Sunday, March 23, 2014

MM9 Check In

Well, we have a movie marathon first. One of the discs skipped like crazy. Big Trouble in Little China just finished, after an elapsed running time of 28 minutes. That's what I get for buying used CDs at the pawn shop. (Testament to my fatigue: it just took me four minutes to remember the words 'pawn shop.') Not a huge deal that the disc crapped out. Right now it's just me that's awake. (And Gunther.) Everyone else is snoozing. I won't judge though -- I was in and out of consciousness throughout all of The Conjuring. That's my deadly spot, 4am to 6am. Once light starts coming in the window, I'm fine.

Fun day, but we've had better lineups for sure. I think it was Chris who said last year that "it was fun, but there wasn't as much goofing on movies as usual," which was true. Because I'd stacked MM8 full of films nobody had seen, so there was a ton of concentration involved. This year has more familiar titles, so smart-assery is up at least 200%.

So we started with The Goonies, which has more swears and more bad acting then I remember. There's two strategies for that first slot -- something amazing that makes everyone pay attention (Unforgiven), or something familiar that everyone can chit-chat and get caught up over. Both strategies have their merits. Goonies was definitely the later strategy. The Magnificent Seven was next, which I think we all enjoyed. I like it because it's basically seven actors competing over who can have the coolest hat, and who can care the least about being in mortal danger. Bronson was my favourite, I think, and I'm pretty happy to have shared that with folks. I'm sure it was no one else's favourite, but it's the one everyone will remember years from now. The Thin Man tanked, and I knew it was going to bomb about two and a half minutes in. It takes patience (to get through the plot setup to the Nick and Nora parts), and attentive silence (to hear the banter), and we were really up for neither. Still a good movie, but a terrible choice on my part. Next was Mystery Team, which was probably the first comedy I've played in years that got actual laughs (rather than nods of amusement or confused half-grins.) Maybe also our best fan-film of the night, competing closely with  Ip Man. Before that though came American Movie, which I chose just barely over Gimme Shelter because I thought it would be a better movie to riff off of. And it was, but I didn't account for the Grey Gardens-like sadness it would cause us all to feel. Then it was Ip Man next and that played well, but I think every martial arts film always lives in the shadow of Kung-fu Hustle. Dark City was a little divisive. Some liked it, some though it was weird. All though it was like a rough draft of The Matrix (which never occurred to me before but is totally true). Hellraiser wasn't scary, just gory, and occasionally very silly (there was a hobo-transforming-into-a-demon scene at the end that they must have just straight up run out of money for because it looked like something out of Coven). The Conjuring continued our streak of non-scary scary films this evening. It still played decently but was unanimously described as 'interesting.' And just now Big Trouble in Little China was fine (for how long it lasted), but pretty skipable. Like the martial arts films, everything we show in the second-to-last spot is living in the shadow of Roadhouse.

So now it's just Gravity left, which I have to wake everyone up for in about 30 minutes. Other than really needing to brush my teeth right now, I'm in pretty good shape.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Movie Marathon 9

March 22, 2014:

The Goonies - 10:00am
The Magnificent Seven - 12:09pm
Bronson - 2:47pm
The Thin Man - 4:34pm
Mystery Team - 6:26pm
American Movie - 8:33pm
Ip Man - 10:35pm
Dark City - 12:36am
Hellraiser - 2:31am
The Conjuring - 4:19am
Big Trouble in Little China - 6:26am
Gravity - 8:20am

Wednesday, October 02, 2013



Sarah fills our family’s life with adventure.  It was true long before we had kids, even before we were married.  If you’re like me, you approach travel, challenge, and maybe just the world at large with a one day attitude.  One day I’ll leave the continent.  One day I’ll reconnect with that friend I haven’t seen in years.  One day I’ll break this routine and do something really different.  With Sarah, the speed between idea and action is staggering.  Casting my mind back to 1,000 years ago when we first got engaged, she imagined a more amazing honeymoon then I would ever dare consider, and then it was planned and booked in days – long before I could think of a decent (fear-based) objection.  And if you get her in a room with her dad, brain-storming vacations, she’s ten times as dangerous.  Nearly every amazing vacation we’ve had has started with idle conversation over dinner at her parents’ place, then the meal is barely over before the two of them are in research mode.  At the very least, Sarah has the lot of us verbally committed to the next big trip – and booking typically occurs within the next 24 hours. 
 
