Thursday, May 29, 2003

Things I'm Thinking About at This Very Moment

Given the 3-0 reaming that the New Jersey Devils gave the Ducks in Game 1, is it too early to say that the Sens were potentially one goal short of a Stanley Cup when they were defeated? I still believe the Ducks still have some Mighty in them yet, though.

I could eat Oriental cuisine (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, you name it) once a day for 7 straight days and probably never get tired of it. But DAMN, it makes me thirsty.

I've been unable to fight a strong inclination to love the Queens of the Stone Age. I hated their new album the first time I heard it and liked it a little bit more very time since. And now I can't stop listening to it. It's kind of frightening.

Speaking of music, go to this site to hear four new songs and watch a video from Radiohead's new album, Hail to the Thief. I like them lots. Both the band and the songs. Does anyone else see the irony in Radiohead complaining about the fact that the unfinished album, after naming it Hail to the Thief, was stolen and leaked to online users? They're not hailing theives at all! Sounds like foreshadowing to me.

I recently left a banana in my backpack and forgot about it. Now all I can smell is rotten banana. Which surprisingly isn't an awful smell for the first little bit, but after six hours of smelling the same smell, even the scent of roses would annoy the pants off me. I am now pant-less. Literally or figuratively? Only I know for sure.

Why is it that it's so much harder to spend gift certificates than it is to spend your own money? If it's your own money, you find what I want and you buy it if you have some money to spare. When it's a certificate, the search becomes a futile, prolonged, agonizing quest to make sure that you're spending the money to its utmost potential. And then you leave the store saying, "Crap! Why the hell did I buy this?" even though what you bought was perfectly fine. Or maybe it's just me.

Hope I win the logo competition. I made it into round two, and now comes the final decision. I designed about eight different logos to improve my odds. Sadly, I don't think this kind of competition works like a lottery. But my fingers are firmly crossed: I don't think there are as many people in the running for winning this one.

Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day. Preferably two weeks or so from now. And then rain A LOT for a whole day and then give us another two weeks of sun. Thanks!

I can't take any more rotten banana.

Oh, and sending out my best wishes to Tara and Ian who have had what sounds to be a rough go of things lately. Things will look up soon.

And just for Ian: [jig]

Monday, May 26, 2003

Another Day Older, But Let's Call it A Year

Another birthday has come and gone, and once again it was a humbling learning experience. It's kind of weird being 26: my mother told me yesterday that this year will be the only year where I am exactly half her age.

Thanks to Stacey and Mr. Mike Blue Jeans, who were my birthday party this year. They were wonderful and did everything they could to make sure I was having a good time, despite a crushing loss to finish up the Sens season. You guys rock.

And another thanks to my wonderful girlfriend Stacey, who spent the rest of the weekend making sure I was having fun, inlcuding a 26-present/surprise extravaganza that went on for most of Saturday, and breakfast in bed on Sunday. Love you, honey.

And thanks to my mom and sister. Mom made me a delicious cheese cake from scratch and they both made dinner yesterday. Nothing beats a home-cooked meal. Love you both.

And thanks to Colin Lalonde, who called all the way from BC. I have no idea if he reads this, but thanks, it was great to get a happy birthday call from someone outside of the family, even though we didn't get a chance to talk. I'll call you back real soon.

And now, onwards and upwards. Stacey's family is throwing me a bash tonight, so I'll have birthday for another night at least. And left-over cheesecake. Tasty.

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!


Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Human Yo-Yo

It's funny how your personal impressions of your life can switch so quickly and so easily from lofty optimistism to the depths of despair. Sometimes it feels like your head is in the clouds and you're walking with down-stuffed pillows on the balls of your feet and sometimes it feels like you should be crawling through the earth, pulling yourself slowly upwards with the tips of your fingers. And the seemingly inconsequential actions of others, sometimes complete strangers, can make all the difference in which direction you're going and how you feel about your place in the world and in the hearts of those around you.

It's been a rollercoaster ride for over a year now. I am the human yo-yo.

Reflecting back on 25, it's been one of the strangest years yet, full of so many highs and so many lows that's it's difficult to sort everything out.

But this past weekend was a good weekend. A very good weekend. One of the best in recent memory.

I'll tell you all about it tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Pop Quiz

Which of the following things sliced open my left hand this past weekend? Was it

a) A BBQ,
b) A backpack full of loose-leaf paper, or
c) A steak knife?

The correct answer is: all three!

In a fit of error-prone clumsiness this past weekend, I think I did more consistent damage to my hands in the space of two days than ever before. On Friday afternoon, I was starting to get all giddy (as I usually do on Friday afternoons at the thought of not having to wear a tie for two whole days). I'd spent my afternoon, as usual, catching up on online comic strips and hacking away at a new project on Adobe Illustrator. After printing up a copy of my new image and reaching down into my backpack to gingerly place it in a paper folder, I dragged my index finger along some loose-leaf paper that was already in there and gave myself a bad paper cut.

Yeah, I know, a paper cut. No big deal, right?

