Monday, 28 January 2013

Energy Boost

I've been feeling great this week.  I have been coffee free for the last 5 days and I feel much better.  I have switched to green tea sans caffiene and I have actually seen a significant boost in energy.  I also have rededicated myself to eating right.  This has likely also helped, though again after only 5 days it's effects are negligable.  I hope to keep myself disciplined so I can be in decent shape come the spring.  I plan to run a few road races this year and will need to do some significant training to make it happen. 

It's Monday morning and just as it has been for the last 4 years that means I am nearing the end of my work week.  When the clock strikes half past 2, or slightly before, I will be out of here.  I will go and pick up Asher from daycare and then head up Ospika to go and get Jasmine from school.  She always waits patiently for me to come, then regardless of when I arrive be it 2:45, 2:50 or later she always says something like "I had to wait sooooooooo long!"  It's true, she does have to wait.  She makes her little pouty face and climbs into the vehicle.  I actually get a kick out of it now, the little attitude she gets, very similar to her mom's moods. 

So, normally on Monday I am very exhausted due to my 2 early mornings and a distinct lack of sleep so we just head home and laze around for the afternoon.  Today, we have a trip to the hockey rink planned and I doubt that my little Asher man will forget about it.  He came downstairs last night near bedtime to find me taping up my hockey stick.  This prompted him to start excitedly saying "hoggie, hoggie, hoggie" as he ran over to get his mini stick and find the ball.  Dad had to tell him that no, we couldn't play because it was bed time.  Well, my little 2 year old is in love with hockey.  He started to cry and when he was called upstairs shortly after by his mom, he through himself on the floor at the bottom of the stairs to have a little tantrum all because he couldn't play "hoggie".  Today is the day.  It's about -5C with a light snow falling so hopefully in about 4 hours when we can play the weather will still be nice, and Dad will still have some energy.  Jasmine has even rekindled her like of hockey due to Asher's enthusiasm and that also makes me happy.  Last time out, Jasmine even joined me in the game of shinny that was going on while were there.  She even set up dear old Dad for a goal. 

My plan for this post was to provide a review of the book I am currently reading.  As I am still currently reading it and didn't finish it as I had hoped, I can't review it quite yet.  I am more then half way through "Time Must Have a Stop" by Aldous Huxley.  This is the second of his books I have read, after being gifted "Brave New World" last year by my sister.  Unlike the first novel, the current one is more of a standard novel rather then a dissertation on a utopian world that Huxley created.  The main theme of the novel so far has been teenage Sebastian and his place in the world.  He sees the contrast of his father's communist type ideas juxtaposed against the materialistic ways of his Uncle Eustace who married into money and couldn't be more different then his brother John who is Sebastian's dad.  I will provide a complete review when finished, I am quite enjoying the read so far. 

As a book nerd I had some considerable excitement over the weekend.  I was dropping off some clothing donations at the St.Vincent de Paul thrift store (love the small shops, they truly feel like non-profits) and as always I browsed their book shelves.  I found 2 gems, "Sons and Lovers"  by D.H. Lawrence and "The Red Pony" by John Steinbeck.  I happily plunked down a toonie on the counter and walked out.  "Sons and Lovers" was written in 1913 and finds itself at #9 on Modern Library's top 100 novels of the 20th century.  As I outlined last summer a long term goal of mine is to read all 100 books on the list.  At the time I thought it could be done in a few years, but its more likely to take a better part of my lifetime.  As I found out, the local library has suprisingly few of the books on the list, unfortunate because you would think the classics would be the books that most belonged in a library.  I will have to acquire most of the books in stores, so I was happy to find the first copy of this novel I had seen since I started looking.  I haven't memorized the whole list, but I remembered this one due to it being in the top 10.  I've already read books 2, 5, 6 and 10 so this will make 5 of the top 10 once i've read it.  Yes, I know I am getting way too excited about this.  "The Red Pony" is not one of John Steinbeck's well known books, but it was the third novel he wrote (it's more of a novella) and I look forward to reading it.  "Grapes of Wrath" and "Of Mice and Men" were both awesome reads that have turned me on to Steinbeck in a big way.  I then walked across the street to the other thrift store "Bibles for Missions".  There, I was lucky to find 2 more books to my liking.  "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel and "Lucky" by Alice Sebold.  I have almost bought "Life of Pi" on Amazon a few times and am looking forward to finding out what all the hype is about.  "Lucky" is a book I already own, but I made the purchase for a friend who has been wanting to read it.  I know it is a great book and am happy that I was able to find an extra copy for a quarter.  Yes, the religious ladies were holding a 50% off sale making their dirt cheap prices even cheaper.  Major score for a total of 3 bucks!