It’s been a little while since we’ve had a really big trip, and not for one second do I want to imply that it was easy for her back then, but it was certainly easier.  We’ve been on one income for a while now, first when Sarah took extra time off in addition to her mat leave for Veronica, and then because I left my job to start an entirely income-deficient business.  Even at our most flush, Sarah is a money-conscious travel planner, so I don’t want to imply that we were throwing money around then, but we certainly had a lot more disposable income.  We don’t now and haven’t for a while, but despite this we’ve had a really great, incredibly fun summer.  All thanks to her. 

I have relatively few talents, but one of my more valuable skills is the ability to endure.  (Don’t mistake this for athletic endurance.  I can run upwards of, maybe, seven minutes at a time.)  No, what I can endure is driving for a really long time.  I can endure repetitive kid games (like: let’s climb Dave all day, or let’s play tag for four years).  I can endure epic amounts of sitting in one place.  I can endure boring routine like nobody’s business.  I can maintain… but Sarah makes it interesting. I get bored and grimly carry forward; Sarah gets bored and makes everyone’s life more fun.  I think about what might entertain us five minutes from now; Sarah thinks about what will thrill us five months from now. 

Despite all the austerity going on up in here, Sarah has given our kids an awesome summer.  Our biggest trip was to Lancaster, Pennsylvania – where our kids rode, bought, played with, ate, fought over, slept on, or dreamt of trains.  Lancaster also had Dutch Wonderland, a theme park practically made for our kids – and a place they ask to go back to on a weekly basis.  We also visited African Lion Safari, which I hadn’t been to for about three decades.  Only a stone’s throw from the city where my parents live, it’s a place that wouldn’t even have occurred to me to visit (and the kids loved it).  Sarah also purchased an insanely affordable membership to the Cumberland Museum, an old-timey farm museum that’s minutes away from home – which we’ve been to nearly a dozen times now (and which, again, the kids adore).  We also went apple-picking at Orleans Fruit Farm, strolling the boardwalk at Mer Bleue, to Georgetown, to Almonte, to Kingston, to all the local museums we have a membership to, to other museums Sarah gets passes to through the library…

It’s been a big, exciting, memorable summer that I wouldn’t have thought possible.  But someone much smarter than me knew better.  Which has been the case for nearly half my life now.  And I love it and I love her.



Thursday, July 25, 2013

The immediate future, right now, yesterday



 I love my kids.  I’ve been staring at this screen for the past ten minutes wondering where to start, and that’s my best attempt so far.  There are two reasons I don’t write here much these days.  The first reason is that I’m incredibly, incurably lazy.  More important is the second reason: the more time goes on, the more I feel compelled to write honestly.  Which is not to say I was dishonest before, just that it’s been easier to fall back on hyperbole, jokes, and cliché.  It’s why my posts about Sarah are so hard to write.  I don’t just want to say, “She is the best, greatest, most wonderful woman in the history of time!” whether I believe it or not.  I want to find honest and original words to explain precisely why I think she’s amazing.  She really is the greatest, the facts are there.  It just takes patience to find the right words.

My kids are really good friends right now.  I like to think that’ll always be true.  Yes, I’m probably wrong; no, I don’t want to hear otherwise.  For the time being, they love playing together, they look out for one another, sometimes they hold hands when we’re walking together  – they like each other at least as much as they like us.  And they’re funny, at least half of the time intentionally so.  The unintentional laughs are easier to recall.  Like Veronica’s “I get bigger and bigger…” line.  For the most part, Veronica accepts the fact that she isn’t yet three, and there are certain things she just isn’t old enough to do.  Like ride Teddy’s bike.  When we told her she was too little for it, she got this wide-eyed, hopeful look and said, “I get bigger and bigger, and then I ride Teddy’s bike!”   She says that about everything.  Here are just some of the things Veronica is patiently waiting to do once she gets bigger and bigger:

  • whistle 
  •  drink coffee 
  • drink beer 
  •  hold the candles at church 
  •  drive 
  •  have a beard 
  •  ride the spinning strawberries ride at the Fair 
  •  have a penis (when Sarah broke the bad news to her about this one, Veronica immediately burst into tears)

She’s got my sense of humour in general.  As young as she is, she has a really great appreciation for the absurd.  We’ll be sitting down having dinner, everyone’s silent, and she’ll turn to me and start making weird animal sounds – like an angry cat with sinus congestion.   Another good example: the first time we explained to her that Mommy was going to have a baby, we asked what she’d do when the baby got here.  She said, “I hold it, and I snuggle it, but I don’t put it in my mouth!”  Okeydoke.  It took Teddy longer to come to terms with the baby, which we think was because he was hung up on the mechanics of it all.  Why is there a baby in Mommy’s tummy?  How does it come out?  Sarah explained the process to him in the most basic way she could, and when she was done Teddy paraphrased as follows, “The baby’s getting bigger and bigger, and when it’s ready it’s gonna jump out!”  More or less, kid.

