Saturday, January 28, 2012

Things I don't like (as much... anymore)

So here it is, full confession: things I have discovered in my middle aging that I no longer have as much "like" for as I did in my younger days. Which admittedly is not that long ago. OK, ok, I'm riffing on Mr. O'hara's previous post. So sue me. No, don't. Please?

1. NHL hockey. Yes, I am STILL a pretty big Habs fan. But four things have now mitigated my once-intense love for this game. First: Concussions concussions and the very unfortunate habit of those with concussions to suffer devastating life challenges moving forward from said concussions. Second: My three children. All of whom I hope never want to play contact hockey. See? Four things. Now Go Habs Go!
Chicken Wings
2. BBQ Chicken wings from restaurants like Buffalo Bills, Wild Wing and everyone else who makes chicken wings. Heartburn! When the hell did I start getting heartburn? Lately. So no more chicken wings. Or take-out pizza. Or KFC (yes, technically chicken wings territory, but still.) Where's the Pepto?

Jazz
3. Jazz. I think I used to like it more when I was young, because it was supposed to be "cool" and "not rock". But you know, I just don't get it. Well, except for Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue". That shit's the shit.

4. If you're from Montreal, you know Premier Moisson breads. And man, I used to love those baguettes like Tim Tebow loves Jesus. But lately, living the last seven years in Toronto (where we do have access to Premier Moisson breads) I gotta say, I think there's better. Namely, Ace Bakery baguettes. Awesome!

5. Crappy classic rock stations. I was listening to Q107 here in the Big Smoke yesterday and I turned on the station three times during the day. I swear, I heard "The Logical Song" each time. That's not cool. I used to like that song. I'm sure the same crap happens on classic rock stations all over the place, including beloved CHOM FM with a renewed, slimmed-down Terry DiMonte. Yes, I'm well aware that classic rock is no longer being made, because it was all made back in the classic age of rock. But GEEZ! Guys, start playing more "deep cuts" from albums or something, it's becoming so... fucking... repetitive.

6. Mondays.

7. Facebook. Yes, it still is my essential reminder of all my friends and acquaintances' birthdays and I get the occassional tidbit of news or interesting video post from someone's update. But with this new Timeline function set to take over all our accounts, I just can't be bothered as much anymore. Zuckerberg, figure out a way to re-coolify your little program. It's gettin' stale.

8. Coffee Crisp. Just lost the taste for it. Don't know why.

9. Endless blog lists.

Here endeth the lesson. What say you?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Things I Like

Here is a list of things I like. These are things I like, things for which I am grateful. Hope you get the things you like. What do you like?

  • a big bowl of spoon sized shredded wheat
  • my second beer (IPA or Stout)
  • surprising people with a funny line
  • Back in Black
  • the second day of a long weekend
  • writing
  • health
  • early Tom Waits
  • hitting the heavy bag
  • driving in the dark of night on an empty highway
  • drawing
  • fresh towels
  • mountains - hiking them and viewing them
  • sitting on the beach in the shade with a cold beverage
  • a ride on my bike
  • peaches
  • a cool glass of water
  • clarity
  • solitude
  • the company of good friends
  • jeans and a t-shirt
  • a great book
  • finding the truth
  • coffee
  • Coltrane
  • trivia
  • telling stories
  • my girlfriend
  • summer
Driving in the dark of night on an empty highway

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Travelling A Broad - I mean Abroad

Beautiful Beaches

The problem I have with vacations is that once I book I want to immediately depart. As in, right now! I have booked my trip and six weeks is a long time to wait. I am ready to start packing. Even though it is six weeks away, I want to go to the car and sit in it until it is time to leave for the airport. First things first. I have to get organized and figure out what I need. So, this is how I get organized for my trip.
Can't wait to hit this beach

