Best Laid Plans

Sometimes the universe just gets in your way. It doesn’t always play fair, and there’s no way of knowing when it’s going to whip a hardball at you. There’s nothing you can do to stop it, all you can do is roll with it. This is an account of how I had to roll with the giant shitball life chucked at me last week.

Some of you know that I write another blog, The Kingdom, and that I had some wicked plans for Halloween night. This old theatre in my city was going to be screening The Shining on Halloween night and I was not going to miss it for anything. I’ve never seen that movie all the way through before, and what better way to experience it for the first time than on the big screen, right?

Well, I’m still feeling intense disappointment because that didn’t happen. Thanks a lot universe.

Thanks for compelling Harvey to jump up onto the kitchen table, where he knows he isn’t allowed to be putting his furry cat ass. Thanks for making it cold enough in my apartment to necessitate the use of a space heater. Thanks for making me buy a space heater that’s only effective when it’s placed right in the middle of the fucking room. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to trip over it right after I’d picked Harvey’s chunky monkey butt up off the table where he’s not supposed to be. But I’d most especially like to thank you for causing me to fall directly onto my elbow so I could have the exquisite pleasure of fracturing it.

Thank you for gifting me this giant shitball of an injury on the Sunday before Halloween. An injury that prevented me from living my Halloween dream this year.

I get why you did it, universe. That fall must have been something truly spectacular to behold. When I stumbled, with a bundle of squirming cat in my arms mind you, and flailed around in a futile attempt at balancing while simultaneously scalding my bare feet on that goddamned heater, you probably had yourself a grand old chuckle at my expense. People falling can be hilarious, I get it. And I’ve given you many a laugh over the years with my clumsy antics, I know. I’m happy to do that for you from time to time, provided I don’t get too dinged up. But this time was too much, you were too rough with me. When I hit the ground and a thousand burning hot spears of pain shot through my arm I hope you felt like a total dick for doing that to me. Partly because you hurt me, but mostly because you took away my dream.

I can’t always get what I want, I know. But why, universe, why? Why did you have to take this from me?

When D asked if we were still going to go to the movie I heaved a heavy sigh of infinite sadness. I had to concede that sitting in an old ass movie theatre at the opposite end of the city for close to three hours was going to be too uncomfortable for me to bear. Defeated, I was ready to give up on the dream completely.

But D smartly reminded me about the video store down the street where I’d just recently become a member. Surely they’d have a few copies. And it’s an old movie, probably not as in demand. Plus, who the fuck still rents movies anyway, aside from us? He was right. I started to get excited again. We could rent it to watch at home, make an obscene amount of popcorn in the air popper we have, shut off all the lights and snuggle together on the couch. This Plan B of ours really started to grow on me. Sure, it wasn’t what I had planned, but we could make it great just the same.

We made our way over to the video store and eagerly scanned the racks for a DVD of The Shining. I was starting to think that maybe they didn’t have it, and as you’d expect that was the exact moment my eyes located it amidst the Kubrick Classics. I grasped the DVD with my good hand and slid it off the shelf. I turned the front of the case toward me, searching for the little velcro flap that indicates availability.

MOTHERFUCKER!!!!

It was rented. Halloween dream dashed for the second time that week. Fuck this, you guys, really. Fuck it.

At that point, there was no recovering from the disastrous tailspin I was in. I stomped home from the video store and fumed all night long about what a prick the universe can be sometimes.

And then because I was really feeling sorry for myself, I laid on the couch in my $10 Wal-Mart sweatpants and watched fucking Richie Rich on Teletoon Retro from beginning to end. Yeah, that super corny family friendly movie about a billionaire kid played by Macaulay Culkin at the absolute pinnacle of his fifteen minutes of fame. It was a new low for me.

richie rich

I was upset about missing my chance to see The Shining for the first time on the big screen, but after I calmed down I was able to make peace with it. I’m going to wait. I’m going to bury the tiniest little hope in my heart that another old theatre in the city will screen that movie at some point next October. It’s a classic, and October is a month for endless viewings of the scary classics that we all love. I’m going to cultivate my hope over the course of this year. I’m going to make it flourish, because despite what an asshole the universe has been to me lately, I still believe that it can be every bit as great as it can be cruel. My arm will heal, I’ll maintain a sensible wariness of the space heater, and the universe will take care of me in the end like it always has before.

No matter how many bones of mine the universe intends to shatter, I’ll just roll with it. Because I know that it’ll never be able to shatter my hopeful spirit.

Summer Reading Roundup

I fucking love reading. I love it so goddamn much.

