Monday, 30 April 2012


I woke up this morning ready to blog my ass off.  As a joyful consumer of cinema I occasionally feel the need to share my experiences with others, particularly when they are positive.  Allow me to give a few thoughts on some of the fare I have seen recently.

I attend the cinema once a week usually for work and I am fully aware of how ridiculous that sounds.  In my role as a support worker, myself and another staff member assist two friends in going out to the movies.  The men get a deal through the Easter Seals so the price is reasonable and due to mobility issues, its one of the activities that we can partake without much difficulty.  As a reward for our hard work, the staff also get to enjoy the movie playing that week, and I won't be caught complaining.

American Reunion:  We went to this one just last Friday, and I will say I was pleasantly surprised.  Knowing that the movie was being panned by most, I still felt compelled to see it after enjoying the original movie and to a lesser degree the first few sequels.  They jokes all involved sex in staying true to the formula.  I think the win came with the balance struck between referencing the first 3 movies, and keeping things fresh to a degree.  I described the movie to someone as being "the best they (the director) could have done with the material handed to them."  As it turns out, it was directed by the team of Hayden Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz who also teamed up on the 3 Harold and Kumar movies that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Considering the cast they had to work with here, almost entirely devoid of acting talent save for Sean William Scott, Eugene Levy and perhaps Alyson Hannigan, the effort put forth was comendable.

The Three Stooges:  On a slow week at the theatre, we found ourselves watching this one, along with about 15 other people, who were all in small groups with at least one kid to each group.  I had pretty low expectations, but was intrigued by the possibilities of what the Farrelly brothers would do with the material.  I'm too young to have enjoyed the stooges as a kid, but knew the premise going in.  Cheesy slap stick, ridiculous physical gags and mild g rated punchlines were all on the card, and the Farrelly boys didn't disappoint.  I thought their use of Larry David as a crabby old nun was great.  Sending the guys off to the big city to encounter Sofia Vergara's character was well done.  I could have done without the children at the orphanage, all the acting was awful and the scenes were awkward.  All in all, I did find myself laughing a few times though I couldn't shake this feeling of uneasiness while I watched.  Not the vibe you want to give viewers as a movie maker.

The Hunger Games: The hype for this one was off the charts, and being that I haven't read any of the teen book series, I was initially unmoved by the hysteria.  After the movie had been out for a few weeks, we felt it was safe to check it out, without the chance of being trampled by overly excited teens.  As it turns out, the movie is worthy of the hype.  I thought Jennifer Lawrence's performance in "Winter's Bone" a couple years ago was top notch, and she was great again here.  I also have a soft spot for Woody Harrelson and he played a memorable supporting character in this one as a former winner of the Hunger Games.  I really enjoyed the spectacular scenes involving the opening ceremonies for the games, and the extravagant costumes that went along with it.  This is one you should check out, regardless of whether or not you fit the teen target group.

21 Jump Street:  Anyone who knows me has heard me proclaim my hatred for Channing Tatum's "acting" on a number of occasions.  The guy is just absolutely painful to watch, and he is always starring in the romantic drama genre which I usually strain to get through at the best of times.  When one of your best acting traits is your abs, you likely are devoid of real acting talents.  On the other hand, I really like Jonah Hill's work and with him on the writing team I figured this one had to be a winner.  A string of solid reviews flowed in the first weeks after release, so I had to drop my Tatum hate and check it out.  In the end, I was left eating my proverbial hat as the movie was the funniest comedy I have seen in 2012.  Channing Tatum proved he does have some acting chops, and if I were to give him some career advice I would say the comedy genre will be a good fit for him.  Some really funny hijinx when the guys get their fake names mixed up and Hill ends up playing the jock while Tatum's character is in the band and ends up making friends with the chemistry club.  A fun time at the movies was had by all for this one.

That's my time, moving on to other things for the day.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

I woke up this morning feeling fresh and alive.