The movie at work this week was "The Hobbit" in 3d.  As someone who is complete ignorant to the whole storyline I was still able to thoroughly enjoy it.  Great visuals, cool story and a solid amount of humour mixed in.  I am looking forward to the next installment.  My favorite movie moment this week though was when I caught the last half hour of "That's What I Am".  Done on a tiny budget starring Ed Harris and his wife, it's about kids in the 8th grade at a school where Harris' character teaches.  Set in the 1960s it involves a trio of nerdy types who end up getting to know each other through a school project that their teacher (Harris) puts them together for.  I caught the tail end of it and, wow!  I was tearing up during a scene where the most outcast of the three gets up at the school talent show in the face of bullying and sings accapella despite not being that great of a singer.  I excitedly told Sheila all about it, and will have to go about watching the movie as soon as I can. Hopefully Sheila and I can enjoy it together if I can find it online.

Sheila pointed out last week that this blog has a distinct lack of Sheila in it.  I pointed out that most of my content is related to sports, books, movies and poker but I did agree with her.  My next post will be dedicated to all things Sheila, look forward to it later this week most likely on the weekend.  Until then.

Friday, 18 January 2013

I'm a page turning, movie viewing fool.

The first few weeks of 2013 have proven busy and exciting.  Asher had a wild birthday party where too much sugar collided with too many kids and created a whirlwind of action for a few hours that took days to recover from.

Jasmine and I have been to the College Heights rink twice already, the first time meeting up with he friend to skate, and the second time to play hockey with her 2 year old brother Asher.  He had fun for a short time, tip toeing all over the ice in his bob skates and even sliding the puck into the net with his over sized stick.  He got a new mini stick set for his birthday (Thanks Lisa!) and has been obsessed with "hoggie" ever since.  The trip to the outdoor rink only served to make him more crazy.  I'm happy though, it could be our ticket to getting him to love the outdoors again.

Jasmine, Asher and I went to the library this week before our pool visit.  Jasmine grabbed a picture book, a short novel from "her favorite horse series", then a novel about the Holocaust.  Shocked, I asked what the book was about.  She couldn't really tell me but then she told me that Miss Marples had been reading it in class.  While surprised, I was also impressed.  It seemed to be a book similar to Anne Frank`s Diary, and I look forward to asking her about it if she does indeed read it.

Hockey season is back in full force.  As I have chronicled in this space, it never really left for me with junior hockey to watch and my own team to play for.  I have gotten out of synch with my own team as my work schedule has caused me to miss a number of games recently.  When I do have a chance to go though, I have been doing quite well.  5 goals in my last 6 games thank you very much.  I will miss another game tomorrow, but it looks like I might be back at it most of the season after that.  The NHL is back tomorrow, with 5 games on national television.  I will do my best to not let work get in the way.  The Oilers get started Sunday in Vancouver and I am giddy with anticipation.  My hockey pool team will keep me busy sweating as I have 15 players from 15 different teams.  My PVR will be working overtime. 

I just finished reading my second book of 2013, an edited version of a George Orwell work called ``Fighting In Spain``  Full of wit and humour Orwell provides a curious account of his time participating in the Spanish Civil War.  He embraced the uniquely slow pace of combat in what was a major precursor to the Second World War and left me curious to check out the unedited version ``Homage To Catalonia``.  Having read his most well known works ``1984`` and ``Animal Farm`` I aim to read more of Orwell`s work in the future, it`s always really entertaining often in different ways.  The first book I read this year was the recently released ``Invisible Country: A Mystery`` by Annamaria Alfieri.  While I was not overwhelmed by the quality of this novel, I did enjoy the historical aspect of it.  Knowing nothing of the conflict that Paraguay went through in the mid-19th century, I enjoyed the opportunity to gain a basic understanding.  As the country suffers greatly it`s disillusioned dictator desperately attempts to hold onto power.  The mystery of the novel unravels slowly as the country crumbles.  In the end the novel comes to a fitting conclusion of the happy ending variety.

