There's no question, this is going to suck. So was it worth it? Was 15 years without some weirdo's hands in my mouth, stabbing my gums with a sharp stick, and giving me shit when they bleed, worth these next 3 months of compressed dental activity? Yup. I'll suck it up and deal with this now and going forward but those were a sweet 15 years.
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
Probably not too classy to mention the price but I was pretty surprised to find how much of a bargain it was on overstock.com. The shipping process is a bit painful and they ended up just tossing it on our front porch for anybody to run off with but for the price it's still a recommended shopping experience.
Can't wait for ring day!
Edit: Put up the picture from overstock.com.
I think I might have shook my head and it could have ended up at the back of my mind, cynically displaced as another warped demonstration of America's love affair with guns. But reading about the victims changed that. Learning about the brother who died shielding his sister and her boyfriend, the 3 month old baby, the severely wounded mother asking for her 6 year old daughter who died that night.
I was, and am, furious.
I'm usually wary of media lynch mobs. Jonbenet Ramsey, the Atlanta bomber, even O.J. Simpson. They get so sure of themselves when it's impossible to know anything with certainty. But there's no ambiguity with this asshole.
They caught him with his weapons. His apartment was rigged with explosives. This is the guy. With certainty. No need for lawyers or courtrooms. It's just a question of what to do with him. People are, obviously, looking for the death penalty. But that is not a quick or just penalty in my humble opinion.
My modest proposal would be to auction off the rights for each bone in his body. The winning bid for each bone would receive a ball peen hammer, a cold chisel, and 5 minutes with Mr. Douchefuck to break the bone they bid on. Proceeds would go to the families of the victims.
At the very least, I think the district attorney should decline to prosecute and just release him in downtown Aurora. Give the community a chance to work out their own feelings about this cluster turd in person.
But first, I'd very much like to punch him in the face.
Sunday, 22 July 2012
Ever heard of this movie? Yah, not too many people have. But it has Guy Pearce in it and I'll always give his projects a chance. Like Trainspotting for Ewan McGregor, Memento earned Guy Pearce a lifetime pass for crappy movies. And this movie is crappy. Horrible. Avoid at all cost. The production values are of a "made for TV" level and the script is even more laughable.
This turd pile comes to us courtesy of one Luc Besson. The craftsman who has delivered one of my favourite flicks (The Professional) and one of my most despised (The Fifth Element). Lockout definitely falls into the Fifth Element pile. Take that for what its worth.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
We went there tonight and it, honestly, lived up to all expectations. I'll always prefer a bar that features their own brews crafted on-site (Huether Hotel, Clocktower Brew Pub), but having a bar that has even half of these beers on tap is a glorious runner-up. Most of these beers would be familiar to anyone who has crawled around the LCBO beer section looking for something different but having them on tap is a huge luxury and there were still a few surprises in there.
Tasting paddles are available with 4 beer samples. I went with the seasonal selection to start. There was one that was almost a lemonade. Very different but very good. My second paddle came with a Hawaiian Pale Ale that claimed to have been made with pineapple. I couldn't really pick up on that pineapple taste but it was a damn fine beer.
So the beer selection is a winner. No question. But the food? Delicious. The garlic bread alone is worth the trip. So good. For my main I went with a beef brisket poutine with sauteed onions and mushrooms. This was probably the best poutine I've ever had in my life. And, yes, it was made with real cheese curds for those poutine snobs out there.
Entertainment-wise, no shortage of TV's for all the latest sports activities. This place will be very popular come hockey and football.
Yah, I'd recommend this place to just about anybody. The prices aren't any great bargain but you are definitely getting what you paid for.