Well, I'm not in Key West, and I'm not hammered (yet), but I AM 30 today. Has it really been thirty years since I came crying and gasping into this world? Strange... it doesn't feel that long. It's okay though, because 30 is the new 25. Yup.
Me being me, I went and organized a little birthday party for myself. You see, I'm a big believer in the "if you want something done right..." mentality. So tonight me, 29 friends, and 6 people who are guests of friends will be setting sail on a wee cruise around Toronto's harbour. There shall be drinking, and there shall be no escape. Before that there will be eating, and drinking, and still no escape. Afterwards, if all goes well, there will be MORE drinking back at my place, and sometime tomorrow I'll wake up and wonder when exactly I stopped remembering anything, and how everyone escaped.
Alternately, I may be the loud and obnoxious drunk wandering the streets and commenting without filter about the various art exhibitions around my fair city as part of Nuit Blanche (what the hell are they doing holding it on MY birthday? Huh?).
So I'm thrilled, and looking forward to this decade of... *snicker* maturity. Yah right. Another day, another decade. Whatever.
Oh, and fair warning for those who I have programmed into my phone - you may get a call, it may be loud, I may be drunk, and it will be a dial-a-shot. If you don't get one, it's not personal, I'm just too tanked to remember, so call me instead :). Assuming there's cell service out there.
I'm 30, I kick seventeen types of ass, and I couldn't be happier about it.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Well, I'm not in Key West, and I'm not hammered (yet), but I AM 30 today. Has it really been thirty years since I came crying and gasping into this world? Strange... it doesn't feel that long. It's okay though, because 30 is the new 25. Yup.
Friday, September 28, 2007
All this time I've decided to not drink while playing in anything other than blogger games. Turns out that may have been a mistake. Of course, if you're a raging alcholic, then you only remember how much everyone sucks.
Still 1 day to go. Well, less than 9 hours really.
Posted by Astin at 3:05 PM
Last night was a bit of a bust. I went out for "one" drink after work, which became 2, which could have become many, many more, but I pulled myself away because I had shit to do. I checked out a couple restaurants and wandered home, where I promptly fell asleep in front of the Jays game for 2 hours or so. I woke up at 10:30, forced myself up and proceeded to get nothing of significance accomplished and went back to bed at 3:45am, alarms set for 8.
Par for the course really.
In my avoidance of doing things that need doing, I logged hours mindlessly playing Peggle, and lost a few bucks playing poker. One $6 Turbo SnG that made me just want to leave. I flop trip 7's and a J between them in position. Donk bets half his stack and I call. Turn is a brick, he goes all-in and I call. He flips over AJo. What a maroon. I'm laughing for about 2 seconds when the J comes on the river giving him Jacks full over my sevens full. Grrr. Still alive though.
Push all-in with 99 to get called by AQo and a flop of xAQ sends me out. I get it, coinflip, but why is it always TWO PAIR? Isn't the ace alone enough to break my heart?
Everything's pretty much in order. I just need to clean a bit and stock a bit and I'll be good.
1 day left. That would mean tomorrow.
Posted by Astin at 1:45 PM
I have four digital cameras. Three of them have been bought in the last year. One of those was bought specifically so I would always carry it with me as I had grown tired of seeing scenes around the city that I wanted a picture of and missing them forever due to lack of a camera. That camera has been sitting in my office at home for months now.
Yesterday I was walking from work to Toronto's Harbourfront, and came out of the west entrance to the Air Canada Centre to behold a beautiful landscape in front of me. The sun was sitting just below the horizon, giving off its last great burst of light before dusk, and the sky was full of uniform clouds spread evenly across the firmament. The horizon was a breathtaking golden yellow which reflected on the canvas of clouds above. Sitting prominently in the foreground of all this was the CN Tower, the tallest building in the world (Burj Dubai isn't finished yet, so it doesn't count), its lines crisp and clear as it struck the heavens. Most impressively was that its nightly light show had already begun, with the colour cycling along its height and deck matching exactly the colour of the sky behind it. It was a unique simpatico, and I lacked any photographic means to permanently capture the scene.
And then, as I turned the corner, dusk settled on the city, halving the buildings around me with shadow, but bringing out that definition of lines that is only seen as the sun bids adieu.
Last night (or more accurately, early this morning), I dreamt that my uncle died. It was one of the most vivid dreams I've had in a long time. My family was gathering at my grandparents' house (which has lain abandoned for nearly a year now) for the anniversary of my grandmother's birthday. and I walked into the kitchen to find who I thought was one of my uncles. I commented on how he'd lost weight when I realized it was in fact my other uncle and he'd been ill for a while. In reality he's had heart problems for the last 10 years. He suddenly had on a horribly fake Elvis pompadour and began to shrink. He was in some sort of chair that he could raise and lower at will. As he sat near the floor, his face resembled my grandmother. He then returned to normal size and went to the living room to join the rest of the family.
He and my aunt were both sitting on the couch and he closed his eyes to rest, his breathing deep and steady. The family talked, and then we realized his breathing had changed. My mother shouted to wake her brother up, his wife shook him, and he opened his eyes briefly and said he was okay. He then fell back asleep. My focus shifted until I heard my mother saying he was gone. I turned back to the couch and he wasn't moving. Then he started to breathe again but everyone was getting up to leave. He was then surrounded in dull glow and stood up, fitter than he'd ever been and smiling. He walked over to me, bent down and we spoke briefly about how he'd be missed and that it was a shame he didn't patch things up with everyone before he died. He said he was happy, said goodbye, and moved on to the next person in the room. The room began to swim and swirl and he faded into a kaleidoscope of primary colours that filled the room.
I woke up missing my uncle who I have barely seen in the past decade or so as he's managed to estrange himself and most of his family from the rest of us. I believe my grandmother's funeral was the last time I saw him, and it had been a while before that. Seeing as I haven't received any phone calls saying he passed away around 6am this morning, I'll chalk it up to just a dream, however vivid it may have been.
Posted by Astin at 9:33 AM
Thursday, September 27, 2007
One of my favourite concepts for an
superhero underwear pervert is the basis of Man-Man. A janitor is bitten by a radioactive man, thereby gaining the proportional strength and abilities of... a normal man! Brilliant.
Then the Bionic Woman remake premiered last night. I forgot to watch it, but I've heard standard pilot-gripes. This got me thinking of other comic heroes and the like.
Spider-man has the proportional strength and agility of a spider.
Bravestarr (remember him anyone?) had eyes of the hawk, ears of the wolf, strength of the bear, speed of the puma. Yah, it was kind of lame. (I have avoided going into a huge "cartoons of the 80's" tangent here)
And then I thought about the fact I'm in the middle of a minor ant infestation (on the 7th floor? wtf?), of really tiny ants.
So I was thinking, why not a hero with the strength if an ant? Jumping power of a flea? Speed of a mosquito, etc.? Notice... I didn't say anything about PROPORTIONAL abilities. No, I mean the actual 1:1 strength of an ant. A hero unable to lift anything heavier than a grain of rice, can jump inches off the ground, etc..
Okay, so it could't be stretched out into more than a Robot Chicken sketch. So what? Wanna fight about it?
Still 2 days to go.
Posted by Astin at 2:35 PM
Bubbly bubbly. Played in The Mookenstein last night, out 9th when top 8 paid. Damn.
I've always liked 6-handed for the wider range of playable cards and the fact it rewards aggression. I was pretty much in the top 10 the whole night, with only one big score when I knocked out jjok with two pair vs. his AQ. Generally I was taking blinds and antes, and the occasional flop or turn. It was slightly annoying because my AA, KK, QQ (one each) didn't get paid off. I couldn't limp or min-raise as that would scream that I had a good hand. Also saw AK a ton, which got me a couple hands before showdown. JJ twice I think, and a few other smaller pocket pairs.
In the end, I pushed my short stack with JT and met KQh. Whoops. OESD didn't fill in and everyone else got paid.
A buddy of mine is now interested in Vegas, and if he's in, it rapidly solidifies my plans. Airfare is the cheapest I've ever seen it right now (seat sale), and I'm still leaning towards TI. I don't have a Total Rewards card, so the Harrah's 2 free nights deal isn't available to me. Is my MGM-Mirage card worth nothing? Or my Boyd Gaming card? :)
Any way we can shrink October and November into one month? We'll call it Octember or Novtober or something.
2 days left.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
First, I should pimp the Monkey Tourney again on Stars. Okay, so it was last night, but it's every Tuesday, in the Wheatie's old spot. Last night only saw about 12 runners I think, but for $10 it's a game that needs some more blogger love. I finished 3rd, so you know it's gotta be easy.
Next comes a bit of disbelief. Apparently police corruption is now A-okay to brag about in your own webspace. Cops Writing Cops - brilliant. Talk about a sense of entitlement.
Not much time for poker these days, lots of other minor things to take up my time. Last night was spent going through the music collection with some picking and choosing. I missed a couple artists to add to my list, although I'm sure I already have more than 3 hours of music in it.
Still need to get my Iceland pics organized. I'm terrible with this. But right now I'm playing with some HDR. I guess I could put that all off and just worry about the regular pics.
More papers signed, more e-mails sent. Good times.