When I was younger I practically consumed books. The newest R.L. Stein was lapped up hungrily, then washed down with a healthy double digest of Archie. When I wasn’t acting a total nuisance to my parents, wreaking havoc on the household with my sisters, I was quietly stowed away in some corner of the house with my nose buried in a book. You name it, I read it. Dr. Seuss, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley Kids, Roald Dahl, Goosebumps, Tales of Redwall, Hardy Boys, Pippi Longstocking, and The Chronicles of Narnia. All present and accounted for.

I especially loved books in which teachers were aliens, people turned into animals, or ventriloquist dummies came to life at night. Those were the best books. Filling my head with fantastical stuff of that variety is probably why I’m such a weirdo today…

I’d even read at night, when I was supposed to be sleeping. It was stealth reading. I’d stand by the window, balancing precariously on the nightstand, and push the blinds aside. I pinned them against the glass with my shoulder to keep them out of my way. Then I’d tilt my book in just the right way, letting the glow from the streetlights outside illuminate the pages. And I’d stand there reading until I was tired. I’d have to be careful not to lose myself completely in my book, otherwise I might not hear my parents checking up. I couldn’t get caught, that would be big trouble. But it was worth the risk, and I loved every minute of it because I was greedy for reading.

And to this day my greed for reading has not yet abated.

I tend to read a lot more in the summer. Seems odd, I know. But there’s something about a spectacularly hot summer day that drives me to read. Summer is hardly even underway, but I’ve already burned through a bunch of awesome shit on my summer reading docket. The stuff I’ve been reading lately has been so fucking rad. So good that I’m reading on the subway to and from work. Which I normally wouldn’t do because its not enough time to really immerse yourself in the story. And you always get cut off, having to leave the train, at the most ill-timed moments. But I can’t help myself! The stuff I’m reading is too good. I just can’t wait another second to get back into the thick of it.

I have to share it. I can’t keep all this goodness to myself, that just wouldn’t be right. So if you’re looking for something really rad to read this summer, then I’ve got just the thing for you. Providing your tastes run a little oddball like mine, naturally.

SMASH’S SUMMER READING ROUNDUP

1) American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods

American Gods

This one is going to take you for a wild ride. It’s the story of Shadow, a man whose life is irrevocably changed by a chance meeting with a mysterious stranger. A stranger who introduces him to a motley assortment of Gods who were brought to America by the immigrants of our history books. Belief in these archaic gods has dwindled dangerously, putting them at odds with the gods of our present day. A war of epic proportions is brewing, the outcome of which could be catastrophic.

It’s riveting. Written in such a way that reader is directly deposited into Shadow’s shoes from the start. We meet our protagonist, and we immediately sympathize with his plight. When his journey begins, it’s confusing and weird at first. You’re confronted and confounded by a number of strange characters. You’re not sure what’s happening or why, but you know that all of it is totally illogical, nonsensical. Through the myths, legends, and tales of the immigrants that brought their gods to America which are interspersed with Shadow’s narrative, you begin to see. You’re awakened. Things start to click, and you start to believe. You see, you experience, you learn, and discover the power of faith right along with Shadow.

It’s strange and quirky, brimming with intrigue. It keeps you hanging on, worrying and wondering how it will play out. Simultaneously surprising and amusing, it’s worth your time. Gaiman is a masterful storyteller, and if you’re not familiar with his work then you need to get familiar.

I loved it. I give it a 9/10.

2) Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game

Ender’s Game

Ender Wiggin is taken from his home and all that he knows at the tender age of six. Because it is believed that he is the militaristic genius who can save earth from impending doom. He’s taken to battle school where he is mercilessly trained by his superiors in the art of war. The world government believes that they need to groom remarkably bright and capable children for a life of military success to protect earth from alien invasion and the subsequent domination or annihilation of the human race that is sure to follow. And they are coming, it’s irrefutable. A child of staggering strategic genius is our last resort. Will he rise to the occasion or get crushed by the onslaught of challenges heaped upon him at battle school?

I mean, come on. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? This is the quintessential work of science-fiction. Space travel, aliens, intergalactic war, cutting edge weaponry, null gravity fight sequences, and more! This book has got it all. It’s fast paced and exciting. Ender is an awe-inspiring character. His brilliance knows no bounds. But for every soaring success he experiences, Ender is met with shattering lows. His success comes at the cost of his innocence. Earth’s safety is insured through the manipulation and exploitation of a little boy whose been robbed of his youth, forced to grow up way too fast. Literally, the weight of the world is on his shoulders. You want him to succeed, but you pity him. And you’re appalled by the measures taken by the commanders to groom Ender to perfection.

I simply could not put this book down, it is an absolute treasure. And I’m really looking forward to the movie adaptation later this year. Perfect score, 10/10.