Those that know me will not be shocked to hear that I have been pretty busy watching movies to start 2013.  Sheila and I watched "End of Watch" last night, and it was great again.  Having seen it in the theatre helped me really appreciate the handheld camera style with which it was shot.  Hard hitting violence throughout the movie really leaves an impact on the viewer.  A few scenes are quite horrific, the kids taped up on the closet got Sheila gasping, as did the cage full of humans, but it was this gruesome bluntness that made this movie so good.  Two of my favorite actresses are part of the cast, (hello Anna and America!) so I wasn't going to miss a chance to see it again.  Last week at the theatre we went to "Silver Linings Playbook" at work.  Inventive, original and extremely well acted this movie was easily the best romantic comedy I had seen.  Usually the term romantic comedy is enough to ensure that the movie with lack anything funny, but this one was the opposite.  Normally Bradley Cooper's acting is like stale bread, but his role as an uncured patient who had escaped the mental hospital with help from his mom was so dynamic I was forgetting what actor I was watching.  He holds his own with Robert DeNiro who plays his father and engages him in some outrageous scenes, including a fight they have in the middle of the night, a 70 year old DeNiro in pajamas trading blows with Cooper's character.  See both of these movies, you won't regret either.

That's my time for today.  I need to get my workout in while Asher sleeps, then get the basement in order for some serious NHL viewing this week.  That reminds me, I need to call to confirm my free Centre Ice subscription for this year.

Monday, 14 January 2013

This is THE Winning Team!

A group of 10 hockey geeks got together and we threw together our teams for what is now the 3rd annual hockey draft.  The formats and fees had changed a fair bit from year 1 to year 2, but this year stayed relatively similar to last year.  We decided to implement a 2 defensemen rule, so everyone had to pick at least that many.  It added a little wrinkle which was nice.  A couple of the participants are new, as we lost a couple guys but we gained a few to replace them.  My buddy Jason is always in for any kind of sports betting pool, and this year my brother Ian got involved.  Everyone ponied up $100 (I got in for half due to my last place finish in 2012), then 6 out of the 10 of us put an extra $50 in a winner take all side pot.  I figured this made sense as I had saved the same $50 on the entry fee.  I stand to win $1000 if I take first place out of the 10 teams, which is a $700 pay out, plus the $300 that accumulated in the side pot.  I managed to get a few players that I really like, a few that I took gambles on (but still like the player), and a few where despite not loving the guy, I had to go with them due to "value".  Allow me to run down my team for your amusement.

I got the 10th pick out of 10 teams which meant I also got the 11th pick in the snake format.  This led to me waiting 18 picks before having my turn come up again.  This is the result.

1st Pick (10th Overall) DANIEL SEDIN Vancouver Canucks (TSN #3 LW)
ESPN: 53 pts
TSN: 47 pts

For anyone that knows me well, my time consumed cheering the Oilers is only rivalled by the amount of time I spend cheering against the Vancouver Canucks.  There is no one I love to hate more then the Sedin boys.  By the time I was picking at 10 the usual suspects Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, Stamkos and Henrik Sedin were all gone and despite my reluctance I could not pass up on Daniel Sedin.  He is just too consistent to not take here in this spot as it reduces the stress level a bit.  I watch a lot of Canucks hockey, and after a season of cheering for Burrows it will be another season of cheering for points from Vancouver's top line.  This pick allowed me to gamble a bit with my next one.

2nd Pick (11th Overall) TYLER SEGUIN Boston Bruins (TSN #2 RW)
ESPN: 39 pts
TSN: 43 pts

I am really excited about this pick.  I know a few guys were surprised about how early he went but with my position in the draft order it was either now or never for me in this spot.  I knew that he wasn't going to still be there at #30 when I got to pick again, and I have read a number of articles predicting a huge breakout year.  He spent the lockout in Switzerland tearing the league apart.  He played the Spengler Cup for Canada, contributing to a team that won the tournament handily.  His Bruins are an elite team with plenty of talent to surround him with.  This pick will likely make or break my result for the season.