Where's everyone on their Vegas planning? I'll book my flight a couple weeks before I leave I think, and am still debating on hotel. I'm leaning towards TI. It's not far from IP and about 1e6 times better. MGM is a cab/monorail ride away, but the transportation costs are way lower than the room rate differences. Plus, this way I can start my day with an 11am donkey tournament with rapid-rising blinds and pushmonkeys at the final table. Fun fun!
Posted by Astin at 10:24 AM
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Another melange of topics today, mostly Heroes and Hockey. You've been warned.
Bubbled 4th in The Hoy last night. I played okay, but mostly just played my cards, which has been an unfortunate trend of late. I think my shortstack play is still alright, but it's hard to win by staying short. I did a few REALLY weak things, and I think it hurt me in the long run. Frankly, I was surprised I got the action I did on my strong hands. Right now my cards are okay, but my play is generally sub-par. I need to pick that up.
Before that though, I watched Heroes. Warning: Here be spoilers (highlight to read):
Okay? So the episode wasn't bad, but other than ONE moment, it was predictable and lacked any of that "awesome" factor that last season's episodes had. It felt like everyone was going through the motions.
The commercials gave it away, but Nathan and Peter are still very much alive. Nathan looks ridiculous with his "grieving my brother for 4 months and become a drunk who's family left him" beard. It looks completely pasted on. Peter has amnesia? Okay. The commercials showing him alive pretty much destroyed any surprise or drama that would have resulted from him appearing at the very end of the episode. Bravo NBC marketing department, you've fucked up once again with this show. No wonder nobody watches your network.
Parkman is a detective, yay Matt! It's about time he figured out how to leverage his power to his advantage. He was actually far less annoying than last season, and him being Molly's guardian just works. Of course, now he's divorced too. So that's two of the married Heroes that are now single. Guess NBC realized that having them save the world with families back home would be difficult to pull off. Once again, I can't help but think that the guys in charge when the show started could pull it off. The families make them different - they make them real. If everyone ends up single and alone, then you might as well make them full underwear perverts (look it up) like Marvel and DC heroes.
Molly is still adorable though, what a great actress.
Bennet and Mohinder are working to take down the company, eh? With Mohinder getting inside again. The guy who can changed metals into gold definitely has his uses. Where do they take this? I imagine they'll be caught before long, and it won't actually be a season-long subplot. Or maybe it will be with many twists and turns.
Speaking of the Bennets - Claire is still an idiot. "Don't do anything to draw attention to yourself." So she sticks her hand in a bunsen burner, and then does a flip off a tower and breaks her legs. Lucky for her she's only being figured out by that one guy so far.
The whole family is obviously miserable, but Noah had the one kick-ass scene of the whole show, when he takes down the most annoying manager character seen in a long time. Like he has time for that shit.
No Nikki/Jessica and family so far. That's okay.
They killed Sulu? We don't even know what his power was! Maybe it's to fake death.
So all the Company's founders have powers? Well we know that Nathan & Peter's dad didn't (read the comics), and we know what Linderman's was. What about Momma Petrelli? Eric Roberts' character? Shame they didn't let us in on that.
Maya and Alejandro could be an interesting dynamic. Which way do they go? What exactly is her power?
And finally, Hiro in the past. We knew Kensei was white from the casting, being British is kinda cool too. Being a mercenary coward drunk is pretty much par for the course, and now Hiro will maybe make him a hero? Who knows.
All-in-all, an "eh" episode. I really wanted to like the premiere, and I really wanted it to suck me in again. Of course, last season started off weakly and picked up about 3 or 4 episodes in, so I'll give it a chance. The preview for the season managed to give us nothing to entice me, but let out a few more surprises that would have been so much better as, you know, SURPRISES.
I don't have a marketing or advertising degree, but here NBC, some free advice. FIRE YOUR FUCKING MARKETING DEPARTMENT. Heroes is a show that extends a story for an entire season. What kept people coming back last year were the "holy shit!" moments, when an actor appeared, or a character died, or some huge plot twist occurred, which kept us interested in next week. We knew New York wasn't going to explode (but we all kind of hoped), but the question was what ELSE would happen. Of course, the answer is "nothing." When you finish a season with 3 main characters possibly dead, the absolute most moronic thing you can do is SHOW THEIR FACES IN THE PREVIEWS. Are you so paranoid that nobody's going to watch that you decide to give away the farm in the previews to entice them? Guess what? It has the opposite effect. No wonder nobody watches your channel.
Oh, and Journeyman? Kinda sucked. It's a shame, because the lead seems decent. Quantum Leap did it far better 18 years ago. I don't think I've seen a cast I could care less about.
Where's my Battlestar Galactica? Oh yah, that's right.. not until 2008, and then after half a season we get to wait ANOTHER year for the 2nd half. Bravo Sci-Fi.... hey wait, isn't that part of NBC too? NBC Universal sucks balls. Keep it up and my TV schedule will be strictly the Stewart-Colbert double-bill every Monday-Thursday at 11 and the Leafs.
Hors D'Oeuvres are picked. Tonight I start putting together music and cleaning up.
And now, hockey! All you fantasy football junkies can bite me. Seriously, I couldn't care less... I watch the Superbowl, and that's about it. Yah, I'm that guy, wanna fight about it?
Hockey season kicks off next week. For us fans in Toronto (and the rest of the Leafs nation around the world) it's been a loooooong off-season, what with the Leafs sucking like a Hoover and missing the playoffs by one point. Spare me the crybaby story about New Jersey not trying against the Islanders, the Leafs win ONE more game and they're in the playoffs, but they didn't have the stones to pull it off.
And this season? They're gonna suck just as much. 11th place in the conference is my predicition. And I've been a fan since Brad Marsh and Gary Leeman were our big guys and Bester and Ing were letting pucks get past them. I almost miss the Brophy years. At least nobody pretended like the Leafs had a shot then.
Let's look at the off-season acquisitions: Jason Blake and Veska Toskala. I KNEW we'd get Blake. Why? Because he's an overpriced old guy who had a career year on a crappy team and we just HAD to overpay him for 5 years. No way he gets 40 goals again this season. I hope I'm wrong.
Toskala - best backup in the league last year. Should have been a starter apparently. Well, he'll get his chance. Especially since Pogge is still too young and Raycroft his showing his usual "brilliance" between the pipes. Guy's looked shakey so far.
So maybe Toskala is the next Sawchuck, Roy, Brodeur, or Hasek. Hell, I'd be happy with the next Khabibulin or Irbe. And maybe Blake gets 30-40 goals and works with Sundin and the Leafs get into the playoffs. I certainly hope so.
Or maybe 11th will be looking good. Fucking Leafs head office. Fire that no-talent loser of a GM Ferguson and while you're at it, kick Peddie to the curb with him. That guy has done more damage to the properties of MLSE than I thought possible. Look at the Raptors - as soon as they told him to get his fucking hands out of that cookie jar and they replaced his dumbass GM hire with the best GM in the league, the team turned around in ONE season. Do you think maybe 40 years of loyalty from your beleagured (and huge) fan base could warrant someone who knows WHAT THE HELL THEY'RE DOING in charge? Of course not, because Leafs fans are sheep who will keep paying hundreds of dollars for a seat despite not getting a sniff of the finals for 14 years. It could be worse, we could be in Chicago.... or Mets fans.
Go Leafs Go.
4 days left.
Monday, September 24, 2007
As far as weekends go, this one wasn't bad. Relaxing if nothing else.
Friday was a hellish day at work, so I met up with a buddy and had a few beverages and some food while watching the Jays piss away a 4-0 lead over the Yankees. I'm shocked Halladay hasn't killed someone yet with the way his bullpen treats him. Guy's one of the (if not THE) best pitchers in the majors and he keeps getting screwed by his teammates. We left before the good guys (Jays) won it in the 14th.
Saturday I hung out with my bestest friend all day. We walked down Queen W to The Spice Trader & Olive Pit where I picked up a bunch of spices and oils I may never use. She was a bit more conservative in her purchases. That said, I can't wait to find a use for the 10-year aged balsamic vinegar, olive oil from the Isle of Lesbos, Barolo vinegar, habanero powder, ground cardamom, ground lemongrass, dried lemongrass, and chai masala. I'm thinking my favourite bread-dipping mixtured of balsamic vinegar and blood orange olive oil will be even more awesome with the aged balsamic. Dinner was some pretty good (if very slow) Indian at a restaurant around the corner from me. This is a street that is nothing BUT restaurants and patios, and I still haven't tried them all after 2 years.
Then I played the Midnight Madness and someone left my card rack for me. I have screenshots, but they're at home and I'm not:
Started with TT
Hand #6: 56o in the BB Flops the set, turns the boat. Minimal pay here since a board of Q66Q with the 6 is a good way to go broke.
#7: AA loses to QT (or something) with the rivered trips.
#8: AA (yes, consecutive rockets) wins against some donk with a donk hand.
#9: KQo flops the TP Q and holds against Qx.
#11: AJo gets folded wisely
etc.. Then I got pushed out of a few flops that whiffed me and undoubtedly helped others before pushing with AK and an M of 8 and running into AA (which as soon as I pushed I KNEW was going to happen). It's nice to get the cards again, now I need them later.