3) Desperation by Stephen King

Desperation

Desperation

There’s something evil afoot in Desperation, a small town in Nevada. More evil than you could possibly imagine. One by one, road weary travellers are picked up on interstate 50, just outside of town, and taken into the custody of the town sheriff. A family on vacation, a young married couple, an aging writer, and the town drunk are tossed into jail cells and terrorized by the maniac sheriff. But little do they know, he’s the least of their worries.

It’s everything you’d expect of a King novel. Grisly and gripping, sparing not a single gory detail. It’s frightening, but you can’t stop reading. There’s a creepiness about it that really burrows into you. I read this book over the course of two weeks. I do the bulk of my reading at night before bed. Which probably isn’t wise with horror fiction, but I couldn’t stop myself. And it had an impact, that’s for sure. Every night for the two weeks that I was reading this book, I had nighttime episodes, completely unbeknownst to me. It was only when D commented on it that I found out it was happening. He asked me what was up, said I’d been weird at night lately. When I asked him weird how, he told me a number of bizarre things. I was screaming bloody murder in my sleep, flailing my arms wildly. A couple of times I also leapt out of bed in a panic, pulling back the curtains and screaming at the bedroom window. I’d have a total freak out and then go back to sleep like nothing had happened. It was Stephen King, working his creepy magic on me. As soon as I finished the book, the nighttime episodes stopped.

It’s thrilling, it’s chilling, it’ll literally get inside of you. It’s not my favourite work by King, a little too heavy-handed on the God and prayer stuff, but it was a worthwhile read. If you can stomach horror fiction, then go for it. I’d say it gets a 7.5/10.

BONUS: D and I watched the made for T.V. movie version once I’d finished the book. It was spectacularly cheesy. The only real scares coming in the form of creepy crawlies. Snakes, tarantulas and scorpions. Watching that shit wriggle around on-screen scares the bejesus out of me!

4) Batman: Haunted Knight by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

Batman: Haunted Knight

Batman: Haunted Knight

This is a compilation of three Batman Halloween Specials written and presented by the iconic Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. While working on these three tales of Halloween in Gotham City, Loeb and Sale were inspired to create The Long Halloween, which is my favourite Batman story to date and one of the most beloved works in the Batman canon. My favourite of these three stories is the second one, “Madness”, in which Batman squares off with The Mad Hatter, a psychopath whose moniker is derived from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He’s a challenging enemy for Batman because the reference to Carroll reminds him of his mother. Fighting Mad Hatter dredges up painful memories. The flashback sequence of Bruce reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with his mother just hours before her untimely death is gut-wrenching. We see the charming and precocious Bruce interacting freely with his mother, the emotional barriers we are accustomed to with Bruce Wayne have yet to be constructed. It makes you wonder what might have been, and if you love Batman as much as I do, it tears at your heart.

The artwork is sublime, and the stories are highly enjoyable. Easily, 8.5/10.

5) Y: The Last Man Vol. 1 Unmanned by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, and Jose Marzan Jr.

Y: The Last Man Vol. 1 Unmanned

Y: The Last Man Vol. 1 Unmanned

A mysterious plague has wiped out every single mammal with a Y chromosome on the planet. All of the men and male animals, dead. All of them except two. A young man named Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand. For some reason they survived, as did all of the females. Yorick is now the last man on earth, and that is some serious shit to deal with. He’s got to keep his ass safe while trying to figure out what happened. It’s not exactly the repopulation fantasy some would think. It’s a hellish nightmare, every day a struggle to survive in an unfamiliar world. A world overrun by unruly, grieving, angry females trying to cope with what happened. Feminist extremists, power-hungry female politicians, and deadly secret services agents are engaged in a power struggle of epic proportions. And word’s just gotten out that there is a live human male roaming around…

This is a newly discovered series for me. I had been hearing nothing but good things about it, and I can happily say that all of the praise is warranted. It’s original and unique. The first volume in the series setting up what’s sure to be a remarkable adventure.

I can’t wait to rush out and grab the remaining volumes! Undoubtedly, 9/10.

So there you have it. The best of what I’ve been reading this summer. I can only hope that maybe there’s something there that piques your interest. Or maybe you’ve already read some of these titles. That would be even more rad because if you have we can chat all about it!

Or maybe you’ve got some totally awesome recommendations of your own that I can add to my list?

There’s Even Sand in My Crack: Day 3

We have been walking a lot. Constantly. Everywhere we go, we walk there. It’s taken its toll on my feet, that’s for damn sure. I have two big blisters on the bottom of each foot, and another big one on the side of my toe. So I felt like having a day of minimal walking. So, to the beach we go!

You can lay out on your towel for hours, or take a few quick steps into the ocean. Either way, you’re off your feet and it feels good. We’d gone for a brief swim on our first day after eating breakfast, but we hadn’t done the full on beach day yet. D has been wanting to relax while catching some rays.