  1. Make a list. Everything starts with a list. Where are you going? How many days? What activities will you need to dress for?  Check. 
  2. Find a travel partner. Preferably of the opposite sex and of the hot variety. Check, check and check.
  3. Ensure your passport has not expired. After my failed attempt to travel to New York for New Year's, my new passport has finally arrived. Check.
  4. Do you have clothes to wear? A bathing suit? Sunscreen? Do an inventory of your summer (or winter) gear. Check.
  5. Find a suitcase...
  6. Consult the country travel report for the place of destination. Check for weather, crime, or health concerns. Canadians click here. Americans can click here. Both sites are useful to everyone. Check.
  7. It is recommended that you register with your government when travelling abroad. See the above links. Registering makes it possible to contact a traveler if necessary, whether because of a family emergency at home or because of a crisis in the place the traveler is visiting. It is a free service.
  8. Get your shots. Hep A and Hep B and Tetanus. Booster shots are always important. Check with your doctor what travel vaccinations are necessary to get if you are travelling.  Check.
  9. Give your travel itinerary to a friend or family member.
  10. Can you use your local currency? What are the exchange rates? It is always safest to buy traveller's cheques and only keep a small amount of currency on you. Keep a backup credit card and debit card on you in a secure spot. Split up your valuables. Check.
  11. Scale down. Clean out your wallet or purse. Do you really need all those cards? The answer is no. Check.
  12. Does your personal insurance cover international travel? Do you need to top it up? Some plans cover air ambulance, cancellation etc. Check.
  13. When packing, keep in mind the new weight restrictions. Airlines will charge for anything over the limit. Check.
  14. Be safe and respect flight security. And don't be a douche. Be aware of limits for liquids or personal hygiene products. (It is usually 100 ml or 3.4 oz). Check.
  15. Dress comfortably. For example, if leaving Montreal's -23 degrees C (-15 F) and arriving in Jamaica's 28 degrees C (83 F), you should leave room in your luggage to pack your coat and, change either at the airport or on the plane. Check.
  16. Do not pack weapons in your carry on luggage. Check, wait... OK, Check.
Airport Security

A few more tips from Canadian Air Transport Security for speeding up your passage through security

DO

  • Have your boarding pass ready to present.
  • Remove coats, jackets, and blazers and place them in the bin.
  • Empty all contents of your shirt and pant pockets and place these items in the bin. 
  • Keep all GPS equipment, iPods, PDA’s, mobile phones, and smartphones in your carry-on baggage. They do not need to be screened separately.
  • Remove laptops, video cameras with cassettes, and film cameras from their carry-cases and place them in the bins provided.
  • Pack knitting needles, crotchet hooks and sewing kits in your carry-on baggage.
  • Avoid wearing shoes with metal arches, buckles, steel-toes or shanks (shanks?!).
  • Avoid wearing belts with metal buckles.
  • Place your transparent, closed and resealable plastic bag containing your liquids, aerosols and gels into a separate bin.
  • Ensure all medication is properly labelled and stored in your carry-on baggage. The name on the prescription must be the same as the one on your ticket/boarding pass.
DON’T ...

  • Don't bring gel or ice packs in your carry-on baggage as they are subject to the liquid restrictions. You can carry a bag of frozen solid peas instead to keep food cold.
  • Don't pack gifts and souvenirs containing liquids, aerosols and gels in your carry-on. These include: liquor, wine, beer, snow-globes, cans of soup, maple syrup, perfume, and lotion. Put them in checked baggage or ship them separately. (Only in Canada do they have to specify maple syrup).
  • Don't wrap gifts as they may have to be opened for screening. Wait until you arrive at your destination or ship them ahead of time. 


I hope these handy travel tips will make your vacation safe and more enjoyable. Start with a list, do an inventory, pack light. And please take me with you!
The Legoland airport cavity searches can be brutal

Friday, January 13, 2012

Seinfeld in Oz

One of the best spoofs to ever come out of Saturday Night Live. This picks up after the Seinfeld series finale, after Jerry and company get arrested. And I think you will find this funny, even if you haven't seen the show Oz. Just to bring you up to speed, Oz was the first one hour dramatic television series produced by HBO. The excellent series, often violent and brutal, featured a no holds barred look at the Oswald Maximum Security Correctional Facility.

As usual, click play, and click the x in the top right corner to bypass the ad.