3rd Pick (30th Overall) PHIL KESSEL Toronto Maple Leafs (TSN #3 RW)
ESPN: 46 pts
TSN: 42 pts

Ugh.  I hate the Leafs just as much as I hate the Canucks, but Kessel is going to score if the Leafs are winning, losing or otherwise.  I thought it would be fun to have the top dog off of both of my least favorite teams, especially when Kessel had no business being available at #30.

4th Pick (31st Overall) HENRIK ZETTERBERG Detroit Red Wings (TSN #9 LW)
ESPN: 41 pts
TSN: 40 pts

5th Pick (50th Overall) MATT MOULSON New York Islanders (TSN #16 LW)
ESPN: 37 pts
TSN: 34 pts

6th Pick (51st Overall) JAKUB VORACEK Philadelphia Flyers (TSN #16 RW)
ESPN: 38 pts
TSN: 34 pts

7th Pick (70th Overall) RAY WHITNEY Dallas Stars (TSN #15 LW)
ESPN: 38 pts
TSN: 35 pts

8th Pick (71st Overall) JORDAN STAAL Carolina Hurricanes (TSN #27 C)
ESPN: 41 pts
TSN: 32 pts

9th Pick (90th Overall) TOMAS PLEKANEC Montreal Canadiens (TSN #18 C)
ESPN: 32 pts
TSN: 37 pts

10th Pick (91st Overall) NAIL YAKUPOV Edmonton Oilers (TSN #25 LW)
ESPN: 25 pts
TSN: 31 pts

11th Pick (110th Overall) PATRIK ELIAS New Jersey Devils (TSN #13 LW)
ESPN: 39 pts
TSN: 36 pts

12th Pick (111th Overall) OLLI JOKINEN Winnipeg Jets (TSN #96 Overall/Center)
ESPN: 46 pts
TSN: 30 pts

13th Pick (130th Overall) DUNCAN KEITH Chicago Blackhawks (TSN #152 Overall/Defencemen)
ESPN: 28 pts
TSN: 26 pts

14th Pick (131st Overall) CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF Buffalo Sabres (TSN #173 Overall/Defencemen)
ESPN: 24 pts
TSN: 24 pts

15th Pick (150th Overall) JIRI HUDLER Calgary Flames (TSN #189 Overall/Right Wing)
ESPN: 34 pts
TSN: 23 pts

I got a number of guys who dropped quite a bit due to age and/or guys just not liking the players.  I would say that Whitney, Elias, Plekanec and Jokinen fall into this category.  My last pick I panicked a bit after David Perron and Derek Stepan went right ahead of my pick, leaving me to take a super longshot on Hudler.  If he ends of playing lots of with Iginla I could look like a genius, if not, well I care not to think about that.  For fun, let's compare my team to Ian's team.  He was picking in the middle with the 5th slot.

Daniel Sedin/                Steve Stamkos
Tyler Seguin/                Rick Nash
Phil Kessel/                  Louie Erikkson
Henrik Zetterberg/       Gabriel Landeskog
Matt Moulson/             David Krejci
Jakub Voracek/           Jeff Skinner
Ray Whitney/               Dustin Byfuglien
Jordan Staal/                Brad Marchand
Tomas Plekanec/          Andrew Ladd
Nail Yakupov/              Tomas Fleischmann
Patrik Elias/                   TJ Oshie
Olli Jokinen/                  Justin Schultz
Duncan Keith/               Chris Stewart
Christian Ehrhoff/          Tyler Ennis
Jiri Hudler/                    Matt Read

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Hockey, hockey, hockey!