I then followed this up with a deep gouge into the SAME index finger with a razor-sharp steak knife while cutting an especially-tough loaf of French bread. Honey, if you're reading this, we need to buy a bread knife. If I were an American right now, I'd probably be cursing France because they didn't support the war in Iraq and because of their tough (yet so delicious) crusty bread. Like the call of the Siren, the French loaf called me to my wounding.

Again, boo fricken' hoo. People cut themselves with steak knives all the time, right?

Well, to add insult to injury to injury, I managed the unbelievable feat of slashing the palm of my hand open on my mother's brand new BBQ. If it hadn't happened to me, I wouldn't have thought it was possible. A few days ago, if I was making a list of things that were sharp and could easily cut me, a BBQ would have been pretty far down the list.

I was putting the death-trap together with the help of my two lovely co-workers on my Mother's living room floor. It was INSANE how many pieces there were. We arranged them all neatly around our work area and set about trying to decipher the tiny, practically illegible instructions. My sister Alison and I were doing the construction while my girlfriend Stacey was arranging the bits and pieces we needed and reading the instructions. Everything was going well (albeit slowly) when we tried to put the bottom pan on the metal frame. As I was picking the piece up and maneuvering it around to get a look at it, my palm slid across one of the metal edges and I practically threw it across the room on my way to the sink to take care of the blood that was pouring down my wrists.

I'm not sure WHY the nice people at the BBQ manufacturing company made a BBQ with razor-sharp serrated edges all the way around its lid. And even if this was something they knew about, surely they'd put a warning on or something in the instructions, right? I suppose that it's sharp because it was cheap and the company cut some corners (pun intended). It's the only real answer. I mean, what possible purpose would a BBQ built like a machete have, anyway? So you can slice the meat with the lid before putting it on the grill?

Everyone was so wonderful. As I was cursing the designers of the BBQ, their families, and their potential, unborn children, my sister was holding my arm above my heart and applying pressure to the wound, my girlfriend went to the store and brought back bandages and anti-septic, and my mother got me a stiff drink and a chocolate-covered croissant. And thanks to their efforts, the wound is healing nicely and should leave only a small inch-and-a-half-long scar.

Honey, if you're reading this, remind me NOT to buy a BBQ that's sharp enough to shave with. Nice, smooth, beveled edges will be fine, thank you!

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Salam Pax is Back

Those of you who were reading Salam's blog before the War in Iraq will be happy to know that his blog has been updated by a friend of his. And if you've never seen it before, now's the time to start reading. There's a backlog of entries dating back to when he was last online, relating his personal experiences throughout the war. What he saw, what he heard, what he felt, what it meant to him - very powerful stuff. Check it out here.

Lego Model of the Month

It's been a while since I've had one, but this was too good to pass up. Check THIS out. A lego model of a Nebulon-B Frigate, straight outta The Empire Strikes Back. Too cool. Again, let me reiterate that if anyone has a box full of lego they want to give me, I'll be more than happy to take it off your hands.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Just in Case There's Any Confusion....

According to a recent study, fish can feel pain. Something to think about next time you're out on the lake and trying to rip the hook out of its mouth to "humanely" return it to the water.

On Demand

What's new in the Andrewverse these days? Good question! Gold star for you.

May is a big big month for me usually. To begin with, on the 25th I will turn the ripe 'ol age of 26. I haven't quite figured out what to do for my birthday. I didn't have a lot of fun last year, so this year I want to do something different. Little bit o' the ol' birthday trivia for you: May 25th, 1977 (my birthday) was the day that Star Wars: A New Hope was released in theatres for the very first time. Could a birthday be any more exciting? I don't think so.

To top it off, I'm going to a wedding, I'm seeing Sara when she visits Ottawa at the end of the month, and there are birthdays for other family members. And my sister is moving today, so I'll be spending time installing curtains and building furniture. My life is a non-stop roller-coaster ride, I tell you. On a sad note, one of my closest friends, Ryan, moved away from Ottawa and was sucked into the fierce gravitational pull of the gweat and tewwible T Dot. He's gone to live with his sweetie and probably to make babies or something. I wish him all the best in his new digs and in his Philosophy Masters program at York -- and even though he lives a few hours away now, I hope I'll still see lots of him.

I recently entered a competition to design a logo for a project sponsored by the Ottawa Kiwanis Club, and it looks like my design is a frontrunner. I'm pretty pleased about that. It's pretty swanky, designed entirely using Adobe Illustrator. If I ever get going on that web site I've been promising, I'll post a copy. There's nothing like winning competitions to give your ego a little shot in the arm. Cross your fingers for me: if this goes well, it might lead to some serious business.

In the meantime, I'm raising a glass to the Ottawa Senators who are continuing their drive to the Cup. Ottawa's sittin' pretty with a one game lead over the Flyers and a big game tonight in Philly. Keep it up, boys! It sure is nice to see Alfie scoring again.

And I also learned something today that might mean a trip into the US might be in my near future: the Canadian dollar is above 70 cents US for the first time in five years. Go Canada go! Read about it here.

That's it for now. It's been a tough week.