Archives for the month of: October, 2012

Another “head down-working hard” kind for me today, some amount of waiting for people to do things for me, shifting through emails, trying to get things back on track, figuring out how to have things ready for the meeting tomorrow and following-up on some outstanding issues.

Happily, between all the working hard, I managed to find a couple of minutes to touch base in a human-way with a couple of colleagues – much-needed touching base at that.

There is work and we work hard, I mean, a lot of people work hard. But, lets face it, it is impossible to work hard every moment of every day, that way leads to burn out in most people, not having a couple of minutes to draw breath and connect with the people around you, most people get unhappy.

Yes, I am still behind.

No, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

I managed to get away by scheduled quitting time. Ok, near quitting time. And ran into a couple of people on my way out. I ended up there for almost an hour, just talking and listening.

And you know what?

I’m not the only one completely behind – everyone else is feeling the same way.

I’m also not the only one who is feeling frustrated and upset and just…bad about the work situation.

Everyone is feeling crushed, everyone is feeling like they are either treading water or drowning.

I’m not alone in feeling so awful about coming into work and needed a break.

And that, out of everything, makes me feel way, way better.

After work, it was off to the craft store!

I’m not sure why I go to the craft store – I’m not particularly at any crafts…I don’t really have hobbies.

But.

I’m going to this Halloween Party on Saturday and part of it is a potluck. And somehow I decided that this year I would bring cake pops.

I did some shopping for them yesterday.

Then I read a pile of articles about what a pain it is to make and them…and went out and bought more stuff for this today!

I’m feeling quite stupid about the whole thing, to be truthful. So far, they have cost me over 100$ and it is going to take me almost every night after work to finish them – I have to bake the pops and decorate them. I decided to do 3 kinds – red velvet with white chocolate coating decorated like bloodshot eyeballs, chocolate with orange coating decorated with black sprinkles and white cake with chocolate coating with orange sprinkles.

I’m not sure what I’m thinking. My friend’s party is a ton of fun and I’m really excited about it, I want to make her something special for it…but, I could have done cupcakes!

It will interesting to see how it all goes…Tomorrow night, baking the pops.

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“Looper” is directed and written by Rian Johnson.

Rian Johnson is the creative mind behind that amazing film “Brick”. He is also the mind behind the yawn-fest of “Brothers Bloom”, so you can take anything I say about his brilliance with a grain…In “Brick” he does this amazing mash-up of genres – film noir and high school teen drama – and comes up with something so original and unexpected that it makes you wonder how no one ever thought of doing that before.

In “Looper” brings another mash-up, this time sci-fi/time travel and thriller. And yeah, another brilliant film.

To talk too much about the film risks spoilers, but the very worst kept secrets about this film is that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis play the same character, thirty years apart. And yes, the make-up for Gordon-Levitt is pretty spectacular, only matched by Gordon-Levitt’s ability to offer a performance of a young Willis, without either making fun of Willis nor doing a straight up aped performance. Gordon-Levitt`s Willis-isms are enhanced by moments in the films that recall some of Willis` best known screen moments.

And Bruce Willis – what a pleasure to see him back on the screen. He is one actor that if far more ego than talent, but I guess he makes it work `cuz he is pretty awesome to watch.

After the film finished I heard a group of friends talking very loudly about the film and offering their thoughts and one of them talked about a seemingly throw-away line in the movie that ended up being a crucial bit of information. Interestingly, having seen some of Johnson`s previous outings (notably “Brick“) there are no throw-away lines or pieces of dialogue or visuals that are wasted. Johnson truly understands that the audience`s time is precious and we want to play along too. Johnson gives us all the information and all the clues, if we are paying attention.

The visuals are great and Johnson does a great job of honouring the biggest problem with time travel films – that actions in the past sometimes change the future – until, the end. Admittedly, this is a problem for all films that use time travel the only difference is that the audience enjoys the ride and feels a sense of satisfaction at the end of the film and not wondering if they have wasted two hours of their lives.

See this film, it is one of the best of the year.

“Distrust That Particular Flavor” is by William Gibson.

Disclaimer – William Gibson is one of my fav authors of all time, so yep, I admit I am more than a little biased when it comes to reviewing his stuff. So, I guess you should take this review with a grain or at very least remember that it was written by…dare I say? A fan.

For those who aren’t familiar with the works of William Gibson (kind of unbelievable to me, but I admit my bias) you will be surprised how much impact this guy living and writing sci-fi in Vancouver has shaped and influenced your life and experiences. If you have heard the any words beginning with “cyber” – most recently in the Canadian news “cyber-bullying” – heard a joke about wanting to download skills or information or implanting a chip in your brain to avoid reading or practicing, you have been influenced by William Gibson.

Gibson made his career writing sci-fi that primarily imagined a technology-based dark future.

This book is a collection of non-fiction essays that Gibson has written and published in various sources over the years, his first publication of this kind.