After breakfast at the hotel, we walked down to the beach to get ourselves some prime real estate on the sand. At the glorious hour of 8:00am no less!

morning calm

morning calm

A dip in the ocean to cool you off and send the beads of sweat forming on your brow packing. I’ve never swam in the ocean until this trip. I’m blown away by how salty the water is. The first time some of it got into my mouth I thought I was going to die. It was like I’d just poured the contents of a full salt shaker down my throat. I can’t say that I’m a fan of that…

so not digging the salt

so not digging the salt

The beach is a lot more calm in the morning. Some of the more ambitious parents are up and about with the kiddies. But most of them are still getting their shit in a pile to start the day. They don’t usually start filling out the beach until later in the day. It’s gotta be tough, right? We’re exhausted after a full day, and we don’t have any kids to haul around with us. I can’t imagine how people do it. Props to the parents with energy to actually be active while on vacation with their kids.

We see a lot of babies, surprisingly. D said that if he ever found out that his parents took him to Hawaii when he was way too young to remember it, he would be hella pissed. “That’s such bullshit,” he said. “You’ve been to this amazing place, but you’ll never remember.” I guess that sucks. But if your parents are rich enough to take you when you’re a baby, I’m sure they’re rich enough to take you when you’re a bratty, unappreciative tween/teen.

It’s not that expensive really. Or at least not as expensive as people seem to think it is. It’s not an all-inclusive kind of place, so you do need to pay for your meals and booze. But if you shop around and find a good rate on the hotel and flight, then you do a little extra saving for your daily expenditures and you’re ready to go.

You’ll find an ABC Store basically every block, and you can buy super cheap booze and snacks. You can buy a 6-pack of Corona or Heineken for $8.50! You cannot get good beers that cheap in Ontario. And because these stores are literally everywhere you look, you don’t have to think about where the closest LCBO or Beer Store is. You just walk out the door, and there the beer is. Ice cold, and waiting for you. It’s heavenly.

D swam for a bit and then lounged in the sun. As I watched him sunning himself, he reminded me of a little lizard nestled on a rock in a pet store somewhere, hogging up as much of the heat lamp as it can get. Using the solar rays to recharge its battery. I started taking pictures of him while he was sunning and he told me to stop being creepy and go for another swim.

So I took my camera elsewhere. As opposed to some dreamboat photos of a half-naked D, these pictures of the beach will have to suffice.

a shitty substitute

a shitty substitute

took some of this stuff to go!

took some of this stuff to go!

my view from the shore

my view from the shore

Once we’d had our fill of surf and turf, we thought the next best thing would be to get day drunk. We needed to cleanse our palates of all the salt water anyways. So we walked down the street to Jimmy Buffet’s for Happy Hour. $3.00 for vodka, gin, or rum and $4.00 for a draught beer. Hells yes! This is just the place for us.

Thinking we’d have a snack with our drinks, we very stupidly ordered nachos. We assumed they would be just enough to tide us over until dinner. We were not expecting the fucking cheesy tortilla chip planet that fell from the sky and landed on our table.

what have we done?

what have we done?

I'm really going to hate myself in a minute

I’m really going to hate myself in a minute

They were taller than they were wide! Holy shit, how are two people going to eat this many nachos? We did the best we could. But in the end, we’d barely made a dent. Next time, we’ll just stick to the drinks.

The nachos stuck with us all afternoon. We barely had any appetite for dinner. We barely had the will to live anymore! So we parked our asses on a geezer bench at the beach and just sat in silence for a while. Trying, really trying, to digest the wads of cheese in our bellies. We sat on the bench, on powered down mode for 30 minutes or so. Enough time to straighten ourselves out.

When our brains started functioning again, we took a leisurely stroll down the beach. It had started getting cloudy out. A few drops of rain here and there. Our bold and beaming sun decided to take the rest of the day off. No beautiful sunsets tonight, come back tomorrow folks.

We’re tired and full. Too full. So we make our way back to the hotel room, and grab a movie for the night. Our hotel has these little DVD rental kiosks in the lobby. You just touch the screen, pick a movie you want to see, and it spits out the disc. Then, when you’re done, you just bring it back down and put it back in the machine. It’s a good little contingency plan for rainy days, and inactive nights. And it’s free! You don’t even have to pay for them. Just grab a movie whenever you feel like it.

We rented Looper, which I had been wanting to see. It was good, but not what I had expected. I was picturing something similar to Blade Runner. Not something so Omen-y. All the bullshit with the mom and the kid was so boring. I wanted to see the past and future Joes engage each other so much more. I wanted tension, active, adventure. Not sappy self-sacrifice for a demonic little kid who is clearly going to grow up to be an asshole anyways. But, you get what you pay for I guess.