Seinfeld in Oz

Jerry and Elaine
Kramer

George Costanza

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Snowstorms Are Awesome

Snowstorms are awesome. I love spending twenty minutes shovelling out my car and clearing the snow from the windshield. It is a great feeling spinning your wheels on snow and slush and ice, trying to avoid oncoming traffic. I feel great when idiot drivers are racing through the snow covered streets and cut you off as they lose control of their car. Sitting in traffic is a wonderful feeling especially when it is for an hour and 25 minutes and it takes triple the usual time to get home. I love when traffic is reduced from three to one lane due to the piles of snow. I love the noises the snow plows make throughout the night. I love it when we have freezing rain and it takes me an hour to scrape the ice from my windshield. What else do I love about winter in Montreal?
I love when the city clears half of the lane, or one and a half lanes forcing all the cars into the middle of the road. It is amazing when there is no room to park but people do anyway and double park their car next to the snowbank. I absolutely adore it when six lane roads get reduced to one lane and cars in opposite directions have to take turns passing. Fuck it all. I'm going to Jamaica.

Stupid Winter

Monday, January 9, 2012

Carnage - Film Review

Carnage, a film by Roman Polanski, is an adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s award-winning play God of Carnage. Funny and at times uncomfortably funny, at 79 minutes the film moves along quickly. The not quite real-time film shows the interaction between two couples whose sons were involved in a fight.

The movie is set entirely in the apartment of one couple, played by Jodie Foster and John C Reilly, as they host the aggressor's parents (Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz). The wonderful cast captures the initial awkward forced politeness and later the conversation's escalation to verbal sparring.
Coffee, crumble and alcohol is used to smooth over the cracked relationship, but backfires as inhibitions drop, and builds some unexpected connections as the couples' sparring turns to politics, gender, middle class ethics and parental responsibility.

Sometimes claustrophobic, Carnage exposes the flaws of our communication first contemporary society where our message is often mislaid in an attempt to deliver the way we expect the receiver wishes to receive it. The film is well acted, if not a little over the top on Foster's part. The conflicts are ferocious as they expose the unpleasant truths buried not so far below the surface. Carnage is a dramatic film that is laugh out loud funny.

Carnage, stars Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Barr Brothers

I just heard about this group. The Barr Brothers, that is. Great new band out of Montreal. Well, not so "new", since they've been around paying dues live gigging on the road since 2004. But they just caught a huge exposure break on David Letterman recently, and I assume many like me instantly took notice of their awesomeness in the form of their tune "Beggar in the Morning." Watch their vid for the song below. Wow. I mean... WOW. When's the last time you heard some smooth-ass, uncategorizable tunage like this?



Might be a little late coming to the party on this one, what with being a parent, hitting 40, and generally being out of the "young and hip" loop now that middle age is upon me. But enough whining about all that.

These guys are the shit. I've been looking for some new music to inspire, hit home and just plain evoke emotion from me. Last band to do that out of the blue for me like this was The Arcade Fire and their first album, Funeral. Another Montreal-based outfit. Go figure.

Anyway, The Barr Brothers... their eponymous first album hit the streets and stores and online retailers last year. Took awhile to filter to the masses, it seems. Hopefully this little, inconsequential blog helps change that a smidgen.
The Barr Brothers Photo Credit: Andre Guerette

Do yourselves a favour, go to their website. Have a listen/look. Close your eyes. Immerse in the band's fucking awesome soundscapes and if you like it as much as I do, buy this shit up. I haven't heard a bad tune out of this album yet. I sure hope they get the credit and sales they deserve and can roll out six or seven of these album-gems in the coming years.

Mature alt-rock-atmospheric-aural-gold. Nice.

And oh yeah, when's the last time you thought of a harp as an essential instrument to great mainstream music? Watch the little instrumental ditty below. Slightly reminiscent of Lindsey Buckingham's instrumental ode to Stevie Nicks called "Stephanie." Sweet, sweet... SAH-WEET!

Like I said, how do you categorize these guys? You can't. And who cares?! They rock... or whatever. The Barr Brothers, with opening act Alexi Murdoch, will be playing as part of the Montreal International Jazz Festival on July 1st, 2012 at the Metropolis.


