Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Boss

I think it was back in April that we were driving up to Ottawa and heard on the radio that Bruce Springsteen tickets were going on sale for the Toronto stop of his Wrecking Ball tour.  Jen practically squealed in her seat.  I took that to mean she was a fan.  Not having figured out a birthday present yet, I tucked that information away, and when we got to Ottawa I jumped on the internet to buy some tickets!

Sold out.

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

Hunger Games

Forgot to mention we watched this movie too.  Yah.  Those books must be really good because this movie isn't.  It looks good and there are some interesting concepts but a lot of the plot just doesn't make any sense.  You're in a fight to the death with 20 other people, why would anybody form an allegiance with anybody else?  Somebody will ultimately have to stab somebody else in the back.  No big shocker there.  Maybe I'll have a look at the books because the movie is severely lacking.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Movie Recaps

It was an emotional start to the weekend.  Seemed like a good idea to spend the rest of it unplugged and watching some movies.

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.

Circus

Jen's always thinking about fun things to do with our nieces and nephews.  A while back she had heard about the Shrine Circus coming to town and thought it would be fun to go see it in Ottawa with wee-est of the wee ones.

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

A Good Man

My cousin battled and overcame cancer when she was a kid.  We are the same age and lived within half an hour of each other at the time.  She must have been around 10 or 12 years old when she was diagnosed.  Our families were pretty close and I remember seeing them often.  I was too young and stupid to know what was really going on.  I just knew that at one point my cousin all of a sudden didn't have any hair and wore a kerchief over her head for quite a while.  Her hair came back and everything was back to normal.  That was my impression of cancer for a long time.  You got cancer, you lost your hair for a bit, and then everything was good again.

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

Riding High

Holy fuck I am riding a lightning bolt of god damned energy right now.  One of the guys found out that McDonald's coffee has been free all week.  And we just found out today.  So we've been packing a week's worth of coffee into this one day.  My hands are a freaking blur and I'm not sure if it's because the hands are shaking or my eyeballs.  I haven't even had my can of Monster yet!  I'm a little concerned of what would happen if I drank a Monster after all this caffeine.  Either I'd tear a hole through the office wall, Kool-Aid style, or the atoms in my body would lose all cohesion and I'd end up a big puddle.  I think I'll wait a bit longer.  WHOOOOOO!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

2 Midgets Shitting In A Bucket

Besides BBQ, last weekend provided us an opportunity to meet up with a large portion of the old Deere crew.  One of the crew had been talking up this game called "Cards Against Humanity" for a few months.  Take a look at the link, you'll see what was in store for us that evening.  So, after even MORE BBQ and a few beers, we opened up the box on this thing.

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

Bull BBQ Take 2

Our second visit to The Bull BBQ Pit was this weekend.  And I'm still in love with this place.  This was my order:

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

9021-oh my god!

So....

Jason Priestley is now starring in Old Navy commercials.

Yup.

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

Judo

Watched a fair bit of the Olympics on the weekend.  Yah, I'm surprised too.  I don't care for the Olympics.  It's big, bloated, compromised, and corrupt to the core.  But there's not much else on during the summer.  And just try to change the channel once you've stumbled on women's beach volleyball.

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.