I know what you're saying, but Matt, "it never really left!"  I, more then most know that.  I play beer league hockey once a week, at least when my schedule allows.  I have been to a handful of junior hockey games this year, and I follow the Prince George Spruce Kings pretty religiously, keeping track of wins, losses and personal stats of all the players.  I spent plenty of time keeping up with the Oilers players and prospects as they plied their trade around the world waiting for Gary and Donald to get together and make the same deal they could have made in the summer.  By the way Donald, I think this means you lose.  All that aside, let's be honest.  When the best players in the world who play in the best league in the world are unable to perform, something is lost.  It's back, and the best talent in the world can once again play together in the best league in the world.  As if I need any more reason to pay attention, I take part in as many fantasy hockey pools and drafts as I can.  This year, the big one is back for it's 3rd edition.  2 years ago I took part and we just circled names on a piece of paper.  Last year, we gathered at a friend's house and had a live draft with about 10 guys.  I finished in an embarassing distant last place, something I have no desire to repeat.  So tonight at 630 I will once again join with a bunch of other dudes and pick this year's version of my team.  One nice thing is that being so incompetent last year gives me a 50% discount for this year.  Last year's fee was $100 but there has been talk of increasing it to $150.  Fine with me, the guy with the discount.  All I have to do is actually pick guys who are playing in the NHL, and not the AHL or the Swiss Elite League, or my personal favorite, the guy who watched most of his team's games from the press box last year.  This is me officially stating for the record that Linus Omark, Michael Frolik, and Ville Leino will not find a place on my team this year.  I'm sure there are a few more that I should avoid from last year, but those are the ones that stick out.  Part of the fun of accepting the last place discount is the heckling and ridicule that come with it.  I remember laying it on thick last year as Roger accepted his discount (my buddy and I had teamed up to win the pool the year before giving me added ammo) and I am more then ready to absorb similar punishment.  As a way of researching, I am going to make some notes in this space below.  For the most part I am going to briefly discuss some of my favorite hockey players and why they will be targets for me tonight.

Elite NHLers

JAMIE BENN (Dallas): One of the only solid picks I made last year, I recieved a few weird looks when I reached way down to grab him in the 3rd round last year.  I have a soft spot for BCHL grads, and Benn is one of the most talented players to ever come through the Junior A circuit.  Dallas added a few more solid forwards in the offseason, so I expect to see another increase in production.

JORDAN EBERLE (Edmonton): For obvious reasons, Eberle is one of my favorite players out there.  The Oilers young talent continues to mature, and the super line of Ebs, Hall and RNH will be together again.  He is likely to be a first round or early second round pick.

TYLER SEGUIN (Boston):  Many are predicting a huge year for this guy who went to Switzerland during the lockout and tore the league to shreds.  Surrounded by plently of talent, and possessing plenty himself, Seguin may make a big jump this year.

ERIC STAAL (Carolina):  It will be interesting to see what kind of an impact his brother's arrival in Carolina might have.  Also, the team added Alex Semin for the year.  It's unknown as to who is playing with who as he and Jordan are both centres, but the powerplay should be interesting.  I'm looking for a bounce back year from Eric.

BOBBY RYAN (Anaheim): After an off year last year it is really hard to predict what might happen with Ryan this time around.  He is still very young, but had a poor year as did a number of his teammates.  The possiblity of him being traded has only added to the intrigue surrounding his value.


James Van Riemsdyk (Toronto)

Braydon Schenn (Philadelphia)

Peter Mueller (Florida)

Nick Backstrom (Washington)

Jordan Staal (Carolina)

Mikko Koivu (Minnesota)

Olli Jokinen (Winnipeg)

Jeff Carter (Los Angeles)

Matt Duchene (Colorado)

Matt Moulson ( New York Islanders)

Jarome Iginla (Calgary)

Jiri Hudler (Calgary)

Huge Breakout Potential

Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado)

Cam Atkinson (Columbus)

Jamie McGinn (Colorado)

David Perron (St. Louis)

Brett Connolly (Tampa Bay)

Don't Give Up On Them

Ray Whitney (Dallas)

Jaromir Jagr (Dallas)

Andy MacDonald (St.Louis)

Teemu Selanne (Anaheim)

Milan Hejduk (Colorado)

Patrik Elias (New Jersey)

Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa)

Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay)

Martin Erat (Nashville)


Nail Yakupov (Edmonton)

Vladimir Tarasenko (St.Louis)

Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida)

Damian Brunner (Detroit)

Friday, 11 January 2013

Asher Turns 2!

So, there we were.  First arriving at the hospital in the morning after seeing Jasmine off to school, Sheila was set to be induced into labour.  By January 11th of 2011 the arrival of our little one was already 10 days late and something had to give.  Being relatively ignorant about the whole situation I didn't realize that an induction did not necessarily lead to a quick and easy child birth.  Our good friend Daphne arrived to provide support and later in the morning my mom arrived after driving up from Quesnel.  Sparing the gory details our little bundle of joy arrived at 11:18 that night.

