Saturday, December 8, 2007

Welcome wagon!

The welcome wagon just came to my house. A nice lady named Brenda with a basket full of stuff, coupons for local merchants, fridge magnets, and so forth. Of course, although buying the house was a big step, and a first-time thing for me, I didn't really move. I ended up four blocks from my old house, and so I know the neighbourhood very well already. Brenda was not disappointed though, she just wanted to make sure the welcome wagon did it's duty.

It brought to mind the last time a welcome wagon came to my door. I was shirtless, pantsless and holding two beers. We had been in that house for maybe a week, and I had started a relationship with a much older lady next door. Kent and Sang, my roommates, had already taken to calling her Mrs. Robinson (I think I was nineteen at the time). So this nice old lady comes to the door with her basket, and three guys in their underwear, each double-fisting, answer the bell. Then, as I tried to quietly set down the beers beside the door so I could take the coupons and stuff, this nice old lady started talking about Mrs. Robinson. "Your neighbour, Mrs. Robinson, saw you boys move into the neighbourhood, so Mrs. Robinson called me, and you can thank Mrs. Robinson..." Kent and Sang are cracking up on the stairs behind me, laughing so hard they're spilling their beer, and I'm desperately trying to keep a straight face. The old lady and her welcome wagon left pretty fast. Uh-oh. I just noticed two things. One, I think I have posted this story before. And two - I'm talking about beer again!

This time, I was better prepared. I was still wearing only underwear, but this time I was holding a Pepsi and a small dog, and I also had socks on. In the end, it was a much better experience this time around.

Look out! There is more beer in this post!

Last night was our office Christmas party. Every year, we have it at the same place, and every year, Doc gets cold sweats on his way in. Just not a party guy, that Doc. Frankly, neither am I, at least not an office-party kind of guy. Much as I like the vast majority of the people I work with, I would much prefer to hang out with them at a bar or in a seedy, smoky basement rather than at some kind of "official" function, since it still feels like work. It's the same people you see every day, in a slightly more festive atmosphere, but really it's a work party on a larger scale. The same speeches by the same bosses, and the same recognition of the same people. It was nice to see Steve Colwill, our music director and one of the best guys in the building, get his 30 year "pin"...which means he has been with CHEZ for 30 years, which is an amazing thing. But I could tell that Steve, much like the rest of us, is a little uncomfortable being recognized for these things, and that he would rather have had the pin slipped to him quietly on a Wednesday.

The main thing about a Christmas party at work is that you really don't feel comfortable ever. You don't feel comfortable wearing your suit, which you have to wear, you don't feel comfortable saying what you want to say, because there are people around who might be offended, you don't feel comfortable drinking as much beer as you possibly can...or, at least I don't. It appeared, last night, that several people who work with us had no qualms about that at all. But it really is different than a regular, free-for-all, Christmas party with friends. Where you show up in jeans and a T-Shirt, there might be a red bow and a green one above a doorway somewhere, Young MC and Led Zeppelin and the Ramones are blasting from a stereo somewhere, and you drink beer (that's right! beer!) as much as you like, and talk about absolutely idiotic things until you pour yourself into the cab for the ride home.

A work Christmas party is not the same. I could really tell that this morning, when I saw the aftermath of the party when I woke up. First of all, I wasn't even a little bit hungover! That's not normal after a Christmas party! They provided us with taxi chits to get home, and we used those, but in the end it wouldn't have made that much difference had we driven and not drank. My girlfriend came with me this year, which is great. But I found myself a little disappointed, because when she couldn't make it last year, it meant I had two meals. (This is a trick Doc showed me before he got married. You never bring a date to a Christmas party, because then you have twice the food and twice the drink tickets. The man is a wealth of experience.) But I think Jen had a good time, and it was a solid reason to wear her new dress and get her hair done. Her work Christmas party is tonight, but I am not invited. Which might make it a little easier on her work team, because with no significant others, it is a little easier to be oneself.

Randall, of course, was misbehaving more than anyone at our party. Every time I got up or sat down, I was hit in the head with a small piece of bread. I even checked his entire place setting, and I found no bread or buns anywhere. He must have stashed them in his pockets. Then again, there was no way to tell whether Randall was the one responsible. You see, this was a masquerade party. It was one of those bright ideas thrown out by our organization team. Everyone brings a mask, and wears them all night...most of us morning folk found this a little silly, so we concocted a fine plan that avoided all that mask-buying that swept the rest of the building. At Randall's recent birthday party, his wife made up dozens of "Randall" masks for everyone to wear. So Randall brought them in to work, and we all used them. I think fourteen or fifteen Randalls showed up. I'm not even sure if Randall was there himself. Just fifteen lookalikes, all of whom were terribly badly behaved.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Something really good, something really bad.