Sunday my friend came over again, she made some breakfast, and we hung out at the house all day. I managed to get Bioshock running on my (spontaneously ancient) computer and was torn between being addicted to that or Peggle. Peggle won. Go figure. Of course, now my friend is addicted as well. I did manage to make a pretty tasty dinner that involved honey-garlic elk sausage, seasoned chicken breast (with a smokey theme), rotini, and vodka sauce with a few random veggies. A healthy green salad and garlic-toasted Lekkerbrot bread was also included. Not bad considering the scarcity of ingredients at my place.
Oh, another drink, created on Sunday:
2:1:1 Vodka, Melon Liqueur, and Apricot Brandy, stirred with ice. Strain into tall glass, fill with peach cocktail. Yum. Any naming suggestions?
And then we watched the season premiere of Family Guy - a one-hour long homage to Star Wars. It was brilliant at times, and I haven't laughed that hard at TV in a long time. Seth Green (as Chris) getting in the long Robot Chicken plug at the end topped it off well. Tonight Heroes returns.
Heroes.... oy. Somewhere in the archives is me bitching about the finale. If the previews are any indication, I did so quite rightly. Not only do they give away a lot in the commercials, but it looks to totally wipe out Tim Kring's original plan for the series. I feel bad for the guy if there's as much network interference as it seems. I'll hope for the best though and watch tonight... they had better win me back.
MATH tonight, but I'm running off very little sleep, so I have no idea if I'll be in any shape to play. Maybe I can squeeze a nap in somewhere tonight.
5 days to go.
Posted by Astin at 2:24 PM
Friday, September 21, 2007
"I found a dollar on the sidewalk the other day. But it was American. So it was kind of like picking up garbage."
1.0015 US dollars for 1 Canadian, or vice-versa, 1 US dollar will get you 0.9985 cents in Canada (we'll round down of course) . Our money is now, once again, worth MORE than the greenback.
Posted by Astin at 1:19 PM
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I've lamented the bad beats and other statistical anomolies of the past month on here. I've been less revealing about what a donk it's turned me into (then again, I was a donk before this). Needless to say, the combination of bad cards and bad play hasn't resulted in a good time for me.
I played live last night and a tepid deck and weak, WEAK play from me resulted in a nearly ouster from the tournament. Oddly enough, my final play was my strongest read, where I pushed a cutoff raiser from the button with 77, putting him on a steal. My all-in was less than 2x his raise, so he obviously called, caught his Q on the flop, and I was done.
So then I bought in short to the cash game, knowing I would be toast. My KK lost to 35s and I went home. I'm sure I played the hand horribly, but teh awfuckits were going strong.
I get black kings in MP, raise to $7 ($1-2 NL), get called by 3 players. Flop comes T4T, two spades. BB bets $15 and I just can't put him on the T (he's not a bluffer, but the $15 isn't enough to scare out a flush draw in this game, but I figure is too big to be a slow play), so I call, button calls as well. Turn is a red 2, BB bets $25 which puts me all-in, I call and the button calls. River is 8s and my head drops, BB checks, button bets, BB calls saying, "you've got it." Never see the BB's cards, but the button has 35s and I'm done. I figure at this point the BB had the T after all. The guy with the 35s played it well enough, since he had 15 outs on the turn and only had to call $25 into a $110 pot.
That was it. I walked home and fired up the Mook, which I also played like ass. Except this time I let go of my kings in the face of jackace on the board. So I think I'm now officially in a poker funk. I think that outside of blogger games, I'm just going to play ultra low-limit SnG's for a while and try and get this out of my system at minimal loss.
"I found a dollar on the sidewalk the other day. But it was Canadian. So it was kind of like picking up garbage."
-Ellen Degeneres, about 10 years ago.
There was once a time when you could get $1.50 Canadian for $1 US. 30 some-odd years ago though, the Canadian dollar (long before it became "The Loonie") was worth more than the greenback. Then the gold standard was dropped and a floating rate vs USD was adopted. Since that time, our humble Loonie has become the butt of jokes. We've lamented the huge price differences between US and Canadian retail purchases. Trips south of the border cost 50% more than we really wanted.
Today, at 10:59am, the mighty Loonie was dead-even with the US dollar. Hell, it flashed 1.0001 at one point. Hellllloooooo parity.
Of course, this hurts Canadian exporters and anyone else getting paid in US dollars in Canada (including my best friend), but it's a psychological point of pride. Now if only the damned retail prices would fall in line. I think we're all getting a bit tired of paying 20-50% more for something in Canada than it is in the States. Somebody's making a mint off the slow catch-up. Don't feed me any crap about market response time either, because those prices move the other way plenty quick when the dollar drops.
Regardless, Vegas is now a lot cheaper than it was in June.
Posted by Astin at 9:30 AM
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
1 large egg
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
around a cup of bread crumbs, moistened with milk
3/4 cup diced onions (yellow and red)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 - 2 tbsp of sundried tomato pesto (thank you evergreeen farmer's market)
dried parsley (only because I didn't have fresh)
fresh ground black pepper
I think that was it...
Preaheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat some oil in a sauté pan, put the onions in and stir to coat (tossing this many will make a mess), cover and cook on low until clear but not browned. Let them cool a bit.
Beat the egg in a mixing bowl
Put everything (including the onions) in the bowl. Mix it all with your hands (this is why you let the onions cool a bit, otherwise - ow).
Taste-test it by frying up a small bit in a pan (maybe the pan you did the onions in?), and eating it. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Transfer to a loaf pan, or shape it foil on a baking sheet, or whatever you want to do.
Put pan in oven for 1 hour. Remove and let sit for 10-15 min.
Enjoy the kick-ass meatloaf you just made.
Monday, September 17, 2007
I go out, and the final table bubble bursts at the MATH. I should have gone out much earlier after two asinine calls on my part, both with A2, both against AT. One I lost most of my stack, and the other split the pot with a paired board and J.
Then these happened two hands apart:
DQB times TWO! BOTH against flopped top 2 pair AQ. RNG in da HOUSE! See? I told you.
Posted by Astin at 11:47 PM
It was a busy weekend that ended with a bevy of adorable cats and kittens. That's why this final review is up 3 days late.
Friday night I saw Weirdsville. Oddly enough, I didn't realize it was a Canadian production until I was in the theatre. Starring Scott Speedman and Wes Bentley, and directed by Allan Moyle (Pump Up The Volume, Empire Records) it's the story of two stoners and their night that involved drug pushers, a not-quite-dead prostitute girlfriend, satanists, medieval dwarves, hippie millionaires, and sprayable mayonnaise. It was a great way to end the festival.
Dexter (the quite, contemplative one) and Royce (the ideas man) are in debt to a drug pusher. To avoid getting their thumbs cut off, they take a job selling drugs to cover the debt. This is really just to buy time to rip off a safe from a millionaire hippie who is in the hospital. Things go wrong, Royce's girfriend Matilida (Taryn Manning) dies, and they go to bury her at an abandoned drive-in. Here they run into some satanists and the chase is on. Dwarves get involved later, paths cross, hilarity ensues.
It was a fun movie. The production value was quality, especially for a 17 day shoot. There is an undeniable chemistry between Bentley and Speedman. You could honestly believe their friendship was genuine. They were often at the verge of killing one another, but were obviously there for their friend. This chemistry propelled the film through its strange twists and turns.
The Canadian references were subtle enough that they were appreciated by the audience without making the movie unintelligible to a non-Canuck audience. The comedy was universal, and the light-hearted tone of the whole film meant the expected resolution and denouement was acceptable in its context. Definitely a worthwhile viewing.
The fest this year was very good. Solid films throughout, and my selection of films was one of the broader ones I've had.
My Winnipeg - Guy Maddin's trippy black and white homage to getting the hell out of his hometown. Won best Canadian film at the fest.
Chacun Son Cinema - 35 3-minute shorts from some the world's greatest directors about the experience of cinema. Not a one that didn't draw in the audience in its short allotment of time.
Erik Nietzsche The Early Years - Lars Von Trier's struggles with the Danish film school.
American Venus - A woman goes nuts without her guns while visiting us crazy Canadians.
Breakfast with Scot - A gay ex Maple Leaf-cum-broadcaster tries to straighten out his gay quasi-nephew.
Vexille - An ass-kicking future raid of Japan in one of the most visually jaw-dropping animated films I've seen.
Honeydripper - John Sayles serves another multi-course feast of a movie that leaves you feeling satisfied and happy. Blues becomes Rock 'N Roll and saves a bar in 1950's Alabama.
Walk All Over Me - Tricia Helfer and Leelee Sobieski are dominatrixes (dominatricies?) with gangster problems.
Sukiyaki Western Django - Japanese Samurai Spaghetti Western in Japanese-pronounced English from the mind of Takeshi Miike. Weirdly brilliant.
Weirdsville - Two stoners, drug pushers, dead girlfriends, satanists, dwarves, hippies, and lives saved with baby powder.
It was a great time, here's looking forward to TIFF 2008.
Posted by Astin at 1:48 PM
James Oliver Rigney Jr died yesterday. He was better known as Robert Jordan, author of the Wheel of Time series.
It started in 1990 with Eye of the World, and now, 11 books later, the author has succumbed to cardiac amyloidosis. My initial thought? "Son of a bitch, now it will never be finished." He continued to work on the final book in the series, but it was far from finished. His cousin stated that he sat down with him and was told the whole story a couple months ago, but knowing the plot and knowing the details are two different things. Here's hoping somebody is able to finish it off and offer closure to the people who have put up with the series for 17 years.