Tedster is still a very big train aficionado.  All little boys have a train stage, I think, but while each of Teddy’s friends have moved on from trains (to bush parties, bareknuckle boxing, or whatever kids are into these days), Teddy still remains an enormous fan.  The fastest way to get him to change out of his pyjamas in the morning is to dangle a Thomas & Friends shirt in front of him.  I can make his whole day by rearranging his train table into some new configuration of tracks.  He remembers all the trains he was given as presents and who gave them to him.  And he holds in his head a very detailed inventory of trains he doesn’t own but has played with at someone else’s house.   He comes by it honestly, though.  Grandpa has sixty years on him and he still loves trains with a vengeance.  And I’m not complaining – I prefer Teddy having fixed interests rather than just being into whatever random thing his friends are into that week.  And the cheapskate in me is happy that all that money put into trains, train-themed clothes, and train-oriented vacations was well spent.

Veronica likes trains because Teddy likes trains, but if every train and track on earth suddenly vanished, she probably wouldn’t notice.  I’m looking forward to her interests taking greater shape as she gets older.  She likes dolls and stuffed things, but she isn’t obsessed with them.  She’s liked books from an earlier age then her brother, and she’s happier to explore a new book than Teddy (who’d rather hear something familiar over something new).  Randomly, Veronica likes to grab two books, give me one, and then have us both read our books aloud at the same time.  Makes zero sense.  Also annoys me. 

Both kids have incredible memories.  We’ve known this about Teddy for ages – how he knew all the words to his favourite books and songs, how we could distinctly recall things that happened years ago.  Veronica’s got it too, she just doesn’t show it as frequently.  But the other day we were driving in the car while the kids were watching Blue Mountain Mystery (a Thomas movie, naturally,) and as it played, both kids recited every bit of narration and piece of dialogue for the first five minutes of the movie.  And it’s not like we’ve watched that movie one hundred times.  They’re smarties, those   Which means I’m doomed.  At least for the moment, I get to be the second smartest person in this house.  How many years before I’m officially the dumbest?  Ten.  I give it ten.

I still have a couple things over these kids, like I understand the concept of time.  For both Teddy and Veronica, there are three states of time: the immediate future, right now, and yesterday.  The distant future just doesn’t exist for these kids.  If we’re doing something exciting weeks or months from now, we can't tell them any earlier than the day before because they’ll drive you bananas.  Teddy’s the worst offender.  Tell him on Tuesday that we’re going to Georgetown on Saturday, and he’ll wake up at 5am every day in between saying, “We’re going to see Nanny and Poppy today!”  They both have a good handle on the present, so that’s fine.  But for them, everything that’s happened before now happened ‘yesterday.’  There’s no real harm in that one, it’s mostly just funny.  “We went to see a movie yesterday!”  (A week ago.)  “Yesterday, we went to Dutch Wonderland!”  (A month ago.)  “I fell off the ladder at the pool yesterday!”  (Well over a year ago.)     The birth of nations, the discovery of fire, the formation of the cosmos – it all happened yesterday.

They`re fun, enthusiastic, good-hearted kids, and right now they make parenting really easy.  They`re good at independent play.  They`re not too rowdy and not too docile.  And these days, they`re really good sleepers.   I`ve spent the better half of this year feeling well-rested, which is a feeling I never thought I`d rediscover until somewhere around my early sixties.  Which is why we`re having a third kid, just to throw things entirely out of wack again.  I`m not complaining.  It`s what we signed up for, and happily so.  People keep asking if we`ll be done after three.  Probably?  It’s not the work or the effort that puts me off having more, I think I’m just going to be too old.  I don’t want to be hobbling after baby four with a snow-white beard and absolutely no hair, hearing Teddy complain, “What’s wrong with you, Dad?  You used to be young yesterday.”