Interesting read, Gibson’s non-fictions style is strongly evocative of his fictional style, winding through unexpected twists and turns and his allows himself to get caught up the journey, often he ends a piece by explaining how he isn’t sure if he accomplished the point he was given in writing the piece.

The essays are prefaced by Gibson sharing a bit about his writing process and the difference in his fictional and non-fictional process. For me, this part was fascinating, I loved hearing and reading about the artistic and creative process and that he took some time to explain his struggles with writing non-fiction and taking direction and not writing to his content.

Gibson’s essays are on various topics – his love of Japan, collecting, watches, his personal adventure of getting a computer and learning about email, eBay and using the internet.

Excellent read that indulged my love of non-fiction essays but still felt like a short stories.

I recommend this to anyone who has read anything by Gibson or anyone who wants an insight into the non-fictional mind of the guy who imagined the internet years before technology made it so.

On the way home, after nine days of relaxing and reconnecting with one of my fav people.

There is some of amount of comfort to be found in the home of a dear friend, isn’t there? A sense of security, knowing that for a set number of days, you are in a safe place, but a neutral place too, you don’t need to really do anything, make any decisions or be subjected to any stress unless you chose to. I didn’t even call my stylist to make an appointment! I slept in everyday, I read a lot, I watched a lot of TV that I never get to see, I ate a lot and I tried my best not to worry too much.

Yesterday we went to a corn maze (corn maise?) and wandered around in the warm Southern Alberta air – which smells much like animal poo, truth be told. Unable to come to any sort of agreement about whether to go out to a movie, we stayed home and made some soup and french fries and watched a very good movie that we didn’t have to finish.

I packed last night, made sure that I wasn’t forgetting anything that I brought or taking anything that I didn’t bring…which is just as important, really.

My flight is delayed by an hour and although it would upset most people, I’m taking it as a reminder that there are some things in the world that I can’t control and shouldn’t worry about. My dad was supposed to pick me up from the airport on the other side, but it will be pretty late and I have the number of a taxi company, so I will get home somehow. I’m not going to worry about it.

Grey day, here in Calgary and I think I’m facing away from the mountains. I was on the opposite side from them on the flight to here, but leaned over to drink in a peek – lovely and exactly as I remember. How I miss the mountains!

There is a certain type of choosing the best seat while waiting for a plane. My laptop battery was running a bit low earlier and finding a place to charge up is something of an art. I found an ideal place that was occupied by two people and another that was beside a table to charge your laptop while you charge yourself…but I’m good at this sort of thing – seeking and finding – and know that most airports still have pay phones and where there is a pay phone, there is an exposed outlet. So, I’m plugged in and in a comfy chair too.

And I refuse to see the family that is charging on the other side as a down-side.

It was a great visit. Everything a visit should be, when visiting a friend. I needed a break and even though I’m still fighting the zombie plague virus and these episodes of tiredness, I feel better than I’ve felt in a while. Relaxed, at least.

And trying not to think too much about all the work to be done…One thing at a time, get on the plane and get home and then go from there.

“Hotel Transylvania” is an animated film directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, screenplay written by Peter Baynham, Robert Smigel, story by Todd Durham, Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman.

The premise of the film is that after loosing his wife, Dracula builds, opens and runs a hotel for monsters that is far away from humans while raising his daughter. The monsters’ ideal shelter is in jeopardy when a human mistakenly finds his way to the hotel for his daughter’s 118th birthday celebration.

From the previews that I saw, I thought this movie was going to be a comedic comment of how two very people find love and how they work together to convince an over-protective father to change his ways and embrace change.

Silly me.

What the film really is, is an excuse for Adam Sandler (voicing Dracula) to do another movie where he plays with his friends and is the main focus of the movie – however much it doesn’t make sense, the film focuses more on the relationship between the human and Dracula, rather than the human and Dracula’s daughter.

The film is funny, clever and plays around with many horror movie and monster tropes. The cast is packed with talent and there are many clever lines, but lacking is a sense of ensemble and team-work – not everyone has a unique moment and there are many times that the cast seems crowded and lines are lost to not providing enough time between laugh lines.

I’m really happy that I saw this film, it was an enjoyable time, but I can’t help but feel that it could have been a better movie, it seemed to coast a little too much on the cast and not enough on the plot and characters.

This movie isn’t a movie where the adults enjoy it as much as kids do, I suggest you take along a kid with you and share your enjoyment.

 

“Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” by Christopher Moore.

Christopher Moore excels writing alternate views of major, well-known stories. I loved his take on “King Lear”, with his book “Fool”; and “Lamb” is very much in the same vein, offering an accounting of Christ’s unlikely childhood from ages to 9 to 30, those “lost years” that are not ever mentioned in the Bible.