It's sad that he's passed, and I mean no disrespect, but his landmark tale should have been finished years ago. From book 5 onwards the whole thing went downhill. What started as a detailed and engrossing story became a long, drawn-out mess that went into excruciating detail about the smallest minutiae. He chased endless characters when he should have stuck to maybe 3 or 4. People very definitely killed were brought back to life. The same, asinine running jokes continued through all eleven books loooooong after they'd become tired.
The general theory is that he decided to stretch out a popular and profitable series as much as possible. Whether this was due to his own greed or that of his publisher isn't known. What is known is that the books approached 1000 pages in length, and NOTHING happened in them after book 4 or 5. This should have been a trilogy, or at worst a decology, but it ended up being 12 books, with the last still unfinished. Maybe his editors just stopped doing their job.
RIP Mr. Rigney. By all accounts you were a nice guy, and a talented storyteller. I just wish you'd cut out the crap years ago and finished your series finished before you did.
Posted by Astin at 11:13 AM
Friday, September 14, 2007
Going to my last TIFF film tonight - Weirdsville. Should be good. Also, weird.
Top 10 most polluted places in the world. I recommend not reading this while eating.
Actually won an SnG on Tilt last night with aggressive play and hands holding up. Wonders never cease.
Busy weekend coming up. Lots of driving. Good, I haven't done much driving recently, and it's always good to get out on the road.
Congrats to The Goat on the new addition. Everybody popping out kids these days. Me? I'm getting a cat.
15 days until greatest day of the year. This year it will be on a boat. I hope.
5 days until Talk Like a Pirate Day! ARRRRR!
Work self-assessments suck.
Terry Fox Run this weekend. Go out and raise some money for cancer research. Me? I pledged because I'm lazy but have disposable income.
I am soooooo lazy. Also, I procrastinate. Which is why I post so much. Oooh! Insight into my psyche! Use it wisely.
I find myself in a spot. I bought ground beef and pork last night to make meatloaf. Then my bestest friend gave me spaghetti so I didn't make meatloaf. But I have salmon for tonight, and will be out tomorrow. Maybe meatloaf on Sunday? Oh the trials and tribulations! Must use it before the meat spoils.
Why are you still reading this? It's like a train wreck. You can't look away, because you've been pinned to the ground by the locomotive.
Sitting in front of a TV with the volume down all day really helps you appreciate commercials and if they can communicate their message without narrative.
The results are in - people are seeing strange shit on Tilt. Especially quads. Dillo also pointed out the odd occurrences of the same hands happening consecutively, right down to the suits. I've noticed this too.
TIFF this year has been very good. Lots of really solid films. Other than one disappointment, I've been happy.
Iceland pics... really need to get those sorted and up soon. Someone kick my ass into gear on this.
Who's going to Vegas in Dec? I'll be there, it'll be a blast. Now I just need to figure out accommodations... and book my flight.
Know what's annoying? When you find a great camera, buy it at a great price, and then when you want to buy another a few months later as a gift, it's $120 more than you paid, even though it's 1 1/2 years old, discontinued, and in the outlet store.
Glad to hear Kat's healthy. Physically at least... who knows about her psychological wellness. I kid. Don't run me down with your sleek black death machine.
Shit, I have a housewarming tomorrow and no housewarming gift to give. Liquor store, here I come!
How can I lose 10 lbs and get in shape in 2 weeks? Obviously I mean without dieting, exercise or surgery.
Hovnanian is offering discount prices for this weekend only. So if you want to buy a new luxury home for only a semi-ridiculous price, get on that! (I have no idea about any of this other than CNBC has been running it for the last hour).
Wait, Hoy has a new post up. That's how I can do it. Constant Wii playing for the next 2 weeks! I mean, the thing's generally gathering dust because I spend all my free time in front of the computer if I'm not cooking. I need to finish Excite Truck, get back to Paper Mario, and start wailing on my score in Wii Sports. Not to mention the other 4 or 5 games I have for it... and all the Gamecube games.
BTW - made banana bread last night. Yum. Mom's recipe, Alton Brown's method. Tonight will be the return of salmon. I was going to do the peach-mint reduction again, but now I'm wondering if I feel more like teriyaki & mustard. Maybe some ginger too (if it's still good). Lemon on the side, sweet potato fries. Snow peas, corn on the cob... hmmm. Remember kids, don't marinate your fish in citrus, it will "cook" the fish before you cook it.
Tried a new lunch place today, Z-teca. Burritos, tacos, etc.. Not bad, especially for a food court.
Ugh, places to be after work. Try and negotiate that camera price down, and then go pick up a package from Amazon. I don't get it. I HAVE 24-hour conceirge service, why the hell can't the post office just leave the package with them? Everyone else does. Now I need to walk 15 minutes (BOTH WAYS) to pick up a DVD and a book. I shouldn't have ordered the book, it takes away from possible birthday gifts. D'oh!
Don't get me wrong, I actually love walking around the city. I'm just lazy. Have I mentioned that? I also love swimming, but my pool is all the way downstairs, across the hall from the gym, and above the squash court. I should use these facilities some time instead of giving money away with this poker habit.
My poker club has moved to 800 metres away from my door. How awesome is that?
I'm thirsty. Maybe I'll go get some juice.
There's nothing like pledging someone in their run and finding out you put them over the top.
Yah, juice, gonna get me some.
Mmm.. Powerzone smoothie. Strawberries, pineapple, tropical nectar, orange juice, ginseng, ginko, echinacea... and toss in some lecithin and thermogenic herbs. Tasty, AND it provides 979% of my daily vitamin C needs and 3 servings of fruit. The peach and grapes I had this morning add some more. I'm so darned healthy.
Holy shit! The Canadian dollar is worth 0.9710 cents US (1.0294 the other way). That's a 30-year high easily methinks. Could it reach par value by the end of summer? I didn't think so, but now I'm not so sure. Soon all those Canadian dollar jokes will be turned back on you USA! Just you wait.
Ok, it should be obvious by now that I have absolutely nothing of consequence to say today.
Posted by Astin at 9:39 AM
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
"I can hardly wait for Oscar's tribute to montages."
"And none of these issues were ever a problem again."
"This just in, it's now easier out there for a pimp."
Yes sir, Jon Stewart will be back as the host of the Oscars. Awesome. Not that I don't like Ellen Degeneres, but she was way too tame last year. Chris Rock was great too ("If you want Denzel and all you can get is ME? Wait."). Then again, I have a great appreciation for sarcasm and irony.
Posted by Astin at 3:37 PM
Go read Hoyazo's latest post on inducing all-in bets. It's good stuff. However, he doesn't cover how to suck in the stacks bigger than yours. So here's my advice:
1.- Get dealt consecutive premium hands. (AA, KK, AK, maybe QQ if you're feeling saucy)
2.- Push all-in from any position with them
3.- By the 3rd great hand in a row, the big stack should be annoyed and call you. Sucker!
*NB: This only works if your name is Astin. Also, if it's the last few weeks on Tilt, you'll get totally rivered by QTo. If your name is Bayne, you can play with any 3 consecutive hands because you'll likely flop quads or the nut boat or something.
Posted by Astin at 2:01 PM
Two more films last night, one more on Friday. The two-day break is nice, it will let me nap tonight.
First was the world premiere of Walk All Over Me, my 4th Canadian film of the fest. Starring Tricia Helfer (Number Six/Caprica on BSG) and Leelee Sobieski it's was introduced with, "It has bondage and gangsters, what more could you want?" Well, a direction and believability would be good. I think it was meant to be a comedy.
It starts off with Sobieski's character (Alberta) running from some shady business and her boyfriend getting the crap kicked out of him. She arrives at her sister Celene's (Helfer) place in Vancouver claiming she wants to start over. Turns out her sister is a dominatrix who's life plan is to save enough to afford acting school in LA. Alberta ruins Celene's Nazi outfit and takes on her own client to pay her back. In the middle of her session, some bad guys break in and cause trouble. What follows is her and Celene trying to get some stolen money, vengeance, and their attempts to save Alberta's client (who she of course has a thing for).
Now there's nothing unappealing about seeing Helfer or Sobieski (when the hell did she fill out?) in various BDSM gear, but you need substance to make the audience stay. The lead baddie (Lothaire Bluteau as Rene) was quite good with a nuanced and original performance. His henchmen were also more interesting than your run-of-the-mill tough guys. Seeing Helfer kick ass was also great. The problem is that the script relies on Alberta. Sobieski was fine, but the character was annoying as hell. She was supposed to be comic, but the running gags (Alberta's terrible driving, her constant cry of, "I'll make it up to you." no matter how out-of-control the situation, etc.) got old really fast, and seldom elicited more than a chuckle from the audience. She repeatedly does the most moronic things, is completely uncomfortable, and her big turnaround at the end isn't so much impressive and cheer-worthy as it is expected. The character failed to generate any empathy as a complete fuck up.
Plus, the only time I felt any emotion was the uncomfortable tension during the opening 10-15 minutes. After that the film just... existed.