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

MM8: A Review

I think this was the first year I lived the entirety of Movie Marathon offline.  I mean, I've been slack-assing all of my online haunts of late, but it wasn't just a result of me being lazy.  No one was super-familiar with the lineup as a whole; on average, people had seen about two movies of the twelve beforehand.  I think we all paid more attention than usual.  Maybe too much attention.  I feel like the Mystery Science Theater 3000 style jawing was down at least 25%.

Okay, quick bits about each movie.

In Bruges - There's one movie each year that I'm desperate for everyone to love.  Sometimes it's a guaranteed slam dunk like Black Dynamite, other times it's less of a sure thing.  After the night was all over, more than one person told me this was their favourite out of the lot.  Colin Farrell is so fucking good in this movie, it made me like him not just as an actor but as a person.  So glad this was liked as much as it was.

Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel - This was a bugger of a movie to get our hands on (thanks, Jorge!) and was a total wild card selection.  It was one of only two comedies that people showed any interest in seeing, but I picked it based on Rebecca's recommendation.  Very fun flick.  And I think the resulting fan film was my favourite of the batch.

Double Indemnity - People were basically so-so with this movie.  Classics can be tricky in this format - I remember On the Waterfront got a similar reception.  There's definitely a greater degree of patience required, and this is really an event geared toward the music-video addled, explosion-and-boob craving side of our brains. 

This Film is Not Yet Rated - Very convincingly condemns the MPAA for penalizing films that explore female sexuality and pleasure, and for giving a free pass to violence over sex in general.  Convincing at least up to the 40 minute mark, where it runs out of new points to make and just gets bombastic and repetitive. 

Grave of the Fireflies - We've never played such a fantastically sad movie before.  Even knowing its reputation prior to screening, I welcomed it just as an experiment.  And it was great.  And I never want to see it again.  I find it easier to make it through films and books that cover really widespread tragedy.  Personal tragedy kills me.  Especially when it involves kids.  (ESPECIALLY because the girl was close enough in age for me to very easily imagine her as Veronica.)  I really just had to shut off my humanity for the second half to make it all the way though.  I'm reminded of when we watched The Mist back in 2009.  I saw it alone one night and thought it would make a great selection for Movie Marathon, particularly because of the super feel-bad ending.  (SPOILER.  The hero -- thinking that he and everyone he's with will inevitably be torn apart by monsters -- uses his remaining bullets to kill everyone in his party, including his son.  He then steps out of the car to await death... but the mist starts to clear and the army arrives to save the day.)  I knew Jorge would hate it, because he was the only one of us at the time to actually have a kid.  But I played it anyways.  And he very rightfully hated it.  And now, at least in part, I've paid for it. 

The Raid: Redemption - One of three movies that came out in 2011 that people online just went bananas over, to the degree that each one was a lock for the MM8 lineup even before we voted.  (The others were V/H/S and Cabin in the Woods.)  As it turned out, this movie was exactly as good as the hype suggested.  Just a bunch of exceptionally good martial artists beating the ever-loving shit out of each other.  The story was just a frame to hang a bunch of fights on.  Everyone loved this.

Diggstown - I saw this soon after it came out, which is 20 years ago now.  I remembered enough about it to know that, by the end, everyone would be happy they'd seen it.  But I didn't remember it scene by scene, so there was good chance it might have been boring.  Not the case at all.  Enjoyed by all.  Also, my favourite fan photo of the night.

Raising Cain - Like Diggstown, saw it a long time ago, only remembered a few specific scenes.  (Specifically the best one, where John Lithgow's super-convincing Little Boy personality undergoes an interrogation).  In the end, it's sort of a silly, hammy movie.  With huge chunks of exposition dumped in every so often.  It's like that the-psychiatrist-explains-everything scene at the end of Psycho -- except here it happens every 25 minutes.  (Raising Cain has the best tagline of the bunch though: "When Jenny cheated on her husband, he didn't just leave... He split.")

V/H/S - Piece/Of/Crap.  Horror anthology, found footage.  Please remind me to skip either of these types of movies from here on out.  The first sequence, where the fratty douches get killed by the vampire/succubus thingy, was good.  The rest was shakycam, shakycam, shakycam, blurry shot of monster, we're dead.  And it felt like there weren't 18 sequences, each progressively more boring.

