Wednesday, 10 July 2013

What Has Matt Been Up To?

Hello again!  It's Monday morning and that means that I am nearing the end of my work week once again.  This time around I have not 3 but 4 days off, and they are going to be busy.  Soccer returns this week after a 20 day break.  I also have plans to golf tomorrow for the first time in 2 years.  Between Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening I hope to have played a round of golf, played hockey, played a soccer game, ran 5 km, biked with Jasmine, and gone swimming with the kids.  Will I survive?  Sheila and I are also thinking about spending Friday night camping with the kids.  It would be nice to relax a little after the packed schedule of Tuesday and Wednesday.

This weekend was a good one.  We woke Saturday morning and a had a nice breakfast.  Jasmine has been addicted to pancakes lately, this was her fourth time eating them this week!  Sheila spoiled us with bacon and eggs to go with the cakes.  We jumped in the car to head downtown.  Our timing was a little off, so we ended up spending 45 minutes on the street corner waiting for the parade to start.  I believe this is the fourth year in a row that we have attended the Prince George Pride Parade, and it was the best one yet.  Considerably more viewers than year's past, it was good to see.  The added participation of the RCMP, Ambulance employees and Firefighters was a nice sight to see, though I have no idea why it took them so long to get involved (it's year 16 for the parade).  The kids had a great time cheering and waving (Asher waves to everyone, including all dogs!) but best of all, they liked the goodies that were being handed out.  We collected candies, bracelets, stickers, tattoos, bottles of water (great idea!) and Asher even got a little football.  After the parade, we strolled over to the civic centre where they were holding the annual BMO Kidz Art Dayz.  We have gone a few times in the past to this event, but this year it was bigger and busier then I ever remember it being.  Jasmine and I ran into a couple of our soccer teammates amongst the hundreds of kids that were there.  They had about 15 different art stations set up, even a few that Asher could do.   They also had live music this time, a great addition!  Listened to a really solid performer, a young guy singing and playing guitar, and as he pointed out before each song, he had written all of the stuff too!  I was impressed.  Jasmine enjoyed herself, but got a little upset when we had to pull her away.  She had been waiting patiently in a line for one project, but the line just wasn't moving.  We had to walk 4 blocks back to the car, and needed to make a few more stops before I went to work.  She didn't get over it until she had a smokie (she was starving!) and was settled in watching her auntie's soccer game.  I had time to say a quick hello to my mom and dad at the soccer field and watch my sister play for a few minutes before I was on my way to work.

After the excitement of Saturday morning, I may have been inclined to be lazy on Sunday.  Often, due to the quick turn around of working Saturday night and Sunday morning I am lacking sleep and energy come the afternoon.  I had big plans, and I really wanted to follow through on them.  I stopped off at my friend's house to borrow his ladder, then went to a couple of home improvement places in search of fence boards.  Unfortunately, the part of the fence I am looking to repair was built with 1 x 5 fence boards ( a true 5 inches) and the boards aren't sold at any of the major lumber yards.  I went home, intent to get some of the work done.  I pulled the section of the fence apart, realizing that if I replaced all the boards instead, it wouldn't matter that the boards going on are a slightly different size.  I couldn't fill the holes where a handful of rotten boards were present, but I could replank the entire 8 foot section instead.  I got the boards pulled off, made plans to purchase a few more 1 x 6 boards that I will need, climbed up on the roof and removed a metal satellite dish mount that was causing water to drip down on the fence and rot the boards, swept the roof off (many years of pine needles piled up), and made my shopping list.  I need to chop a few inches off of the 6 feet length boards, then I will be all set to rebuild the fence.  Who builds a fence with 68" length boards, when the standard 72" would work fine?  Just wanted to make more work?  I don't get it.  Anyway, I hope to get that done today, as well as mounting a section of eavestrough so that the fence doesn't get dripped on any longer.  