I just watched Superbad, out on DVD this week. Man is that ever great! There are two teams making worthwhile comedic movies in the world right now. One team is British, the brains behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The other is American, the team behind 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and now, Superbad. This is a pertty standard plot for so many comedies in the past. Some kids are graduating high school, they want to get laid and score some chicks before they head off to college, blah blah blah. But the writing by these guys is so fantastic that it more than rejuvenates the genre. The three main kids are absolutely perfect in their roles, and I laughed so hard watching it yesterday that I nearly peed myself. I was also fairly liquored up, though.

Half the reason I was so juiced, however, is that I felt like I needed a drink after watching another movie, the brand-new Lindsay Lohan starring vehicle, I Know Who Killed Me. I think I can say, without hyperbole, that this one is a definite contender for Worst Movie Ever Made status. It's definitely top ten, but recently Epic Movie and Date Movie knocked off a couple of spots in the top five. Hmmm. I will make a list of the worst movies ever. It's important people know. But I Know Who Killed me is still leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Lindsay Lohan makes a good case for inclusion in the Worst Performances Ever In A Movie list. She is absolutely useless in both her roles. Playing identical twins may have worked for her when she was eleven and still cute in the Parent Trap, (when you can't get both Olsen twins...get Lindsay Lohan twice) but now it is just painful since she is staggeringly lousy at BOTH roles.

I don't really want to get into it, because it makes me angry. But how about this: A girl (Lohan) is found on the side of the road, mutliated in the exact same way another girl was mutilated by a serial killer. The cops assume she was in the clutches of this killer and somehow managed to escape. But this victim insists she is not the person they think she is. So...for the next three days, a psychiatrist, and the cops, and the doctors, berate her and try to force her to admit her true identity. On the fourth day, they finally cave and start asking the boring questions. Like, who is this serial killer, and where can we find him? Not as important, it turns out, as getting her identity confirmed. And Lindsay Lohan - if you are going to play a stripper, (and apparently she studied long and hard for this role) then you have to take your clothes off. Just accepting the role and playing a "bad girl" does not make you edgy, or a risk-taker as an actress. And a stripper who keeps her clothes on is ridiculous. Like a pizza maker who refuses to touch cheese. Or something like that. And what the training did for her, I have no idea. All she does as a "stripper" is crawl around on her hands and knees on a stage and toss her hair around. God! Elizabeth Berkely was more convincing in Showgirls!

Which brings me to my new list of the worst ten movies of all time!

10. Showgirls! Now I can't even watch "All About Eve" without cringing. Damn you, Verhoven!
9. Mission to Mars. I watched this on the same flight as The Postman. I cried for eleven hours.
8. Glen or Glenda. Even worse than Plan Nine From Outer Space, but much less campy and hilarious. Ed Wood had to make the list somewhere.
7. RV. Robin Williams has made one good comedy. Ever. Someone stop Robin Williams.
6. I Know Who Killed Me. Lindsay Lohan, we have already seen your privates. Why keep your clothes on any more?
5. Gigli. Although Christopher Walken and Al Pacino are truly amazing, this movie proves that even they can't save a true disaster from being a true disaster.
4. Norbit. Eddie Murphy is done. Stick with the Dreamgirls type stuff and stop trying to be funny. This was offensively bad.
3. Date Movie. Offensively bad. In fact, I am offended on behalf of the public that this movie was even released. This means Hollywood thinks everyone in the world is a complete idiot.
2. Epic Movie. This proves Hollywood is right. Enough absolute morons enjoyed Date Movie that they were able to put out yet another steaming pile of turd. Everyone IS an idiot.
1. The Postman. Not even make-you-laugh bad. Not even campy enough to make me smile. When you stop caring about a movie in the first two minutes, and it goes on for another THREE hours, you are in for the most unpleasant movie-going experience of all time.

OK, now the worst performances I have ever seen in a movie! Here comes Lindsay Lohan again!

10. Peter O'Toole - Caligula. Maybe he was the only one who realized how putrid this movie was.
9. Cary Elwes - Saw. The only name actor in the film, all he had to do was show up. Apparently, he was unable to do even that.
8. Gary Oldman - The Professional. In an otherwise flawless movie, Oldman seemed to think that amid these real, believeable characters, he was being asked to play the genie from Aladdin.
7. Elizabeth Berkely - Showgirls. All she had to do was get naked. How can someone be SO bad at that?
6. Ben Affleck - Pearl Harbor. Was anyone else rooting for him to die?
5. Jennifer Lopez - Gigli. Was anyone else rooting for Ben Affleck to die?
4. Lindsay Lohan - I Know Who Killed Me. Just unbearably bad.
3. Kevin Costner - The Postman. He must have misunderstood his own script and direction and though that he was playing "Jesus".
2. Brett Favre - There's Something About Mary. I love this man. But his thirty seconds of screen time are among the most painful in history.
1. Me - The Funeral...Again. I haven't seen the finished project yet. I'm just assuming.