So the acting was solid, and most of the characters were interesting. Unfortunately the script was severely lacking, the main character was annoying, and the whole thing was shot in Winnipeg, which was obviously not Vancouver, at least to me, and I imagine anybody else who has spent any amount of time wandering the streets of that city. It wasn't a BAD film, it just wasn't a good one, it was a thriller/comedy that was neither thrilling nor all that comic. By the end I was pretty upset I'd been soaked through in a downpour on the way over instead of staying home for this one.
Plus, the over 4 rows of seats reserved for cast, crew, guests, and the jury cut into the available seating for the rest of us. ALL the guest showed up, which delayed the start 15-20 minutes as they tried to find their seats.
However, I then had a midnight showing of Takeshi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django. I am so glad this finished my night instead of the other. A truly strange and wonderful Samurai Western. Yes... take a plot worthy of Sergio Leone (and inspired by Sergio Corbucci's Django), put it in a small Japanese mountain village, cast an all Japanese cast (with one noteable and great exception in Quentin Tarantino), and have them all speak English with Japanses inflection (which results in subtitles that were largely unnecessary), and you've got a pretty unique experience.
A lone stranger rides into a town besieged by two gangs (Heiki and Genji, who are red and white respectively) in search of treasure. He offers up his services after an impressive display of gunmanship. He then learns how the village came to its current state and does what any gunman does - takes on the gangs and settles some scores with guns ablaze. Of course, this is Miike, so there's blood, humour, popular movie references (the Sheriff does his best Gollum, there's some bargain-basement Matrix-like effects done for humour, etc..), and tons of traditional Western lines. It couldn't Japanese without mythical references, chosen ones, and general weirdness.
The whole thing is one wild ride, and a Midnight Madness audience is perfect for it, and vice-versa. It was a blast, and the perfect tonic for the disappointment of earlier in the night. One friend described it as "weirdly brilliant" and he was right.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Played in the MATH last night, which I think is the first time since last week's Mookie that I've been on Full Tilt. I'm very tempted to limit myself to blogger games there these days. Hoy's talked about, IG's withdrawn her funds, I believe Columbo, Goat and Kat have alluded to it as well. Full Tilt has become the hub for suckouts, bad beats, and statistical anomalies. Is it just variance hitting in a BIG way against bloggers? Just a run of bad luck? Are Tilt's servers running at maximum capacity and it's affecting things? Or is it more conspiracy-laden and are these donkey-loving oddities a result of the school starting up and the site trying to attract and keep all those kids who are on their own for the first time? Were they hacked?
I'm not one to subscribe to the idea of the fix being in, but I think some code-auditing might be in order at Tilt to make sure everything's running as it should be.
Last night in The Hoy was suckout central. This actually isn't very uncommon in our weekly gathering, but after the last few weeks, it was perhaps more obvious. Twice I sucked out with a set on the river (66 vs Bayne's QQ, and 99 vs Cayne's AQ with a Q on the flop), and went out when Hoy's 99 rivered the set against my AK (K on the flop). I know there were others, but those were the ones I saw.
Maybe it's just an increase in donkeys, so while you could normally scare out a hand like QTo with a 4x BB raise pre-flop, you now get some donk who calls out of position and calls you all the way down because the T was on the flop, or they have an inside straight draw and no amount of pot-sized bets will scare them off. Regardless, it's annoying as hell.
So I've been playing on back on Stars more often now. You know what? It's been better. I'm cashing and bubbling SnG's with far fewer bad beats. If I'm losing, most of the time it's due to my own stupidity or a legitimate call catching cards against me. The number of bad beats is totally believable compared to Tilt. I should give Absolute a shot too, that place was always strangely good to me, although there's not a lot of action to be found.
One other thing - quads. Has anybody else (I've noticed a few) seen a jump in how many quads they're getting? I went months without seeing anything, and in the last couple weeks I've gotten quads at least 5 or 6 times, and considering I've played maybe 20-25 games (all SnG) in that time that seems like a high percentage.
Maybe it is just statistical, but damn it's annoying. Besides, 32% of all statistics are made up.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Favourite movie of the festival, bar none. I'm looking at my last three and I know there's no way they'll match up. Oh, and the world premiere to boot (making it #5 so far for me this year, there's something special about being among the first to see a film).
John Sayles' work about blues becoming rock n' roll in 1950 Alabama. Of course, it's not about that at all. It's about moving forward. It's about change. It's about people. It's about letting go and holding on. It's about risks, faith, luck, and love. It's 2 hours, and like every Sayles movie, it's a walk through the story. The people and the tale unfold and you become invested in their lives. All of this with music in the background, providing bridges between the verses, causing everything to flow together.
Danny Glover deserves to be recognized for his performance. Charles S. Dutton does too, but he might be overlooked simply because he plays that part so well as it is. The whole cast was great, even Sayles' usual token appearance.
I won't give away much about the film, not because there are any great twists or shocking moments, but because like any good story, you need to discover it yourself to truly appreciate it.
It will be opening in NY and LA end of the year for Oscar consideration, and find wide release in 2008. If you get the chance, go see it and try to leave without feeling uplifted.
One thing I always like about the fest is leaving one film and seeing the line for the next. There are always moments. Last year was the huge crowd for Borat as I was leaving one film. Michael Moore walking the red carpet and me wondering, "Why? It's not his movie." This year it was the rush line for Lars and the Real Girl. Why? Because it was full of cute girls who I have little doubt were there for Ryan Gosling more than the film. I mean, it's a movie about a slightly off-kilter man who falls in love with a Real Doll and behaves as if she was a real person. I can only hope that it maybe opens up a few of the eyes that went in hoping for Gosling of The Notebook. By the way, it BARELY missed the cut for the 10 films I picked.
Am I really writing this? Really? There goes my street cred.
I somehow missed the MTV awards last night (read: didn't give a shit, and forgot they were even on), but it's impossible to miss the fallout. Three items seem to be garnering headlines: Britney's lacklustre performance, Britney's weight, and Sarah Silverman's jokes.
So after my America Ferrera comment the other day, I guess I should speak on Ms. Spears. Yes, she wasn't nearly as in solid shape as she was 5 years ago, or has ever been when performing. But let's not forget this is a 25 year-old girl (yes, I mean girl, she still has to grow up) who has 2 kids and apparently some sort of severe mental deficiency. Seriously, find me another woman who had 2 kids in about 2 years, gone through a messy divorce, been publicly humiliated and be in that sort of shape? Granted, she IS Britney Spears, and if she's not in super sex-kitten mega-shape, maybe she should have worn something less revealing... but it's not like she was muffin-topping there. Regardless, she was far from obese.
As for the performance - from what I've seen on the videos online, she was completely out of it. Whether she was high, hungover, drunk, exhausted, or just didn't care, I don't know. It's been obvious for a while now that she needs some serious help. Isn't this what PR reps are for? To strap her down and yell at her until she realizes all the money she's made, the fans she has, and what little scrap of reputation she has left are swirling the bowl for the last time before going away for good? Not that I care beyond the freakshow aspects of it all.
As for the lovely and delightful Ms. Silverman. I've been a HUGE fan of hers since she was a featured player on Saturday Night Live (you may remember her has the Chop Suey in Lunchlady Land). I saw Jesus is Magic at the Toronto Film Fest a couple years ago and laughed myself silly. Oddly enough, she was there and seemed remarkably uncomfortable in front of the audience... maybe because it was 1:30am. Anyway, her comments were AWESOME. Honest, crude, and ballsy as hell. If she wasn't so darned cute, I don't think she'd get away with half of what she says, and she knows it. Someone at the Jesus... screening said she had the soul of Lenny Bruce, I still think it's an apt comparison, although she perhaps lacks the political acumen that Mr. Bruce had. Or maybe she just doesn't care. Regardless, gold yet again.
Posted by Astin at 3:05 PM
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Last night consisted of Erik Nietzsche The Early Years and American Venus. Today has been Breakfast With Scot and Vexille.
All solid films. Erik Nietzsche is the story of Lars Von Trier (under his alias of Erik Nietzsche) and his days in the Danish Film School. It's a biting bit of sarcasm about the state of the Danish film industry some 30 years ago. How Erik's attempts to be different and question traditional film making techniques and rules is met with hostility and threats. The fact that the only reason he's in the school is due to the dean's libido speaks to his situation. It's funny and insightful, and the final shot left me smiling.
American Venus is a decent film bolstered by a fantastic performance from Rebecca De Mornay as Celia. Jane McGregor as Jenna also does quite well as Celia's put-upon daughter. The basic plot is that Jenna is a US figure skater who botches a performance at Nationals and has finally had enough of her overbearing mother. She runs away to Vancouver to escape and mom eventually follows. Celia is an American caricature - a gun-loving sociopath living in a pristine white and orderly world. Heading to the range and firing off a few magazines is her means of stress-relief. Of course, upon trying to cross the border, her favourite handgun is taken away by customs and this leads to her gradual and remarkable breakdown as she tries to figure out Canada. The movie suffers from a case of "WHY?" Where I was regularly asking why Celia would do the things she did... if she wants her guns so badly, why not go back home? Why would she attempt to break numerous laws and put herself in danger in search of a weapon? However, these questions get answered as we realize how unstable she really is. It has moments of dark comedy, and some genuine tension. All of it is anchored by its two very strong leads.