The Black Hole - Holds up!  I watched this one solo, so maybe others would disagree, but I found this totally watchable, with very decent special effects for the time.  I hadn't seen in for about 30 years, but all the dialogue was crazily familiar.  Then I realized that we had the audio version on vinyl back in the day.  Because people had audio versions of movies then.  On vinyl.  For whatever reason.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior - I slept through at least 96% of this movie.  I'm sad we didn't make a fan film, but I didn't have enough hockey equipment to do it justice.  And we'd all had to have drawn straws to determine which of us would be the obese version of Lord Humongous.  Things probably worked out for the best.

Regrets in the end?  I regret V/H/S so very badly.  I also regret not talking to people more.  Like, we made stupid jokes and I said things like, "Who would like to hand me more alcohol?", but I wish I'd spent more time catching up with people.  Again, I think this was largely to do with the lineup.  Next year, more familiarity!  We'll just watch all the Rocky movies or something.

Jorge and Rebecca, thanks for traveling 7,000 kilometers once again.  Cathy and Mark, thanks for your very extended stays (great to have you here for so much of the day).  Shelley, I was totally not begging people to bring jagerbombs in that e-mail, but thank you for the jagerbombs!  Chris, thank for you the many and various other alcohols that you always carry on your person.  Lorna, thanks for returning (and also sticking around for a long while).  Sarah, thanks for making us look like excellent hosts and for continuing to endure me as a life partner.  

Geez, how close are we to MM10, eh? 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


Sarah has such an excellent laugh.  It's the same way people laugh in comic books: "Ha ha ha!  Hee hee hee!  Ho ho ho!"  To see it written down, yeah, it looks ridiculous, but it's a warm, natural thing to hear - and it's one of my favourite sounds in the world.  We've been with one another for about a hundred years now.  She's heard all of my stories.  She's heard all of my jokes.  At this point I'm just putting different spins on the same tired material.  She'll give a polite laugh when it's something she's heard a dozen times, but on those rarer instances when I surprise her with something original and she really laughs, oh man. I love it so much.  No one else's laugh sounds like that: not her parents, and not our kids.  Our kids have inherited my laugh, I think. It's guttural, with more consonants than vowels: "Huhn, huhn, huhn."  Don't get me wrong.  They're sweet and I love them to bits, but they laugh like a bunch of goons.

And she's tough!  Not mixed martial arts tough (although we can both agree that would be awesome), she's resilient, and she doesn't take any shit. At heart, she's a people-pleaser, but she's got that perfect amount of choleric in her. I'm a people-pleaser too, but 99.9% of my behavior stems from trying to avoid conflict at all cost.  Sarah knows when to fight for something.  She'll never rile someone up for the sake of it, but when someone's taking advantage of someone else, or when someone's shooting their mouth off, or when friends or family are at odds for no good reason, she has no qualms about stepping in where she's needed.  This family is in good hands.  She takes care of us in so many ways.

Sarah, at thirty-*cough* years old, you're the best version of you I've met yet so far.  I can't wait for what's next.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Tenerife




After eight days at sea, we struck land!  Our first port after crossing the Atlantic was Tenerife.  Tenerife, Wikipedia tells me, is the largest and most populous island of the seven Canary Islands, and also the most populated island in Spain.  What’s the point of having a blog if not to shame yourself publicly and often?  And so I add this detail: until I looked up that article just now, I was pretty sure we were in Portugal that day.  I blame the culture-numbing combo of cruising and small children.  While cruising, you spend so little time at each port that you’re barely dipping your toe in the life and culture of the places your visit.  And with small kids, your attention is so fragmented that you don’t even get to dip a toe into the culture, you’re basically just hoarking on in. 
 
In our highfaluting cruisey-cruise days, we’ve seen quite a few beautiful little island cities built into hillsides.  What made Tenerife strange was that it was really dry and arid.  So much hard, dry earth and short, squat cactuses.  Beautiful in its own way, just very different.  We did very little here.  We got off the ship, had a nice walk to the city centre, then Sarah and her dad searched in vain for a bank machine (no dice there, but it’s strangely easy to find a discotech or a place that bakes gourmet biscuits for your dog).  After this, we came across a park and the kids were thrilled.  Veronica found a train play area that kept her happy, while Teddy worked the slide for an hour, happy but mystified why the little Spanish children wouldn’t applaud for him like he demanded them to.