Honourable mentions to Chris Rock in I Think I Love My Wife, Robin Williams in RV, and Steven Seagal in...everything. Seagal is fantastic, and I haven't included him here because at least he is entertaining to me. The great thing about Seagal is that the harder he tries, the worse he is. Perhaps his absolute worst role was as a Russian named Sascha in Half Past Dead, because it's the only one where he uses an accent, and it comes and goes throughout the picture. But what a lot of terrible fun!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

One last one before bed. Blog post that is.

No kids in my house today (at Grandma's), no dog (out getting groomed), no girlfriend (cutting her mom's hair and picking up her friends for America's Next Top Model), so I have been at home all day, all alone. Which means I have had a ton of time to work on my screenplays (which tends to be what I do when I have free time), and drink Jack Daniels. I therefore apologize in advance for any typos that may arise. I also tend to be a little more erudite and verbose...wordy...when I am drinking so I apologize for that as well.

Something more I realized today that made me laugh. It may have driven me nuts were I sober, but since it happened just a few hours ago, it just made me giggle. Well, laugh. Well, guffaw. I'm also watching Superbad, so I'm laughing quite a lot anyway. You see, I have attempted to really make an effort to cut down on all the things I may do that contribute to the deterioration of the environment. One of the ways I have attempted to do this is to make certain that every bill I have to pay is done online. That way, there is no paper copy, it's all done through email, and I have nothing to do but watch it come out of my account. I have even instituted overdraft protection just in case I screw up and I don't have enough money. But no paper! This is the main thing.

So, since I bought my house, I had to change over a lot of bills. Therefore, I had to change over all the bills to once again come directly to my email, including hydro, porperty tax, gas, etc. So today, having taken care of all that stuff, I received two notices in the mail. Both said "we have received your confirmation that you will be paying your bills through direct deposit." So...I still get paper to confirm this? I gave you my actual email address, you could send it to me there - yet because I don't want paper copies of things, you are sending me more paper copies of things? Are you going to send me paper copies of my bills in CONJUNCTION with my email copies? I sure hope not.

I thought my work was doing this. They were sending me email copies of my pay stubs as well as paper copies. I was really angry about it until yesterday, when I realized that I had merely mpt realized that I had to fill out the right portion of the seventy-fourth form, which prevented me from getting paper copies of the pay stubs, and made sure that I ONLY got the online version. If, however, I continue to get bills from the city as WELL as the paper copies, which is something I can see taking place, then I will blast them in my blog. Sober, hopefully. And it probablyt will be, because the kids will be home, or at least my dog will. Somehow, I only feel comfortable being drunk by myself when the dog isn't home - I guess it's kind of like not having sex when the dog is watching, which is just weird and creepy. For some reason. It's not like I can't take her outside for her business, but I just feel as though if something should happen, like she should suddenly take ill, I should be able to get her to some kind of clinic, a dog clinic...I'm going to stop typing.

Uniformly uninformed.

I saw a story in the Ottawa Sun this morning about a young girl named Madison at Glen Cairn public school who has started a website to gather support againt this idea of school uniforms. I thought "wow, good for her" and I was pretty pleased that someone in my own neighbourhood was doing this. So often this debate takes place at a level above these kids. The political minds go to work on the problem, they talk to one guy who once wore a school uniform, and they decide whether it is a good idea or not. The people who are most often left out of the process are those who will be affected, namely the students. In fact, the stories in the paper suggest that if the people who want to institute this program get support from the majority of parents, then this program will go forward. Sure, parents are important here, but shouldn't one look to get the support of the majority of students first?

I know the theory here. Students are too young to make these decisions for themselves. Therefore, their parents will be forced to make that decision on their behalf. But there is a bit of a flaw here - the way I see it, there are two tyes of kids. Those that are so young that they are incapable of knowing what is best for them, and those that are not. I would suggest that as of about grade five or six, kids are able to make those decisions on their own. As is evidenced by this twelve-year-old grade seven student who not only made the decision, but created a website to support that decision. And as for the younger kids? Kids in grades one and two? Why bother having uniforms for them at all? What's the point? No, the reason the decision comes down to the "support of the parents" is that it's pretty obvious no kid wants school uniforms, ever. So, you take the decision out of their hands and put the onus on the parents. Maybe they will like the plan.

