Friday, May 23, 2003

No More Suspense!

Last weekend was just one of those weekends where we got a chance to do a bunch of fun stuff without a lot of pressure to do stuff we didn't want to do. Plain and simple: we had fun.

Matrix Night In Ottawa

Okay, caught The Matrix: Reloaded last Friday, and all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I know people hate spoilers, so I'm going to try to make this as neutral as possible.

Things I loved about The Matrix: Reloaded:
The fight sequences that weren’t all CGI'd-up too much: A complaint I've heard from a lot of people is that unlike the first movie, the fight scenes don't have the same weight, that they were inconsequential and didn't move the story along. My response: who cares? Holy cow, some of those scenes were cool. The fight choreography was some of the best I've ever seen.

You thought you knew everything there was to know about The Matrix? Look again! In the first movie, the Wachowski brothers took a complicated concept (reality isn't really reality) and gave it a mind-blowing explanation (what you thought was reality is really a cyber-prison for the minds of the world's human population), which was then made simple (it's because human beings are being used as batteries). But there was still an element of mysticism about it. Buckle up, Dorothy, because Kansas is going bye-bye AGAIN. Just about everything in the Matrix universe has a rational explanation (at least, if you're imaginative enough to take the leap of faith and take your sci-fi with a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief) and all will be made clear. I will say no more.

New characters: With a few exceptions, the new characters were interesting and very, very cool. I also felt the caliber of the acting was vastly improved over the first movie. Wooden, poorly-scripted comic book stereotypes like Tank, Dozer, Mouse, Epoch, and Switch have been replaced with characters and actors with a little more depth and a lot more range.

Things I didn't love about The Matrix: Reloaded:
Editing: Hey Wachowskis, splurge a little and hire a new editor. One scene in particular tried to show the past, present and future of a particular event at the same time, and surprise surprise, it didn't work. I know you want to turn the movie-making biz on its head, but that kind of approach is never going to be a comfortable experience for the audience. Other scenes dragged on so long that you could actually hear an audible rustle and click as people checked their watches to see how much time had elapsed. Save those extended scenes for the Director's-cut DVD.

Digital stunt men: The technology still isn't there yet, send it back to the drawing board. Certain parts of fight scenes looked like something from an X-Box game, not a big-screen movie.

Jada Pinkett-Smith: Two words: brutally bad.

Of course, there are other things, cool and not-so-cool, but I can't say too much without giving major aspects of the plot away. Go see it and form your own opinion. I think that The Matrix: Revolutions will be a much stronger movie, however. So, that was Friday.

Tulip Night in Ottawa

Saturday I spent with Sara, who now lives in the UK. I hadn't seen her for almost three years, so it was great having a chance to catch up again. We met up downtown to go to Ottawa's International Tulip Festival, which is a big, overblown touristy thing that I usually avoid unless there's a concert I want to go to. To begin with, I'm firmly of the belief that tulips suck. I've never really liked them very much. They don't look very good, they last two weeks, and then they die, leaving huge beds of open, uncultivated dirt all around the city in their wake. See? Tulips SUCK.

Anyway, it was still a nice excuse to spend some time outdoors and spend some time with friends. Stacey and I finally got to meet Sara's boyfriend, Joe, and he's a really great guy. We wandered around for a while, checked out some art kiosks, went back home, saw the Sens get whupped by Jersey (Joe's first NHL hockey game), ate some Chinese food, and played a few rounds of Euchre.

Despite losing one of our cats to our next-door neighbour's balcony (which required about a half hour of begging and pleading and coaxing through the bars of our balcony to get him to come back), we had a great time, capping off the evening with a trip to Sara's favourite Ottawa bar, Zaphod's. We picked up my hyper-drunk friend Mr. Mike Blue Jeans along the way, and despite how smashy he was, we had fun with him too. We even bumped into some of my old GW-buds, Jess and Ryan Aldred. Good times had by all.

Retro Night in Ottawa

Despite a brutal hangover, Mike agreed to go out the next night. We made plans to go to Barrymore's for Retro-80's night, which has been a Sunday-night institution for as long as I can remember. The Sunday of the May-Two-Four weekend is probably Barrymore's most popular night of the year. It wasn't any exception this year.

After we met up, chilled on Mike's patio with a few beers and scammed a burger or two of his neighbours, we wandered over to the club. We thought we were all ninja-styles, showing up at 7 pm and beating the rush, but much to our dismay, there was a line going down the street and around the corner from the club. Despite our initial horror, we realized that the line was, in fact, moving, and it only took us a half hour or so to make our way past the doors.

Retro-80's Night hasn't changed a bit. Once we got in, we struggled to figure out what we were doing there. Surprisingly, most of the people there were well into their thirties, from what we could tell. We actually felt YOUNG for the first time in a long time at the club. We set up with some stools on the second level, watching The Simpsons on the giant screen with a bad 80's soundtrack and overpriced beers. Mike spent most of his time fending off married mothers-of-three who took a liking to him. After two or three hours of sitting and an hour or two of dancing, I called it a night. Good times, good times.

Hockey Night in Ottawa

Monday was great. Stacey and I went to my mom's place to help out with some yard work and spend some more time in the sun. After I had finished putting together my arch nemesis, THE BBQ, we cooked up some sausages and lamb and spent some time relaxing. After all, we wanted to be rested for...

The game! We saw game 5 of the Ottawa-Devils series, and it was AMAZING. It was worth every single last penny to be there. Honestly, I have never heard the Corel Centre louder. At one point, they had to stop play because the fans were too loud. It felt like almost ten minutes before everyone settled down. Who says Ottawa isn't a hockey town?

Ottawa fended off elimination, Spezza scored a goal, and we got to see the last two thirds of the game from my company's box seats (with free beer and dessert). FANtastic.

The Rest of the Week

Since then, work's gotten a lot busier, and I've been dealing with a few annoying injuries. At the game on Monday, I actually screamed myself hoarse and blew out my voice. I haven't done that since high school. It's still a little scratchy, but at least I don't sound like Cookie Monster anymore.

Then, on Wednesday, after celebrating my dad's birthday, I watched the hockey game and badly blew out my knee while I was running around the house screaming after Phillips scored the winning goal, forcing Game 7. That's TWO hockey-related injuries in a week, and I never even picked up a stick. I'm still limping, but it feels a lot better than it did two days ago.

Tonight, I'm celebrating my birthday (which is officially Sunday) with some friends and watching the game. I'm still saying Sens in 7, even more so now that there is a Game 7. Cheers, here's to seeing the Cup back in Canada, where it belongs!



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