Every room has a PS3 to play the DVDs on. I feel like this is great for the youth, and maddening for the really old peeps. There are a lot of people at our hotel who are getting on in their years. Surely some of them know how to use it, but I’m sure most are more frustrated by it than anything. I barely know how to work the controller sometimes, so I can relate.

We needed a nice quiet night in. We’re going to tackle the hike up Diamond Head tomorrow, so we’ll need our rest. Which is also why I’m posting tonight. I’ve gotta get a head start on the day and doing the blog post in the morning can be a bit of a time-suck.

So, now that I’m done, nighty night!

Aloha Hawaii: Enroute and Arrival

Well we did it, we’re here! After a long day of flying we’ve finally made it. Actually, the travelling part didn’t feel that long to me because my trips to the middle east were twice as long, so this was a treat by comparison. I’ll take a 2 hour connection over the 8 hour one any day! D however, didn’t seem to think so. He hasn’t been on a plane in over 15 years, so it was a much bigger undertaking for him. But he did very well!

And I must say, as someone who has only ever travelled alone and for work, it was really nice being with him. We laughed and joked, made some new friends on our flight, and most importantly to me, we held hands during take-off. That made it feel real and wonderful. I love him so much, and I’m so happy that we decided to do this.

Our first flight was easy because of the entertainment units in the backs of the seats. We synchronized our screens and watched Django Unchained together. It was freaking awesome! I’m sure some of it was censored for the flight, because that’s usually the case. But what a great way to pass the time! The next flight however, did not have those personal T.V.s… D was very disappointed. But it did at least have T.V.s at intervals down the aisle to show some movies on. The first one they showed was Jack Reacher, which D wanted to see. I didn’t want to see it, so I just rocked out to my jams on the ipod.

From what I could see on the screen though, that movie looked boring as hell. After the movie finished, I turned to D and said “more like Jack Reacharound, eh?” And we died. We just died of laughter. Oh, and you’re welcome porn industry. You can have that title as a freebie. It’s my gift to you!

Landing in Hawaii was the most surreal experience! I had a window seat at the very back of the plane. I kept checking that the ocean was still there throughout the flight, just to keep tabs on it. Make sure it didn’t try to pull any fast ones on us! When we started making our descent, we were glued to the window. Rolling waves of ocean lay before us, and then all of a sudden, a whole island appears! It was so beautiful. And the sun was beaming.

My bag was one of the first ones out onto the baggage claim belt. That never happens to me! I’m always the last one. So I took that as a very good sign. A good omen for the start of our adventure. We then headed out to grab a cab.

And we had the cutest most amazing cab and cabbie of all time. It was this busted looking station wagon with the tiniest little grey-haired Hawaiian woman. She was so adorable! I would have grabbed a picture of her sitting in the car at the curb, but she hopped out so fast and grabbed our bags. Also, I didn’t want to seem like some weirdo taking pictures of a cabbie with a line full of impatient people behind us!

As we drove to the hotel, she pointed out sites and gave us information about the city. She was very knowledgable and friendly. By far the best cabbie I’ve ever had. At one point in our cab ride, I leaned over to D and said “do you have enough leg room?” He looked puzzled for a minute and then clued in. The cab driver is so tiny that she has both seats at the front of the car adjusted as close to the dashboard as they can possibly get! She fit into the very smallest gap between her seat and the steering wheel. With the space that this created in the back of the cab, it was like we were riding in a freaking limo!

We got to the hotel, and much to our disappointment, we did not get the room that we had expected. We got some bullshit with twin beds! But I guess that’s my karma, because I booked a hotel for my boss last week and joked about how funny it would be to book him into a room with two twin beds. I didn’t actually book him into a twin bed room because I’m not insane. I only commented on the hilarity of such a situation. But now, I no longer find this funny. It is insensitive and inconsiderate to even joke of such things. Thank you universe, I understand now that it’s not funny to play God with someone’s reservation.

the horror

the horror

It’s alright though, it allowed us to stretch out and have a great sleep after such a long day of being smushed into airplane seats.

And you’ll be happy to know that even though they are twin beds, this did not stop me from indulging in my hotel arrival ritual…

jump!

As some of you know, whenever I stay at a hotel, I always take a picture of myself jumping on the bed! It is essential in my trip documentation process. I shouldn’t be using terms like that, “documentation process”. People who are on vacation should never say such things. I guess I still have a little bit of worker Smash in me that I need to shake. I’ll work on that.

It’s been great though, I really can’t complain about anything. The only thing I can possibly bemoan is the fact that a fruit fly flew right into my eyeball this morning when I opened up the laptop. Other than that, I think we’re golden.

It’s almost noon Toronto time, but it’s only 6am here. Jet-lag is a real bitch. So I guess I’d better grab some breakfast and officially start this vacation.

Stay tuned my lovelies, there’s oh so much more to come!

bring it on Hawaii!

bring it on Hawaii!