The reasons for having uniforms are, frankly, bonkers. It will save parents money? Come on. You think the kids are going to wear their school uniforms to birthday parties and the playground on Saturdays? You think they will come home from school and wear their mandated clothes until bedtime? If you really want to save money for parents, make the school uniform hockey equipment. Then when their son or daughter wants to play hockey, you're already there! Also, it would prevent kids from getting hurt playing hopscotch and throwing snowballs, and I know that's a big concern in schools today. Think about it - hockey equipment - it's a brilliant plan.

My 13-year-old stepson Andrew goes to Glen Cairn public school, same as this girl who started the website. He tells me they are not allowed to throw snowballs at recess or after school. This is closely monitored, because someone somewhere once got hurt by a snowball. This, in itself, is ludicrous. When I was in elementary school, we had a target, on the wall of the school itself, at which we were encouraged to throw snowballs. This created an atmosphere where kids were less likely to throw them at each other, but come on. What better rite of passage into your teens is there than a good, old-fashioned Saturday afternoon snowball fight? With the big forts and the sneaking around behind the enemy's defenses and that cool move where you throw a snowball way up in the air, and when the other guy looks up at it you get him square under the chin with the snowball you've been stashing behind your back? Priceless.

But I digress. What are the other reasons in favour of school uniforms? Oh, right. Easier to spot someone who isn't a student at that school. Again, no reason at all for the six-year-olds to wear them here, since the guy you don't want at that school will stand out anyway. He will be four feet taller than the students, and leaning out of a white van. I don't think uniforms will make much difference there. And as for the older students, uniforms or not, what difference will it make? I remember a lot of problems at my school with outside students - horrible stuff sometimes, even stabbings and attempted murder. These happened one of two ways. Either the outside students were snuck into the school by the kids they knew there, or the incidents happened off school grounds. Either way, uniforms would make no difference.

Kids won't get bullied! Bullies will go away if everyone has the same clothes! Ridiculous. Bullies are always going to be in schools. Yes, clothes make an easy target, because it clearly defines one thing about you. Your ability to force your parents to buy you what you want. When I was in school, other kids had jeans that said "Levis" and mine said "BiWay". I was mocked, mercilessly, for about a week. Then they forgot about it. My shoes weren't Nike or Reebok, they were also BiWay, Champions' Choice model #7. Again, this resulted in horrible teasing for almost a week. Then they forgot about it. After that, they picked on the kid who got nosebleeds. Then the kid who stuttered in French class. Then the kid who got cucumber sandwiches every day in his lunch. OK, that was me again. The point is, kids are going to pick on other kids, regardless of the reason.

Here's a great song to download: "Boosters" by the Coup. Best line in the song - "now we can't go to the clubs that we're used to/if you don't fit the dress code they'll boot you/like people who get dressed up won't shoot you"

Anyway, school uniforms are nothing more than a way to encourage conformity at a very early age, to discourage individuality or, at the very least, standing out from the crowd, and I think sometimes even the people who lobby in favour of the uniforms don't actually realize this. They just think it's a way to prevent twelve-year-olds from dressing like the Pussycat Dolls and Britney Spears. Well, that's the parent's responsibility to begin with, and having a catch-all school policy will not help their cause any. Only between 9 and 3.

Kudos to you, Madison. I'm pleased you are in my neighbourhood. Here is her website:

http://www.nouniforms.ca/

Sign the petition!

Old books.

I was meeting a couple of buddies at the Royal Oak in the Glebe yesterday for noon. I got an unexpected ride from Woody, so I was there very early. I showed up at about 10:30, and they weren't open until 11:00, so I had half an hour to kill before I could have a pint and a steak sandwich (great steak sandwich at the Oak). Right next door, there is an old book store. I can't remember the name, but I wish I could. My dad collects books, and there were hundreds of collectors' items in there. I thought I could find him something neat for Christmas, but I realized that getting something for a collector is tough. If it's a hard-to-find book, there is a good chance he already has it, and if it's an easy-to-find collectors' item, like a modern first edition or something, chances are he either has it already or he doesn't care.

In the end, I decided against going that route for my father's Christmas present, since I really had no idea what to look for. But I ended up picking up a ton of books for myself. That is a store in which I could spend several hours, should the need arise. Normally I hate used book stores. Their selection is limited at best, and they tend to take all the crap no one wants any more, which means it's mostly crap no one else wants at all. Have you ever been in one of those used book shops where they have a section for "biographies" which is thirty books large, and the "biographies" are the dime-store variety, the Clint Eastwood book, put out by MGM, that you might have received free with your admission to Play Misty For Me, or a book about John Lennon that was rushed to the presses two days after he was shot? (I have both - of the two, "Strawberry Fields Forever" is slightly better than "Clint Eastwood", but neither were worth the dollar fifty I paid.)