Breakfast With Scot is one of those heart-warming films that just BARELY keeps from stepping over the "oh geeze" line. Starring Tom Cavanagh, Ben Shenkman and Noah Bernett, it's the story of Eric McNally (Cavanagh), a former Toronto Maple Leaf who has moved on to broadcasting after an injury, Sam (Shenkman), Eric's partner in their semi-closeted relationship, and Scot (Bernett) an 11 year-old boy who ends up as their temporary ward due to an irresponsible brother. Eric was a tough guy in the NHL, and now works in Sports Broadcasting - both areas where being gay might not work in your favour. He's been with Sam for 5 years, and while his friends and family all know, he's kept his orientation a secret from co-workers and the general public. In comes Scot, Sam's brother's dead ex-girlfriend's son. Sam's brother is in Brazil though, so Sam and Eric get Scot until he can be picked up.
Scot, however, has been raised solely by his drug-addict mother, and is pretty solidly gay, with absolutely no male-oriented interests or mannerisms. He shows up with a charm bracelet, silk scarf, hands smelling of gardenia hand lotion and with a bag full of cosmetics and jewellery. What follows is largely Eric's attempts to butch-up the kid so he doesn't have to suffer the slings and arrows that are inevitably thrown at school. Over the following months, we see the effect this attempt has on everyone involved - Eric, Sam, Scot, the bully down the street, friends, and family. It never quite goes where you expect it to until the end, when it gets kinda sappy and tear-jerky. That said, the movie is solid, and explore some touchy themes with subtlety and humour.
Finally was the Midnight Madness showing of Vexille. Within the first 30 seconds I knew I'd be picking this one up for my DVD collection. An animated masterpiece from Japan set some 70 years in the future. Japan has shut itself off from the rest of the world due to U.N. rules about robotics that Japan's biggest corporation didn't agree with. An attack leads the US to send in a special forces team to the island nation to see what's happening. What they find shocks them. I'll be honest, the big twist wasn't that shocking for me, but the movie was gorgeous. Fantastic action sequences, a jaw-dropping visual style, and a pretty decent story to boot. It reminded me I needed to pick up a copy of Renaissance from last year's fest as well. This was a fantastic way to end the weekend's films.
Monday night is Honeydripper from John Sayles, which I have little doubt will be excellent.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Here begins the fairly real-time blogging of my sojourn into the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival.
For those that don't know, I live in Toronto, and for the past... oh... 5 years now I've gone to a variety of films at what is generally considered the second most important (behind Cannes) film festival in the world. It's a launching point for Oscar season, and a fantastic mix of mainstream, indie, world, and Canadian cinema. As usual, I have 10 films on the docket for this year.
Last night was Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg. Maddin is one of the most unique filmmakers out there today. Obviously inspired by silent films, his movies are generally hilarious, disjointed journeys into his mind. He's been compared to David Lynch, except without all that darkness and creep factor. He shoots largely in black and white, has recently experimented with classic silent film techniques (Brand Upon The Brain! uses a narrator, live orchestra, and live foley artists), and has amassed quite a following.
My Winnipeg is his unique look at his home town and yet another distorted view of his family life. Black and White, with minimal dialogue, and Maddin himself doing live in-theatre narration. The entire audience was in stitches from his twisted humour. His mother divining that his sister had backseat sex when she comes home crying about hitting a deer; the defense of a girls' school during the Winnipeg General Strike; his homo-erotic thievery of a Russian hockey player's jersey which he then tosses in the river to avoid the KGB. Just a few examples of what life was and is like in the "coldest city in the world"... as seen by one of its favourite sons. It was a great film, and a fantastic way to start the fest for me.
This morning was Chacun Son Cinema. For the 60th anniversary of Cannes, Gilles Jacob asked 35 of the world's most talented filmmakers to create 3-minute shorts that discussed what cinema meant to them, set in a theatre. It is a rare feat to captured and entertain an audience in 3 minutes, yet these directors achieved it in spades. To top it off, David Lynch's portion was not ready for the Cannes screening, but it opened the film today.
Some of the more recognizable names: David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan, Joel and Ethan Coen, Wong Kar Wai, Lars Von Trier, Roman Polanski, Gus Van Sant, Wim Wenders, Ken Loach, Takeshi Kitano, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and Jane Campion.
It was fantastic. Not a dud in the lot. One of the most fun parts was that the director's name generally didn't appear until after their short, so you were consistently trying to figure out which film was who's based on their style, the actors involved, etc.. There were some interesting shared themes - 2 involved someone stealing from people; there were 3 shorts that had blind movie lovers; and of course there were few that involved young love in the theatre. But they all ran the gamut - beautifully photographed musings on love, memories of movies themselves, connections between films and reality, modern technology's incursion on the medium, peace in war-torn places, movies in the smallest of towns, people being exposed to world cinema for the first time, horror, subtle sci-fi, and many, many more.
The most remembered for me include Lynch's twisted dance, Cronenberg's suicide of the last Jew in the world in the last movie theatre in the world, the Coen's having Josh Brolin discover Turkish cinema, Wong Kai War's gorgeous memories, Takeshi Kitano's farmer trying to watch a movie, Lars Von Trier's black comedy, Ken Loach's father-son tribute, Abbas Kiarostami's ode to Romeo and Juliet and perhaps his teacher, and so many, many more. A fantastic example of masters of the medium portraying something they truly love.
Tonight is Erik Nietzsche The Early Years, and American Venus. Both films I'm looking forward to. It's shaping up to be a great selection of films.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Got home after a trying end-of-day at work, and called up my buddy down the hall. I made some fresh baked spicy fries and a salad, and we went up to the roof with my brother (who stopped by) with a few beers and grilled up some steaks. Good times. After that my buddy and I played some squash and I then popped online to watch the end of the Riverchasers and putz around in an SnG on Stars. (3rd in a 6-man turbo = bubble... grrr). Not a bad night.
3am I got woken up when my cat decided he wanted to run around. He got a bit damp as a result and calmed down. But that's 3 nights in a row now he's decided that ungodly hours are good ones to wake me up at. And I'm thinking of getting a 2nd one? What's wrong with me.
So, tired for the 3rd straight day due to interrupted sleep, and my Film Festing starts tonight with Guy Maddin's "My Winnipeg". 3 films tomorrow, 2 on Sunday, 1 on Monday, 2 on Tuesday, and one more next Friday. I might buy a couple more to fill in the gaps if I so desire. Red Bull, here I come.
Now, the anger. First, minor anger and head-slapping:
Your show is called "Ugly Betty", it pokes fun at the modelling and fashion magazine industry. Your main character has become a star, and she's uglied up in the show, but even then looks surprisingly "real" in real life. Not a beanpole, nor drop-dead gorgeous, just a normal person. She gets to be on the cover of a magazine... and they PHOTOSHOP HER TO A SIZE ONE. I hate false body image. There's a whole other rant in there which I'll avoid.
Real anger now. There used to be a time when we were forced to join the armed forces. Luckily, we live in a part of the world that isn't surrounded by enemies, and there are enough volunteers to maintain an acceptable level of servicepeople. Eventually, these soldiers, airmen, marines, etc, come home... we hope. They are then quickly forgotten except for that one day a year where everyone pays tribute. Fine, we're a fickle people. However, the government of the country they serve treats its veterans horribly. I can't claim it's any better here in Canada than the States, but finding this blog raised the ire meter a few levels. When your chickenhawk president, service-dodging VP, and I imagine countless other Senators and representatives who had "better things to do" than serve ignore their vets, I think they should be dropped in a war zone for a week without an entire army surrounding them for their photo ops... then we'll see how they feel.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
A couple SnG 2nd places, and then the Moooooookie. Out 12th when NumBono pushes with A8o, Islandbum calls with AQo, I repush over Bum with JJ, and get called. A on the river. It HAD to be the ace? Why not the Q? The 3-outer instead of the 2-outer?
Next hand KJ meets Yancypants' Q8 steal attempt and 8 on the flop is enough.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Since poker can suck my balls at the moment (or, more specifically, the asshat donkeys and bullshit "random" number generators I've run into the last few days), it's time for alcohol.
I've got a couple food posts to put up, possibly tonight, on some dinners from the past couple weeks. For now though...
Besides cooking, I also happen to be a pretty mean bartender. I don't juggle bottles or anything, but I love experimenting. My palate, which serves me well cooking, is great for drinks too. It's a definite benefit when you can figure out what a combination of flavours will taste like before actually mixing them together. It also helps that my alcohol collection puts most bars to shame in terms of variety... seriously.
Note: I'm trying out stirred instead of shaken. It's easier cleanup (my tumbler is too complicated, I need a simpler one), but more importantly, shaking dilutes the drink as the ice breaks up and melts. Stirring lessens this, and I've heard works better for chilling.
1.- Blueberry-Orange Martini.
I need to tweak the proportions a bit, or maybe it's just the sub-par vodka. It started a bit harsh (yet still quite drinkable), but seemed to smooth out. I threw this together last night after getting knocked out of a $5 SnG I was playing with Kat by yet another retard who decided my all-in meant his K5o was good. It helped take the edge off when Wil freakin' Wheaton knocked me out the Monkey Tourney with his nines vs my presto. Right in the middle of my big comeback from the edge of oblivion too.
2 1/4 oz Blueberry Vodka
3/4 oz Blue Curaçao
Splash of Cointreau (or triple sec, or even Grand Marnier)
Stir (or shake if you wish) with ice and strain into a martini glass. MUST be cold.