THE BARR BROTHERS - Sarah Through The Wall Vimeo.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Movies 2012

See my 2013 list here: http://www.stubbornfool.com/2013/01/new-movies-2013.html
What follows is a selection of some of the most anticipated movies for release in 2012. A whole mess of new movies are heading our way in 2012. There are a few brand new stories. But some of the most anticipated films of this new year are sequels, others are remakes, and the rest are made up of rehashed ideas. I included trailers for some, and descriptions for all of these most talked about films.

The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises, July 2012
The film marks the final in the Batman trilogy for Christian Bale. The idea was to make three films starring Bale  with Christopher Nolan at the helm. The villain this time is Bane, yes, that Bane. The one that broke Batman's back in the 1993 comic book. I am guessing that won't happen here. Set eight years after The Dark Knight,  Bane will be The Batman's ultimate challenge, both physically and mentally.
Perhaps you have already seen it. This video has been viewed some 30 million times between iTunes and YouTube.


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2
Due out November 2012. The love story between Bella Swan and Edward Cullen concludes in this
final installment of this Stephenie Meyer's series. If you are a girl you will like this. Get what I am saying?
Breaking Dawn Part 2
The Avengers, May 2012
Looking at the characters and the actors, this should be an awesome flick. Should be. The movie stays true to the original story line of the world's greatest superheroes banding together to save the world, and realizing they don't like each other much. Look for Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk in this live action Marvel sequel. Stars Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johanson, Samuel L Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow.
Watch the trailer and get blown away.

The Expendables 2, August 2012
I guess JCVD learned his lesson. Van Damme apparently and foolishly turned down a role in the first film. Look for him and Chuck Norris and a who's who of the action world. Also joining the cast is Liam Hemsworth.
Stars Statham, Bruce Willis, Stallone, Schwarzennegar, Jet Li, Lundgren. My disappointment? Charisma Carpenter is nowhere to be found in part 2. I am happy to note Steven Segal is also nowhere to be found.
edit: Carpenter will appear in the film.


The Hobbit, the Dwarves

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Dec 2012
The Hobbit: There and Back Again, Dec 2013
I am a huge fan of Tolkien's books, especially, the Trilogy. This could be the film of the year. Or decade. Will lightning strike twice? The Hobbit is a prequel to the Lord of the Rings and covers the story of how Bilbo found the ring and his adventures before and after. They have taken certain liberties in the story - as they did with LOTR - to make the film appealing to all. This time, mostly in the form of Evangeline Lilly's character Tauriel which was made up for this film.


The Amazing Spider-Man, July 2012
A reboot of a reboot of a reboot. Wouldn't it be embarrassing for the filmmakers if this movie sucked? After all, it's only five years since the last Spider-Man movie. Was it necessary to start over? I was wondering who would go see it. And then I realized, I would got see it. Andrew Garfield takes over as Spider-Man. And it also stars the amazing Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. Emma freaking Stone! Also Martin Sheen and Denis Leary.

Underworld Awakening, 20 January 2012
No idea if it is any good. But it stars Kate Beckinsale. In leather! The action series Romeo and Juliet for vampires and werewolves continues. Twilight for guys. So if I wasn't clear earlier gentlemen, Twilight = bad, Underworld = good.

Speaking of hot women in leather Milla Jovovich returns in Resident Evil: Retribution. Michelle Rodriguez returns as Rain as they once again battle the Umbrella Corporation. September 2012
Resident Evil 5:Retribution

Total Recall, August 2012
Kate Beckinsale stars with Colin Farrell taking over the role of Quaid in this remake of the 1990 Schwarzneggar feature. Jessica Biel is Melina. The amazingly talented Bill Nighy costars.


The Great Gatsby, December 2012
This adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel stars Leonardo Dicaprio. After The Departed I no longer hated Leonardo Dicaprio and have since watched his performances with an open mind. I got over what he did to Growing Pains.
The Great Gatsby is a classic that we were forced to read in grade 11. I guess I got over that too.
This Baz Luhrmann directed film is the 7th retelling of the novel.