A funny thing happened this morning.  As I rolled over and woke up at 545 with my alarm, I was immeadiately aware that something was different then the previous handful of mornings.  I was feeling rested and energetic even before I stepped in the shower.  On my drive to work I was alert and focussed, glad to be free of the cold I had over the last week. When I arrive at work I have a little downtime before it is time to wake the guys are start the day.  During this time, generally 630-800, I fight to stay awake, mostly surfing various webpages on the computer, and doing a small amount of preparation for the day.  If I pick up a book during this time I fear that sleep might envelope me because books have this effect on me regardless of how much I am enjoying the material.  This morning I read some of my current novel, and while enjoying it, realized that I was being overwhelmed with things I wanted to share with others.  So here I am, doing just that.

Currently, I am making a concerted effort to read more of the classic novels that I have missed out on.  I have scoured the list of 100 best novels as mentioned in my last post, and set out to tackle some of the novels that interest me.  Some of the novels on the list I have considered reading before and never got around to it, but the novels that most excite me are ones I have never heard of.  After thoroughly enjoying "A Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley, number 5 on the list, I went to the library and took out 6 more novels that hold a place on the list.  My first project is a 570 page tome, complete with a 35 page introduction, bringing it 605 pages total.  "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison is at number 19 on the list and I have been thoroughly impressed through the first 250 pages.  Set in the United States it follows a young black man's struggle to understand the current climate while facing segregation and prejudice in the early 20th century.  Vague on details about the main character, then focus of the work is more on the situations he encounters and how he reacts to them.  I always enjoy a different style of writing and I like the unique way that this novel is structured.  I keep getting the impression that more details will eventually be revealed about the protagonist, but ultimately the story is being spun in a way that may make those details irrelevant or at least unimportant.  I will share my thoughts about the novel in a later post after I finish reading it. 

I love sports.  It's been said in this space of the blogosphere and it has been said regularly throughout my life.  I don't love sports commentary unless it is done well.  Overly polished discussion where nothing of consequence is said does not appeal to me.  I don't want a sports television personality that is afraid to say anything opinionated.  I'd rather hear something I didn't agree with then be forced to suffer through nauseating regurgitated crap from a former coach or a former player.  My motivation in discussing this topic was a quote I heard the other day on The Score.  The third string sports network in Canada, The Score struggles to keep up with TSN and sportsnet with what appears to be a very tight budget.  Holding the rights to almost no live sports, they manage to survive on the strength of their personalities.  For many years they boasted what was my favourite sports highlight show duo, Sid Sixeiro and Tim Macallef.  Their dynamic duo has since moved on, and they now have a variety of lesser known personalities delivering their nightly highlight packs.  This leads me to one of my all-time favourite sports personalities, Cam Stewart aka The Raging Redhead.  He first appeared on The Score a few years ago alongside loose cannon Gabe Morency on their show "Drive This".  I loved the loose format, less structure led to more opinionated diatribes from both men.  They discussed all sports, and usually all discussions were focussed on betting the sports they were discussing.  Both men had a penchant for saying things that may be considered out of line, and I couldn't imagine they would have found a home on either TSN or sportsnet.  Anyway, Cam Stewart has found a new home on The Score's morning show, where along with Renee Paquette he discusses the relevant sports topics from the night before.  I don't know when the show was developed, but I believe it is recent creation, and it works.  Renee plays the proverbial straight man while Cam peppers the show with humour and extremely well informed sports commentary.  In 10 minutes of the 30 minute show I was laughing multiple times.  First, they discuss a bet they made about the Clippers/Grizzles playoff series, if the Clippers win, Renee wins and Cam has to go to hot yoga in spandex while Renee and a film crew catch every minute.  If Cam wins, Renee has to take him to eat at a seafood buffet of his choice.  They discuss the Nashville Predators/Phoenix Coyotes series and Cam peppers us with a few plays on Renee and Rinne, Rinne Paquette, Pekka Renee and so on.  Then they move on to discussing whether or not they know anyone who cheers for the Coyotes, and Renee mentions that she got a barage of emails from Coyotes fans after their last show when she said there was no Coyotes fans outside of Phoenix.  Cam drops this bomb: "I told you Renee.  There is a bunch of Coyotes fans living in their mom's basements cheering every Mike Smith save.  Some of them even have their own apartments!"  This had me laughing so hard that I am still thinking about it 4 days later.  Thank you Cam Stewart for being real.