I'm thinking of reducing the Curaçao, using Grand Marnier instead of Cointreau, and possibly cutting the Stoli Blueberry with a premium vodka to smooth it out. As it stands, the curaçao is a bit overwhelming flavour-wise. I'll let you know how it goes. Regardless, it's a decent drink and good for a buzz. I shall have to name it once I've got it where I like it. I'm thinking Blue Ahrange. (pronounce like orange, but with an Arr, I know you've heard of that Family Feud episode).
EDIT: Tried 2oz vodka, 1/3 oz curaçao, and 1/3 oz Grand Marnier... Very cool colour (turquoise or seafoamish), but I think the Stoli Blueberry is just too harsh. Next attempt will cut the Stoli with a premium vodka.
I came up with this for two of my favourite women in the world at the birthday party of a friend who had a somewhat limited supply of non-staple booze.
2 oz Premium Vodka (ie.- Grey Goose)
1 oz Black Sambuca
Stirred (or shaken) with ice and strained into martini glass.
This one packs a whallop I'm told. It's two 80 proof liquors but you can't taste the alcohol. The Sambuca is strong enough to give the whole thing that black licorice taste some people actually like.
It stands to reason you could do the same with regular Sambuca, but then you don't have a black martini. I guess it would be a Whiteout then.
Pomegranate Green Tea Martini Pomegreenteani
So many punny names possible, but I think I'll settle on... Pomegreenteani! Yup, that works. I came up with this at the same party as the Blackout, because I wanted something sweet and don't like sambuca.
2 oz premium vodka
1/2 oz Zen Green Tea Liquor
1/2 oz Pomegranate Liqueur
Stir or shake with ice and strain into martini glass. This baby will be neon pink, so you have to either be female, or really secure in your manliness to carry it around. What can I say? I'm cool enough to get away with it.
There, now go, get wasted and think of me.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
I finally got off my incredibly lazy ass and started tracking the traffic here. You're a very exclusive group, btw. Think of this place as the VIP room, but without all the sex (sadly).
As often, I think the Google searches are the most fun. I will try to answer these unsolicited queries. "microwave cooking of red meat", "Dettifoss directions", "monte carlo spin slot machine", "cape breton the pearl restaurant".
Microwaving red meat - sweet jeebus, are you insane? That's disgusting. Don't do it! It takes 10 minutes to pan-fry a steak from the moment you turn on the stove. Just put in a bit of oil, crank it to high, and once the oil is hot (not smoking), toss on the meat for a few minutes a side. If it's a roast, then there is no good way to do it that doesn't involve some sort of oven or rotisserie (but why rotisserie? You lose all the juices!). If you REALLY want to eat disgusting rubber, then go ahead and microwave, just make sure you season and marinade and tenderize the hell out of it first. Here's why - microwaves work by boiling the liquids in the food, and in the case of meat, that effectively cooks it from the inside out. Have you had boiled beef? Ick... but at least it's tender, which is not what you'll get from the microwave. If you really want to, here's something off the top of my head: Season, marinade, tenderize. Put it above (not touching) some hot water and cover. Microwave on high for a bit, and then drop the power. MAYBE you'll have something edible.
Dettifoss directions : From the ring road (1), turn north at Grimstadir towards Asbyrgi (there will be a sign that says Dettifoss), bounce on the road for a while, turn left, and get out at the parking lot. Walk down the steps by the picnic spot (not by the washrooms, those go to a different falls), and you can't miss it. Dress warmly, I suggest a couple thin layers and a light jacket in the summer, earmuffs or a hood wouldn't hurt... and gloves.
Monte Carlo Slot - Hey, I won $1000 in Calgary on it, so I'm happy. I got the 3 blazing 7's. I actually don't like these machines that much, they don't hit the spin game very often, and the high progressive is tough to hit. Play Blazing 7's instead, but only the original with 3 wheels and INDIVIDUAL progressive jackpots, preferably in a large bank of machines so you can compare jackpot sizes. Aim for the largest and drop 100x the min bet and play the max every spin.
Cape Breton and The Pearl - Can't help you. I just happened to go to Cape Breton the day after visiting The Pearl in Reykjavik. Strange. I looked online, too much effort for me to make.
As for everyone who was looking for "I Can't Believe I Took The Whole Thing" (any of the episodes from 1-13), I haven't seen it, but it sure seems popular in Europe. But then again, this isn't that kind of site. Don't you feel a bit exposed now that I've mentioned the pr0n you were looking for?
BONUS for "I can't believe love is so blind when" When what? When you see really, really, really good-looking people together? When you, yourself are blind? You didn't give me enough information! But let's go with this - we're all superficial jerks whether we admit or not. Looks matter, it's the first thing we notice when meeting someone face-to-face. We like hot. Everyone's definition of hot is different. Now, if you actually get to know someone first, you'll discover that look ain't everything. Looks also have a tendency to be temporary. Upset the hotties aren't with you? Well then nut up and try and get with them and stop bitching at Google.
I am either a salesperson's wet dream or worst nightmare, depending on their perspective. Before I make just about any purchase, I research products and alternatives as much as reasonably possible. This has led to one large conclusion. Consumers are sheep.
iPods, Bose, Sony, Monster - all inferior products at inflated prices, and my examples. But they're well-marketed and look cool, so they get bought. Then when less expensive and superior quality alternatives are pointed out to people, they fight tooth and nail that their overpriced, underachieving purchases are actually the best, because they're too proud to admit they got ripped off. So the cycle continues.
They also tend to get locked-in to the product lines after their first purchase. You buy and iPod, and install iTunes. Maybe you buy a Mac for your next computer (not a bad product depending on your needs). A few years pass, or you battery dies, and its time to buy a new music player. Well, you already have all your iTunes playlists and purchases, and maybe that Mac, so you buy another iPod because it's easier than converting to a format another player can use.
What amazes me though, is the ferocity of the brand-defenders. Tone-deaf myopic sheep who will insist their Bose system is the greatest sound experience ever, their Bravia was worth the premium price, and that the $1000 on Monster cables and surge protectors makes it all fantastic.
I'll grant that iPods look great and are easy to use, but they have some serious shortcomings that prevent me from ever wanting one. They're well-documented out there. Why pay a higher price for something that looks cool when I'll be keeping in my pocket? Especially when the lower-priced alternatives have far more features and less of those annoyances. Are they garbage? Nope, but their dominance blinds people from what else is out there.
Sony isn't a terrible company. It's arrogant, short-sighted, and greedy though. Their audio/video lineup is perfectly acceptable. But NOT at the price point they have set. They sell themselves as a high-end product, but they offer mid-range equipment. For the same price as any Sony product, you can get FAR better quality, without being tied to their propietary formats and interfaces. If you want the same quality (and sometimes still better), you can definitely find it for much less.
Bose is where things take a steep turn downhill. This is a company that's all about marketing. Controlled in-store experiences that could never be duplicated in the real world, a bombardment of impressive-sounding ads, and a premium price all contribute to making Joe Consumer think they're buying the absolute best. In the audio world, BOSE = Buy Other Sound Equipment. $500 for what is essentially a clock radio? $2000 for a home-theatre-in-a-box? You won't find a single reputable expert out there that thinks Bose is worth 1/2 that much. Cheap build quality, acoustically retarded technology choices, and zero industry credibility, yet they still survive and flourish. I cringe whenever I walk into a friend's place that has a Bose system. Spend 20 minutes doing some research online and you'll discover a whole new world of affordable, QUALITY audio equipment.
Finally, there's Monster Cable. If Bose is all about marketing, Monster is all about bullshit. A cable is simple - a copper wire (be it single or multi-core) surrounded by insulation and a cover, terminating in metal connectors. Gauge, length, and quality of metal all make differences in how well it transmits the signal, but over the distances found in 99% of homes, they are generally minor. Monster claims things like amazing dielectrics, top-quality materials, an a ton of technology that has no bearing on a wire. Assuming you're a modern kind of person and have a wide, big screen HDTV, a DVD (or even HD-DVD/Blu-Ray) player, amplifier, 5.1 or better sound, and digital/satellite cable... Monster is useless to you. Unless your family room happens to be 200ft long, and all the equipement is at the back while the TV is at the front. Then you might benefit from a high-end cable. One might think that your DVD player and amp are about 2ft away from your TV, and your rear speakers are maybe 15-25ft away from the amp. Trust me, spend no more than $100 total on your cables, you'll be fine. If you're going to invest in a high-end cable anywhere in that system, then it should be between your 1080p player and the 1080p TV. If you don't have either of these, you won't notice a difference. But when you buy anything for that setup, the salesperson WILL try and sell you the Monster cables - tell them where they can shove them.
Well, trip report's done, back to poker.
Hasn't been a good few days for me results-wise. Between Sunday and Monday I took more bad beats than I've seen in a loooooooong time. Not that MY play was all that stellar either.
But I cashed in the Labour Day 100k (3700 runners I think, 175k pool) for a whopping $87 and change when I pushed over the big stack to me right. He was in the hijack and had raised from there enough to be noticed, I put him on another steal and knew if I was going to fight back it was now or never. So with A5s I pushed for my 7k (blinds 400/800 + 100) to his 3000 bet. He thought and thought (stack = 30k) and finally called with KJo. K on the flop was enough to beat me. Grrrr. At least it covered my buy-in and MATH buy-in, although not all the various satellites I'd tried earlier before giving up and ponying up. I did hit as high as 57th out of 1800 or so at one point.