My Desert Island Films

Tyson over at Head in a Vice featured my picks on his Desert Island Films segment. I really enjoyed taking part in it, and this has been an incredible experience. I want to thank Tyson for his continual efforts to really connect other bloggers with one another and for creating a comfortable place where we can all share our thoughts and ideas about the movies we love.
Head in a Vice is an awesome blog, Tyson is a really awesome dude, and if you’re looking for a rewarding blogging experience you should consider participating in this segment.

Head In A Vice

desert island

Smash from Smashing Through Life! has kindly submitted her Desert Island Films. Read on for her choices and reasons, and be sure to check out her site.

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Star Wars: Episode VII-A True Hope

I’ve been mulling this over for the past couple of weeks. I didn’t want to speak out too soon and risk having my opinions only reflect shock and disbelief. But now that I’ve had the appropriate amount of time to digest, I feel I can write about this rationally.

If you live, work, or breathe within the general vicinity of the internet then you’ve surely heard by now. Disney bought Lucasfilm. And not only did they buy Lucasfilm, they’ve made it quite clear that we can expect a 7th Star Wars film in 2015.

This is some serious jaw-dropping shit.

When I first heard, I really didn’t know what to think. Shock, awe, fear, concern, grief, and doubt were the first feelings out of the gates. And man did those negative emotions really tear up the track on their way to the finish. I mean, this is Star Wars, this is serious stuff.

I fell madly in love with the original trilogy when I was a little girl. Unfortunately, I never got to see episodes IV, V, or VI in theatres as I was born in the late 80’s. By the time I was ready for my first taste of a galaxy far, far away it was brought to me courtesy of VHS. But it was love at first viewing! And there was so much to love: the characters, the story, the costumes, the lightsabers, the heroes and villains, the veritable well of strange and otherworldly beings that partied it up at Mos Eisley Cantina… It was a burgeoning sci-fi geek’s wet dream! Not that I have those or anything… weird.

The Star Wars universe is so rich with information, there were endless possibilities for my inflamed 6-year old’s imagination. I would spend hours perfectly content, rebelling against the Empire in my daydreams. I used to pretend that I lost my hand in a devastating “lifesaver” battle and had to get a mechanical replacement. (It took me a while to realize that they were actually called lightsabers, but you can see how a child might make that mistake.)

If only I could have been so lucky…

Then something truly devastating did happen. Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace was released. I spent the months leading up to it feverishly bouncing off the walls. When it finally came time to see it, I was prepared. Armed with my Phantom Menace emblazoned Doritos and Mountain Dew, my body was thrumming with anticipation for what would be the greatest theatre going experience of my life to date.

Then I had the misfortune of actually seeing the movie. Wow, what a miserable waste of my allowance that was! I was letdown, but that’s okay, I still had the original trilogy to fall back on. No matter how many disappointing Star Wars movies are made, I will always have that.

So the first thing that came to mind when I heard about the new Star Wars movie was, naturally, disappointment. Especially because I know that no matter what, I’ll still waste my hard-earned money on a ticket to see it in theatres. I can kiss that 20 bucks goodbye as I write this very sentence…

Suddenly, in the wake of all those negative feelings about a new Star Wars movie, something happened. Hope, though initially slow out of the gate, got in the pod race. I considered Batman, and how horribly cartoonish and lame the Schumacher films had been. From the rubber nipple-suit ashes, Nolan had created a new life for the Caped Crusader. Batman got his cinematic dignity back, as he so rightfully deserved.

So who was to say that the same miracle of resurrection couldn’t happen within the realm of Star Wars? Maybe things have to get worse before they can get better. Maybe all this time Phantom Menace had been a necessary evil. The more I mulled over the idea of a new Star Wars movie, the more excited I got. This new film has the potential to become the greatest theatre going experience of my life to date, if I so permit it the opportunity.

I can spend the next three years bemoaning another potential disaster, or I can get excited. And after giving this much careful consideration, I choose to be fucking excited! It’s a much more productive use of my time. And if I spend my time sending the people at the helm of this venture my good vibes, maybe karma will reward me. Handsomely, I hope, with a badass new take on my beloved Star Wars.

If the world doesn’t implode at the end of 2012, then I’ll be at the theatre on opening weekend. Laden with my advance purchase tickets, delicious Star Wars marketed snacks, and a true hope for the future of this franchise.

If Star Wars has taught me anything throughout my countless viewing hours, it’s that good certainly can triumph over evil if given the chance.

May the force be with you, Disney.

A Moment’s Notice

I’ve mentioned this casually in past posts, but I have to reiterate how much I love this: a moment’s notice.