On another sports topic, I have held my tongue long enough.  I pick a fantasy team with a good friend of mine in what is evolving into a pretty competitve league.  This is year 2 of a 5 year keeper league, and we are off to a blistering start.  Some of this can be attributed to circumstance as points are gathered based on weekly matchups and we got lucky when our opponents didn't perform very well.  Some of our success can chalked up to some solid drafting and good manuevering prior to the draft where we lined ourselves up with lots of higher picks and were able to draft depth at most positions.  This league involved keepers, where we kept 9 roster players from last year and 2 farm players.  We had significant depth last year, so we parlayed this into a few trades that provided higher picks for the draft, hence the depth again this year. Our blazing start through the first 3 weeks has been fun but I realize that the season is long and many ridiculous things can happen.  I will enjoy the success for now, thank you very much.

As I lose steam with this entry, I want to put to paper my ambitious plans this week for physical activity.  I have had a few slow days here due to my cold knocking me down a bit, but starting today I have a renewed energy that I hope to translate into a solid week of fitness.  First and foremost I need to get back to my weightlifting routine, which will involve 5 workouts over the next 7 days.  I want to get out jogging a few times, I have no excuse as Asher has really taken a liking to his stroller and smiles throughout when I take him jogging.  Jasmine has been talking excitedly about learning tennis, and she is even more gung ho after we went and hit a few balls last week.  I plan to take her again on Tuesday as she has the day off from school.  Asher can run around the court and chase the balls that get away.  We will see how that goes.  We always swim on Wednesday afternoons.  I plan on taking Jasmine out for a bike ride or two, and if all goes well maybe a time or two on the basketball court this week would work.  I know this all sounds overwhelming, but I would love to get this all into one week.  I will update this space at the end of the week and let everyone know how I did.  Until next time.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

It's Been A While

The grand plan for this blog was to encourage myself to write, be it whatever style or topic I chose.  I have been out of the writing game for a few years now and I wanted to get back to it.  When I did write it was always for a school assignment and often I was writing on topics I didn't particularly enjoy.  Now, throughout the years I thought of myself as a solid writer, someone who had a decent grasp on the english language, but without putting these skills to use they were likely deteriorating over time.  It is funny how we prioritize our lives.  I use to take all of my "leisure time" to, very literally be at leisure.  When I was at my least motivated I would go out of my way to create more leisure time for myself.  Looking back, I am quite embarassed about all of the lost time.  Gradually, my priorities are changing.  I realize now that leisure time can be used in a positive way, and even though you are working hard, being active, etc. you can still be relaxing and/or enjoying yourself.  I have been following a workout plan since Christmas and I have been very happy with the changes in aesthetics and in my mood.  It feels weird to not be active, and quite frankly, that feels great.  I haven't had a day that I can recall without some type of activity.  I lift weights 5 days per week, focussing on particular bodyparts depending on what my schedule calls for.  I don't schedule abdominal workouts or cardio sessions, so it is up to me and my willpower to make sure these are accomplished on top of my scheduled workouts.  This desire to keep active has manifested itself in many forms and has led to fun times with my family, and has also scored me some serious points with Sheila. 