It is bouncy, crazy ride, full of sex, love, friendship and philosophy. Moore messes with historical accuracy for the sake of a good story (notably when narrative Biff puts forth both the supposition that the Earth is round and the Theory of Evolution.) I love the multi-religious studies and the travels and adventures these young men have before Christ becomes The Messiah. Moore skillfully addresses what many philosophies and dogmas often are loath to accept – that the prescribed way of living from religions and philosophies are more similar at their core than they are different.

I really enjoyed the Biblical misquotes and how Moore plays fast and loose with books of the Bible – knowing the Bible isn’t a requirement to enjoy this book, but I found, for me, it added to the enjoyment and humour.

The friend that suggested this as a read noted that her Dad found that there was a lot of sex in this book, which I totally agree with. But, compared to Moore’s book “Fool” the sex isn’t much of a focus, but I would suggest that those easily offended by imaginative and honest descriptions of all kinds of sex give Moore a pass.

I found “Lamb” less funny than “Fool”, but perhaps that is my comfort and knowledge of the subject, also I find that it is far more difficult to find alternate takes on Shakespeare compared to the amount of material about the Bible and critiques on faith, religion and philosophy. It wasn’t laugh out loud funny, but funny in a way that provokes thought.

Moore’s sense of humour and facility with language is very enjoyable and I’m very happy for another opportunity to play around in his brain. This book is a great time for anyone who isn’t easily offended and enjoys being provoked – I loved it.

 

“Halting State” is by Charles Stross.

This book was recommended to me by the good staff at Bakka Phoenix Books in Toronto.

Set in the near future (2018), this book starts with an impossible robbery that happens in a game world/virtual reality called Avalon 4 and brings together unlikely characters such as a gaming programmer, a police sergeant and a forensic accountant. What follows is an unraveling of everything the characters (and we) think we know about the separation between reality and virtual reality and an exploration of the games we think we are playing and how these intersect in our real lives.

I liked the way this book explored the concept of deep play, how we use technology and how the implications of being dependent on technology.

Also, I loved how the book kept referring to old school gaming – Dungeons & Dragons and LARP (live-action role play, for those not in the know) – it seems that when I speak to virtual gamers in my life, I recognize them for fellow gamers, but I am seldom recognized in the same way in return as a gamer. This continual referring to made me feel very much a part of the game and gave a nod to the roots of virtual reality gaming, which was greatly appreciated.

The shifting points of view between the major players was interesting and suited the story. If I’m honest, I believe this was very effective in drawing the reader in and leaving the story with the plausible thought that perhaps the characters are merely avatars/characters who are being played by one real person…things that make you think.

The only thing about the book that I disliked was the book being written in second person POV. I admit that when reading fiction I have a basis for stories written in third person POV, I like first person POV, but third person POV is my favourite. Second person POV always seems to knock me out of the story and it is not only hard to write, but difficult to read. I think Stross has written it really well, but I’m not fond of it. If this is something that detracted from my enjoyment and I’m interested to see if Stoss’ other novels use a different POV. But, that being said, I think it was very effective use, considering the gaming and virtual reality themes.

All in all, a good read where fantasy, sci-fi and crime genres intersect. Nicely done.

 

 

Here is me, once again, in an airport waiting for a flight out.

And you know, it is true – there are worse waiting rooms. Like a hospital waiting room. Or a walk-in health clinic waiting room. Or a dentist waiting room.

Yep, waiting for an airplane is one of my favourite things to wait for and an airport is one of my favourite places to wait.

Today I’m flying out to Alberta. Calgary to be exact, to get a connecting flight to Lethbridge. To see one of my dearest friends.

It is only a few hours now. About 9, I think.

I’m sooooo excited about it!

I was ill all week, so sick, in fact, that I was sent home on Tuesday and spent the following days in bed. Sleeping. And trying my best not to be sick all over the place. It was unpleasant. And boring. It really wears a person down, not having energy.

When I saw the doctor on Thursday he said he thinks I have a virus.

Which is sucks rocks, ‘cuz there is nothing to do about a virus, just let it run the course and hope it doesn’t do too much damage.

He also encouraged me not to go into work on Friday, but I did anyway – a person can’t miss 4 days of work and then go on vacation! I stuck it out for about half the day and then left. Everyone knew I was going to leave, so no surprises.

Slept really well and then did a complete last-minute, crappy job of packing.

The friend I’m seeing is going to have a field day teasing me about the size of my luggage! And the amount of useless stuff I’m bringing.

I don’t even think my camera is charged.

Oh well!

Today, I feel like I have a bit of energy.

I smiled today and I swear it feels like it has been weeks since that happened – just not awake enough.

Only about an hour until it is time to board the plane and fly away.

Upside: I’m on vacation!

Another upside: I’m seeing one my dearest friends!

Also an upside: I managed to stop and get her and boyfriend some treats that are hard to find where they live!

This too, is an upside: I’m traveling again!

The past week was difficult, but I’m so happy that I made it to today. This is going to be an excellent week.