In these stores, there is almost always a "classics" section, but that "classics" section is full of nothing but paperbacks, therefore they are all Penguin Edition something-or-other. The assumption being made, I assume, by the shopkeepers, that anything with a Penguin emblem is automatically a "classic". So there are 12 copies of the Iliad, 10 of the Odyssey, 2 of the Aenied and seven copies of Animal Farm. And that's about it. Then there is the "philosophy" section, which has twelve books, total, each of which is some delightfully clever yet completely useless throwaway book that compares philosophy to gardening, or to motorcycle maintenance, or to quilting. Haha, clever, get it? At heart, Hobbes was a needlepoint artist. Genius. Why would someone have given up this gem? You don't find too many Art of Wars or Chicken Soup For the Souls in there though, because the people who own THOSE books are not parting with them. That's a life philosophy, man. It's timeless, dude.

But the biggest section in the standard used book store is, without fail, the Romance section. That is because anyone who read the Harlequin-type romance novels reads a ton of them, but they can only be read once by anyone, ever. Therefore, as soon as they have been read, they are sold, and thousands of them pile up in the used book store. And they become half the store. It's obnoxious at best, and terrible depressing at worst.

But this store is totally different. I didn't think they made book stores like this one any more. They hav the stacks that go right up to the ceiling, with the ladders that slide along the stacks so you can get to the books at the top - and the books at the top are ones you might actually want to get to! In fact, I didn't see one paperback romance novel in the whole store, and every book in there was actually interesting. Hardcover editions of some true classics, all in good condition, and every book I was looking for was there. I picked up The Mill on the Floss, having lost my copy on a bus somewhere recently, and Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations (my dad collects books on economics, and although there was actually a full section on economics books, I was sure he already had that one. It was for me.) And I grabbed a couple of Dostoevsky books, a volume of his short novels including Notes From Underground, and The Brothers Karamazov. (I have sort of become obsessed since reading Crime and Punishment.)

I still can't remember the name of the store, but for any real book lovers, it has to be the best place in Ottawa. It's right beside the Oak on Bank in the Glebe, I remember that much.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I think I am finished in my football pool.

In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm finished. Yet somehow, people still want to read about my picks. Don't use them! I'm terrible! This past week, I went 11-5. Which seems decent, but I am certain someone went at least 13-3, and I will fall further behind.

Ones I got right: Minnesota did destroy the Lions. Adrian Peterson is back, and he seems to have, if anything, GAINED some speed. Seattle did beat the Eagles, just barely, as I predicted. Chargers over the Chiefs, Jets over the Dolphins, Indy in a tight one over Jacksonville, Carolina over the Niners, Tennessee beat the Texans, Rams big over the Falcons, right on all counts. I said that if the Giants kick to Devin Hester, they would lose. And if Eli Manning threw four interceptions again, they would lose. I was right. They kicked away from Hester, and Manning threw a mere three picks, and the Giants won. And the Steelers did win easily against Cincinnatti.

Ones I got wrong: I picked the Patriots to win by 20. If by 20 I meant "the skin of their teeth", I would have been right. What a Monday Night game! The Ravens had it won, really, but with their timeout call that negated their 4th-down stop, then a penalty that negated a 4th-down stop, then another penalty that negated a 4th-down stop...there was something, in the words of Tony Kornheiser, tragically inevitable about the Patriots win. And the Ravens, on their hail mary pass, came within ONE yard of beating the only unbeaten. Wow! The Saints are NOT going to make the playoffs. They are NOT as good as I thought, and Tampa is better than I thought they were. Denver loses to Oakland. That means Denver had a brief spurt where they played like they should, but now they are back to being the sad-sack, lackluster Broncos of the early season. The Cleveland Browns laid an egg vs. Arizona. The Redskins understandably fell to the Bills. And my Packers, without Brett Favre, could not muster a win in Dallas, although they made quite a game of it. Fingers crossed he is OK for the rest of the season, or their playoff berth is largely irrelevant.

OK. This week. Once more, I wil go for it early and often.

Chicago - Washington: It seems really unfortunate that Washington has to play on a short week, right after their loss to the Bills, which came so soon after the tragic loss of their teammate. With so much going on in that organization, the players may not have a chance to set themselves, physically or mentally, to play this game. Pity the Skins, but don't pick them.

Carolina - Jacksonville: The Jaguars are by far the superior team. They might have a bit of a letdown after that epic tilt with the Colts, but they are easily good enough to win this one going away. Jacksonville covers the spread and wins by 15.

Miami - Buffalo: The Bills will go back above .500, since Miami had their two shots to win this year. And they didn't. It is over for soon-to-be 0-16 Miami.