A few hands of interest from both the MATH and 100k:
My overbet wasn't enough to lure in Fuel, who was a might tipsy. Regardless: DQB!
From the 100k. Fuel is right - flopped straights NEVER win.
I called a minraise from someone else to get to the flop, check-called the flop putting him on a Q, bet and called his push on the turn, and cried on the river. I had him covered, but it took me a long time to recover, and by then my stack wasn't nearly as impressive compared to the blinds.
Mike plays gud. He pushed pre-flop, I called. Battle of short stacks.
I guess I just need to repeat it: If you're getting sucked out on, you're playing good poker, right?
Tell that to my bankroll.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
It's been almost two weeks since I returned from the trip. Everyone has asked the obligatory, "how was Iceland?" My response has been the same - it's a beautiful country. Go if you get the chance, but make sure you budget appropriately. It's not cheap there. Don't stay in Reykjavik just because you've heard it has a great nightlife. You can eat, drink and dance anywhere in the world. You can't stand under a rainbow. You can't get sprayed by a 25m geyser every 10 minutes. You can't stare out at vast expanses of empty black sand. Sunsets that last for hours, viking settlements, a unique history - all things worth experiencing. Explore the country.
There are things I didn't do - hike on a glacier, snowmobile on a glacier, 4x4 into the interior, climb the lip of Europe's most active volcano, not to mention all the things I've already said we skipped for various reasons. I think it's worth going back to.
Have you ever experienced the phenomenon where you do something, or get something, and suddenly you see references to it everywhere? It happens all the time to me. Now that I'm back, I've seen no less than 5 references to Iceland from various sources. New films, talk show interviews, historical landmarks, even old Snorri Sturluson has come up. Somehow, Iceland looks to have become the hot topic out there. Go figure.
I'm glad to be home, but between Iceland, and Israel earlier this year, my wanderlust seems to have returned. Now I need to pick my next destination.
But first, I need to organize all those pictures.
Our goal was Cape Breton. We rose, had the first hot breakfast we'd enjoyed in over a week (in fact, the Hilton Garden Court has a great included breakfast - cold buffet, or your choice of hot entrees, all included) and got away a bit later than expected. It's a 4 hour drive from Halifax to Sydney, where we dropped off my brother so he could meet up with a friend who lives there (because my brother has friends who are insane). The drive there was... interesting, with my brother driving, my youngest brother navigating (hey, someone other than me has to do it sometime), and my mother driving from the backseat, and driving them nuts. Them taking the pot-holed side road instead of the handy major highway was less than welcome.
Regardless, we made it, dropped off my brother, and made our way to Tim Horton's for a snack. Unexpectedly, this particular Tim Horton's was right next to Casino Nova Scotia. How could I not go in to check it out? Wow. The floor was only a few thousand square feet, and full of crappy slot machines. About 8 table games, that were all closed, and a small 3 or 4-table poker room that was also not open on a Sunday afternoon. I still played the slots, and left up $10, knowing that if I stuck around longer, I'd have hit that oversized progressive. :)
We went down to Louisburg - the site of French port from colonial days. At its peak, Louisburg was the 3rd busiest port in North America, behind New York and Pittsburgh. The shipping and fishing industries were incredibly profitable for France, and it was a key military point against the British. After being taken by those pesky Brits, it was abandoned and fell into ruin. The Canadian Government rebuilt the whole thing as an historical site.
It's impressive - a rather regal French colonial town, with a dominating fort that is more castle than base. Throughout the day it is populated by people portraying daily life at the time, teaching the tourists. Or so I hear. You see, it closes at 5:30pm and they recommend an entire day dedicated to seeing it. We got there at 5:15pm and didn't get in. Oops. Still got some pictures though :).
A bit more random driving around and my brother was picked up as we began our long, dark journey back to Halifax via the Trans-Canada highway. It rained, it got dark, and the highway wasn't exactly "lit". Even in remote Iceland, the road was clearly marked by reflective posts along the edge. Here, in Nova Scotia, if it wasn't for high beams, you could find yourself in a ditch next to the highway. After a few hours, we found ourselves near St. Francis Xavier University, and college towns have civilization. We grabbed some dinner (mmm.. Boston Pizza) and got back on the long dark road for a couple more hours. A brief, and unnecessary (but nobody listens to me) about running out of gas, and we got back to the hotel for our last night.
Next day, more tasty breakfast and off to the airport.
I believe I've stated the problem of flying on employee passes. They're standby. Monday was supposed to be easy, with tons of open seats. Something changed and all the flights were greatly oversold, with tons of standby passengers who ranked higher than us. Our 10:50am flight was full, as was every other flight for the next 8 hours. Finally, we were able to (barely) get on a flight to Ottawa, where the plan was to connect to Toronto. This is the benefit of employee passes - it's easy to change your route on the fly.
This Halifax-Ottawa flight was interesting. We were told not to bother, because they were short two flight attendants, and therefore couldn't run a full flight. Also, it was over 2 hours delayed in departing. Somewhere, they found some extra staff and we all got on and out. The problem was, we weren't going to make our Toronto connection any more.
The pilot informed us as to the reason for the delay. A North American summit was taking place outside Ottawa between our Prime Minister, the Mexican President, and some yahoo cowboy from the States. Turns out W's little private jet (Air Force One or something) had landed behind the plane we were one before it could leave for Halifax, and they shut down the airport for 90 minutes for all those fun Secret Service things, delaying the plane from reaching us in Halifax, and causing it to miss some crew.
But it did make it eventually, and made it back to Ottawa, were we got a good view of that big honkin' 747 and its security force. As we were pulling up to the gate, the crew let us know that we were screwed. Anyone with a connecting flight had missed it, go to customer service to find out where you were rebooked. Damn. I really wanted to get home.
So I rushed off the plane and looked left to the gate we were SUPPOSED to go to. What's this? People? AHA! They lied! Our next flight was listed as "Departed" but hadn't QUITE finished boarding yet! I ran over and they reluctantly let me and the family on, literally closing the door behind us. I settled in my seat with a smile on my face that we'd made it... just.
The flight home was uneventful, and I was FINALLY able to settle into my own bed and get the sleep of the travel-weary. I have traveled all around this tiny planet of ours, and every single time I have the same thought - There's no place like home.
A week had passed since leaving for one of the most unique countries in the world. In that time we'd circumnavigated the whole country, seen absolutely gorgeous scenery, learned a thing or two about its history, and generally been impressed.
Today wasn't gearing up to be too full. We were potentially 20 minutes out side Reykjavik, with our flight leaving in the evening. So we took it easy, had breakfast and rolled out.
From Borgarnes you have two choices for getting to Reykjavik (well, 3 if you count going the wrong way for 800km) - a tunnel under one of the fjords, or the old road around the fjord. We opted for the old road, aiming for Glymur, Iceland's highest waterfall. We'd be warned there was a somewhat arduous and high hike to get there, but we figured it wouldn't hurt to get to the start of that and see what was in store. We never got that far, because what wasn't mentioned was, once again, the horrible condition of the road to get there. A dirt road that got progressively worse and steeper met us, and eventually we were forced to turn around.
So we continued on the old road, met up with the main road again, and made it into Reykjavik. We drove over to The Pearl - another landmark clearly visible from much of the city. It's a very large series of water tanks above the city. However, instead of your standard "oh look! a water tank!" style, it's an architectural attraction. A series of large tanks with a glass dome and observation deck on top, a history of Iceland museum inside, and a revolving top-tier restaurant.
Outside The Pearl is a man-made recreation of Strokkur - that regular geyser from day 3. It actually quite humourous after seeing the natural one. Every few minutes, this stream of water and steam is forced a couple dozen feet in the air, but it looks so artificial. Inside is a fountain that I believe is matched to the outdoor one's cycles.
We climbed to the observation deck and enjoyed the 360-degree views of the largest city in the country. We also went through the history of Iceland museum, where I learned that nothing has happened in the last 300 years. Seriously, there's this whole display with life-like models, recreated historical scenes, descriptions, audio tours, and the rest, but it ends in the 1700's. I suppose nothing quite matched the days of the Vikings since then.
We made it to the airport, and found ourselves waiting to board the plane because the pilot was having a hard time getting away from an annual festival in Reykjavik. Icelandair has a tendency to force you to be there early. 2 1/2 hours before departure, boarding beginning 20 minutes before scheduled, and leaving as soon as possible. However, the staff seemed perfectly okay with herding all the passengers into a tiny holding room because the pilot was having too much fun. We finally took it upon ourself to go back out to the larger waiting room and sit down, and the staff reluctantly agreed they were morons.
All told though, we didn't leave that late, and arrive in Halifax relatively on time. Here was when my family, except for me, were pulled aside for a random customs check. I strolled through, they got pointed through another door. Here, they were caught for transporting rocks that hadn't been washed in vinegar. Seriously. Rocks=dirt and you can't transport dirt. But you can if you wash it in vinegar apparently. So the customs official washed their rocks and let them pass. He missed the tomatoes they were carrying, go figure.
We scarfed down some fast food and got the to hotel for the night.