After seeing actual progress on my fence repair job, I could have just lazed around the rest of the day.  Instead, I got geared up and went for a 5 kilometer run, clocking in at 25 minutes and 4 seconds.  I ate a delicious dinner, Sheila barbecued beef and shrimp kabobs and I even had a strawberry marguerita with it.  After dinner, I asked Sheila if she wanted to go smack a few tennis balls.  She hummed and hawed, and in a bit of an asshole move, I told Asher what my plans were.  This sealed it, his tennis obsession still going strong, we were obligated to go.  Sheila and I got a great workout, despite Asher being cranky.  It was nearing bed time, and the sun was hot.  Asher overcome his injury (he scraped his knee) and actually hit a few balls.  We headed home, red faced and tired. 

Though I have been pretty busy with life, I have found some time to enjoy a few movies, read a fair bit, and try out some new music.  Some were more exciting then others, but all in all I have enjoy most of the entertainment I have consumed lately.  I thought I would provide some short reviews in hopes that others may be inspired to also give them a try.

BOOKS

"What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" by Peter Hedges (1991)

This novel has been sitting around my house for a couple years.  I picked it up at a garage sale, having heard a little about it and liking the 25 cent price tag.  I was aware that one of the main characters had special needs, and this interested me.  I had heard the movie was superb, featuring a young Johnny Depp alongside a young Leo DiCaprio.  Still, I hadn't got around to it.  I decided I would find books to read without heading to the library (Ironically, I can't afford the library) and I found this one on the shelf.  Thank you Prince George Library for your exorbitant fines!  While I always feel a bit euphoric after completing a book, and I am most likely to look back positively, but a few days later and I am still raving about this novel.  Peter Hedges' writing is easy to read, and it flows well.  This was the first book in a while that I completed in less than a week.  The cynicism of the main character "Gilbert" had me thinking about the book a lot when I wasn't reading it.  The relationships between the family and the youngest son "Arnie" were complex and always engaging.  The mysterious girl that engages in a game of romantic cat and mouse with Gilbert had me guessing wrong again and again.  I really liked that we didn't get a sappy conclusion to this dynamic.  By the end of the book, Gilbert was becoming eerily similar in my mind to another character I quite like, "Napoleon" from the movie Napoleon Dynamite.  Gilbert's pessimism makes for a great read, and it had my rooting for him to win in the end.  The conclusion to the book is a bit dark, but at the same time, it provided and emotional release for the family after they had been suffering for so long.  Pick this book up, you won't be disappointed.

"The Chosen" by Chaim Potok (1967)

I grabbed this book at the thrift store the other day, and started it minutes after finishing the book above.  The novel examines the traditional Jewish faith, and the pressures that young Jewish boys face to remain devout followers.  While I am only 80 pages into a 300 page book, I have found it quite engaging so far.  I am ignorant to the customs of the Jewish faith, so I am looking forward to learning more.  The main characters are quite likeable, and I am quickly getting into the story.  Stay tuned, should be finished the book by next week.

MOVIES

"The Heat" directed by Paul Feig (2013)

I figured this movie would be solid when my buddy and I decided to go to it on opening night.  Paul Feig was the genius comedic director behind "Bridesmaids", as well as credits for television including The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development, Nurse Jackie and Freaks and Geeks.  For the record, I really like all of those programs, Parks and Recreation currently finding a spot in my top 3 sitcoms.  My favorite current sitcom is Mike and Molly, starring one Melissa McCarthy, who also happens to star in "The Heat".  I had a vague idea of the movie premise, McCarthy and Sandra Bullock are both in law enforcement and they team together in an odd couple pairing.  McCarthy plays the loose cannon police officer, and boy is she loose.  Crude, crass, vulgar, and awesome!  The movie had me laughing almost non-stop, even Sandy B (shout out to Raj from Big Bang) brought some decent comedic chops.  I will not ruin the plot for you, instead, I will let you know that this is a must see for fans of comedy movies.  It's my favourite of 2013 so far!