1/11/11 @ 11:18 reads his tagline and we called him Asher Felix Prosk.  We spent that first night deciding between Felix and Jackson as his middle name, but there was never a doubt that our little guy was Asher from the first time we saw him.  A few months ago it really started to hit me that my little guy was no longer a baby.  It's something about the way you can see his mind at work, and some of the things that he can already say and do that tells me that he is no longer a baby.  As if I needed any further proof that Sheila and I now have a toddler and not a baby anymore, Asher and I went to Strong Start on Wednesday where it was very busy with about 15 other children.  He had fun reacquainting himself with his buddy Jack who he had met before Christmas.  They had a third member of their gang this week, as another little guy named Grey joined them in playing in the kitchen area.  All three sporting the wispy blond hair and Jack and Asher only 2 months apart in age, they seem to enjoy each other immensely.  Quite excited about all the toys at their disposal, Jack matches Asher's energy easily.  Jack speaks at a more advanced level, and it was beyong cute to hear him say Asher's name a few times when he needed to get his attention.  Before the end of the program, all of the children sit down with their parent to sing a few songs and practice a few colors and shapes with the program instructor.  Asher and another little boy named Colby (who's mom I had met previously at the Christmas Concert) both sat beaming as the circle sang happy birthday to the 2 little boys who had been born 1 day apart at UHNBC.  I had inadvertently sat beside Colby's mom at the concert then after realizing our boys were a similar size, we asked the usual parent questions and realized that they boys had been born less then 12 hours apart in the same ward at the same hospital.  What are the chances?

As a gushing parent on such a special day for our little guy, I keep thinking of all the cute little things he does that I can't help but love.

--Asher, I love the way angrily cross your arms, scowl and tell me or your sister to "get out!"

--Asher, I love the way you bring me the remote after knocking the batteries out to tell me it is "bogeyied"

--Asher, I love the way you bring the dining chair over to the counter so that you can get involved with whatever cooking or baking is going on.

--Asher, I love the way you giggle and laugh when you fart, especially when you grab your bum and say: "oh! my butt!"

--Asher, I love the way you stop crying so quickly when mom or dad or Jasmine pick you up, as if that was all you ever wanted.

--Asher, I love the way you walk all by yourself holding my finger when we go out anywhere.

--Asher, I love how much you love sports and the cute way you say hockey, baseball, basketball and football.

--Asher, I love how miserable you get when you are outside in the winter and you get wet or cold.

--Asher, I love how important I am to you.

--Asher, I love when you insist on putting on your own jacket, hat and gloves, even if the jacket is backwards, your fingers are all in one spot in the gloves, and your ears are poking out from under the hat.

--Asher I love the way that you move when a song comes on that you like.

--Asher, most of all, I love the way that you love me without conditions, without abandon, without any care in the world.

Happy birthday Asher Felix Prosk!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Morning Thoughts

As I settle in at work I thought I would throw a few thoughts down in this space in order to keep me upright.  The guys don't get up for another hour, and as I am feeling a little under the weather and sleep deprived I need to fight off any and all thoughts of sleeping until it's time to start the morning routine.  Shall we?

-As I type this, the NHL mucky mucks are probably still hammering out the details of the details so they can get ready to miraculously end the lockout by tonight or whatever.  I am going to be more then happy to welcome back a shortened season as it feels like the sports networks have talked hockey just as much in it's absence as they do when it is actually happening.

-The Canadians flamed out at the World Junior Hockey Champs.  I wasn't all that upset really.  When I watched the Semi-final where we were thoroughly dominated I noticed a few big differences.  The USA had a great goaltender and depth through the forwards.  The biggest difference was the ability of most of the American defense to join in on rushes and scoring plays, something that was lacking from the Canadians.  The Canadian boys were much too reliant on the powerplay to generate offense.