San Diego - Tennessee: Both teams are 7-5. Both teams are doing a Jeckyll and Hyde act this year. But the Titans seem to be on a bit of a slide while the Chargers are on a bit of a rise. Both could make the playoffs this year, but San Diego has a much better shot. Chargers haven't played well on the road, Titans have played very well at home, but I will still take the Chargers in the toughest game to pick. (Which always seems to be the one I get wrong.)

Tampa Bay - Houston: The Buccaneers are for real. And although Houston is much improved, Tampa is incredibly hot right now, and they will win their fifth straight. The Texans will be a playoff team next year, but they haven't put it all together yet. Add to that the fact they have to play the Colts, the Jaguars and the Titans twice each this year, and you understand their 5-7 record.

Oakland - Green Bay: A game the Pack can win even without Brett Favre. Although I am very worried about that separated shoulder. Oakland is coming off a surprise win (at least, I was surprised) against the Broncos, but going to Lambeau and beating Green Bay is too tall a task for this poor team. Take the Packers, Favre or no Favre.

Dallas - Detroit: The Cowboys have made their statement. They are the best team in the NFC. Their win against the Packers last week was huge for this team. The Lions, on the other hand, are proving they had no business being considered as a playoff contender at any point during the season. They have lost 4 straight to fall to .500, and the Cowboys will make it 5 straight, barring any hangover from the Green Bay game. With an extra three days to prepare, it won't happen. Dallas wins big.

New York Giants - Philadelphia: Eli Manning is looking terrible. The Giants eked out a win against the Bears, and really should have lost - if only Devin Hester could catch a thrown ball, eh? Their pass rush looks fearsome however, and if Donovan McNabb is not good to go, AJ Feely will have a terrible game for Philly. If McNabb is in, take the Eagles. If he is out, take the Giants.

St. Louis - Cincinnatti: The Bengals have been so painfully inconsistent all year that they have become nearly impossible to predict. If they have a good game, they could beat the Rams by 20. If they have a bad game, they could lose by 20. I predict a decent game out of Cincy, and I predict a slim margin of victory for the Bengals.

Arizona - Seattle: The Seahawks have won 4 straight, and none of those games in terribly convincing fashion. However, at home they are a much better team, and Arizona has struggled on the road. If this were a game in Arizona, I would think differently, but for now, I am taking the Hawks.

Minnesota - San Francisco: Adrian Peterson is back, in a big way. That gives Minnesota TWO running backs who could EACH gain 200 yards against the Niners. (They won't both gain 200 yards. I think.) Either way, the Vikings look great, the Niners look like the Niners, and Minnesota will put this one away early.

Kansas City - Denver: Both teams are now just playing out the string. Both teams are much worse than they should be. But this game is one of those old rivalries that always produces a great and interesting matchup, records be damned. Broncos are a slightly better team, and they are at home. So they might win a squeaker here.

Pittsburgh - New England: Not so fast! The Patriots were damn lucky to escape with a win against the Ravens. They were played very tough by an average Eagles team last week. Now, they are playing one of what could be considered the elite teams in the NFL, and if the Steelers put everything together at once, they will win this game. So they'll cover the spread, but there's no picking against the Pats until they lose.

Cleveland - New York Jets: The Jets hammered Miami, but it was Miami. The Browns lost a tough one to the Cardinals. Opposite result should happen here, as Cleveland has to beat the bad teams to get into the playoffs, and they are in a tough battle against the Titans. Take Cleveland, big over New York.

Indianapolils - Baltimore: The Ravens played their best game of the year this week against New England, and they will not do it two games in a row. Colts to make a statement here and win big.

New Orleans - Atlanta: This would have been a great game had both teams kept up where they left off last year, however neither one did. The Falcons are lost this year, and New Orleans is a major disappointment. Saints will take this one, but it will not be a blowout.

OK. Now all I have to do is go 14-2 in the remaining weeks, and I should be in position to win my football pool. That seems easy enough.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Taking stock of my life.

Today, I turned 30. It sort of snuck up on me, mostly because I don't pay any attention to my age. A cop pulled me over a while ago and asked me my age. I told him twenty-seven. He had to correct me after he looked at my license. However, I know now that I am thirty, and I know this because my mom and her boyfriend came over to my house yesterday to have some lunch and congratulate me. I also know this because I got to work, and it took me an hour on this, the worst snow day of the year, only to realize that several weeks ago I had booked today off so that I could go out celebrating last night. I never celebrated last night, I got to bed early, and I woke up and went to work anyway. I just plain forgot. Your mind goes in your old age, you know.