"Monster's University" directed by Dan Scanlon (2013)

While my sister Erin was in town, most of my family made it out to a late night showing of Monster's University.  I thought that the 1015 PM start time would mean that it would be quiet, despite it being cheap night.  Well, I didn't know that 2 of the other movies would sell out, leaving dozens of adult couples no choice but to see this movie seemingly targeted towards kids.  So, we arrived as the show started, and luckily my brother had saved us a row of seats, or we would have been out of luck.  The seats were in the 3rd row, much too close for my taste.  I also have a habit of falling asleep when I sit really close.  Being that I was tired to begin with, you can imagine what happened.  The parts I did see were great.  Lots of funny stuff, many jokes that were geared towards the older crowd, while also making Jasmine laugh plenty of times.  I will have to see it again when it comes out on home release.

"Goon" directed by Michael Dowse (2012)

So, I know that very few people have seen this film.  With a total box office take of less than $7,000,000 this movie got very little love at theatres.  I was lucky enough to see it in theatres, it was a bit of a surprise as limited release movies rarely make their way to Prince George.  It was written by Seth Rogen's buddy Evan Goldberg in collaboration with Jay Baruchel.  Baruchel, who is highly underrated as an actor also plays a supporting role in the film as Doug "the thug" Glatt's best friend.  I was taken aback when I watched this film for the first time by Sean William Scott's acting talent.  He is known for trashy roles playing the stereotypical party guy, but in "Goon" he character dimensions that I didn't realize he was capable of pulling off.  The movie is about hockey, specifically hockey fighting.  It is set in the maritimes, so there are many humourous stereotypically characters that are authentic to the region.  I watched the movie again the other night with Sheila, and I am happy to report that she quite enjoyed it as well.  Lots of funny parts, lots of hockey related violence, and even a little love story thrown in.  A great date night movie.  Support Canadian movies, go out and find this film!

"Idiocracy" directed by Mike Judge (2006)

A movie from the creator of King of the Hill as well as Beavis and Butthead.  A box office take of less than $500,000 as it was barely even released to theatres.  Relatively well known stars in Luke Wilson, Dax Sheppard, Maya Rudolph, and Justin Long.  It's quirky to say the least.  The premise is that Wilson and Rudolph's characters get locked in capsules as part of a suspended animation experiment.  They are to be unlocked a year later, but are forgotten about.  They end up waking up 500 years later into a world that has become increasingly less intelligent.  At times, it is cheesy, but at other times it is quite clever.  I am a big Mike Judge fan, so perhaps my positive impression a tad clouded, but you could do worse when chosing a comedy to watch. 

"The Wendell Baker Story" directed by Andrew and Luke Wilson (2005)

Can you tell that I have been going through the filmography list of the Wilson family?  This movie starred both Owen and Luke, the former as a currupt head nurse at a retirement home, the latter a parolee sent to work in the same home.  In a unique take on the romantic comedy genre, Luke's character makes friends with a few of the residents, and this leads to them helping him win back his girlfriend who is set to marry another man.  Great, lesser known stuff from the Wilson clan.  If you avoid their commercial work, they are actually pretty good at the acting thing.  Also, check out "Bottle Rocket" (1996) written and directed by Wes Anderson in his debut movie.  Starring Owen and Luke, it's possibly Owen's best work of his career.  He plays a deranged criminal who goes from one bumbling scheme to another attempting to make money and get ahead. 

"The Departed" directed by Martin Scorcese (2006)

I had seen bits and pieces of this film before, but the other night at work I got to see the whole thing.  Leo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin and the lovely Vera Farmiga.  Need I say more?

ALBUMS

I have been drawn mostly towards the electronica genre lately.  I have been lucky enough to find a wide variety of great albums that I have listened to numerous times.  Often, I find a recently released album that I really enjoy, then I go back through the artists other albums and find even more great stuff.  A handful of the albums I have been enjoying lately:

Jagwar Ma - "Howlin" (2013)

CoCo Rosie - "Tales of a Grass Widow" (2013)

Boards of Canada - "Tomorrow's Harvest" (2013)

Majical Clouds - "Impersonator" (2013)

RP Boo - "Legacy" (2013)

Daft Punk - "Random Access Memories`(2013)

Culcha Candela - "Das Beste" (2010)



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