Yesterday morning, Asher, Jasmine, Sheila and I were all up by 8 am and eating breakfast together at the new dining table that we procured through Kijiji the week prior for $150.  We had been actively shopping for some new home furnishings for a few weeks after deciding that our modest tax return should be used for this purpose.  After annoying Jasmine and Sheila with various activity proposals we decided to walk over to the school (about 3 blocks) and shoot some hoops and play on the playground.  By 9 am we were enjoying the sunshine and the very quiet atmosphere of 9 am Saturday morning at the local school.  Jasmine was frantically throwing herself back and forth across the monkeybars.  Asher was busy either running around the basketball court after the ball or slowly plodding throwing the pea stones of the playground, getting a kick out of the sinking sensation of each step.  Sheila and I were locked in a game of 21, she is quite competitve and has a very solid shot, which leads to some close games.  I have only shot the ball a few times this spring, but I can already tell that the strength I am adding is beneficial to the game of basketball.  I have more spring in my step, making it easier to get off a good shot, and fatigue wasn't hitting me nearly as quickly as it usually does.  During our game Jasmine came running over and took a few shots, showing off what she learned during her first basketball season.  Now the outdoor hoop is higher then the one they played on, but she had no problem sinking a few shots, including 3 in a row before she ran back over to the playground.  We made our way back home and we in the house by 1030, a great way to start the day.  I wanted to get my workout in, as it was a scheduled shoulders and biceps day, and of course this would give me time to watch a little baseball and peruse my fantasy team.  I have made a habit of taking long breaks during my workouts, but trying to avoid this, I completed my workout in around an hour with a few sports related distractions.  I came upstairs, saw the carnage left over from breakfast and decided to tackle the mess.  Realizing that doing the cleanup scores points with Sheila while also providing a good workout, I am beginning to change my view of these types of tasks.  I even managed to garner a compliment from Sheila about how often I am helping out, something that made me feel very good.  It might be my first compliment scored ever in regards to frequency of help.  Yes!!!  After this was completed, I headed outside to pickup the grass and branches from the front yard that I had raked the day prior, enlisting Jasmine's help.  As we worked we made plans for a picnic spot under the big pine trees in the front yard.  "Asher needs to stay out of the sun!  It would be nice and shady for him under here Daddy!"  The garbage can filled, I decided I better leave the last couple piles for another day.  I went inside and showered before heading out early to go to work.  I had finished my book the day before and wanted to have time to stop by the library to replenish my supply of reading material.  A successful stop later I was at work.  Saturday afternoon at work is our scheduled pool visit time, and as my friend soaks in the hot tub, I get a little time in the sauna and hot tub to recouperate from the days activities.  I had a great week, as most of my days had been productively filled like this. 

When I haven't been busy with exercise and child minding or some combination of both, I have been reading beaucoup material.  I have enjoyed a few classics lately, as I read "The Catcher in the Rye" and "The Great Gatsby" in recent weeks.  Yesterday, I completed "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley.  I had been given this book by my sister at Christmas and she had nothing but good things to say about it.  The book finds itself at #5 on's list of the best novels of all-time, and this listing is anything but misplaced.  One of the strengths of the novel is that it's main theme can be interpreted in a myriad of different ways.  I was intrigued by Huxley's development of the "ideal world". His use of the character's reactions to illustrate the different pros and cons of this ideal are well placed and thought provoking.  A blind happiness is created where one is happy simply because they don't know any better could make for a very efficient society.  No one would waste time looking to fulfill themselves because as far as they know they are fulfilled already.  The use of drugs to maintain this happiness spoke deeply to me.  For all I know Huxley's point may have been that the idea of true happiness is a foolish notion, one that simply can not be.  You can't create what only exists in your mind.  Happiness is a personal feeling.  Creating the exact conditions that should produce happiness or at least a positive environment will not have the same effect on every person even if they have been genetically conditioned to respond in such a way.  At times disturbing, this novel is a testament to a great mind and I look forward to reading more of Aldous Huxley's work. 

I am busy looking forward to the coming week.  I have a soccer game this afternoon, the last one of the indoor season.  I plan on playing tennis with Jasmine as she has been bugging me to do so.  My bike has been repaired, (thanks Ian!) and I hope to get out for a few rides.  Asher has really been enjoying going for jogs in his stroller, lots of smiles and laughs from him, he seems to be over his initial fears.  I started a new book yesterday, Ralph Ellison's classic work "Invisible Man" and at 570 pages it should keep me busy.  Sheila has been after me to see this new Nicholas Sparks movie, and she is pretty insistent so we may be on our way to that this week.  I have some more work to do to get the yard ready for spring, so that will keep me busy as well.  Swimming as usual on Wednesday and perhaps Jasmine and I can get out to swing the golf clubs later in the week.  Here is to a good week ahead!