I have long said that if I live to be 50, I'll be pretty happy with that. And if I live to be 60, I'll be pretty pissed off about it. That means that right now, I have reached, by my calculations, what ought to be middle age. I should really start having my mid-life crisis now. Perhaps I will buy a big screen TV, a new sports car, and a robotic device that makes nachos for me. Wait. I will get three more jobs, work six more months, and then I will get a plasma TV. And I will work four more years, and then buy the sports car. Oh, I see. This is why people have their crises at 40. Because they have enough disposable income to do stupid stuff with it.

One thing that upsets me about being thirty is that I can no longer live out one of my dreams. For the longest time, I wanted to start a fashion trend. So far, I have been unable to do so. The only one I could think of was to start wearing stupid shirts, the ones you find at the kiosks in the malls. You know, the ones that say something irritiating like "I'm not forty, I'm 39.99 plus tax"? Yeah, those. And others like them. I was going to start wearing them while I was still in my twenties, and thereby start a cool, hipster-kid fashion trend. I never got around to it, and now that I'm in the same decade as those who actually ARE 40, I may never get to see this happen. Hey, 20-year-olds who read my blog! (If any of you exist) I pass the torch on to you! Take my dream and run with it!

So...these are my regrets. Ummm....that's about it. If that's my biggest regret in life, about something I have yet to accomplish, this won't be a very entertaining mid-life crisis. I've had a pretty good life. There has been a lot of beer, a lot of good times, and a lot of other stuff I can't write about. In case you innocent 20-year-olds are actually reading my blog. What does one want to do in life? Be on the radio? Done. (Doc and Woody show.) Force my pop-culture opinions on others? Done. (Cynical Cinema.) Become a published author? Done. (Ranger Rick Magazine, a poem about mountain goats, December of 1983.) Be published in a newspaper? Done. (Letter of the Day, comment section, Ottawa Sun - May of 2005.) Appear on TV? Done. (I walked behind Kurt Stoodley's head while he was filming a segment at a Tim Horton's on Camp Day.)Act in a movie? Done. (The Funeral...Again - just in time.) Now all that's left for me to do is win a bar fight, punch Ben Mulroney and wait to die. Scratch that. Make that get IN a bar fight, which is something I have yet to do in my life as well.

So...nothing left but to become more and more complacent, until I realize too late, much like I did with the T-Shirts, that I have completely abaondoned some dream I haven't even thought of right now. THEN I will have my 40-year-old crises. And because I have abandoned all those dreams I may or may not have had, I will start eating healthy, and excercising, and treating my body well, which means I might live to be 80! And then 40 really WILL be my mid-life! Ah, at least I have the blueprint now, so I can see what to avoid. And I didn't need to pay Hilary Swank or Dr. Oz 200 bucks to find out!

Oprah is on my TV, and I am sad.

This morning, Doc gave me a ride home on the worst driving day of the year. I was much later than normal, and when I walked in, Celine Dion was on TV being interviewed by Ben Mulroney. Two of the worst things in the world, all at once. Whee! This did not bode well for the rest of my day. But really, it was a pretty good day. It's my birthday, and my girlfriend cooked breakfast, and we spent the whole snowed-in day with the kids, watching Marx Brothers movies and laughing. One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. What he was doing in my pyjamas, I don't know! Then I shoveled eleven feet of snow off my driveway, only to watch another foot fall when I was done. At least the hard part is over. I think.

Now, one of my girlfriend's girlfriends is over, and they are watching Oprah. That creepy, televangelist-looking Dr. Oz is on. I hate that guy. I saw an ad in the paper that he is coming to town as part of some 200-dollar-a-ticket motivational speaker symposium. I cringed. But then I looked at the rest of the ad, and I cringed more. Not only Dr. Oz and a whole bunch of painfully irritating people, but also...Hilary Swank! Hilary Swank is coming to town to deliver a motivational speech? To people who are willing to spend 200 bucks to become more motivated? No! I LOVE Hilary Swank. She is hot, AND an excellent actress. That is so rare, and she seemed like she'd be really cool to hang out with and have a beer. Now, I no longer want to hang out with her and have a beer. She would be that guy at the bar stool who sits next to you and tries to boost your morale. "You've got a great personality, buddy. And I've seen the way the chicks look at you. You're gonna MAKE something of yourself, man!"