I have seen several dramatic versions of Les Miserables but oddly enough I have never seen the musical. The story is set in early 19th century France, Jean Valjean is released from prison, breaks parole to create a new life for himself all the while evading the driven Inspector Javert.
This musical stars Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Helena Bonham Carter. December 2012

I've had a boner for this next movie ever since it was first announced and I sat through the pain as its release was met with delay after delay. Finally set for a November 2012 release, this remake may suck but I want to see Red Dawn. In this version a group of teenagers attempt to save their town from an attack as North Korean soldiers invade the United States.
The first one was a lot of fun and showed some unexpected grit for a movie of its era. And we got to see all the stars of the 90s and early 00s before they were stars. Can't predict that the remake will have the same impact.
Red Dawn

Seen the trailer? John Carter, Edgar Rice Burroughs second most famous character March 2012.

I will watch anything with Liam Neeson. He's got a busy year ahead with four films set to be released.
The Grey January 2012
In Alaska, an oil drilling team struggles to survive after a plane crash strands them in the wild. Hunting the humans are a pack of wolves who see them as intruders. Also,
Wrath of the Titans, March 2012 Sequel to the the remake Clash of the Titans.
Battleship, May 2012 Based on the Milton Bradley game, a fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals.
Untitled Taken Sequel, Oct 2012 This time Neeson's character is kidnapped. No mention if it is the daughter that rescues him.

The Raven, March 2012
I have read everything ever written by Edgar Allan Poe so this is a bit of a kick. A fictionalized account of Poe's last days in pursuit of a serial killer and completely opposite of Poe's true character. Poe the person was not a happy man and was hardly the hero. In this film the poet is in pursuit of a killer whose murders mirror those of the characters in the stories. John Cusack stars.


Because it hasn't made enough money, the 2nd highest grossing film of all time will be re-released in a 3D version. I can't wait to see that scene where Jack sketches Rose. Yes, Titanic 3D. April 2012

Three Stooges, April 2012
Everybody who was anybody, was associated with this film at one point or another. Larry David plays a nun. So it has to be funny. Sean Hayes plays Larry and some lesser known actors are the other stooges.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, June 2012
Based on a true story.
In it President Lincoln's mother is killed by a supernatural creature, which fuels his passion to crush vampires and their slave-owning helpers. Stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Rufus Sewell.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

World War Z, December 2012
We have seen a lot of great films of zombie lore in the last few years, call it the golden age, or at least the silver age of the walking dead in film. After Zombieland, The Walking Dead, Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, can there be another good one?
Based on the novel by Max Brooks, who also wrote The Zombie Survival Guide, a UN representative, writing a report on the great zombie war, interviews survivors in the wake of World War Z. Brad Pitt stars.  Brooks was a writer on SNL from 2001- 2003. He is also son of the legendary Mel Brooks.

World War Z
Star Trek 2
And a few more...
Star Trek Sequel
May 2013 and in 3D. J.J. Abrams' reboot continues. Set production started in 2011. Filming started January 2012.

Ghostbusters III,  201?
Most of the original cast and a few younger known B status actors.

Arrested Development, 201? Return of the Bluths. What's the hold up?!
Arrested Development

Super Troopers 2 Has been in development hell for a couple years. Who knows if this will ever be released. A sequel to the incredibly funny 2001 film.

A whole mess of new movies are heading our way in 2012. I am excited to see most of these 2012 new movies. Did I miss any? Super Troopers 2, Arrested Development, Ghostbusters III, Star Trek Sequel,World War Z, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Three Stooges, The Raven, John Carter, The Avengers, Red Dawn, Les Miserables, The Great Gatsby, Total Recall, Underworld Awakening, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, The Expendables 2, The Twilight Saga, The Dark Knight Rises





Monday, January 2, 2012

No Pants Friday


A couple weeks back I was fighting a cold and feeling under the weather. I opted to work from home that day. So it was another No Pants Day.

During the day I chatted with my manager via messenger. To add some perspective and in case you don't know me yet, I live alone.

Shawn: The coffee here is better.
Manager:  I believe you.
Shawn: and the toilet paper is softer.
Manager: lol
Shawn: But the people aren't as nice.
Manager: talking to yourself again? lol
Shawn: Yes. He took my pen.
Manager: punch him... lol
Shawn: I just did... I don't think I can make it to work on Monday.