-While my parents were visiting and helping with the kids over New Years my mom, dad and daughter were able to take in one of my hockey games.  This was my mom's first game in 12 years, and she hadn't seen my brother Ian play for about that long either.  I had just recieved a new stick from Santa Claus, a fancy Easton one made even flashier looking by its white color.  For the hockey playing readers, I went from a Pavel Datsyuk curve to a Taylor Hall curve.  I have owned about 5 composite sticks since returning to hockey last year, and I have now had 2 Datsyuk's, 2 Hall's and an Iginla curve.  The major difference with this stick is I am pretty sure it's the first time I have gone to a 100 flex instead of a 85 flex.  I had been hoping to try one, but was unwilling to splurge until my 30 dollar Datsyuk stick had broken.  Of course, because I didn't care for it (my wrist shot seemed limp and my slap shot inaccurate) the stick had proven to be mighty durable.  Back to the point, I had promised to curb the goofy stuff and play hockey for my mom.  Well, it seems the fan support and new stick propelled me to a great game.  I got my 4th and 5th goals of the year, recieved tons of love from my teammates for the moves I made, but in the end we blew a few leads and ultimately lost 7-5 to the second place team.  Our team sits in 6th out of the 8 teams.  To make things worse, a pretty serious donnybrook broke out at the end of the game.  Provoked by one of our guys brushing past their keeper in the dying seconds, 3 of their guys stormed after him, our team followed and a fight broke out.  In the end while we "won" the fight, we lost our top scorer to suspension for the next 3 games.  So ma got her fight anyway, even though Ian and I were on our best behaviour (we happened to be on the bench when the rumble broke out).  The best part was how excited Jasmine had been about the part my gift had played on the night.  "Santa must have put some magic in your stick for you Daddy!"  Oh, and I will tell you I play for the exercise, but damn it feels good to score once in a while.

-I started my poker year off right.  Two sessions this past week for about $400 in profit.  The first session I played decently, mostly benefitting from the presence of a beginner who changed the whole table dynamic.  My wins weren't coming from him, but his presence made others loosen up and I was able to adjust nicely to the tune of a $380 win.  A couple nights later I tried again.  It was an up and down ride where I could have easily ended up a big loser.  I battled through some bad luck and if I hadn't lost a ~$300 pot with AJ<Q10 on a J93 2 club board I would have walked away up that amount.  In the end I settled for a break even session but will be looking to keep the momentum going when I am feeling up to it. 

-My plan to be much more proactive about taking care of repairs and chores around the house and what not has gotten off to a bad start.  My vehicle has been without heat for a few weeks, and though I know it is an important thing to have fixed I can't bring myself to get it done.  Cost be damned, my kids need heat when they ride in my vehicle and I do to for that matter.  Please let this task be done by the end of this week. 

-My back and neck have been a source of problems for a while now.  I lift weights and I often try to chalk the soreness and sharp pains up to muscle fatigue.  At this point, I know I am kidding myself and need to get some help.  Here is me thinking once again about establishing a proper relationship with my Doctor and asking him for help with my situation.  Besides, I should do the turn to the side and cough thing as I never really have and it's stupid not to.

-Sheila has been absolutely on fire in the kitchen.  She has embraced the wheat-free movement and has been pretty devout since August.  It has led to her experimenting a lot in the kitchen with some great results.  Who knew that chocolate chip cookies didn't need wheat flour?  Or that nearly every dish can be made without wheat for that matter.  While the rest of us haven't joined on full force we have been enjoying all the dinners that are now made without wheat, essentially for us that cut out pastas (easily replaced with corn or bran or rice pasta), perogies (no replacement yet), breads (just a side of the plate filler anyway) which was pretty easy to do.  The biggest surprise had to be the Lasagna Sheila made the other day without wheat.  Not sure what type of noodles she used instead, but the Lasagna turned out great, possibly it was Sheila's best ever.  That's saying plenty as this is one of her signature dishes. 

-I like to dabble in sports betting for fun.  I never bet enough to change my life in either a postive or negative way, but merely to enjoy it.  I take a little satisfaction in winning, and of course enjoy telling the odd horror story about losing too.  I have had a decent little run, working off of the same 50 dollar deposit for what must be at least 6 months now.  I don't bet every day, often going weeks without making a bet.  The last 18 weeks I have not taken a break longer then a week as it has been NFL season.  I am no expert, but I have been having some reasonable success betting football.  Last weekend I made about $50 by scoring on a 6 team parlay and a 4 team parlay.  Yesterday, the first day of the playoffs I correctly played the Bengals +10 and under 48.5 for the game, then in the late game I took the Packers -4.5 and under 50 for the game.  I made about $60 yesterday.  Of course I am going to gloss over how I went 0 for 3 midweek on the basketball games and told myself once again to stay away from betting that sport, but I am trying to be a glass half full kind of guy.