I don't mind it from the drunk guy at the bar. You see, he drinks because he is down on himself, and therefore assumes that you are doing the same. When in fact, you are drinking because you like beer, and there is nothing to do on that particular Tuesday afternoon, and it's relaxing to sit in Pizza Hut and drink a beer while reading your book. The book you can no longer read because this guy is trying to cheer you up. But really, I like these guys. Better than the drunk guy who sits down and grabs your arm so you pay attention to him as he launches into a list of his problems. "Oh man, buddy. I had to take a pay cut at my job, and my wife is battling a serious flu, so she isn't working. We're not going to have enough money for the plasma we wanted. And my kid is in trouble with the law, 'cause he got caught spray painting the wall at that Nazi school..." My response to this often is. "Perhaps you noticed I'm reading a book. Not that I mind the interruption, because I do like a nice afternoon chat, but I hope you noticed the title of my book, Shake Hands With the Devil. It is about genocide. If you have experienced genocide, I will gladly sit and listen to your woes. If not, let's talk about the Senators or the hybrid car I've had my eye on."

Truly, I am devastated by this development. Hilary Swank is a motivational speaker. I don't care if they are paying her in dumptrucks full of hundred-dollar bills, I have lost some respect. I still want to see her act, I would still (were I single) sleep with her, but I would no longer call her the next day. Or have a beer with her.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

That's a Wrap!

(That means the shooting is done. I learned that.) And it IS done. Yesterday we hit the Nepean Sportsplex at 6:00 in the morning to shoot our pool scene, where I kill Charlie by accidentally filling his scuba tank with propane. Then we headed over to St. Matthews' church to shoot the final seven scenes. Three funerals, a flower shop, a morgue, a sleazy funeral commercial, and a newspaper office. All done inside St. Matthews, which was, however briefly, transformed from a place of sacred worship to a hustling, bustling cauldron of blasphemy. Much of which, I will admit, was my own fault.

I was done fairly early, compared to the rest of the crew. But I still had to wait around a very long time. While I was waiting around, I still felt guilty. Twenty people are running this way and that, plugging these lights into that socket, covering this window with that screen, and all of them are busy, all of them have something to do, and fast! All I wanted to do was help, because I was sitting on my ass like a bump, feeling very lazy. I started to help unload a truck, and one of the grips said "you don't have to do this! You're talent - go inside and don't worry about it." When I insisted that I really wanted to help and lift things, he said "let me rephrase. Don't help us. You are in our way. You can...go hold the door open or something." So I did. And then I hung around with all the extras and the production team while the scenes were being set up and the shooting was going on. There was still a World War II submarine-type vibe in the church, as very often we were to be absolutely quiet while we waited. But there were so many great people to talk to that time passed very quickly. I was done by 4:30 and I went home.

I returned at 10:00 for the "wrap party" at Quinn's. That's when I found out how the rest of the day had gone. Dave, the actor who plays the main character, Charlie, who I keep killing, was still in his smashed-face makeup at the bar. I thought that was a little strange. I mean, the makeup still looked fantastic, and Dave therefore looked like what he was supposed to be - a corpse. I found out that this was because there was a small miscommunication on the set. It had been determined that it was time to begin applying Charlie's makeup at about 5:00. It is a long process, after all, to have a tennis racket convincingly put inside your face. When he was done, Dave had no shirt on (he is a corpse in a morgue, after all), and was lying on a steel table in the coldest room in the building. He could not move at all - he couldn't get up, he couldn't speak, because there was a tennis racket through his mouth, and any movement carried with it the danger of possibly being poked in the eye with tennis racket strings. When I got to the pub, Dave was telling the story and he said he had been lying on that table for two hours. That is entirely possible. (He also said that by the end of the night after enough beers, the story would be ten hours - also entirely possible.)

All in all though, I think this short film will be very, very good. One of the grips, Warren, told me that this was a very unusual film set, in that there was more than one gaffer. A gaffer is like...I guess the foreman at a construction site. He is the leader of the grips, and always the one with the most experience and the most skill. And because the crew on The Funeral was kind of an all-star team, assembled from across Ottawa, they had more than one gaffer, each with different jobs. Which would be kind of like having three foremen on a construction site, one for the wheelbarrows, one for the wood and one for the crane. And they were all working for free, so the co-operation was amazing. By the end of the shoot, I had really started to know and like all the guys (except Rob, who kept giving me the finger. In church!)

The one part that sucked about being there was that I couldn't sit and watch the filming of the scenes where I wasn't involved. After all, I would just be in the way. But apparently, there are a few that made everyone on the crew cry with laughter. Colin's take on the sleazy funeral home director was apparently fantastic, Dave apparently had the greatest scream scene of all time, and Alain and Sarah really nailed the scene at the moriticians. But I will have to wait to see all this, wait until the whole thing is edited, finalized, done. Matt, the director, (there were thirty-four Matts working on this movie) told me he really thinks it can be done and printed within a month. He has to send it off to Montreal, where they do something to it, then they send it back here to him, and he edits it, then he sends it back to them and they finish it. Or something like that. I for one, can't wait to see it.