That’s all it takes for a good time when you’re living in the city. Since I’ve been living in the big T I’ve been able to do so much stuff that I wouldn’t have been able to do as easily before. People shoot me a text or email and I’m able to go “Sure, I’d love to!” within seconds. It’s becoming a wonderfully bad habit of mine, accepting last-minute invites. On numerous evenings this summer poor D has been stoked for a night in, all cuddled on the couch. Then, in flurry of frantic texts our night is suddenly a whirlwind of unexpected fun and he’s gotta get his game face on!

Or if he’s really that unwilling, I’ll just head out on my own. A couple of weeks ago on a Wednesday night I had resigned myself to sweatpants and the couch. Then out of nowhere a text from the Magpie to get my ass in some jeans and down to the Cloak & Dagger for night of live music and beers. I fought it at first, but partying won out in the end. Fuck the workday hangover the following Thursday! It was an awesome night, and an excellent decision.

I’ve gone to movies, parties, dinners, jays games, markets, hangouts, dance parties, and all manner of things at a moment’s notice this summer. And I haven’t regretted a single one, every event was totally worth the effort. Our finest achievement in last-minute events this summer was most certainly my friend Brad’s Z-day, which took place this past Friday night.

What’s a Z-day you ask? Only the best possible way to celebrate a birthday ever!

Brad’s girlfriend booked a movie theatre, The Projection Booth, for late night zombie movie screenings. But that’s not all! Everyone in attendance had to be decked out in full on zombie or zombie related costumes.

I sent Brad a happy birthday over Facebook on Friday morning, and then mid-Friday afternoon he responded letting me know about the party. We’d moved to the city in May and I knew that Brad was living downtown too, but we hadn’t yet been able to catch up. So it worked out perfectly that we were free this Friday. But now my mind was in over-drive because we only had half a day to get ready for this thing! I frantically texted D to tell him we were going to be getting dressed up as zombies for a birthday party, and that we needed to stock up on zombie gear for tonight. Needless to say, he was a little taken aback, but excited nonetheless.

So after work, we got to planning. D isn’t much of a costumes guy. He likes doing the costume thing, but only if it’s easy. He doesn’t want to wear anything ridiculous, he won’t go for makeup or hair dye, doesn’t do masks or wigs, and generally likes to keep it simple. After thinking about it for a bit I came up with the idea of him going as Shaun from Shaun of the Dead. And then I would do the zombie thing. Easy enough, right?

We hit the subway and I grabbed some makeup, fake blood, and a wound from the costume shop at Yonge and Wellesley. For D’s costume all we needed was a short-sleeved white button down shirt, a red tie, and a name tag. He didn’t have the shirt, so we had to improvise. We took one of his long-sleeved white shirts and cut the arms off. We used an old shirt that he doesn’t really wear anymore. And after an eternity spent trying to make myself look undead, I think the results were quite impressive:

Not too shabby for only half a day’s notice!

I started to really get into the role, you know, terrorizing the cat and whatnot….

Mmmm, kitten brains!

So we had a couple of drinks at our place, then hopped on the public transit! Which was especially fun for me, because while people didn’t take much notice of D I got some spectacularly stunned looks from passersby. I mean it’s not everyday you see the undead riding the Yonge line:

People have seen worse on the subway sure, but this is still unexpected…

The theatre was magnificent. It was small, dark, and creaky in a cozy way. The smell of popcorn and fake blood filled our nostrils as soon as we stepped through the door. I was finally in the presence of my own kind, and all the sideways glances and slack-jawed gaping was behind me. It was so much fun admiring the other costumes, catching up with old friends, and posing for photos.

My favourite costume was by far the guy who decided to do a Plants vs. Zombies thing:

I loved the hat!

It was a unique take on the theme, and really stood out. I also really liked Brad and his girlfriend Lin’s costumes. They put forth and extraordinary effort, and were fantastic hosts!

They’ve been through hell and back, literally

Lin had been planning this event for months. So the other guests had plenty of time to plan their costumes and prepare them. We had very little notice, but we did the best we could, given the circumstances. We had a truly fantastic time. I’m pretty sure everyone else did too…

Fright Night in the city

So when opportunity knocks, just lunge for its tasty brains like a famished, undead abomination of all that is holy and pure! Life is for the (un)living, and you’ll have plenty of time to    stay in, snuggled on the couch when the actual zombie apocalypse happens. In which case, maybe all the couch grazing will finally pay off and this post was all for naught… hmmm.

Nah, I’m sticking with it. Get out there and live your life, dammit!