-No movies this week.  Sheila and I were rewatching "Cedar Rapids" the other night before I succumbed to my sore back and we went upstairs to bed.  It's a great low budget comedy flick made last year about an extremely nerdy insurance salesman that comes out of his shell.  Starring Ed Helms, John C. Reilly and Anne Heche it is well acted and well written, it had me laughing a few times while rewatching it.  I got Sheila watching a few episodes of the brief 7 episode run of "Life's Too Short" starring Ricky Gervais, Steven Merchant and Warwick Davis.  It's really funny stuff based on Warwick Davis' real life as a dwarf in show business.

That's my time for now, i've managed to stay awake while typing this, mission accomplished.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Django Unchained: DO NOT MISS IT!

As has been chronicled in the space before, I am lucky enough to attend the theatre regularly as part of my work.  On Friday night we have support staff on hand so that we can go out.  The preference is often a movie, especially when there isn't a hockey or soccer or basketball game to attend.  This past Friday found is at Famous Players Prince George to bear witness to a masterpiece "Django Unchained".  While I don't intend to ruin the movie for others, I do intend to make sure you know exactly what you are missing if you don't go and see it.

So, after seeing the previews for weeks, including a number of times on the big screen at the theatre I knew that I couldn't miss this one.  It had so many positive things going for it, I really felt that it was going to be awesome.

Creative and Unique Direction: CHECK
Great Acting Cast: CHECK
Interesting and Controversial Subject Material: CHECK
The Best Genre on Film: CHECK

I was dying to include that checklist in some form, so there you go.  If you don't know me well, you won't know that over the last few years I have developed an affinity for the Western movie.  I believe that part of this new found love is the difficulty involved in finding a really well done Western film.  It also seems like Hollywood is afraid of the genre for the very same reason, it's damn hard to make an entertaining Western film that can truly capture the audience.  I have really been watching a lot of movies in the last few years, and even with my developing interest in the genre, I have only seen maybe 5 or 6 good Western movies, and even fewer that I would consider "great".  Due to my love of lists, I will now include a ranking of Western movies I have seen.  This is my personal preference, and does not include anything from the older eras of young Eastwood, Tom Selleck classics, John Wayne and so on.  This isn't to say these aren't potentially great, it's just that you can't get a decent quality for them, and I have not seen enough of them.   On to my list.

1. 3:10 To Yuma (2007)

2. Appaloosa (2008)

3. True Grit (2010)

4. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007)

5. Lawless (2012)

6. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

7. Open Range (2003)

8. Maverick (1994)

9. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

10. Wyatt Earp (1994)

Well, I was barely able to make out a top 10 list even while reaching back more the 30 years for Josey Wales.  Now there are a few others that I want to see but haven't had the chance.  Also, looking back through the genre just now in order to make my list I found a few more that I hope to see soon.  But, the task at hand is to determine just how great "Django Unchained" really is.  I really like that Quentin Tarantino is going out and tackling genres that he has never touched before.  There were elements of the traditional western mixed in, but the amount of humour and wit was an awesome touch.  Also, you can't ignore that the bounty hunters running around killing "bad guys" was a fresh twist as well.  Jamie Foxx is an extremely talented actor, as he won me over with his turn as Ray Charles in "Ray" which was one of my favorite movies of all time.  He doesn't disappoint in Django as he goes from slave, to bounty hunter, to prisoner to hero seamlessly.  I was unfamiliar with Christopher Waltz's work, but I must say he is a show stealer in this one.  While blowing away countless bad guys, his character is constantly cracking witty jokes with a smile.  The best scene of the movie has to be when Foxx and Waltz's characters are at dinner in Candie's house when they are attempting to rescue Broomhilda.  The tension is great, Samuel L. Jackson's turn as the head slave with a sneaky suspicion works really well, and it leads to an absolutely unbelievable gun fight that you have to see.  All in all, this was nearly 3 hours of great storytelling that I look forward to seeing again.  This leads me to the ultimate question, where does "Django Unchained" rank on my list of favorite western movies.  While "True Grit" was a solid movie made by my favorite directors the Coen Brothers, I would say that "Django" is a slight bit better.  I know "Appaloosa" was panned by many, but I really loved the slow moving storytelling that Ed Harris employed in it.  Now, "3:10 To Yuma" shall remained untouched at number 1 as it was just a perfect blend of everything the genre should be.  "Django Unchained" will settle in at #2 at least for now as I continue my quest to view more "great" western movies.