Fangirl’s Delight

I am still reeling from my trip to the theatre tonight. My body is just thrumming with unadulterated triumph! I’m not even going to bother trying to figure out the perfect word to sum up Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises because I’m too pumped for that right now. In the words of a fellow moviegoer exiting the theatre tonight, it was “fucking awesome”. But don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil any of the magic so rest assured that you can read on unfettered by apprehension. I’m not going to go into an analysis of the movie, dissect the plot/characters, or offer any sort of critique of the overall meaning/message. What I’m focused on today, is the concept of hype…

I have been madly in love with Batman ever since I first discovered the campy old television series on Saturday morning when I was very very young. Batman and fruit loops on a Saturday morning. In my opinion life just doesn’t get any better than that when you’re a 5 year old fangirl in the making. I’ve seen all the movies, watched the cartoons, read the comics, had  the action figures, played the videogames (LEGO Batman for DS is pretty much the raddest game ever), and I even had fucking Batman POGS for Christ’s sake. I vividly remember watching Batman Returns at the drive-in with my parents and sisters in the summer of 1992 when I was 5.

I soaked up every ounce of it. Oh the ways that movie incited my rambunctious imagination and slaked my hunger for the Caped  Crusader! I remember being thrilled when I found out we’d be seeing it at the drive-in, a dream come true. There was so much hype surrounding its release, and it certainly did work wonders on me. All the hype astronomically increased the bat-fervour brewing within.

Flash forward 20 years and not much has changed. A new Batman movie hitting theatres, and an absolute TON of hype sweltering me at every turn. I was itching for this one, absolutely itching! The dramatic conclusion to Nolan’s visionary take on my all time favourite superhero… my heart is still all aflutter thinking about it. And the hype, working its old magic once again.

I tried desperately to convince the boyfriend to go to the trilogy screening with me on Thursday night so we could see it at its midnight release. The trilogy was a special event only playing at certain theatres so when I found out that our local Silvercity was showing it I went into overdrive trying to sell the idea to D. Unfortunately for me though, we had two drastically different takes on it:

Me: ALL THREE BATMAN MOVIES!!!!! ALL THREE BATMAN MOVIES!!!! This is will be the greatest fucking event of my life. It’s now or never, we have to, just HAVE to do it!!

D: 8 hours straight in a movie theatre? Have you lost your fucking mind? That is my nightmare.

Me: But I’m a major Batman nerd, babe. This is just something you have to do for me. Suck it up and do it! It will be so fun, it’s an experience like nothing else!! PLEASE!

D: But I’m an old man, babe. I’m tired just having this conversation, and you’re acting like a maniac.

The last time I pleaded my case that hard for something was probably back when I begged, BEGGED my mom to let me stay up all night watching all 5 Planet of the Apes movies on cable when I was 7. Yeah, we won’t get into it now but suffice it to say the heights of me nerdiness are dizzying. In the case for the apes marathon my youthful excitement actually worked and mom let me have at it. Guess I’ve lost my touch though, because D got the better of me this time. He reasoned that we needed to be rested for my sister’s Jack ‘n’ Jill on Saturday night, and that going to work Friday morning on 3 hours of sleep just wasn’t going to be good for either of us.

Cooler heads prevailed, and I bought tickets for the Sunday night show instead. And hours later, I’m still breathless and racked with awe. I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but at the end of the movie my eyes fucking welled up. It just gets you!

I’ve been reading volume 1 of Knightfall again just to preface myself for this movie. Getting my head really into the zone, you know? I’ve trawled the ends of the internet over and back again reading anything and everything to do with this movie. Checking out the stills, reading blogs, countdowns, tracking reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve just been stewing in Batman for months, working myself into a frenzy.

Hype is a double-edged sword. Hype can amplify your expectations to unreachable highs, and take you crashing down to unfathomable lows should it not be rightly warranted. Hype is the tool most commonly utilized by the studios to put the asses in the seats. Hype garners new fans, sets the blogosphere ablaze, and contributes significantly to the overall reception of the film. We’ve all been touched by the ups and downs of hype at one point or another. From the complete debacle of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace to the utter glory of The Dark Knight, it plays a critical role no doubt.

For me, hype is where the magic is. I love letting the hype wash over me. Tonight I was practically freebasing hype, and the high was divine! When the credits rolled, I felt complete. A satisfying conclusion indeed. This isn’t the greatest movie of all time by any means. It’s fucking awesome for sure. But the real magic is in letting yourself indulge in the hype. Just savour it and permit it free rein to rose-colour your perception of the film. Therein lies the moviegoing magic.

These so-called critics who set out to “critique” and “review” these films need to stop taking themselves so seriously. Going to the movies is about getting lost. Loosen up already you fucking thesaurus loving posers, and just have a good time.

The Dark Knight Rises takes the cake this week for me, it’s just so friggen’ breathtaking! If you’re a long time Bat-fan, seeing this movie just feels like coming home. I’ll be parceling the residual effects of my Batman hype out over the next couple of months to give myself a jolt of awesome when needed. And I’ll lay me down to sleep tonight with visions of Batman dancing in my head.

P.S. Robin can suck a dick.